This week didn't just offer the final patching bulletin of the year from Microsoft; it also included several updates to Azure, the company's cloud computing platform, and further details on how you can pay $99 an hour for Windows troubleshooting.
Azure SDK released
Some aspects of Azure are now
Microsoft's Answer Desk an answer to Genius Bar
Don't know why an employee's copy of Excel isn't properly calculating formulas? This might not be your problem anymore: Microsoft introduced the Answer Desk this week, which aims to easily help users find answers to their problems through a phone and chat interface, according to PC World. While chat is free, users will have to pony up cash to remove malware and Office training. Peter Bright at Ars Technica notes that this is a strange tactic, because Microsoft retail copies of software like Office come bundled with phone support options.
Patch Tuesday fixes Server 2003 flaw
Admins unwrapped a few gifts a little early with Patch Tuesday, fixing up three critical exploits and releasing a handful of other fixes. If you're still running Windows Server 2003 (and many of you are), you'll want to apply these patches when they drop on Tuesday. One planned patch, Computerworld notes, was removed due to compatibility problems. While every month seems to have critical updates, they have declined overall this year: 2011 has seen a dip in patches rated as the most severe, critical, patches, according to Mike Reavey at the Microsoft Security Response Center.