Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Siri Gets Serious, Microsoft Gets Its Mojo Back and Everything Gets Encrypted in 2014

December 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If it’s December, it’s time to start predicting what’s going to dominate the headlines and trends of 2014. I make it a point every year to sit down with Mark Anderson, an industry analyst and CEO of Strategic News Service, and get an early look at the predictions he makes in a speech at an annual dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. As with previous rounds of predictions he has made (See 2011 , 2012 and 2013 ), some already make sense if you’ve been paying attention to the way things are going, and will become more pronounced in the year ahead. Others are a little more surprising. Siris head into silos. There will be more products like Apple’s Siri, and they’ll spread out and dive deep into vertical markets. Current voice-recognition products are sitting in the range of 60 percent to 80 percent accuracy, which is still too frustrating to be effective for daily use. “You still get a lot of Siri jokes,” Anderson says. “But as that rate approaches 90 percent and above, they’ll get more useful and start appearing in industry-specific products.” Customers will start trusting these systems more. Visualization goes mainstream. As more companies spin up efforts to harness the capabilities of big data and analytics, making the results more useful will become a higher priority. That’s going to bring a new emphasis on visualization tools. “Let’s stop talking about Big Data and start talking about seeing data. We haven’t yet had any big improvements in ways to help us use all this data we’re gathering.” Price rules consumer electronics

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‘The Wolverine’ Helps Hype Digital HD at McDonald’s, on the Xbox One

December 5, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Twentieth Century Fox is taking its campaign to promote Digital HD on the road. Through the drive-through, actually. The studio has secured a high-profile partnership with McDonald’s and Microsoft’s Xbox One to be the sole movie partner — in this case, “The Wolverine” — as part of the fast food chain’s month-long “One Hot Holiday”... Read more

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Microsoft-Nokia Deal Gets Go-Ahead From Justice Department

December 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Shutterstock / Lisa S. It’s a regulatory green-light for Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Nokia’s phone business. The U.S. Department of Justice unconditionally approved the $7.2 billion deal last Friday , rubber-stamping a massive transaction that will see Microsoft acquire Nokia’s devices and services business and license the company’s mapping services, a move that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says will accelerate the company’s share and profits in phones. A milestone moment for Microsoft, and one that clearly shows the company recognizing two crucial truths: 1. It must create a first-rate Microsoft phone experience in order for it to succeed in the smartphone business. 2. It cannot afford to allow Google and Apple to foreclose the smartphone ecosystem by utterly dominating software and hardware innovation in this sphere. The next hurdle to be overcome: Regulatory approval in the European Union. Here’s a quick refresher on the numbers behind the deal: Microsoft is spending about $7.2 billion to acquire Nokia’s core cellphone business. Of that, $5 billion is for Nokia’s devices business. The remaining $2.18 billion is to license Nokia’s intellectual property Nokia’s patent portfolio includes some 8,500 design patents. It also includes approximately 30,000 utility patents and patent applications. About 32,000 Nokia employees are expected to transfer to Microsoft as part of the deal. About 18,300 of those are “directly involved in manufacturing.” But 56,000 Nokia employees will remain at the company once the deal has closed. With 8.7 million units shipped, Windows Phone had a 3.7 percent share of global smartphone market in the second quarter of 2013, according to IDC. Windows Phone has greater than 10 percent share in nine markets, according to Microsoft. Windows Phone is outselling BlackBerry in 34 markets — again, according to Microsoft. Nokia accounted for 81.6 percent of all Windows Phone smartphone shipments during the second quarter of 2013. Microsoft’s gross margin on sales of Nokia’s Windows Phone handsets before the deal: Less than $10

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AllThingsD Week in Review: Wearable Computing Comes to Clothes, and Yahoos Hate Yahoo Mail

November 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In case you missed anything, here’s a quick roundup of some of the news that powered AllThingsD this week: Change is hard for many, but the latest iteration of Yahoo Mail has collected a chorus of complainers — including quite a few Yahoo employees , only 25 percent of whom have heeded management pleas to switch away from Outlook. Nokia’s first phablet, the Lumia 1520, boasts a six-inch full-HD display and a 20-megapixel camera. In All Things Reviewed, Bonnie Cha found it to be “a solid phablet” with “fast performance and good battery life,” but that, like other phablets, it can be cumbersome to handle. What’s next for wearable devices? They’re already on our wrists, but what about activity trackers in our clothes ? That’s the idea behind a startup called Athos, but there are still plenty of unanswered questions about how to turn that idea into a consumer-friendly reality. Black Friday has once again come and gone, but some of the deals on videogame consoles that rolled out on Thursday and Friday are still available today. This buyer’s guide explains the differences among all the different types of consoles, and which games work with which systems. If you did line up for doorbuster deals on Black Friday yesterday, though, you might have wasted your valuable time , according to one business school professor. Sorry! According to teardowns by research firm IHS, both of the big new gaming consoles are only barely profitable. Last week, we learned that Sony’s $399 PlayStation 4 costs $381 to build . This week, it was Microsoft’s turn; the $499 Xbox One similarly costs $471 , according to the teardown. As AllThingsD reported it would, Yahoo this week announced that Katie Couric would become its “global news anchor.” Details about the hiring were scant, but, like many other media stars, Couric has a long history of dipping her toe into the online space. Apple lost its antitrust e-book trial over the summer.

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Bitcoin, Schmitcoin — Tech Stocks Also on a Frothy Run

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

While the stock market was only open a half-day today, it was still a solid one for Internet stocks as the market enters its final month of 2013. Most showed gains yesterday, with Apple, Amazon and Twitter all up almost two percent. But that does not tell the story of how well shares of tech companies have been doing throughout the year — most are up significantly, seeing big jumps. For the year-to-date, most well-known issues are up, including: LinkedIn, up more that 95 percent; Facebook, up over 76.5 percent; Yahoo, up 83 percent; Amazon, up 57 percent; Google, up close to 50 percent; and even perpetually stagnant Microsoft, up close to 43 percent. Apple lagged, up only 4.5 percent, and Twitter remains below its November IPO price, down 7.4 percent. Even suffering Groupon and Zynga did well, up more than 86 percent and 84 percent respectively. The past three months have not been as strong, though, with Amazon leading the pack with a 38.6 percent rise. It was followed by Yahoo, up 35.3 percent; Google, up close to 34 percent; Facebook and Microsoft, up close to 14 percent; and Apple, up just over 13 percent. LinkedIn declined just over seven percent in the period, not a surprise, given its spectacular rise since it went public in mid-2011. What the rest of the year and 2014 will bring is anyone’s guess, of course, but there are expected to be a spate of IPOs in the first half of the new year, most notably China’s Alibaba Group, whose stellar performance should continue to boost Yahoo’s stock.

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While Mulally/Nadella Remain the Favorites, Bates Is Silicon Valley’s Choice for Microsoft CEO

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Tony Bates About 10 days ago, AllThingsD reported once again that Ford CEO Alan Mulally was in the lead position to take over as CEO of Microsoft, with one internal exec as the No. 2 choice. As I noted in a post on November 19 : “Ford CEO Alan Mulally remains in the pole position for the job, with the idea that he will be more a ‘caretaker’ type CEO, whose deep experience and inspirational charisma will get the company on the right path, while also training up a number of internal candidates to eventually take over from him. The top pick among the possible heirs inside for that princeling role: Enterprise chief Satya Nadella.” Bloomberg reported similarly that Mulally and Nadella were the two top candidates yesterday. In the story, it noted that the Microsoft talent search documents are calling for someone with an “extensive track record in managing complex, global organizations within a fast-paced and highly competitive market sector; track record of delivering top and bottom line results. Proven ability to lead a multi-billion dollar organization and large employee base.” Let’s be clear, none of this is new. ATD and others reported in September that Mulally was the leading name in the race to run the software giant. The Mulally/Nadella scenario is both intriguing and also makes basic sense, along with another newer scenario in which a board member — like Seagate’s CEO Stephen J. Luczo — becomes the CEO (inside the company, this is being jokingly called “pulling a Dick Cheney”). But more than a dozen tech leaders in Silicon Valley, as well as several top Microsoft execs, I have talked to over the last week have one single choice to lead the company: Tony Bates. Having the love of Silicon Valley, of course, is perhaps a little dicey for anyone from Microsoft, despite years of bridge-building done by many company execs, including the British-born Bates, after decades of hostility. But those I spoke to said Bates had all the right assets, making him “the best candidate across all of the various criteria,” said one source. “Tony is a bold choice that would say a lot to the rest of the tech world that Microsoft is ready to engage,” said another source close to the company. “Mulally makes sense only if the board wants a transitional figure, which means it basically doesn’t know what to do yet.” Among Bates’s pluses, according to these sources: Scale management experience from his time as an exec at Cisco, where he managed about 12,000 global workers and was responsible for more than $20 billion in revenue. Technical ability, although Bates does not have a technical degree (he dropped out of mechanical engineering program in Britain). But, at Cisco, he was in change of development of a complex networking product, and he also holds many patents related to the area.

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Twitch Takes Up Cat Herding With Ban on PlayStation 4′s Playroom

November 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

How did no one see this coming? The PlayStation 4 has an optional camera accessory, games that use that camera, and the option to stream any game live to the Internet via the popular gaming-video service Twitch . Put those three ingredients together, let simmer for a week, and boom: Naked people , among other things. First, Twitch was banning individual users for inappropriate video content and comments in their livestreams. Now it has removed The Playroom , the fun PlayStation Camera demo game bundled with every PS4, from its directory. Twitch’s terms of service explicitly say that it’s only for game content, and I can’t think of a less-bad option for dealing with users who ignore that. But what happens when games that aren’t just hardware demos come along and are similarly abused? A Twitch spokesperson said content is “always gauged on a case by case basis” according to those terms. A “majority” of users streaming The Playroom were using it for “non-gaming related” content, according to a company statement. But, even if one person using a console has read ( hah! ) and agreed to the terms of service, one of the differences between consoles and personal computers — Twitch’s longtime stomping ground — is that they’re designed to be used by many people in various combinations at different times. Entering the living room and expecting everyone to pretend they’re alone at a desk is not a sound strategy as social gamecasting matures. Although initially planned for launch, as it was on the PS4, Microsoft delayed Twitch streaming on its competing next-gen console, the Xbox One, until Q1 2014.

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Apprenda, Helping Big Companies Embrace the Cloud, Lands $16 Million

November 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Image copyright Johannes Kornelius There are lots of companies out there that would like to move their existing software applications to the cloud. They work, though they typically required a lot of time and effort and expense to build in the first place. But there’s also a lot of expensive infrastructure tied up in running them that could be eliminated. Modernizing applications is just one service provided by Apprenda, a New York-based startup that offers what it calls a platform-as-a-service solution for building and managing new applications. It focuses primarily on Microsoft’s .NET and Oracle’s Java, which are still very much considered the underpinning of enterprise IT applications. Anyway, if you have older apps built on these platforms, Apprenda aims to help you move them to the cloud. And if you’re still not comfortable running them on say, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, Apprenda, based in Clifton Park, N.Y., will help you deploy them to a private cloud or to a mixed environment where some apps run in private and some in public.

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An iPad That’s Mini in Screen Size Only

November 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s largely accepted that miniature versions must compromise on something. Fancy sports cars lack back seats, snack-size candy bars are missing a whole lot of chocolate and the iPad Mini wants for high quality screen resolution and speedy performance. Until now. Apple’s new iPad Mini, which starts at $399 and became available last week, has virtually the same specs as its big brother, the full-size iPad Air. Both offer the same head-turning Retina display with a super sharp screen resolution. Both have the same new chip for faster processing and improved graphics performance. Both have better technology for connecting to Wi-Fi or cellular networks. And both have improved front-facing cameras that work better in low light. Apple’s iPad Mini with Retina display has a processor that’s four times as fast as the original Mini, which helps with apps like iMovie, second screen from the right. This means you basically just choose what size screen you prefer, the 9.7-inch iPad Air or the 7.9-inch iPad Mini with Retina display, without compromising. I’ve been testing the iPad Mini with Retina display for the past week and a half, and this miniature version doesn’t make me feel like I’m compromising on anything. My everyday iPad is the iPad 3 with Retina display, but I found myself reaching more often for the new Mini, tossing it into a bag to use on the go. I also carried it around the house more than I do my full-size iPad. And in my taxing battery test, it lasted 11 hours and 17 minutes, which is longer than Apple’s estimate of 10 hours. This iPad Mini with Retina display is the second iteration of the iPad Mini

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