5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Aug. 8

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week includes Microsoft, which is mulling a plan to sell software volume license plans through its retail stores and is seeing customer adoption of Windows 8 hit a wall, and Apple and IBM, whose new partnership is being threatened by a Chinese government ban on select Apple products, including iPads, citing national security concerns.

Microsoft Partners Could Face Volume License Competition From Microsoft Retail Stores

Microsoft is reportedly mulling a plan to sell software volume license plans through its retail stores in a bid to boost the stores' profitability. Sources told CRN that customers could purchase volume licenses for Windows, Office, SQL Server and other products through the stores.

Today, "business development specialists" at the stores refer customers with volume license inquiries to distributors or partners. But starting as early as this quarter, the sources said, the in-store specialists will handle the volume license requests directly and provide customers with a quote. That would have a major impact on Microsoft's channel, as many partners make money selling Microsoft licenses.

China Device Ban Hits Apple And Its IBM Partnership

China's government has excluded a number of Apple products, including iPads and MacBook laptops, from the list of products that can be bought for government use -- reportedly for security concerns, according to a Bloomberg report this week. The list also could include the iPhone, which a Chinese news report last month also labeled a threat to national security because it can track user locations.

The ban is a blow to Apple, given that it would cut the company out of some potentially lucrative sales. But it also could put a wrench in the recently announced IBM-Apple partnership under which IBM can resell Apple products.

Target Data Breach Price Tag: $148 Million And Climbing

The fallout from last year's massive data breach continues to plague Target. This week, the retail giant told Wall Street to expect lower second-quarter financial results because expenses associated with the data theft are projected to reach $148 million in the quarter -- and possibly more.

Cybercriminals struck Target in November, stealing 40 million credit and debit card numbers, plus sensitive information on another 70 million customers. The second-quarter expenses involve breach-related claims, including claims by payment card networks, mounting legal fees, customer outreach and credit-monitoring services, and additional security safeguards.

Windows 8 Adoption Comes To A Halt

Customer adoption of Microsoft's Windows 8 has reached a standstill, and the market share of the beleaguered operating system is actually down, according to marker researcher Net Applications.

Windows 8.0 accounted for 5.92 percent of all desktop OSes in use in July while Windows 8.1 accounted for 6.56 percent -- with a combined 12.48 percent share for the month. That's actually down slightly over the past two months (from 12.64 percent in May). Solution providers told CRN that many customers are instead going with Windows 7 (July market share of 51.22 percent) or opting to wait until the release of Windows 9.

Security Researcher Warns Of Amazon Lapses

Organizations increasingly relying on Amazon Web Services infrastructure need to assess the security controls and configuration of the critical connections to its application services or risk a serious security breach, a security researcher warns.

Andres Riancho, an application security expert who leads the development and maintenance of web application security scanning project w3af, told attendees at the 2014 Black Hat USA Briefings that cloud security risks stem from system configuration weaknesses and common web application vulnerabilities.

A simple configuration error enables a determined attacker a pathway to control virtual instances and access critical resources stored at AWS or any cloud hosting service. In his presentation, Pivoting In Amazon Clouds, Riancho demonstrated his tool, Nimbostratus, designed to exploit Amazon infrastructure.