Tag: microsoft

Microsoft fires up Android kicker

robby the robotSoftware supremo Microsoft is investing in a start-up that wants to give Google Android a good kicking.

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.

Microsoft in big Office give away

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEOSoftware giant Microsoft has decided that people who use Android tablets will be able to download Office applications for nothing from today.
Office includes Excel, Word and Power Point.
Microsoft had already made versions of the software available for people with iPads.
But it has today also released a version of email client Outlook for Apple’s iPads and iPhones.
Microsoft realises that the market is slipping out of its reach and this is a gamble by CEO Satya Nadella to broaden the software offerings on mobile devices.
What it wants to do is to persuade people to upgrade to its fully blown Office 365 which costs about £5 a month if you sign up for it.
Microsoft also released a beta version of the Outlook app for people using the Android operating system.

 

India bans sex determination tests

India_flagThe Supreme Court of India today ordered Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo not to carry adverts for products that will predict the gender of a child.
The court made the ruling because female infanticide and abortion of female children is relatively common in India.
The Supreme Court said that such factors were causing an imbalance of genders in India..
A few days ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the country’s sex ratio was deteriorating.
The practice of determining a future child’s sex is illegal in India. Modi is currently promoting a campaign in India stressing gender equality. The decision is an interim decision, according to India Today, and will be reviewed again in early February.

Windows 10: the mess begins

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseMicrosoft appears to have further muddied the waters with its announcements about Windows 10 last week.
The new version of Windows, which no one really expects to be available until September this year at the earliest, is supposed to run on all sorts of different hardware platforms.
But, according to veteran expert Mary Jo Foley over at ZD Net, you might need a degree in both physics and marketing to try and make any sense of what’s in store for millions of people later this year.
She writes that the different SKUs – stock keeping units come in a plethora of shapes and sizes.
For example, the preview edition available to test now is Windows 10 desktop that will run on Intel based devices.
But the February version will be Windows 10 mobile and that’s intended to run on phones based on ARM chips.
There are other versions of Windows 10 intended for different kinds of devices.
You can read more about what Mary Jo has to say, here.
Our take on this is that all Microsoft will do is persuade its enterprise customers and everyone else that it is deeply confused about the future.
Some sources estimate that as many as 10 percent of people that use Windows are still using Windows XP.  That’s because they failed to be convinced it was worth moving to Vista, Windows 7, or the widely disrespected Windows 8.1.

Microsoft’s profit falls thanks to strong dollar

dollarSoftware giant Microsoft reported a fall in its quarterly profit as sluggish PC sales dampened demand for Windows software and the company struggled with the impact of the strong US dollar.

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.

 

Microsoft buys Revolution

Hungarian Revolution-ASoftware 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.

 

Windows 10 may be a fail

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseTaiwanese suppliers of notebooks are not over impressed by the news last week that Microsoft will give free upgrades to its Windows 10 operating system.
Digitimes, which regularly talks to manufacturers in the supply chain, reports that Microsoft’s move is unlikely to prompt people to replace their existing notebooks.
Windows 10 is not expected to be available until the third quarter of this year – and the supply chain doesn’t think a free upgrade from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 is much of an incentive for people to go out and buy new machines.
The report claims that many people continue to use Windows 7 and as much as 10 percent of people are still using the now unsupported Windows XP.
People prefer to buy new smartphones or tablets than expensive notebook PCs, Digitimes said.
Notebook sales will continue to be of low end models rather than the full monte with bells and whistles, Digitimes said.

 

Windows 10 will be free

ms-event-2015-01-21-win10-46-741x416Microsoft has released details of Windows 10 and said that it will be free for many current Windows users.

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.

 

Microsoft must recover from Windows 8 debacle

Windows-8As reported earlier this week, Microsoft will show off more features of Windows 10 today.
But it faces uphill challenges, according to Ovum.
Richard Edward, principal analyst of enterprise mobility and productivity said a number of challenges face the software giant.
He said that chief information officers (CIOs) and corporate IT managers will monitor the event closely.
“There could also be announcements that will materially affect business user computing strategies, as Microsoft and its Windows hardware partners  try to reboot the PC industry and gain a foothold in smartphone and tablet markets,” he said.
Further, he said Microsoft: “is no stranger to debacles where Windows is concerned – remember Microsoft Vista – but the effort, resources and time required to extricate the company from each predicament increases with every occurrence.”
Edward said that getting Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 will be hard because there are two distinct markets to engage – business users and home users.
Ovum thinks businesses will carry on deploying Windows 7 for now.  Extended support will continue until January 2020, he said, “so there is compelling reasons for organisations to make the upgrade”.

 

Dropbox buys CloudOn

dropboxOnline document-sharing outfit Dropbox has acquired US-Israeli firm CloudOn.

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.

 

Microsoft to open Windows 10 kimono

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseAlthough Windows 10 won’t launch until the second half of this year, Microsoft is attempting to keep us interested by revealing more features of the operating system.
It will reveal those details later this week.
When Microsoft opened the kimono on Windows 10 last Autumn, it was trying to get the attention of corporate users of PCs, many of which voted with their feet by not buying Windows 8.x
But this week, Microsoft wants to tempt regular punters by showing off services and devices that will support the operating system.
Part of the disgruntlement was because Windows 8.x looked like the interface of a tablet, and lacked the traditional “start” button.
Microsoft is promising that a feature called Cortana will be able to detect what sort of device is running Windows 10 and will react accordingly.
Microsoft is also waving goodbye to the long despised Explorer browser, by replacing it with a browser called Spartan which is rumoured to be niftier than the browsers of yesteryear.
No one is sure exactly when Windows 10 will ship, how much it will cost or how many flavours it will come in.  Most pundits are predicting a launch probably in September.

 

Youth arrested over console hack

wargames-hackerA British youth has been arrested over the hack that brought down the Playstation network and Xbox Live over the holiday period.
UK police are working in tandem with the FBI to track down the perpetrators, who identified themselves as the Lizard Squad.
In addition to arresting the 16 year old youth, the police from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SERCO) seized computer equipment, which they will now scrutinise.
SERCO said it is working with both business and the academic world to create specialist tools to protect the public.
The Sony and Microsoft hacks happened on Christmas Day, using a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack.
The police said they were still in the early stages of its investigation.

 

Tablet market faces further woes

tablet-POS-cash-registerThere’s more research data on the tablet market out today and the latest report suggests gloom for 2015.
Digitimes Research said that total shipments of tablets worldwide will fall by 11.8 percent this year, accounting for shipments of 244 million units.
The logic behind the forecast is that demand for high end and entry level units is saturated, and smartphones with bigger screens are further eroding the tablet marketplace.
The seven inch segment, in particular will see a sharp drop in shipments because of smartphone competition.
However, it’s not all bad news. The report said demand for tablets with 10-inch screens and above will grow by 20 percent, fuelled by enterprise interest.
Digitimes Research also thinks Windows tablets will grow by 50 percent this year – which if true – is encouraging news for both Microsoft and Intel.  Both behemoths have introduced subsidies to encourage vendors to use their kit.

 

Tablet Windows faces uncertain future

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseBy 2018, tablet sales will reach 540 million units, despite 2014 being a quiet year for the sector.
CCS Insight introduced its annual look at the marketplace and bullishly predicts the market will grow 28 percent this year to reach 283 million units.
While people in established markets will look to upgrade their existing systems, emerging markets will play an increasing role in buying units.
CCS expects that Android will retain its position as the operating system of choice in tablet sales.  But it also expects Windows to increase share over the next two years.
That’s down to Microsoft spending more on marketing, establishing Surface as a brand, and bundling hardware with its software.
Marina Koytcheva, Director of Forecasting at CCS Insight said: “We expect Android to continue dominating the low end and midrange market, with Apple taking the lion’s share at the high end.  But Windows is gaining a bigger slice of the pie, albeit from a very low level, and should not be overlooked.”
She said that the Microsoft move to scrap charging for licences for Windows devices under nine inches will help Microsoft.
She said that move has encouraged vendors to launch better devices at lower prices.
She warned that Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 10, will “take time to make its mark”.  It will have little impact on sales before the end of 2016.
Enterprises will help Apple, specifically the deal it forged with IBM late last year.

 

Google chucks rocks in glass house

obj058aIt seems that there is a large amount of pot calling kettle black when it comes to security.

Last month, Google angered Microsoft by releasing the details of a security vulnerability ahead of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday. Microsoft said that the patch was set to be released two days after Google went live with the details and that they refused to wait an extra 48 hours so that the patch would have been released along with the details of the exploit.

That would all be fine but Google does not have the same standards for itself. An exploit has been uncovered in Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) – which covers roughly 60 per cent of Android’s install base, according to the Android Developer dashboard – and Google is saying that they will not patch the flaw.

The flaw, which exists in WebView impacts nearly 1 billion users, when using Google’s own numbers as a base along with Gartner figures.

To make matters worse Jelly Bean was first announced in June of 2012, which means that Google is dropping support for its mobile OS less than three years after it was released.

Google is clearly stating that legacy support for the OS is not on their agenda even while phones are still being flogged with Jelly Bean under the bonnet.

The question is why if Google is being such a bastard about its own operating system is it so keen to throw Microsoft under the bus?