Archive for the 'Microsoft' Category
That means that yes, at some point you’ll be able to run your little WordPress-powered blog on the biggest server farms on the planet. But it also means that major companies will be able to use Google’s famously reliable services to run their enterprise-scale big data, backend, and yes, consumer web projects, all in the PHP language that that is increasingly penetrating corporations.
I talked to one of the three founding fathers of PHP and current Zend CEO, Andi Gutmans, about the implications for PHP.
It’s a busy time for the Gutmans, the open-source programming language, and Zend, the company Gutmans formed to offer commercial support and tools for PHP. Engine Yard just recently added PHP to their Platform-as-a-Service as well. And Zend is expanding quickly in the enterprise as it has recently released integrated development tools for cloud-enabled mobile applications.
But Gutmans, though busy, is thoroughly upbeat.
And for good reason: The biggest web company on the planet just added support for the most widely-used programming language on the planet. And in that support is a massive implied compliment to PHP — the first non-Google programming language to be supported by Google App Engine — and a potentially major boost to Zend’s business.
VentureBeat: Did Google talk to you before adding PHP to Google App Engine?
Andi Gutmans: I don’t know how to answer that. I was aware that they were going to make that announcement … I’ve worked with the product manager on the project before.
VentureBeat: So Google didn’t formally brief you?
Andi Gutmans: Let’s put it this way: It’s not a surprise that a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) player that’s serious about gaining market share added PHP support. Google App Engine was almost a science project for the first few years, only supporting languages that Google used internally.
But in the past few months, there’s been a real attitude from Google that we’re going to go and compete with Amazon and with Microsoft, and we’re going to do it all fronts. They’ve become very aggressive on differentiating on performance and billing.
VentureBeat: What does this announcement say about PHP?
Andi Gutmans: We have internal jokes about PHP’s web penetration, and have used the stat that PHP runs 39 percent of the web because it was the only number we could get from Netcraft.
But I love Google’s stat, that 75 percent of the web runs PHP. No-one knows the web better than Google.
If they’re trying to gain market share and gain it quickly, there’s no other language to do it with. And this is the first non-Google language they’re supporting.
VentureBeat: How’s that feel? And how are your customers reacting?
Andi Gutmans: I’m definitely excited about it.
When any player does something like this — especially Google — it’s a huge validation. We got emails from some of our largest customers, saying this is great … it gives our enterprise customers a higher sense of confidence. And that stat that 75% of the web runs PHP is great for Zend – anything that is good for PHP, by proxy is good for Zend.
In addition, they said that PHP was their top-requested feature, which means the developer community was very supportive of us.
VentureBeat: Will you offer Google App Engine Support within Zend Studio, so developers can publish to Google right from within their Zend development environment?
Andi Gutmans: We don’t know yet … it’s early and we’re exploring what kind of relationship we can have with Google.
We do support Google Compute Engine — that’s a full integration and some of the larger companies who run PHP already use it — but Google Apple Engine is just launched, it’s still in experimentation mode.
VentureBeat: What took Google so long to add PHP support?
Andi Gutmans: I can’t speak for Google, but my assumption is that I felt that Google App Engine in the first few years was something they knew they wanted to do really well but … they kinda went down the simple easy route.
But we’ve seen a significant acceleration in the past 12 months. This will be a $20 billion market by 2016, and they moved from testing the waters to being very very aggressive right now.
We recently surveyed 5,000 PHP developers, asking them where in the cloud do you think you’ll deploy. 51 percent said Amazon Web Services, but Google was 21 percent … and we just support Compute Engine right now.
It wasn’t even on the list last year, so that’s a big jump.
VentureBeat: What does this mean for the little guy building in PHP or hosting a WordPress blog?
Andi Gutmans: I think it gives another option for the guys who do the small stuff, who are using shared hosting for $20/month.
What’s really great for the small developer is that it’s a nice value proposition — you can start at a lower cost. And, it’s a modern platform versus shared hosting, which is quite constrained.”
VentureBeat: So what does this mean for PHP overall?
Andi Gutmans: The number of requests that Google got from developers was very very significant. It exemplifies what we’ve been talking about … that PHP is very broadly adopted, but also by enterprise.
And that is driven by web, mobile, and cloud, which is where PHP’s sweet spot is. We’re seeing a strong tailwind behind us.
Filed under: Business, Cloud, Dev, Enterprise
Apparently, he said the wrong things on Twitter and it spiraled out of control, resulting in a major embarassment for Microsoft. We hear that he voluntarily resigned and deeply regrets what happened. His comments set off a storm of criticism about Microsoft and what its intentions on its next game console might be.
Orth was reportedly in the midst of a discussion with a friend of his, Manveer Heir, a senior game designer at BioWare, when he made the public comments. Orth and Manveer are close friends who were evidently making fun of each, but the observers didn’t catch on that the conversation had a lot of sarcasm in it. Orth then got in a flame war with gamers over his opinion and dissed small towns such as Janesville, WI and Blacksburg, VA, asking “why on earth would I live there?”
We don’t know what conversations took place after that with his employer, but Orth is apparently no longer with Microsoft. Orth was a game director at Microsoft Game Studios, but he was not working on the next-generation Xbox, according to our sources.
Microsoft issued a statement last week about the comments, which referred to him rather coldly as “this person.”
“We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.”
Orth may have commented on this development on Twitter, but it’s impossible to tell unless you’re a confirmed follower of his: He has locked the account, and it is no longer available. In the same breath, apparently, he deleted his LinkedIn account. We hear that he had to do this because he received numerous death threats. That part is quite regretable.
I guess he has learned the value of discretion on social media. But, as it often is, the lesson appears to have been learned the hard way.
Dean Takahashi contributed to the reporting for this report.
Filed under: Business, Gadgets, Games, Media, Social, Top stories, VentureBeat
PC shipments fell off the proverbial cliff in the first quarter of 2013, according to IDC, with their biggest drop ever in recorded history.
That might sound a little melodramatic, given that the recorded history of PC shipments only goes back to 1994. But with a drop of 13.9 percent — almost double the expected 7.7 percent — to only 76.3 million units, the first quarter of 2013 has been a disaster for traditional PC manufacturers.
“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” Bob O’Donnell, an IDC vice-president, said in a statement.
O’Donnell says that with its radical user interface changes, subtraction of the familiar Start button, and extra costs that come with Windows 8-equipped PCs that take advantage of its touch capabilities “have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.”
In the U.S., this marks the tenth consecutive quarter of year-on-year declines, and quarterly shipments reached their lowest level since early 2006. Europe was down as well, and even growing China and the rest of the Asia Pacific region dropped 12.7 percent, the first double-digit decline in PC shipments there.
HP remains the top PC vendor globally, IDC said, but its shipments fell 23 percent year-over-year, and it was almost surpassed by Lenovo, which astonishingly had double-digit growth in a sinking market. Dell dropped 10 percent as well, and Acer, Asus, and Toshiba also dropped somewhat.
Even Apple, which has seen strong growth in recent years, particularly in laptops, had shipments decline 7.5 percent to 1.4 million.
IDC seems interested in blaming Windows 8, but the more likely culprit is surging sales of tablets, which some analysts are including in “PC” shipment numbers. In fact, some analysts believe that this year is the year tablet sales will outpace traditional PC sales, with quarterly sales of 55-60 million.
Given this quarter’s numbers, it looks like the crossover point could be as soon as the next three months. But whether that happens or not, big changes are in store for PC vendors:
“The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer,” David Daoud, IDC Research Director, said in a statement. “Vendors will have to revisit their organizational structures and go-to-market strategies, as well as their supply chain, distribution, and product portfolios in the face of shrinking demand and looming consolidation.”
Filed under: Business, Gadgets, Mobile, VentureBeat
Today, Microsoft has leveled more accusations about Google’s practices by way of its “Scroogled” campaigns. This time, the complaints are about how Google handles users’ data when they purchase an application from Google Play.
Previous “Scroogled” campaigns have targeted both Gmail and search over ads and privacy.
In the two videos below, Microsoft uses animations and words to walk you through “what might happen” if your data were to end up in the wrong people’s hands. It’s a fear campaign, and it really doesn’t have any basis whatsoever.
Take a look at the videos and we’ll get into what actually happens when you buy an app from Google Play.
In the second video, a “real life” situation is played out on the front steps of an apartment building:
A Google spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
Google Wallet shares the information needed to process transactions and maintain accounts, and this is clearly stated in the Google Wallet Privacy Notice.
Why the mention of Google Wallet?
The main difference between Google Play and the Apple App Store is that Google uses its “Wallet” service to process transactions. While it’s not a third-party service in the sense that it’s a different company, it is a function of the process that is not embedded into the Google Play experience. It’s something that users are made aware of in the terms of service and privacy policies when they sign up.
More importantly, when merchants and developers sign up to sell things in Google Play, they must buy into not sharing any of the information that they get, which is name, email address and general location — the things that all companies selling things online need in order to process your transaction and provide support. Better start your attack against Amazon, Etsy and everyone else on the Internet, Microsoft.
The timing is interesting on this, because this is the way that Google Play has always worked. Its privacy policies haven’t changed since last July, in fact.
At the end of the video, if you got that far, you’ll notice that Microsoft ends things with a big “Windows Phone doesn’t do it this way.” Instead of doing an advertisement on how great Windows phones and apps are, Microsoft has decided to go after how “horrible” Google is. The “Scroogled” site even has a big old link to explore Windows Phones. Isn’t that convenient?
If Microsoft was purely trying to protect consumers from having their data “stolen” by nefarious app developers, don’t you think that it would focus on that, rather than trying to drum up business for itself?
You can’t put something on the Internet if it isn’t true, right? Wrong.
Wait, wasn’t that bearded “french” guy the same one that shows up at the end of the second Scroogled video? At least we know who is doing Microsoft’s ads now.
Put those marketing dollars into making great products that people love, Microsoft.
Rob Isaac is a New Zealand-based developer, technical analyst, and consultant. This FAQ was originally published on his website.
1 Why is Chrome spawning a new browser engine?
The WebKit maintainers wouldn’t let us attack Apple directly, by changing WebKit in ways that would make it perform badly on OS X and iOS.
Because they share a rendering engine, developer effort to ensure Chrome compatibility currently benefits Apple platforms for free. To prevent this, we must make Chrome and WebKit behave differently.
1.1 What sorts of things should I expect from Chrome?
Nothing yet. This is a political move, not a technical one.
However, while the Chrome user interface will not change in any significant way, we will be silently overwriting all existing installations of Chrome with our new rendering engine without your knowledge or consent.
1.2 Is this new browser engine going to fragment the web platform’s compatibility more?
We intend to distract people from this obvious problem by continually implying that our as-yet unwritten replacement is somehow much better and more sophisticated than the rendering engine that until yesterday was more than good enough to permit us to achieve total dominance of the Windows desktop browsing market in less than two years.
This strategy has worked extremely well for Netscape, Microsoft, Apple and us in previous iterations of the browser wars, and we firmly believe that everyone in this industry was born yesterday and they will not recognise this for the total bullshit it so clearly is.
1.3 Hold up, isn’t more browsers sharing WebKit better for compatibility?
Yes. See 1.
1.4 How does this affect web standards?
We have sufficient market share on the desktop that a few months from now, we will be in a position to unilaterally dictate them.
We hope to leverage this control to achieve the same dominance in mobile eventually.
1.5 Will we see a -chrome vendor prefix now?
No. See 1.4.
1.6 So we have an even more fragmented mobile WebKit story?
We encourage you to adopt Chrome on Android for your mobile browsing needs.
1.7 What’s stopping Chrome from shipping proprietary features?
1.8 Is this just a ruse to land the Dart VM or Native Client?
We’ve decided to avoid discussing unpopular topics like those for the time being.
1.9 What should we expect to see from Chrome and Blink in the next 12 months? What about the long term?
We have a direct strategic interest in destroying Apple’s mobile platforms because their lack of participation in our advertising and social ecosystems does not benefit our long term goals. You should expect Chrome and Blink changes in the short term to be focused in this direction.
In the longer term, we aim to have sufficient control over the installed base of web browsers to dictate whatever conditions we consider most appropriate to our business goals at the time.
1.10 Is this going to be open source?
While you can certainly read the source code, we’re fully aware that actually tracking and understanding a modern HTML renderer is extremely difficult. In addition, the first changes we will make are intended specifically to break compatibility with WebKit, so the only organisation with sufficient resources to track our changes will no longer be able to do so.
In practice, this allows us to call the project “open” while simultaneously ensuring Google will be the only effective contributor to the Chrome and Blink source now and in the future. We’ve had enormous success co-opting the language of open source in the past to imply our products are better, and we aim to continue with that strategy.
1.11 Opera recently announced they adopted Chromium for their browsers. What’s their plan?
Opera have such a tiny market share that they have no choice other than to follow whatever strategy Chromium adopts. In this case, it means they will adopt the Blink renderer as quickly as possible.
1.12 Why is this is good for me as a web developer?
It isn’t. Our primary goal is to use your development efforts as leverage against our competitors. See 1.9.
Filed under: Business, Dev, Mobile, VentureBeat
Google says that using WebKit is slowing down innovation, because “Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects.”
The solution is Blink, Chromium’s new rendering engine. It’s a fork of WebKit that will use largely the same codebase, minus a significant amount of no-longer-needed code: 7,000 files and 4.5 million lines of code. That will make the codebase slimmer — obviously — as well as more stable, more secure, and less buggy, according to Google.
WebKit emerged from the KHTML browser when Apple took KHTML code as the basis for its Safari browser in 2001, and it currently powers the vast majority of web browser share. Forking the codebase will fracture the browser rendering space between WebKit, Gecko (which powers Firefox), Trident (Microsoft’s rendering engine), and now, of course, Blink.
That’s a concern for web developers who have to build websites that render properly in all browsers, but Google says that won’t be a problem:
“In the short term, Blink will bring little change for web developers,” Google engineer Adam Barth wrote.
The question, of course, is the long term.
Interestingly, Opera has very swiftly said that it would use the new Google fork of WebKit for the new Opera rendering engine.
(Oh, and if you’re wondering what the dongle joke is about, here’s the answer.)
Filed under: Business, Dev, VentureBeat
Not the Android and iOS numbers: Steady but unspectacular growth for Android and gradual but not catastrophic drops for Apple are pretty much in line with expectations.
But the BlackBerry and Windows Phone numbers are dramatic changes from the same quarter a year ago. Windows Phone looks to be finally taking off, with 52 percent growth December, January, and February of this year compared to the same three months in 2012. And BlackBerry is falling of a sales cliff, with an 81 percent plunge in sales.
The big kahuna, of course, is Android.
Google’s Android now owns more than half of U.S. smartphone sales, with 51.2 percent market share. That’s up from 45.4 percent in the quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS is holding fairly steady at number two, with 43.5 percent, down slightly from last year’s 47 percent.
What’s interesting about the Windows numbers, even though they are on a much smaller installed base, is that Windows Phone is currently the fastest-growing mobile phone platform. At 4.1 percent of mobile operating system market share, Microsoft still has a very long ways to go, and growth rates could start to slow as it piles up share. But the numbers have to be encouraging for Redmond as it is finally gaining traction in a market that it once appeared to have completely lost.
And the international numbers contain pockets of even more good news, such as Italy, where Windows Phone now makes up 13.1 percent of new phone sales.
Apple’s mobile offerings are strongest with the two largest U.S. carriers, AT&T and Verizon. Both sell a majority of iOS smartphones, with AT&T selling 68.4 percent iOS versus 20.8 percent Android, and Verizon selling 55.1 percent iOS versus 43.4 percent Android.
Meanwhile, Samsung is continuing to expand its Android leadership, taking away market share from competitors LG and HTC:
“Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Samsung smartphone, 19 percent had previously owned a Samsung feature phone, 15 percent owned a HTC smartphone, 14 percent owned an LG feature phone, 10 percent owned a Samsung smartphone, and 9 percent owned a BlackBerry,” said Kantar Worldpanel analyst Mary-Ann Parlato. “It’s apparent that Samsung is successful at capturing users from across the competitor set and not just gaining from their own loyalists.”
Kantar Worldpanel is the largest continuous consumer research mobile phone panel in the world, and conducts more than 240,000 interviews per year in the U.S. alone to determine what consumers are buying and using.
Filed under: Business, Gadgets, Mobile, VentureBeat
On precisely the same that day that Google unveiled its open source pledge, donating ten patents for free open source use, Microsoft unveiled its new Patent Tracker, a tool to reveal every single patent that the company owns, has acquired, or owned historically.
Do you believe in coincidences?
The genesis of Microsoft’s patent tracker is the company’s desire to improve the patent system without completely destroying it, a Microsoft lawyer that I spoke to today told me. Three problems the company sees in the current system are knowing who actually owns or controls a patent, litigation abuse by non-practicing entities (lawyerese for patent trolls who don’t actually make anything with the patents they control), and poor patent quality.
The new tracker is designed to fix the first problem, while making patent abuse more difficult. And it’s built around Microsoft’s goal of working within the patent system, while seeking to improve it. As Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith said, roughly translated: “Fix what’s broken, not break what’s working.”
The two initiatives show a different approach to patents, at least on the surface, from the two software giants.
Google’s initiative today showcases a kind of patents-are-a-necessary-evil mentality. Google doesn’t want to be left defenseless in a patent nuclear war, so it has loaded up on patents by acquiring Motorola, by buying them from IBM, and by joining a consortium to purchase them from a bankrupt Kodak. But it also wants to be seen as a friend of open systems and open software — after all, Android is built on an open-source foundation — so donating patents to open source is kind of motherhood and apple pie.
But it’s also a pretty easy step: ten patents on fairly obscure data analysis technologies are not going to make many in the patent industry think that Christmas has arrived early.
Microsoft’s initiative showcases a new openness, stripping away the cloak of corporate secrecy, while embracing the existing patent system. The company has gone so far as to provide a downloadable data file of all Microsoft patents: all 40,786 of them as of March 25. The list is massive and extensive, from ZL201020107444.8, a kidney disease detection method which it acquired from Zhongshan Baoyuan Biotechnology Engineering Co., Ltd., to 314229, a media player technology that Microsoft developed internally.
That’s unprecedented, and it would be a major benefit to business and technology executives if all companies did that … or if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Organization made patent information that easily — and transparently — available. While the USPTO makes all patents searchable, it’s not always clear who owns or controls a patent. And that’s a scenario that lends itself to patent trolls, who thrive on the gamesmanship that opacity allows.
It’s a move that Microsoft invites other companies to follow, the company lawyer I spoke to made clear.
The question is: Will companies follow Microsoft’s model or Google’s? Will they start offering patents for free open-source use, or focus on offering greater transparency around the patents they do own? And of course, there are multiple other alternatives, such as eliminating the patent system entirely, revamping it, or determining simple standard licensing terms.
As in many other scenarios, I’m sure that where companies stand will be greatly determined by what they currently own, and how powerful they feel they are currently within the existing situation.
Image credit: John Koetsier
Filed under: Business, Enterprise, Entrepreneur, VentureBeat
The Microsoft Research team is building an epic map of the universe using data and photographs collected from the many telescopes around the world, including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. They call it The WorldWide Telescope.
There are roughly 300 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and about the same number of galaxies in our universe (give or take a couple). With the WorldWide Telescope, scientists and developers have pieced together a detailed 3D view of the universe that lets a user do a fly by of any planet, star or galaxy known to man. You can even view the entire universe in a single frame, which makes us all seem insanely insignificant.
But the WorldWide Telescope is more than just a neat exploration tool for astronomy and physics nerds. Program Director Dan Fay hopes NASA can use it as a research tool and that students from the elementary to graduate levels can use it as an educational resource. The Microsoft Research team has made it simple to manipulate data on a touch surface or desktop. With the touch of a couple of buttons and pinch to zoom, you’re off and flying through the universe. The team plans to bring this magic to mobile devices soon.
Microsoft has also released an API to allow developers to build custom tours and lessons. I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of the nebula of the Milky Way Galaxy, and admittedly it was beautiful. The lessons can be as simple as a fly by of every planet in our solar system, or as complicated as analyzing photographs of the deepest known space objects. The map also lets you look at any part of the sky in a number of light wavelengths, including infrared and X-ray.
After the demo, I took a tour of a scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is due to launch in 2018. The telescope is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble and about seven times as big. It includes a 21-foot reflective mirror and a slew of instruments to study the sky.
NASA hopes to look through dust clouds surrounding the formation of stars using the onboard infrared instruments to finally see how stars are born and to look far enough through the universe that they will get a better sense of how all of this madness is shaped. It will also be able to detect water vapor in atmospheres outside our solar system, and where there is water, there’s a significant chance at life.
(mind = blown).
Smoked by Windows is Microsoft’s fun, social, and viral YouTube campaign targeting iPhone and Android users. But now it’s moving offline and going to network TV — ESPN and CBS — just in time for March Madness.
And Microsoft is taking specific aim at Samsung:
The ads feature Microsoft’s top Windows Phone marketing manager, Ben Rudolph, who told us that he has the best job in Microsoft when we chatted a couple of months ago. It’s his job as director of Windows Phone evangelism to convince hundreds of millions of Android and iPhone users to switch to Windows phone … and he’s pretty persuasive.
But this particular tactic won’t work for long — the new Samsung Galaxy S IV sports a 13-megapixel camera which is bound to be better than the S III’s eight megapixel effort. And likely to best the Nokia 920′s 8.7 megapixel camera too, in spite of the built-in image stabilization that does give the 920 great night-time photos.
Filed under: Business, Gadgets, Media, Mobile, Social, VentureBeat