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Usage of Linux on Azure surpasses Windows Server

The usage of Linux on Azure has exponentially surpassed the Windows, confirmed Microsoft Linux Kernel developer, Sasha Levin, to ZDNet.

The battle between Windows and Linux has been going on for over a decade. While Windows became a clear dominant OS on desktops, the Linux has won the battle on server.

In 2016, Azure CTO Mark Russinovich had revealed that 25% of the Azure instances were Linux, which increased to 40% the next year. Then in 2018, Microsoft told ZDNet that around 50% of Azure VMs were Linux.

This shows that Linux hasn’t won the battle overnight. More and more enterprises are choosing Linux over Windows when it comes to server.

“Every month, Linux goes up,” Scott Guthrie, Executive VP of the cloud and enterprise group, Microsoft told ZDNet in September last year.

Microsoft users have been actively choosing Linux and open-source software for over 10 years, since Microsoft open-sourced ASP.NET. “We recognized open source is something that every developer can benefit from. It’s not nice, it’s essential. It’s not just code, it’s community,” said Guthrie. “We’re now the largest open-source project supporter in the world.”

Now, there are almost a dozen of Linux distros available on Azure, that too without considering the Microsoft’s own Azure Sphere.

READ NEXT: Microsoft to stop support for Windows 7 from January 2020


Microsoft to stop support for Windows 7 from January 2020

Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed that it will officially end support for its Windows 7 operating system on January 14, 2020. From this day, Windows 7 will not be supported on laptops and desktops and will no longer get security and technical updates. Though the 10-year-old software will continue to function, but Microsoft customer service will not be available to provide Windows 7 technical support.

“Support for Windows 7 will close on January 14, 2020. This means that after this, the operating system will not get security and technical updates. So, the risk of using the computer devices running on it will increase,” Farhana Haque, Group Director of Microsoft India said at a press conference.

The tech giant suggests the users to shift to a Windows 10 based desktop, laptop or tablet as this is the latest operating system that’s productive and secure, and comes with updated features.

The shift to the modern desktop is already underway in organizations around the world. The cost for troubleshooting or fixing over four-year-old computers is more than the cost invested to purchase three or more fast and modern devices, with zero hassles, as per a report.

The transition from older version to the newest OS will benefit the organizations with better security and productivity gains offered by the modern desktops.

Microsoft also added that it is already working with the computer manufacturing companies such as Dell and HP to make the devices available at affordable costs. It is also seeing options to roll out buyback or exchange offers for its users.

ALSO READ: Windows 10 gets smart Phonetic Indic keyboards in 10 Indian languages

Image Source: Microsoft


Microsoft launches Azure Bastion to provide secure, remote access to Azure VMs

Microsoft has announced a new managed PaaS service that will provide enterprises secure and seamless RDP and SSH access to virtual machines directly through the Azure Portal.

Called Azure Bastion, the new service has been designed as an additional safeguard for the organizations that don’t want to connect to Azure VMs through public internet connections, as it can sometimes lead to the security and connectivity issues.

“Azure Bastion is a new managed PaaS service that provides seamless RDP and SSH connectivity to your virtual machines over the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This is completed without any exposure of the public IPs on your virtual machines,” Yousef Khalidi, Microsoft wrote in a blog post.

“Azure Bastion provisions directly in your Azure Virtual Network, providing bastion host or jump server as-a-service and integrated connectivity to all virtual machines in your virtual networking using RDP/SSH directly from and through your browser and the Azure portal experience. This can be executed with just two clicks and without the need to worry about managing network security policies.”

With the Azure Bastion, users can start an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) or SSH (Secure Shell) remote connection directly from the Azure portal using a web browser over SSL. This service will allow the users to access Azure VMs using a private IP address (see diagram below).

In future release, Microsoft plans to integrate Azure Active Directory with the Azure Bastion. The tech giant will also add seamless single sign-on capabilities, use of Azure Active Directory identities, as well as multifactor authentication to extend two-factor authentication to RDP/SSH connections.

There will also be support for RDP/SSH clients to enable them to connect securely with Azure Virtual Machines via Azure Bastion service.

Azure Bastion is currently available in preview.

READ NEXT: Microsoft releases new version of its machine learning framework ML.NET


Microsoft warns Windows users to “Update Now” to protect against new dangerous worm

Last month, Microsoft had released fixes for a critical Remote Code Execution vulnerability (CVE-2019-0708), called BlueKeep. This vulnerability was found in Remote Desktop Services, affecting some older versions of Windows. The tech giant has now warned that an exploit exists for this vulnerability.

According to an internet-scale port scanner, nearly one million devices on the public internet are vulnerable to BlueKeep.

“Future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017,” wrote Microsoft in a blog post.

Which versions of Windows are affected by BlueKeep vulnerability?

The following Windows systems are vulnerable to CVE-2019-0708 BlueKeep:

  • Windows 2003
  • Windows XP
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008

Users of Windows 8 and Windows 10 are not affected by this vulnerability.

How can BlueKeep vulnerability affect users?

If a vulnerable computer connected to the internet is compromised, it can provide a gateway to the corporate networks. This can allow attackers to spread advanced malware and infect all the computers across the enterprise.

It is a pre-authentication vulnerability and doesn’t need user interaction. Once the vulnerability is exploited, the attackers can execute arbitrary code on the target system. Then, the attacker can install programs, view/change or delete data, as well as create new accounts with full user rights.

“This scenario could be even worse for those who have not kept their internal systems updated with the latest fixes, as any future malware may also attempt further exploitation of vulnerabilities that have already been fixed,” added Microsoft.

Also read: Over 3 million malware detected on Android phones in 2018: Report

How to protect Windows against BlueKeep vulnerability?

Windows 2003 and Windows XP are out-of-support systems. Users of these systems can address the new vulnerability by upgrading to the latest Windows version.

Whereas, the users of in-support systems (Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2) can download the security patch from the Microsoft Security Update Guide.

The customers who are using an in-support version of Windows and have enabled automatic updates by default are protected automatically.

Cloud News

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) now supports Windows Server containers

Microsoft is bringing support for Windows Server containers to Azure’s fastest growing compute service—Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

Enterprises and developers run their application both on Linux and Windows. The AKS supported Linux containers only and some of the customers wanted support for Windows containers as well.

With the newly added support, the users will be able to manage Windows and Linux containers side by side in the same Kubernetes cluster. They can use the same APIs and tools for it.

Microsoft said that support for Windows Server containers in Azure Kubernetes Service will enable new scenarios. These containers can now be deployed and orchestrate in AKS, so that developers can migrate and modernize Windows Server apps in Azure.

Also read: Microsoft open sources AI algorithms that powers Bing search engine

“For example, you can now add Windows node pools to existing Virtual Network; or deploy a Linux container running a reverse proxy or Redis cache and an IIS application in a Windows container in the same Kubernetes cluster and even as part of the same application – all with consistent monitoring experience and deployment pipelines,” explained Taylor Brown, Principal PM Manager, Container Platform, Microsoft, in a blog post.

When users run Windows Server container in AKS, they will also be able to gain benefits of a number of existing Azure services and features. This will make the management and development of Kubernetes apps easier.

For instance, they can manage the lifecycle of Linux and Windows containers via Azure Container Registry, deliver apps faster on any operating system with a standard deployment pipeline, as well as gain insights into the health and performance of Kubernetes clusters.

Integration of Azure DevOps with AKS will help in automating the validation, testing, canary and production of apps.

The support for Windows Server containers in AKS is now available for preview.

Articles Cloud Cloud News

Top 7 announcements at Microsoft Build 2019 Developer Conference

At the Microsoft Build 2019 Developer Conference, the tech giant is making remarkable momentum in the cloud. It has announced a broad range of innovations that will help its Azure to dominate the world of cloud computing.

The three-day conference taking place in Seattle, WA, brings several new opportunities for the developers and the enterprises looking to dive into the latest cloud technologies, explore client development techniques, or discover new open source tooling and libraries.

The biggest news at Microsoft Build 2019 spanned Windows, Linux, Edge browser, Fluid Framework, and more.

Major announcements at Microsoft Build 2019 Developer Conference

1. Kubernetes Event-driven Autoscaling (KEDA)

Microsoft is adding a number of new features to its Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), which includes Kubernetes Event-driven Autoscaling (KEDA) and Azure Policy for AKS.

KEDA is an open source component that supports the deployment of serverless event-driven containers on Kubernetes created with collaboration with Red Hat. It will bring a new hosting option for Azure Functions that can be deployed as a container in Kubernetes clusters. It is now available in public preview.

Whereas, the Azure Policy for AKS will help in blocking violations happening at runtime and performs compliance assessments on existing clusters.

2. New features for Microsoft Edge

Last year, Microsoft announced its plans to adopt the Chromium open source project for developing Microsoft Edge on the desktop. The aim was to create better web compatibility for customers, and less fragmentation for the web for all web developers.

Now, the company is rolling out a number of new features that will be available with the next version of Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. These new features will include an Internet Explorer mode, Privacy Tools, and Collections.

The Internet Explorer Mode will bring the Internet Explorer to Microsoft Edge via a new tab. This will allow enterprises to run legacy IE-based apps in a modern browser.

The Privacy Tools will bring three levels of privacy in Edge browser—Unrestricted, Balanced, and Strict. These privacy levels will decide how third-parties track users across the web.

Whereas, the Collections will remove the information overload from users, by more efficiently collecting, organizing, and sharing content.

3. Shipping Linux Kernel with Windows

Windows loves Linux!

For the first time, the Linux kernel will be included as a component in Windows. Microsoft is adding an in-house custom-built Linux kernel to underpin the latest version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

4. Windows Subsystem for Linux: WSL 2

Microsoft has also unveiled a new architecture for the WSL for Linux. The updates will increase the file system performance, and enable full system call compatibility. This will allow customers to run more Linux apps in WSL 2.

The new architecture will update the way Linux binaries interact with Windows and computer’s hardware. Still, it will deliver the same user experience as in WSL 1.

5. Windows Terminal

Build conference has also witnessed the release of Windows Terminal, which is a new, modern, fast, efficient, and productive terminal application for customers who use command-line tools and shells, such as Command Prompt, PowerShell, and WSL.

6. Autonomous systems with Microsoft AI

Microsoft has unveiled a limited preview program for developers to build autonomous systems with Microsoft AI and Azure tools. These developers will be allowed to work with experts at Microsoft for developing intelligent agents that can autonomously run physical systems.

“Machines have been progressing on a path from being completely manual to having a fixed automated function to becoming intelligent where they can actually deal with real-world situations themselves,” said Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft vice president for Business AI.

“We want to help accelerate that journey, without requiring our customers to have an army of AI experts.”

7. New capabilities in Fluid Framework

Fluid Framework is a developer technology for building a new class of shared, interactive experiences on the web. It is getting three new capabilities.

First, it will support multi-person co-authoring on web and document content.

Second, it will allow authors to de-construct content into collaborative building blocks and use them across apps. They will also be able to combine the blocks in a new and more flexible kind of document.

Third, the Fluid Framework will now allow intelligent agents to work alongside humans for the purpose of translating text, fetching content, suggesting edits, performing compliance checks, and more.

 “We’ll make this technology broadly available to developers and integrate it into Microsoft 365 experiences like Word, Teams, and Outlook to transform the way that you work with these tools. We will launch both the software developer kit and the first experiences powered by the Fluid Framework later this year,” wrote Rajesh Jha, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Experiences and Devices, in a blog post.

Wrapping up:

Most of the announcements at the Microsoft Build 2019 are focused on developer tools, spanning Azure Kubernetes Service, Microsoft Edge, Windows, Linux, AI development, etc.

Also read: Microsoft rolls out new AI capabilities in Azure for developers and enterprises

Stay tuned with us for further announcements at Microsoft Build 2019.

Image source:


Red Hat Quay 3 brings support for Windows containers and multiple architectures

Red Hat has released the new version of its container image registry for the enterprises— Red Hat Quay 3. This is a major release of Quay that brings support for multiple architectures and Windows containers.

First released in 2013, Quay is a distributed and highly available container image registry that provides storage and enables enterprises to build, distribute, and deploy containers.

Red Hat Quay 3 is focused on security, scalability, and automation. The new support for multiple architectures will allow enterprises to run containers on more platforms. They will also be able to use different systems like IBM Power LE and Z System Workloads, ARM-based IoT devices, and Windows-based workloads.

Red Hat Quay will now support storing of Windows container images. Users can also use Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based images for the Quay container. The company said that building Quay on an RHEL-based image can bring more reliability, security, performance, and consistent operational model.

On the security front, Quay will now come with support for multiple authentication systems and identity providers. For instance, it will provide vulnerability scanning via integration with the Clair security scanner. Furthermore, it will provide encrypted CLI passwords, detailed logging of events for auditing, etc.

For the users of Red Hat OpenShift, the company mentioned that Quay is well-suited for these users because of its security and automation features. Red Hat will build tighter integration between OpenShift and Quay in the future.

“By including a configuration UI in this release, we are making strides toward our goal to help make Quay easier to run on Kubernetes and other deployments. It can automatically deploy changes to nodes and can trigger Kubernetes blue-green deployments of Quay containers for configuration updates,” explained Dirk Herrmann – Principal Product Manager Red Hat OpenShift, in a blog post.

“This can help make running Quay on OpenShift easier because you can deploy changes to the configuration of Quay itself more easily than in previous versions.”

Also read: Red Hat collaborates with public cloud giants to launch Kubernetes marketplace

Along with it, Red Hat has also changed its logo after around 20 years of its proposition.


Microsoft develops SECCON framework to strengthen security of Windows 10 devices

Microsoft has developed a new security configuration framework that will define the security levels required for the Windows 10 devices among enterprises.

Called SECCON, the new framework will simplify security configuration while still providing flexibility to balance, security, productivity, and user experience. Microsoft has defined five security levels for addressing the security needs of Windows 10 devices.

The reason behind developing SECCON framework is that there are thousands of group policies available in Windows. This makes the security configuration complex and makes it difficult for users to choose the best setting. They aren’t sure about the right policies needed for the implementation of a complete scenario. Sometimes they face unintended consequences of security lockdowns.

SECCON will organize the devices into one of 5 distinct security configurations.

  • Level 5 (Enterprise Security)

This should be the minimum level of the security configuration for enterprise devices.

  • Level 4 (Enterprise High Security)

The enterprise devices using which sensitive or confidential information is accessed, should use this level of security configuration.

  • Level 3 (Enterprise VIP Security)

The devices used by larger or more sophisticated security teams, or users who are at high risk, should have Enterprise VIP Security configuration. Recommendations for this level of security can be a little complex because it may need the removal of local admin rights for some organizations, which can take a lot of time.

  • Level 2 (DevOps Workstation)

The devices used by developers and testers should have the DevOps Workstation security configuration. They have access to servers and systems that consist of valuable data and critical functions.

  • Level 1 (Administrator Workstation)

Administrators of identity or security systems present the highest risk to the organization. Their compromised device can cause data theft, data alteration, or service disruption.

Also read: Microsoft expands its intellectual property program to include Azure IoT ecosystem and startups

“In the past, we left defining the security configuration for Windows 10 as a task for every customer to sort out. As a result, we saw as many different configurations as we saw customers. Standardization has many advantages, so we developed a security configuration framework to help simplify security configuration,” concluded Chris Jackson, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft in a blog post.


Kubernetes 1.14 brings support for Windows containers

The latest Kubernetes release is expanding the ecosystem from Linux only, to support for Windows containers.

Kubernetes 1.14, the latest version, is the first Kubernetes release of 2019. It will come with 31 enhancements—10 of which are moving to stable, 12 are in beta, while 7 are net new. But the most important enhancement is the production-level support for Windows Nodes.

For years, Kubernetes has been all about managing workloads using Linux containers. But the project is now making a major shift by graduating support for managing Windows containers from beta to stable.

This is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work over the past year across a number of Kubernetes Special Interest Groups (SIGs) including Windows, Node, and Architecture. The result is that Kubernetes, the de facto most popular open source container orchestration platform for Linux, now comes to Windows,” wrote Derek Carr, Senior Software Engineer, Red Hat, in a blog post.

Enterprises will now be able to add Windows nodes as worker nodes and schedule Windows containers. This will eliminate the need for enterprises to choose separate orchestration platform for Windows applications and Linux applications. It will help them increase operational efficiency across their deployments, regardless of operating system.

Enabling Windows containers in Kubernetes will bring support for Windows Server 2019 for worker nodes and containers, support for out of tree networking with Azure-CNI, OVN-Kubernetes, and Flannel. Further, it will improve the support for pods, service types, workload controllers, and metrics/quotas. The improvements are aimed to match the capabilities delivered for Linux containers.

Furthermore, Kubernetes 1.14 brings kubectl plugins from beta to stable release. This will enable developers to write Go code and extend kubectl with new commands.

Kubernetes team mentioned that they have rewritten the documentation of kubectl from the ground up with a focus on managing Resources using declarative Resource Config. The kubectl has now got new logo and mascot.

Also read: Red Hat collaborates with public cloud giants to launch Kubernetes marketplace

Kubernetes 1.14 is now available on GitHub for download. It can also be installed using kubeadm.


Patch Tuesday: Microsoft protects systems of customers with important security updates

On Patch Tuesday this month, Microsoft has fixed a number of significant security flaws in its products and services to keep the user systems protected.

One of the critical security updates fixed this Patch Tuesday is CVE-2019-0676 that was affecting Internet Explorer. It was an information disclosure vulnerability that exists when IE improperly handles objects in memory.

“An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could test for the presence of files on disk. For an attack to be successful, an attacker must persuade a user to open a malicious website,” explained Microsoft.

“The security update addresses the vulnerability by changing the way Internet Explorer handles objects in memory.”

Another important security fixes included CVE-2019-0630 and CVE-2019-0633 (Windows SMB Remote Code Execution Vulnerability). This vulnerability exists in the way Microsoft Server Block 2.0 (SMBv2) server handles certain requests.

Microsoft had also fixed Windows DHCP Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability that could allow attackers to send specially crafted packets to a DHCP server and then run arbitrary code on the server.

Apart from these, the tech giant has released more security updates to prevent users from attacks. Last month, the company had also made some quality improvements and fixes, including addressing the issue that could cause Microsoft Edge to stop working with certain display drivers.

Also read: Azure IoT Edge now supports virtual machines

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