Archive for the 'Microsoft' Category



Office Mobile for Android updated with Dropbox integration and OneDrive sharing

Thursday 20 November 2014 @ 7:10 am
microsoft_office_logo

Microsoft today updated its Office Mobile app for Android phones with Dropbox support and OneDrive sharing. You can download the new version now directly from Google Play.

The update today follows a surprise partnership between Microsoft and Dropbox announced on November 4. At the time, the companies said Dropbox integration would arrive in Office apps first on iOS, and then later on Android smartphones, and today they have delivered.

Office-Mobile-for-Android-Smartphones-update-2

More to follow











Microsoft’s Azure Storage and Websites cloud services go down, then come back

Tuesday 18 November 2014 @ 6:38 pm
Microsoft Bing Maps data center Robert Scoble Flickr

Infrastructure for multiple Azure public-cloud services from Microsoft malfunctioned for more than a half-hour in multiple parts of the world tonight, but they’re now working properly, according to the Azure status page.

The Azure Storage issues impacted several Azure regions, including Central U.S., East U.S., West U.S., and North Europe.

“An alert for Websites and Storage in multiple regions is being investigated. It has not been determined if this is customer impacting. More information will be provided as it is known,” Microsoft wrote in an update posted at around 6:10 p.m. Pacific.

But by 6:34 p.m., service had been restored.

The issues affected games on Xbox Live, among other Microsoft products.

In the past, outages have also hit competing public cloud services from Amazon and Google. Now, as Microsoft challenges those companies in the fiercely competitive cloud market, Microsoft is under pressure to keep its services available all the time and ensure that customers stay informed. Outages at this time, then, matter quite a bit.











Microsofties, rejoice: The Docker client for managing containers comes to Windows

Tuesday 18 November 2014 @ 10:54 am
container-ship Docker

Congratulations, Windows developers. Now you, too, can run the hip Docker client and manage applications in the form of “containers” right from your Windows desktop computer.

That’s because Microsoft engineers have been working hard to bring the container functionality — an alternative to virtual machines that package up application code and run on a physical server — to the Windows environment. The latest manifestation of that effort comes in the form of a command-line interface (CLI) tool for running the trendy open-source Docker software.

“Up till today you could only use Linux-based client CLI to manage your Docker container deployments or use boot2docker to set up a virtualized development environment in a Windows client machine,” Khalid Mouss, senior program manager for the Azure compute runtime at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post announcing the news. “Today, with a Windows CLI you can manage your Docker hosts wherever they are directly from your Windows Clients.”

The work to develop a Docker client for Windows desktops arose from a pull request in the GitHub repository for the Docker project. The fact that this work happened out in the open on GitHub and not in some internal Microsoft bubble is new proof of Microsoft’s commitment to working with open-source technology.

Microsoft has also been working on bringing Docker capability to the Azure cloud and the Windows Server operating system for servers.


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Sony’s North American PlayStation chief on PS4′s dominance, 1-year anniversary, and GamerGate (interview)

Monday 17 November 2014 @ 9:15 am
Sony’s North American PlayStation chief on PS4′s dominance, 1-year anniversary, and GamerGate (interview)

Above: Shawn Layden, head of North American PlayStation business.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Sony Computer Entertainment America

Shawn Layden took over as president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America seven months ago. Replacing longtime head Jack Tretton, Layden has been responsible for the sales of the PlayStation 4, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Sony said Friday that it has sold 13.5 million units of the PS4 in the past year, significantly more than the 10 million Xbox Ones claimed by Microsoft during the past year. Sony also released other interesting stats: PlayStation Plus, the subscription-based online program, now has 7.9 million paying members; Sony has more than 56 million unique active users; they’ve played a billion hours on the PS4 online; and they have pushed the Share button on the PS4 more than 530 million times.

These numbers suggest that the console war is Sony’s to lose at this point, and that it is faring much better than it did in the PlayStation 3 generation. Layden’s job is to keep it going. He met with us at Sony’s U.S. PlayStation headquarters on Friday for a wide-ranging interview on everything from price cuts to the upcoming PlayStation Experience fan event (where Sony plans new game announcements) and the controversy around #GamerGate, which has included a range of issues from sexual harassment to game journalism ethics.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Shawn Layden, head of Sony's North American PlayStation business.

Above: Shawn Layden, head of Sony’s North American PlayStation business.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: Please tell us about your background at Sony.

Shawn Layden: I joined SCEA in April. What’s that, seven months now? I joined Sony in 1987, of course. I’ve been the Sony group for 27 years. I’ve been with PlayStation since 1996.

GamesBeat: What was the transfer into this job like?

Layden: As far as distance goes, it was cool. I was working in that building, because that building is the headquarters for Sony Network Entertainment. I came back from Tokyo to America about four years ago when we started that company here in the bay area. I joined as its COO. We pulled that together. It was crazy. The first day I started, we had 800 people as a startup company. That’s a different experience.

But then in April I was asked to take over the leadership role here at SCEA. That transition was just a walk across the park to come in here. Since I’ve been with the PlayStation group before, virtually everyone here is someone I’ve worked with before and known a long time. That transition was pretty smooth.

GamesBeat: Did you already have a close relationship with [worldwide Sony Computer Entertainment chief Andrew House and Sony CEO] Kaz Hirai?

Layden: Sure. I’ve been working with Andy for more than 20 years. I’ve known Kaz my entire PlayStation career. We all grew up in the company at the same time. Kaz has gone on to great things, of course.

GamesBeat: You have this new data out today. That was interesting: the numbers on the year after PlayStation 4. 13.5 million sold and 530 million share button presses. Some of this data is pretty interesting. You haven’t released this kind of stuff before.

Layden: The share button press, people thought, “Wow, that’s pretty micro.” But it’s more an indication of a trend in what people are doing. That’s half a billion presses from people wanting to show their gameplay and share with their friends.

Making a physical button on the controller, as you can imagine, is not an easy decision to take at the time. Otherwise everyone would want a button on it to do something or other. But we felt sharing was the perfect thing to make physical on the controller. In that moment, you don’t want to start pulling down menus and finding out how to capture this or that. You just hit the button and pull it out. That was a definite win for us.

Sony and Microsoft head-to-head at last year's E3.

Above: Sony and Microsoft head-to-head at last year’s E3.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

GamesBeat: Is there a way you could put the 56 million unique active users in context? Activision talks about having 40 million monthly active users for Call of Duty. In some ways that number will seem small compared to some other big properties out there.

Layden: We used to talk about PlayStation accounts, PlayStation Network. That number got north of 100 million very quickly. It’s much further now. But we felt that it wasn’t a meaningful metric. I have five PlayStation Network accounts myself. I’m not the average user, but a lot of people will have two or more accounts.

Our metric for active is that it has had activity on the network in the last 30 days. These aren’t sleeping accounts: someone making an account and then putting their Vita in a closet.

GamesBeat: The time associated with those players is probably something worth talking about as well. Other people who have that kind of number might have them for a lot less time.

Layden: Certainly. These people are spending hours on a regular basis across the service.

GamesBeat: What would you say you’re still working on? These are impressive numbers, but what do you really want to boost?

Layden: We’re working on everything. But we’re really happy with, in the PlayStation 4 era, the high percentage of network attachment we’re getting against the units. Some crazy number, like 95 percent of PlayStation 4s, has attached to the network. We could only dream of that with PlayStation 2 or PlayStation 3. Keeping that high attachment rate is something we’re pushing on. PlayStation Plus takeup has been very high with the advent of PlayStation 4. We want to continue to work on that to show value and benefit to our members who’ve joined that club, if you will.

Certainly the continued rollout of the platform—13.5 million is a pretty good achievement for us. As anyone else would say, the first 13.5 million is the easy 13.5 million. We need to continue to push that installed base. We’re in a strong position now. Black Friday is just around the corner. In my neighborhood we heard “Jingle Bells” in the department stores in September, but Black Friday is the real kickoff.

GamesBeat: Does it seem accurate to say that you have about a two-to-one advantage over Xbox One?

Layden: The math seems to look like that.

GamesBeat: I see the bags under your eyes. The sweat rolling down your face. [Author's note: I was joking here] Do you feel pressure from the $50 price cut that Microsoft has made (Haha)?

Layden: That’s from too much celebrating.

GamesBeat: Hahaha.

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Sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo, Japan. Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group, which is engaged in business through... read more »

Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. is a major video game company specializing in a variety of areas in the video game industry, and is a wholly owned subsidiary and part of the Consumer Products & Services Group of Sony. The company was... read more »

Kazuo (Kaz) Hirai brings nearly 20 years of experience with Sony to his position as president and chief operating officer, Sony Computer Entertainment America. In this role, Hirai is responsible for the day-to-day management of the com... read more »

Jack Tretton has more than 30 years of consumer product expertise, including 27 years of direct experience in the video game industry. A recognized industry veteran, Tretton provides a wealth of corporate business experience, including... read more »











CrunchWeek: Obama On Net Neutrality, Microsoft Open Sources .NET, And Twitter Meets Wall Street

Friday 14 November 2014 @ 4:33 pm
Ryan Lawler On this week’s episode of CrunchWeek, I was joined by TechCrunch writer Alex Wilhelm and editor Ryan Lawler to talk about the biggest surprises in the tech scene. Read More



Windows Store and Windows Phone Store pass half a million apps combined

Friday 14 November 2014 @ 1:03 pm
Windows Store and Windows Phone Store pass half a million apps combined
Image Credit: RicardoBilton/VentureBeat

Microsoft recently updated its by the Numbers webpage to indicate that the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store have now passed half a million apps combined. More specifically, the two stores now include 525,000 apps between them.

We reached out to the company to confirm the figure and find out when exactly the half-million mark was reached. Microsoft confirmed the milestone and offered a slightly more updated figure.

windows_apps_525k

“There are more than 527,000 apps in the Windows and Windows Phone Stores combined,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. “This data is as of September 30, 2014.”

When we pushed for a breakdown by store, we learned there are approximately 187,000 apps in the Windows Store, and more than 340,000 apps in the Windows Phone Store, as of September 30, 2014. For the sake of comparison, the Windows Store passed 150,000 apps in March and the Windows Phone Store passed 300,000 apps in August.

While the achievement in itself is good news for the company, because it shows both stores are still growing, it’s a stark reminder how badly Microsoft’s platforms lag behind Android and iOS. For context, the Google Play Store has over 1.3 million apps as of August and Apple’s App Store has 1.3 million apps as of September. The Windows Store and Windows Phone Store still have less than half of either.

Still the bigger point here is the constant reminder that Microsoft is preparing to combine the Windows and Windows Phone platforms. Back in November 2013, Microsoft merged the Windows Store and Windows Phone developer accounts. The company did the same for its developer resources in July 2014.

As we learn more about Windows 10, including at the company’s consumer preview launch early next year and its Build conference for developers in April 2015, more details will be revealed about how the two stores will be combined. We already know they will offer universal apps, but what will happen to the existing half a million apps?



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Analyst: Digital makes up ‘as much as 25%’ of total new-gen game sales

Friday 14 November 2014 @ 12:45 pm
Analyst: Digital makes up ‘as much as 25%’ of total new-gen game sales

Above: PlayStation Network store.

Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment

The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are moving game purchasing into digital faster than ever before.

Yesterday, industry-intelligence firm The NPD Group reported results for October. It was another strong month for hardware, but software sales were down 28 percent year-over-year. That is worse than what analyst Doug Creutz of investment firm Cowen and Company was expecting, and he credits digital for the discrepancy. The NPD’s figures only track new sales for physical games at U.S. retailers, so it doesn’t include titles that people are buying on the Xbox One Games Store, for example. This could drag down game-related revenues at retailers like Target and Walmart.

“[Sales were down] driven by a tough comparison to last year and the drag from a significant percentage of next-gen software units being sold digitally,” Creutz wrote in a note to investors.

Gamers were buying software digitally on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well, but it was at a ratio of around one digital to nine physical. Now, on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, that number is closer to one to five. Creutz thinks it is even higher.

“This is not so much a problem for the publishers as it is for brick-and-mortar retail,” the analyst wrote.

Creutz expects physical game sales to take a big dip in comparison to last year. While specialty retailer GameStop has worked to make itself a big part of digital sales, other outlets like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart could start seeing a decline in their software market share this holiday.

The decline isn’t completely due to digital. A lot of the comparison has to do with Grand Theft Auto V selling well throughout the end of last year as well as stagnant software sales on old-gen systems. But digital’s strength is the big surprise.

“Given the strong shift toward new-gen games that is apparent from recent data, and the fact that digital currently appears to be taking as much as 25 percent share of total new-gen sales depending on the game, we continue to expect total Q4 physical unit sales to be down double-digits year-over-year,” wrote Creutz.

In the last two months, many gamers skipped the stores or online retailers to get Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Destiny and instead used the 3DS eShop, Xbox Live, or PlayStation Network. Nintendo revealed that more than 19 percent of the sales for its four-player brawler were digital. Analysis firm SuperData Research reported a similar figure for Activision’s sci-fi shooter.


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Sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo, Japan. Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group, which is engaged in business through... read more »

Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. is a major video game company specializing in a variety of areas in the video game industry, and is a wholly owned subsidiary and part of the Consumer Products & Services Group of Sony. The company was... read more »











Microsoft wants to offer Windows 10 upgrades for all Windows Phone 8 Lumias, but makes no promises

Thursday 13 November 2014 @ 2:11 pm
Microsoft wants to offer Windows 10 upgrades for all Windows Phone 8 Lumias, but makes no promises
Image Credit: Nokia

News broke today suggesting that Microsoft plans to offer Windows 10 upgrades for all its Windows Phone 8 devices. That would mean any Lumia smartphone that runs Windows Phone 8.x would eventually get the latest and greatest operating system from the company.

A tweet from the Lumia account was picked up Windows Central and then by other publications:

We contacted Microsoft to confirm or deny the answer its support team gave. It turns out the truth isn’t as concrete.

“It’s our intention to enable a Windows 10 upgrade for Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. “At this early stage in the development process, and given the vast portfolio of Windows devices worldwide, we can’t predict that all devices will be upgradeable, but it is our intention that the Lumia smartphone line be upgradeable to Windows 10.”

It’s important to note the Windows Phone 8 distinction, because Nokia’s first Lumias were indeed running Windows Phone 7. Only Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices stand a chance.

The fact Microsoft can’t promise the upgrade for all devices makes sense: if a phone manufacturer doesn’t want to support their smartphone past Windows Phone 8, that’s their call. As for Microsoft’s own devices, the situation is probably more nuanced.

Some Windows Phone 8 devices are quite old now, so there could be technical limtations. Even if there are no technical limitations, there is always the consideration for carriers, which have their own priorities (read: sell more devices).



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











Microsoft confirms acquisition of enterprise security startup Aorato

Thursday 13 November 2014 @ 6:09 am

Microsoft today announced it has acquired Israeli enterprise security startup Aorato. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are making this acquisition to give customers a new level of protection against threats through better visibility into their identity infrastructure,” Microsoft said in a statement. “With Aorato we will accelerate our ability to give customers powerful identity and access solutions that span on-premises and the cloud, which is central to our overall hybrid cloud strategy.”

Reports of Microsoft talks with the startup date back to July. The Wall Street Journal “a person familiar with the matter” who said the deal was worth $200 million, and could close by September. Clearly the discussion took a little longer.

More to follow



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »











As Microsoft and Amazon battle for developers, the cloud has one of its biggest days ever

Thursday 13 November 2014 @ 3:00 am
As Microsoft and Amazon battle for developers, the cloud has one of its biggest days ever
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Pavelk

Two tech titans from Seattle headed toward opposite sides of the country yesterday to deliver some big news for the cloud.

Amazon landed in Las Vegas for its third annual AWS re:Invent conference. The conference has more than doubled in size, from 6,000 attendees in its first year, to 13,500 this week. That’s just one metric by which you can measure the impact the cloud is having, as well as the success of its Amazon Web Services.

In a keynote yesterday, the company made a series of announcements related to AWS. But more importantly, Amazon executives stressed that the cloud is now the default way companies do business. Amazon claimed AWS is growing 40% year-over-year, using one of its famous slides that don’t include the actual numbers.

“The business is growing really quickly,” said AWS senior vice president Andy Jassy during the keynote. “We have over a million customers using AWS. More and more companies are moving their underlying business to the cloud and AWS.”

As big as this event is, Microsoft still managed to steal a bit of Amazon’s by hosting its Connect() developer event in New York City. The company unveiled a bunch of new tools and services for developers. Of course, the real stunner was its announcement that it would open source the .NET framework.

Like Amazon, Microsoft execs emphasized that this shift was all part of its expanded focus on the cloud. It wants to help developers write and deploy applications quickly across many platforms and devices.

Even though Microsoft is now run by Satya Nadella, the former head of its cloud division, the latest developments one more surprising  break with the company’s history that has been all about getting people on the Windows platform.

It’s also a clear sign of where computing is heading.

“We now live in a mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said, Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group, at the event’s keynote. “In the cloud, every developer all around the world can now build experiences that can reach millions of users with no upfront cost and using a cloud infrastructure that provides truly global reach. The impact that an individual developer can have today has never been greater.”



Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

Since early 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has provided companies of all sizes with an infrastructure web services platform in the cloud. With AWS you can requisition compute power, storage, and other services–gaining access to a su... read more »











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