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 acquires immensely popular calendar app Sunrise in its quest to become a productivity leader in mobile

sunrise calendarMicrosoft has been acquiring start-up companies lately with an aim to produce the best productivity experiences in mobile as their goal to spread their services across all major platforms continues.

Its recent purchase of popular productivity email app Acompli for just over $200 million resulted in a release of an incredible iOS Outlook app in record time. Microsoft even put a version of Outlook for Windows Phone on the back burner until Windows 10 arrives. It has caused waves upon its release and is currently the most popular productivity app in the iOS App store in many countries and receiving rave reviews and recommendations.

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft has just acquired yet another start-up called Sunrise which happens to make a very popular calendar app called Sunrise Calendar, and it did so for more than $100 million.

sunrise calendar1Sunrise is said to be the best mobile calendar app available with its powerful feature set and fantastic UI design. Additionally, it does a great in job consolidating calendars from different providers such as Microsoft Exchange, Google, iCloud and many third party apps. Sunrise also imports photos and details from your LinkedIn contacts which is very helpful for being aware of the person you may be meeting with.

This is a very popular app on the iPhone, iPad, and even Android devices, and according to TechCrunch, Microsoft intends to keep the app alive as it uses the technology behind it to better its own offerings at a much faster pace.

sunrise calendar2Take a look at the video below which will give you a great example of how powerful and effective this app is.

Source: TechCrunch via BI

Great Deals Available Right Now on the Surface Pro 3. Save $100!

Surface-Pro-3[1]Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is a bone-a-fide hit. The combination Laptop/Tablet form factor, combined with its excellent screen, impressive hardware, solid build quality and outstanding pen input has made this the most popular Surface Pro to date, with over a billion in sales last year quarter.

If you’ve managed to resist this gem, Microsoft is making it a bit harder to hold off with a great set of deals available both on-line and in it’s physical stores.  From Jan 30 to April 5th, a brand new Surface Pro will set you back up to $100 less than normal, plus Microsoft will throw in a free sleeve to boot.

"The Surface Pro 3's infinitely adjustable hinge makes it a great fit for any setting."
“The Surface Pro 3’s infinitely adjustable hinge makes it a great fit for any setting.”

Of course, this deal may be limited by availability of stock. It’s quite possible that Microsoft is selling off excess inventory from the holiday sales season, so its probably wise to grab one while you can!

 

 

You can hop on down to your local Microsoft Store, or click on the links below to the online store.

Surface Pro 3 Model.                                                Suggested Retail price (USD)
Intel® Core™ i3, 64 GB and 4 GB of RAM.                                $799
Intel® Core™ i5, 128 GB and 4 GB of RAM.                              $899
Intel® Core™ i5, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM.                           $1,199
Intel® Core™ i7, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM.                          $1,449
Intel® Core™ i7, 512 GB and 8 GB of RAM.                          $1,849

ITs never a question of: "Laptop or Tablet?" The Surface Pro 3 is Both!
ITs never a question of: “Laptop or Tablet?” The Surface Pro 3 is Both!

These are great prices for a great combination device. Don’t forget to add in the price for a type cover to your budget. The result is an irresistible combination at a great price.  I’ve been running the Windows 10 Preview on my “old” Surface Pro and I have to say I’m really excited about this new version of Windows in combination with the Surface’s form factor. Your new Surface Pro 3 will be receiving a free upgrade to Windows 10 later this year, so there’s no reason to wait!

If you’re on the fence about the Surface Pro 3, take a look at our full blown review as it may help you decide.

Microsoft backs Cyanogen with investment in their attempt to de-stabilize Android

Cyanogen

Android was intended to be an “open source” operating system which hardware makers would install on their devices for free. However, Google requires hardware manufacturers to feature Google Apps and set Google as the default search engine in exchange for access to their core services such as YouTube or the millions of apps in the Play Store.

This is something not all Android manufacturers comply with, and the ones that didn’t, represented 37% of all Android shipments worldwide this past quarter. With such requirements from Google, it makes it difficult for Microsoft to be effectively distributing their own apps on the Android platform, as they would always have to be manually searched and downloaded from the Google Play Store while Google’s services are front and centre.

This is where Cyanogen comes in, as it offers an alternate version of Android which is free from such restrictions and is already 50 million users strong. As Cyanogen continues building their own version of Android free of Google’s control, Microsoft intends to support that with roughly $70 million of investment. With Microsoft going the multi-platform route – making their software available on all platforms, it’s exploring any possibilities to reach out to as many potential customers. Cyanogen is considered to be worth somewhere just below $1 billion, which would make Microsoft a minority stake holder.

Cyanogen’s Chief Executive,  Kirt McMaster was just recently quoted as saying “We’re going to take Android away from Google”.

It looks like Microsoft and Cyanogen have the same goal in common, which is destabilizing Android and loosening Google grip on the OS. Microsoft is looking to pre-load their own services in future builds of the Android such as Bing, Nokia’s Here maps, Outlook, Office, Skype and more. Since Cyanogen will not be able to use the Google Play store, Microsoft may be there to lend a helping hand.

Source: WSJ

Microsoft stock tanks 3.2% on analyst downgrade, citing slow Windows Pro adoption by business

Microsoft-645x250Microsoft stock has been rallying for most of the year, up by over 20% so far, but today Bank of America analyst Kash Rangan has downgraded the tech stock to “underperform” from “neutral”.

According to the analyst, the primary reason for the advisory is “slowing sales of Windows Professional licenses for business PCs and ‘elongated’ consumer adoption of Office 365.”

As the result, Microsoft shares dropped a whopping 3.21% to $45.17 at the closing bell. Rangan also adjusted the stock price target to $47, which is much lower than investors have hoped to see as some analysts have pegged the stock to hit mid-$50’s.

“The winding down of the current Windows Pro cycle will affect $13 billion in high-margin business for the company, including Windows and business Office sales,” he said and adds “Win Pro revenue growth has been declining in recent quarters.”

Rangan also warns investors by stating “Investors shouldn’t get excited about Microsoft’s consumer Office 365 cloud transition. It would take 20 years for Microsoft to reach the 600 million-consumer Office total addressable market with its cloud offering at a 7.5 million quarterly run rate, which is five times the 1.5 million run rate seen last quarter.”

Source: Investors.com

Windows Phone U.S. install base shows slight increase in Q3

Windows_Phone

Comscore has released their mobile market usage for the three month average ending September 30th, which represents Q3 of 2014, and it shows a slight increase in the amount of Windows Phone users when comparing to the second quarter of 2014.    Comscore covers the actual install base rather than smartphone sales, and out of the 174 million U.S. smartphones users there are now about 6.3 million Windows Phones in use which equate to 3.6% of the market.

Comscore Q3 2014

This is still a small number when comparing to Apple’s 41.7% and Android’s 52.1%,which result in around 72.6 million and 90.6 million users, but when examining the available Windows Phones during that period, it’s a good sign that the amount of users actually increased.

These numbers show that Microsoft definitely has their work cut out for them, and even if Windows Phone starts to sell at a rate of 10% and maintains that number, it’ll still take years for the user-base to actually reflect that percentage in sales.

When looking at the 15 most used apps, Facebook and their services such Instagram, Facebook Messenger and of course the actual Facebook app are there – Facebook being in the number 1 spot with 72%.  However this list also shows the stronghold that Google services have in the mobile app ecosystem with apps such as Google search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Play and Google Maps all populating the list.

Comscore Q3 2014 apps

This is something that happens when Android has such a large user base, and also makes Windows Phone a difficult platform to switch to with many of Google’s services not being available on the platform.  It appears that Google keeping their services off of Windows Phone may be of interest to them as it definitely has a negative effect for Microsoft’s platform, and they will most likely continue to do so unless Windows Phone sales really take off to force their hand.

Source: Comscore

New Surface Pro 3 ad shows how productive and powerful the device is

surface pro 3 ad 1

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is really pushing the boundaries of what a hybrid device can achieve and is starting to really get noticed in the media.  Microsoft posted a new ad today on their YouTube channel which focuses on the productivity features and really highlights them well in 80 seconds.

The video is titled “The most productive tablet on the planet” and is perfectly timed with a release today as Apple unveiled its new line of iPads.  Microsoft really has such an upper hand in terms of productivity and functionality that it would be a mistake if they don’t push this ad to the cable networks, or even at the movie theatres rather than only use YouTube.

We’re not certain whether Microsoft will be launching a successor to the Surface 2 this holiday season, the answer points towards a no, but they may offer better deals on their current models and even the Surface Pro 3.

Source: Microsoft

Nottinghamshire County ditches BlackBerry & Apple for all-Windows 8.1 Mobile Devices

Microsoft-s-New-OS-Head-Windows-8-1-Brings-One-Experience-for-Everything-in-Your-Life-392043-2Nottinghamshire County Council has experimented with a limited iPad deployment along with its aging BlackBerry phone architecture, and found that majority of its employees rely too much on Microsoft services such as Lync, Outlook and SharePoint. In order to accommodate the current and future needs of its social care workers, the County opted to deploy 2,000 Windows 8.1 tablets, and replace 1,000 BlackBerry handsets with Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones. The UK council is one of many in that country who are embracing new technologies to help improve efficiency and productivity.

In a report by V3, Ivor Nicholson, ICT service director for Nottinghamshire County Council says that the decision to move away from BlackBerry to Windows Phones was a simple one – BlackBerry is no longer a cost-effective secure solution for enterprise.

“We started with BlackBerry a few years ago as at the time it was the only secure mobile device,” according to Nicholson.

He adds “Now we have 1,000 coming to the end of their life and from a cost perspective there are now other devices that meet our requirements. Also, from a user perspective because we have Windows services on PC, the feedback [from staff] is they want a common interface between devices. We find Vodafone and Windows Phone 8.1 is the best option for this.”

Nicholson says the council had initially deployed iPads to its workforce because Windows 8.1 wasn’t ready at the time and Windows 8 just didn’t provide the touch-screen experience the organization was looking for.

“So at the time the iPad was a really usable tool for us as it was light, and had good battery life. But a lot of what people use is Lync, SharePoint or Exchange. Also, as big users of Office products, a lot of what our people were accessing was Microsoft tools, so when we saw Windows 8.1 devices from an ICT perspective they just made sense” says Nicholson.

Another benefit that the council found while using Windows devices, is that they are easier to manage from a Public Service Network (PSN) compliance perspective. “We had some PSN compliance issues with the iPad. With Microsoft direct access we can meet [PSN] when we’re audited in June 2015 as it can be managed remotely, which we can’t do with iPad devices,” the service director explained.

The newly deployed Windows infrastructure is already proving to be a hit. Nicholson notes that “the test period of the mobility rollout has already seen a 16 percent improvement in social care workers’ productivity, and the council is planning to expand the strategy to other departments in the near future.” He also adds that he’s excited about Windows 10 but his organization currently has no concrete plans on how (if at all) it will upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.

Source: V3

Nottinghamshire County ditches BlackBerry & Apple for all-Windows 8.1 Mobile Devices

Microsoft-s-New-OS-Head-Windows-8-1-Brings-One-Experience-for-Everything-in-Your-Life-392043-2Nottinghamshire County Council has experimented with a limited iPad deployment along with its aging BlackBerry phone architecture, and found that majority of its employees rely too much on Microsoft services such as Lync, Outlook and SharePoint. In order to accommodate the current and future needs of its social care workers, the County opted to deploy 2,000 Windows 8.1 tablets, and replace 1,000 BlackBerry handsets with Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones. The UK council is one of many in that country who are embracing new technologies to help improve efficiency and productivity.

In a report by V3, Ivor Nicholson, ICT service director for Nottinghamshire County Council says that the decision to move away from BlackBerry to Windows Phones was a simple one – BlackBerry is no longer a cost-effective secure solution for enterprise.

“We started with BlackBerry a few years ago as at the time it was the only secure mobile device,” according to Nicholson.

He adds “Now we have 1,000 coming to the end of their life and from a cost perspective there are now other devices that meet our requirements. Also, from a user perspective because we have Windows services on PC, the feedback [from staff] is they want a common interface between devices. We find Vodafone and Windows Phone 8.1 is the best option for this.”

Nicholson says the council had initially deployed iPads to its workforce because Windows 8.1 wasn’t ready at the time and Windows 8 just didn’t provide the touch-screen experience the organization was looking for.

“So at the time the iPad was a really usable tool for us as it was light, and had good battery life. But a lot of what people use is Lync, SharePoint or Exchange. Also, as big users of Office products, a lot of what our people were accessing was Microsoft tools, so when we saw Windows 8.1 devices from an ICT perspective they just made sense” says Nicholson.

Another benefit that the council found while using Windows devices, is that they are easier to manage from a Public Service Network (PSN) compliance perspective. “We had some PSN compliance issues with the iPad. With Microsoft direct access we can meet [PSN] when we’re audited in June 2015 as it can be managed remotely, which we can’t do with iPad devices,” the service director explained.

The newly deployed Windows infrastructure is already proving to be a hit. Nicholson notes that “the test period of the mobility rollout has already seen a 16 percent improvement in social care workers’ productivity, and the council is planning to expand the strategy to other departments in the near future.” He also adds that he’s excited about Windows 10 but his organization currently has no concrete plans on how (if at all) it will upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.

Source: V3

New Bing Elections portal can predict results of the US mid-term vote

Bing Election

Microsoft’s Bing prediction engine is becoming a staple in providing predictions for major sporting events, reality shows and even elections, and it has a very strong track record so far..

Bing has become a one-stop-shop for comprehensive election information, as it now provides up-to-date predictions across governor and national congressional races, a personalized Voter Guide that includes side by side comparisons of candidates’ positions as well as a tracker to find the nearest polling sites in your area.

In the coming days, when you arrive at Bing.com/Elections you will see the “My Ballot” option on the right hand side of the screen.   From here, based on your location Bing will display everything that will appear on your ballot as well as the location of the nearest voting station in your area.  You can compare candidates, dig into propositions and even see predictions from Bing as to which candidate has a higher chance of winning the elections.

Microsoft is doing a great job in positioning Bing to be a strong prediction engine, and with its recent success in predicting 15/16 World Cup matches correctly, as well as the vote of Independence with Scotland from the UK, it’s a great way for consumers to become more aware of the service and experience what it has to offer.

Source: Bing Blog