Tag: microsoft

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.

Microsoft starts selling Surface tablets in bulk

surface-rtMicrosoft’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.

Surface tablet sales fall short, resemble Zune

surface-rtOh 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.

Dell signs secret pact with Icahn

Michael DellMichael 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).

Tech execs still dislike Windows 8

msWindows 8 has failed to rejuvenate the PC market and even hopes of a Win 8 tablet push are slowly evaporating. Jun Dong-Soo, the head of Samsung’s memory division, recently said Windows 8 is no better than Vista, which is pretty much the worst insult one can bestow on a Microsoft product.

Dong-Soo pointed out that the PC industry is still shrinking despite the Windows 8 launch and he also said Redmond’s Surface tablets aren’t doing well, which is hardly a secret. What’s more, Dong-Soo is not alone. Computerworld reports that an HP exec recently said that the Surface RT is too pricey, slow and not very nice to use.

Acer president Jim Wong also believes Windows 8 is not successful. However, Wong told the Wall Street Journal that he expects sales of Windows 8 touch enabled devices to pick up in the second half of the year. This does not mean that we will see tons of tablets, as it is more than likely that the bulk of Windows 8 touch devices will be Ultrabooks and hybrids.

Many are now looking to Redmond for some action, any action will do. IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell told CNET that it might be time for Microsoft to start thinking about some changes.

“There were certain decisions that Microsoft made that were in retrospect flawed. Notably not allowing people to boot into desktop mode and taking away the start button. Those two things have come up consistently. We’ve done some research and people miss that,” he said.

In retrospect, the decision to ditch the start button was probably a wrong call on Microsoft’s part, as many Windows users tend to be rather conservative and fear change. O’Donnell says it is time for Microsoft to rethink its design, relying on input from PC makers. He argued that Microsoft should change the OS, allowing it to boot to desktop mode, as many users simply dislike the new Metro UI.

However, Microsoft is is still not saying anything on design changes or possible price cuts. O’Donnell believes Windows 8 sales are “horribly stalled,” so it might not be too long before the company is forced to take action. In doing so, it will tell the world that its Windows 8 strategy was flawed, on top of its flawed tablet strategy. And smartphone strategy, search strategy, social strategy, consumer electronics strategy and just about every other botched idea that came out of Redmond since Vista.

Microsoft hands over Office 365 to resellers

msMicrosoft has lived up to its pledge made last summer by making cloud suite available through Open licensing from 1 March.

Resellers can bill customers directly for Office 365 eight months after the move was unveiled to applause at the vendor’s Worldwide Partner Conference  in 2012.

This mean that Office 365 will be available to partners on Open and Open Value licensing programmes from next month.

At the moment partners have to use a referral model for reselling Office 365 and get payments for what they sell, with Microsoft controlling billing.

But the new move will mean that resellers the chance to set their own margins and bill customers. It gives them the ability to control and bundle products.

This is important in cloud offerings where resellers show up and offer a one stop shop cloud operation.

It has been a long time coming. Some resellers were expecting to see the plan enacted by the end of the year particularly after Vole launched it with such a big fanfare.  Microsoft claims that the idea has a lot of support, so it is not clear why the plan was so delayed.

However Microsoft still might sail up the nasal passages of resellers by offering a different SKU which means that some customers may still be forced to bypass the partner on billing.  This could be confusing for many customers and resellers who might think they have a product that they don’t.

Ingram Micro rides high on reseller programme wave

IMIngram Micro said that its time and investment in its resellers is paying off and has launched more partner programmes as a result.

The distie, like many, centres its efforts around education and training for its partners, which it hopes will boost morale and help them sell more products.

And according to Arnet the company is riding the wave of success as a result of a range of initiatives launched over the past year. This includes its enablement training programs, aimed at the SME market, and helped bring in the bucks for the resellers in this sector.

The distie has also launched major programmes including  the Microsoft Training Academy and Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience, which it claims are doing so well that they have been over-subscribed and forced the company to lay on more of these events over the next month, while its Symantec and VMware launch and learn events have also paid off.

The company, which said it a statement that it believed “education and training were key enablers for its reseller partners” has now launched two more programs for March.

Veeam Campus is a program claimed to provide training and certification for Veeam products, while Cloud Advance has been created in partnership with UberGlobal and Microsoft to assist resellers in identifying and capitalising on cloud service opportunities.

The distie warned that interest in both new programs was strong already and early registrations were filling quickly.

IM resellers can register for both free programs immediately.

Windows 8 fails to woo people’s hearts and minds

msNobody expected Windows 8 to have a huge impact on the sluggish PC market, but now it seems that things could be a bit worse than Redmond would have us believe.

According to monthly statistics from NetMarketShare, sales of Windows 8 are not picking up much speed. In fact, in February Windows 8 ranked behind XP and Windows 7, with 38.99 per cent and 44.55 per cent share respectively.

At 2.76 per cent of web traffic, Windows 8 is even trailing behind Vista, one of Microsoft’s biggest lemons, which is still terrorising 5.17 percent of PC users.

The share of Windows 8 PCs on the web saw very little growth, just 0.41 percent from January, when it commanded a 2.26 percent share. In December the share was 1.72 percent.

The trend must be raising some eyebrows at Redmond, but there doesn’t seem to be much anyone can do to speed up Windows 8 adoption now. Although cutting the price is always an option, it would probably result in a brief spike, followed by plenty of angry questions from shareholders.

A quick glance at a couple of European price search engines reveals a relatively high number of Windows 7 desktops and laptops in practically every market segment, although Windows 8 is gaining a lot more traction in the high end and in Ultrabooks. However, volumes are what matter, as the same OS ships with a £1,000 Ultrabook and a dirt cheap 15-incher. Speaking of the latter, thousands of 15.6-inch and 16-inch laptops are still listed as shipping with Windows 7. Many of them can be upgraded to Windows 8 at no cost, but then again plenty can’t.

Holiday PC sales failed to impress and it appears that there are tons of early- to mid-2012 Windows 7 laptops and desktops in the channel. In fact, out of a few thousand 15-inchers listed at Skinflint, just 183 SKUs ship with Windows 8 Pro and 578 with Windows 8. However, 1396 SKUs are shipped with Windows 7 in four distinct flavours. The trend is even more evident on the continent.

At this rate, it will take a few quarters to get rid of Windows 7 inventory. In addition, very few consumers seem to be upgrading their existing PCs to Windows 8, despite the fact that the vast majority of Windows 7 PCs will easily run the new OS. In fact, most will end up even faster, without any hardware upgrades. However, money is tight and few people are willing to upgrade their operating system, especially as Windows 8 doesn’t bring a whole lot of headline features to the table.