Microsoft Windows 10 now running on 200 million devices

Microsoft Windows 10 now running on 200 million devices

Microsoft Corp’s latest operating system, Windows 10, is running on 200 million devices in what the company said was the fastest adoption rate of any of its operating systems.

Windows 10, which the company released as a free download in July, powers both personal computers and devices like phones. It replaced Windows 8, the heavily criticized system dating from 2012.

Just over two months ago, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said 110 million devices were running Windows 10, meaning the system is now on almost double the number of phones and PCs compared to before the holiday season.

“I would characterize this as white hot adoption out of the gate,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, who has an “outperform” rating on the stock.

Much of the growth comes from retail consumers, with devices such as Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console helping drive adoption of Windows 10, the company said. Xbox’s busiest day ever was Dec. 28, it added.

But the ultimate success of Windows 10 will be judged by the take-up rate among businesses. About three-quarters of Microsoft’s enterprise customers are testing Windows 10, the company said.

Microsoft also needs more mobile developers to build apps for Windows 10 to help catch up with players like Apple and its popular iPhone and iPad devices. It reported some progress in that area Monday, citing more visits to its Windows Store for apps such as video service Netflix and music service Pandora.

After Canada and US, Microsoft is bringing Surface Book to ten new markets

After Canada and US, Microsoft is bringing Surface Book to ten new markets

Microsoft has indeed seen success with its Windows 10 software and its Surface range that so far, has only been available for purchase in the US and Canada (and just recently China and Hong Kong). So while making the announcement about the success of Windows 10, Microsoft also let out few details about its plans for its Surface Book laptop.

According to the blog post, Microsoft has plans to bring its Surface Book to ten new markets. These markets include Austria, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand. Microsoft also wants to take the Surface Book to Japan as well.

Sadly, India is not on this list. However, we do know that Microsoft has scheduled the launchof the Surface Pro 4 in India on 7 January and for now it also seems good enough. This is so, because Surface fans in India, have not been able to get their hands on one ever since the first Surface model launched.

Microsoft’s Surface Book was announced alongside the Surface Pro 4 on October 2015 at Microsoft’s Surface devices event along with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. The Surface Book packs in a 13.5-inch PixelSense display sporting a resolution of  3000 x 2000 pixels (267 ppi) with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 for protection.

Inside, we get a number of customisable options with an Intel sixth generation Core i5 or i7 chipsets with discreet or built-in graphics processing. RAM modules can be anything between 8GB to 16GB with the most expensive model costing $2799 (approximately Rs 190,000).

Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 rolling out to OnePlus One with Microsoft’s Cortana

Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 rolling out to OnePlus One with Microsoft’s Cortana

While we all know Microsoft did side Cyanogen when the company announced that it wanted to build its own version of Android, a few months later it was confirmed that it hadcancelled the plans. However, Microsoft was interested in a commercial deal in the future to get their software onto Cyanogen’s mobile operating system and today we have something more on that.

Cyanogen Inc. has released Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 for the OnePlus One with Microsoft’s Cortana inside. And it is not just an app but one that’s built-in and deeply integrated into Cyanogen’s Android bits.

Recently, we heard that Microsoft did make Cortana available for Android smartphones. Still then, users could not use the ‘Hey Cortana’ hot word, which means that users had better access to Google Now instead.

Cyanogen OS 12 Cortana OnePlus One Hey Cortana

With Cortana literally baked into the new Cyanogen OS ROM, OnePlus One users will be able to use the hot word and get things done purely by voice. Users will be able to set appointments, alarms, turn toggles on or off and even check or send messages with the same.

Sadly though, Cortana integration that comes with Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 (it’s still Android Lollipop) will remain open for the US region only. So for users who prefer Google Now, Cortana can simply be uninstalled.

Back in April 2015 Cyanogen Inc. announced its partnership with Microsoft that led to pre-installed Office suite, Bing, Skype and more on smartphones running the custom software.

For those of you who are unaware, OnePlus ships its smartphones with its own Oxygen OS and Cyanogen OS is available as an alternative firmware. The same will show up as an update under settings.

Microsoft finally launches Surface Pro 4 in India starting

Microsoft finally launches Surface Pro 4 in India starting at Rs 89,990

At an event held in New Delhi, Microsoft has finally launched the Surface Pro 4. With a starting price tag of Rs 89,990, looks like Microsoft is certainly targeting high-end consumers. The device will be sold exclusively via Amazon India for the first six months and shipping begins January 14. One can also try out the device at Microsoft Stores located at Noida, Gurgaon, Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 will be offered in three variants in India – Surface Pro 4 with Core i5, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD priced at Rs 89,990, the Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD variant at Rs 1,20,990 and Core i7, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD at Rs 1,44,990. In addition, Microsoft is selling the Surface Pen at Rs 5,990 and the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover keyboard at Rs 12,490, which is available in blue and black color variants.

During the Future Unleashed event in Mumbai held in November last year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had also announced that the company’s Surface Pro 4 tablet will launch in India in January 2016. The tablet was launched in October in the US at a price of $899. The company also launched the 2013’s Surface Pro 3 in India, priced at Rs 73,990 and includes Intel Core i3 variant, with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD,

With the kind of specification set that Microsoft has packed into the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, it seemed like it didn’t want to leave any room for competition. Microsoft Devices head Panos Panay launched the Surface Pro 4, calling it the best Surface device ever. According to him it is 30 percent faster than the Surface Pro 3 and around 50 percent faster than the Apple MacBook.

The Surface Pro 4 sports a 12.3-inch display with densely packed pixels which makes Microsoft call it PixelSense display. The exact resolution is 2736 x 1824 pixels which gives 267DPI pixel density. It comes with a 0.4mm thick Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. Microsoft has also added a special G5 sensor to manage the optical stack, to enable a highly responsive touchscreen for touch as well as Surface Pen input.

The Surface Pro 4 has the same footprint as the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 thanks to thinner bezels. The Surface Pro 4 is powered by the 6th generation Intel Core M, Core i5 or Core i7 processors along with RAM going from 4GB to 16GB. It offers SSD storage options going from 128GB all the way to 1TB.

Surface4

Windows 10 Pro OS naturally comes out of the box giving you access to desktop class software. The Surface Pro 4 weighs around 766 grams and is just 8.4mm thick. On the camera front, you have an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera for video calls. On the connectivity front, you get Wi-fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, a full size USB 3.0 port and more.

Along with the Surface Pro 4, you will also get the Surface Pen, which has an eraser button on one end. The tip of the Pen has around 1024 pressure sensitive points which, according to Microsoft, ensure that the responsiveness of the Pen is on the higher side. You can click and hold the top of Surface Pen to activate Cortana. With one click of Surface Pen, a blank OneNote page appears for quick notes. And just last we had seen in the last generation, the Palm Block technology allows you to rest your hand on the screen to write naturally, just like a pad of paper.

Microsoft has also refined the design on the Type Cover, having the keyboard with more spaced out keys, less travel and quieter typing sound. The Type Cover is also compatible with Surface Pro 3. It also incorporates a fingerprint reader for quick authentication. The trackpad has been increased by 40 percent and it supports all Windows 10 gestures.

Google Recaps Its Efforts to Fight Unwanted Software in 2015

Google Recaps Its Efforts to Fight Unwanted Software in 2015

Google has been working behind-the-scenes to improve the Web, with its recent efforts focused against ‘unwanted software’ or UwS. However, it is still receiving complaints from users. On Wednesday, the search giant elaborated on its efforts to eliminate UwS from the Web and gave some statistics as well.

In the past one year, Google has included UwS in Safe Browsing and its API, which together resulted in showing users a warning message when visiting sites that contain UwS. It also launched Chrome Cleanup Tool, which as per the company is a “one-shot UwS removal tool that has helped clean more than 40 million devices.” The firm also started using UwS as a signal in search to identify deceptive sites. It even started disabling Google ads that lead to sites with UwS downloads.

According to Google, all these changes “have already begun to move the needle.” The UwS-related Chrome user complaints have fallen from 40 percent to 20 percent. The search giant besides showing over 5 million Safe Browsing warnings per day on Chrome regarding UwS, has also helped over 14 million users to remove more than 190 deceptive Chrome extensions from the devices. The number of UwS warning messages seen via AdWords has also seen a decline by 95 percent as compared to last year.

The Sundar Pichai-led company, however, still has to work a lot. “20% of all feedback from Chrome users is related to UwS and we believe 1 in 10 Chrome users have hijacked settings or unwanted ad injectors on their machines. We expect users of other browsers continue to suffer from similar issues; there is lots of work still to be done,” adds the company blog post. “We’re still in the earliest stages of the fight against UwS, but we’re moving in the right direction. We’ll continue our efforts to protect users from UwS and work across the industry to eliminate these bad practices.”

Microsoft's Think Next Forum Concludes, 8 Startups Graduate

Microsoft's Think Next Forum Concludes, 8 Startups Graduate

Think Next 2015 – a forum that brought thought leaders in technology driving transformation via innovation together under one roof – concluded here on Wednesday.

The forum not only saw the participation of more than 800 delegates from leading corporates, investors, thought leaders and delegates from Microsoft who partnered to push the collaborative innovation agenda for the ecosystem, but also witnessed the graduation of Microsoft Ventures’ winter batch 2015.

Eight certified graduating startups from the batch, namely, Canvasflip, Cloudcherry, Shotang, Flutura, KNOLSKAPE, Vymo, Vakilsearch and Vigyanlabs showcased their innovative solutions.

Meanwhile, two senior leaders – Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president and chief evangelist at Microsoft, and Scott Coleman, general manager, Microsoft Ventures shared lessons they learnt while working with entrepreneurs across the globe.

A round table focused on topics such as current valuation levels, potential Initial Public Offerings, Unicorns in the venture market and mergers.

Unicorn is a term in the investment industry, in particular venture capital industry, which denotes a start-up company whose valuation has exceeded $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,675 crores).

A session ‘Fireside Chat with Author Devdutt Pattanaik’ discussed the lessons budding entrepreneurs could derive from mythology and stories passed down the generations.

IT Industry Seeks Removal of Dual Tax on Software Products

IT Industry Seeks Removal of Dual Tax on Software Products

The Indian information technology (IT) industry on Thursday sought relief from double taxation on software products, and that the sector be cushioned in view of the protectionist measures being adopted in the global market.

“We have flagged our concerns with regard to double taxation on software products. While the GST (goods and services tax) will address that, we have suggested that some measures be taken to address the issue till the time GST comes into force,” industry body Nasscom president R. Chandrashekhar told reporters after a pre-budget meeting in New Delhi with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The industry has earlier represented on the anomaly of a situation whereby while both VAT and service tax are levied on software purchased domestically, the government levies only service tax on a software of foreign origin downloaded from the Internet.

“The larger issue for Indian IT sector is to remain competitive in view of the protectionist measures being taken in some large markets,” Chandrashekhar said.

Against the backdrop of the rising protectionism, the need for a conducive domestic environment is all the more critical, a Nasscom statement said.

“Retrospective amendments and ambiguous provisions are a serious detriment and should be avoided,” it said.

A finance ministry release here said the IT sector representatives also suggested the provision of Place of Effective Management (POEM) be deferred by a couple of years.

As proposed with regard to POEM by Jaitley in last year’s budget, shell companies based abroad would have to pay taxes on their global income for a year if their place of effective management is India even for a day.

The industry also suggested that “there is need to create duty differential benefits for Indian IT hardware manufacturers especially in case of mobile and tablets”, the statement said.

IT players also urged Jaitley to provide them a staggered payment option on bonus payment to employees that companies are required to make under a notification issued by the labour ministry, effective since April 1, 2014.

“We have requested the government that retrospective orders should be avoided. Now labour ministry’s rule on bonus has become a law. We have asked to give us the option of staggered payment,” Chandrashekhar said.

IT majors including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro and HCL attended the pre-budget consultations.

Roku software heads to 4K TVs, with HDR in tow

rokutcl

Roku is stepping up its plans to be the default platform for smart TVs, with 4K and HDR support headed to televisions this year.

Although Roku is best known for its streaming set-top boxes, for the past couple of years the company has also been loading its software onto televisions, from vendors such as TCL, HiSense, and Insignia. Roku hopes to be on 60 smart TV models this year, up from 40 models in 2015.

Some of those models will include 4K (or UltraHD) support, starting with some 4K TVs from TCL this spring. Roku says TCL is the fastest-growing TV brand in America, and Roku CEO Anthony Wood has previously said he expects smart TV revenue to overtake the company’s set-top box business in a small number of years.

Beyond 4K resolution, Roku is also throwing its support behind high dynamic range video, or HDR, which promises a wider color palate and deeper blacks in videos that support the format. Roku says it will offer an HDR reference design that supports both the HDR 10 standard and the proprietary Dolby Vision versions of the format, allowing TV makers to easily integrate the technology in their sets. (Adoption of HDR, and whether we’ll see any resolution on competing implementations, is looking to be one of the major TV themes at CES this year.)

Roku isn’t alone in trying to become the leading software platform for smart TVs, as Google has similar goals with its Android TV platform. However, major TV brands such as Samsung, LG, and Vizio are continuing to developer their own smart TV solutions instead. Roku is hoping its low cost structure, ongoing software updates, and huge app selection can give it an edge for TV makers who don’t have their own platforms.

Corsair's new gaming SDK imbues RGB keyboard backlighting with purpose

corsair rgb sdk 2

Ever since RGB (a.k.a customizable rainbow-hued) backlighting first trickled into keyboards, it’s always felt a bit like fuzzy dice on a car’s mirror: Aesthetically pleasing but functionally meh, aside from the same benefits standard keyboard backlighting offers. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But at CES 2016, Corsair’s RGB SDK offered me a tantalizing glimpse at a real-world use case that puts that RGB backlighting to work: Delivering at-a-glance gameplay information in PC games.

It simple, but it’s surprisingly effective. Corsair was demoing Psyop’s zombies-are-your-weapons FPS Moving Hazard with its RGB SDK. When you’re on the red team, your keyboard’s backlights turn bright red; the blue team’s, blue. But it was the deeper contextual information delivered that truly impressed.

corsair rgb sdk 1

 

The WASD movement controls shine in a white hue, while each of your weapons keys shine green—until you run out of ammo, that is, at which point those keys turn red. The Function keys across the top of the keyboard appear red to mirror your in-game health bar, and slowly deplete as zombies bash at your brains, fading to black as your health does as well. Finally, all the keys flash red when you’re struck in-game.

Like I said: Simple, but surprisingly effective—and finally, a tangible productive use for RGB backlighting.

Of course, SDKs are only beneficial when they’re used by developers. Corsair’s seeding the RGB SDK to select developers right now—Psyop’s working on integrating it into Unreal Engine 4, while another unnamed dev is trying to fold it into Crytek’s CryEngine—but Corsair’s planning to make it publicly available after the plugin’s more fully developed, sometime in the first quarter.

Microsoft quietly unwraps a big-data analytics platform based on R

Microsoft Satya Nadella Linux

Microsoft this week took the next step following its acquisition of Revolution Analytics last year by unwrapping an advanced-analytics platform of its own based on the open source R programming language.

Dubbed Microsoft R Server, the platform works with Windows, Linux, Hadoop and Teradata software. It’s now available on the Microsoft Developer Network and via Microsoft’s DreamSpark educational program.

Last April Microsoft completed its acquisition of Revolution Analytics, provider of the Revolution R Enterprise (RRE) product on which R Server is now apparently based. Though Microsoft has renamed the software R Server in the Linux, Hadoop and Teradata versions, it’s retaining the RRE name in the Windows version of the software.

Microsoft R Open, which the company calls an “enhanced distribution of R from Microsoft,” is said to be a prerequisite for both R Server 2016 and RRE for Windows 2016.

Microsoft declined to comment with further detail.

In September, RRE made its debut on Azure; the following month, R support popped up in a preview of Microsoft SQL Server 2016.

The R Server platform supports a variety of big-data statistics, predictive modeling and machine-learning capabilities, all compatible with the R programming language, wrote Lee Stott, a technical evangelist for Microsoft UK, in a blog post on Wednesday.

Users can run R scripts in a high-performance, parallel architecture to explore, model and predict at scale, Stott added.

The R language has become increasingly popular for use in statistics and analytics. By acquiring Revolution, Microsoft sought to shore up its own advanced-analytics capabilities, said Nik Rouda, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group.

It’s “not trivial” to perform advanced analytics in SQL, for example, so Microsoft “wanted R to be their entry point,” Rouda said.

Now, its release of R Server is the next logical step in executing on that plan.

Microsoft’s Machine Learning technology can use R “behind the scenes” for data preparation, statistics and machine learning, noted Mike Gualtieri, a principal analyst with Forrester Research.

“It’s a good move for Microsoft, but I certainly hope they don’t put all their data-science ‘eggs’ in the R basket,” Gualtieri added.

“I know R is popular among data scientists, but I think most computer scientists would think that it is not a very elegant, efficient or performant programming language for any purpose,” he said. “R looks like Cobol to sophisticated developers.”

Instead, Python and other more modern programming languages are increasingly coming into favor, he said.

News of Microsoft’s new platform was first uncovered Tuesday by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley.