ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley first reported on comments made by Julia White, general manager of marketing for Office and Office 365, at Microsoft’s Tech Ed Europe conference in Barcelona.
According to Foley, White said that the next version of Office on Windows would launch in the last half of next year, a broad timetable that was different from previous speculation, which had focused on the first half of 2015, perhaps as early as April.
During the end of a guest spot Tuesday on Channel 9, Microsoft’s online television channel, White did not specify the second half of the year, saying only “later in 2015.” But she did mention that the next version of Office would go through Microsoft’s typical testing process, including TAP (Technology Adoption Program) and a beta, with the latter presumably available to the general public.
TAP builds are pre-beta, and restricted to an invite-only group that’s usually composed of Microsoft’s larger corporate customers.
Microsoft confirmed that White’s comments were accurate as reported.
If Microsoft makes its target of the second half of next year, the upgrade would be on the same schedule as the last several editions, which have been released about two-and-a-half-years apart. Office 2013, for example, reached what Microsoft calls “general availability” in January 2013, while Office 2010 and Office 2007 made that milestone in June 2010 and January 2007, respectively.
The next office, code named Office 16, would carry the official label of Office 2016 if Microsoft follows convention.
Andrew Conrad, head of the Google X research lab’s Life Sciences Team, told the WSJ.D Live conference that the particles can be directed toward different parts of the body by applying wearable magnetic devices to the skin.
The wearable would be able to count the particles and possibly compile information about what potential medical conditions they detected.
“Nanoparticles are the nexus between biology and engineering,” Conrad said in an interview at the conference, which was excerpted in a video. “We can make these nanoparticles behave in ways that we want them to do.”
The so-called Nanoparticle Platform comes in the form of pills that are covered with “antibodies or molecules that detect other molecules,” he added.
The particles would be less than one-thousandth the size of a red blood cell and would attach to molecules, proteins and cells in the body. The nanoparticles could help detect arterial plaque or high sodium levels, and might replace standard blood tests to detect early signs of disease, according to Conrad.
Conrad said Google would license the technology to other companies and it would not be responsible for managing information collected through nanoparticle monitoring.
Implementing the nanoparticles could take more than five years, The Wall Street Journal said in reporting the interview with Conrad.
The game might be inspired by a lot of games, but the basic idea is that you are the leader of a Stone Age tribe and you have guide your tribe through civilization and human history. The ability exists for you to form alliances, trade with friends, and raid your enemies.
Reynolds has not said what is next for the new Big Huge Games, but if DomiNations is successful, it could fund more complex projects for console or PC according to our sources.
IBM will help businesses predict trends in the marketplace and consumer sentiment about products and brands and will train 10,000 employees to consult businesses on the best use of Twitter data.
IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty has been trying to shift the 100-year-old company’s focus away from commoditized hardware to higher-value cloud and data analytics products.
In July, IBM announced a partnership with Apple Inc to offer iPads and iPhones loaded with applications geared toward enterprise clients.
“Here we are seeing an alignment of old tech and new tech companies. It is the second such deal that IBM has announced in the last couple months. They realize they don’t have all the answers and a lot of other companies have asset offerings that can be matched well,” said Scott Kessler, analyst at S&P Capital IQ in New York.
In April, Twitter acquired social data provider Gnip to burrow into the 500 million tweets sent daily on its network.
Enterprise clients will now be able to filter the data based on geography, public biographical information and the emotion expressed in the tweet.
The company previously allowed third-party companies such as Gnip, Datasift and Dataminr to buy access to tweets and re-sell that data to corporate clients.
The program, which will be marketed as Schwab Intelligent Portfolios to retail investors and independent investment advisers, will create portfolios of exchange-traded funds managed by Schwab and other providers.
In offering the service without management, transaction or account service fees, Schwab intends to be “disruptive” to competitors that have rapidly been introducing “rob o-adviser” platforms that charge fees of about 0.25 percent of money invested, Schwab officials said in a conference call with analysts and investors.
Reuters reported Schwab’s plan to introduce a free rob o-program on Oct. 3.
Schwab said it can make money through fees from managing and servicing underlying ETFs and from investing client cash in the portfolios. While the portfolios could draw investors who use conventional Schwab accounts or hire advisers who trade through Schwab, the company is not afraid of “cannibalizing” its own revenue, executives said.
The service will appeal primarily to Schwab’s traditional self-directed investors who do not want to use its fee-based advice programs, Chief Executive Walt Bettinger said.
He would not name specific competitors Schwab expects to undermine, but said they range from independent firms that offer only automated programs, to “wire houses,” a reference to large full-service firms such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and UBS AG’s U.S. brokerage unit.
“This has the potential to create impact across the entire market,” Bettinger said.
Nvidia Tegra TK1 is being shunned by major phone designers as if it were suffering from ebola, our industry sources have confirmed.
It looks like that 2013 is the year of Qualcomm and that every significant design win has Qualcomm processor inside.
Mediatek is trying the Tegra TK1with the entry level phones but they still have to prove themselves in the mainstream and high end phones that the European or USA phone market craves. They could get there in time, but didn’t manage it in 2013.
Tegra TK1 32-bit quad core managed a few design wins but none of them were in phones. Nvidia is using the chip for its own Jetson TK1 development board that gathered some nice revenues. There was also the Shield tablet, which was not eaten by Hydra, the Acer Chromebook 13, HP Chromebook 14, Lenovo ThinkVision 28 and the XiaoMi MiPad.
The XiaoMi tablet seems to be selling like hotcakes, although, since most of the sales are in China, the word hot cakes should probably be steamed pork buns. The XiaoMi tablet almost resembles Nexus 9 specification, if you look at it in the right light, but sells for half of its price. The Tegra TK1 64 bit, aka Denver, won a design award with the HTC Nexus 9 and this looks like it will sell in buckets. Nvidia also has Google Project Tango tablet, but this won’t sell in any serious numbers as this is more of a developer’s toy rather than a retail product.
However by the end of October 2014 there was no a single phone design win with Tegra K1 32-bit or 64-bit. Nvidia Tegra 4i Gray chip was greeted with a loud sounding yawn when it showed in a Wiko Wax , Blackphone and LG G2 mini LTE for the South American market. None of them was really a huge seller for Nvidia.
The 64 bit Tegra K1 might get some attention but it looks like that phones based on 64 bit Tegra K1 Denver might not show up until early 2015 at the earliest. Meanwhile the Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm’s 64-bit high chip will appear at the Mobile World Congress phone by that time. People are already claiming that the Snapdragon 810 is inside of Samsung Galaxy S6 and we would be surprised if it was not in the LG G3 successor (LG G4) or HTC M8 successor which will probably be dubbed the HTC One M9.
This doesn’t leave Nvidia much space for success in phones but then again Tegra is selling in cars, developers’ boards (such as Jetson Dev Kit), Chromebook and the occasional tablet.
No-one can win in all markets and it seems that Tegra powered Chromebooks perform quite well and that Nvidia is top choice for most car manufactures. However the phone market that might be too hot for Nvidia Tegra TK1 32-bit to handle. We will see if Denver, the 64-bit Tegra K1 or its successor can change things in 2015.
Amazon is persisting in buying content to round out its service, with designs to take on Netflix Inc and other online digital media services. But that increasing spending has helped keep the company in the red, inviting criticism from investors.
Audible, the audiobooks service it bought in 2008 for $300 million, is picking up the 10-person company for an undisclosed sum. Audible founder and Chief Executive Donald Katz said in a statement on Monday the company had been attracted by Rooftop’s content as well as its pool of comic talent.
Rooftop records comedians at clubs across the country and licenses the digital rights to thousands of hours of comedy, which is broadcast either live or later on demand. The company’s media partners include Apple Inc and Yahoo, and it also works with streaming services such as Sirius XM, Spotify and Pandora.
Its content now becomes part of Audible, itself a fast-growing seller of online audiobooks, and vastly increases Rooftop’s audience, said Rooftop Chief Executive Officer Will Rogers.
Amazon is expected to continue acquiring digital content at a rapid clip. In past years, it began investing heavily to branch out from its online retail roots, delving into Hollywood-style content production as well as developing a line of tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes to accelerate the sale of digital content.
For the three months ending Sept. 30, Microsoft recorded $908 million in revenue for the Surface tablet line, an increase of 127% over the same quarter in 2013. The nearly one billion in revenue was a one-quarter record for the Surface, and beat the combined revenue of the previous two quarters.
Using information in Microsoft’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as data from earlier quarters, Computerworld calculated the quarter’s cost of that revenue at $786 million, leaving a gross margin of $122 million. Cost of revenue is the cost to make and sell a product, but excludes expenses such as advertising and R&D.
Microsoft said that the Surface line posted a positive gross margin — implying that outside estimates of prior losses were correct — but did not disclose a dollar figure.
According to Computerworld‘s estimate, the margin was small, about 13.4%. That’s more than the average for a Windows personal computer, but less than half or a third of the margins on tablets like Apple’s iPad.
It was even smaller by the figuring of Jan Dawson, principal analyst at Jackdaw Research, who has also used Microsoft’s SEC filings to estimate the Surface’s cost of revenue. He pegged the September quarter’s cost of revenue at $825 million, the gross margin at $83 million, and the margin rate at just 9.1%.
“That’s a gross margin … which is not earth-shattering and in fact about half the gross margin of the phone business at Microsoft. But it’s progress,” Dawson wrote on his blog, where he published his analysis of Surface’s financial performance.
Since its October 2012 introduction, Surface has been a money pit for Microsoft, in the hole to the tune of $1.73 billion through its first seven quarters. With the September quarter in the black, those overall losses have been reduced to about $1.6 billion.
Over the last four quarters, Surface also remained in the red, with losses of $325 million on revenue of $2.7 billion. Put another way, for each dollar Microsoft earned on Surface sales, it lost about 12 cents.
The company that owns Chili’s Grill & Bar also said it will complete a tablet ordering system rollout next month at its U.S. restaurants. Applebee’s announced last December that it would deliver tablets to 1,800 restaurants this year.
The pace of self-ordering system deployments appears to be gaining speed. But there’s a political element to this and it’s best to address it quickly.
The move toward more automation comes at the same time pressure to raise minimum wages is growing. A Wall Street Journal editorial this week, “Minimum Wage Backfire,” said that while it may be true for McDonald’s to say that its tech plans will improve customer experience, the move is also “a convenient way…to justify a reduction in the chain’s global workforce.”
The Journal faulted those who believe that raising fast food wages will boost stagnant incomes. “The result of their agitation will be more jobs for machines and fewer for the least skilled workers,” it wrote.
The elimination of jobs because of automation will happen anyway. Gartner says software and robots will replace one third of all workers by 2025, and that includes many high-skilled jobs, too.
Automation is hardly new to retail. Banks rely on ATMs, and grocery stores, including Walmart, have deployed self-service checkouts. But McDonald’s hasn’t changed its basic system of taking orders since its founding in the 1950s, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a research group focused on the restaurant industry.
The move to kiosk and mobile ordering, said Tristano, is happening because it will improve order accuracy, speed up service and has the potential of reducing labor cost, which can account for about 30% of costs. But automated self-service is a convenience that’s now expected, particularly among younger customers, he said.
“It’s keeping up with the times, and the (McDonald’s) franchises are going to clamor for it,” said Tristano, who said any labor savings is actually at the bottom of the list of reasons restaurants are putting in these self-service systems.
HP has announced general availability of its Helion OpenStack cloud platform and Helion Development Platform based on Cloud Foundry.
The Helion portfolio was announced by HP earlier this year, when the firm disclosed that it was backing the OpenStack project as the foundation piece for its cloud strategy.
At the time, HP issued the HP Helion OpenStack Community edition for pilot deployments, and promised a full commercial release to follow, along with a developer platform based on the Cloud Foundry code.
HP revealed today that the commercial release of HP Helion OpenStack is now available as a fully supported product for customers looking to build their own on-premise infrastructure-as-a-service cloud, along with the HP Helion Development platform-as-a-service designed to run on top of it.
“We’ve now gone GA [general availability] on our first full commercial OpenStack product and actually started shipping it a couple of weeks ago, so we’re now open for business and we already have a number of customers that are using it for proof of concept,” HP’s CloudSystem director for EMEA, Paul Morgan, told The INQUIRER.
Like other OpenStack vendors, HP is offering more than just the bare OpenStack code. Its distribution is underpinned by a hardened version of HP Linux, and is integrated with other HP infrastructure and management tools, Morgan said.
“We’ve put in a ton of HP value add, so there’s a common look and feel across the different management layers, and we are supporting other elements of our cloud infrastructure software today, things like HP OneView, things like our Cloud Service Automation in CloudSystem,” he added.
The commercial Helion build has also been updated to include Juno, the latest version of the OpenStack framework released last week.
Likewise, the HP Helion Development Platform takes the open source Cloud Foundry platform and integrates it with HP’s OpenStack release to provide an environment for developers to build and deploy cloud-based applications and services.
HP also announced an optimised reference model for building a scalable object storage platform based on its OpenStack release.
HP Helion Content Depot is essentially a blueprint to allow organisations or service providers to put together a highly available, secure storage solution using HP ProLiant servers and HP Networking hardware, with access to storage provided via the standard OpenStack Swift application programming interfaces.
Morgan said that the most interest in this solution is likely to come from service providers looking to offer a cloud-based storage service, although enterprise customers may also deploy it internally.
“It’s completely customisable, so you might start off with half a petabyte, with the need to scale to maybe 2PB per year, and it is a certified and fully tested solution that takes all of the guesswork out of setting up this type of service,” he said.
Content Depot joins the recently announced HP Helion Continuity Services as one of the growing number of solutions that the firm aims to offer around its Helion platform, he explained. These will include point solutions aimed at solving specific customer needs.
The firm also last month started up its HP Helion OpenStack Professional Services division to help customers with consulting and deployment services to implement an OpenStack-based private cloud.
Pricing for HP Helion OpenStack comes in at $1,200 per server with 9×5 support for one year. Pricing for 24×7 support will be $2,200 per server per year.
“We see that is very competitively priced compared with what else is already out there,” Morgan said.
Canonical has released Ubuntu Server 14.10 for data centre server and cloud applications, offering its latest technology for scale-out infrastructure.
The British software company claims that this latest release of Ubuntu Server features the fastest, most secure hypervisors available on bare metal, as well as the latest in container technologies with Docker 1.2.
Canonical says that Ubuntu Server 14.10 with Docker 1.2 is unique in that it offers user-level container management and includes support that enables higher density cloud operations than a virtualisation layer.
The firm is targeting large enterprises that want to deploy what it calls “scale-out” cloud computing with this release.
Canonical says that Ubuntu 14.10 includes some of the most valuable and complex cloud software technologies in use today, including Cloud Foundry, ElasticSearch, Hadoop with Hive and PigLatin as well as real-time data analytics with Storm big data technology.
The firm says that improved GUI for Juju service orchestration greatly simplifies deployment and scaling of these complex software infrastructures on public and private clouds, or on bare metal hardware through what it terms “metal as a service” (MaaS), claiming that full deployments take just minutes.
Canonical noted that its MaaS 1.6 hardware provisioning tool in Ubuntu Server 14.10 now supports a number of different operating systems as guests, including Windows Server with Hyper-V, CentOS and openSUSE.
Canonical also said that Ubuntu 14.10 presents a consistent operating system experience for all major hardware architectures: ARM, ARM64, x86, x86-64 and Power8. ARM64 support is added for the launch of next-generation hyperscale, hyperdense servers from HP and AMD.
The firm added that Ubuntu Server 14.10 includes the addition of bcache, which adds disk acceleration to extend SSD performance to large, cost-effective rotating disks.
For cloud deployments, Canonical said that Ubuntu Server 14.10 includes the latest OpenStack Juno, which includes more granular policy controls for object storage as well as initial support for network function virtualization.
China’s Dawning Information Industry, also known as Sugon, has developed a series of four servers using the Loongson 3B processor, the country’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
“Servers are crucial applications in a country’s politics, economy, and information security. We must fully master all these technologies,” Dawning’s vice president Sha Chaoqun was quoted as saying.
The servers, including their operating systems, have all been developed from Chinese technology. The Loongson 3B processor inside them has eight cores made with a total of 1.1 billion transistors built using a 28-nanometer production process.
The Xinhua report quoted Li Guojie, a top computing researcher in the country, as saying the new servers would ensure that the security around China’s military, financial and energy sectors would no longer be in foreign control.
Dawning was contacted on Friday, but an employee declined to offer more specifics about the servers. “We don’t want to promote this product in the U.S. media,” she said. “It involves propriety intellectual property rights, and Chinese government organizations.”
News of the servers has just been among the ongoing developments in China for the country to build up its own homegrown technology. Work is being done on local mobile operating systems, supercomputing, and in chip making, with much of it government-backed. Earlier this year, China outlined a plan to make the country into a major player in the semiconductor space.
But it also comes at a time when cybersecurity has become a major concern for the Chinese government, following revelations about the U.S. government’s own secret surveillance programs. “Without cybersecurity there is no national security,” declared China’s Xi Jinping in March, as he announced plans to turn the country into an “Internet power.”
Two months later, China threatened to block companiesfrom selling IT products to the country if they failed to pass a new vetting system meant to comb out secret spying programs.
Dawning, which was founded using local government-supported research, is perhaps best known for developing some of China’s supercomputers. But it also sells server products built with Intel chips. In this year’s first quarter, it had an 8.7 percent share of China’s server market, putting it in 7th place, according to research firm IDC.
The company released Rooms on Thursday, its answer to the craze around posting and sharing anonymously. People can use any name they want and don’t need a Facebook account. The app contains rooms geared around various topics, all of which require an invite link to enter. Providing an email address is optional, for the purposes of having accessed rooms restored if the user deletes the app.
The app is only available on iOS. Plans for other platforms like Android or Windows Phone were not disclosed.
The app is not just about anonymity. With it, Facebook hopes to provide a discussion board-type platform where users can chat about shared interests outside of their usual social circles. It’s a concept that has been super popular since, oh, the web’s been around.
“One of the magical things about the early days of the web was connecting to people who you would never encounter otherwise in your daily life,” Facebook said in a statement Thursday.
“From unique obsessions and unconventional hobbies, to personal finance and health-related issues — you can celebrate the sides of yourself that you don’t always show to your friends,” the company said.
But the app’s ability to succeed likely depends on the number and diversity of rooms created by its users, and whether the app’s focus on visuals and photos appeals to them. There’s also no desktop version.
The app was developed as part of Facebook’s Creative Labs project, which has also released stand-alone apps like Slingshot and Paper.
Facebook stresses that Rooms will let users create a unique identity separate from their Facebook account. Your name can be “Wonder Woman” in the app, Facebook said.
I tried out the app, and was even able to use “Mark Zuckerberg” as my name. (A short “hello” post of mine then immediately generated several “high fives.”)
Facebook, however, may share information about Room users within the companies and services operated by Facebook, which would include Facebook itself and other apps like Instagram and WhatsApp, according to the Rooms terms of service.
Google Inc is growing its artificial intelligence area, hiring more than half a dozen leading academics and experts in the field and announcing a partnership with Oxford University to “accelerate” its efforts.
Google will make a “substantial contribution” to establish a research partnership with Oxford’s computer science and engineering departments, the company said on Thursday regarding its work to develop the intelligence of machines and software, often to emulate human-like intelligence.
Google did not provide any financial details about the partnership, saying only in a post on its blog that it will include a program of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops “to share knowledge and expertise.”
Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, is building up its artificial intelligence capabilities as it strives to maintain its dominance in the Internet search market and to develop new products such as robotics and self-driving cars. In January Google acquired artificial intelligence company Deep Mind for $400 million according to media reports.
The new hires will be joining Google’s Deep Mind team, including three artificial intelligence experts whose work has focused on improving computer visual recognition systems. Among that team is Oxford Professor Andrew Zisserman, a three-time winner of the Marr Prize for computer vision.
The four founders of Dark Blue Labs will also be joining Google where they will be will be leading efforts to help machines “better understand what users are saying to them.”
Google said that three of the professors will hold joint appointments at Oxford, continuing to work part time at the university.
Earlier today Unity Technologies caused quite a stir in the games industry with the announcement that former Electronic Arts chief exec John Riccitiello would be taking over the CEO job for David Helgason. While EA struggled to make shareholders happy, Unity has been seeing tremendous growth, becoming a favorite toolset for large and small publishers and especially indies. In fact, the company serves over 600,000 monthly developers. But what does Unity really have up its sleeve? Is the hiring of a notable leader like Riccitiello a sign that the company is indeed being groomed for a buyout or public offering?
“John Riccitiello’s corporate moves will rightfully inspire speculation about major changes in the companies involved and as Unity is the dominant independent development platform, what happens next could affect most developers and publishers outside of the top ten,” remarked independent analyst Billy Pidgeon. “An acquisition is very possible although Unity CTO Joachim Ante has denied this. Unity needs to be independent and available to all to retain and grow its value, so a sale to a major publisher or developer would sharply decrease the company’s revenue flow. But a buyer outside the industry could allow Unity to remain somewhat independent, although clients might be wary of doing business with Unity’s new owner.”
EEDAR’s Patrick Walker, head of insights and analytics, largely agreed with Pidgeon, commenting, “While the stature of Riccitiello as a hire and his interest in helming the Unity ship suggest that there are big plans in the works for the company, it is unlikely that these plans are focused on the short term, such as preparation for a near-term buyout. A buyout has been rumored for a while, and the Unity executive team, including founder David Helgason and CTO Joachim Ante, has been consistent in their messaging statement focusing on the company mission rather than pursuit of a buyout. More likely, Riccitiello is being brought on board to spur growth for a longer-term play, such as an eventual IPO or larger-scale buyout.”
Regardless of whether a longer-term buyout is in the cards, Riccitiello has the experience to help accelerate Unity’s growth in the next few years, most believe.
“Unity is a well-positioned company with several paths to increase growth. While game publishing is one route to spur growth, there is also an opportunity for the company to leverage the strengths, such as cross-platform flexibility, that have given it such broad penetration in the indie market to increase penetration in other development verticals,” Walker continued. “Riccitiello has an ideal background, having led major companies both inside and outside the games industry and having served on the Unity board for the past year, to drive partnerships that will help grow Unity as a major development platform across the full spectrum of publishers and developers.”
Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter added, “He is certainly capable of leading them, and also well equipped to sell the company. [But] I don’t know the reason for the change.”
Perhaps one major reason for the change is to offload some of the business responsibility from Helgason who may wish to focus more on product development.
“Unity has been growing quickly for several years. The company now has over 300 employees and its technology is being used by hundreds of thousands of developers on practically every platform out there. I suspect that Dave recognized some time ago that the company had to get an experienced business manager at the helm or risk flying off the rails at some point, and that’s exactly what JR is,” observed Lewis Ward, IDC’s gaming research director.
“Some people just aren’t cut out to be CEOs of big businesses – just look at Notch. I suspect that Dave is going to be happier staying focused on the core product strategy and building relationships with studios and indie developers. From JR’s perspective, it’s a great opportunity to ride the beast that has been Unity growth over the past 3+ years. It’s a remarkable story, and I think John is probably going to enjoy the role and stepping back into an important spotlight in the industry.”