Microsoft Corp that it will hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc and sell some map-generating technology to ride-hailing app company Uber, as it scales back on unprofitable operations.
The moves mean Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine, and displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.
Microsoft, which employs hundreds of people in its display ad business around the world, said those employees would be offered the chance to transfer to AOL and that it was not making any layoffs.
The world’s largest software company no longer breaks out results for its online operations, chiefly its MSN web portal and Bing, but they have lost more than $10 billion over the past five years. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said Bing will turn a profit next fiscal year.
“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” saidMicrosoft in a statement.
Under a 10-year deal struck with AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications Inc ,AOL will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and in some apps in major countries. As part of the deal, Bing will become the search engine behind web searches onAOL starting next year.
Microsoft also struck a multi-year extension to its existing deal with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform for buyers to purchase online ads.
Microsoft and Uber did not disclose financial terms of their deal, under which Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on imagery acquisition and map data processing. Uber will offer jobs to the 100 or so Microsoft employees working in that area, according to a source familiar with the deal.
Cisco has warned of a default Secure Shell vulnerability in three of its virtual applications.
The flaw could allow attackers to decrypt traffic exchanged in the services, and has been detailed in a Cisco security advisory.
It affects Cisco’s Web Security Virtual Appliance (SMAv), Email Security Virtual Appliance and Security Management Virtual Appliance, which are already commercially available.
Cisco said that it “is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerabilities”, but warned that attackers who got hold of the private keys could decrypt communications with a man-in-the-middle attack.
The default private encryption keys were preinstalled on all three of the products, a move which is considered bad security practice.
“Successfully exploiting this vulnerability on Cisco SMAv allows an attacker to decrypt communication toward SMAv, impersonate SMAv, and send altered data to a configured content appliance,” the advisory said.
“An attacker can exploit this vulnerability on a communication link toward any content security appliance that was ever managed by any SMAv.”
Cisco has released a patch which deletes the preinstalled SSH keys and explains how customers can correct the problem.
The Cisco-sa-20150625-ironport SSH Keys Vulnerability Fix comes as part of several product upgrades, and must be manually installed from a command line interface.
Cisco’s advisory said that the patch is not required for physical hardware appliances, or for virtual appliance downloads or upgrades after 25 June.
Cisco revealed details of a new point of sale attack earlier this year that could part firms from money and customers from personal data.
The threat, called PoSeidon by the Cisco team, came at a time when eyes were on security breaches at firms like Target.
Cisco said in a blog post that PoSeidon is a threat that has the ability to breach machines and scrape them for credit card information.
Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.
Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.
The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.
Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.
The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.
The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.
Samsung agreed to stop disabling Windows Update on its PCs and tablets, bowing to a chorus of complaints — including Microsoft’s — that it had interfered with the way users intended the patch service to work on their devices.
“We will be issuing a patch through the Samsung Software Update notification process to revert back to the recommended automatic Windows Update settings within a few days,” a Samsung spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon.
Samsung’s pledge put an apparent end to the week’s kerfuffle, which began when Patrick Barker, a crash-debugging and reverse-engineering expert, and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), charged the Korean company with silently changing how Windows Update delivers bug fixes and security patches to customers.
Samsung’s own SW Update — a tool used to update its branded personal computers and tablets with new drivers and refresh third-party, pre-installed software — changed Windows Update’s settings to prevent it from automatically downloading and installing updates, the default setting that Microsoft recommends. Instead, SW Update switched the setting to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them.”
Microsoft didn’t care for that one bit. “We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks,” the company said Wednesday. “We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue.”
Samsung first said it was, like Microsoft, looking into Barker’s findings, but subsequently denied that it had blocked a Windows 8.1 update — a red herring, since that had never been alleged — and at the same time admitted it manipulated Windows Update.
By Friday, whatever conversations occurred between Microsoft and Samsung made the latter change its mind on messing with the former’s patch service. “Samsung has a commitment to security and we continue to value our partnership with Microsoft,” the Samsung statement read.
The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.
A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”
Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.
Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.
In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.
The three apps are free for consumers, who may use them only for non-commercial purposes; in other words, not for work- or business-related tasks.
Microsoft kicked off previews last month, wrapping up the release of the suite’s apps for the OSes maintained by rivals Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). The gradual rollout began in March 2014 with the surprise debut of Office on the iPad less than two months after Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO.
Previously, Microsoft released betas of Office for Windows 10 Mobile — the operating system that will launch before the end of this year for smartphones and smaller tablets — and for Windows 10 on desktops, 2-in-1s and larger tablets. Neither of those collections have been completed.
Microsoft’s change in tenor and pivot in strategy have been clearest over the last 17 months as it crafted and then released touch-based Office apps for every major operating system except Windows, turning a decades-long practice of protecting its own OS on its head.
As with the Office apps on other devices, Excel, PowerPoint and Word on Android can be used by consumers free of charge for basic tasks, including viewing, creating and editing documents. A Microsoft Account — the credentials used to access Microsoft’s services, such as Outlook.com and Skype — is required for all but viewing documents, and on larger Android devices, for everything but viewing and printing.
Business customers and anyone who wants to utilize advanced features, however, require a current Office 365 subscription.
Facebook Inc has begun allowing users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with a phone number, the social media company said on Wednesday, in another move to broaden the app’s reach and make it a standalone platform.
Earlier this year, Facebook opened up Messenger to developers, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to connect users directly with retailers, restaurants and other businesses.
With the latest update, users will be prompted by an option that says “Not on Facebook?” when they open the app. They can then sign up with their name, phone number and a photo.
The mobile messaging service, which has 600 million users, has added a number of new features in recent months, including games and video calling.
Facebook’s flagship social network has 1.4 billion users.
Over the next two years, community solar in the U.S. is poised to see its market size increase seven-fold, and by 2020 it will be expanding by half a billion watts annually, according to a new report by GTM Research.
One of the benefits of a community solar farm is that it offers consumers who don’t even own a home (such as renters) the ability to go solar.
Community solar farms, like community gardens, share the photovoltaic energy among a group who purchase a share of the total energy produced by the site and receive the benefits of reduced costs on their electric bill.
According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), there are at least 52 community farms the U.S. states. And, at least 10 states are encouraging their growth through policy and programs.
Twenty-four states have at least one community solar project in operation, with 12 states operating at least two community farms or more, GTM said. The leading states based on operating capacity are Arizona, Colorado, California and Massachusetts.
At least 10 states are considering active community solar legislation to promote shared resources.
California, for example, is preparing to implement two community solar programs, one for utility-led development and another for third-party development. The program calls for 600 megawatts (MW) by 2019, with 110.5MW required by 2016.
Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and SunShare are the market leaders in building community solar farms, with a 32% combined market share, according to GTM.
As with other solar collectives, CEC and SunShare typically partner with utilities to develop high-volume, one-off community solar projects. Additionally, GTM Research reported today that 55 billion watts (55 gigawatts or GW) will be installed globally in 2015, a 36% increase over 2014.
Solar will account for roughly half of new electricity capacity out to 2020, the new report stated.
The United States will be the third-ranked PV market this year, behind only China and Japan. GTM Research forecasts the United States to install 8GW, which constitutes 14% of the global PV market.
The U.S. automaker will expand advanced safety technology, including automatic braking, across its global vehicle lineup over the next five years, they said. Such systems, the precursors of fully autonomous vehicles, enable hands-free operation of cars under certain conditions by automating such basic functions as steering, braking and throttle.
Ford has lagged behind competitors, notably General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors Inc, which have all announced plans to begin offering semi-automated driving systems over the next 18 months.
On Tuesday, Ford said it had created a global team to develop self-driving vehicles, with 29-year company veteran Randy Visintainer as director.
The move elevates a low-key research effort to a higher-profile advanced engineering project, and signals Chief Executive Mark Fields’ intent to accelerate Ford’s presence in the area.
“During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup (and) continue to increase automated driving capability,” Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief, said Tuesday in Palo Alto, California.
Nair said the move is “another step closer to production” of fully autonomous vehicles. He declined to say when such vehicles would reach the market, but other companies have targeted 2020.
Much of the engineering development work will take place at Ford’s recently opened research and innovation center in Palo Alto in northern California’s Silicon Valley, where the company expects to have 125 employees by year-end.
More than a dozen global automakers and suppliers have teamed up with tech startups and established companies in the area to develop advanced safety and self-driving systems.
Automatic braking and pedestrian detection, which are available on Ford’s Mondeo sedan in Europe, will debut next year on one of its U.S. vehicles and in most Ford products globally by 2019.
A key supplier of pedestrian-detection technology is Mobileye NV, which is working with Ford, GM, Tesla and other automakers to bring such advanced safety systems to market.
Google Play Music has offered a $9.99 per month subscription service for two years but Tuesday’s launch is the first free version of the streaming service. It is available online and will be available on Android and iOS by the end of the week, Elias Roman, Google product manager, said.
Apple said earlier this month it would launch a music streaming service on June 30 for $9.99 per month along with a $14.99 per month family plan, with a free three-month trial.
As with other streaming services, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, Google Play Music curates playlists. Users can tailor playlists based on genre, artist or even activity, such as hosting a pool party or “having fun at work.”
“We believe this is a play that will expose a lot of people to the service,” Roman said in an interview.
Unlike Google’s subscription music service, the free service will carry ads, be unavailable offline and exclude certain songs.
Roman said millions of people look at Google Play Music each month but are not ready to pay for a subscription. By offering a free version of the service, he said, the search engine hopes more people will be compelled to pay for an upgraded version.
Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic, a digital entertainment consultancy, said the timing of Google’s launch was strategic.
“It’s a smart time to do it with all the attention around Apple,” Cohen said. “If they did it absent the Apple service, it wouldn’t be the same story.”
Google declined to say how many subscribers it has but said they more than doubled in 2014 from the previous year. But rivals Pandora, Spotify and Beats Music had far more mobile downloads than Google Play Music in 2014, according to data from analytics firm App Annie
Individuals that are interested in trying their hand at capturing 360-degree video with Jump can fill out a form Google posted on Monday that asks basic biographical questions as well as details on how they would use the system.
Google didn’t say how many “select creators” it would chose, but those who are picked will be able to start using the 16-camera rig this summer.
Google seems especially interested in people with creative backgrounds. The jobs that people can select in the form’s occupation section include filmmaker, director, artist and production staff — but there is an “other” section that allows write-ins if none of the above apply.
There’s also a section where applicants can explain why they want to test Jump — and “awesome answers might put you at the top of the list,” Google said.
Google worked with GoPro to build Jump, which has 16 of the company’s Hero4 cameras attached to a circular frame. Jump’s price and availability weren’t provided when the rig was shown at Google’s I/O developer’s conference in May. However, given that a Hero4 camera retails for approximately US$500, initial Jump buyers will likely have deep pockets.
The first videos created with Jump will appear on YouTube this summer, Google said at I/O. People will be able to experience them via the Google Cardboard viewer.
SoftBank Robotics Corp., an international company based in Japan, put 1,000 personal robots, priced at $1,600, on sale last Saturday. Within one minute, they were sold out. Customers also must pay a $120 per month cloud connection fee and and monthly insurance of $80.
It was the first time that SoftBank had allowed people to put in orders for the robot, dubbed Pepper.
There has been high interest in the robot’s launch because its creators say Pepper not only can read and respond to human emotions but it will have its own emotions. According to SoftBank, the robot can autonomously generate emotions by processing information from its cameras and sensors.
SoftBank said more sales will be announced next month.
“With this emotion function, Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings, which in turn affects Pepper’s words and actions,” the company said in a statement. “For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.”
The robot is designed to raise its voice or can sigh depending on its emotions at the moment. Pepper also will show its emotions – based on different colors and motions – on a chest display.
The robot also has an ecosystem of more than 200 apps.
Last week, SoftBank announced a deal to team deal to team with Foxconn Technology Group, an Apple manufacturer, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to build and sell robots for the home and enterprise worldwide.
SoftBank will retain 60% of its company but for an investment of $118 million U.S. each, both Foxconn and Alibaba will receive 20 percent stakes in the robotics maker.
IDC had said two weeks ago that Apple will ship to retailers about 21 million Apple Watches in 2015. That’s in the mid-range of other analyst forecasts of 15 million to 30 million for the new device.
Then last week IDC said that all smartwatches and a small number of other smart wearables will total 33.1 million shipments in 2015, putting Apple Watch at 63% of that total. Smart wearables are defined by IDC as devices capable of running third party apps, such as Apple Watch and Android Wear watches like the Moto 360.
The IDC prediction comes amidst some other striking analyst forecasts for the Apple Watch, but also amid questions about the overall value of smartwatches.
Financial analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald recently declared the Apple Watch will “prove to be the best selling product in Apple’s history (within the first 12 months.)” Various estimates say it took one day of pre-orders to sell 1 million Apple Watches, while it took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million iPhones and 28 days to sell 1 million iPads.
Research firm Slice Intelligence told Reuters that about 2.8 million Apple Watches were sold through mid-June, nearly two months after the device first went on sale. Apple hasn’t reported how many Apple Watches it has sold and is not expected to separately report that number in the future. Slice gets its insights by mining e-mail receipts. The entry-level Apple Watch costs $349 and is the most popular in sales, Slice said.
About 20% of Apple Watch customers are also buying a spare watch band, with the entry-level sports band selling for $49, Slice noted.
As of the next build to the Windows Insider program, Microsoft will require that participants associate their Microsoft Account — typically the same username and password combination for accessing company services such as Outlook.com, OneDrive and Skype — with the preview on their PC.
“You’ll need to connect the MSA [Microsoft Account] that you registered for the Windows Insider Program with (and accepted the ‘Microsoft Windows Insider Program Agreement’) in order to continue receiving new Windows 10 Insider Preview builds (both Fast and Slow rings) from Windows Update,” wrote Gabriel Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft’s operating system group who regularly blogs about the preview.
Most testers have already done so, but those that haven’t need to toe the line. “We’re introducing new infrastructure in Windows Update to help us deliver new builds more effectively to Windows Insiders, and ensure that we’re flighting builds to people who have registered and opted in to the program,” said Aul.
Part of that move is due to the impending release of Windows 10, another to the fact that Microsoft will — contrary to past practices with beta programs — continue Insider after the initial launch.
Insider will then become Windows 10′s fastest release “branch” — Microsoft’s label for the multiple update cadences it will offer users — and receive new features, functionality and UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) changes before those on other tracks. Within Insider, users can select from different “rings” — subsets that denote how rough-edged the builds are — as they will be able to do if updating on the other tempos, “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business.”
Aul also reiterated what he had said previously on Twitter, that Insider participants would receive the July 29 first stable release starting that day.
The competition for video viewers opens up a new front in the clash between the two web giants that already compete in other types of advertising given their appeal to young and international consumers, Ampere Analysis said in a study.
London-based Ampere predicts a new advertising “arms race” between the two rivals, neck and neck in terms of audience sizes with around 1.4 billion to 1.3 billion monthly active users, respectively for Facebook and YouTube. That means consumers are likely to be forced to see more ads, but also enjoy a richer range of video programming as a result, it said.
The Internet will overtake TV advertising in 12 key markets, representing 28 percent of global ad spending by 2017, separate research by media-buying firm Zenith Optimedia said on Monday. Ad spending is projected to reach $531 billion this year.
Online video is now growing faster than any other digital category or subcategory, rising 33 percent in 2014, and is forecast to grow 29 percent a year through 2017, Zenith said.
The two reports were released as the week-long Cannes Lions international advertising conference opens this week.
Ampere Analysis argues that Facebook is morphing from a platform most advertisers use for building general brand awareness to one that can deliver “pre-roll” advertisements that marketing companies prefer for ensuring their messages are actually viewed.
Currently, YouTube remains a more flexible marketing platform, offering advertisers the full range of video ads which run before, during or after a video program is shown.
“If the social network’s own video ambitions are to be realized, and if it is to convince content owners it is a viable alternative to YouTube, it must deliver comparable returns,” Ampere Research Director Richard Broughton said.