Software giant Microsoft officially unveiled Office 365 in an attempt to keep up with its would-be nemesis, Google. In order to keep up with Google, Microsoft is taking a calculated risk because its Office software commands high revenues and profits. Cloud 365 could put that profitability at risk if enough people decide to give it a go.
At a press conference held in New York, CEO Steve Ballmer said Cloud 365 – as we call it – offered an up to date cloud service, for a monthly subscription. Cloud 365 lets people work simultaneously on, for example, Microsoft Word and Excel.
Cloud 365 has been in beta for a year.
Microsoft has signed up over 20 service providers including Vodafone and NTT, and said that Cloud 365 will be available in 40 markets. It’s also tied in a large number of resellers and independent software vendors.
In the USA, subscriptions range between $2 and $27, depending on the plan. Microsoft is offering a free trial for 30 days. Presumably Cloud 365 works in leap years, when it miraculously turns into Cloud 366.
The shy and retiring Steve “There’s A Kind Of Hush” Ballmer has shocked Wall Street by writing an $8.5 billion cheque to buy Skype.
Wall Street thinks he probably paid a bit too much for the outfit which lost $7 million last year and has a debt of $686 million.
It is the largest acquisition since Redmond paid $6 billion for the online advertising company aQuantive in 2007. The move would bring it 660 million users worldwide while giving it a foothold in voice and video communications.
Analysts think that it could be integrated into existing Microsoft products such as its Xbox 360 games console and Kinect gaming systems, or even into its flagship Office product to let users collaborate more effectively.
Facebook, Google and Cisco Systems were interested in acquiring it to fold into their own services and while analysts think the sale is a good idea, the price tag has left them a bit upset.
Skype was bought by eBay for $2.6 billion in 2005 . It later wrote down Skype’s value by $1.4bn and flogged off a 70 percent stake at the end of 2007. It still has 30 percent and with the Volish cash it is now worth $2.4 billion, which means that it is quids in on its Skype moves.
Google previously looked at purchasing Skype in 2005 but was worried about patent problems with the technology. Essential patents for the service are owned by a company linked to Skype’s founders.
Vole already has a voice-over-internet offering, called Lync, which combines email, instant messaging and voice communications into a single program. It is part of its Office division, but has failed to attract much attention.
Details on the deal will be announced later today the Guardian claims.
Bill Gates‘ less-sprightly schoolchum, Microsoft co-founder and professional billionaire Paul Allen, has released memoirs that suggest Gates was a scheming so-and-so.
According to a draft of “Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft,” as viewed by the WSJ, in the year Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, he listened in on a conversation between Gates and the charming Steve Ballmer, who was probably speaking a little too loudly.
Allen claims he heard the two talking about a lack of productivity – where they conjured up the idea to dilute his equity by issuing options to shareholders while lining their own pockets. Allen claims in the memoirs that he charged through the door, dodging a flurry of chairs, to shout at the then-Gruesome Twosome who did, eventually, apologise and forgetallaboutit.
Ballmer has not commented to the WSJ.
Despite the Gates and Ballmer’s joint plot falling on its backside, Allen claims that in the 70s Gates thought he was worth a 60 percent stake because he’d done more for programming in the beginning. Later, although Allen thought the two were equal partners, he claims Gates requested to move the share 64-36 in his favour, which Allen agreed to. Despite rolling over on shareholder agreements, Allen was denied an increase in Microsoft even though he’d been doing well on something called SoftCard. This left him cheesed off.
“In that moment, something died for me,” the Wall Street Journal quotes Allen as writing. “I’d thought that our partnership was based on fairness, but now I saw that Bill’s self-interest overrode all other considerations. My partner was out to grab as much of the pie as possible and hold onto it.” That’s when he decided he’d eventually quit. We guess it was the straw that broke the camel’s back – eventually encouraging Allen to go nuts with suing the entire IT industry.
As the Simpsons lovingly points out in Season 9’s “Das Bus,” Bill Gates didn’t “get rich by writing lots of cheques.”
Allen’s memoirs will be out to buy soon. The worst case scenario is David Fincher and Trent Reznor get excited and release a spiritual prequel to The Social Network.
Shy and retiring Microsoft CEO, Steve “Sound of Silence” Ballmer is telling the world that Windows is about to evolve into something completely different.
Speaking today at a Houston Technology Center bash, Ballmer said that changes on the PC were being driven by “innovations” with sophisticated smartphones and tablet devices.
According to Seattle Pi, which showed up for the nibbles and free booze, Ballmer claimed that Windows will “look a lot different and will run different applications” than it does in 2011.
It is difficult to see where Steve was going on this point. The whole point of Windows is that it can turn PCs into an office tool. Most of that software is crafted seperately for a particular purpose. If it is running different software it becomes something else and Steve did not describe his vision.
Ballmer admitted that Microsoft had stumbled a bit lately. He moaned that the industry moves quickly and his company isn’t always able to move as fast as competitors.
He said that Apple is proof that a company can come back to upend the market. He pointed out that when he started at Microsoft, Apple was bigger, but by 1997, Apple was almost bankrupt.
Now, Apple has turned itself around quite nicely. You see, you can come, go, come and go, and come again, Ballmer said.
But as any observer would have pointed out, when Apple came back it had an idea.
That idea was that you could set up a closed shop of gadgets and drive users in with nice design. You could keep making money out of them by bringing in more gadgets with more updated designs. It did not matter how good the gadgets were, so long as they looked nice.
Ballmer does not seem to have an idea that he is talking about to anyone. If he wants Windows to evolve into something more interesting he really needs to tell people exactly what.
In a bid to make online banking even more appealing to the shut-in, developers at Platform45 have invented a password field that rewards users with taking the clothes off a roughly 36 x 36 pixellated girl.
It’s easy to bung “Naked Password” on your website. All you have to do is stick in a couple of lines of code with a publicly accessible image folder. Users will be “rewarded” as the more complex your password is, the more pixellated cartoon skin you get to see.
There’s a demo available on the website, here.
Naked Password is either cynically suggesting that geeks can be enticed into excellent password protection or a tongue-in-cheek way to leverage web security, we’re not sure.
Using it, we discovered that the mere utterance of “Steve Ballmer” into a password field has a girl’s clothes literally disappear. She gladly hangs around in just her pants. “Bill Gates” has the same effect as does “Steve Jobs” which we suspect is not the hot topic of Apple’s conference this week. “Léo Apotheker” is a winner too, but poor old Mark Hurd only convinces the girl to take her jeans and top off, but at least he’s likely to buy her dinner.
Mobile manufacturer and Microsoft wheeler-dealer Nokia is planning heavy investment in a Russian “tech city” that the company hopes will see the firm increase market share, while boosting a modernised Russian economy.
The Innovation Centre in Skolkovo, an ‘Innograd’ or innovation town, will be the site where Finnish folk from Nokia open a research centre as part of its global network.
According to the monthly report from semiconductor analyst outfit Future Horizons, the centre will be on the same scale as England’s equivalent, which is one of the largest R&D centres Nokia owns.
The move for a greater presence in Russia appears to be symptomatic of Nokia’s desire to grab a slice of the action in the country via a long term plan of investment, just as it did with India and China.
The deal will mean building on work with Russian universities and companies that Nokia is already talking to, crucially placing them in a position to receive venture capital as part of the project at Skolkovo.
Esko Aho, a Nokia board member, highlights that the investment in the “Russian Silicon Valley” will be financially beneficial for all concerned.
And where Nokia has gone others could soon follow. A certain Steve Ballmer meeting with scientists at the University of Moscow last November suggests that there could be further possibilities in the PC market with big players like Microsoft sniffing around. Though relationships with Microsoft have been shaky in Russia.
The mighty Intel is likely to have a presence in the tech city. Former CEO Craig Barrett has been shaking hands already.