Microsoft to open its first retail store outside North America later this year

microsoft store

Microsoft has been steadily expanding its retail presence in North America and now has 110 brick and mortar stores across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. The significance of physical Microsoft stores is ever more apparent as it expands its hardware portfolio with new products. It’s worth noting that Apple is also continuously expands its retail presence and now has 450 stores worldwide, with 260 of them in the US alone.

With that in mind, it’s vital that Microsoft’s products are showcased and presented in the way Microsoft intends for them to be in other parts of the world as well, and that’s why the software giant plans to open a new store in Sydney, Australia.

This marks the first time that a Microsoft store is being built outside of North America, and hopefully it’s a signal of more to come. This new Sydney store will be located at Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall and is scheduled to open later this year.

Microsoft will have more hardware to showcase and sell than ever before by the time Windows 10 is released, with the newly announced Surface 3, and the much-anticipated Surface Pro 4 sure to be joining the ranks.

We can also expect to see some Surface Hubs to be at physical retail stores in the near future. In addition to all of the Surface products, there will certainly be a slew of new Windows phones which will include flagship models later this year, and we certainly hope to see the new HoloLens at Microsoft stores when that’s released. If that doesn’t draw a crowd than we don’t know what will.

Microsoft is definitely making first-class innovative hardware these days, and having physical stores is the perfect way to show-case their hardware.  With Microsoft working on making more hardware these days it may be a sign of things to come to many more countries around the world.

Dell and another 10 OEMs will also pre-install Microsoft apps on their Android devices

microsoft-headquartersIn addition to the announcement of select future Samsung Android tablets being pre-installed with Microsoft software such the Office apps, OneDrive, OneNote and Skype, there seems to be many more manufactures taking part in this venture.

Microsoft has officially announced that Dell along with an additional 10 OEMs will also be bundling the same apps on their Android products later in 2015. Although Microsoft or its OEMs haven’t disclosed exactly what type of Android devices these apps will be pre-installed on, or how this deal came to be, it’s definitely an aggressive move on Microsoft’s part to ensure that it’s services reach more potential customers.

Earlier today, we announced an expanded global partnership with Samsung to deliver Microsoft mobile productivity services to both consumer and business customers. Building on that news, I’m pleased to share that we’ve also expanded strategic agreements with leading global OEM Dell, and regional OEMs including TrekStor of Germany, JP Sa Couto of Portugal, Datamatic of Italy, DEXP of Russia, Hipstreet of Canada, QMobile of Pakistan, Tecno of Africa, and Casper of Turkey, as well as top original device manufacturer Pegatron. These 11 hardware partners will pre-install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on Android devices coming to market later this year.

For OEMs, these deals will increase the value of and enrich people’s experiences on Android devices. Original device manufacturers are important because they extend Microsoft services to the ecosystem. More specifically, they help to reach a greater number of other device manufacturers, resulting in even more choice for customers around the world. And for Microsoft, this is part of the company’s mobile-first, cloud-first vision.  It is addressing consumer demand for top services by making them already available on a device, instead of requiring consumers to download them separately.

Microsoft is set for a very aggressive year when it comes to their product offerings.  Not only will Windows 10 be available on an unprecedented amount of devices and cost nothing for about 900 million users, but the software giant is doing everything possible to ensure that its services thrive on competing platforms.  Not to mention the launch of HoloLens later this year which has tremendous potential and can possibly change the face of the company almost instantly.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft sheds some light on Windows 10 for the Internet of Things in new video

One of the main strengths of Windows 10 is that it will run on embedded devices, or what Microsoft likes to call the “Internet of things”. This is a market of tremendous potential as automation will play a significant role in our lives going forward. Microsoft is determined to play profound role in this market and are predicting that Windows 10 will be installed on over 25 billion of these devices by 2020.

Here is what Microsoft had to say about Windows 10 on IOT devices:

Windows 10 will offer versions of Windows for a diverse set of IOT devices, ranging from powerful devices like ATMs and ultrasound machines, to resource constrained devices like gateways. Through key partnerships with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Intel, Qualcomm and others, we will provide great options for commercial devices builders, hobbyists and students.

This is one particular area that has been largely overlooked and one that Microsoft hasn’t shed much light on, but in the video Microsoft provided, one can get a good understanding of the tremendous scale of this market.

Microsoft will be offering Windows 10 on IOT devices for free, and we except the Redmond giant to shed some more light on this matter at Build this April.

Source: Channel 9

Windows tablets are set to be a threat to the iPad, according to IDC

surface pro 3 ad 1IDC’s latest report on the tablet market doesn’t look so good in respect to growth. In February, IDC reported a 3.2% drop in tablet shipments which marked the first ever year-on-year decline, and in their latest outlook, the projections of market growth are gloomy as the research company scaled back its earlier projections. IDC’s new forecast has tablet shipments reaching 234million in 2015. This represents only a slight increase of 2.1% when comparing to 2014.

IDC has provided us with a chart representing their growth forecast which looks to gain a slight bump in 2016 and continue declining until 2019 to almost minimal growth.

IDC tablet growth forecastOne of the interesting takeaways in their latest report is how quickly Apple has begun to lose share and not just due to the market growing at a faster rate than Apple can keep up with, but due to the decline in iPad shipments overall, calling them the “weakest link”.

Android on the other hand increased overall shipment but is expected to have a very slight increase year-over-year from 154.7 million in 2014 to 158.1 million in 2015. It’s also worth noting that IDC expects Android tablets to experience a market share drop to 62.9% in 2019.

It’s not all gloomy for the newest member in the tablet market space, the Windows tablets, which are expected to gain significant share by 2019. Although Windows had a market share of 5.1% in 2014, climbing to 14.1 in the next few years is a large jump, and IDC is convinced that Windows 10 will play a big role in this movement.

Source: IDC

Report: Microsoft looking to build a large 575K sq. ft. data center in Phoenix

microsoft-headquartersA recent report by Phoenix Business Journal suggests that Microsoft is shopping for a large piece of commercial real estate in the Phoenix area where the software giant wants to build a large data center.

Currently Microsoft operates over 100 data centers around the world, and is continually looking to expand as the cloud business grows. Arizona seems to be of interest to Microsoft as the state has been proactive in creating a favorable tax climate for such large companies to house their data centers in.

The report says “Microsoft data center could be landing at Union Hills Drive near Interstate 17.” This particular location is around 575,000 square feet “and the transaction may be completed via private equity firms and other data center entities even though it will be Microsoft operations, according to the industry executive who asked not to be named.”

Another official told the Journal that a large unnamed client is “looking for data center space totaling as much as 300,000 square feet in the East Valley.”

Although it’s not confirmed, Microsoft is believed to be this mystery client looking for data center space. Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Dial, R-Chandler, who is also a legislator advocating changes to the state’s tax benefits for the data industry, has actually confirmed that “Microsoft is one of the technology companies advocating adjustments to Arizona data center tax breaks created in 2013.”

According to the report, “Dial has introduced a data center proposal amending 10- and 20-year tax breaks on equipment. He said Microsoft has said the changes and a favorable tax climate would help the chances of the Redmond, Washington-based company landing in Arizona.”

Microsoft declined to comment on any specific purchases but their spokesperson told the Journal the company is “anticipating growth in its cloud infrastructure and we are continuously exploring new potential data center locations across the world.”

Source: Phoenix Business Journal

Microsoft has reportedly acquired the company behind the Pen technology in the Surface Pro 3

Surface-Pro-3-Pen[1]Microsoft has been on a shopping spree lately with some pretty big purchases taking place in the last little while. In the last month alone, the software giant has acquired the popular email company Accompli for over $200 million and has turned it into a world-class Outlook email app which is currently only available on iOS for now.

Just yesterday Microsoft officially confirmed that they’ve purchased popular calendar app Sunrise for over $100 million, and earlier today it was reported that Microsoft has acquired Israeli digital pen maker N-trig for more than $200 million.

N-trig is the company behind the digital Pen technology in the Surface Pro 3 which has received high praise from customers. It looks like Microsoft has been very happy with the switch to N-trig from their offerings on previous Surface Pro models which used Wacom technology.

The software giant is aiming to bring digital inking experiences to more of their products and really pioneering these capabilities. In a recent interview with ABC news, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said something rather interesting. When asked “what he thinks that we rely on, and won’t be around a decade from now” his answer was the fountain pen.  This is pretty interesting as we have known for some time that Microsoft has been investing heavily in this type of technology and acquiring N-trig is a confirmation of that.

Microsoft views digital inking as a very important input method for computing, and just recently, Panos Panay had some pretty interesting things to say to the Wall Street Journal regarding this technology. He also talked about the company’s plans to further enhance this technology and the goal of making the Pen feel as close to writing on paper as possible.

Pianos says “We are 100 percent committed to removing the paradigm that feels like you are writing on glass. We have a lot of technology right now, not only in our labs but also in future generations of development in products that start bringing that pen to life more and more. Getting the pen perfect on the Surface has got a little bit of a ways to go. And we will get there”.

Source: Reuters

Microsoft reportedly restricting Windows with Bing licenses only for screens 14" and smaller

Windows 8.1Windows with Bing is has proven to be a popular SKU for OEMs due to it costing very little and even being free for devices with screen sizes under 9 inches. Windows with Bing is a full version of Windows with the only catch being that OEMs must set Bing as the default search engine and MSN.com as the homepage. Users who purchase these PCs can then change these settings if they prefer.

Earlier today, The Register reported that there were 115,000 notebooks running the Windows with Bing SKU sold in the UK in the fourth quarter of 2014.  However, over 81% of these notebooks or 94,000 of them were running this Windows SKU on 15.6-inch devices.  It is also reported that Chromebook sales were unimpressive in the UK, and that Microsoft overreacted to the threat by offering such fantastic promotions to PC OEMs with the Windows with Bing program.

“Microsoft realised it over-egged the response to Google and is limiting the licences,” said one source.

Therefore, Microsoft will be restricting the Windows with Bing SKU to devices with 14-inch displays or smaller including a minor price increase for the remaining licenses available starting next month.

Investors also didn’t respond too lightly over the drop in Windows revenue in Microsoft’s fourth quarter of 2014 earnings, and it seems like Microsoft is looking to bring more profit to the Windows division.

Windows 10 is still a little far out, but it’ll be very interesting to see how Microsoft prices their new flagship OS to PC OEMs.  Especially, as it looks to recoup some of the immediate financial losses by giving away Windows 10 for free in the first year after its release to users running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Source: The Register via Neowin 

Microsoft and Samsung settle licensing dispute; door opens for flagship Samsung Windows Phone

MicrosoftVsSamsungMicrosoft and Samsung have jointly released a very short, but important statement in regards to the pending legal dispute the two tech giants have been involved in.

Last August, Microsoft filed a law suit against Samsung for failing to pay for Android patent licensing worth billions of dollars. As a matter of fact, Samsung stopped paying those royalties in 2013 and interest on amount they owe has since piled up.

The two have reached a settlement deal and both parties seem to be excited to get past this legal hurdle. According to Samsung’s Jaewan Chi, Legal Affairs Executive VP and Microsoft’s David Howard, Corporate NP & Deputy General Counsel:

“Samsung and Microsoft are pleased to announce that they have ended their contract dispute in U.S. court as well as the ICC arbitration. Terms of the agreement are confidential.”

To add some context, for years Microsoft has been collecting royalties from all Android device-makers as the software giant owns many patents Android is in violation of. Instead of asking to stop Android sales, Microsoft has opted to license these patents to OEMs such as Samsung, HTC and Sony and cash in on Android’s popularity.

Once Microsoft announced they’re intent to acquire Nokia, the Korean company chose to stop paying these royalties as the acquisition in their opinion voided the cross-licensing agreement. This action prompted years of court battles.

Because of this, Samsung has been reluctant to build more Windows Phones. Now that the dispute is finally over, we may see a fresh start in this relationship and perhaps Samsung will consider shipping a Galaxy S or Note flagship device running Windows 10.

Source: Microsoft

Satya Nadella answers some personal questions & says "absolutely" when asked if Windows Phone is here to stay

Satya Nadella ABC NewsIn a recent interview with ABC News, Satya Nadella answered some interesting questions about his personal likings and stands firm behind the company’s commitment towards Windows Phone.

When asked about his favorite childhood toy, he reveals his Indian heritage and picks the “cricket bat”. He shows his admiration for the sport when asked about who he would trade places with for a week-end as he chooses the late Australian Cricketer he always admired, Donald Bradman who to Nadella represents excellence.

Nadella is diligent about getting his eight hours of sleep and wakes up at 7am – as being the CEO of one of the largest companies on earth isn’t so forgiving on one who’s not functioning at full capacity. He also reveals that he loves to cook, but doesn’t have much time to cook his favorite dish which happens to be an Indian Hyderabadi Biryani rice dish that takes all day to prepare. This is a good thing for Microsoft.

When it comes to technology related questions,  such as “what he thinks that we rely on, and won’t be around a decade from now” his answer is: the fountain pen.  This is particularly interesting as Microsoft has been clearly pushing with digital inking technology and has done a fantastic job in this department with the Surface Pro line, and most notably with the Surface Pro 3.  We also know that Microsoft still has a plan for a Surface Mini which will be heavily pushed as a note-taking device for business.

The interviewer most likely wasn’t aware that Microsoft has a smart watch/fitness band device as she asked Nadella if Microsoft plans on releasing a smart watch – only to be told about the Microsoft Band and what its purpose is.

She bluntly asks “is the Windows Phones here to stay?” and Satya Nadella answers with an “absolutely” showing no hesitation. Although Windows Phone has a worldwide market share of roughly 3-4%, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially with Microsoft’s recent $7 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices & services division and especially with what they’re doing in bringing together the complete ecosystem of Windows devices in Windows 10.

Satya Nadella seems to be a likable character and certainly has changed the face of Microsoft since his time as the CEO. One takeaway from this interview and others in the past really show a positive and charismatic character who doesn’t cause one to cringe in the anticipation that he’ll say something embarrassing like former CEO Ballmer has done so in the past.  Although Ballmer is certainly the more entertaining of the two.

Check out the interview below:

Source: ABC News

Microsoft working on a game changer to bring more apps in the Windows ecosystem

windows 10 family1Microsoft just recently posted a job listing which has an intriguing invitation for its applicants. The invite is for them to apply for a job in which a team is working on creating something “game changing” in bringing apps to the Windows platform.  It’s a pretty well-known fact that the Windows app store lags behind the iOS and Android app stores and it looks like Microsoft is very well aware of that and has a plan.

We all know by now that Windows 10 is unifying all the Windows app stores across phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox, IOT devices and even its giant Surface Hub just unveiled recently.  Microsoft is making it very easy for developers to create universal apps for the entire Microsoft ecosystem of devices and we have heard that they are working on ways which will make it easier for developers to port iOS and Android apps to the Windows platform and vice-versa.

This is a major step in achieving proper app support and excitement from developers who will now have a massive target audience as they target the entire Windows user-base across all device types.  This in-turn is an essential part in creating a viable and healthy 3rd ecosystem which is a daunting task these days.

However, Microsoft isn’t prepared to put all its eggs in one basket and surely has a plan B in case this doesn’t pan out as expected.  Plan B has to be the enabling of Android apps to run on Windows mobile devices, but if it comes to this, it must be implemented well.

Windows 10 will be a critical release for Microsoft and lots of planning and restructuring of the company has occurred in the process of what Windows 10 is set to be.  This release is aimed to change its perception among users and developers and it will be a very interesting time for the company and the tech industry to see what unfolds but everything so far looks like they have a winner on their hands.

Check out the job posting below:

 Do you want to be the game changer in bringing more apps to Windows platform?

Our team is building next generation application platform that will change how Windows devices and services are perceived and received by our customers and developers. We are enabling an app platform that can enrich Windows in incredibly fast and efficient ways for our developers.

We are looking for a Senior Program Manager with expertise on Windows as well as competitors app platforms. Do you have experience writing apps on different platforms? Would you be able to articulate the pros and cons of each platform’s APIs, tools, documents and release process? You do not need to know every competing platform, but do need to have a deeper understanding in at least one of the competitors app platforms and associated cloud services.

We are looking for people with a ‘can-do’ mindset, great interpersonal skills, and strong technical background to back it up. You’ll need to understand the details of your features and stretch from specs, to evangelism, to design, to owning integration across groups while working closely with development, quality, and management. You will need adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to acquire new skills on-the-fly. A proven track record of defining, designing, specifying, managing, and shipping hardware/software technologies is a must. We’re focused on shipping quickly and often in a V1 environment, so we’re looking for someone who can drive and make the right things happen when plans are changing and not all the systems are in place.

Mandatory qualifications

o   Proven Program Management of complex hardware and software integration projects

o   A strong technical background and the ability to “go deep” in your feature area

o   Relentless customer focus

o   Knowledge of the app market and industry, competitors and customer needs

o   Ability and vision to anticipate future demands and competitive trends

o   The ability to partner closely with internal and external partners

o   BA/BS degree in Computer Science or related technical equivalent and 6+ years of industry experience

Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected status.

 

Source: Microsoft Careers via Neowin