Tag: microsoft

Redmond wants a Blackberry slice

blackberry tartThe dark satanic rumour mill is churning out a hell on earth yarns claiming that Microsoft is close to buying up a slice of the canadian telecommunications company BlackBerry.

A few other tech companies like Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei are also amongst those interested in buying the outfit but Microsoft has been wining and dining a few investment firms to assess their chances of taking over BlackBerry.

Its plan is to upgrade its intensity in the business mobile solution segment and its patent portfolio in the Internet of Vehicles (IoV), as well as mobile platform and communications sectors.

The Chinese smartphone manufacturers are mainly intended to invest in BlackBerry so that they can improve their brand visibility across US and European business sectors.

So far it is all rumour and speculation but BlackBerry has frequently been tipped to be ready for buying out before and it has never happened.  However sources in the Redmond lair have admitted that the stuffed head of Blackberry would look nice on its CEO’s wall.

BlackBerry said recently that it will  lay off number of employments across the globe and will merge its device software, hardware and applications business. It also indicated that it was “changing assets to profit” by development opportunities and accomplish benefit over all regions of business.

So far that involves scaling down its mobile phone division, which might mean Microsoft  will have to move fast if it there is going to be anything left of Blackberry.

Microsoft denies it will buy Salesforce

Salesforce logoMicrosoft is not trying to buy Salesforce and has sent its deep throats to leak messages to the press that it is not true.

Bloomberg News, citing people with knowledge of the matter, reported earlier this week that Microsoft was evaluating a bid for Salesforce after the it was approached by another unknown buyer.

But off the record Vole considers Salesforce’s current market valuation too expensive. Sources within Microsoft say that the company could review a bid for Salesforce in the long term, but not at the moment.

Salesforce is No. 1 in the $23 billion-a-year customer relationship management (CRM) market, according to tech research firm Gartner. It helps corporations organise and track sales calls and leads.

Salesforce’s services are entirely provided over the cloud, with no software directly installed on PCs. Oracle (ORCL.N) and Microsoft, which were relatively late to the cloud model, have much smaller online CRM revenues.

Vole and several other big software companies are seeking to beef up their presence in cloud computing and so picking up Salesforce made sense.

However Salesforce’s shares, which have risen 48 percent in the last 12 months, trade at 106.8 times the company’s forward earnings, well above Microsoft’s multiple of 19.1.

SAP Chief Executive Bill McDermott said earlier this week his company has “zero interest” in its software rival.

“We have never bought something that was impaired and in decline,” he said, saying that Salesforce’s cloud computing software was becoming commoditised.

Microsoft bids for Salesforce

Microsoft campusMicrosoft is looking at buying Salesforce.

The cloud software provider has been approached by another, unknown, buyer, and told Microsoft, which put in a bid of its own.

Salesforce, which has a market value of almost $50 billion, is working with two investment banks to determine a response to approaches, two of the people said.

It has the option of telling any buyer to go forth and multiply or working out a sale.

Microsoft isn’t in talks with Salesforce, and no deal is going to be quick.  Microsoft  has said that it might compete for Salesforce if it was for sale.

Salesforce shares spiked and were immediately halted for volatility on the news

Salesforce offers a leading position in CRM, software, as well as cloud computing — the delivery of business software and services via the Internet.

Microsoft sells its own customer management software, but lags behind Salesforce.

Microsoft last week set a goal of increasing annual revenue from its commercial cloud business to about $20 billion.

Oracle Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz said  an acquisition of Salesforce would create disruption in the software market.

She declined to comment on whether Oracle was interested in buying Salesforce.

Salesforce was involved in strategic-alliance discussions with SAP last year and SAP has confirmed it is not thinking about a Salesforce bid.

Microsoft extends Surface channel

image-left-cyan-hero-e1400563125164Software king of the world Microsoft has been expanding its channel for its Surface tablets by adding more partners.

Six UK resellers into its authorised device reseller (ADR) programme including  O2, Academia, XMA, PCS Business Systems, Storm and Total Computer Networks have signed up following a competitive tender process.

This means that there are now 14 ADR’s peddling the Surface in the UK.

Being an ADR gives resellers access to special bid pricing on volume Surfaces and the ability to provide extended warranty and a range of other value-add services around Microsoft’s slow-burner of a tablet.

The first batch of nine ADRs included Insight, SCC, Misco, Softcat, Phoenix Software, Kelway, CCS Media, Computacenter and SoftwareOne. Phoenix Software was less interested in hardware and left the programme two weeks ago to concentrate on software sales.

Microsoft’s Surface distribution strategy after the launch of Surface 3 was likely due its popularity and the fact that Microsoft’s tablet is being demanded by those who need a tablet for business rather than consumer use.

Surface sales started off poor but picked up and demand had been “very strong” since the ADR scheme was launched. Surface sales grew 24 per cent in 2014 driven largely by the Surface Pro 3 and accessories, he said.

Microsoft wants $20 billion from cloud

clouds3Software giant Microsoft has said that it aims to make more than $20 billion in annual revenue from its cloud computing businesses by the end of fiscal 2018.

Chief Executive Satya Nadella said this would mean tripling its cloud based revenue in three years.

Microsoft is one of the leaders in the cloud, and been making a killing providing computing power and storage to customers through its network of data centres.

Microsoft said  that its total commercial cloud revenue, which includes online versions of its Office and Dynamics applications, is running at $6.3 billion per year.

Its closest rival in the cloud, Amazon.com said its competing Amazon Web Services operation took in $1.57 billion in revenue in the quarter, which would also equal an annual rate of $6.3 billion.

Nokia denies it wants its mobile phone business back

shoe phoneThe former maker of rubber wear for those cold Finnish nights, Nokia, has denied reports in Chinese media that it planned to return to manufacturing phones.

Nokia sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft and claimed it was quietly getting on with networking and other more lucrative things.

However the Chinese press was all abuzz with the news that Nokia was going to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China.

Nokia said that the reports are false. It even put it on its website, so the denial must be true.

“Nokia reiterates it currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.”

But Nokia has said it is looking into returning to the smartphones business by brand licensing, which is a little odd, but then there are a lot of things which are a little odd about Nokia lately

Soon after Nokia sold its phone business to Microsoft, it launched a new brand licensed tablet computer, produced under licence by Taiwan’s Foxconn, with an intention to follow up with more devices.

Nokia has agreed with Microsoft that it will not enter the mobile phone business before 2016.

Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, told Reuters in November that Nokia would be crazy if it did not look at mobile phone production eventually.

Nokia this month announced a takeover of France’s Alcatel-Lucent, a bid to boost its mainstay network equipment business, and also said it could hive off its map business.

All this suggests that Nokia sold off its mobile business with the long term aim of building a new leaner and meaner one, from scratch. Of course the denials might be true, for now, but if we look back this time next year the plans might have firmed up a little more.

 

Windows 11 codenamed Redstone

redstoneblock1With Windows 10 coming to market sometime this summer, or possibly later, Microsoft is already starting to work on the next update for the OS and has been devoting brain time to what to call it.

The codename for the project, which will be ready in 2016, will be ‘Redstone’, a popular item in the recently acquired game, Minecraft.

Not much is known about Microsoft’s plans for Redstone but the company has now entered the planning stages of the update.

Microsoft  has been using minecraft and some of its other games to provide codenames. There have already seen several names from the Halo series spring to life, like the Spartan web browser.  Cortana also comes from the game and not a clapped out car teens used to drive around in the 1980s.

Windows 10 is an overhaul of the entire platform, so Redstone will likely be relatively minor in comparison, but other than the name that is all we have on it.

Windows Server is expected to be released in 2016, so Redstone could possibly be related to this project as well. But if you know that when Vole is talking about Redstone, you know it is going to be about Windows 11.

 

Windows 10: Summer is a coming in

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseWe’ve already written how Microsoft is to give away Windows 10 to Chinese users but senior VP Terry Myers has revealed other elements that he hopes will give his company an edge on the operating systems front.

Speaking at a Windows technical conference in China, Myers said the firm will roll Windows 10 out this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages.

He showed off a feature called Windows Hello that supports biometric authentication rather than the usual typed in passwords. Hello will use facial recognition, iris recognition or fingerprints to unlock devices using the Intel RealSense F200 sensor.

He also said there will be a new version of Windows specifically aimed at the internet of things (IoT) market – and that version of Windows will be free and see applications in ATMs, ultrasound machines, and gateways.

Microsoft has signed deals with a number of organisations including the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Qualcomm, Intel and others.

Myerson also announced the Qualcomm DragonBoard 410C which is a Windows 10 developer board with integrated wi-fi, Bluetooth and GPS, and uses a smartphone style Snapdragon 410 chipset.

He claimed that Windows 10 is the only operating system that has a reach across such a broad family of hardware.

 

Apple buys into white box servers

novità-apple-2013Cupertino based Apple Inc has decided to ditch HP and Dell to supply its servers and instead is looking to Taiwanese firms to supply its data centre needs.

That’s according to Taiwan wire Digitimes which said some of the local white box server manufacturers have already received orders from Apple for boxes.

One of the major manufacturers of servers is Quanta, which used to specialise almost wholly in making notebooks for big vendors but has diversified its business over the last two years.

It offers servers at a price that undercuts Dell and HP and will customise the machines for customers which already include giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Apple said recently it will open data centres in Ireland and in Denmark and it’s also spending billions on building up data centres in the USA.

The company is also cuddling up to IBM and wants to release tablet machines that will appeal to enterprises rather than the home users it has depended on in the past.

Microsoft gives the Chinese free Windows 10

eclipse-chinaSoftware king of the world Microsoft has decided that the best way to stop the Chinese pirating its Windows 10 operating system is to give it to them.

Microsoft has decided to push into the heavily pirated Chinese consumer computing market this summer by offering free upgrades to Windows 10 to all Windows users, regardless of whether they are running genuine copies of the software.

The big idea is to get legitimate versions of VoleWare onto machines of the hundreds of millions of Windows users in China. Recent studies show that three-quarters of all PC software is not properly licensed there.

Terry Myerson, who runs Microsoft’s operating systems unit, announced the plan at the WinHEC technology conference in Shenzhen, China.

Microsoft will upgrade all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10. The plan is to “re-engage” with the hundreds of millions of users of Windows in China, he said, without elaboration.

Windows 10 would be released globally sometime “this summer”. That is the first time Microsoft has put a time frame on the release, although it has been expected in autumn.

Microsoft said in January it would offer free upgrades to Windows 10 for users of Windows 7 or later in an attempt to hold onto users and make up for lost revenue by selling services such as Office over the Internet.

Microsoft is working with Lenovo to roll out Windows 10 in China to current Windows users, Myerson said.

It also is offering Windows 10 through security company Qihoo 360 Technology and Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest social networking company, which will build a Windows 10 app that will work on smartphones and PCs for its popular QQ gaming and messaging service. QQ has more than 800 million users.

Lenovo said in a statement that it will make phones running Windows software, available through China Mobile, sometime later this year.

 

Goodbye, Microsoft Internet Exploder (sic)

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseIt’s fair to say that Microsoft’s browser – Internet Explorer – has not been the favourite browser in the world.

But Microsoft has now confirmed that it will put IE in the background when it releases Windows 10 – that’s not until autumn this year.

Instead of pushing Internet Explorer – which has landed it in a lot of bother with government regulatory authorities, Microsoft is to produce a leaner meaner browser which is codenamed Spartan.

Microsoft got into trouble with different governments because IE was bundled with its operating system.

According to web site the Verge, Microsoft won’t kill off Internet Explorer completely but will supplement it with Spartan.

People got so fed up with Internet Explorer in the past that many opted for alternative browsers such as Opera or Firefox.

Microsoft is eager to show that under the stewardship of newly fledged CEO Satya Nadella, things ain’t what they used to be.

Although there’s no official launch date for Windows 10, the perception in the supply chain is that if it comes out before autumn, it will be something of a miracle.

China puts anti-western tech law on hold

1900-intl-forces-including-us-marines-enter-beijing-to-put-down-boxer-rebellion-which-was-aimed-at-ridding-china-of-foreigners-A law, China claimed was all about counter-terrorism but stopped US technology companies selling so much behind the bamboo curtain, has been put on hold.

A senior US official welcomed the move which he said was a good sign for Western businesses that saw the rule as a major impediment to working in the world’s second largest economy.

President Barack Obama said in an interview with Reuters on March 2 that he had raised concerns about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel said the Chinese have decided to suspend the third reading of that particular law, which has put the law on hiatus.

“We did see that as something that was bad not just for U.S. business but for the global economy as a whole, and it was something we felt was very important to communicate very clearly to them,” Daniel said.

The law would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys, the passcodes that help protect data, and install security “backdoors” in their systems to give Chinese authorities surveillance access.

The move has given companies “some breathing room, but not complete relief” because the bill could be picked up again at any point.

The thought is that the Chinese are not ready to kick out all foreign companies, and because they weren’t ready to take that step, they backed off.

The initial draft, published by the NPC late last year, requires companies to also keep servers and user data within China, supply law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism-related Internet content.

Although the law would apply to both domestic and foreign companies, officials in Washington and Western business lobbies complained that the combination of that law, the banking rules and anti-trust investigations amounted to unfair regulatory pressure targeting foreign companies.

 

Microsoft migrates tech to competitors

windows-10-technical-preview-turquoiseThe artificial intelligence project called Einstein and used in its so called personal assistant Cortana is set to be ported to Android and to Apple’s iOS.

That’s according to a report from Reuters, which said in an exclusive interview that Cortana will eventually become a stand alone application.

But in the interim and widely flagged, Cortana will be rolled out as part of its Windows 10 desktop, not due until the autumn of 2015.

Microsoft has been boasting about Cortana’s abilities and a few weeks ago the company managed to predict a large number of Oscar winners.

Microsoft wants to get away from being considered a proprietary company and the new CEO broom at the company, Satya Nadella, wants to sprained the appeal of the company’s tech.

Certain differs from Google Siri because that trawls the web and its own server for information that it believes people want.

Certain is being projected as super duper artificial intelligence (AI). But although AI has been touted now for many decades it still faces many challenges.

What’s certain is that in the quest for the perfect AI agent, Microsoft faces many challenges from its competition – in particular Google – which has fairly deep pockets too.

US advances cyber threat bill

National-Security-Agency--008A move that would allow the US government to share cyber information with private companies has been given the nod by a key committee.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee voted 14-1 on Thursday to approve a bill intended to enhance information sharing between private companies and intelligence agencies about cybersecurity threats.

The Bill will go to the Senate where it is expected to get a full backing – after all many private companies would like all that data that the US intelligence services collect and are quite happy to pay their tame Senators to change the law to get it.

Privacy advocates opposed the bill, worrying that it would do too little to prevent more data collection by the National Security Agency and other US intelligence agencies.

Privacy concerns were cited by the only member of the committee who voted against the bill, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon who saw it as another surveillance bill.

In practice the law is targeted at preventing the major cyber attacks and co-ordinate companies and government departments better. Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and Morgan Stanley, had pushed for a such a threat-sharing bill.

 

More gloom ahead for the PC market

A not so mobile X86 PCThere’s still no light at the end of tunnel for PC sales, market research company IDC has predicted.

It estimates that world wide shipments of PCs will drop by 4.9 percent this year, but it suggests things may be slightly better in 2016 and 2017.

Total shipments of PCs this year are expected to total 293.1 million, but the underlying trend remains poor.

IDC said that some sectors of the market saw an uptick in demand during the second half of last year, but volumes were up because the supply chain was inflated by Microsoft’s plan to cut subsidies in its Windows 8.1 + Bing scheme early this year.

The strong US dollar makes PCs more expensive and there’s a continuing move to other form factors. Intel won’t release its Skylake processor and Microsoft won’t ship Windows 10 until later this year, so many will wait buying until they see which particular writing is on the wall.

Emerging markets don’t offer much either. IDC said that these markets ended 2014 with a decline of 9.5 percent in PC shipments.

Loren Louverde, VP of PCs at IDC, said opportunities for long term growth depend largely on growth in the emerging market. “That seems unlikely with the shift towards mobile devices. Vendors can focus on growth segments of the market such as All in One, slim and convertible PCs, or consolidate share, but pressure on pricing and from competing devices will continue to make it a challenging market.”