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Killexams : Microsoft Operations get - BingNews Search results Killexams : Microsoft Operations get - BingNews Killexams : Microsoft has quietly started selling Windows 11 licenses

What just happened? When Microsoft released Windows 11, acquiring it involved either upgrading from Windows 10 or buying a pre-built PC. Recently, Windows 11 licenses mysteriously appeared on the Microsoft Store, making the OS installation a little easier for new custom builds.

Microsoft started selling Windows 11 licenses on its store within the last few weeks without telling anyone. Windows 11 Home and Pro versions cost the same as Windows 10 licenses, but this can remove a step for many users looking to quickly install Windows 11.

PCMag only discovered the Windows 11 store pages recently, but it's estimated this happened sometime in May. Windows 11 Home and Pro digital licenses cost $139 and $199, respectively.

The new store listings primarily help users who build PCs, need to buy a new license, and want to immediately install Windows 11. The main methods of installing Microsoft's latest operating system are to either upgrade from within Windows 10 or buy a PC that includes Windows 11.

DIY builders can also create a Windows 11 boot drive or boot disc, but activating it usually involved an older Windows license or key until now. More advanced users can also get a Windows 11 ISO.

Per Microsoft's FAQ, Windows 11 is a free upgrade for Windows 10 PCs that are running the most current version of the operating system, and meet the minimum hardware specifications. That latter part was met with a ton of controversy, although there are ways to skip over TPM requirements.

Microsoft hasn't said anything about its new Windows 11 installation option, and it isn't clear why. Perhaps it's better business for the company to sell Windows 11 packaged in new PCs.

Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:49:00 -0500 Daniel Sims en-US text/html
Killexams : Microsoft is bringing one of the new Windows 11 features to Windows 10

Microsoft is bringing Windows 11’s new printing capabilities to Windows 10 as it remains fully committed to the old operating system. Microsoft has previously stated that a “scoped set of features” will be delivered to Windows 10 over the coming months/years. The new printing capability is the latest example of this new approach.

Microsoft is planning to bring similar features to Windows 10 from Windows 11 to make migration easier. By adding a couple of new features to Windows 10, Microsoft says it’s delivering on its promise that the “experience of managing capabilities for Windows 11 and Windows 10” will remain consistent until 2025.

The new printing experience for Windows 10 introduces the ability to add a PIN to a print job. When a PIN is added to a print job, the job is not printed until you enter the same code on the printer. This is one of the new ways to avoid duplicate connections/incorrect printouts.

Windows 10 printing feature

PIN integration could reduce paper and toner waste, according to Microsoft. At the same time, it will also provide some privacy and increased security to users, especially in an environment with more than one printer.

For enterprise customers, Microsoft is also adding support for Print Support App (PSA) platform to Windows 10. This allows companies to add features and print workflows to the print experience without installing any new driver.

Windows 11’s new printing feature is heading to Windows 10 with Build 19044.1806 (KB5014666) which is available in the Release Preview Channel.

The same update also added a new consumer-friendly feature that lets you receive important notifications when Windows 10’s Do not disturb mode (Focus assist) is on. This is also one of the new features of Windows 11.

Microsoft is planning to launch Windows 10 version 22H2 with a number of minor new features and improvements mostly aimed at enterprise customers. Version 22H2 shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone closely following Microsoft’s development. The company has previously confirmed that it plans to support Windows 10 until October 2025.

As mentioned at the outset, Microsoft officials recently confirmed that Windows 10 version 22H2 will be released with a scoped set of features. No specifics have been provided and we don’t know what’s heading to the operating system this year. However, it goes without saying that users shouldn’t expect much.

Windows 10 version 22H2 is already available for get in the Release Preview. If you want to try it right now, you can get the build by joining the Windows Insider Program.

Thu, 04 Aug 2022 19:45:00 -0500 Mayank Parmar en-US text/html
Killexams : Microsoft confirms issues in Windows 10 KB5015807 update

If you believed that skipping Windows 11 upgrade would spare you from the ongoing issues in the latest updates, then we have some bad news for you. While Windows 11 update (KB5015882) broke the Start menu, users have also reported annoying issues in Windows 10 KB5015807.

KB5015807 is part of Windows 10’s July 2022 Patch Tuesday cycle and it includes fixes for several individual files involved in making the operating system and other Microsoft apps or drivers work. The Patch Tuesday updates generally include fixes for critical security issues that could allow viruses to infect your system.

Users are reporting that Windows 10 KB5015807 fails to install on some systems and the get abruptly ends without any warning. This has been flagged by users in the Feedback Hub and as well as Reddit:

“There were some problems installing updates, but we’ll try again later. If you keep seeing this and want to search the web or contact support for information, this may help: (0x800f0831),” the error message reads, providing no clue as to what went wrong during the installation.

In addition to installation failures, users have also reported that Windows 10 July 2022 update could break the printers. The printers would re-install another instance of the printer, and both instances don’t have an assigned port (USB) assigned, therefore causing all printers not to print at all.

This has been confirmed by the company in an update to the support documentation.

In the updated document, Microsoft noted the company has received reports of devices creating duplicate copies of printers already installed on the same. The duplicate entries use a similar name and the suffix “Copy1”, and apps that rely on the specific name cannot print.

The update also affects the normal printer usage and normal printing operations may not work.

Microsoft is currently working on a new update to address the problem, but there’s a temporary workaround to fix issues in KB5015807:

  1. Open the “Settings” app.
  2. Navigate to the “Bluetooth & devices” section and look for a duplicate copy of a printer. You can remove the copies of the printer and continue using the original installation.
  3. You can also install the latest driver for your printer if you continue to run into the same problem. Another workaround involves reinstallation of the printer after successfully removing it from the system.

“We are presently investigating a resolution and will provide an update when more information is available,” Microsoft noted.

Printing errors in Windows 10 or Windows 11 have been a long-standing issue for several months now. Microsoft has released patches and updates to address the issues with printing, but updates have resulted in additional issues.

It’s likely that Microsoft will be paying more attention to fixing the issues once and for all, and the printing situation will eventually get better.

Mon, 25 Jul 2022 07:46:00 -0500 Mayank Parmar en-US text/html
Killexams : How to get Windows 10 for free

When Windows 10 first arrived, nabbing a free upgrade was as simple as clicking the Get Windows 10 notification prompt. Things are a bit different now, however, especially with the new free upgrade to Windows 11 being around.

In addition to that, Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7, which means there’s no more technical support, security updates, or bug-squashing. In other words, Windows 7 is now unsafe to use, making this an excellent time to switch to Windows 10 or, switch to Windows 10.

Unfortunately, the original free upgrade period to Windows 10 ended years ago, and the workaround to get Windows 10 for free with Assistive Technologies ended not long after that. No need to worry, though — there are still ways to get Microsoft’s latest operating system without paying for a new license or breaking any rules.

With product keys and digital licenses

It would be best to have a valid product key or a digital license to get a free upgrade. What’s the difference? When you purchase an operating system from Microsoft or any retailer, it comes with a product key to unlock it. It’s printed and included in the packaging, emailed to you, or stored in the cloud, which is usually the case for system builders.

What is a digital license?

A digital license connects your installed Windows platform to a key embedded in prebuilt systems from Acer, Dell, HP, and so on. For a long time, these manufacturers printed product keys on labels stuck on PCs or printed and inserted them into product packaging. Microsoft’s product keys typically only work once, but hackers sometimes find workarounds to use the same key on multiple PCs.

That led Microsoft and manufacturers to introduce digital licenses in Windows 8 as an antipiracy measure, so end users aren’t installing the platform on additional machines. However, Microsoft also moved Windows 7 over to this method. This license becomes locked to your Microsoft account.

If you legitimately purchased and no longer use these older versions, Microsoft’s Windows 10 activation servers will accept Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 keys on your PC.

What if I can't find my key?

However, if you’re upgrading from Windows 7 and can’t find the key, you can try signing in to your Microsoft account and checking past downloads to see if your product key is there. Sites like Amazon also keep a record of purchased downloads, but these rarely include the product key itself, though it may help narrow down where it could be.

Finally, you can get Windows 10 and perform a clean install. It will then pull the valid Windows 8/8.1 license key from your prebuilt system’s motherboard and move on. In all other cases, you must supply an authentic, genuine product key during the setup process, or you can do it later by visiting Settings > Update & security > Activation.

If you don’t have a valid Windows 7 license key, you must follow our other guide about how to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

millions of people still using windows 7 10 upgrade 768x768
Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

Using the Windows 10 Media Creation tool

Despite officially ending the free update promotion in mid-2016, Microsoft quietly keeps this option available so all Windows PC owners can run the latest version. Again, unless you have a valid digital license or product key to get a free upgrade, you will be required to pay for a new Windows 10 Home product key.

Step 1: Your first step in acquiring a free Windows 10 upgrade is to visit Microsoft’s download Windows 10 webpage.

Step 2: Select the Download tool now button.

You’ll see MediaCreationTool21H1.exe get onto your PC, which shouldn’t take longer than a minute to occur. Disconnect any unnecessary accessories to help reduce the chance of errors.

Step 3: Launch the Media Creation Tool.

how to get windows 10 for free upgrade this pc

Step 4: Once it is downloaded, open it, and accept Microsoft’s terms.

As shown above, you have two options: Upgrade the current PC, or create installation media that will either upgrade another PC or perform a clean install on the current PC. However, in both cases, the tool will temporarily get a disk image of Windows 10, so be sure you have enough space for the file — around 4GB, at least.

Step 5: Select the Upgrade this PC now option and follow the prompts. The tool will scan your computer to see if it’s compatible and may present a list of problematic programs or hardware that could stall the upgrade. If needed, uninstall programs to address the installer’s concerns.

Step 6: With all issues resolved, the installer will try to port over all the data it can. Keep in mind, however, the vast gap between Windows 7 and Windows 10 in terms of the software you use. If you’re ditching Windows 7 after using it for many years, you probably have a lot of data stored in files and apps. We can’t ensure that all files and apps will be compatible with Windows 10, and some may stop working.

Step 7: It’s essential to be aware of this and prepare before upgrading. Back up or convert any crucial data before you continue.

Step 8: Finish installation.

Step 9: As the installer progresses, your PC will restart a few times. As part of the process, it will pull your existing digital license from your hardware during the setup — you won’t need to activate it. If prompted for a valid product key, enter it now or do so later by visiting Settings > Update & security > Activation.

Keep in mind that this won’t work for Windows XP or Windows Vista, as these versions of Windows never qualified for the free Windows 10 upgrade.

Step 10: You’ll also receive the same flavor of Windows that first shipped with your PC — Home, Pro, Enterprise, or Education. If you’d rather use Windows 10 Pro instead of the Windows 10 Home update, you must purchase a new product key.

Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

Other methods for getting Windows 10

The above method is the best way to get Windows 10 for free — at least for now. There are other ways you can get Windows 10 if you need it, including free and low-cost options that may be worth exploring.

Upgrade from Windows 7

Buy a copy of Windows 10 from Microsoft. Please read our guide on how to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Note that if you're a student, or work at a large organization, you might be eligible for free or discounted Windows. Microsoft has more on that in a support page.

Download Windows 10 without activating

Technically, you can download Windows 10 from Microsoft and not activate it, which means you don’t pay for it. It turns out this is safer than it sounds because Microsoft is pretty lax about enforcing activation. Your copy of Windows shouldn’t shut down, but some limitations kick in after your 30-day evaluation:

  • An Activate Windows watermark appears in the bottom-right corner.
  • A Windows Isn’t Activated, Activate Windows Now notification appears in settings.
  • Personalization features such as changing the wallpaper and accent colors are disabled.
  • Updates may discontinue in the future.
  • Various apps and features stop working.
  • You’ll receive daily notifications to activate.
  • No technical support.

We want to stress that using an unactivated version of Windows 10 is not permitted by Microsoft. Although it may appear like a fantastic steal (sounds about right), in reality, you’re breaking the rules and defying Microsoft’s licensing agreement. Microsoft would be completely within its rights to pursue legal damages against anyone using the Windows 10 OS unactivated, though they haven’t done so yet as far as we know. Better safe than sorry. In the end, if Microsoft wanted to stop people from using these versions, they could do it.

Buy a third-party Windows 10 key

You can find third-party vendors who sell Windows 10 manufacturer keys at a bargain. Going through these companies enables you to purchase the keys at half (or even lower) of the full Microsoft price. While it may sound like a scam, you can find reliable vendors who just happen to have a good price, but you need to stay on your toes. What customers need to do is hunt for trustworthy key vendors who offer incredible bargains. Easier said than done, though.

PCDestination has them for $45. But overall, we still suggest shopping around.

As you can guess, it is very much possible to still upgrade and get Windows 10 for free in 2022. You just need to follow our methods covered above -- from using your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 product key or even getting a license through work or school at no cost. Our tips and tricks are in line with Microsoft's terms, too.

This means you don't have to worry about if it is legal to get Windows 10 for free. And, if you're worried about if you can upgrade to Windows 11 if you already got WIndows 10 for free, well, it's just as easy and painless. Your upgrade to Windows 10 will supply you a digital entitlement to Windows, which means if your hardware fits Microsoft's requirements to run Windows 11, you can get Windows 11 at any time for no extra cost.

Editors' Recommendations

Wed, 13 Jul 2022 15:00:00 -0500 Arif Bacchus en text/html
Killexams : Microsoft's On-Premises Unified Update Platform To Control All Windows Updates in 2023


Microsoft's On-Premises Unified Update Platform To Control All Windows Updates in 2023

Microsoft announced last week that a private preview of its Unified Update Platform (UUP) for on-premises environments is available for testing by commercial organizations.

The private preview, which requires signing up by filling out a form, likely will be something that organizations will want to try. Microsoft already has plans to update all new Windows operating systems using UUP on premises, which will start happening early next year.

"In fact, starting in early 2023, all new releases of Windows will be serviced with UUP updates," the announcement indicated.

The announcement included a timeline showing UUP on premises essentially replacing Microsoft's existing platforms used for updating Windows systems, namely Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager, starting in Q1 2023.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1. Microsoft's timeline showing on-premises UUP replacing other Windows update methods next year (source: July 22 Microsoft Tech Community blog post).

The on-premises UUP addresses both "quality updates" (Microsoft's monthly software updates) and "feature updates" (new Windows OS installations).

"The Unified Update Platform (UUP) is a single publishing, hosting, scan, and get model for OS quality and feature updates for all Windows-based operating systems," the announcement explained.

Microsoft first began referencing its UUP technology back in 2016, mostly as a service that would shrink the size of Windows 10 feature updates. It was just a service used for updates, it seemed back then.

In its announcement, though, Microsoft now describes UUP on premises as integrating with, and replacing as a source for updates, Microsoft's current management tools such as WSUS and Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager.

UUP on premises reduces some work that was previously associated with maintaining Windows 10 and Windows 11 environments, the announcement contended. For instance, IT pros don't have to use "media-based task sequences" for Windows upgrades. OSes can be upgraded with "one reboot." Also, OS upgrades will retain prior features on demand (FOD) and language pack (LP) installations.

Microsoft also is promising improvements when applying quality updates (monthly patches and security fixes) using UUP on premises. Those perks include:

  • Ability for end users to acquire FODs and LPs offline
  • Automatic corruption repair
  • Minimized quality update client get sizes

Even though UUP on premises was described as eventually replacing WSUS and System Center Configuration Manager for updating Windows environments, organizations testing the private preview of UUP on premises are required to use either of those products with the private preview, per the announcement's description.

For organizations using Configuration Manager, Microsoft has a minimum requirement to use version 2111 or later of that product if they want to test the UUP on premises private preview.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

Tue, 26 Jul 2022 03:15:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : You can now buy a Windows 11 license directly from Microsoft No result found, try new keyword!You can now purchase a Windows 11 license and get it directly from the Microsoft website, instead of upgrading from a version of Windows 10, the company has confirmed. According to PCMag (opens ... Mon, 25 Jul 2022 05:42:21 -0500 en-us text/html Killexams : Here's How To Run Windows 11 On Your MacBook

Alongside Parallels 17, you will need to get the Windows 11 installation file. If you are using an Intel-powered Mac, you need to get the Windows 11 ISO file from Microsoft's website. If you are running one of the newer Macs powered by Apple Silicon, you will need to get the Windows 11 ARM version; at the time of writing, the latter is part of the insider build program, so you will need to register for the Windows Insider Program, then get the Windows ARM64 Insider Preview installation file.

The steps for installing Windows 11 using Parallels on Mac are the same for both the X86 and X64ARM versions. After you have installed Parallels on your Mac and downloaded the requisite Windows 11 file, launch the Parallels Desktop app and follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Install Windows option, then click Continue.
  2. Parallels will now automatically find the Windows 11 installation file on your computer. If it fails to do so, you can click on the Choose Manually option and navigate to the get location to select the file. Click on Continue to go ahead with the installation process.
  3. Parallels will ask for your use case for the Windows 11 operating system. Choose the correct option depending on your needs and Continue.
  4. Now, set the name and location for the installation file and click the Create button to start the installation.

The Windows 11 installation will now begin and Parallels will handle the entire process automatically. You can see the progress in a small virtual machine window on your Mac. It takes just a few minutes to complete the installation, so you won't have to wait for long. When the process is complete, you will see a message informing you that it has finished.

Sun, 17 Jul 2022 10:23:00 -0500 en-US text/html Killexams : Microsoft Denounces Advanced Spyware in Bid to Defuse It Threat Actor Uses Zero-Days to Deliver 'Subzero' Malware
Microsoft Denounces Advanced Spyware in Bid to Defuse It

An Austrian alleged purveyor of advanced spyware uses multiple Microsoft and Adobe zero-days to infect victims' computers, the operating system giant revealed in a bid to neutralize the cyberweapon supplier's hacking tool.

See Also: OnDemand | Zero Tolerance: Controlling The Landscape Where You'll Meet Your Adversaries

Microsoft fingers Vienna-based DSIRF as the threat actor behind malware known as "Subzero," a spyware application capable of keylogging, exfiltrating files and making remote updates. Known victims include law firms, banks and consultancies in Austria, the United Kingdom and Panama.

The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center says it tracked cyberespionage activities to DSIRF, which claims to provide "tailored research operations" to corporate clients. Microsoft says it discovered a command-and-control infrastructure and a GitHub account associated with the Austrian firm and a code-signing certificate issued to DSIRF was used to sign an exploit. The company did not respond to a request for comment. Microsoft bestowed the moniker "Knotweed" on the DSIRF malware.

The researcher's publication comes at a moment of heightened scrutiny of commercial spyware apps with intelligence agency-level capabilities. At least 30 such vendors now exist worldwide - a considerable jump from the handful of just a few years ago. U.S. lawmakers have pledged action against the firms while technology giants Facebook and Apple are suing premier spyware maker NSO Group in federal court (see: Tech Alone Won't Defeat Advanced Spyware, US Congress Told).

The Exploit Chain Used

The malware involves two phases: gaining access to victims' computers using zero-days and deploying the malware.

Attackers achieve the first phase through a variety of methods that include exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities or malicious Office document macros, a regular go-to method for hackers.

Notable among the exploited zero-days is a recently patched vulnerability that allows attackers to elevate their operating system access, tracked as CVE-2022-22047. Microsoft released the patch weeks ago as part of the company's monthly dump of fixes (see: July Patch Tuesday Fixes 1 Zero-Day, 84 Flaws).

Attackers exploited the vulnerability through a malicious PDF containing code able to escape the Adobe Reader sandbox and write a malicious dynamic link library to disk. They were able to get around Adobe sandbox restrictions preventing software writing out files since it's not until afterward that attackers hijack a system process to load the malicious DLL. In the Adobe sandbox, "the ability to write out files where the attacker cannot control the path isn't considered dangerous," Microsoft says.

The malware also previously exploited two Windows privilege escalation bugs - CVE-2021-31199 and CVE-2021-31201 - in conjunction with an Adobe Reader bug CVE-2021-28550 in an exploit chain to deploy Subzero spyware. All these bugs were patched in June 2021 (see: Microsoft Patches 6 Vulnerabilities Currently Under Attack).

Another Windows privilege escalation zero-day, CVE-2021-36948, in the Windows Update Medic Service, allows an attacker to force the service to load an arbitrary signed DLL. "The malicious DLL used in the attacks was signed by 'DSIRF GmbH,'" Microsoft says. Microsoft fixed the bug in August 2021.

The threat actor has also deployed a malicious Excel document disguised as a real estate document containing a malicious macro that was obfuscated by large chunks of text from the Kama Sutra describing the utility of an intermediary to initiate an affair.

Once attackers establish Subzero on a computer, they deploy the primary payloads from a command-and control-server. Microsoft dubs the second-stage software "Corelump" and says it was designed to evade detection by residing exclusively in memory. Corelump ensures persistence by installing Trojanized binaries Microsoft calls "Jumplump," which become responsible for loading Corelump into memory by calling code embedded into a jpeg saved to the computer's temp folder.

One of the jpegs used by attackers is an image macro of North Korean hereditary Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un holding an acoustic guitar, with the text, "Can I eat this?"

MSTIC also observed several post-compromise actions on its victims' systems. These include:

  • Setting UseLogonCredential to "1" to enable plaintext credentials;
  • Credential dumping via comsvcs.dll;
  • Attempting to access emails with dumped credentials from a KNOTWEED IP address;
  • Using Curl to get KNOTWEED tooling from public file shares such as vultrobjects[.]com;
  • Running PowerShell scripts directly from a GitHub gist created by an account associated with DSIRF.

Recommended Mitigation

Based on an analysis of the spyware campaign, Microsoft recommends the following mitigation measures:

  • Patch CVE-2022-22047.
  • Update Microsoft Defender Antivirus.
  • Look out for indicators of compromise on MSTIC's security blog to detect the existence of malware in your environment.
  • Change Excel macro security settings to control which macros run and under what circumstances when opening a workbook. Customers can also stop malicious XLM or VBA macros by ensuring runtime macro scanning by Antimalware Scan Interface is on.
  • Enable multifactor authentication to mitigate potentially compromised credentials.
  • Review all authentication activity for remote access infrastructure, with a particular focus on accounts configured with single-factor authentication, to confirm authenticity and investigate any anomalous activity.
Wed, 27 Jul 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Microsoft releases Outlook Lite for cheap Android smartphones in South Africa

Microsoft has launched Outlook Lite, a mobile application aimed at low-end Android smartphones.

Outlook Lite is available in South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela.

“Outlook Lite has the core experience of Outlook including access to emails, calendar, contacts, and more,” Microsoft said.

Outlook Lite supports, Hotmail, Live, MSN, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Exchange Online accounts.

Microsoft said Outlook Lite is about a 5MB get and “uses extremely low storage on your phone.”

The tech giant said the application works on slower networks, including 2G and 3G, and consumes less battery.

The lightweight application is responsive on entry-level Android smartphones, with Microsoft mentioning this includes devices with 1GB RAM.

Low-end Android smartphones with under 2GB RAM typically use Android Go as an operating system.

Google released Android Go based on Android 8.1 in late 2017. In the years that followed, the company released updated versions of Android Go, with the latest based on Android 12.

In South Africa, consumers on a budget can choose from several smartphones under R500.

Affordable smartphones are critical to many South Africans who rely on lower-cost devices to stay connected.

Now read: Google Play Store to crack down on copycat apps

Tue, 02 Aug 2022 21:42:00 -0500 Rual de Vries en-US text/html
Killexams : Ranking Recession Readiness: Microsoft Is A Good Defensive Play
Economy Crash

sefa ozel

It doesn’t take a clairvoyant with a crystal ball or even Michael Burry to see the US is fast headed towards a recession as the fed grapples with inflation and pumps the handbrake, sending the economy into a skid.

Take a quick peak at the US yield curve, and you’ll see a very worrying inversion of the curve which has only grown bleaker in the last month. Bloomberg estimates the likelihood of a recession at 38% in a report given persistent inflation, crashing crypto markets and consumer sentiment at record lows.

A screenshot of a chart showing data regarding US yield curves

Bloomberg’s economic models point to an early 2023 recession, and with that in mind, now would be a great time for investors to begin considering what to do with their portfolios and how to set them defensively for a downturn.

Ranking Recession Readiness is a series of articles I’m authoring based on academic research along with advice from business leaders who took their firms through the Great Recession of 2008, to help investors identify which top 100 US firms are positioned to strive through a downturn, and which firms will stumble.

Today we’ll be looking at a behemoth of the technology space, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). It’s a firm that needs no introduction really, so let’s get into the details of what makes it such a fantastic recession-ready firm.

A full breakdown of the methodology and explanation behind the calculations is available in my introductory article, Ranking Recession Readiness: Is Google Prepared For The Recession?

(Data & prices correct as of pre-market 13th July, 2022)

(The Top 100 US Firms referred to can be found on this Seeking Alpha screener)

Want to skip the articles and dive right into the data? You can download my data and calculations here and see how the Top 100 US Firms compare on Recession Preparedness

Microsoft’s Base Financial Health

First let’s start by assessing MSFT’s overall financial health, and getting a really good overall picture of how the firm is performing in today’s current operating environment, in order to supply ourselves a good understanding before we look to the future.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing data about a company's financials


First up, is MSFT’s base financial health, which shows us a really excellent picture of health. With a well-covered quick ratio for a worst-case scenario, very reasonable debt levels, strong operating efficiency and excellent net margins, MSFT is coming from a place of financial strength. Microsoft earns a perfect 100% score here.

Next, we dive into the obligations structure of MSFT’s debts.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing data about a company's financials


Firstly, MSFT has no short-term debt, and the long-term debt that it does have is extremely well covered with a covered ratio of nearly 40. Lastly, Microsoft’s current assets exceed its current liabilities almost twice over, so a perfect 100% score, with no concerns score here, so next we’re on to dividends.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing data about a company's financials


Microsoft’s dividend is extremely well covered by cash flow and earnings, so no concerns here either, another 100% score.

Lastly, we’re looking at Microsoft’s future outlooks.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing data about a company's financials


Strong forward-looking revenue estimates and increasing profitability show us Microsoft is extremely optimistic about its future, and this gives us no cause for concern.

So overall, with perfect 100% scores in all areas, we can say Microsoft is operating with absolutely no cause for concern in the current environment.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing data about a company's financials


With this in mind, now let’s consider in more detail how Microsoft’s balance sheet is positioned to face an economic downturn.

Assessing Microsoft’s Recession Preparedness

Based on the 2008 advice from business leaders, we first need to consider Microsoft’s debt and cash positions, and then look at liquidity and consider if the firm’s balance sheet presents any risks in the event of a downturn.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing data about a company's financials


Microsoft’s significant cash balance, which far outweighs it’s debt, gives it a fantastic defensive position (unlike Apple (AAPL), which has a nearly mirror-image balance sheet to MSFT).

MSFT also boasts a strong 25% FCF margin, which would allow the firm to pay off its debts 3 times over if it applied all of its FCF towards paying down debt.

We should see no concerns here, so let’s score each of these metrics, apply weights to the scores, and then rank Microsoft against the top 100 US firms.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing data about a company's financials


With a recession readiness score of 57.23%, Microsoft has an extremely well-structured balance sheet heading into a recession, making the core fundamentals extremely attractive for investors searching for a defensive stock heading into a recession.

But let’s now look a little closer at the qualitative elements of Microsoft and apply the rest of the learnings from 2008 to Microsoft’s narrative and see how it looks.

A Deeper Dive Into Microsoft’s Recession Readiness

Reviewing the themes of advice from 2008, the next items to consider were reducing exposure to customer financials by minimizing accounts receivable, reduce costs associated with unsold stock by selling down inventory, cut costs aggressively but avoid layoffs, and lastly, invest in CAPEX while opportunity costs are low.

Let’s begin with looking at accounts receivable for Microsoft.

A screenshot from a website showing a graph with information about a company's financials

Accounts receivable $32.613B, 21.18% of total current assets, 9.46% of total assets (Seeking Alpha)

Here, Microsoft has one fifth of its total current assets in receivables, which is a large component but not overly concerning, and certainly expected for any firm with growth. However, given the nature of Microsoft’s services, it’s hard to see a scenario where customers won’t pay their bills for servers and equipment, else risk a complete shutdown of their IT infrastructure. So, Microsoft could almost be considered a business staple, with reasonably safe receivables.

Next, we’re onto inventory.

A screenshot from a website showing a graph with information about a company's financials

Inventory $3.296B, 2.14% of total current assets, 0.95% of total assets (Seeking Alpha)

Despite the sheer size of the firm, Microsoft’s inventory assets are tiny compared to its current assets and total assets, so no concerns here.

Next, we look at how likely it is Microsoft will consider layoffs in a recessionary environment.

A screenshot from a website showing a graph with information about a company's financials

Total employees 181,000, $1,063,850 revenue per employee, $400,309 profit per employee (Seeking Alpha)

Microsoft has been investing in growth through increasing headcount and given the substantial revenue per head and profit per head, it doesn’t appear like the firm will need to take drastic action like significant layoffs in the event of a downturn, so this aspect of the business appears relatively safe.

Lastly, we need to consider how likely it is that Microsoft will invest in CAPEX projects during a downturn. Given the nature of their field, and a $23B yearly R&D budget, Microsoft is certainly well positioned to deploy projects in this space and will likely benefit from its customers considering doing the same with upgrades to their own IT systems.

Closing Remarks

Microsoft scores perfect marks in all areas of the business heading into a recession, and it’s hard to see any major areas of risk for the firm.

I supply MSFT a Strong Buy recommendation for investors looking at a recessionary defensive play but note that there is a non-zero level of risk associated with accounts receivable, and the balance sheet would be flawless if MSFT could minimize its debts further before a recession hits.

AAPL vs MSFT: I’d like to know your thoughts on AAPL vs MSFT, given the two firms have almost opposing balance sheets, which firm would you rather be holding in a downturn? Leave a comment below and let me know.

If you have any questions or would like to see any particular Top 100 US Firms assessed for their recession readiness, please leave a comment and let me know (I always do my best to monitor and respond to genuine comments!).

Sat, 23 Jul 2022 16:12:00 -0500 en text/html
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