Archive for the 'Microsoft' Category



Windows 9’s Preview May Not Touch Down Until October

Sunday 21 September 2014 @ 5:59 pm
Windows 9 Remember that upcoming Windows 9 event that Microsoft is hosting on September 30? It might not mark the actual release of Windows 9’s technical preview, as was long expected. According to Paul Thurrott, that bit of code might not become available until October. Read More



Look out, iCloud. Microsoft buffs up OneDrive with more free storage

Saturday 20 September 2014 @ 6:00 pm
Look out, iCloud. Microsoft buffs up OneDrive with more free storage
Image Credit: Wonderlane/Flickr

Amid all the fresh interest in Apple’s iCloud cloud-storage option following the company’s rollout of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Microsoft doesn’t want you to forget about its cloud-storage service, OneDrive. Late yesterday the company announced a promotion that bumps up OneDrive’s free storage tier — and not only for iPhone users, but for Android and Windows Phone owners as well.

Douglas Pearce, group program manager for OneDrive, walked people through the offer and its implications in a blog post:

All you have to do is sign up for OneDrive and activate the auto upload feature for your camera roll sometime between now and the end of September, and you will get 30 GB of free OneDrive storage moving forward (15 GB base and 15 GB camera roll bonus). For those getting ready to install iOS8, this means you won’t have to delete a bunch of photos or apps to make room for the upgrade. For those buying a new phone, it means you can take all the high resolution photos and videos you want without worrying about the amount of storage you have. 

The storage increase also applies out to iPhone owners who already send their pictures to OneDrive, Pearce wrote.

Microsoft can make such moves quickly and defend itself in the cloud-storage business because it operates data centers and buys storage at scale. Companies like Google and Amazon can do so as well, and now that its Zocalo file-sharing service is available, it’s reasonable to expect price cuts, storage boosts, and other teasers from Amazon in the future. Box and Dropbox, which are still privately owned, have been making driving up storage capacity as well, but they’re just not as large as Microsoft.

Apple, for its part, boasted of 300 million iCloud users in June 2013, and that number has probably increased since then. And Apple is also depending heavily on more of its own infrastructure, like an in-house content-distribution network. So Apple can likely buy the infrastructure at scale and, as a result, potentially lower prices and increase storage supplies for customers. But Microsoft and others have a more extensive history there.

In the light of Apple’s iCloud price cut this month, it’s worth keeping an eye on Apple to see if it becomes even more aggressive in challenging Microsoft and others in the cloud-storage business in the future.



Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

SkyDrive is a password-protected online file storage provided by Microsoft. Users sign in to SkyDrive by using their Windows Live IDs. For each user, Microsoft provides 25 GB of free online storage. In SkyDrive, users can create person... read more »











Microsoft delays Xbox One launch just days before China debut

Saturday 20 September 2014 @ 8:28 am
Microsoft delays Xbox One launch just days before China debut

Above: Microsoft's Xbox One at ChinaJoy.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Microsoft announced Saturday morning that it is going to delay its launch of the Xbox One video game console in China until later this year. The joint launch with partner BesTV was scheduled to happen on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Microsoft said it still plans to launch the system — the first game console to legally launch in China in 15 years — before the end of the year. Microsoft will proceed with an event in Shanghai at the Oriental Pearl Tower with fans and partners on Monday, Sept. 22. Attendees will be able to enjoy gameplay, great music and entertainment. Microsoft will also be giving away 100 consoles to fans that attend, which they will receive when the console launches. It just won’t be shipping consoles at that time.

Microsoft said those in China who preordered will still be the first to receive the Chinese version of the console, and they will also get an unspecified added bonus. The company still says it is working with 25 leading developers to deliver 70 games for Xbox One fans in China. It is also working with more than 4,000 retail locations in 37 cities to finalize the launch.

“We are excited to bring game and entertainment innovation to China,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft, in a statement. “We have an ambitious vision, and we’re working hard with our partners to deliver Xbox One and great games and entertainment to China. We are thrilled with the response we’ve seen in China, including pre-orders beyond our expectations and growing anticipation of our launch. Ultimately, our commitment is first and foremost to our fans — and we want to deliver a world-class experience to our fans in China.”

“We are grateful for Microsoft’s commitment to game and entertainment fans in China, and we’re pleased with the progress we’re making,” said Zhang Dazhong, head of E-Home entertainment at BesTV, in a statement. “Together, we are working hard to deliver experiences to China which will delight our customers.”

“We have one opportunity to launch Xbox in China and we want to deliver a world-class experience for our fans,” said Enwei Xie, general manager of Xbox and studios at Microsoft China. “For our first fans who have pre-ordered, we are committed to ensuring you are the first to receive Xbox One, along with an added bonus. We also promised our fans a great party, and we’re committed to delivering. We can’t wait to see many of you on Monday at the Oriental Pearl Tower, where we will give-away 100 Xbox One consoles, and we look forward to our official launch soon.”


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Report: Microsoft closes Silicon Valley R&D center in second wave of layoffs

Thursday 18 September 2014 @ 1:27 pm
Report: Microsoft closes Silicon Valley R&D center in second wave of layoffs

Above: Satya Nadella, Microsoft's chief executive.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft laid off another 2,100 employees Thursday in its second major round of layoffs this year. As part of this round, the company dramatically reduced its Silicon Valley presence by closing its R&D center there, which was responsible for dreaming up and developing future hit products, reports say.

The layoffs come as Microsoft is struggling to make its transition to a mobile-first world. So the departure of new product development talent might seem counterintuitive. But is is part of a strategic rebalancing of the company designed by new CEO Satya Nadella.

The layoffs will affect more than 50 high-ranking scientists and engineers, meaning most of the staff at the research facility in Silicon Valley, Re/code reports.

Microsoft earlier this year reduced its workforce by 18,000, many of which were former Nokia employees in the U.S. and in Finland.


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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 Shakes Up Its Board, Boosts Its Dividend 11%

Tuesday 16 September 2014 @ 8:24 pm
microsoft sway Microsoft has announced two coming board departures, two board additions, and a boost to its dividend. Leaving the board are Dave Marquardt and Dina Dublon. Marquardt is best known for his work in venture capital, and Dublon for her work at JPMorgan Chase. Taking their places are the appointed Teri List-Stoll from Kraft and Charles Scharf of Visa. Read More



Microsoft’s Mojang deal gives it Minecraft — and the massive audience that adores it

Monday 15 September 2014 @ 2:05 pm
Microsoft’s Mojang deal gives it Minecraft — and the massive audience that adores it

Above: Microsoft now owns Minecraft.

Image Credit: Microsoft Studios

Did you buy anything interesting today? Like some new shoes? Maybe a new phone? How about a $2.5 billion dollar game developer? That’s exactly what Microsoft paid for today when it acquired Minecraft developer Mojang.

The move is somehow puzzling and yet logical, too. Minecraft is a huge hit across multiple platforms. It has sold nearly 54 million copies as of June. But why would Microsoft spend so much for, essentially, one game? We gathered thoughts from multiple industry analysts to try to come up with some answers.

“Microsoft’s move to buy Minecraft developer and owner Mojang for $2.5 billion may come as a surprise to the game’s more fervent fans, but it is rooted in commercial, if not cultural, sense,” analyst Piers Harding-Rolls from IHS Technology wrote in a note sent to GamesBeat. “The news robustly dismisses the idea that games are no longer at the core of Microsoft’s strategic direction and also underlines the growing importance of independent titles alongside big-budget games.”

Microsoft has always had a strong portfolio of triple-A games thanks to franchises like Halo and Gears of War, but it’s had a hard time reaching an audience outside that demographic. The motion-tracking Kinect was a success for a time, but consumers are losing interest in the Xbox One version of the camera. Minecraft, however, already has a built-in fan base that extends beyond the hardcore crowd.

It also makes a lot of money.

“Minecraft is the most lucrative standalone download on XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) since its launch,” International Data Corporation gaming research director Lewis Ward told GamesBeat. “I believe that it is the No. 1 grossing game that Microsoft has had. So, from that perspective, it’s pretty obvious why they would want it just on the Xbox platform.”

Ward explained that Microsoft is looking to extend the Xbox experience to PC, mobile, and all of those screens. Minecraft is a huge hit on all of those platforms, so it makes sense for Microsoft to acquire it.

“The bottom line is that this deal shows that content is still king,” analysts Ben Schachter and John Merrick from Macquarie Capital wrote in a note sent to GamesBeat. “From Microsoft’s perspective, however, we are surprised at the size of the deal. It is hard to understand how this will be worth it for Microsoft given [that] No. 1, consumers could rebel if the content is not available on non-Microsoft platforms — it’s currently on PC, iOS, Android, Xbox, and PlayStation platforms — No. 2, founders are leaving, and No. 3, the significant price paid.”

So the benefit to Microsoft is obvious, but it’ll have to maintain Mojang’s positive image with the gamer community. Many people perceive Mojang as a stand-out independent studio with a likeable developer, Markus “Notch” Persson, in charge. However, with Persson leaving and the company’s independent moniker now gone, Minecraft fans could potentially become cynical toward the brand, which would make it much harder for Microsoft to turn its $2.5 billion investment into a profit.


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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 »

Mojang AB is a Swedish independent video game developer founded in May 2009 under the name Mojang Specifications by Markus Persson, and most known for creating the popular independent game Minecraft, which is a free-to-build sandbox ga... read more »











With Delve, Microsoft surfaces things you need to know through Office 365

Monday 8 September 2014 @ 8:55 am
With Delve, Microsoft surfaces things you need to know through Office 365

Above: Microsoft Office Delve

Image Credit: Screen shot

Microsoft today announced that its Delve feature, which pulls up relevant documents to help business people, has shipped to Office 365.

The tech giant first announced the service in March. A Microsoft executive showed off the feature during a OneDrive demo for VentureBeat but avoided citing a release date. Now Delve can start helping Office 365 business users become a bit more prepared for their meetings and other activities, by aggregating information from emails, SharePoint, Yammer, and OneDrive.

Here’s how Julia White, general manager of Office 365 technical product management, describes Delve in a blog post today:

Office Delve is a new way to discover relevant information and connections from across your work life. Delve displays information that is most relevant for each person based on the work they are doing and the people with whom they are engaging. With Delve, information finds you versus you having to find information.

With Delve, Microsoft is becoming smarter about the files it has in an online — think “cloud” — environment. Google has pushed in that direction, with Google Now, for instance, and Microsoft is designing products with a somewhat similar mindset. And it lines up with new Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella’s stated vision for Microsoft as “the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world.”

Learn more about Delve here.











Microsoft whips up XiaoIce, a smart bot to befriend on Chinese social networks (exclusive)

Friday 5 September 2014 @ 9:00 am

Operating the Bing search engine as it does, Microsoft knows a heck of a lot about the world. Over the past few months, it cooked up a bot that Chinese speakers can interact with named XiaoIce. And now she’s a star.

Literally translated as “little ice,” XiaoIce started out as an experiment from four Bing researchers in China in February to combine Bing’s knowings with the latest natural-language processing techniques for understanding words from regular people to perform computing tasks. The researchers trained their system on more than 7 million public conversations on the Internet to create a bot on social networks that can make sense of people’s utterances, gradually get to know them, answer questions with feeling, and even tell jokes.

The resulting bot managed to be ranked as the most influential person on the popular Weibo social network.

“We saw pretty consistent engagement,” Anna Roth, product marketing manager for Bing, said in an interview with VentureBeat. “It’s not a flash in the pan, right? Any user in the last month has a mean of 63 conversations with XiaoIce. That’s 825 sentences per month per average user across all of the users.”

In other words, Microsofties have extended their capabilities when it comes to interacting with people. It’s gone beyond Cortana, which can produce facts or answer questions as a personal assistant, to come up with more of a casual “friend” to chat in a much more serendipitous, fun way. Think SmarterChild, for those who remember AIM, but smarter.

She’s carried on more than 500 million conversations on social networks like Weibo and Touchpal. And Chinese speakers can also talk with her through the Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1, which recently became available in China. Up next: Xiaomi’s MiTalk chat app and JD.com’s N app. And because it’s available through online services, you don’t need a smartphone; XiaoIce comes through on “dumb” phones just fine, Roth said.

The back end for XiaoIce runs on the Microsoft Azure public cloud and draws on Bing’s entity database in order to know about lots of the people and places users might mention in social messages, a Microsoft spokeswoman told VentureBeat in an email.

Having achieved so much success based on its whimsical and friendly nature, it’s worth wondering if Microsoft would make XiaoIce more accessible — across more languages or perhaps through a voice interface, like Cortana. Or maybe Cortana could become a bit more like XiaoIce.

Roth said she wasn’t sure what would come of XiaoIce’s future shapes and forms. But you can be sure that in general, Microsoft wants to do far more with digital information in the future. Remember, Microsoft is a “productivity and platform” company now, and not so much about devices and services, chief executive Satya Nadella recently declared in a memo.

That push should continue.

“Within the company, there’s broad interest in the idea of sort of making more natural experiences of interacting with the computer,” Roth said.

Find more about XiaoIce here.


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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 »











UK’s Sky News aims to reach U.S. TV viewers through the Xbox 360 game console

Friday 5 September 2014 @ 5:00 am
UK’s Sky News aims to reach U.S. TV viewers through the Xbox 360 game console

Above: The Xbox 360 could stand vertically or horizontally.

Image Credit: Microsoft

The United Kingdom’s Sky News plans to reach a larger U.S. audience through TV news programming on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game console.

Starting Tuesday, the British company will launch is 24/7 broadcast news channel (which reaches more than 100 million people) as a new channel on the Xbox Live service on the Xbox 360 in the U.S. and U.K. The move follows the launch of Sky News on Apple TV, Roku, and Livestation. The move is aimed at extending Sky News’ reach to younger news watchers who get most of their news from the Internet and web-connected devices such as the Microsoft video game console.

Beginning today, Xbox Live customers on Xbox 360 will see the Sky News icon on the TV section of their homepage, and with a single click, viewers will have access to a 24/7 live feed of Sky News. That includes breaking news as well as business, political, and entertainment coverage. In addition to the live channel feed, the Sky News app also offers access to a wide range of on demand stories through a constantly updating video on demand library.

Andrew Hawken, head of Sky News Digital, said in a statement, “Sky News is consistently exploring opportunities to expand our global reach. Making Sky News available on Xbox was an ideal way to achieve this. With a growing US footprint of a million users and a U.S. news team, we’re thrilled that our coverage will be showcased to millions of Xbox customers.”

Sky News on Xbox was developed in partnership with 1 Mainstream, a digital TV distribution platform for deploying HD video services across the most popular TV, game console, tablet, and streaming devices. Sky has worked with 1 Mainstream since 2013 and also invested in the Silicon Valley-based start-up.

“We’re pleased to extend our relationship with Sky to help them expand the footprint for Sky News and to deliver its world-class journalism to millions of people in the US,” said Rajeev Raman, CEO of 1 Mainstream, in a statement. “Together with Sky, we continue to bring innovative over-the-top (OTT) services to the growing audience of connected-TV users.”

This agreement builds on Sky’s growing international channels business that already reaches more than 100 million viewers across Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The syndication and distribution of channels internationally is a growing part of Sky’s business as the company seeks to leverage the quality of its brands and content by making programming available to new audiences.

According to the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 cite the Internet as a main news source. Only 55 percent cite TV as a main source.


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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 »











Here’s how Microsoft will suck more workloads into its Azure cloud

Thursday 4 September 2014 @ 11:33 am
Here’s how Microsoft will suck more workloads into its Azure cloud
Image Credit: Robert Scoble/Flickr

Microsoft isn’t waiting for cloud workloads to appear out of thin air and land on the Azure public cloud. The company is instead building up its capabilities for slurping up applications from companies’ data centers, as well as other clouds.

A couple of months after acquiring business-continuity company InMage, Microsoft today announced a limited preview of a Migration Accelerator based on the InMage technology. The web-based feature will help admins discover workloads they can move to Azure. And that movement can happen in a matter of minutes.

“In summary, MA offers an unprecedented level of automation to provide seamless migration of heterogeneous assets, into Azure,” Srinath Vasireddy, principal lead program manager for cloud and enterprise at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post on the new tool.

Cloud analysts have been gradually coming around to Microsoft’s potential in the cloud and that momentum should continue, given chief executive Satya Nadella’s repetition of the “mobile-first, cloud-first world” line. That means Microsoft could pose a greater challenge to cloud providers including market leader Amazon Web Services.

Indeed, the Migration Accelerator tool can spot applications on the Amazon cloud and move them to Azure. But it can also sense apps running inside data centers that use Microsoft’s Hyper-V software for creating multiple virtual machines on each server. But Migration Accelerator can also handle workloads from data centers running VMware virtualization software.

VMware has been taking steps to make money when its customers decide to go to public clouds for certain types of computing and storage jobs, having set up the vCloud Air public-cloud service last year. But Microsoft has committed to matching prices in the Amazon public cloud, whose prices frequently get cut. And it’s possible that VMware customers might just be open to the idea of running some workloads on Azure. Today it’s clearer than ever that Microsoft wants to make that process as simple as possible.



Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. It provides both platform... read more »











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