Software king of the world Microsoft has decided that the best way to stop the Chinese pirating its Windows 10 operating system is to give it to them.
Microsoft has decided to push into the heavily pirated Chinese consumer computing market this summer by offering free upgrades to Windows 10 to all Windows users, regardless of whether they are running genuine copies of the software.
The big idea is to get legitimate versions of VoleWare onto machines of the hundreds of millions of Windows users in China. Recent studies show that three-quarters of all PC software is not properly licensed there.
Terry Myerson, who runs Microsoft’s operating systems unit, announced the plan at the WinHEC technology conference in Shenzhen, China.
Microsoft will upgrade all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10. The plan is to “re-engage” with the hundreds of millions of users of Windows in China, he said, without elaboration.
Windows 10 would be released globally sometime “this summer”. That is the first time Microsoft has put a time frame on the release, although it has been expected in autumn.
Microsoft said in January it would offer free upgrades to Windows 10 for users of Windows 7 or later in an attempt to hold onto users and make up for lost revenue by selling services such as Office over the Internet.
Microsoft is working with Lenovo to roll out Windows 10 in China to current Windows users, Myerson said.
It also is offering Windows 10 through security company Qihoo 360 Technology and Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest social networking company, which will build a Windows 10 app that will work on smartphones and PCs for its popular QQ gaming and messaging service. QQ has more than 800 million users.
Lenovo said in a statement that it will make phones running Windows software, available through China Mobile, sometime later this year.
A report said there were large falls in shipments of notebooks in January and February.
Digitise Research said that shipments for the five multinational brands and the top three manufacturers – original design manufacturers – fell by 13 percent and 18 percent in February.
One major reason, the analysts say is because there are high levels of stocks of models intended for home use left over from last year. Fluctuations in exchange rates also caused a decline in sale.
However, it appears that Hewlett Packard managed to buck the trend and in February its notebook shipments rose by 30 percent. It had managed to make adjustments to its overstock and also made significant sales of units for the educational market to India.
Lenovo fell behind HP in the top five, but it was Acer and Asustek which really took a hit, with falls in shipments of as much as 40 percent, Digitimes Research said.
The ODMs, who make notebooks to be rebranded by others, also saw their shipments fall during the period.
Lenovo is still peddling notebooks pre-installed with dangerous, HTTPS-breaking adware, despite saying it had abandoned the practice.
Initially, Lenovo said the Superfish ad-injector posed no threat, a position it quickly reversed and then said the company stopped bundling the software in December.
Executives promised to release a removal tool that would delete all code and data associated with the adware.
However it looks like Lenovo might not have have told the full truth.
Ars Technica found that a new $550 Lenovo G510 notebook which was ordered in early February more than four weeks after Lenovo said it stopped bundling Superfish, still had the software.
It was not as if it was old stock stuck in the channel either, the onboard Windows had a December build date.
The next promise was about the official Superfish removal tool, which the PC maker states will “ensure complete removal of Superfish and certificates for all major browsers.”
While the tool removed the dangerous certificate—and as a result closed the serious man-in-the-middle vulnerability it posed—Lenovo’s software didn’t remove all Superfish-related data.
A Lenovo spokesman wrote in an e-mail to Ars: “If an individual customer has a specific question about their experience with the removal tool, they should contact the Lenovo Service line directly.”
Figures supplied by market analyst company Gartner showed that the worldwide server market grew 4.8 percent in shipments for the fourth quarter of 2014.
And revenues grew 2.2 percent in that quarter, compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.
Jeffrey Hewitt a VP at Gartner, described server market for the whole of 2014 as showing strong growth. Growth for the whole year was 2.2 percent.
“Hyper scale data centre deployments as well as service provider installations drove the X86 market upwards,” he said. “Enterprises had less unit growth impact because of the ongoing presence of physical server consolidation through X86 server virtualisation. This overall market growth developed despite declines in both mainframe and Unix platforms.”
HP was the leader server vendor in the quarter in terms of revenues, but only grew 1.5 percent in the whole year. Its market share is 27.9 percent worldwide. IBM showed a decline of 50.6 percent, and Lenovo had extraordinary growth of 743.4 percent. This is because IBM sold its X86 server business to Lenovo in the fourth quarter.
Dell is the second biggest vendor with 17.3 percent in terms of revenues, IBM third, Lenovo fourth and Cisco fifth. “Others” had a market share of 28.6 percent.
HP also led the pack in terms of shipments, pushing out 642,007 units in the fourth quarter.
In 2014, sales of smartphones to individuals reached 1.2 billion units worldwide, a rise of 28.4 percent compared to 2013.
Worldwide sales of smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2014 saw an increase of 29.9 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013, totalling 367.5 million units, according to Gartner.
And in the fourth quarter, Samsung lost its number one spot to Apple – as a result of product introductions in Apple’s case, and erosion of sales in Samsung’s case.
Samsung lost 10 percent in market share, according to Anshul Gupta, a Gartner analyst. “Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung’s share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure,” said Gupta.
For the whole year, Samsung remained the leader, shipping 307,597 units worldwide, while Apple shipped 191,426 phones.
The top five vendors in the fourth quarter were Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei and Xiaomi, according to Gartner. These last three vendors are all Chinese companies.
Announcements from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) are as thick as blankets of snow this week, and Lenovo has joined in the chase for more business by announcing a range of three tablets.
Lenovo, according to market watchers, has been doing comparatively well in the tablet market.
Today it announced the A Series Android tablets, the Tab 2 A7 and A10-70 and a Windows tablet too.
The A10-70 has a 10.1-inch FHD screen, and Dolby Atmos. The machine runs Android 4.4, uses a MediaTek quad core processor, weighs 500 grams and is 8.9 millimetres thick. It will cost £180 and ships in April.
The Tab 2 A8 weighs in at 360 grams and comes with a dual SIM card slot, and costs £130 for the wi-fi model. It will ship in June.
The Windows Ideated MIIX 300, uses Windows 8.1, has an Intel Atom chip inside, and a media card reader. It will ship in July and will cost around £150.
A cyberattack by a hacking group called Lizard Squad brought down Lenovo’s web site yesterday.
That’s following the revelation that Lenovo shipped adware called Superfish on some of its notebook devices.
Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for downing the Sony site at the end of last year.
Lenovo managed to get its site up and running after people that went to its site were redirected to other web sites.
Lenovo has stopped including Superfish shipping on its machine and offered people that had encountered it a software fix to remove it.
Lizard Squad managed to use a vulnerability to Lenovo’s name registrar to divert people away from the Lenovo web site.
Only 221.4 million tablets will ship worldwide this year – a drop of 11.9 percent compared to 2014.
That’s according to Digitimes Research (DR), which predicts that Apple will continue to take the lead, managing to ship over 54 million units this year. While this sounds healthy, that’s a predicted decline of 16/6 percent.
The so-called “white box” market will see the biggest decline, with a drop of 20 percent. Margins on these products are super slim.
DR gives estimates for the different vendors’ shares of the market – with Apple accounting for 24.5 percent, Samsung 16.3 percent, Lenovo 5.3 percent, Asustek 4.2 percent, Google 1.7 percent, Acer 1.7 percent, and Amazon only 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, a report in Chinese language Economic Daily News said that Amazon has cut orders of tablets, sourced by Compal and Quanta by as much as 30 percent.
Compaq has the lion’s share of Amazon tablet business, churning out 80 percent of them compared to Quanta’s 20 percent, the Economic Daily News said.
The company that is behind the technology that powers Superfish has suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
That’s according to Forbes, which said the technology is called Komodio and the site is down, with the company saying the DDoS attack has happened because of media interest.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Lenovo distributed malware with some of its machines, although because of the Chinese New Year, it doesn’t appear able to comment on the debacle.
Forbes talked to the founder of Komodia, a man who formerly worked for Israeli cyber intelligence. He said that he couldn’t comment on the Lenovo debacle because he’s under contract to the Chinese company.
But the Komodia software is included on many other software programs and is pretty easy to hack.
Software include some parental control software and in other web filter programs available worldwide.
A security firm made the alarming assertion that Lenovo had pre-installed software on notebooks it sells that makes them more likely to be hacked.
The program called Superfish, which Lenovo installed on computers intended for home use was software that auto-displays adverts.
And according to Reuters, Errata Security, an American company, said Superfish opens up encrypted connections, so letting hackers take over PCs.
Lenovo officials are on holiday for the Chinese New Year and so far have not responded to the allegations.
However, Ken Westin, a senior security analyst at Tripwire had plenty to say on the matter.
“With increasingly security and privacy conscious buyers, laptop and mobile phone manufacturers may well be doing themselves a disservice by seeking outdated advertising based monetisation strategies,” he said.
“If the findings are true and Lenovo is installing their own self-signed certificates, they have not only betrayed their customers’ trust, but also put them at increased risk,” he added.
While there’s some uncertainty about the future of PCs in the enterprise, there’s one area which continues to do well, and that’s desktop workstations.
IDC released a report saying that the global workstation market grew in the fourth quarter of 2014 by 8.8 percent – amounting to shipments of 946,089 units. For the whole year, shipments amounted to 3.7 million units, representing an 8.9 percent growth compared to 2013.
The USA and Western Europe have the lions share in the desktop workstation market. Both account for 63.6 percent of worldwide shipments.
But emerging markets are growing faster than developmed markets, with Latin America showing double digit growth for the fourth calendar quarter in a row.
HP is the leading vendor with 44.6 percent of market share, while Dell had 35.8 percent market share.
The number three vendor is Lenovo, which took share from both Dell and HP anc achieved 33.1 percent yearly growth. Fujitsu and NEC occupied the fourth and fifth positions respectively.
Major and minor vendors
saw precipitous falls in shipments of notebooks in January.
That’s according to Digitimes Research, which said HP saw its shipments fall by 45 percent and Lenovo fall by 30 percent compared to the previous month.
It wasn’t just the big names that suffered – the original design manufacturers – including giant Compal – saw its shipments fall too.
However, Compal supplies machines to both HP and Lenovo, the market research firm said.
Microsoft has been forced by incursions from Chromebooks to slash its licensing rate – but these machines are not immune to a more general decline in notebooks.
The news may be bad for HP and Lenovo but could be good news for people looking for notebook bargains – most of the machines sitting in warehouses are aimed at home use.
It’s still not entirely clear how Microsoft will approach the thorny matter of Windows 10 when that’s launched in the third or fourth quarter of this year. It also hasn’t disclosed how many different varieties of Windows 10 it will offer at launch.
There is some sentiment that people are holding off buying notebooks until they have a clearer picture of what is going to emerge from Redmond.
to be the market leader for tablets in 2014 but it, in common with other vendors, showed a drop in sales.
A report from Trendforce said that the tablet industry has no reached the maturity point with shipments globally totalling 192 million units. That’s a fall of 2.2 percent compared to 2013.
Apple fared rather worse, it shipped 63.4 million units, a drop of 13.6 percent.
Number two in the pack was Samsung, but its shipments at 41 million units dropped only 2.5 percent.
Lenovo beat Amazon to take third place, and now has 5.6 percent market share.
Both Amazon and Google trailed behind, and Microsoft hasn’t really hit the numbers with its Surface Pro 3.
Some analysts believe that not only has the market reached maturity, but it’s hard to persuade people to upgrade. Others think that tablets are being squeezed on the one hand by larger screen size smartphones and others by low cost notebook PCs.
Despite a miserable year for the smartphone industry, Lenovo managed to do rather well and saw its third quarter revenue rise 31 percent to $14.1 billion.
This beat what the cocaine nose-jobs of Wall Street expected as its mobile division sales more than doubled following its acquisition of Motorola.
Lenovo wrote a cheque for $2.91 billion for Motorola, the US handset brand with a long sales history in the United States and Europe, as part of an effort to diversify away from the shrinking PC market.
These results took into account two months of Motorola’s performance and Lenovo said Motorola sold more than 10 million handsets during the quarter for the first time.
This is good news as Lenovo has been having trouble in its home market of China. Xiaomi swept aside Lenovo in China but has largely avoided Western markets due to fears of intellectual property challenges.
The company is expected to make a comeback against Xiaomi in China by adopting its rival’s Internet distribution model. Lenovo in May signed a deal with e-commerce site JD.com and announced a subsidiary last month to sell smartphones and wearables exclusively online.
Under Lenovo, Motorola will re-enter the Chinese market and be distributed primarily online, Yang said.
Total sales from the mobile division leapt 109 percent to $3.39 billion, or a quarter of the company’s sales.
Lenovo said net profit was $253 million, down from $265 million a year prior due to ballooning expenses associated with closing two major acquisitions. The Beijing-based company also acquired IBM’s low-end server unit for $2.1 billion.
The results beat expectations of $13.71 billion in revenue and $200 million in net profit.
Lenovo continued to consolidate its hold on the PC market, reaching a record 20 percent share during the quarter with sales of $9.15 billion. Shipments rose five percent compared with a three percent decline in the broader industry, with growth particularly strong in Eastern Europe.
Over 375.2 million
smartphones shipped during the fourth quarter of 2014 – that’s up by 28.2 percent compared to the same period the year before.
Apple had been the number two vendor in 11 previous quarters before Q4 2014, but, according to IDC, it was close to a tie with Samsung, the market leader.
IDC now predicts that Samsung could well outstrip Samsung during 2015.
It’s not just Apple that is challenging Samsung – as we’ve reported before, is under challenge from small Android OEMs selling products at much lower margins.
Growth in 2013 represented 40.5 percent but according to IDC, “the market clearly still has legs”. It estimates growth will fall to a mid teen figure during 2015.
The top five vendors for the fourth quarter were Samsung, Apple, Lenovo, Huawei and Xiaomi. The last showed growth of 178.6 percent during Q4 2014, compared to Q4 2013.