Microsoft puts dusty, old Office code on web

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft has made technical information for its older binary Office document formats available for download following pressure from participants in the ongoing, somewhat fiery, standardisation debate.

Redmond’s Office programme manager Brian Jones said in a blog post this week that the documentation will be accessible via download.

It will be available under the banner of Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise, which allows third parties to develop software using the firm’s code without fear of being hit by a flurry of patent infringement lawsuits.

Jones also said Redmond will sponsor an open source project to map its older binary document formats to Open Office XML (OOXML), the code which it has been heavily pushing to become the international standard adopted by the ISO.

He didn’t reveal which software vendors will team up with Microsoft in the project, but the plan will involve mapping a document written using the legacy binary formats to the OOXML formats.

Microsoft trying to make sense of multicore

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

From a marketing perspective, multicore processors are an easy sell. Two brains are better than one. Four brains are better than two. You get the idea.

The challenge is that a whole lot of computer software has been designed to take advantage of ever-faster brains, not a computer packed full of them. It’s a particular challenge for desktop and mobile computers. On the server and supercomputing side, the notion of parallel computing has been around for some time.

In the PC world, software makers have been scrambling to find new ways of thinking as Moore’s law is quickly taking the chip world into a realm where there may be dozens or hundreds of processing units, or cores, on a single chip. In its latest attempt to figure out what to do with all those cores, Microsoft said Friday it is setting up a joint research center in Barcelona with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Jihadi software promises secure Web contacts

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

An Islamist Web site often used by al Qaeda supporters carried updated encryption software on Friday which it said would help Islamic militants communicate with greater security on the Internet.

The Mujahideen Secrets 2 was promoted as “the first Islamic program for secure communications through networks with the highest technical level of encoding”.

The software, available free on the password-protected Ekhlaas.org site which often carries al Qaeda messages, is a newer version of Mujahideen Secrets issued in early 2007 by the Global Islamic Media Front, an al Qaeda-linked Web-based group.

“This special edition of the software was developed and issued by … Ekhlaas in order to support the mujahideen (holy war fighters) in general and the (al Qaeda-linked group) Islamic State in Iraq in particular,” the site said.

The efficacy of the new Arabic-language software to ensure secure e-mail and other communications could not be immediately gauged. But some security experts had warned that the wide distribution of its earlier version among Islamists and Arabic-speaking hackers could prove significant.

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