Tag: microsoft

Time to make a quick buck on PRISM fiasco

National-Security-Agency--008While the big internet companies are wringing their hands about being caught helping the US snoop on its citizens, there are some companies who are turning this into a money making opportunity.

DuckDuckGo, a service that does not does not keep a record of searches or tailor them to what its users have looked for in the past, said it took the company four years to get one million searches a day, but this had tripled to three million in the eight days after the PRISM surveillance scandal broke.

A tweet from the company said: “It took 1445 days to get 1M searches, 483 days to get 2M searches, and then just 8 days to pass 3M searches.”

While this is nothing in comparison to Google, it could be the tip of the iceburg for companies who are concerned about the deals that US companies made with their government.

The Patriot Act, under which PRISM was developed, has already been helping fledgling European Cloud companies see off much larger US competition.

This is because the US companies would have to guarantee to the Europeans that their data will not leave Europe, otherwise they would have to give it to the US government. This created a rush to build European data centres to support US cloud operations in the “old country.” However there is still some concern that a strict interpretation of the Patriot Act could force those US suppliers to hand over foreign data whether it is stored in Europe or not.

While all this is a mess for the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, it is great news for European Cloud providers such as the French Sovereign Cloud.

While there are fears that local spooks might also want to look in corporate clouds, that is a better option that giving the data to a foreign power.

As F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen pointed out: “If you are going to have a Big Brother, it is better to have a domestic Big Brother than a foreign Big Brother.”

Meanwhile European Union could force US cloud suppliers to give up the European customers. At the moment they are asking the US some fairly sticky questions, and could turn to regulating the American cloud users from the market.

At very least, it could recommend that companies opt for European cloud providers instead. In Germany they take such recommendations very seriously. One security recommendation nearly killed off the use of Internet Explorer and gave Firefox a significant boost.

Telecoms groups such as Orange and Deutsche Telekom have announced that they are trying to exploit the concerns as they build their own cloud businesses.

Government agencies and municipalities, especially in more privacy-conscious countries such as Germany, are more likely to turn to local alternatives for cloud services.

Sweden banned Google Apps in the public sector over concerns that Google had too much leeway over how the data was used and stored and PRISM could be a final nail in the service’s coffin in that country.

 

Forrester says yes to Microsoft retail plans

StorePhoto_05Microsoft’s push into retail could just pay off, according to a report from Forrester.

Redmond has been buying up retail space in the Best Buy stores to get its message out to consumer clients. In doing so it is not following Apple, but Samsung which is trying a similar operation.

Writing in his bog, J. P. Gownder, a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, said that the Windows Store represents a complete take-over of the PC department. Windows Stores will effectively replace the computer department at these 600 Best Buy locations.

They will offer a wider range of Microsoft consumer products including tablets.

Gownder thinks that the Windows Store represents a vital strategic step forward in its retail strategy and ought to yield some benefits.

But it might be a little too late for that and it should have been a lot more ambitious.

Gownder thinks that the non-Apple Store North American retail channel for consumer electronics is broken and it is imploding. In a pattern which can be seen in Europe, a spiral of disappearing margins has made direct investment in improving stores challenging.

Retailers have resisted attempts to create better, more integrated shopping experiences and some are addicted to the incentives paid by vendors seeking preferential placement, like pricey end-caps.

In the consumer market, users are a little confused by the new computing form factors. Windows used to be one size fits all, but now they have to deal with touchscreen convertibles, hybrid PC/tablets with detachable keyboards and pure tablets running Windows RT. This is not even taking into account giant tablet-like desktop convertibles.

At the moment, it appears that the PC resellers have not managed to find their consumer-centred feet. As a result consumers just can’t figure out what all the Windows 8 options represent, Gownder wrote.

Microsoft’s move will upgrade its retail capabilities significantly, but it’s not as powerful a move as rolling out 600 Microsoft Stores would have been.

It also creates a channel conflict between Microsoft Store and Redmond’s Windows Store. Buyers familiar with Microsoft Stores could face a different experiences when visiting a Windows Store. Microsoft Stores will give technical help and customer service at their Answer Desks, but shoppers with PC problems could end up in Best Buy’s Geek Squad instead.

The scheme also creates OEM conflicts within the Windows ecosystem. Microsoft’s Windows OEM partners, who are already miffed with Microsoft concerning the Surface are now going to have to compete with Redmond’s hardware in a Windows Store managed by Microsoft itself.

Gownder was optimistic about the move, but it is not clear if it can be exported to other countries.

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.

Microsoft doles out gongs to its chums

msMicrosoft 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.”

Handset sales up, Samsung gains share

nexus4-ceSmartphone 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.

Haswell notebooks head to retail channel

Intel-logoManufacturers 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. Digitimes reports 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.

Microsoft readies a Surface re-run

Microsoft SurfaceWhile 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.

Microsoft cuts the price of Ultrabooks

msSoftware 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.

CNet  found 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.

Enterprise software driven by Cloud, Big Data

cloud 2A 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.
IDC_software

Supply chain standard aims to eliminate counterfeit gear

server-racksCounterfeit 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 shakes up UK Channel management

msMicrosoft 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).

Barclay, who in February told ChannelEye that Microsoft’s resellers where embracing the cloud, replaces Barry Ridgway who has accepted a new role as the SMSG (Sales, Marketing, Services Group) Vice-President for Microsoft in Latin America.

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 continue cosy relataionship

cosyFujitsu 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 rumoured to be building smaller Surface tab

surface-rtMicrosoft 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 month Bloomberg 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.

Avnet and Microsoft shine a business light on China

surface-rtCompanies 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.