Spot that little book button near the top? Wonder what's in there.

While most of us are enjoying the new email system at Dundee Uni hosted by the nice folk at Microsoft’s Office 365, many of us are noticing something else new… the spam!

I may have a theory as to why this spam has suddenly started pushing its way through to us in loads like we have never had before.  Many of us have chosen to syncronise our online Outlook account with Outlook on our PCs, it’s simple to do and it means our emails are available on our computers offline, but it’s not just syncing your emails.

The complete address book of Dundee University.

If you are using Outlook on your PC right now, click the Address Book button on your toolbar, what do you see?

That’s right, the entire address book including emails of students and phone numbers of staff is synced directly onto your computer, not such a big deal right?  Think again.

There are litterally thousands of people who are potentially using Microsoft Outlook to read their Dundee University emails.  What happens when just one of them gets a virus?

One of the major characteristics of a virus is that it spreads itself.  The most common method of doing this is through spam and if you have a virus on your computer, where’s the first place it’s going to look for people to send emails to?  In Outlook’s Address book.

It just takes one person using Outlook to get a virus and thus give away every single email address of Dundee University Students and Staff.  I’m not just saying it’s going to happen, I’m saying it almost certainly has happened and it’s a fair bet that somewhere out there, there’s a complete list of our email address on someone’s server ready to use for whatever they want to send us.

 

WinAppLin - Because I'm a computer scientist, not a fan boy.

Because I'm a computer scientist, not a fan boy.

After seeing yet another Windows Vs Apple Fanboys rant, I decided to give you some idea as to where I stand by making the above image.

I’ve made it available to use by anyone as defined here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Microsoft has agreed to buy Skype for $8.5 billion. That’s an awful lot of money for a company that was recently valued at a lot less and has been struggling to make a profit but what does this mean for Mac and Linux users?

I’m not concerned about the cost and I’m sure that Microsoft will help an already great business go far. What I’m concerned about is the user, specifically, the non Microsoft user.

Microsoft insist that they will keep Skype multi-platform, a feature that has helped keep Skype on top of the Internet Phone market. Skype has feature rich applications for not just Windows, but Macs, Linux and several mobile platforms. I have no doubt that Microsoft will continue development for these platforms but my concern is about the extent to which they will do this.

My primary computers are a Windows 7 desktop and an Apple MacBook running Snow Leopard. I have no bias between Mac and Windows and believe both platforms have their benefits. However, any Mac user can tell you of their frustration with Microsoft Messenger.

On Windows, Microsoft’s Messenger is feature rich. You have winks, web cams, facebook integration, Games, Photo sharing, Video Sharing, Video Messages, Slideshows, the list goes on. However, Microsoft Messenger for mac has very few of these features, in fact, up until a few months ago, it didn’t have Webcam support, something the windows version has had for as long as I’ve known it.

The reason for this is simple, Microsoft doesn’t give enough support to its mac developments team, I remember seeing a support forum on the Messenger for Mac site when people were complaining about the lack of webcam support in which a member of the development team cited lack of funding as an issue. I won’t go into details of the Linux development team… there isn’t one.

So yes, I believe Skype will continue to be available for Mac and Linux but my concern is that with closer integration with the Windows Live Network, will great new features, developed by Microsoft also appear on other platforms and if so, will they keep all platforms in sync with each other.

I don’t want a great new feature appearing on Skype for Windows and having to wait months, if not years, for it to appear on Mac and Linux because Microsoft wants to concentrate on making Skype for Windows.