Microsoft to bundle Office with Win 8.1

windowscomputexSoftware giant Microsoft said at Computex today that when Windows 8.1 launches towards the end of this year, it will bundle Office with the operating system.

It also said that Windows 8.1 will support smaller form factor tablets and it will vary its licensing model to reflect that change.

Nick Parker, OEM VP at Microsoft, said: “We’re increasing our investment by providing Office in the box. That gives OEMs and their channel partners a premium sale, rather than an aftersale.”

But he seemed to imply that other than these changes, there will be no other licence changes.

Despite analysts reporting that there is a widespread fall in PC sales, Parker refused to be drawn on how that had affected sales of Windows 8. Nor did he accept the view of some analysts that disappointment about the original rev of Windows 8 had itself affected sales.

“We’re an industry going through transformation,” Parker said. “If you look at the categories where we have growth. it is up to us in the PC industry to be more agile”.

Microsoft will also bundle Office with RT, when the time comes.

Don’t tell AMD: Richland on sale in EU

AMD, SunnyvaleAMD is planning to introduce its next generation desktop Richland APUs tomorrow, to spice up what was a rather underwhelming showing at Computex. It has come up with a clever teaser video, in which it pits the new A10-6800K against Intel’s Core i5-3470, with and without dedicated Nvidia GT 630 graphics (spoiler alert: AMD’s new baby comes out on top).

However, although AMD has yet to introduce the new chips, most European retailers don’t seem to have gotten the memo. They are already selling them and they’re available from Scotland to Poland in dozens of shops. The prices are pretty good, too.

The range starts with the A4-4000, which is available for just £29. Of course, it’s not exactly a powerhouse, but it does have 1MB of cache, two cores clocked at 3.2GHz and Radeon HD 7480D integrated graphics with 128 shaders. The rest of the range is a bit more serious. The A6-6400K Black Edition is a dual-core clocked at 3.9GHz, with an unlocked multiplier. It’s going for £55, which isn’t bad at all.

Moving on to quad-cores, the A8-6500 is a 65W part clocked at 3.5GHz and priced at £92. It has 2x2MB of cache along with HD 8570D graphics, with 320 shaders clocked at 800MHz. The A8-6600K is a 3.8GHz quad core with the same HD 8570D graphics, clocked at 844MHz. It’s priced at £85.

The top of the range A10 parts aren’t too pricey. The A10-6700, a 3.7GHz quad core with 2x2MB of cache and a 65W TDP costs £115. It features HD 8670D graphics with 384 shaders, clocked at up to 844MHz. The A10-6800K Black Edition is a bit beefier. It’s a 100W part clocked at 4.1GHz, but it retains the same GPU, although it ships with an unlocked multiplier. Oddly enough, it costs a bit less than the 6700, and it is available, with prices starting as low as £109.

You can check out the listings here.

Gartner predicts mobile payment will rocket

crystalWorldwide mobile payment transaction values will rocket this year according to Gartner, which predicts these transactions will hit $235.4 billion in 2013 – a 44 percent boost from $163.1 billion in 2012.

The number of mobile payment users worldwide will reach 245.2 million in 2013, up from 200.8 million in 2012, according to the research.

Sandy Shen, research director, Gartner, said the company expected global mobile transaction volume and value to average 35 percent annual growth between 2012 and 2017. He added the company was forecasting a market worth $721 billion with more than 450 million users by 2017.

Despite this, the company had lowered the forecast of total transaction value “due to lower-than-expected growth in 2012, especially in North America and Africa”.

Near Field Communications’ (NFC’s) transaction value has also been slashed with a reduction of 40 percent throughout the forecast period. Gartner said this is thanks to disappointing adoption of NFC technology in all markets in 2012, and the fact that some high-profile services, such as Google Wallet and Isis, struggled to gain traction.

Gartner predicts NFC will account for just two percent of total transaction value in 2013 and five percent of the total transaction value in 2017. However, growth is expected to increase from 2016 when the penetration of NFC mobile phones and contactless readers increases.

Money transfers and merchandise purchases will account for about 71 percent and 21 percent of total transaction value in 2013, respectively, making them by far the largest contributors. Worldwide, people are not purchasing as much because the buying experience on mobile devices has yet to be fully optimised, though the economic situation must count for something too.

People are spending less using mobile devices than through online e-commerce services and at retail outlets. Merchandise purchases account for about 23 percent of the total value forecast for 2017, Gartner said.

Bill payment value should grow 44 percent in 2013 and maintain consistent growth through the forecast period. Gartner said this is thanks to higher value per transaction figures, as more consumers in developed markets performed bill payments using mobile banking services – along with consumers in emerging markets who are transacting at higher values than originally forecast.

Western Europe’s transaction value is expected to reach $29 billion in 2013, up from $19 billion in 2012.

Avnet exits MEA market

avnettsAvnet has confirmed that it’s pulling its operations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

The distie has said that it made the decision after a review of the business concluded that it was  “unlikely to make the necessary returns needed to meet [its] strategic goals in the short- or mid-term.”

In a statement the company said the that the “difficult” decision would not impact the computer components and integrated solutions business which continue to support key partners in the region.

However it pointed out that it had to make the moves and take the action to realign resources from underperforming businesses to areas that can deliver strong performance for Avnet, its suppliers and partners.

Avnet also claimed its immediate priorities were to ensure that it provided the necessary support to its employees throughout this process and to fully assist its supplier and business partners as we manage our exit from this market.

“Our decision to exit this region will have no impact on the independently operating Avnet Electronics Marketing business in the region, specifically South Africa and Israel,” the statement said.

WD rolls out anorexic 1TB drive

westerndigitalWestern Digital has announced the world’s thinnest 1TB 2.5-inch drive. The new Blue series drives are already shipping and they are available in capacities ranging from 320GB to 1TB.

However, it’s not the thinnest thing around. Both WD and Seagate are making a lot of noise about their new 5mm drives, but they max out at 500GB. The 7mm drives are designed for mainstream notebooks and other thin and light systems, including All-in-Ones.

WD VP and general manager for client storage Matt Rutledge said consumers with huge content portfolios need not worry about getting a thin and light notebooks.

“This most compact 1TB hard drive to-date offers manufacturers of systems an upsell path for their customers who will now be able to choose systems offering both sleek design and high capacity,” he said.

Intel and Acer are also talking up the new drives, which are showing up just in time for Intel’s Haswell refresh. The new 1TB Blue drive comes with a two-year warranty and it’s priced at $139.

Ingram Micro signs Jabra deal Down Under

IMIngram Micro has had gained another client Down Under, signing on the dotted line with communications company Jabra.

As part of the partnership Ingram Micro will be responsible for distributing the company’s range of call centre and office products within the Australian and New Zealand market.

This includes the recently launched Jabra Motion, which is designed to suit mobile workers with an everyday need for audio conferencing or hands-free calls, in the car or at home using smart devices.

Jabra says that Asia-Pacific is one of its fastest growing markets for unified communications products. It said it was critical for it to establish strong relationships with distributors across A/NZ that could add significant value to its proposition.

The company believes that its collaboration with Ingram Micro will also be beneficial in reaching a larger reseller database and in particular Cisco channels.

The company has also extended its support to its partner network with a launch of the Jabra Business Tool, an iPad sales app, which provides information on Jabra’s business services.

HTC smacked on its own patch

Etiquette on the MTRMost disinterested people I have talked to hereagree that the HTC One is really quite a super phone but here in Taipei it’s losing out on the marketing front.

And it’s to South Korean Samsung, which has giant adverts plastered all over Taiwan.

In terms of marketing money, Samsung has incomparably more at its disposal and seems to know how to use it.

It wouldn’t be the first time and no doubt it won’t be the last time that marketing has beat a better product down.

So what’s HTC to do? There isn’t an easy answer to that either. It might try changing its logo – which is a feeble little thing – and talking to journalists more than it currently does.
Samsung advertising in Taipei

Sato after more channel partners

SATO PPP logoSato has said it wants to expand its channel opportunities across Europe.

The barcode printing, labelling and EPC/RFID company has announced that it will be expanding and developing its Business Partner network across Europe.

It has launched a campaign called “Year of the Channel” which it says will focus on increasing its support for existing business partners and actively recruiting new VARS, complementing those already participating in its European Partner Programme.

The company boasts it has seen great success since initially introducing its Prestige Partner Programme in 2010 and has brought in more than 100 new VARs in its European programme.

SATO hopes the campaign will build on the achievements so far and continue the search for new complementary partners.

The Prestige Partner Programme comprises three tiers with SATO now focusing on building up the two upper tiers – Premier and Champion. Within this the company continues to look for partners with market specialisation, application specialisation, specific technical skills, value-added qualities within a target market segment.

These include the retail sector, food and quick service restaurants, manufacturing, transportation and logistics as well as healthcare and government.

Vendors enrolled in the programme, SATO promises, will benefit from comprehensive training and technical services packages as well as marketing tools and funds that help generate sales leads.

As part of the effort, SATO has redesigned and relaunched its Business Partner Portal, which provides access to a large variety of valuable marketing resources, moving it on to a new technology platform allowing for a more user friendly interface and more effective communication within the network.

Panasonic announces job cuts

seppuku-p1000701Panasonic has announced that 5,000 of its staff will be axed over the next three years.

The Japanese company has said those in its automotive and industrial units will fall on Panasonic’s sword as the company scales back its operations and tries to recoup huge annual losses of $7.5 billion, announced in March.

According to Channel News Asia, the company, which has already cut 20 percent of its workers will now move to slash its staff of around 111,000 people by March 2016. The move is part of an overall strategy to recover its business after a flagging year.

In March, rumours circulated that the company would further salvage its business by cutting its plasma business over the next three years.

It is thought Panasonic’s TV business, which generated sales of $10.5 billion during its peak in 2009 and 2010, accumulated less than half of that amount in 2015 and 2016.

It announced that it would end plasma TV panel production at its main plant in Amagaskai in western Japan around fiscal year 2014.

Free wi-fi in Taipei explained

Taipei free wi-fiThe public wi-fi system that is available throughout Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a brilliant idea that should be emulated in the Smoke (London), in the City of Screaming Squires (Oxford), and, well, more or less anywhere. We’re here in Olde Taipei for Computex 2013.

It is a disgrace that wi-fi, which has really become a public utility, is still charged for in many a place – especially hotels in the UK at exorbitant rates.

We had a chance to sample Taipei wi-fi the other night, taking a snap and uploading it without any problem at all. It hasn’t worked since, so I set out to find out why.

Basically, the reason it hasn’t worked for me since is that I a Brit, and the wi-fi, which does work for aliens from different countries, requires a special protocol to be present, as you can see on this TPE Wi-Fi page.  Currently only 20 countries use the International mobile SMS authentication that the Taipei government accepts.

There is an alternative – you can go to one of six physical locations and get yourself registered – but of course you have to know where these places are, which might be tricky unless you know your way around the city.

One local told us that he used to use TPE Free all the time, but recently it asks that you log-in every time you connect which he finds a nuisance. That’s apparently been implemented because of security concerns.

Nevertheless, the existence of TPE Free has meant that here in Old Taipei, you’ll find many places which offer free wi-fi.  The swanky hotels that don’t really ought to be ashamed of themselves.

* For a great way to understand Taipei and Computex 2013, if you’re a first time visitor, we recommend We View Taiwan video log.