Microsoft has rolled out a major update to its Azure cloud computing service and said that it will match Amazon on price.
Last year Microsoft announced it would preview a host of changes to its Azure cloud computing service including new virtual machine configurations, a virtual private network and a new Azure software development kit. Now the firm has taken those features out of preview and made them generally available in what it is promoting as the largest single update to Windows Azure to date.
Since Microsoft announced most of the features in its “hybrid cloud” last June, the firm said the only changes from the preview release to today’s public release are higher memory capacity and higher performance compute nodes. However the firm touted its Windows Azure Virtual Network as a way for customers to view cloud based services as if those were located on their premises.
Microsoft couldn’t rely on features alone to take the fight to Amazon and its Web Services division. Amazon’s cloud service is the biggest rival to Microsoft Azure and has a reputation for cutting prices aggressively. Now Microsoft has said it will do the same in a bid “to take the price discussion off the table”.
Michael Newberry, Windows Azure lead at Microsoft UK said that companies are in a process of moving applications that presently reside on servers located in the office onto the cloud. He said, “It is important that we get them through the process, price shouldn’t be a barrier for the customer to choose the best cloud provider.
“At the end of the day it should be about different technical facilities, what is the right environment for a particular workload, a particular application scenario. And that’s why we wanted to take the price discussion off the table and say ‘look, we know prices are changing and this is a market that is developing, but lets make this about the best environment, the best architecture, the best cloud environment for your particular customer.”
Newberry said that Microsoft’s Windows Azure service will appeal to those customers who want to make use of existing applications rather than develop ones specifically for cloud deployment. He said, “With customers who have existing infrastructure, existing applications, existing datacenters, that’s not something they want to throwaway. They still want to take advantage of cloud technologies, either in terms of private cloud, or using the public cloud as a spiking mechanism – an overflow if you will – for their existing on premise environment.”
Microsoft has also started to offer support for Linux on its Azure cloud service. Newberry said customers should have no problem running open source software or Linux on its services. However the firm does see its Windows Azure cloud service being particularly enticing for those firms that already run their network infrastructure services using Microsoft’s software, such as Active Directory, SQL Server and Sharepoint.
With Microsoft saying it will match Amazon’s pricing, the cloud provider industry might start to see a focus on performance rather than simply competing on low prices to attract customers.
Offering dual-SIM products has become increasingly important in the last couple of years . They allow users to get better tariffs or switch between SIMs for personal or work use.
“Particularly in a lot of emerging markets — India, for example — dual-SIM support has become an absolute requirement now,” said Geoff Blaber, who leads mobile device research at CCS Insight.
From Nokia comes the Series 40-based Asha 310, which is the first model from the company that combines slots for two SIM cards with Wi-Fi for faster data access.
The main SIM card sits behind the battery, with a slot for a second SIM located on the side of the phone for easy access, allowing users to switch the second card without having to switch off the phone, according to Nokia. The SIM manager lets users assign profiles for up to five SIM cards and define which card they want to use for phone calls, text messages and Internet access, the company said.
The Asha 310 also has a 3-inch capacitive touch screen and a MicroSD memory card slot for more memory. Either a 2GB or 4GB card is included in the box.
The Asha family has given Nokia a boost while the company has struggled with sales of its Windows Phone-based Lumia family. During the fourth quarter it sold 9.3 million Asha full touch phones, compared to 4.4 million Lumia smartphones.
The Android camp is also getting on the dual-SIM bandwagon. From LG comes the Optimus L7 II, which in addition to two SIM cards also has a 4.3-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera. It is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor, has 4GB of integrated storage and a microSD card slot.
The Nokia Asha 310 will be available in Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa and Brazil this quarter. It will cost around $102 without local taxes or any operator subsidies. The dual-SIM version of the Optimus L7 II will go on sale in Russia this week, but no pricing was announced.
The latest addition to Samsung’s tablet portfolio is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor and has a 7-inch screen with a 1024-by-600 pixel resolution.
The tablet will cost about $350, excluding taxes, for the Wi-Fi version, according to a statement from Samsung in Sweden, which also says that it will start shipping in March.
Samsung will also sell a 3G version of the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0), which can function as a phone and connects to the Internet using HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) at 21Mbps.
The tablet is .4 inches thick and weighs about .75 pounds, compared with the iPad 2 which is .34 inches thick and weighs 1.3 pounds.
The specification also includes two cameras; 8GB, 16GB or 32GB of integrated storage and MicroSD card slot; and a 4000 mAh battery that should last for up to 39 hours, according to Samsung.
With a lower price, Samsung hopes to attract a larger audience to its tablets. Sales of Android-based tablets more than tripled during the fourth quarter of 2011, but Apple still dominates the market, according to a recent report from Strategy Analytics. The Android camp had a 39.1% share of global tablet shipments, compared to 29% a year earlier. Apple’s share dropped from 68.2% to 57.6%, according to Strategy Analytics.
Ainol’s Novo7 tablet has a 7-inch capacitive screen and runs on a 1GHz single-core MIPS processor, said MIPS Technologies and chip maker Ingenic in a joint press release. The tablet’s battery lasts eight hours on watching video, seven hours when browsing the Web and six hours when playing games.
The tablet runs on Google’s Android 4.0, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, which is the successor to Android 3.0, code-named Honeycomb, which is found on the more advanced tablets today.
For its price, the tablet also has a vast feature list. The Novo7 includes cameras on the front and back, 3D graphics capabilities, 1080p video decoding and an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port to connect the tablet to high-definition TVs.
The tablet is available only in China through Ainol Electronics, but will come to other countries within the next several months under brands including Leader International and
OMG Electronics. New tablets with 8-inch and 9-inch screens will also become available in the future, MIPS and Ingenic said.
The tablet has acquired Google certification to run applications such as Google Maps, Gmail, Google Music and Google Talk. However, Google does not provide official Android market access in China, so the device lacks that feature, said Jen Bernier-Santarini, a MIPS spokeswoman. Access to Android Market is an ongoing concern for inexpensive tablet users.
“Android Market access is provided by Google through negotiations with carriers and OEMs as part of Google Mobile Services in other geographies. So Google will need to work with U.S. OEMs on this for future releases of the product,” Bernier-Santarini said.
The sub-$100 price is a breakthrough for users looking for new tablets with the latest Android OS. Most inexpensive tablets come with versions of Android 2, which is for smartphones, while notable tablets that come with tablet-optimized Android 3.0 are priced above $250. Other device makers are also announcing tablets with Android 4.0,
which has already been ported to the ARM and x86 processors.
Qualcomm has announced a slew of Krait-based Snapdragon system-on-chips (SoC) processors to fit in its S1 and S4 performance classes.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon range of SoC chips have proven to be extremely popular in smartphones and tablets, however the firm is facing a growing challenge from Texas Instruments and Nvidia. Coming little over a week after Nvidia revealed its quad-core Tegra 3 processor, Qualcomm has announced eight Snapdragon S4 processors and four Snapdragon S1 processors.
Since Qualcomm showed off the Krait architecture in February with three chips, the firm has not extended its headline S4 range of processors. Now it has added eight SKUs, with models including the MSM8660A, MSM8260A, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8627, MSM8227, APQ8060A and APQ8030. Qualcomm was cagey about when devices sporting these chips will appear, only mentioning an early 2012 timeframe.
Perhaps more important for Qualcomm’s sales figures are its entry level Snapdragon S1 chips. The four new chips in this category are the MSM7225A, MSM7625A, MSM7227A and MSM7627A models, with the firm claiming that they have been optimised for those OEM customers that are making the transition from 2G to 3G devices.
Qualcomm’s glut of new Snapdragon SKUs is timed nicely with CES less than two months away and Mobile World Congress a month after that. The new S4 chips will end up in a number of headline grabbing devices, however the company should have taken a leaf from Nvidia’s book and teamed up with a device partner to showcase a headline device early.
Instead, Qualcomm gave no indications of what target devices will look like, how well they will perform or even how much they will cost.
He mentioned a few obvious things, such as compatibility with the old ARM instruction set, that new Krait processor is going to be 28nm and that dual-core comes first, with quad-core to follow.
The S4 MSM 8960 dual-core should be first to market with 28nm, this is what Travis told analysts at the conference call yesterday, so it better be true. Qualcomm claims the lead in both processing power and efficiency, which should be best in class.
The company expects a “50 percent performance improvement over other ARM based offerings in the mobile CPU market” and Qualcomm claims that 8960 dual-core Krait is 50 percent better than two Scorpion cores. The new CPU has a dial instead of power switch that can save somewhere between 25 percent in hardware and with the help of software it can save up to 40 percent of power compared to Scorpion cores shipping today.
Tim Leland, Director or Product management, most likely graphics, also mentioned that S4 MSM 8960 has new Adreno graphics. It packs an Adreno 225 core that is some 50 percent faster than Adreno 220. This unified shader GPU that has some strong roots in ATI acquired technology is DirectX 9.3 (Shader model 3) capable.
Overall, S4 MSM 8960 looks like a very nice 28nm part with dramatically improved CPU and GPU performance compared to dual-cores manufactured in 40 / 45 nm processes.
The Breakout’s $99.99 price is noteworthy, since Verizon also put the powerful Motorola Droid Bionic on sale Sept. 8 for its LTE network for $299.99.
Both devices require that customers sign a two-year agreement, and both will work on the Verizon LTE network that the company says operates at speeds of 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps for downloads and 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps for upload.
The Bionic has a dual core 1 GHz processor, double the speed of Breakout’s 1 GHz processor. Bionic runs Android 2.3.4, while Breakout is listed by Verizon as running Android 2.3.
Bionic has a 4.3-in. touchscreen with 540 x 960 resolution, while Breakout has a 4-in touchscreen with 480 x 800 resolution.
Each phone has two cameras for video chats. Bionic’s best rear-facing camera is 8 megapixels, with Breakout’s is 5 megapixels. Bionic supports 1080p HP video and Breakout’s supports 720p HD video.
The differences between Verizon’s high-end LTE phone and it’s newest low-cost entry are substantial, but show how Verizon is working to atract buyers to various price ranges for its 4G LTE network.
Pantech, from Personal Communications Devices, is not as well known as Motorola in the Android phone world in the U.S.. The company has been known utside the U.S. for its low-cost phones.
The Revolution has a 4.3-in. touch screen and 1 GHz Snapdragon processor. It utilizes the Android 2.2 mobile operating system and comes preloaded with the Netflix application for access to movies and TV shows.
Verizon called the smartphone an “entertainment powerhouse” partly due to the Netflix capability, but the Revolution also runs the Adobe Flash player, provides Dolby Mobile sound and features high-definition video recording and playback.
It also features two cameras, a 5 megapixel, rear-facing camera and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera that supports video chat. It includes a 16GB pre-installed microSD card, which is above average for today’s smartphones.
The Revolution is Verizon’s third LTE-ready smartphone, after the HTC ThunderBolt, introduced in March, and the Droid Charge by Samsung, which finally went on sale May 14.
Verizon’s LTE supports download speeds of up to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps where LTE is available. Otherwise the signal switches to 3G, usually about one-tenth as fast.
The phone, which runs Qualcomm’s 1GHz Snapdragon processor, contains a slide-out keyboard and a display that tilts upward for easier viewing. It also comes equipped with a 5MP camera and 720p HD camcorder and checks in at 6.5 ounces.
Like all Windows Phone 7 devices, the Arrive also features Microsoft’s Live Tiles interface, which pushes real-time updates from e-mails, social networks, and other communications tools to the forefront of the home screen. It also boasts direct integration with Microsoft other products such as Office, Zune, and Xbox Live.
MS Office integration, in particular, could be enough to lure business users to make an investment in the Arrive.
Sprint is taking pre-orders at $199 per phone, based on a two-year contract, and is promising to ship the phones on March 20. Other carriers, including AT&T with its Samsung Focus and LG Quantum, and T-Mobile with the HTC HD7, have already dropped the price of their 2-year-plan Windows Phone 7 smartphones to $99 since introducing the products late last year.
Some observers feel it’s a sign that Windows Phone 7 is losing momentum in the market after the early hype that followed its debut. Microsoft hasn’t provided many details about Windows Phone 7′s sales performance to date.
Sprint’s HTC offering will also have to compete, eventually, with Windows Phone 7 devices from Nokia.
Microsoft announced an agreement last week under which the Finnish phone maker will utilize Windows Phone 7 as the default OS for smartphones to be sold worldwide. Microsoft is betting the alliance will give Windows Phone 7 a fighting chance against Android and iOS-based devices from rivals Google and Apple.
As we have stated in the past, Microsoft officially rolled out the final release of Windows 7 yesterday to the general public.
Microsoft says Windows 7 SP1 includes all the previous security, performance and stability updates, as well as some major improvements to features and services to make Windows 7 perform even better. Microsoft advised users to use the regular Windows update process, although manual download will probably be the faster way to go.
Which ever route you choose to update, it is said that one will need anywhere from 750M to 7.4G for the update. Furthermore, make sure you remove any previous version of Windows Service Pak 1 before proceeding.
“This extended free trial will allow developers to try out the Windows Azure platform without the need for up-front investment costs,” a Microsoft blog entry explained.
The offer arrives but a few weeks after Microsoft promoted Satya Nadella to head its $15 billion server and tools business, which includes the Azure offering. The company raved about Nadella’s experience in ramping up large-scale consumer-focused cloud services like Bing and hoped he could bring the same magic to getting Microsoft cloud services into the enterprise as well.
Participants of the free trial can choose one of two options: 750 hours of use on an Extra Small Compute Instance, or 25 hours on a Small Compute Instance. An Extra Small Compute Instance offers the equivalent of a 1GHz processor with 768MB of working memory, which normally costs $.05 an hour. The Small Compute Instance has a 1.6GHz processor, 1.75GB of working memory, and typically costs $0.12 an hour.
Trial users will also get 500MB of storage, as well as 500MB of storage transfers in and out. They also get 100,000 AppFabric access control transactions across two connections. Users will also get 90 days usage and 1GB of storage on a Web Edition SQL Azure database.
Cloud computing services have been growing more competitive of late. Earlier this month, VMware announced that a number of new service providers are now offering Azure-competing VMware-based cloud services, including BlueLock, Computer Sciences Corp., Colt and Verizon (Verizon on a beta trial).
Microsoft’s free offer will be available through the end of June. After that, if customers continue to use the service, they will be charged the standard rates.
The carrier showed the Streak 7 on Jan. 6 at the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The tablet runs the Android 2.2 operating system and features a 7-inch touch screen as well as a dual-core Nvidia processor with each core capable of 1 GHz speeds.
At CES, T-Mobile officials said the Streak 7 price would be lower than the industry’s current prices for tablets selling at $400 to $600.
While smartphones and tablets are mostly priced to draw customers into two-year contracts where carriers make most of their money, the T-Mobile tweet doesn’t say what the monthly service minimum charge will be. It notes that there must be two years on a qualifying plan but doesn’t name the plan. A spokesman could not be reached for further comment.
The tweet routes customers to a T-Mobile Web site where customers can sign up to be notified further regarding the Dell Streak 7.
At last night’s CES kickoff Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer confirmed what we reported last week that Windows 8 will support ARM processors.
Keep in mind that Microsoft previously introduced several Smartphone operating systems geared towards ARM devices. However, Microsoft has never supported ARM using under Windows operating system in the desktop environment. Last week we reported about the development that actually started with rumors from the summer of 2010. Sources around the net are reporting that Microsoft developers have developed optimized versions of Microsoft Office and other popular MS software.
Steve Ballmer did take the opportunity to demo systems running Windows on ARM architecture and SoC solutions from Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Nvidia. There is no word on the name of the new OS, but most it seems it going be called Windows 8.
It appears that Microsoft sit back and let Google and Apple OWN the ARM market without a fight. Unfortunately, no release date of when Microsoft’s Windows ARM based OS will hit the market. With Analyst forecasting Tablets to eat into the Notebook market dominated by Windows 7, you might see Windows tablets based on ARM processors very soon.
Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft is preparing to showcase a very unique version of Windows at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January.
The new OS is mainly aimed at tablets and amazingly it will be able to run on ARM processors. However, unlike previous Windows Mobile and Windows Phone operating systems, the new version is expected to offer quite a few more features and it could end up a bit closer to existing desktop versions.
The unnamed ARM compatible Windows Tablet OS should also be able to run on x86 cores, hence we could see it on new Atom or Fusion based tablets as well.
Despite an early market lead, Microsoft has failed to secure a strong position in the smartphone market and it clearly doesn’t want to repeat the same mistakes in the emerging tablet market.
Texas Instruments has announced the latest addition to its mobile processor lineup, the TI OMAP4440. It features two 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs and is paired up with two ARM Cortex-M3 cores, POWERVR SGX540 3D graphics engine, IVA 3 hardware accelerator and Image Signal Processor.
The list of performance improvements over the TI OMAP4430 is quite impressive as TI claims that this one will have a 1.25x increase in graphics performance, a 30 percent decrease in webpage loading time and 2x increase in 1080p video playback performance. The noted ARM Cortex-M3 “general-purpose” cores are there to power-efficiently offload time-critical and control tasks.
The feature list is quite extensive and includes support for 1080p stereoscopic 3D (playback to 3D TV), 1080p60 video format support, 1080p video conferencing and gesture recognition, 720p with stereo audio multi-chat (1 local user and four other users), support for up to two 12-megapixel cameras in parallel, and much more.
Texas Instruments says that they will have samples of the TI OMAP4440 in Q1 2011 with production starting by the 2H of 2011.