Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft is scheduled to conclude its acquisition of Nokia’s mobile handset unit at the end of this week, the company said.

“Today we are excited to share that we have completed the steps necessary to finalise Microsoft’s acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business,” announced Microsoft’s Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of the software giant’s Legal and Corporate Affairs department in a 21 April statement. Microsoft first announced that it was acquiring Nokia’s smartphone manufacturing operations on 2 September, 2013.

Windows Phone competition

“The transaction will be completed this Friday, 25 April, when we’ll officially welcome the Nokia Devices and Services business as part of the Microsoft family,” added Smith.

Nokia is Microsoft’s premier Windows Phone producer. In a bid to catch up to Apple and Google in the hotly contested smartphone market, the companies formed an alliance in 2011. As part of the partnership, Nokia replaced the Symbian smartphone operating system with Microsoft’s mobile Windows Phone OS.

Addressing the massive deal, funded by Microsoft’s overseas holdings, then-chief executive Steve Ballmer described the transaction in an email to staffers as “a smart acquisition for Microsoft, and a good deal for both companies”.

The acquisition, originally expected to close during the first quarter of this year, hit some speed bumps. “As with any multinational agreement of this size, scale and complexity, our two companies have made adjustments to the original deal throughout the close preparation process,” revealed Smith. The alterations, he explained, entailed “numerous agreements to address items ranging from manufacturing to IT”.

Antitrust concerns

In December, China’s Ministry of Commerce subjected the deal to an antitrust investigation over concerns that Microsoft would hike patent fees for the country’s smartphone makers, namely Lenovo, Xiaomi and ZTE, once the tech titan took ownership of Nokia’s IP. China granted final approval earlier this month.

“The original deal had all employees in Nokia’s Chief Technology Office continuing with Nokia,” said Smith. The terms were changed “so the 21 employees in China working on mobile phones will join Microsoft and continue their work”.

Smith explained that the companies also ran into complications in South Korea. Originally, Microsoft was to acquire Nokia’s manufacturing plant in that country. “The agreement was adjusted and Microsoft will not acquire the facility,” said Smith.

Finally, Microsoft is taking over Nokia.com and related social media accounts “for the benefit of both companies and our customers for up to a year”, said Smith.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is reportedly mulling a name change once the acquisition is completed. Nokia Power User posted a leaked email to Nokia’s business suppliers that indicated that the brand will be renamed Microsoft Mobile.

Hey Everyone! can you remember all those Windows 8 screenshots that surfaced before the platform was released? Well, some of those might have been courtesy of Alex Kibkalo, an ex-Microsoft employee who was just arrested for stealing and leaking company secrets. Unlike the HTC execs who reportedly stole trade secrets to run a new firm, though, Kibkalo allegedly leaked info to a French tech blogger for something akin to revenge — he was apparently angry over receiving a poor performance review when he was still with Microsoft. According to Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the accused sent the blogger (whom he met on a forum) parts of Windows 8’s code and Microsoft’s Activation Server Software Development Kit. While Kibkalo’s charging paper states that the blogger only posted Windows 8 screenshots, Microsoft believes its former employee also encouraged him to share the development kit online. He supposedly wanted that to happen so hackers can use the kit (one of Microsoft’s defenses against software piracy) to crack the company’s products.

If you’re wondering how exactly the accused got caught, it’s because the blogger contacted Microsoft in September 2012 to verify the Windows 8 code Kibkalo sent. When Redmond determined its authenticity, investigators looked through the blogger’s Hotmail account and instant messenger, where they found incriminating emails and chat logs. In one of those sessions, the accused even claimed that he broke into one of the company’s buildings in an attempt to copy a server. Kibkalo’s now facing criminal charges for this particular offense, but according to investigators, he also bragged about leaking Windows 7 files in the past.

Microsoft Corp is conceiving the idea to allow Android apps on Windows given that the Android has become such a success in a short span of time. The company is split in taking the step, though. One segment of Microsoft anticipates that the company should allow Android apps to run inside its platforms to fill the app deficit. The other segment thinks that it will not be a wise choice for the company and will lead to the end of Windows.

As per reports from The Verge, running Android apps on Windows means that Microsoft will allow Android apps on Windows and Windows Phone platforms. The negotiations are still on over the topic and are said to be in their early stages at Microsoft Corp. The Windows maker’s new CEO Satya Nadella is likely to take a call over the matter soon.

If Microsoft heads with this idea, the company may use a virtualisation layer like Bluestacks’ solution to run Android applications on Windows and will provide the apps through its own customised store. Apps like Temple Run in Android version run on Windows 8 using BlueStacks.

No details are available as of now, since Microsoft is yet to make a choice. Microsoft is reportedly keeping a close eye on the performance of Nokia’s new Android smartphone that may be launched at the Mobile World Congress, this month. The performance of the new smartphone is likely to be a deciding factor for Microsoft to take this call.

On the outside, the Surface 2 may look like its predecessor, the Surface RT. It’s ever-so-slightly thinner and lighter than the original, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re identical. Far from it.

The Surface 2 has a new two-position kickstand, the microSD card slot has been moved down slightly, and there are no longer screws on the back of the case.

These subtle, external differences, however, pale when compared with the massive internal hardware and design changes Microsoft made on the new tablet

Unfortunately, when making all these hardware upgrades, Microsoft also completely reworked the tablet’s internal design, and in doing so made the Surface 2 much more difficult to crack open and repair than its predecessor.

Glued-on front panel, plastic body make opening difficult: Opening last year’s Surface RT began with removing the tablet’s back cover. Not so for the Surface 2. As with the Apple iPad, cracking open this tablet requires heating the edges of the front panel to loosen the adhesive that holds it to the tablet’s body. While heating the panel, you’ll need to gently pry it away from the body with thin tools. Unlike the iPad, however, the Surface has some internal components and external trim pieces that are made from plastic, which can warp if overheated.

Redesigned interior: The internal hardware is mounted to the Surface 2’s body, with the front panel and display being a single, removable unit. The Surface RT’s hardware on the other hand was actually mounted to the front panel and display assembly, which also served as the tablet’s body. There’s also a new plastic bezel that runs around the tablet’s outer edge and serves as the mounting surface for the front panel/display assembly. The Surface 2 is built more like the Surface Pro than the Surface RT, which makes the tablet more difficult to open and repair.

Filled with hardware upgrades: Along with the radically changing the tablet’s internal design, Microsoft also gave the Surface 2 lots of hardware upgrades. The Surface 2 has two microphones (compared with the Surface RT’s one), stereo speakers, a USB 3.0 port, better front-facing (3.5-megapixel) and rear-facing (5.0-megapixel) cameras, a new 1,920×1,080-pixel-resolution display, and a faster 1.7GHz Tegra 4 processor.

Difficult, time-consuming to open repair
The Surface 2 is definitely an improvement over last year’s model when it comes to hardware specifications and performance. Kudos to Microsoft for that.

But it has also officially become the most difficult-to-crack-open tablet I’ve ever worked on. The front-panel adhesive is incredibly hard to work around, there are more than 60 screws inside the case (of all different sizes), and most of the motherboard connectors are extremely fragile and easily broken. I can only hope Microsoft will make some design changes for next year’s model. Unfortunately, I doubt it will.

Microsoft sold over 1 million of its new Xbox One game consoles within 24 hours of their hitting store shelves on Friday, on par with Sony’s PlayStation 4 despite launching in far more countries.

The new console, which launched in 13 countries, set a record for first-day Xbox sales and is currently sold out at most retailers, Microsoft said in a statement.

Sony said it sold 1 million PS4 units in 24 hours after launching last Friday in just the United States and Canada. The PS4 expands to other regions, including Europe, Australia and South America, from November 29. It then hits Japan in February.

Microsoft is locked in a console war with Sony this holiday season. The software giant hopes the Xbox One not only entices gamers but attracts a broader consumer base of TV fans and music lovers with its interactive entertainment features and media apps.

“We are working hard to create more Xbox One consoles,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing and strategy at Xbox.

Robert W Baird & Co analyst Colin Sebastian has said he expects shipments of 2.5 million to 3 million units for both the Xbox One and PS4 in the fourth quarter.

Both the PS4, priced at $399 in the United States, and the Xbox One, with a price tag of $499, offer improved graphics for realistic effects, processors that allow faster game play and a slew of exclusive video games.

Former CEO : Wang

New CEO : Jim Wong

Taiwan’s Acer Inc, the world’s no.4 PC vendor, posted a worse-than-expected net loss of T$13.12 billion ($446 million) in the third quarter, with the company aiming to revamp itself with a new CEO and job cuts.

Acer chairman and CEO JT Wang is announcing his resignation from the PC maker today following further disappointing financial results. Wang, an outspoken critic of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, will step down as Acer CEO on January 1st, but will retain his chairman position until the second quarter of 2014 to assist with existing commitments. Acer president Jim Wong will take over as CEO in January in a clear effort to address the struggles the company is facing.

Acer is still the fourth largest PC manufacturer in the world, but the company’s revenues have taken a hit recently as PC sales have slowed across the industry. The company reported a net loss of $446 million in Q3, and it now plans to cut its staff headcount by seven percent globally in an effort to save $100 million in annual operating expenses. While PC sales continue to impact manufacturers, the top three — Lenovo, HP, and Dell — experience small growth in the most recent quarter according to IDC. Acer’s PC sales dropped by nearly 35 percent in Q3, highlighting the problems the company faces to turn its business around.

“Q3’s operating loss was mainly due to the gross margin impact of gearing up for the Windows 8.1 sell-in and the related management of inventory,” the company said in a statement.Acer said there was also an intangible asset impairment loss, which includes trademarks and goodwill, of T$$9.94 billion during the repoting period.Sixteen analysts polled by Thomson Reuters SmartEstimates had forecast a median loss of T$109 million for the quarter. ($1 = 29.4180 Taiwan dollars).

US computer software company Microsoft Corp said on Monday it signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for wind energy in Texas.

The company said in a blog the agreement was part of its commitment last year to become carbon neutral.

Microsoft said it will buy all of the energy from RES Americas’ 110-megawatt Keechi wind project, which is under development near Jacksboro, about 70 miles (113 km) northwest of Fort Worth. RES Americas is a unit of privately held, UK-based renewable energy developer RES Ltd.

Microsoft said the wind farm is on the same electric grid that powers its San Antonio data center.

RES will begin construction of Keechi in early 2014 and will begin delivering power in 2015. The wind farm will include 55 wind turbines manufactured mostly in Colorado by a unit of Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S .

Microsoft said in the blog, the US Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the company as the second largest purchaser of green power in the United States.

The company said the Keechi wind power purchase “will certainly not be our last.” Microsoft is not alone among technology companies buying renewable power. Google Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Rackspace Hosting Inc and Salesforce.com Inc have all committed to powering their data centers with more renewable power.

Neelam Dhawan is the MD of HP India.

Neelam Dhawan was in the US on an assignment for HCL in 1989 when she had her first child. She was so enthusiastic about her job that she was back to working within seven days of having her baby. It helped that HCL allowed her to work from home.

“I never thought of quitting a job. I had always had ambitions of working and I was passionate about what I did,” says the managing director of Hewlett-Packard (HP) India, a company whose estimated revenue last year was over Rs 30,000 crore.

Long breaks after child birth is one of the biggest reasons for women falling back in their careers and the reason why there are so few women in the top management of companies. Dhawan says breaks need not be career-restraining, so long as women who take breaks keep themselves updated during the months they are away. “Our industry is changing so quickly that if you do not keep yourself updated, you will become dated. You have to have seriousness about your career. You can’t say things like family will be first. You have to set aggressive career goals for yourself.”

Dhawan, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from St Stephen’s College in Delhi, and a Masters in business administration from the Faculty of Management Studies in Delhi, today has countrywide responsibility for HP’s revenues and profitability in India and ensuring the greatest leverage from the company’s services, personal systems and imaging & printing businesses. Prior to taking on this position in 2008, she was MD of Microsoft India for three years.

Dhawan says she also benefited from her early work environment. “I was lucky I started when the IT industry was small. The industry grew rapidly, so we also grew quickly.”

She had a great mentor in HCL founder Shiv Nadar. “He encouraged me. I learnt a lot from him – how to take risks, how to take decisions.”

She says mentors and networking are essential for success, but admits these do not come easily to women. “Women are very good at people management, especially within their family; women are the ones who keep in touch. But they do not do much of that outside the family. So in the work environment, it’s the men who are far better at networking and finding mentors.”

But she says the environment is now very conducive for the emergence of women leaders. The IT industry is very open to women as employees, and more so now as it struggles with quality talent. It has flexible policies on timings at work, it allows work from home, and it ensures high levels of safety and security. “Men’s attitude can be demotivating some times, but I don’t see resistance to women among managers.” Dhawan is convinced the next few years will see a huge change. “Women started taking MBA and engineering seriously from the second half of the 1990s. So it’s a matter of time before we see many more women leaders,” she says.

Delta Air Lines has decided to jump on Microsoft’s Surface bandwagon.

Delta will deploy the Surface 2 to 11,000 pilots by the end of 2014, the airline and Microsoft announced Monday. The airline will equip Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 pilots with the Surface 2 later this year, and will roll it out to all other cockpits by the end of 2014.

Rather than opt for the Surface 2 Pro, Delta has decided to invest in the Windows RT-based Surface 2. The slates will run on Windows RT 8.1 and come with apps the pilots need to complete their jobs, including carts, reference documents, and checklists, Microsoft said. Delta expects to save $13 million per year in fuel and other costs by using the Surface 2.

For Microsoft, the adoption of the Surface 2, in large numbers, for use by pilots is surely a significant customer win. For Delta, the move is a chance to applaud some expected cost savings — the airline says use of the tablets will allow it to cut 7.5 million sheets of paper per year and reduce fuel consumption by 1.2 million gallons annually.Before Delta can use the Surface 2 for all phases of the flight process, the company needs to get Federal Aviation Administration approval. According to Microsoft, Delta expects to receive full approval from the FAA to use the Surface 2 on all devices and flight phases sometime next year.

Ctrl + Alt + Del, a mistake by IBM

Bill Gates has described the decision to use Ctrl+Alt+Del as the command needed to log on to a PC as a mistake.

Originally designed to trigger a reboot of a PC, it survives in the Windows 8 operating system as the command to access the task manager toolbar and is still used in older versions to log on.

In an interview, the Microsoft co-founder blamed IBM for the shortcut, saying he had favoured a single button.

The keyboard shortcut was invented by IBM engineer David Bradley.

Originally he had favoured Ctrl+Alt+Esc, but he found it was too easy to bump the left side of the keyboard and reboot the computer accidentally so switched to Ctrl+Alt+Del because it was impossible to press with just one hand.

During IBM’s 20th anniversary celebrations, he said that while he may have invented it, Bill Gates made it famous.

His involvement in the invention has made him something of a programming hero though- with fans asking him to autograph keyboards at conferences.

Finger strike
The shortcut, also known as the three-finger salute – came to prominence in the early 1990s as a quick fix for the infamous “blue screen of death” on PCs.

But speaking at a fundraising campaign at Harvard University, Mr Gates said he thought that it had been a mistake.

“We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t want to give us our single button.”

While some loathe the clunky command, others took to news site Reddit to express their fondness for it.

“I feel a single button would be a mistake,” said one.”There’s a conscious commitment and in many cases a sense of satisfying sword play in executing the two-handed finger strike of Ctrl-Alt-Del.”