Microsoft spares TLS 1.0 in Azure DevOps Services after customer backlash, Cosmos DB makes good on blurtage

Also: Stable Edge for all (staffers) and setting a good example with regard to coronavirus


Roundup Cosmos DB has rolled out a free tier, staffers get their mitts on stable Edge, and Azure DevOps Services steps back from axing TLS 1.0. For now. Yes, it's the weekly roundup of all things Microsoft we haven't already covered.

TLS 1.0/1.1 in Azure DevOps Services granted a stay of execution

Sometimes Microsoft will listen to the wailing of its users: the disablement of TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in DevOps Services has been postponed "until further notice".

The removal of the elderly Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol was supposed to have happened on 31 March, preceded by brief hour-long outages between 00:00 and 01:00 UTC and 14:00 and 1500 UTC on 10 March.

Insisting that 95 per cent of customers used TLS 1.2 anyway, and the self-hosted version, Azure DevOps Server, would not be affected, Microsoft dropped the news on 27 February. Once TLS 1.0 and 1.1 were disabled, connections to Azure DevOps Services could have failed from Visual Studio versions 2010, 2012 and 2013. In addition, some of the company's older operating systems, such as Vista, do not support the newer protocol while others, like Windows Server 2008 require an update to enable the thing.

Since Windows 8, however, TLS 1.2 has been the default.

Microsoft has been trying to strip TLS 1.0 (first defined in 1999) from its products in favour of something a little more recent and secure even to the point of back-porting TLS 1.2 to XP POSReady 2009. Azure DevOps Services is just the latest in a long line of platforms to be dealt with.

Except not now. Citing "early feedback from some customers," Redmond has said the deprecation is off for the time being.

The pause gives affected developers a little more breathing space, but we'd suggest dealing with the issue without delay. It is surely only a matter of time before the axe swings again.

Cosmos DB goes free, with strings attached

In a surprise to absolutely nobody (thanks to last week's premature blurtage) Microsoft has announced a free tier for its distributed database Cosmos DB.

Ostensibly a good thing – the previous trial was maddeningly limited – the new introductory level will make it a good deal simpler to have a play with the technology. Once the Free Tier is enabled, customers will get 400 RU/s throughput and 5GB of storage in their account per month.

That's enough to do some tinkering, for sure. However, be wary – exceed those figures and you will start incurring charges. It is also only possible to have one Free Tier account per Azure subscription. On the plus side, that 400 RU/s can be shared by up to 25 containers in a shared throughput database.

Microsoft cited examples including an Alexa app to help commuters or a web app designed to manage online resources as things one could do with its largesse. We'd suggest getting developers trained in keeping an eye on usage. While the first 400 RU/s may be free, those costs can quickly mount for the careless.

Microsoft chows down on its browser dogfood

Microsoft began rolling out the stable version of its Chromium-based Edge browser to staffers last week. 100,000 employees have been playing with pre-release incarnations and Microsoft's IT team has spent the last year validating deployment scenarios and processes.

And now, it appears, the time has come for New Edge to spread over the whole organisation.

The first wave will see the stable version rolled out to 15,000 employees, and key portals (like HR) checked for stability. Further deployments in waves of 20,000-40,000 employees will then hit, likely continuing through April.

Interestingly, those employees on the beta scored the new browser in the 150 to 160 out of 200 range for Net User Satisfaction (NSAT), which doesn't sound all that fantastic until one considers that old Edge hovered between 70 and 80.

Good guy Microsoft?

Finally, those deployments may encounter a challenge or two in the Seattle area as Microsoft's employees began to adapt to working from home. Certainly, the postings on social media have made a change from complaints about the company's open-plan policies.

Sending staff home is one thing. However, Microsoft has taken the step of ensuring the hourly employees that work in its facilities supporting it staffers will not lose out as the impact of the COVID-19 virus continues to be felt in the Puget Sound region and the rest of the US West Coast.

Even though there won't be a whole lot of work to do in terms of staffing canteens or driving shuttle buses around, Microsoft has committed to paying its vendor hourly service providers their regular pay.

The company acknowledged that not all businesses had its resources, but since it could afford to do so then, heck, it was right thing to do.

Other tech giants, such as SalesForce, have taken the same step.

Though it pains our grinchy vulture hearts to say so, and regardless of where one stands on the pandemic-versus-panic argument, this is a classy move from Microsoft and one for which the company has been applauded. ®


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