Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Microsoft video offers stunning vision for future of mobile

October 28th, 2011

With smartphones becoming as commonplace as wrist watches, it’s only a matter of time before they also start to take control of other gadgets in our lives. In this video, Microsoft offers a stunning view of what is possible.

Today when we talk about smartphones and the various things we wish they could do for us, the common response is “There’s an app for that!”

The mobile phone has long been viewed as one of the single most powerful gadgets we own not just because it functions as a computer and phone, but because of the potential to use it as a way to control other pieces of technology in our lives.

A new video created by Microsoft (below) gives an updated view at what could be possible, and it’s nothing short of remarkable. Interactive touch screens are gearing up to play a vital role in our lives and Microsoft’s vision of the future puts that concept front and center.

The 6-minute video titled “Productivity Future Vision (2011)” shows how technology, namely mobile devices, can be used to control other things in our lives in real-time. They let us communicate, do business, talk with family and play games, but they are also one day poised to be the central devices in our lives and critical to how we interact with other pieces of technology.

The video also shows how other mobile devices such as touchscreens and tablets will play a role an interact with mobile devices.

We’re a long way off from the vision Microsoft has presented in this video, but based on how far we’ve come with smartphones and mobile devices, it doesn’t seem as sci-fi as it once did. We’re already starting to see the virtual assistant-type technology evolve with Apple’s Siri, and the majority of kids under the age of 8 are using mobile devices regularly. Smartphones and mobile technology are everywhere. The future is not that far off anymore.

Check out the video below:

Microsoft acquires Skype for $8.5 billion

May 10th, 2011

Skype

In a press release issued this morning, Microsoft confirmed rumours it will buy Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. The acquisition is the largest in Microsoft’s history.

Rumours about the acquisition started leaking out online late last night, and this morning Microsoft confirmed it is acquiring Skype Global S.à r.l. from the investor group led by Silver Lake.

“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a news release. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”

The deal has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype, and Microsoft says the acquisition will “increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications.”

The company says the deal will also generate new business and revenue opportunities.According to filings, Skype posted $859.8 million in revenue in 2010, but lost $7 million. Under the acquition, Microsoft will also assume the $686 million in debt which Skype posted as of Dec. 31, the Wall Street Journal reports.

From an organizational standpoint, Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft. Current Skype CEO, Tony Bates, will become President of the Microsoft Skype Division and he will report directly to Ballmer.

“Microsoft and Skype share the vision of bringing software innovation and products to our customers,” said Tony Bates in a news release. “Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype’s plans to extend our global community and introduce new ways for everyone to communicate and collaborate,” Bates said.

Microsoft eyes this deal as a way to enhance its portfolio of real-time communication products and services, as Skype boasts 660 million users worldwide (170 million of whom are “connected users” according to the press release) and more than 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations last year.

Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft says it will continue to support and invest in Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms. Skype will also support Microsoft devices such as Xbox, Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices. It will also connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities.

“We are thrilled with Skype’s transformation during the period of our ownership and grateful for the extraordinary commitment of its management team and employees,” said Egon Durban, managing director of Silver Lake, the investor group that sold Skype to Microsoft. “We are excited about Skype’s long-term future with Microsoft, as it is poised to become one of the world’s most dynamic and comprehensive communications platforms.”

Not everyone is excited about Microsoft’s acquisition, however. Analysts were reportedly shocked by the the deal, and concerned Microsoft overpaid for the company.

Skype has a long history in voice-over-IP services and is a widely known name in the industry. The company was founded in 2003 and was acquired by eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion. It was sold again in 2009 to several investors including Silver Lake, eBay International AG, CPP Investment Board, Joltid Limited in partnership with Europlay Capital Advisors, and Andreessen Horowitz.

Microsoft says in the 18 months since Skype was bought from eBay, calling minutes have increased by 150 percent and the company has developed new revenue streams and strategic partnerships.

The acquisition will now be subject to regulatory approvals, which both companies hope will happen by the end of this calendar year.

[Cross-posted to Digital Journal and Future of Media]

Microsoft Street Slide a more efficient way to view maps

July 30th, 2010

Online mapping is one of my favourite geeky obsessions. I use Google Street View to check out just about any place before I visit, as it’s a very helpful time-saver if you’re driving or walking somewhere and you don’t know what the meeting spot looks like.

Enter Microsoft Research to make the whole process more efficient: Microsoft is now showing off a new type of street-level view that makes it faster and easier to hop down a street.

Presenting the new view at the SIGGRAPH conference in LA, Microsoft’s Street Slide lets you zoom out of a street to see a panoramic view.

So if you’re looking for a restaurant, for example, and it’s on the left side of the street — traditionally, you’d have to keep clicking forward, forward, forward until you made it to the resto, or you’d have to zoom in. Zooming causes pixelation which makes the image impossible to comprehend.

Microsoft’s Street Slide lets you essentially take the whole left-hand side of the street and flatten it like a two-dimensional storybook. In this view you can see the whole side of the street easily and once you spot the restaurant you can easily slide back into the street view.

I won’t waste too many words describing this because the video does a much better visual job of explaining:

Foursquare in talks with search engines over data partnership

July 19th, 2010
The company behind the social “check-in” application Foursquare says it’s now in talks with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo about a data partnership. Foursquare says check-in data could help search engines enhance results.

Foursquare is a location-based social network used on mobile devices. Members of the service launch an application or send a text message when they arrive at a venue or destination and click on a “check-in” button. The more a user checks-in to various locations, the more points he or she is awarded. The user also unlocks “badges” for special activities and can become the “mayor” of a venue if they check in there more often than others.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley says he has been speaking with “everyone” in the search space including big companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, about a possible data deal. “Our data generates hugely interesting trends which would enrich search,” Crowley said. “We can anonymize data and use it to show venues which are trending at that moment. Twitter helped the world and the search engines know what people are talking about. Foursquare would allow people to search for the types of place people are going to – and where is trending – not what.”

According to the Telegraph, big search engines deny they’re in talks with Foursquare, but also refused to provide statements to media inquiries.

Foursquare has not indicated when a deal may be inked with search partners, but Crowley said the company is excited about its ongoing discussions with “a lot of different potential partners” who could benefit from Foursquare data.

When asked to comment about the possibility of joining forces with competitor Gowalla, Crowley told the Telegraph, “We are more social than Gowalla and ultimately have different visions moving forward. They are excited about different things.”

Crowley created an earlier version of Foursquare called Dodgeball which was acquired by Google in 2005 and shut down in 2009. Crowley says he remains close with “the guys at Google” and he currently employs a few Google employees.

Foursqure boasts more than two million members and recently finished a $20 million investment round by Silicon Valley venture capital company, Andreessen Horowitz. Foursquare is now valued at $95 million.

Foursquare’s potential data deals are similar to Twitter’s first commercial agreements in which the company decided to sell data to help search engines keep track of the real-time Web.

As critics point out, it would be a big deal for Foursquare if it landed agreements with big search engines, but it may still be too early to pull out the bubbly to celebrate. “It’s an attractive idea in theory, though it’s difficult to see this data being widely useful just yet; Foursquare’s two million users are impressive, but not enough to shed much light on what places people in general are going to,” writes Nick Saint of Business Insider. If search companies throw much money Foursquare’s way, it will be a bet on the startup’s future.

Google to launch Chrome operating system this fall

June 2nd, 2010
Speaking at CompuTex Taipei, Asia’s biggest IT trade show, Google VP of product management Sundar Pichai said Google is planning to release its Chrome operating system this fall. The OS will be free and is set to take on Microsoft Windows.

Pinchai said the Chrome OS will launch in “late fall.” No specific date was given. “We are working on bringing the device later this fall. It’s something which we are very excited by…We expect it to reach millions of users on day one,” Pinchai said at the trade show.

Google’s Chrome operating system is rumoured to be a stripped-down version of an OS, designed to run fast and run applications “in the cloud” — online applications rather than store-bought boxed software. The open-source operating system will be free.

The Chrome OS is widely expected to be similar to Google’s web browser of the same name. According to Google, 70 million people use the Chrome browser today.

As Reuters reports, Microsoft attempted to downplay Google’s announcement by saying software developers would have to write multiple different versions of applications for different brands.

Google, disputed that notion and Pichai said: “Chrome OS is one of the few future operating systems for which there are already millions of applications that work. You don’t need to redesign Gmail for it to work on Chrome. Facebook does not need to write a new app for Chrome.”

Google also indicated it will be selective with how it comes to market because the company wants to deliver a specific user experience. Google will begin by limiting Chrome to laptops rather than desktop PCs.

The fact Chrome will be open source software means other companies will be able to develop their own versions of the software using a shell provided by Google. Google has employed a similar tactic in the mobile space with its Android operating system, allowing cellphone manufacturers to customize Android to fit their needs.

As AFP reports, “The jury is still out on Google’s ability to challenge Microsoft, analysts said, pointing out that it remains to be seen if hardware manufacturers will launch Chrome-based products.”