Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘microsoft’ Category

Samsung Hearts Microsoft

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Big announcements yesterday from Samsung re: their Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Book S devices.

They also announced an extension of their partnership with Microsoft, looking to more tightly integrate MS Outlook, OneDrive, and its Your Phone app.

CEO Satya Nadella even made an appearance on the Samsung stage.

What caught my attention was that the Galaxy Book S was developed in partnership with both Microsoft and Qualcomm, and will include LTE connectivity between phones and PCs using Microsoft’s Your Phone technology.

This will allow Galaxy Note 10 users to tie together their phones with Windows 10 PCs, and to use Your Phone apps on their computers.

ZDNet reports that later this month that Galaxy Note 10 users will be able to mirror their phone screens on their PCs and use their PC keyboards, mouse and touch screens to interact directly with their phone apps.

This is the type of PC/smartphone convergence that I believe is long overdue. Why not be able to carry our smartphones with us, no matter the brand, and “plug-carry-and-play” no matter where we are, and have at our fingertips the apps and services we need and use the most.

Maybe it’s an idea whose time has finally come.

Written by turbotodd

August 8, 2019 at 9:52 am

Slackers?

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Happy Hump Day.

If you’re a Nintendo fan of any sorts, you should know this: The Nintendo Switch Lite is arriving September 20th, and it will only put you back $200.

That’s $100 less than the original Switch. The new Switch won’t have detachable Joy-Con controllers and can’t plug into a TV, which is why C|NET posed the inevitable question: What’s the point of a Switch that doesn’t Switch?

Methinks that could be getting a bit too philosophical, especially when it comes to video game systems. The original Switch sold 34 million systems (and counting), so I suspect there’s a market out there for a slimmer, even more portable version.

Meanwhile, back on the enterprise ranch, the IBM Red Hat deal has finally closed. The  $34B deal was IBM’s largest ever, and we now know the Red Hat brand will operate as a unit inside IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software segment.

From Barron’s:

IBM asserted in its announcement today that most enterprises are about 20% through their transition to the cloud. The next phase for many companies, IBM says, “Is about shifting mission-critical workloads to the cloud and optimizing everything from supply chains to core banking systems.

In its announcement, IBM emphasized that it remains committed to open-source software and to keeping Red Hat as a neutral vendor.

Also on the enterprise front…here’s a provocative headline from Recode: “Microsoft might crush Slack like Facebook crushed Snapchat.”

Subhead: “Microsoft Teams isn’t better than Slack, but it is freer.”

Remind anyone of browser partying like it’s 1999??

The lede:

Tech workers’ favorite communications tool, Slack, is losing ground to its biggest rival, Microsoft Teams, which has copied its way into popularity. In other words, Slack has the same problem as Snapchat, which has suffered from its bigger rival Facebook’s relentless appropriation.

Slack’s market share among the world’s largest companies is mostly flat, adoption rates are declining, and a bigger portion of these companies indicate they plan on leaving the service, according to a new survey by market research firm ETR, which asks chief information officers and other leaders at the world’s biggest organizations* where they plan to spend their company’s tech budget.

Meanwhile, Teams is seeing increased market share, relatively higher adoption rates, and low rates of defection, according to the data.

Good thing Slack floated like an IPO before it got stung by the Microsoft Teams bee!

Written by turbotodd

July 10, 2019 at 11:11 am

Microsoft Purchases A Panda

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Hola, and Happy Hump Day.

Yet more deal making going on in the tech sphere.

Today, it was Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub tool vendor Pull Panda for an undisclosed.

According to a report from ZDNet, the tech will be used to improve code-review workflows on GitHub, which Microsoft acquired last June for $7.5B:

The year-and-a-half old Pull Panda provides Pull Reminders, Pull Analytics and Pull Assigner to improvde the code-review process. Pull Reminders allow developers to notify developers that a collaborator needs their review. Pull Analytics can provide stats on everything from wait times to top contributors. And Pull Assigner helps automatically distribute code across teams. 

Also…Mattermost, an open source messaging platform, raised $50M in a Series B lead by the Y Combinator Continuity fund…VentureBeat reports that’s a total of $70M, and that the company is positioning itself as an alternative to Slack. 

The company hosts clients for Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, and Linux, along with prebuilt images for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, all of which are designed to integrate with over 600 third-party apps and services, including GitHub and Trello. Mattermost can be deployed to a private cloud or on-premises and configured to work with mobile security systems (e.g., SSL, VPN, and DMZ), with high availability and speedy search, thanks to a clustered infrastructure and efficient databases.

And…Postman, a five-year old startup focused on development, testing and management of APIs, also raised a Series B round, also for $50M led by CRV.

The what: 

Postman offers a development environment which a developer or a firm could use to build, publish, document, design, monitor, test, and debug their APIs. Postman, like some other startups such as RapidAPI, also maintains a marketplace to offer APIs for quick integration with other popular services.

The why:

The modern software development relies heavily on APIs as more businesses begin to talk with one another. According to research firm Gartner, more than 65% of global infrastructure service providers’ revenue will be generated through services enabled by APIs by 2023, up from 15% in 2018.

Software is eating the world, and developers are buying and building more and more of the tools that are eating it.

Written by turbotodd

June 19, 2019 at 10:45 am

Chasing Dragons and Developers

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Okay, Sanity Check. 

Were you more upset with the Kentucky Derby winner kerfluffle, or last night’s shocking GoT episode?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Spoiler alert: Daenerys is down to a single dragon, and her advisers are dropping like flies. And another nearly 90 minute episode? HBO definitely got its game on for the final season!

But it’s Monday, and it’s time for a tech sanity check as well.

We’re starting to get some sneak previews into coming developer confabs.

VentureBeat is reporting that this week’s Microsoft Build will feature lots of AI, assistants, and bots (Cortana), as well as lots of IoT. No shocker there.

Also expected to feature: Azure and the hybrid cloud, containers, serverless, blah blah blah.

And…MS 365, Windows 10, HoloLens, GitHub, Visual Studio, .Net…and Edge/Chromium.

And Apple’s WWDC? 

The Verge is counting out rumors, including the possibility of a new Mac Pro and a new external monitor (possibly as big as a 31.6-inch 6K screen using mini-LED backlighting to help with contast).

You know, so you can watch last week’s GoT’s “Long Night” episode over and over again in the dark and actually see movement.

Software-wise, expect an iOS dark mode, iPad apps on the Mac, Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts on the Macs, and updates to the iPad’s home screen and multitasking, among others.

And lest you forget, the 2019 Red Hat Summit kicks off officially tomorrow in Boston, MA.  

Follow @RedHatSummit and #RhSummit on Twitter for all the latest, and get the basic deets on the Red Hat FAQ page. 

And be sure to show off those newfangled Red Hat tattoos!

Written by turbotodd

May 6, 2019 at 10:50 am

The Long Night of White Walkers and Home Shares

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It’s Monday, and if you’re a loyal “Game of Thrones,” you’re dreams were probably filled with the lingering aftermath of the battles of “The Long Night,” the most recent episode in the series’ final season and one that stretched out well over its typical hour.

I’m not going to give away any of the plot points but will say this: After watching that episode, do you think either Daenerys Targaryen or John Snow are prepared for future leadership??!

And I’d be remiss without a hat tip to “Avengers: Endgame,” which debuted at theatres around the world and broke a new record for all time box office open: $1.2B! Showings in Austin were pretty much sold out, and it sounds like that may have been the case around the world.

Now on to some of the key tech and marketing news of the day. SearchEngineLand is reporting that Bing Ads is rebranding itself as “Microsoft Advertising,” with the new name reflecting a broader focus on ad inventory, data and targeting capabilities.

And SEL tells us we should care because:

The rebrand emphasizes a focus on personalization and AI. “In the next year, we’re introducing more advertising products with built-in AI, more connected to your data and your business,” Rik van der Kooi, corporate VP for Microsoft Advertising, said in a blog post Monday.

The AI backbone that powers Bing has given the company the “right to innovate,”David Pann, general manager of global search business at Microsoft said during a keynote discussion at SMX East last year. He cited MSAN and LinkedIn integrations as one example.

The story cites Microsoft Advertising as having 500K advertisers (Google apparently passed the 1M mark in 2009). By comparison, Facebook said last week that 3M advertisers are using Stories Ads.

On the homesharing front, Marriott has announced it is officially getting into the homesharing business, after having run a small pilot entitled “Hostmaker” in 2018 in London.

Its new homesharing business now operates in more than 100 different markets, and of these, 40 were in markets where Marriott had not previously had a presence (Amalfi Coast, North Lake Tahoe, Saint-Tropez, among them).

As to the pilot results:

Nearly 90 percent of guests who booked a Tribute Portfolio Home as part of the Hostmaker pilot were loyalty members, and more than 75 percent were traveling for leisure with family and friends. The average length of stay for Tribute Portfolio Homes guests was more than triple the normal hotel stay, at 5.1 nights, and the average size of home booked was more than two bedrooms.

And as to the new, full-fledged operation:

In running this new business unit, Marriott will act more like an online travel agency or distribution platform, like Airbnb or Booking or HomeAway, for the selected property management companies it has chosen to work with. The company would not disclose the commission structure it has put into place.

Homeaway and AirBNB, you’d better keep the lights on!

Speaking of keeping the lights on, Amazon made a noteworth investment in India today, according to a report from TechCrunch.

Amazon announced the launch of a person-to-person (P2P) payment capability via Amazon Pay for Android users in the country.

Using this tech, customers will now be able to:

…make instant bank-to-bank transactions through the UPI platform on the localized version of the Amazon app, allowing them to settle bills and other expenses with friends, lend or return money to family, pay for services and more. Notably, the new P2P service also will allow customers to make payments from their bank account to local stores or to Amazon delivery associates at the doorstep, who will scan a UPI QR code within the Amazon app.

The globaly e-payments war, like the GOT’s long night battle, is just getting enjoined, and it’s going to be interesting to watch the potential nexus of that battle with the one going on with cryptocurrency.

Keep those Valyrian steel swords sharp!

Written by turbotodd

April 29, 2019 at 11:08 am

Show Me the Money

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Facebook had a big quarter. Or, should I say, a BIG quarter.

Despite all the privacy snafus and regulatory chafing, the company reported Q1 revenue of $15.08B, with advertising revenue up 26% at $14.91B. 

Also, Facebook explained it would set aside $3B to cover expenses associated with a fine from the Federal Trade Commission over its privacy practice (although the fine apparently could go as high as $5B).

Facebook also indicated that its Facebook stories feature now has 500M daily users across both FB and Messenger, and WhatsApp’s status has 500M daily users (poor Snapchat has a paltry 190M DUs by comparison).

In other words, Facebook sneezes, the rest of the ad industry still catches cold.

Microsoft also announced big earnings, reporting Q3 revenue was up 14% to $30.6B and net income was up 19% to $8.8B. Intelligent Cloud Revenue was up 22% to $9.7B. 

Earlier today, the company became only the third U.S. company ever to pass a market cap of $1T (the other two were Apple and Amazon).

But it’s not just the techs who are in tech.

TechCrunch reported that Walmart announced earlier today a new “store of the future,” a sort of proving ground for emerging tech, including A.I.-enable cameras and interactive displays.

Code-named “IRL” (for, the “Intelligent Retail Lab”), the store operates out of a Walmart Neighborhood Market and contains over 30,000 items. Not unlike Amazon Go’s convenience stories:

the store has a suite of cameras mounted in the ceiling. But unlike Amazon Go, which is a grab-and-go store with smaller square footage, Walmart’s IRL spans 50,000 square feet of retail space and is staffed by over 100 employees.

Plus, in Walmart’s case, these A.I.-powered cameras are not being used to determine what items customers are buying in order to automatically charge them. It still has traditional checkout stations. Instead, the cameras will monitor inventory levels to determine, for example, if staff needs to bring out more meat from the backroom refrigerators to restock the shelves, or if some fresh items have been sitting too long on the shelf and need to be pulled.

The idea is that the A.I. will help the store associates know more precisely where and when to restock products. And this, in turn, means customers will know the produce and meat is always fresh and in stock when they arrive.

The system apparently generates so much data, 1.6TB per second, that it necessitates a big data center on site.

And yet it seems to be obviously avoiding getting into the business of automated checkout solutions (which Amazon has tackled head on), instead “using the A.I. system to ensure that there are shopping carts available at all times and that registers are open and staffed.”

But don’t kid yourself…it’s probably only a few years before we’ll be seeing a virtual Sam hologram himself welcoming you to the new and improved Ai-driven Walmart.

Save Money. Live Better.

Written by turbotodd

April 25, 2019 at 10:41 am

Common Sense AI

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Microsoft announced that it is acquiring conversational AI and bot development software vendor XOXCO, Inc., an Austin-based firm, for an undisclosed amount.

According to a report from ZDNet, XOXCO was founded in 2008, and has been working on conversational AI since 2013.

One of its products, Howdy.ai, has been described as one of the first commercially available bots for Slack that helps schedule meetings.

Though it may be great for scheduling meetings, a new article in WIRED suggests that artificial intelligence and deep learning could stand to gain some common sense:

Deep learning is the reigning monarch of AI. In the six years since it exploded into the mainstream, it has become the dominant way to help machines sense and perceive the world around them. It powers Alexa’s speech recognition, Waymo’s self-driving cars, and Google’s on-the-fly translations. Uber is in some respects a giant optimization problem, using machine learning to figure out where riders will need cars. Baidu, the Chinese tech giant, has more than 2,000 engineers cranking away on neural net AI. For years, it seemed as though deep learning would only keep getting better, leading inexorably to a machine with the fluid, supple intelligence of a person.

But some heretics argue that deep learning is hitting a wall. They say that, on its own, it’ll never produce generalized intelligence, because truly humanlike intelligence isn’t just pattern recognition. We need to start figuring out how to imbue AI with everyday common sense, the stuff of human smarts. If we don’t, they warn, we’ll keep bumping up against the limits of deep learning, like visual-recognition systems that can be easily fooled by changing a few inputs, making a deep-learning model think a turtle is a gun. But if we succeed, they say, we’ll witness an explosion of safer, more useful devices—health care robots that navigate a cluttered home, fraud detection systems that don’t trip on false positives, medical breakthroughs powered by machines that ponder cause and effect in disease.

I look forward to having an argument with a bot…someday.

Written by turbotodd

November 14, 2018 at 11:05 am

Posted in 2018, AI, microsoft, Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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