Microsoft Announces New Cloud Productivity Service Suite, Calls It Office 365

Cloud computing may still have certain issues regarding privacy and security which skeptics have constantly been calling out on, but it is evident that the hype it has generated has got many companies interested. After all, the idea of being able to store data in an large organization’s servers and making use of its services for a nominal fee without having to deal with its own server maintenance costs is always a good deal for companies looking to shave a little money off its IT budget.

And while many are still skeptical about the viability or practicality of cloud computing, it is clear to Microsoft that the cloud will be one of the key methods of starving off potential threats by Google to sway its current customer base over their side, especially with its popular Google Apps. The result? Microsoft has announced the introduction of a new cloud-based productivity suite which it calls Office 365.

According to Microsoft, Office 365 will differ from traditional web-based office productivity suites in the sense that it will offer more than that. In addition to gaining access to Office Web Apps, Microsoft is also throwing in an impressive service bundle which includes SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. By combining all the services under the Office 365 umbrella, Microsoft hopes to offer small businesses the luxury of an always-online service contain just about everything needed for a functional Office ecosystem.

Unlike how bigger companies usually maintain their own servers which are loaded with Microsoft’s server software applications, Office 365 follows a ‘pay-as-you-use’ business model. Microsoft cites two extreme cases in its press release, where companies who only need basic email services pay as little as US$2 per head. On the other end of the scale is a package for a fully-featured Office ecosystem which comes with Office Professional Plus along with e-mail, voicemail, enterprise social networking, instant messaging, Web portals, extranets, voiceconferencing and videoconferencing, webconferencing, 24×7 phone support, on-premises licenses, and more, for US24 per head.

The upside to this model for Office 365 is that while companies usually pay more for the software they are using, there are little to no server costs incurred in the process. This is because Office 365 will be backed by Microsoft’s own servers supplying various services such as Sharepoint and Lync, all of which are already paid for with a monthly subscription fee when a company decides to adopt Office 365. As maintaining a server can be prohibitively costly in terms of man-hours and expenses which must be written off, it is argued that Office 365 will help businesses avoid such costs completely, thus lowering the total IT expenditure.

And while Microsoft has confirmed that Office 365 will only be available next year, it has already launched a new website where interested parties may download a beta of the service for testing purposes. However, it should be pointed out that the beta is available only for Microsoft customers and partners.

Last but not least, anyone wants to hazard a guess as to what the ‘365’ in Office 365 means? We are thinking that it refers to Microsoft’s claim that Office 365 will be always available for 24 hours in all the 365 days that a normal calendar year has to offer. Should that be the case, it seems that Microsoft may have forgotten about something known as ‘leap years’. But then again, surely employers will not mind a single day of downtime for workers to take a well-deserved rest every four years, right?

Source: Microsoft via Ars Technica

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Microsoft and Samsung brings Surface to Southeast Asia

Today, Samsung Asia launched the next generation Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface which claims to feature PixelSense technology. The Pixelsense technology allows the LCD panels to "see" (viatransistors embedded within the pixels which can sense Infrared) and respond to touch and objects without the use of cameras. The SUR40featuresa slim 4-inch profile, a40-inch Full HD 1080p (1920×1080) LCD LED-backlit panel with Gorilla glass for superb durability, and supports up to 50 points of contact at one time. It can connect to a wide range of peripherals including barcode scanners, cameras and printers via Wi-Fi (802.11n), Bluetooth or Ethernet connectivity for expansion.

Microsoft Surface partners Object Consulting, NeoProducts and aZaas were also at todays event to demonstrate how users can maximise the Samsung SUR40 for a fully connected experience. Object Consulting demonstrated their travel and museum app based in Australia, while aZaas showcased a golf app for members to login, managegolf booking,upload their scores etc. NeoProducts showcased a customized SUR40 (above) which allow users to choose and purchase photobook, and customize to their requirement. According to NeoProducts, Fujifilm have plans to roll-out the SUR40 to customers in Australia, Europe and other countries in the next few months; for Singapore, it would be early next year.

Consumer brands and other technology partners include Fujifilm, Le Metier de Beaute and Industrial Color, have plans to use the Samsung SUR40 to supportretail scenarious, professional tools and marketing efforts.Do note that the Samsung SUR40isnt designed formainstream consumers, but companies who are looking to provide immersive experience to their customers. The Samsung SUR40 is priced at an estimated US$11,960for only the display, and US$12,590 for the display with matching stand.You can visit for moredetails.

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Microsoft and Razer Team Up on PC Gaming Experience

IPZIG, Germany – Aug 23, 2006 – Today at the Games Convention in Leipzig,Germany, Microsoft Hardware and Razer USA Ltd. are turning up the heat inthe growing PC gaming peripherals market by teaming up to design and developnext-generation computer gaming peripherals. Microsoft Corp. and Razer, creatorof the leading brand in high-end computer gaming peripherals, are introducinga new gaming mouse, the Microsoft Habu, a high-tech wonder that brings togetherthe best of both worlds for PC gamers: more than two decades of cutting-edgeinnovation and comfort from Microsoft Hardware and industry-leading gamingtechnology from Razer.

Research has shown that the vast majority of PC games requirea keyboard or mouse.1 Feedback has also revealed a growing need among PC gamersfor ergonomic, right-handed performance mice. Microsoft Habu is the answer tothose demands, melding Microsoft’s ergonomic design with Razer’s advanced technology.The Microsoft Habu gaming mouse allows gamers to experience PC gaming as neverbefore, with innovative features and superior comfort in a gaming mouse. Low-sensitivityplayers require dynamic movement to enhance aim and tracking ability. Poweredby Razer Precision, the Habu’s data path was opened from eight to 16 bits andfeatures an advanced 2,000 DPI laser sensor; the result is an ideal gaming mousewith virtually no skipping or pixel jumping or negative acceleration.

Additional features include these:

Interchangeable Side Button Panels provide gamers with twooptions for different hand sizes or preferences.
2,000 DPI Laser Engine, Powered by Razer Precision, delivers super-fast responsetime.
On-the-fly DPI lets players adjust DPI for controlled sensitivity.
Always-On Mode Pioneered by Razer gives gamers virtually no latency.
High-speed motion detection lets gamers get their speed on with movement ofup to 45 inches per second and 20G acceleration.
Seven programmable buttons with Hyperesponse allow gamers to program their buttonfunctions; Razer’s Hyperesponse technology reduces latency.
On-board profile memory enables gamers to store up to five game control profileson the mouse.
Ultra-slick Teflon feet let gamers enjoy smooth and quiet gliding.
Ergonomic design features GlowPip side rails and large, rubber-coated buttons.
Thin, flexible wire provides gamers with the speed of a wired mouse with thefeel of a wireless device.

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Microsoft and Nokia to invest 18 million Euro in mobile app development

Microsoft and Nokia have agreed to invest up to €18 million in app development for the Windows Phone platform.

The duo launched the AppCampus program at Aalto University in Finland, which will run for the next three years, encouraging students to develop apps for both Windows Phone, Symbian and Series 40, though the primary focus will likely be on Microsofts operating system.“AppCampus offers an unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their ideas into practice and create world-class mobile products,” said Klaus Holse, president of Microsoft Western Europe. “We want to turn a new leaf in the mobile industry and foster Finland’s role as a center of excellence for mobile technology. Such investment into early-stage concepts has rarely been seen in this sector, and this demonstrates how highly both Nokia and Microsoft value Finnish mobile expertise.”Apps are key to the success of a mobile operating system and one of the primary reasons people choose Apple devices over those of rivals, due to the extensive library of apps available. Android is quickly catching up, but Windows Phone is lagging behind considerably.The problem for Microsoft, and Nokia as the primary phone manufacturer of Windows Phone devices, is that developers are reluctant to invest the time and money in creating an app for Windows Phone, as the rewards are currently limited compared to the two dominant platforms. In order to make it more rewarding it needs apps to attract customers, making the situation a viscious cycle, with the only solution being active investment from Microsoft and Nokia, which the duo have finally decided to do.

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Microsoft and Intel Set Limit on Netbook Screen Size

Seems like the big brothers – Microsoft and Intel have reach some common consensus that netbook screen size should not be over 10.2 inches.

We all know somewhere in the corner, VIA Technologies isalso making chips for the netbook market and this might have a negative impact on them.

Indeed, source have indicated that Microsoft and Intel have decrease the upper screen-size limit for netbook PCs equipped with Windows 7 from 12.1 inches to 10.2 inches.

Products larger than 10.2-inch will not qualify for the lower Windows 7 licensing rates that Microsoft will offer OEMs for their netbook products. A possible impact to netbook manufactuers plannng for a VIA + Windows 7 combination, cutting them for the price advantage.

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Microsoft and Intel hope to cut iPad market share to under 50 percent

Microsoft and Intel are hoping that a slew of Windows 8 tablets will storm the industry and lower iPads market share from 70 percent to under 50 percent within a years time.

A number of anonymous original design manufacturers told Digitimes that the duo are hoping to upset Apples reign on the tablet market by cutting its share by over 20 percentage points by the middle of 2013.While this might sound like marketing talk, Microsoft and Intel might have the firepower to back up the threat, as the sources also indicated that there will be at least 32 Windows 8 tablets available by the end of this year, including ones from HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asustek, and Toshiba.Microsoft and its newfound allies will be going after all sectors of the market, with entry-level devices retailing for less than $300 and more advanced models selling for upwards of $1,000. This will give Apple a run for its money by offering cheaper alternatives or more expensive tablets with more powerful hardware.The sources also suggested that Intel believes Lenovo will be a key driving power behind the success of Windows 8 tablets, thanks to its dominance in the education and enterprise tablet markets in China.If the claims prove true then Apple is in for some stiff competition over the next year, and while even a 50 percent market share would still be impressive, it does not look like Microsoft or Google will be easing up on the pressure any time soon.Source: Digitimes

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Microsoft agrees to buy Skype for $8.5B

Buying Skype gives Microsoft access to a user base of about 170 million people who log in to Skype every month, using the Internet and Skype usernames as a complement to the traditional phone network and its phone numbers.

Microsoft said it will marry Skypes functions to its Xbox game console, Outlook email program and Windows smartphones. All of these platforms already have other options for Internet calling, but the addition of Skype users would expand their reach, making them more useful.

Microsoft said it will continue to support Skype on other software platforms.

The sellers include eBay Inc. and private equity firms Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz.

Skype users made 207 billion minutes of voice and video calls last year. Most of that usage is free calling from computer to computer, which has made it difficult for the service to make money since entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis started the company in 2003. An average of about 8.8 million customers per month, or just over 5 percent of the user base, pay to use Skype to call out to the regular phone network.

The vast majority of paying Skype users is in Europe, where high country-to-country rates for traditional phone calls make Skype more popular than in the U.S., where state-to-state calling is cheap.

Skype is the largest provider of international calling services in the world, surpassing any single phone company, according to research firm TeleGeography.

Skype lost $7 million on revenue of $860 million last year, according to papers that the company has filed since announcing its intentions last summer to launch an initial public offering of stock. The IPO was later put on hold. Skypes long-term debt, net of cash, was $544 million at the end of 2010.

The Skype takeover tops Microsofts biggest previous acquisition — a $6 billion purchase of the online ad service aQuantive in 2007.

Microsoft said Skype will become a new business division headed by Skype CEO Tony Bates, who will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Although it makes billions from its computer software, Microsoft has been accustomed to losing money on the Internet in a mostly futile attempt to catch up to Google Inc. in the lucrative online search market. Microsoft got so desperate that it made a $47.5 billion bid to buy Yahoo Inc. three years ago, but withdrew the offer after Yahoo balked. Yahoo is now worth about half of what Microsoft offered.

Microsoft can well afford to buy Skype: On March 31, it had a cash hoard of $50.2 billion.

Microsoft would be Skypes second large-company owner. EBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005, but its attempt to unite the phone service with its online shopping bazaar never worked out. It wound up selling a 70 percent stake in Skype to a group of investors led by private equity firms Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz for $2 billion 18 months ago.

Besides eBay, Silver Lake and Andreessen Horowitz, Skypes other major shareholders are Joltid and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Source : Yahoo

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Microsoft Adds Black Box For Windows

Microsoft is adding the PC equivalent of a flight data recorder to the next version of Windows, in an effort to better understand and prevent computer crashes. The tool will build on the existing Watson error-reporting tool in Windows but will provide Microsoft with much deeper information, including what programs were running at the time of the error and even the contents of documents that were being created. For consumers, the choice of whether to send the data, and how much information to share, will be up to the individual. Microsoft also plans to step up the amount of information Windows users get when they send an error report to the company.

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Microsoft addresses security vulnerability in Internet Explorer

Microsoft has issued a security bulletin out-of-band (MS10-018) to address the vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6 and 7 that could allow remote code execution. Internet Explorer 8 remains unaffected by the vulnerability addressed in the advisory and we continue to encourage all customers to upgrade to this version to benefit from the improved security protection it offers

Microsoft advised users install the update as soon as it is available. For users using automatic updates,it will be automatically applied once it is released.Additionally, because Security Bulletin MS10-18 is a cumulative update, it will also address nine other vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer that were planned for release on April 13.

For more information about this issue, including download links for an available security update, please review MS10-018.

Updates to this issue will be provided via the Microsoft Security Response Center Blog at

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Microsoft accidentally leaks screenshot of (supposedly) Internet Explorer 9

We previously mentioned that the beta of Internet Explorer 9 will only be made available for public download on September 15, but those who hung around at Microsoft’s Russian blog may have been lucky enough to catch what is supposedly a leaked screenshot of the redesigned UI for the browser.

Of course, Microsoft had already deleted both the blog post and the leaked image, but as most people know, once something has found its way online, it quickly spreads like wildfire. And from the looks of it, it seems that Microsoft had once again listened to its consumers with regards to the original Internet Explorer interface being too cluttered:

Assuming that the image shown above is an authentic screengrab of the soon-to-be-released beta of Internet Explorer 9, it is clear that Microsoft has chosen to go for a simple, minimalistic interface similar to that found on Google’s Chrome web browser. Gone are the additional rows for tabbed browsing and accessing bookmarks: instead, the new interface sports only a single toolbar which plays host to both the address bar, tab bar and icons for navigation.

The address bar has also been changed: back in Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft insisted that merging the search field with the address bar was a privacy issue. However, the search field is conveniently missing in this screenshot, thus leading us to think that Microsoft may have chosen to adopt the very same ‘flawed’ method it once criticized Chrome for.

However, keeping in mind the fact that the beta for Internet Explorer 9 has yet to be released, it could be possible that the interface shown in this ‘leaked’ screenshot could be nothing more than just a mockup or sample of how the new UI is supposed to be. Until then, there is nothing more we can do but to wait for the actual beta release and see just how closely its UI will resemble the one shown in the leak.

But you can be sure we will be eagerly waiting for that day.

Source: Engadget

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