Call of Duty: Ghosts is Xbox One's Best-Selling Game in Q1

codghosts2In the first quarter of 2014, Activision reported “better-than-expected performance [which] was driven by record digital sales in Blizzard Entertainment’s franchises” according to Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer, Activision Blizzard in the Activision Blizzard Q1 Financial Results earnings report.

The iconic franchise outperformed its first-shooter competition on both the Xbox One and PS4 gaming consoles, however exact sales figures are still not available. According to Wesley Yin-Poole’s EG report:

Infinity Ward’s first-person shooter Call of Duty: Ghosts is the best-selling PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game, Activision has said.

It beat out competition from the likes of EA’s Battlefield 4 and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 4, which also launched on both consoles last year.

Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg called it “an important achievement as we establish Call of Duty as the first person action game of choice for the next-gen”.

Ghosts was the second best-selling game across Europe and North America during the first quarter of 2014, too. Number one was Skylanders Swap Force.

Activision officials hailed the success of Call of Duty: Ghosts in a financial call last night, but failed to reveal exact sales figures. It is believed sales of Ghosts came in under previous games in the series, including Black Ops 2 and Modern Warfare 3.

Microsoft to Use Qualcomm Chips in Surface Mini

According to a Bloomberg report, Microsoft is, for the first time, planning to use Qualcomm Inc. processors to power the upcoming Surface Mini, “in a move that ends Nvidia (NVDA) Corp.’s run as a chip supplier to the tablet.”

The second Surface device, beside the smaller Surface tablet, expected to be announced at the May 20th NYC event is said to be powered by an Intel Corp. processor.

More coming soon…stay tuned to MicrosoftProductReviews.com and follow us on Twitter @MSProdReviews for all the breaking news.

Microsoft Leads Business Software Market Share, up 12%

top5_software_vendors_2013The leading provider of global market intelligence, data giant International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that Microsoft extended its dominance in global enterprise software market last year.

The overall enterprise software market grew by 5.5% in 2013 – worth $369 billion (1.2% increase compared to 2012). “Sales last year benefited from a recovery in Europe and continued above-average growth in the U.S.”, IDC said in the report.

Microsoft emerged as the market leader with $65.6 billion in revenue, a 12.2% increase from previous year. Microsoft’s market share rose to 17.8% (up from 16.7% previous year) with IBM trailing with 8% market share. Other notables in the top five include Oracle, SAP and Symantec, according to the IDC report.

IDC tabulated software revenue from three primary segments: applications, application development and deployment, and systems infrastructure software.

Among the three segments, application development and deployment, which comprised nearly 23% of total software revenue in 2013, had the fastest growth with a 5.6% year-over-year gain. Oracle led this segment with market share of 21.5%, followed by IBM and Microsoft.

In the applications software segment, which comprised 50% of total software revenue and grew 5.5%, Microsoft led the field with a 14% share. It was followed by SAP, Oracle and IBM.

Microsoft’s annual revenue for 2013 was just north of $80 billion, this means that around $15 billion came from the consumer segment which includes, Xbox, Surface and other hardware related products.  It shows that Microsoft’s bread and butter is the business market.

Sources: Brian Deagon, Investor’s Business Daily & Big Data and Analytics, Collaborative Applications, and System Software Drove Enterprise Software Growth in 2013, According to IDC

 

Microsoft to announce Surface mini in NYC on May 20th

Microsoft has sent out a  press invitation tonight calling on the media to “Join us for a small gathering.” in New York City on Tuesday, May 20th.

Source: Microsoft
Source: Microsoft

You can probably read between the lines and make a fair assumption that this is the event at which Microsoft plans to announce a smaller version of the long rumored Surface mini.

According to Mary Jo Foley and her insider sources “CEO Satya Nadella will be officiating” (All About Microsoft/ZDNet).

We anticipate this new device to be called “Surface Mini”, running the newly updated and much improved version of Windows 8.1  with update 1, and it is higly likely the “Mini” will have an 8 inch screen and likely come with a stylus and a digitized screen. Click here to see the leaked cover case of a Surface Mini on Amazon.

Microsoft is rumored to market the smaller Surface as a note-taking tablet device due to the inclusion of the stylus. One thing we still do not for sure, is weather it will be equipped with an ARM or Intel processor, but we presume, as many rumors have stated in the past that Microsoft is going with the RT version which will likely use the ARM processor and running desktop applications on an 8-inch screen is not very practical.

Microsoft entered this tablet market late and are the only major tablet vendor without a sub 9 inch tablet offering.  Having a mini tablet makes the “Surface”  line broader and offers new lower price points, this is an important step in increasing overall tablet market-share for Microsoft.

Stay tuned to MicrosoftProductReviews.com for all the late breaking news regarding this much awaited new tablet.

Bill Gates no longer Microsoft's largest shareholder

steve-ballmer1Yesterday marked the first time in Microsoft’s 40 year existence that its founder Bill Gates is no longer the single largest shareholder. According to an April 30th U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Filing, that title now belongs to former CEO Steve Ballmer as Gates now officially owns 3 million shares less than Ballmer.

“In an April 30 filing, Gates revealed that he sold 4.6 million shares for roughly $186 million pre-tax. He now owns 330 million shares, 3 million less than Ballmer, his Harvard pal who later joined him at the Seattle company.” (Forbes)

This February, Gates stepped down as the chairman of the board at Microsoft and he is now a technology advisor to Satya Nadella, the company’s new CEO. Although Gates officially stepped back from his operational-day-to-day executive role in June 2008 to focus on The Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation Charity, Gates remained symbolically involved with Microsoft.

“Gates has been the richest man in the world for 15 of the last 20 years, despite having already given away at least $28 billion. He now owns 4% of Microsoft, a stake worth $13.3 billion.” (Forbes)

Gates is worth $77.2 billion, which makes him the richest man in the world, and the majority of his fortune is kept in his private firm Cascade Investment. Steve Ballmer is now comfortably sitting on  $20 billion and is ranked 34th richest person on the word.

Source: Forbes

 

 

Microsoft to open Microsoft Innovation Center in Miami

Microsoft announced today that it is in the process of opening its first ever US based Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) this spring.

Microsoft Innovation Centers (MICs) are local government organizations, universities, industry organizations, software or hardware vendors who partnered with Microsoft with a common goal to foster the growth of local software economies. Currently there are 115 Microsoft Innovation Centers world wide (Wikipedia).

This map represents the current MIC locations in the world:

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

According to RTTNews.com, “Located in Miami, Florida, the center will be equipped with the latest technology and tools to help drive job creation, increase the number and availability of highly skilled technology specialists, and facilitate collaboration among a variety of diverse groups in the greater Miami area.

The company said that the facility will be the first of a series of new Microsoft Innovation Centers to be established across the United States, and will also serve as the flagship technology center connecting Miami to key communities in the Latin American or LATAM region.”

Source: RTTNews.com

US, UK & China to get Cortana with official Windows Phone 8.1 Release

wp_ss_20140427_0012During today’s AMA session on Reddit with Joe Belfiore, VP, Lead Windows Phone Team, many questions were raised in regards to Cortana’s availability outside of US in different languages and locales for the official Windows Phone 8.1 update release (actual public release, not the developer preview many of us have).

Reddit user ArchitectOfDreams asks “Please, release Cortana to a lot of countries (without being totally gimped from features) even before you add different languages. Most of the people are comfortable in English, and prefer using a great english voice command compared to a decent native one. So don´t wait for language updates, just release it with english!”

Joe was eager to answer and rightfully justify Microsoft’s international roll-out strategy with Cortana:

“Cortana in other countries: We’re definitely working to bring Cortana to other countries. She tells us she’d like to travel. We’ve already announced that when we launch V1 after Beta, we’ll be in China and the UK as well as the US. We’re also hoping to get other english-speaking countries (eg. Canada, Australia) out relatively quickly as well. The challenge in doing this is we want the Cortana experience to be EXCELLENT for everyone -– and this involves not ONLY delivering great voice recognition for all the different languages, but also making sure that we have a great regional experience with local content so she doesn’t feel like an American!”

Microsoft is being cautious with this new feature roll-out as speed to market is not top priority at this point, but rather accuracy, personalization and user experience. Joe adds:

“In the meantime, we’re thrilled that people are trying it out in other countries and we use that data to train the system. It’s helpful to get accents and hear other queries, and we can detect WHERE these are coming from to help improve the experience later.”

Source: Reddit

US, UK & China to get Cortana with official Windows Phone 8.1 Release

wp_ss_20140427_0012During today’s AMA session on Reddit with Joe Belfiore, VP, Lead Windows Phone Team, many questions were raised in regards to Cortana’s availability outside of US in different languages and locales for the official Windows Phone 8.1 update release (actual public release, not the developer preview many of us have).

Reddit user ArchitectOfDreams asks “Please, release Cortana to a lot of countries (without being totally gimped from features) even before you add different languages. Most of the people are comfortable in English, and prefer using a great english voice command compared to a decent native one. So don´t wait for language updates, just release it with english!”

Joe was eager to answer and rightfully justify Microsoft’s international roll-out strategy with Cortana:

“Cortana in other countries: We’re definitely working to bring Cortana to other countries. She tells us she’d like to travel. We’ve already announced that when we launch V1 after Beta, we’ll be in China and the UK as well as the US. We’re also hoping to get other english-speaking countries (eg. Canada, Australia) out relatively quickly as well. The challenge in doing this is we want the Cortana experience to be EXCELLENT for everyone -– and this involves not ONLY delivering great voice recognition for all the different languages, but also making sure that we have a great regional experience with local content so she doesn’t feel like an American!”

Microsoft is being cautious with this new feature roll-out as speed to market is not top priority at this point, but rather accuracy, personalization and user experience. Joe adds:

“In the meantime, we’re thrilled that people are trying it out in other countries and we use that data to train the system. It’s helpful to get accents and hear other queries, and we can detect WHERE these are coming from to help improve the experience later.”

Source: Reddit

Skype group calling is now free for everyone!

Skype group video calling is finally free for all Windows, Mac and Xbox One users, according to Phillip Snalune from Skype Blog. He adds “Now that Skype group video calling is available to everyone, free of charge, it makes our group conversations even easier!” – previously, this premium feature used to cost $8.99/month. “For the last few years, we’ve offered group video calling to Premium users on Windows desktop and Mac and more recently Xbox One. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re making group video calling free – for all users on these platforms.” Microsoft recommends calls with up to five people maximum for optimal performance as “fair usage policy” applies.

Google Hangouts pioneered group chat when it was launched on May 15, 2013 as a free service, but now that Skype is free for group chat, this popular application will be even more attractive to individuals looking to chat with friends and family as well as business users looking to have a virtual meeting or a conference call. Give it a try!

Article Source/Media Credit: Skype Blog

Surface Mini to be released May 18th?

surface_mini3The long awaited 8-inch version of Microsoft’s Surface tablet was first rumored to be released last fall. After facing some major supply chain issues with the existing line of Surface tablets, Microsoft decided to put the Mini production on hold, instead of releasing a product for sale that nobody could actually get their hands on for a very long time.

Although Microsoft won’t confirm any reports, according to Tom’s Hardware, “The latest rumor surrounding the unannounced Surface Mini tablet is that Microsoft will market the tablet as a note-taking device, complete with a stylus.”. There are also rumors circulating that the stylus will in fact be a digitizing pen rather than a traditional capacitive stylus. We also anticipate that the Mini will ship with Windows 8.1 Update 1 which means users will benefit from some of the key features that Update 1 brings including reduced OS weight.

In a recent development, China’s Vostrostone, online electronics retailer, has posted up for sale the new Smart Cover Case for Surface Mini along with many high resolution photos of the case as well as what appears to be an 8-inch Windows tablet acting as a placeholder – this does not appear to be the new Surface Mini, however. The case is going for around $10 and order date is May 18th which would suggest that is roughly (or perhaps precisely!) when Microsoft will release the new Surface Mini. The smart case will be available in Black, White, Blue and Red.

Further, the product description reads:

“Fantastic looking case for your precious Microsoft Surface Mini tablet. There are plenty of cases out there but this is built to last with style. Made of premium PU leather, this flip case will wear well and maintain the look of your device. Design allows for full access to touch screen, side buttons, charging & headset ports and camera. Well built to protect your Microsoft Surface Mini tablet for the years to come. “

The cover can be bought here: VSTN ® Microsoft Surface Mini ultra-thin Smart Cover Case, Only fit Microsoft Surface Mini tablet (For Surface Mini, Black)

Here are the photos of the case with the mock device.

 

surface_mini1surface_mini6

surface_mini7 surface_mini8

surface_mini5 surface_mini4