Microsoft announced the winners of the 2013 Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) Awards.
According to the company the awards recognise the skills and hard work of companies in Microsoft’s global partner network.
It said that this year’s competition had attracted over 3,000 entries, but only 11 UK partners made it on to the list of finalists, of which there were six award winners.
In the UK, partners were awarded the “coveted” Cloud Partner and SMB Cloud Partner awards, with Solidsoft and Tech Quarters respectively winning these titles. Microsoft said the UK wins demonstrated that the UK channel is leading the way in global cloud adoption. Is it?
Other UK winners included the IM Group, which scooped the Microsoft UK Partner of the Year, while Global Knowledge was named Learning Partner of the Year. Oxford Computer Group, was the Identity and Access Partner of the Year and eBECS, ERP Partner of the Year.
The winning partners will be presented with their awards in Houston at this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference. Furthermore, Microsoft will continue to work closely with the winners as part of its ongoing investment to champion the fantastic work achieved in the UK channel.
Janet Gibbons, Director Partner Strategy and Programmes at Microsoft said she was delighted to see so many UK winners: “I would like to congratulate all of the winning parties. It is great to see the UK partners achieving recognition for their hard work across many different categories.”
Smartphone wars are becoming rather predictable. Every quarter sales notch up and every quarter Samsung emerges as the big winner. The last quarter was no exception. However, growth is slowing as the market matures, although there is still plenty of room for growth in emerging markets.
Worldwide phone sales totalled 426 million units in the first quarter, up 0.7 percent year-on-year. Smartphones saw a lot more growth, with sales totalling 2010 million units, up 42.9 percent from a year ago, according to a Gartner survey.
Sales of feature phones are down in all regions except Asia, while smartphones accounted for 49.3 percent of all phone sales worldwide, up from 34.8 percent in Q1 2012. At the same time feature phone sales contracted 21.8 percent.
“Feature phones users across the world are either finding their existing phones good enough or are waiting for smartphones prices to drop further, either way the prospect of longer replacement cycles is certainly not good news for both vendors and carriers looking to move users forward,” Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta said.
Samsung saw its market share go up from 21.1 percent to 23.6 percent. Apple also did well, growing from 7.8 to 9 percent, while Nokia’s share dropped from 19.7 to 14.8 percent. However, looking at smartphone sales, Samsung’s share was 30.8 percent, up from 27.6 percent. It was trailed by Apple at 18.2 percent, down from 22.5 percent. LG grabbed the bronze, with a 4.8 percent share. Huawei also had a good quarter, upping their share to 4.4 and 3.8 percent respectively and outperforming former heavyweights like Nokia, Sony and HTC.
Android is still the dominant mobile operating system, with a share of 74.4 percent, up from 56.9 a year earlier. Apple’s iOS share stands at 18.2 percent, down from 22.5 percent a year ago. Just so it wouldn’t look like a two-horse race, Blackberry is still in the game with a 3 percent share, down from 6.8 percent last year. Apparently BB10 did not make a huge difference. Windows Phone has a 2.9 percent share, up from 1.9 percent last year. It is growing, but at a painfully slow rate.
Manufacturers are hoping that a new crop of notebooks based on Intel’s Haswell processors and Windows 8 can help them buck negative trends in the PC market. A torrent of announcements is expected at Taipei’s Computex next month and the first designs are ready and shipping.
The first Haswell-based notebooks have already shipped and they are expected to arrive in retail channels by the end of the month, which means we shouldn’t see many paper launches at Computex.
However, most vendors are playing it safe and they don’t appear to be placing huge orders. With the PC market contracting by double digits, one can hardly blame them for such caution. As a result, ODMs are expected to see little growth in May, but if vendors regain their confidence they could place more substantial orders in June and beyond. Digitimesreports that Quanta, Compal and Wistron all saw their shipments decline by 10 to 20 percent in April.
Intel is trying to rekindle interest in notebooks by issuing new design guidelines and trying to keep prices down. This is especially true of Ultrabooks, which failed to catch on due to their relatively high prices.
Intel is hoping to shave off a couple of hundred dollars from Ultrabook manufacturer suggested retail prices by the end of the year. In addition to new Haswell chips, a growing number of vendors are choosing to integrate touchscreens in their next-gen Ultrabooks.
It’s not just Intel’s skin on the line, either.
Microsoft is already taking a lot of flak over lacklustre Windows 8 sales, Nvidia is hoping to grow its discrete GPU market share on Haswell notebooks, Seagate and Western Digital have both rolled out Ultrabook friendly 5mm hard drives and hybrid drives and the list goes on.
With so much at stake, plenty of big players have a vested interest in helping Intel’s Haswell push, which offers some hope of good news for consumers as it should translate into better value for money.
While Microsoft’s Surface tablets proved completely underwhelming, a report suggests that the company might have another bash at the platform.
According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, the company is expected to announce next generation Surface machines at the end of June.
The company only managed to shift 1.5 million tablets of the first generation Surface – way beyond what it expected to achieve. But the pricing was all wrong and the competition in this field is now very intense.
The wire claims that the second generation Surface will largely retain the same suppliers as Surface Mark I – including microprocessors from Intel and Nvidia, screens from Samsung and LG and touch panels from TPK.
The report also said that displays for Surface Mark II will be smaller – supposedly because there’s more demand for these type of devices, although it’s entirely possible that Microsoft wants to bring down the bill of materials (BOM) costs. It will certainly have to do something spectacular to make Surface tablets fly – particularly on retail costs.
Tablet makers are set to roll out the next generation of cheaper tablets over the coming weeks and it is now clear that competition in the cutthroat market will intensify in the second half of the year.
Software giant Microsoft has twigged that Intel’s dream of Ultrabooks is not proving that successful.
Redmond has been slashing the price of its Touch ultrabooks at the Microsoft Store with the Acer Aspire S7 losing about $300, falling to $1,299 from $1,649. .
There was nothing wrong with the Acer Aspire S7 and it was well reviewed, it is just that no one wants Ultrabooks as much as Intel told the world that they did and certainly not for $1,649.
Perhaps the key to the problem is still the spec. The $1,649 price tag strikes as a lot to pay for something with a 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U processor. A laptop might be heavier but it does more and a lot faster.
CNetfound another one discounted by Vole was the Sony’s Vaio T Series 13 has been reduced to $999 from $1,299 with its 2GHz Core i7-3537U processor that model is a little faster.
And the lower-end of Ultrabook land 0 the Vaio T Series has been cut to $799 from $899 and HP’s Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook is now $599, reduced from $699.
To be fair it is not just Intel’s Ultrabook dream which has seen some cost cutting. Microsoft has also been reducing the price on some of its tablets. Some are as cheap as $399.
A report from IDC said the market for enterprise software worldwide showed conservative growth during 2012.
It estimated that the worldwide software market grew 3.6 percent year on year – half the growth rate of 2010 and 2011.
However, some market segments grew by between six and seven percent, including data access, analysis, CRM applications, security software and collaborative software.
IDC said that the management of information for competiive purposes is pushing along applications associated with Big Data and analytics.
From the vendor standpoint, Microsoft was the leader of the applications primary market in 2012 with 13.7 market share, followed by SAP, Oracle, IBM and Adobe. Of these vendor, IBM showed the highest growth rate.
System infrastructure software made up 27 percent of total software revenues but that only grew 3.3 percent during 2012, compared to the previous year.
Counterfeit iPhones, sunglasses and handbags have been around for years, but so have counterfeit IT products, and they tend to be a bit more dangerous and costly than a fake Gucci bag crafted from genuine imitation faux leather.
The Open Group has published a new technical security standard with the aim of improving supply chain safety and weeding out counterfeit products, or gear that has been tampered with. The Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard (O-TTPS) is a 32-page document containing a set of guidelines, requirements and recommendations that should mitigate the risk of acquiring counterfeit products, or products that were “maliciously tainted.”
The standard is being backed by the likes of IBM and Cisco. It should address concerns raised by governments and the US Department of Defense, which tends to be rather picky when it comes to networking gear. Junipar, Huawei, EMC, Raytheon, HP, Microsoft, the NSA, Booz-Allen Hamilton, Boeing and NASA are also on board, reports Network World.
It is still unclear when the group will start issuing accreditations, or how it plans to go about it, but the backers feel that the IT industry should get acquainted with the new standards. With such high profile names on board, the industry should listen closely.
Big outfits are expected to embrace the new standard first, but in doing so they will also reduce the risk for smaller businesses. Still, the best way of steering clear from dodgy routers and switches is to simply avoid buying gear from unknown companies altogether.
Microsoft has confirmed that it has made changes to its UK channel senior management team.
The company released a statement late yesterday afternoon following rumours of the shake up, confirming that Clare Barclay, had been promoted from her current position as Senior Director of SMB to General Manager of SMS&P Small, Medium Solutions and Partner Group).
Clare joined Microsoft in 1998 as a Marketing Manager in SMS&P, having come directly from the Channel. She then progressed to roles within Partner Sales, prior to broadening her career in Services and EMEA.
She said in a statement she was “thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead the SMS&P business and work more closely with Partners and Customers”.
However, it’s not good news for all Microsoft’s employees. Yesterday one of the company’s creative directors at Xbox resigned following a Twitter mishap
Adam Orth, who had worked at the company since February last year, was forced to voluntarily resign after Game Informer shared a rumour that the next Xbox would require an active internet connection at all times, last week.
Orth then followed up the article making some very open comments on the matter on Twitter.
His comments seemed to have upset head honchos at the company, which, according to Game Informer, read him his rights before forcing him out.
Fujitsu UK and Microsoft have extended their partnership, announcing that they have created a new centre of excellence business model.
The new addition to the couple now means that Microsoft staff will work on-site at Fujitsu’s premises to generate the two companies’ first Centre of Excellence (COE), which is aimed at helping Fujitsu customers drive innovation across their businesses by ensuring the adoption of the right technology options for their organisations.
The Centre of Excellence, which has been born through an investment of £4.5 million from Fujitsu, will create an environment for both Fujitsu and Microsoft experts to combine their core strengths in delivering complex IT products. The companies said this includes enterprise desktop transformation projects and bespoke enterprise consultation services.
The cosy pair also claim to work together to engage customers early on in the technology adoption cycle.
Fujitsu will use its experience in delivering complex desktop transformation products and implementing successful end user services projects and combine this with the COE team’s knowledge of Microsoft products and services.
The pair said this would to help address the challenges that many of their joint customers face with regards to the enterprise-wide implementation of technology products.
In addition, the companies working together will ensure that both organisations and their customers experience an increase in global delivery capabilities that will in turn ensure that projects are completed in as fast a time as possible.
Microsoft is once again trying to ensure that Surface does as well as it possibly can.
According to Softpedia, the company is apparently working on a smaller sized Surface tablet in a bid to compete with the more miniature devices on the market.
It is thought that the new tablet will have a display around seven or eight inches and run Windows Blue after eagle eyed sources spotted a job ad on Coroflot’s job page asking for developers.
It said the Surface Team focused on building devices that “fully express the Windows vision.”
It hinted at a smaller tab, claiming that a “fundamental part” of its strategy was having “desirable and powerful devices that enable the experiences people want, and elicit their excitement.
“We are currently building the next generation and Surface needs you,” the ad concluded.
Microsoft hasn’t faced the figures it had desired with its new baby. Last monthBloomberg reported that the company had sold about 400,000 Surface Pro tablets since their debut last month. In addition, it only managed to sell a little over a million Surface RT tablets.
It’s tried to conquer this by making more railroads into China, deciding last month to extend its selling channels for the Surface RT tablets, which it previously only sold through two distributors- its online store and chain store for electronics, Suning.
Previously the giant had not been able to go through further channels as a result of an exclusive distie deal with Suning, but last month sources said that this deal expired in February, paving the way for Microsoft to pick up new channels.
In a bid to boost sales it was rumoured to be turning to four new distribution partners aboard. These included PC Mall, Sundan, One Zero and 360buy.
Companies are looking further into China in a bid to boost business.
This week both Avnet and Microsoft have made railroads into the country. The gossip grapevine suggests that Microsoft has decided to extend its selling channels for its Surface RT tablets, which it previously sold through two distributors- its online store and chain store for electronics, Suning.
The giant had not been able to go through further channels as a result of an exclusive distie deal with Suning, but now sources have said that this deal expired in February, paving the way for Microsoft to pick up new channels. It is also claimed that Microsoft was unhappy about the way Suning had dealt with sales, failing to push Surface and get an advertising network around it.
In a bid to boost sales its now, according to the WPDang, turning to four new distribution partners aboard. These include PC Mall, Sundan, One Zero and 360buy.
And its not just Microsoft moving into Chinese circles. Today distie Avnet announced that it was buying Hong Kong’s RTI Holdings, RTI Technology China, Eastele Technology China, and DSP Solutions, value-added distributors of telecom equipment and related components in Hong Kong and China.
The company said that it wanted a piece of RTI as a result of its “focused technical expertise,” as well as its “strong presence” in the Chinese market.
It is hoped that the purchase will help the company break into the Chinese market, which it has so far struggled to do.
Microsoft’s Surface tablets are off to a rather unimpressive start, but Redmond now believes that it can woo more business users by selling its gear in bulk. The new service allows business users to place volume orders for Surface tablets, reports ZDNet. We are, however, not convinced it will help Microsoft’s cause.
The Surface Commercial Order service is only available to authorized partners and volume licensees, which means smaller outfits can’t take advantage of it. The real question is whether anyone will take up Microsoft’s offer. Microsoft is still not saying much, but it seems the bulk rollout will be very limited indeed.
Surface sales are another thing Microsoft is willing to talk about. Analysts reckon that it manage to shift upwards of one million Surface RT tablets, along with 400,000 units of the pricier Surface Pro. The figures are unimpressive to say the least.
Microsoft still believes that Surface tablets, and especially the x86 based Pro version with Windows 8, are the right choice for businesses. The decision to make it a bit easier for partners and volume licensees to order heaps of Surfaces seems like a logical move in that direction, but Microsoft might have missed the boat already.
Apple’s iPad still reigns supreme in the business space, and it is being challenged by Android tablets, not Microsoft gear. BYOD is another worrying trend that should be taken into account. Few people will buy Surface RT tablets for personal use and even fewer will go for the chunky and expensive Pro version. They will try to use their iPads and Android slates at work and most companies will be happy to let them do so.
Oh dear. It looks like the sceptics were right, Microsoft’s Surface tablets are lemons. Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft has sold about 400,000 Surface Pro tablets since their debut last month. In addition, it only managed to sell a little over a million Surface RT tablets.
Microsoft reportedly ordered three million Surface RT tablets last year, but sales never picked up and Redmond was forced to scale back the order.
The lacklustre figures come as no surprise. Earlier this year it emerged that the RT faced high return rates and very low sell-through, with shipments totalling just 900,000 units in the first quarter of sales. The Surface Pro did not fare any better. It got relatively negative reviews and since it is quite a bit pricier than the RT, consumers don’t seem keen to make the leap of faith.
JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna told Bloomberg that Microsoft has failed to prove that Windows has a place in a new world dominated by touchscreens.
“It’s pretty clear that things were bad entering the year, and at least for the moment they’re getting worse,” he said. “The path to a successful Surface, in the same way that they were successful with Xbox, is not very clear to me right now.”
Apple still commands a 50+ share of the tablet market, although it is projected to slip under 50 percent later this year. Analysts put Apple’s iPad shipments in Q4 at 22.9 million units, which dwarfs every single competitor. However, Apple is losing share to Android, not Windows.
IDC reckons that the share of Windows RT tablets will stay below 3 percent through 2017, while Windows 8 could end up on 7.4 percent of tablets, in 2017 of course. In other words, Windows tablets are going nowhere, fast.
Michael Dell’s plan to spin off Dell Inc has hit a serious roadblock.
Last week Carl Icahn revealed he owned a big chunk of Dell and hit out at the original private equity proposal in conjunction with Microsoft and Silver Lake Partners..
And today, it seems, Icahn has stepped up the pressure by threatening it with legal action unless it accepted his plans to pump fresh cash into the multinational.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Icahn has signed a confidentiality agreement with Dell. But, the Journal said, the special committee that Dell set up to consider its future is reluctant to take the Icahn routemap.
Instead, it appears to be hoping that others will come forward to its aid. A number of partners has been slated including Dell rival Hewlett Packard – but it appears unlikely that HP will take a punt.
Meanwhile, business continues as usual, with Dell making a couple of product announcements. It is creating a mobile strategies division that will develop custom applications for corporations, and advise large enterprises about mobility needs.
And it continues to push into the cloud – announcing that Dell Boomi will offer a data management and integration system, using MDM tools based on software as a service (SaaS).