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Hayden Barnes boxofcables.dev

No, Microsoft is not rebasing Windows to Linux

Hayden Barnes explains how Windows and Linux exist in a “cosmic duality” and whether or not Microsoft will ever “shift the core of the Windows operating system to the Linux kernel.”

I have a unique perspective on Microsoft’s Linux involvement. I help deliver Ubuntu on Windows Subsystem for Linux in my job at Canonical. … I have become somewhat of an intermediary between the Microsoft and Linux communities. It is something I am glad to do. There are creative, kind, and fascinating people in both communities. Interesting things happen when the lines between them blur. Fostering cross-pollination will make computing better for everyone.

Microsoft github.com

Microsoft's deep learning approach to restoring old photos

What’s linked is the official PyTorch implementation of a paper published in April of this year called Bringing Old Photos Back to Life.

We propose to restore old photos that suffer from severe degradation through a deep learning approach. Unlike conventional restoration tasks that can be solved through supervised learning, the degradation in real photos is complex and the domain gap between synthetic images and real old photos makes the network fail to generalize. Therefore, we propose a novel triplet domain translation network by leveraging real photos along with massive synthetic image pairs. Specifically, we train two variational autoencoders (VAEs) to respectively transform old photos and clean photos into two latent spaces.

The results are impressive!

Microsoft's deep learning approach to restoring old photos

The Changelog The Changelog #406

Making Windows Terminal awesome

Kayla Cinnamon, Program Manager at Microsoft for Windows Terminal, Console, Command Line, and Cascadia Code joined us to talk about the release of Windows Terminal 1.0 and the new Windows command-line experience. We talk about everything that went into rethinking the command line experience on Windows, the UX and UI design behind it all, the learnings of working in open source, and what’s to come for the Windows command line experience.

Joab Jackson The New Stack

Microsoft gradually switching to Rust to build its infrastructure software

No matter how much investment software companies may put into tooling and training their developers, “C++, at its core, is not a safe language,” said Ryan Levick, Microsoft cloud developer advocate, during the AllThingsOpen virtual conference last month, explaining, in a virtual talk, why Microsoft is gradually switching to Rust to build its infrastructure software, away from C/C++. And it is encouraging other software industry giants to consider the same.

This sounds SO familiar, as heard from Josh Aas recently on The Changelog (listen here).

We certainly should not be writing any new code in C and C++. The opportunity for vulnerabilities – I mean, it absolutely will have vulnerabilities, and we need to get that type of code away from our networks to start with, and then probably away from most other things, too… So I would hope that in 10-20 years we think it’s crazy to be deploying major (or maybe even minor) pieces of software that are written in languages that are not memory-safe.

So we’re trying to remove code written in C and C++ from our infrastructure at Let’s Encrypt. I think that’s just a basic part of diligence applied to secure infrastructure. If your stack is some giant pile of C++ or C at the network edge, followed by OpenSSL written in C, followed by a Linux kernel written in C, glibc - your whole pathway has got all this code that you just know is full of security holes. It absolutely is. You just can’t claim that those are even close to secure systems. They’re absolutely not. We’re gonna look back on this and say “That was crazy. We have better options today.”

Bloomberg Icon Bloomberg

Microsoft wins over skeptics. Wins back developers.

Like many out there, I was a skeptic of Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub. To be honest, in some ways I still am. We’ve been tracking this topic very closely over the last several years. What’s particularly interesting to me is this story — Scott Guthrie wrote a proposal in 2014 to acquire GitHub and filed it away in a drawer.

In 2014, Microsoft Corp. cloud chief Scott Guthrie wrote up a proposal to acquire GitHub Inc. Then he filed the plan away in a drawer. Every once in a while he’d take the plan out and look at it, and then return it to the cabinet. Guthrie felt Microsoft just wasn’t ready to acquire the popular open-source company…

Fast forward 5 years…GitHub has been acquired and Nat Friedman (CEO of GitHub) says “GitHub has to be neutral and GitHub has to be independent. Developers want choice. GitHub can’t have any favoritism.”

With that kind of intention and posture, my skepticism is eroding.

Yomi Kazeem qz.com

Microsoft is making a $100 million bet on African developers

Yomi Kazeem writing for Quartz Africa:

Last year, when Microsoft executives were doing their due diligence ahead of paying $7.5 billion for GitHub, the software engineer marketplace, they might have been surprised by one unexpected data point: Nigeria had the fourth-fastest growing developer community on the platform the previous year.

Microsoft has now fully turned its sights on software engineering talent in Africa and will spend over $100 million on a software development center initiative. Microsoft’s first development centers in Africa will open in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya this year and will employ 100 full-time developers who will work across artificial intelligence, machine learning and mixed reality innovation.

This Twitter thread from Floor Drees mentioned Christian Nwamba (@codebeast). Give Christian a follow.

Owen Williams char.gd

GitHub's new features show it's finally listening to developers

The news about GitHub Sponsor is making the rounds. This post from Owen Williams highlights how GitHub is listening and putting their money where their mouth is, for the good of all of us.

GitHub, it seems, is thriving again. It just showed the fruits of that labor, and what it looks like when a company is participating in the discussion in the open, listening to the developers that know it best.

At an event called GitHub Satellite, the company unveiled the biggest set of new features in memory, all designed to address glaring problems the platform has faced for years. They’re designed to help make GitHub a better place to work, and contribute to the open source community as a whole.

Jeff McAffer mcaffer.com

Open source engagement in organizations

Jeff McAffer (the Director of Microsoft’s Open Source Programs Office) says you can plot their course in open source quite closely in the model he describes in this post. A few years ago they were in denial about the open source movement. Today it’s a different story with 20,000 Microsoft folks activity working on GitHub.

Companies, governments, and other organizations big and small are working with open source to achieve their goals. Teams range from barely considering it to betting their whole business on open source. Putting some structure on this spectrum has helped me think about and evolve Microsoft’s open source program. I’d love to hear if you find it useful, how, or why not.

If you run, participate in, lead, or you are curious about open source programs you should read this.

Practical AI Practical AI #29

How Microsoft is using AI to help the Earth

Chris caught up with Jennifer Marsman, Principal Engineer on the AI for Earth team at Microsoft, right before her speech at Applied Machine Learning Days 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. She relayed how the team came into being, what they do, and some of the good deeds they have done for Mother Earth. They are giving away $50 million (US) in grants over five years! It was another excellent example of AI for good!

Peter Bright Ars Technica

Google isn’t the company we should have handed the web over to

Peter Bright writes for Ars Technica:

Microsoft adopting Chromium puts the Web in a perilous place. […] With Microsoft’s decision to end development of its own Web rendering engine and switch to Chromium, control over the Web has functionally been ceded to Google. That’s a worrying turn of events, given the company’s past behavior.

This post was mentioned in Slack by James Lovato about a former Microsoft Edge intern claiming Google callously broke rival web browsers. Then, Nick Nisi chimed in to mention this post by Jeremy Noring as “an interesting rebuttal/defense of what they’re doing.”

John Gruber daringfireball.net

Electron and the decline of native apps

Mac users don’t care about mac apps like they used to. Today and the future is a web platform world with JavaScript at the center morphing into this gigantic blackhole (mainly a gravity metaphor) with everything else being pulled into its orbit.

The more Mac users there are, the more Mac apps we should see. The problem is, the users who really care about good native apps — users who know HIG violations when they see them, who care about performance, who care about Mac apps being right — were mostly already on the Mac. A lot of newer Mac users either don’t know or don’t care about what makes for a good Mac app.

John Gruber also quoted SwiftOnSecurity regarding Microsoft’s switch to Chromium as Windows’s built-in rendering engine, saying:

This is the end of desktop applications. There’s nowhere but JavaScript.

Adam Stacoviak changelog.com/posts

The Cryptography Research Group at Microsoft released Microsoft SEAL to encrypt and secure sensitive data in the cloud

If you’ve been watching the news, you know that the latest data breach involved Marriott exposing 500 million guest reservations from its Starwood database. The kicker is that the unauthorized access to the Starwood guest database stretches back to 2014. That’s FOUR YEARS of unfettered access to this database!

It’s breaches like these that helped motivate the team at the Cryptography Research Group at Microsoft to be “extremely excited” to announce the release of Microsoft SEAL (Simple Encrypted Arithmetic Library) as open source under the MIT License.

Microsoft windowscentral.com

Microsoft to replace Edge with a Chromium-powered browser on Windows 10

Big rumor coming out of Redmond this week:

Microsoft is throwing in the towel with EdgeHTML and is instead building a new web browser powered by Chromium, which uses a similar rendering engine first popularized by Google’s Chrome browser known as Blink.

I’ve long been a proponent for browsers differentiating at the feature/integration layers and teaming up at the rendering layer, so I view this as good news. What do you think?

GitHub Blog Icon GitHub Blog

Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub is now official

New GitHub CEO, Nat Friedman:

I’m thrilled to share that the Microsoft acquisition of GitHub is complete. 🎉 Monday is my first day as CEO. Millions of people rely on GitHub every day, and I am honored by the opportunity to lead this company.

He goes on to share the two principles for GitHub and these three objectives that are at the top of his mind moving forward:

  1. Ensuring GitHub is the best place to run productive communities and teams
  2. Making GitHub accessible to more developers around the world
  3. Reliability, security, and performance

Business Insider Icon Business Insider

GitLab raised $100 Million at a $1.1 Billion valuation

A year ago, Business Insider said “You may never have heard of GitLab…” as part of their announcement of their Oct. 2017 raise of $30 Million (no valuation was provided then). This year, Microsoft changed that by putting this market on high alert with their acquisition of GitHub for a whopping $7.5 Billion.

…over 100,000 code repositories were moved to his platform from GitHub following the news of the Microsoft acquisition.

Sid said “the deal served as a ‘wake-up call’ to developers, giving them the impetus to look at competing platforms” — like GitLab. The deal also served as a wake up call to those who had been investing or wanted to invest in GitLab and bring the money to them…Sid was quoted on TechCrunch saying:

…GitLab’s original plan was to raise a new funding round at a valuation over $1 billion early next year. But since Iconiq came along with an offer that pretty much matched what the company set out to achieve in a few months anyway, the team decided to go ahead and raise the round now.

What’s interesting is that I can recall a time when GitLab was known in developer circles simply as a straight up, open source, GitHub clone. Continued development, great leadership, and a $1.1 Billion valuation later…they have been cemented as a serious GitHub contender.

The Verge Icon The Verge

Microsoft tests ‘warning’ Windows 10 users not to install Chrome or Firefox

Tom Warren writing for The Verge:

Microsoft is testing a warning for Windows 10 users not to install Chrome or Firefox. The software giant is in the final stages of testing its Windows 10 October 2018 Update, and testers have spotted a new change that appears when you try to install a rival web browser. “You already have Microsoft Edge – the safer, faster browser for Windows 10” says a prompt that appears when you run the Chrome or Firefox installers on the latest Windows 10 October 2018 Update.

Yes, the update in the article makes it clear that this is only being tested, but to me, that doesn’t excuse this type of shady behavior. Why is this being tested in the first place?

Unfortunately for Microsoft, invasive and creepy conduct like this will only make people steer clear of its browser and other products.

Donald Fischer Tidelift

The data behind Microsoft's surprising open source track record

Our friends at Tidelift have joined data from GitHub and their own Libraries.io, “the largest open source software dataset in the world,” — which covers over 2.8 million open source projects. They were able to combine the two datasets to gather the entire commit history of each project on GitHub to more closely examine the following questions:

  1. What exactly has been Microsoft’s role in the open source community?
  2. In which projects and ecosystems have they contributed most?
  3. Have those contributions been focused on the large Microsoft open source initiatives, or has the company also participated in projects beyond their immediate purview?

They were also careful to clean the dataset of forks and duplicate packages which would misinform this analysis.

So what’s the verdict? Microsoft may have a mixed history with open source, but today the company is demonstrating some impressive traction when it comes to open source community contributions. If we are to judge the company on its recent actions, the data shows what Satya Nadella said in his announcement about Microsoft being “all in on open source” is more than just words.

The data behind Microsoft's surprising open source track record
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