Ed Bott's Weekly Wrap: New Surface devices, Azure adds Touch ID support, Google's 'do the right thing'

Microsoft's big Windows 10 launch heads the week's most interesting tech news. There's also a surprising change in the Google (now Alphabet) code of conduct, more support for Apple hardware from Microsoft, and big news for LastPass users

Welcome to my wrap-up of the week's most interesting tech news.

In New York City, Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 devices

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Hurricane Joaquin swerved away from New York City and Microsoft's really big hardware reveal went smoothly.

Panos Panay had center stage for the introduction of the eagerly awaited Surface Pro 4 and the day's big surprise, the sleek new Surface Book laptop. It was a masterful performance from Panay, who's the best in the business at these high-profile intros.

Once again, Microsoft confirmed it can keep a secret. Details of the Surface Pro 4 and the two new flagship Lumia phones were known in advance, as was version 2 of the fitness-oriented Microsoft Band. But the new Surface Book was a complete surprise, with no details leaking in advance, as far as I can tell.

It's also news that new products will be shipping within weeks, with pre-orders open now. And one more tidbit, dropped almost in passing: Windows 10 now has more than 110 million users worldwide.

"Don't be evil" is now "Do the right thing" (unless you get a waiver)

Google changed its corporate structure this week, and the new parent corporation released a new code of conduct to celebrate the occasion. (The Washington Post has more details.)

Here's the well-known "Don't be evil" section of the original Google code of conduct:

"Don't be evil." Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users. But "Don't be evil" is much more than that. Yes, it's about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it's also about doing the right thing more generally - following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect.

[...]

We expect all of our employees and Board members to know and follow the Code. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

And here's the revised version of that code of conduct, released separately under the name of Google's new corporate identity, Alphabet:

Employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries and controlled affiliates ("Alphabet") should do the right thing - follow the law, act honorably, and treat each other with respect.

We expect all of our employees and Board members to know and follow this Code of Conduct. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment. Any waivers of this Code for directors or executive officers must be approved by our Board.

Spot the difference? Yes, "do the right thing" is an improvement over the low bar set by "don't be evil."

But the big change is that sentence tacked on to the end, which gives Alphabet's board the authority to grant a "waiver" that would presumably give directors or executive officers permission to do the wrong thing. But only once.

On Twitter, Richard Feeley approves:

Seriously, it's hard to imagine why the board felt compelled to add a Get Out of Jail Free card to their perk package for the new corporation's top execs. Leave your conspiracy theories in the comments, please. Extra points if you can find a way to blame Microsoft.

Windows 10 Mobile has a carrier problem

Microsoft's new Lumia 950 and 950XL flagship phones are impressive looking additions to the product line. (Product details here.)

Alas, the only carriers nailed down so far are AT&T in the U.S. and Deutsche Telekom in Europe. Verizon is noticeably absent, and I'm skeptical that Microsoft can do anything to convince VZW to get back on the Windows bandwagon.

All of which displays Verizon's grossly distorted role in the world market. Without support from Verizon, it's nearly impossible to succeed in the U.S. market. And without a strong hold in the U.S. market, it's hard to succeed worldwide.

Bonus shade thrown by T-Mobile CEO John Legere on Twitter:

That Amazon Fire Phone reference will definitely leave a mark.

Azure adds Touch ID authentication support

In case there was any lingering doubt about Microsoft's commitment to support iOS devices across all its services...

The company announced that its Azure Authenticator 2-factor authentication app now supports Touch ID:

Azure Multi-Factor Authenticator allows organizations to require a PIN in addition to having possession of their registered device. With this new feature, iOS users with Touch ID-enabled devices won't need to enter the PIN anymore. Once set up, users just scan their fingerprint instead of entering PIN and tapping Approve.

The linked post has detailed setup instructions.

Tweet of the week

Oren Kaufman makes an excellent point about Microsoft's uphill battle to explain its new cross-device app strategy:

That link leads to this tweet (and excellent accompanying graphic) showing the difference that responsive design makes:

Just in: LastPass acquired

The cross-platform password manager, popular among the tech elite, is being snapped up by LogMeIn. Initial reaction from my followers on Twitter is mostly negative. The reactions from customers in the comments to the LastPass blog post are even harsher.

ZDNet's Natalie Gagliordi has rounded up some of those comments and also got a statement from LogMeIn CEO Bill Wagner.

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