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Will Microsoft Put The Surface To Rest

October 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will drop its Surface laptop line-up by 2019, if remarks made by Canalys CEO Steve Brazier are to be believed.

As reported by The Register, which attended the Canalys Channels Forum, Brazier said that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is a “software guy, a cloud guy”, hinting that the firm’s bork-ridden Surface laptops and tablets are likely to go the same way as the firm’s all-but-defunct smartphone division.

“The Surface performance is choppy; there are good quarters and bad quarters, overall they are not making money. It doesn’t make sense for them to be in this business,” Brazier remarked.

“When the capital expenditure challenge that Satya Nadella has taken Microsoft down becomes visible to Wall Street, everyone will ask him ‘Why have you gone to a low margin business?'”

Brazier has a point. Last quarter, Microsoft’s Surface revenue was down 2 per cent, and dropped a massive 26 per cent year-on-year in the previous quarter. The devices have been plagued with issues, too, which Microsoft has blamed on Intel’s Skylake chips.

Passing the buck didn’t stop Consumer Reports yanking its “recommended” label from the Surface line-up, though. It slammed the hardware “significantly less reliable than most other brands” after finding that one in four Surface owners were being plagued with  “problems by the end of the second year of ownership.”

Brazier’s predictions were backed up by Gianfranco Lanci, corporate VP and COO of Lenovo, who joined the Canalys CEO on stage.

“Microsoft is making a lot of money on cloud, making a lot of money on Windows and Office, but losing a lot of money on devices,” he said.

“Frankly speaking, it is difficult to see why they should keep losing money. For them it is a very difficult exercise to run hardware products business, they need to be careful about every single detail as the margin on this is so thin.”

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft’s Surface Tablets Not So Reliable, Says Consumer Reports

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The breakage rate for Microsoft Corp’s Surface devices significantly outpaces that of other manufacturers’ laptops and tablets, Consumer Reports said, adding that it was removing its “recommended” designation for Surface products.

The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday.

“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” Jerry Beilinson, electronics editor at the consumer goods testing publication, said in an interview.

Microsoft disputed the study, saying the company’s return and support rates differ significantly from the Consumer Reports study.

“We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said.

Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said.

Microsoft entered the hardware market with its first Surface tablet in 2012. Since then, the company has released a series of new Surface tablets and laptops, including the well-reviewed Surface Pro, which launched in May.

The Surface devices serve as a face for the company and exemplify how Microsoft’s manufacturing partners can build hardware around the Windows 10 operating system. However, Surface is a small part of Microsoft’s overall revenue, and Surface revenue has declined year-over-year for the past two quarters.

Is Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Too Expensive?

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft made a rather surprising move by unveiling its Surface Laptop at the #MicrosoftEDU event in New York but at that price, it faces some rather stiff competition.

Microsoft is aiming at education with Windows 10 S OS, the new Microsoft Surface Laptop starts at a rather steep price of US $999 for the base version, powered by 7th-gen Kaby Lake Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Both HP and Acer have unveiled their notebooks powered by Windows 10 S, the HP ProBook x360 Education Edition, and the Acer TravelMate Spin B1 Convertible, which start at rather more reasonable US $299, coming with 11.6-inch screens, Intel Celeron CPUs, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

While it might be both lighter and thinner than any Apple Macbook as well as 50 percent faster than Macbook Air (like that was so hard to achieve), the Surface Laptop falls short when it comes to some serious competition.

Microsoft spent a lot of time talking about dimensions and the fact that the Surface Laptop is both lighter and thinner than any Apple Macbook. Measuring at 308.1×223.27×14.48mm (12.13×8.79×0.57 inches) and weighing in at 1,252g (2.76 lbs), the Surface Laptop is a fancy looking system with anodized chassis and Alcantara covered keyboard, but competition, like the Dell XPS 13, coming with CNC machined aluminum chassis and carbon fiber composite palm rest with soft-touch, is not far behind at all.

The Dell XPS 13 measures at 304x200x9-15mm (11.98×7.88×0.33-0.6inches) and weighs 1.22kg (2.7lbs) for the standard and 1.31kg (2.9lbs) for the touch version, which makes it smaller and pretty much the same weight as the Surface Laptop. 

When it comes to hardware, Dell also offers more bang for the buck, at least when it comes to high-end configurations. The most expensive version of Surface Laptop, one featuring an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB or RAM and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD is listed at US $2,199, whereas Dell will give you its high-end XPS 13 Touch with Intel 7th-gen Core i7-7560U, 16GB or RAM, 512GB of SSD storage and the 13.3-inch QHD (3200×1800) touch screen for US $1,974.99.

Dell also has the new XPS 13 2-in-1, which was introduced back in January, and which comes an UltraSharp QHD+ (3200×1800 resolution) screen or a standard 1920×1080 screen. It is powered by Intel’s latest Kaby Lake Y-series CPUs, including the Core i5-7Y54 clocked at 3.2GHz or i7-7Y75 clocked at 3.6GHZ. It can also be equipped with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage, so this is a viable competition as well. 

HP has a neat offer with the Spectre 13-v151nr, offering a 13.3-inch FHD system with Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage for US $1,249.99.

We are sure that Surface Laptop has its market but those in education will be looking at cheaper systems while those looking for a high-end notebook will probably look elsewhere as there is plenty of competition offering more than Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop, let alone the Apple Macbook line. Bear in mind that all of these high-end notebooks run on Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro OS, which offer a lot more than the locked Windows 10 S OS. 

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft’s Surface Sales Take A Deep Dive

May 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Revenue generated by Microsoft’s Surface hardware during the March quarter fell by 26% from the same period the year before, the company said in a Wall Street briefing.

For the quarter, Surface produced $831 million, some $285 million less than the March quarter of 2016, for the largest year-over-year dollar decline ever.

Microsoft blamed the portfolio’s age and increased competition from hardware partners for the fall-off. “Our Surface results fell short of expectations impacted by end-of-product-lifecycle and increased price competition,” contended Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, in the Thursday earnings call.

The Surface Pro 4, the portfolio’s top seller, was introduced in October 2015, and has not been refreshed since then.

Analysts accepted Microsoft’s reasons for the downturn.

“There is competition that is lower-priced,” said Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies in a Friday interview. “There’s not just more of the same, but a lot that are positioned in the same space are cheaper. And there were expectations that we would have seen a [product] refresh that we haven’t seen yet.”

Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, echoed Milanesi on the age angle. The revenue decline “indicates that the aging product needs a refresh badly,” Gold wrote in a note to clients today. “Price cutting and competing vendors’ products will continue to create declines until new product is released, rumored for later this year.”

Microsoft threw cold water on any significant changes to the Surface line before June, forecasting that the current quarter will also post a revenue decline.

Initially, Surface was pitched by Microsoft as a kick-in-the-pants to its partners, the OEMs, or “original equipment manufacturers,” which until 2012 had had a lock on the Windows hardware market. Microsoft meant to show the OEMs what a cutting-edge, premium-priced device could do, and how it could best demonstrate the power of Windows.

Milanesi rejected the idea that the quarter’s revenue decline signaled retrenchment by Microsoft, that the company considered the line’s mission fulfilled by the rise in 2-in-1s from partnering OEMs.

“Surface as a revenue segment is important; it’s not just a reference design,” said Milanesi, using the term bandied when Microsoft first entered the personal computer hardware space.

One reason why Surface carries weight at Redmond, said Milanesi: The 2-in-1, tablet-slash-notebook mostly sells to enterprises, or to employees who buy it themselves for work. That plays to Microsoft’s own company-wide emphasis on corporate customers. It also brings the usual advantages earned by courting enterprises, including less price sensitivity and, unlike the consumer market, a steadier calendar that doesn’t rely on high seasonal sales at the end of each year.

Even so, Milanesi thought Microsoft was missing an opportunity by focusing on business sales of the Surface, particularly the Surface Pro. “Microsoft needs to do more than just the enterprise — such as looking at higher ed students, people who may have picked a MacBook Air — and see what they can do in that space,” she argued.

Will The Surface Phone Debut Soon?

September 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-Surface phoneThis year’s IFA conference in Berlin may well include an official announcement from the mighty Microsoft about its second-generation smartphone lineup, the Surface Phone series.

The devices are expected to replace the not so current Lumia 950 and 950 XL devices from November 2015 and will be hyped as a significant design overhaul coupled with a more stable Windows 10 Mobile operating system, according to some reports.

The Surface Phone has been a long term project in Microsoft’s enterprise portfolio, and according to hints from Corporate VP Kevin Gallo made earlier this year during a “Build Tour” in London, England, it will be a product line aimed at the business market. The company says it does not intend to give market share to its competitors without taking its own chances.

The device is reported to come in three options, according to a Weibo post from July – entry level with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, mid-range with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and a larger unit with 8GB of RAM and 500GB of storage.

Back in May, a Baidu user posted an image claiming to be one of Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Phone devices. If the design is confirmed, the phone will look noticeably different than the company’s current Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL devices. As some have pointed out, the same Baidu user had previously revealed images of the devices before their announcements in October 2015.

At least one model with 5.5-inch or larger AMOLED display

While we certainly hope and pray that Microsoft will differentiate its product line with both smaller and larger screen sizes, two lines of information have been presented so far regarding display sizes. One suggests that at least one Surface Phone unit will feature a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, while the Baidu post claims it will be a 5.7-inch display. Well, we’ll find out soon enough.

Either a Snapdragon or Intel processor

There are also three conflicting reports about the device’s processor, claimed to be  a Snapdragon 821, a Snapdragon 830 or an Intel Atom 64-bit CPU (Apollo Lake). The cameras are also a source of interest, with some reports suggesting the device will include a 21-megapixel Carl Zeiss rear-facing camera with triple LED flash, and an eight megapixel wide-angle, front-facing camera as well. The devices are also set to include a USB Type-C port for charging and connectivity.

Just like the company’s current Windows 10 Mobile devices, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL, the Surface Phone lineup will  support Continuum, a feature that’s supposed to emulate Windows 10 on PC desktops, notebooks and tablets. Continuum for smartphones lets you pretend you’re using a larger PC by connecting an external display, keyboard and mouse through the Microsoft Display Dock.

Release may coincide with Windows 10 “Redstone 2”

The latest information on the web suggests a release date sometime in Spring 2017, so maybe Microsoft will announce the phones at IFA and debut them during the company’s Build developer conference in April. The timing fits during the first quarter of next year and coincides with the release of a new Windows 10 build, codenamed “Redstone 2,” set for release then. 

The company is also said to be ditching its Lumia brand in favor of the in-house Surface lineup, yet the main reason for the delay is to give Windows developers some time to release a strong product and “something to disrupt the market” according to Windows Central and others.

Pricing information has yet to be revealed, but some have suggested the entry-level device could sell for $699 while the top-tier model could sell for $1,099 based on configuration. No small potatoes then.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Dell Appears To Be Taking Security To The BIOS Level

February 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Grey tin box shifter Dell wants to beef up security on its business laptops and PCs by introducing a new tool which helps to protect the BIOS from malware.

Attacks like this are rare and hard for software security to handle. Even wiping your harddrive and reinstalling software will not fix them.

Dell has introduced this new tool which makes a copy of the clean BIOS which is kept in the cloud, and compares it with snapshot with the machine’s BIOS every time it boots. If something’s been hacked or messed with it can be flagged up.

This allows the admin to be notified of the problem, and the system reverted to the clean BIOS. Dell wants to automate the entire process, but at the moment it still needs to be done manually.

Dell is making the system optional, and will cost extra for users.  It will be available on Dell’s Precision and OptiPlex models, along with XPS PCs and Venue Pro tablets.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Microsoft Debut A Lumia Business Phone Next Year?

November 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft surprised the world when its new phone range failed to contain anything to interest business users – now it seems it is prepared to remedy that.

Microsoft promised that its Lumia range would cover the low end, business and enthusiast segments but while the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 650 should cover the low-end segment as well nothing has turned up for business users.

This was odd, given that business users want phones that play nice with their networks, something that Redmond should do much better than Google or Apple.

Microsoft’s CFO Amy Hood told the UBS Global Technology Conference that business versions of the Lumia were coming. She said:

“We launched a Lumia 950 and a 950 XL. They’re premium products, at the premium end of the market, made for Windows fans. And we’ll have a business phone, as well.”

There were no details, but we have been hearing rumours of a Surface phone being sighted on benchmarks. It was thought that his would be a Microsoft flagship, but with the launch of the Lumia 950/950 XL, it is possible that this Surface phone could be aimed at the business user. The word Surface matches nicely with Microsoft’s Surface Pro branding.

 

 

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Tablets Finally Penetrating The Enterprise

October 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has recently shown signs of life in Windows smartphones and tablets shipments for use in businesses.

Microsoft and its Windows devices globally accounted for 6% of business smartphones and 10% of tablets in the second quarter of 2015, breaking the double-digit mark for business tablets for the first time, according to Strategy Analytics. Overall, the market research firm said business smartphone shipments were 89.3 million in the second quarter, while shipments of business tablets were 19.6 million.

All Windows tablets for business grew by 42% from the first to second quarter of 2015, reaching nearly 2 million globally, largely due to the impact of Windows Surface Pro 3, said Phil Hochmuth, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The second quarter didn’t include Microsoft’s announcements last week of a Surface Pro 4 tablet or the new Surface Book laptop and three new Lumia smartphones.

Hochmuth predicted an increase in interest in Windows 10 tablets as a replacement for laptops, particularly for business travelers looking for a lighter device to carry. Microsoft’s focus on Continuum apps that run across platforms and the Pro 4’s ability to work with mobile device management software will attract some buyers. Strategy Analytics is set to release a forecast in less than a month that takes into account the new Windows 10 devices.

Microsoft’s overall share for both business and consumer Windows smartphone devices is smaller than for tablets, hovering just above 3%, according to Gartner, IDC and other analysts.

Lumia and Windows smartphones have struggled but Windows tablets have been “eeking up” in share for the last year, Hochmuth said. Windows tablets for both consumer and business combined reached a 9% share in the second quarter, Strategy Analytics said in July. That was about 4.5 million Windows tablets out of a total of50.8 million tablets that shipped.

 

 

 

 

Microsoft’s Windows Phone Given One More Chance

July 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft will continue making smartphones for its Windows 10 Mobile operating system, but the company has squashed the device strategy pursued by its former CEO and will probably give up entirely unless Windows 10 reverses years of missteps in mobile, analysts said.

After Microsoft wrote down $7.6 billion of its investment in Nokia and again reorganized, it will turn to a revamped, two-part strategy, one piece older, the other relatively new, the experts argued.

Microsoft’s smartphones will follow the trailblazing of the more successful Surface tablet line, which after two years with little return hit its stride in 2014 with the debut of the Surface Pro 3. “We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family,” CEO Satya Nadella told employees in an all-hands email recently.

In plain English, the Lumia line will be relegated to a peripheral position — the spot the Surface Pro 3 now occupies in comparison to the broader personal computing device market and best exemplified in smartphones by Google’s “hero” Nexus handsets.

“Microsoft will have something very similar to where the Surface line is now,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in a Friday interview. “The idea will be to create inspiring hardware that motivates their ecosystem. They’ll go after the ‘halo’ effect.”

Windows phones will not disappear. Not yet. “I am committed to our first-party devices including phones,” asserted Nadella, showing that, at least for now, Microsoft won’t scrub Windows smartphones from its portfolio.

The reality, however, is stark: Even with billions poured into mobile, Windows powered just 2.7% of the handsets shipped worldwide last year, down from 3.3% in 2013, according to IDC. And because Microsoft was responsible for more than 95% of all Windows smartphones in 2014, a pull-back by the firm means there’s little chance of changing the OS’s fortunes.

 

 

 

 

Dell Working On 120Gbs Deep Packet Inspection Firewall

April 27, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Dell’s security division has announced that it is working on a next-generation Firewall (NGFW) that it claims is the first to deliver deep packet inspection (DPI) speeds of up to 120Gbps.

The company will demonstrate these speeds at the RSA conference in San Francisco this week, and said that the NGFW cluster enables an “easy migration path” for the future growth of enterprise networks.

Dubbed a “firewall sandwich” of high DPI performance, better security efficiency and N+1 resiliency, the NGFW architecture is also said to lower the cost of demanding data centre operations.

“SSL decryption and inspection are critical NGFW capabilities required to effectively uncover malware deeply hidden inside encrypted web sessions and provide deeper perimeter network security,” said Dell.

“In this network design, the Dell SuperMassive NGFW with onboard SSL decryption can be incrementally deployed and horizontally scaled infinitely to address SSL performance loss and increase SSL decryption and inspection performance.”

The company will show off the technology at RSA in collaboration with Array Networks and Spirent Communication to give a demo of a highly-resilient, scalable, ‘Open Firewall Sandwich’ layer 3 architecture.

Dell will be joined by Ixia in demonstrating a network-based model for scaling the NGFW with DPI speeds of above 100Gbps.

Dell also unveiled several updates to the SecureWorks offering, which it claims will help firms increase network security and grow their business.

Updates include improved services in Dell Secure Mobile Access (SMA) solutions to increase mobile productivity for remote workers while protecting critical data from cyber threats.

The new SMA 11.2 release adds secure access to more resources using a standard HTML 5 browser, which Dell said allows easier access for most smartphone, tablet and laptop users while reducing reliance on Java and ActiveX components.

The new release adds HTML 5 browser access to Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp ICA support.

Dell said that new SMA 6200 and 7200 appliances also offer increased scalability. The SMA 6200 entry-level platform supports up to 2,000 concurrent users, while the SMA 7200 mid-range platform supports up to 10,000 concurrent users.

The SMA updates arrive six months after Dell revealed the SuperMassive 9800 firewall, which it claimed would protect against high-profile bugs such as Shellshock and Heartbleed.

Touted at the time as the most powerful in the SuperMassive 9000 line-up, the 9800 offered Dell’s Reassembly-Free DPI single-pass threat prevention engine, and advanced DPI with speeds up to 20Gbps. That’s a whopping 100Gbps less than the speed it is about to go for at RSA.

Courtesy-TheInq

Dell Debuts Next-Gen Firewalls

December 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Computing

Dell has merged its SonicPoints with Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls to create what it claims are secure wireless networks. According to the company, the Dell SonicWALL firewalls automatically detects and provision SonicPoints, while it pushes appropriate security updates as well as policies to ensure enterprise-class security.

Of course, it also claims to simplify management, deliver a lower TCO and protect you from badgers at the same time. But it is a pretty interesting product. The SonicPoint AC Series of wireless access points would be able to support the high-performance IEEE 802.11ac wireless standard in order to offer close to three times that of the last wireless standard (802.11n).

SonicPoints will offer deep packet inspection security from Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls. This opens the door for small- and mid-sized organizations to leverage enterprise-class wireless performance and security, all the while simplifying wireless network setup and management.

With enterprise-level performance, WiFi-ready devices are able to hook up from greater distances, while making use of bandwidth-intensive mobile apps, including video and voice, working in higher-density environments with virtually no signal degradation.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Dell Launch A Super Sleek Tablet At CES?

December 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Computing

Dell got back to us about the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet following our recent article, in which we pointed up that it has yet to ship. The company said the tablet will officially launch at CES 2015.

This is the tablet that Michael Dell held in his hand at IDF 2014 in September and later Jim Parsons promoted the sleek device in a commercial that aired less than two weeks ago.

Dell said-

“The Venue 8 7000 – the world’s thinnest at 6mm, with the world’s best display (2560 x 1600 OLED) and the first RealSense depth camera integrated into such a small form factor – is going to be officially announced with pricing and availability at CES.”

It cannot be clearer than that, but we would be a tad happier to know what sort of SoC Intel uses in this tablet is and it would be great to know the price. There is still a chance that this will be the thinnest tablet by the time it actually launches, although we don’t think that Dell will be the only brand launching new products at CES.

The competition never sleeps and after a lot of digging around the most serious candidate for the SoC inside the ultrathin tablet is the Intel Atom Z3580, a 22nm processor previously codenamed Moorefield. This SoC is a quad-core clocked at up to 2.33GHz and based on the Silvermont architecture. The prototype that Dell showed back at IDF 2014 and Dell World was running Android 4.4 and Morefield Atom Z35xx has been confirmed as the SoC of choice.

Moorefield is ready for 64-bit Android 5.0 and this might be the reason behind the slight delay. Let’s face it, Lollipop is the biggest Android refresh in years and it’s a big selling point.

There is no doubt that Airmont, the 14nm follow up architecture for mobile Atom has been delayed. In September 2013, Intel’s Hermann Eul, VP GM mobile communication group announced that Airmont 14nm Atom is coming in 2014. Well it didn’t show up and it won’t as 2014 is coming to an end.

The 14nm Airmont based Cherry Trail product has been pushed to 2015, so if all goes well Dell might be launching an updated Venue tablet later in 2015, powered with a new and improved Atom processor.

Courtesy-Fud

Dell Expresses Optimism About Consumers Interest In Windows 10

November 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Windows 10 is set to replace the heavily criticized Windows 8 next year and some forward-thinking Dell customers are already excited about the possibilities of the new OS.

Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.

The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.

“The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways,” Hand said.

Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it’s premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.

Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.

Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won’t run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.

“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices — from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens — some have 80 inch screens — and some don’t have screens at all,” said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.

Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell’s target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.

However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.

 

 

Microsoft’s Surface Finally Turns A Profit

October 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

After two years and nearly $2 billion in losses, Microsoft’s Surface finally became profitable in the September quarter.

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.

 

 

Tablet Sales Growth Dropped Drastically

October 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The news about tablet sales isn’t good.

Gartner and IDC both recently dramatically lowered their tablet shipment and sales estimates for 2014 and coming years, citing primarily the longer-than-expected time customers keep their existing tablets. (That phenomenon is called the “refresh rate.”)

Gartner said it had originally expected 13% tablet sales growth for the year globally; it has now lowered that growth rate to 11%. IDC’s forecast change was even more dire: In June, it predicted shipment growth this year would be 12.1%, but in September it cut that number to 6.5%.

In the U.S., things are worse, because more than half of households have a tablet and may hold onto it for more than three years, well beyond analysts’ earlier expectations.

IDC said in its latest update that tablet growth in the U.S. this year will be just 1.5%, and will slow to 0.4% in 2015. After that, it expects negative growth through 2018. Adding in 2-in-1 devices, such as a Surface Pro with a keyboard, the situation in the U.S. improves, although overall growth for both tablets and 2-in-1’s will still only reach 3.8% in 2014, and just 0.4% by 2018, IDC said.

“Tablet penetration is high in the U.S. — over half of all households have at least one — which leads to slow growth…,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in an interview. “A smartphone is a must-have item, but a tablet is not. You can do the same things on a laptop as you do with a tablet, and these are all inter-related.”

Tablets are a “nice-to-have and not a must-have, because phones and PCs are enough to get by,” added Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel.

In a recent Kantar survey of 20,000 potential tablet buyers, only 13% said they definitely or probably would buy a tablet in the next year, while 54% said they would not, Milanesi said. Of those planning not to buy a tablet, 72% said they were happy with their current PC.

At IDC, analyst Tom Mainelli reported that the first half of 2014 saw tablet growth slow to 5.8% (from a growth rate of 88% in the first half of 2013). Mainelli said the meteoric pace of past years has slowed dramatically due to long device refresh cycles and pressure from sales of large phones, including the new iPhone 6 Plus. That phone has a 5.5-in. display, which is close to some smaller tablets with 7-in. displays.

 

 

 

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