Tag: microsoft

Skype falls in London

4e5b3385f3a85a8b261ef4df368652beSoftware king of the world Microsoft is going to close Skype’s London office and release 400 people onto the British dole queue.

According to the Financial Times, Vole will “unify some engineering positions,” but that it “will be entering into a consultation process to help those affected by the redundancies”.

The London office was an important part of Skype’s history.  Before Vole got its furry claws on the outfit the site was Skype’s primary engineering site and headquarters.  The HQ also survived Skype’s period under the control of eBay.

The FT said that staff were not surprised by the news. Executives have been fleeing the building and doom sayers had “foretold a shift in the locus of power at the company”. There is nothing worse than a plague of Locus.

Vole has done much product work on Skype, with plenty of integration with Office 365 and a number of feature introductions that bring it closer in line with Slack.

Vole wants to build Skype from Redmond, which should help further align its “strategic vision” across its software products.


Microsoft set to drop Lumia brand by Christmas

Microsoft campusThe dark satanic rumour mill suggests that Microsoft will be withdrawing the Lumia brand by the end of the year.

Vole has a cunning plan to replace it with a brand new Surface Phone and kick start its ailing smartphone business.

Lately Microsoft’s Lumia lineup has shrunk to just four models, and there’s nothing to indicate it’s working on a successor.  Vole has removed the link to buy them from its US website. On the retail side, stores have started removing units from display, and are trying to shift remaining stock by offering steep discounts.

Laura Butler, engineering director at Microsoft also made the mistake of tweating the phrase  “Surface iPhone. ;-)” on September 6, and “Surface Phone not NOT confirmed. :-)” on September 7.

Microsoft is expected to hold an event in October, where it’s believed it will announce a new Surface all-in-one. This could be when Microsoft announces its new Surface Phone, just in time for Christmas.

The Tame Apple Press is rubbishing the Surface even before it is launched so we expect that any Microsoft attempts to revive its smartphones are doomed before they start.  It is a pity really, the windows based operating system powering the phones is rather useful.

Why Kaby Lake and Zen is Windows 10 only

Windows 10Microsoft raised a few eyebrows when it announced that only Windows 10 will support Intel’s and AMD’s next-generation processor microarchitectures – codenamed Kaby Lake and Zen.

It appears that there are a few features on Kaby Lake and  Zen that require significant updates to Windows 10 to optimally function.

Kaby Lake uses Intel’s Speed Shift technology that make it possible to change power states more quickly than Skylake. Because Kaby Lake can make Speed Shift transitions faster, 7th Gen Core processors based on the architecture can increase and decrease clocks quickly. Speed Shift is hardware enabled but it uses the OS to function properly.

Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology 3.0  with Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology improves single-thread performance by identifying the fastest core on a particular processor die and prioritising critical workloads for that core. This pushes up the processor’s frequency when needed and  workloads are also directed to the fastest possible core available. Support for that technology needs to be in the operating system.

AMD’s Zen-based processors have fine-grained clock gating with multi-level regions throughout the chip. Zen will bring in newer Simultaneous Multi-Threading technology for AMD chips. Microsoft will  have to make updates to the Windows kernel and system scheduler, which is more involved than a driver update. Vole did something similar to add proper support for Bulldozer-based processors with Windows 7.

So as far as AMD, Microsoft and Intel are concerned getting rid of support for older systems makes perfect sense. You can’t lock these chips into something which was released seven years ago. Windows 8 is similar to Windows 10 but about as popular as the Boston Strangler it is just not worth trying to update.

While corporate customers might like to remain on Windows 7 and incorporate next-gen hardware into their infrastructure, there will not be many of them. Older versions of Windows and alternative operating systems will still install and run on Kaby Lake and Zen, but they just won’t do the cool stuff.

Microsoft relies on Wikipedia and loses Melbourne

Surprised-KoalaMicrosoft’s Bing made the grave mistake on relying on data collected by Wikipedia for its mapping software and lost Melbourne.

While Melbourne might not be the nicest it place to live, there were a fair few who felt that Bing Maps moving it to the wrong hemisphere was not exactly fair dinkum.

Apparently Vole made the mistake when it collected the data. Ricky Brundritt, a senior program manager at Bing Maps, said that the outfit does not normally rely that much on Wackypedia, but sometimes it uses it.

Unfortunately, in this case the Wackypedia entry for Melbourne was designed by the same fake penis experts and geniuses that decided that Mike Magee, the Everywhere Girl, and Fudzilla did not exist. They put in the wrong map references.

However, to be fair to the fake penis expert editors they did fix the co-ordinates in February 2012, so Bing has been getting it wrong since then. Suddenly Apple Maps, which used to send Australians to the desert to die, is looking a bit more reliable.



Gates is still coining it in

young-bill-gatesWhile he appears to have dedicated most of his fortune in a war against the mosquito, former software king of the world Sir William Gates III is still the world’s richest man.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the net worth of the world’s richest person Bill Gates hit $90 billion. This was thanks to Gates’ gains in public holdings including Canadian National Railway Company and Ecolab.

He is now  $13.5 billion richer than the world’s second-wealthiest person, Spanish retail mogul Amancio Ortega. At $90 billion, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder’s personal net worth is equal to 0.5 percent of US GDP.

Less than two weeks ago, Bill Gates topped Forbes‘ “100 Richest Tech Billionaires in The World 2016” list with an estimated fortune of $78 billion.  It seems that the gods are continuing to smile on Gates, who has dedicated his wealth to saving the world from extinction. Now it seems that the more he gives away the more he gets back from other profitable deals.

It is all a noble cause which almost makes you forgive all those antitrust campaigns in the 1990s.


Cisco lays off 20 percent of staff

the Cisco kidNot content with just decimating its staff, the network gear maker Cisco  is laying off about 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the workforce in a move that even the Roman Emporer Caligula would think was a bit mean.

The cuts are still secret but the news has found its way to the press. The announcement is expected in the next few weeks. This is all because Cisco is moving from a hardware to a software based outfit.

Apart from Cisco, the other tech giants, which have announced job cuts in the face of PC industry decline in recent years, are Microsoft,  HP and Intel. In fact the  winner so far has been Vole which liberated 18,000 jobs in 2014. HP Inc said in September 2015 that it expected to cut about 33,300 jobs over three years. Intel said in April that it would slash up to 12,000 jobs globally, or 11 percent of its workforce.

Cisco increasingly requires “different skill sets” for the “software-defined future” than it did in the past, as it pushes to capture a higher share of the addressable market and aims to boost its margins.

Cisco has been investing in new products such as data analytics software and cloud-based tools for data centers, to offset the impact of sluggish spending by telecom carriers and enterprises on its main business of making network switches and routers. The company has already offered many early retirement package plans to Cisco’s employees..


Windows 10 anniversary edition is coming your way

live_tv_windows_10Microsoft has released the Anniversary Update, just as you finally gave up and installed the old version.

The new Windows 10 Anniversary has things which users will notice and feature updates and tweaks to the user interface.

The Start menu has been tweaked and been made into three-columns with the All Apps list always on view. This saves a click but is still not as good as the simple Windows 7 Start menu.

There are a few changes to Cortana.  Firstly, it cannot be disabled in the normal user interface and you can use it from the lock screen. Notifications can sync across devices.

When we get it installed we will see if Microsoft has fixed its biggest problem with Windows 10, namely the ability to find a file on your PC without Cortina opening Bing to find it on the web. Windows 10 search capability on cloud files is pretty good, but it has difficulty finding files on the hard-drive.  Opening Bing is just annoying.

Microsoft has also spruced up its Edge Browser. Firstly it finally gets JavaScript-based Extensions, using a similar model to that in Google Chrome.

Extensions are installed from the Windows Store, and there is AdBlock, Translator, LastPass, Evernote Web Clipper, and Office Online.

Edge also has a tree view for Favourites, a warning if you try to exit the browser when a download is in progress, default save location, tab pins to the top bar of the Edge window and new APIs including Web Notifications, Beacon interface (for asynchronous data upload), Canvas Path2D, WOFF 2 fonts, and more.

This version now scores 460 out of 555 when it comes to handling HTML 5, putting it ahead of Firefox 47 at 456 but behind Chrome which is 492.


US government does not have to fess up to snooping

spyThe government in the Land of the Fee (sic) claims that there is no legal basis for it to tell  Microsoft’s customers when it intercepts their e-mail.

Vole is suing the government saying that customers have a constitutional right to know if the government has searched or seized their property.  But he government says that the case should be thrown out because… well security, you know..  terrorists, that sort of thing.

The government claims federal law allows it to obtain electronic communications without a warrant or without disclosure of a specific warrant if it would endanger an individual or an investigation.

If the logic behind this defence appears half-hearted then it probably is. There is no way that the government can claim that all its warrants need to be secret because they would endanger life.  Its previous defences have also been rubbish. Last week, Microsoft persuaded an appeals court to overturn an order to turn over e-mails stored on servers in Ireland as part of a Manhattan drug prosecution.

However, the fact that the Justice Department is prepared to stand up in court and argue such weak cases indicates that it is fighting to keep tech companies on a tight leash. It is increasingly seeing tech companies as obstructing national security and law enforcement investigations.

This all started two years ago, when  Edward Snowden’s disclosures about covert data collection showed what the government was actually doing.

Microsoft argues the very future of mobile and cloud computing is at stake if customers can’t trust that their data will remain private, while investigators seek digital tools to help them fight increasingly sophisticated criminals and terrorists savvy at using technology to communicate and hide their tracks.

The government claims Microsoft doesn’t have the authority to sue over whether its users’ constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure are being violated, the U.S. said.

Secrecy orders on government warrants for access to private e-mail accounts generally prohibit Microsoft from telling customers about the requests for lengthy or even unlimited periods, the company said when it sued. At the time, federal courts had issued almost 2,600 secrecy orders to Microsoft alone, and more than two-thirds had no fixed end date, cases the company can never tell customers about, even after an investigation is completed.

Vole admits that there may be times when the government is justified in seeking a gag order to prevent customers under investigation from tampering with evidence or harming another person. But the rules authorising the gag orders is too broad and sets too low of a standard for secrecy.

Salesforce would have paid more for Linkedin

SalesforceThere is a bit of head scratching going on over why Linkedin chose Microsoft’s lower offer for its company over a bigger one offered by Salesforce.

Microsoft wrote a cheque for  $26.2 billion for the social notworking site, which was lower than what was offered by Salesforce.  However Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said that he was willing to go much higher and would have changed other terms of the bid if he had been given the chance.

In a filing with regulators on Friday, LinkedIn said a board committee met on 7 July  to discuss an email from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

“The email indicated that Party A would have bid much higher and made changes to the stock/cash components of its offers, but it was acting without communications from LinkedIn,” LinkedIn said in the updated filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

LinkedIn has said its board was concerned about other problems with a Salesforce bid, including the fact that a deal would have required approval from its shareholders. LinkedIn could still go with another bid if one comes in, but its deal with Microsoft contains a $725 million breakup fee provision.

Salesforce was the only serious rival to Microsoft.

Microsoft calls “injuste” on French privacy “accuse”

Degradation_alfred_dreyfusSoftware giant Microsoft has claimed that the French are being rather nasty when it comes to the privacy levels on its Windows 10 operating system.

Yesterday France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) slapped a formal order on Microsoft to comply with data protection laws after it found Windows 10 was collecting “excessive data” about users and ate roast beef. The company has been given three months to meet the demands, and improve its cooking, or it will face fines.

Vole has officially responded and said that it is  happy to work with the CNIL to work towards an acceptable solution. It has not actually denied the allegations set against it, the company does nothing to defend the amount of data collected by Windows 10, and also fails to address the privacy concerns it raises.

Microsoft does address concerns about the transfer of data between Europe and the US, saying that while the Safe Harbor agreement is no longer valid, the company still complied with it up until the adoption of Privacy Shield.

David Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft said:

“We built strong privacy protections into Windows 10, and we welcome feedback as we continually work to enhance those protections. We will work closely with the CNIL over the next few months to understand the agency’s concerns fully and to work toward solutions that it will find acceptable.”

He added that Vole had continued to live up to all of its commitments under the Safe Harbor Framework, even as the European and U.S. representatives worked toward the new Privacy Shield. As we state in our privacy statement, in addition to the Safe Harbor Framework we rely on a variety of legal mechanisms as the basis for transferring data from Europe, including standard contractual clauses, a data transfer mechanism established by the European Commission and approved by European data protection authorities, to cover data flows from the European Union to the United States.

“Microsoft will release an updated privacy statement next month, and that will say Microsoft intends to adopt the Privacy Shield. We are working now toward meeting the requirements of the Privacy Shield,” he said