Microsoft has written a cheque to power up Cyanogen, which is building a version of the Android mobile operating system outside of Google’s auspices.
Apparently Microsoft is a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing and the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest.
All of them are keen that to help Cyanogen to diminish Google’s iron grip over Android.
Microsoft offers its own Windows Phone mobile operating system which should be doing its own thing to kill off Android. But Windows Phone has only about 3 per cent market share, which may be prompting Microsoft to consider unconventional steps.
Google has frustrated manufacturers in recent years by requiring them to feature Google apps and set Google search as the default for users, in exchange for access to the search engine, YouTube, or the millions of apps in its Play Store.
For Microsoft, that means less exposure for its Bing search engine, which is up against Google search. It also could limit growth of other Microsoft software products.
Cyanogen has a volunteer army of 9,000 software developers working on its own version of Android.
Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen’s chief said his company’s goal is to take Android away from Google.
It had raised $100 million to date. Previously the company had disclosed that it raised $30 million of funding.
Cyanogen recently signed a deal with Indian smartphone maker Micromax to ship handsets with Cyanogen’s software and is close to announcing more such deals, say people familiar with the matter.
Shares of the world’s largest software company, which have surged to 14-year highs in the past few months, fell three percent.
The fall did not seem to faze the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street who seemed to be expecting it. Not much can really stand up to a high dollar pressure and most thought the numbers were good enough.
Microsoft’s flagship Windows business has been under pressure for three years as PC sales have declined, although the market appears to be stabilising in recent months.
Currency shifts against the strong U.S. dollar also crimped profit in the fiscal second quarter, ended December 31, although Microsoft did not specify by how much. Microsoft gets almost three-quarters of its revenue from overseas, but a significant amount of that is still in US dollars.
Commercial licensing is chiefly sales of Windows and Office to business customers, which is Microsoft’s biggest revenue generator.
Microsoft reported profit of $5.86 billion for the latest quarter, compared with $6.56 billion last year.
Sales rose eight percent to $26.47 billion, largely due to the acquisition of Nokia’s phone handset business last year.
Analysts had expected revenue of $26.3 billion including some restructuring costs.
Software king of the world Microsoft announced a deal to buy Revolution Analytics, the top commercial provider of software and services for the open-source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics.
Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft corporate vice president for machine learning, said the acquisition was to help more companies use the power of R and data science to unlock big data insights with advanced analytics.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Revolution Analytics is based in California with offices in London and Singapore.
David Smith, Revolution Analytics’ chief community officer, said that he was excited the work done with Revolution R will come to a wider audience through Microsoft.
“Our combined teams will be able to help more users use advanced analytics within Microsoft data platform solutions, both on-premises and in the cloud with Microsoft Azure. And just as importantly, the big-company resources of Microsoft will allow us to invest even more in the R Project and the Revolution R products.”
However Revolution is Open Source and uses the R programming language, which is a data analysis tool widely used by both academics and corporate data scientists. Revolution Analytics was best known for offering developer tools for use with the R language, and though Microsoft already works with R it is a huge change in direction to own something like Revolution.
Revolution was founded in 2007 by Yale University computer scientists to create a suite of tools for working with R. The company develops both a free, open source community version of its Revolution R suite of developer tools, as well as paid commercial versions of the software.
Revolution Analytics created tools that extended the open source version of the R language to help it get under the bonnet of big data.
Microsoft will continue to support Revolution’s existing products and customers.
The company unveiled the Windows 10 consumer preview yesterday and showed off many new features which will be available.
What is surprising is that Windows 10 will be free for existing Windows users running versions of the OS, going back to Windows 7. That includes Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and Windows Phone.
Microsoft said that the upgrade would be free for the first year of release, but people would need to pay for it after that. However, Microsoft will support the upgrade for the “lifetime of the device”.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the event he wanted Windows 10 to be the most loved release of Windows. It will have services everywhere but no bolted on apps.
There will be a new web browser for Windows 10, codenamed Project Spartan. It’ll be the primary browser in Windows 10 and will be available on PCs, tablets and phonesallows users to “draw” directly on a web page for quick sharing of notes. It includes a fully integrated reading list that follows a user across devices, as well as a built-in PDF viewer.
Another unusual thing about the OS is the use of a sort of virtual reality, called Windows Holographic, powered by a new kind of device called the HoloLens.
Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of the Operating Systems Group, Joe Belfiore, announced it would bring back the much-missed Start Menu, but Belfiore revealed it would also have a full-screen mode that includes more of the Windows 8 Start screen. He also said Windows machines would go back and forth between two menus in a way that would not confuse people. Right.
Belfiore also showed a new notification centre for Windows, which puts a person’s notifications in an Action Center menu that can appear along the right side, similar to how notifications work in Apple OS X.
There is also a thing called Continuum to help so-called hybrid devices flip between themselves. Removing a keyboard from a tablet like the Surface Pro 3, say, will call up a dialogue box asking if a human wants to switch to tablet mode.
Microsoft has also parked its Cortana into Windows 10. People will be able to access it using a search bar next to the Windows logo in the taskbar.
Describing Cortana showed how users could ask it to play music, answer queries launch apps and open specific files, like a PowerPoint deck you’ve been working on. Cortana is also built into Spartan.
Windows 10 can work on devices smaller than 8 inches, which would have a special version of the OS tuned to the precise touch capabilities needed.
As an example of Universal Windows Apps, which are apps that provide a multi-modal experience across devices, Belfiore showed off revamped mobile versions of Microsoft Office.
The “consumer preview” version of Windows 10 will be available for PCs starting next week, and for phones in February. Some of the Windows 10 features Microsoft showed at the event will not immediately be available in preview builds of the software, but will roll out in the next three to four months.
Microsoft hasn’t yet set a date for the general release of Windows 10, but it’s expected to launch in the Autumn. Or Fall. Pride comes before a fall.
CloudOn is a developer of tools to simplify creating and editing documents on mobile devices.
Financial details were not disclosed but money is believed to have changed hands.
CloudOn will become Dropbox’s first Israeli office and will focus on R&D. Dropbox plans to hire more engineers in Israel following the purchase.
Dropbox is waxing lyrical about what CloudOn brings to the company. It says that the CloudOn team will help build collaboration capabilities into Dropbox.
This means that Dropbox might be moving into end user content creation tools. So far it has Mailbox, a mobile email client, and Carousel, a mobile image viewing application. But nothing like compare to Google Docs or Microsoft’s mobile Office.
CloudOn customers have been told that the service will shut down in the next two months and that no new users will be accepted after today.
What is not clear is where this leaves Dropbox’s developing relationship with Microsoft.
In November, Dropbox teamed up with Microsoft to allow Office software users to manage and share files through Dropbox’s website and mobile app.
Microsoft has its own file sharing solution, OneDrive and did not really need Dropbox. However if Dropbox is heading into application land, one wonders why either side would find a relationship attractive.