Displaying items by tag: Microsoft
After temporarily closing its Microsoft Stores in March because of the pandemic, the company has decided to make it permanent.
The company said that the move will “result in a pre-tax charge of approximately $450 million” which “includes primarily asset write-offs and impairments.”
Microsoft will move its retail operations online, keeping just four locations and transforming them into "experience centers."
"Microsoft will continue to invest in its digital storefronts on Microsoft.com, and stores in Xbox and Windows," the statement said.
The four locations that will become Microsoft Experience Centers are in London, New York, Sydney and at the company's Redmond, Washington headquarters.
Retail team members will "serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities and remotely providing sales, training, and support," the company said.
"Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location," said Microsoft corporate vice president David Porter.
Microsoft in recent years has been relying more on its services such as cloud computing, with the retail locations focusing on its Surface tablets and laptops as well as Xbox gaming gear. But the physical stores failed to gain momentum.
Independent technology analyst Neil Cybart said the closures were because "the Surface business increasingly looks to be losing momentum in the consumer space."
The impact of the pandemic has not yet been reflected in Microsoft's financial results. It posted a net profit of $10.8 billion from January to March, up 22 percent year-on-year, on a turnover of $35 billion.
Microsoft and Altran, the design and engineering firm recently acquired by Capgemini, have collaborated to develop an AI-based tool to predict the likelihood of bugs in source codes created by developers early in the software development process.
By applying machine learning (ML) to historical data, the tool – called “Code Defect AI” – identifies areas of the code that are potentially buggy and then suggests a set of tests to diagnose and fix the flaws, resulting in higher-quality software and faster development times.
Bugs are a fact of life in software development. The later a defect is found in the development lifecycle, the higher the cost of fixing a bug. This bug-deployment-analysis-fix process is time consuming and costly. Code Defect AI allows earlier discovery of defects, minimizing the cost of fixing them and speeding the development cycle.
“It’s well known that software developers are under constant pressure to release code fast without compromising on quality,” said Walid Negm, Group Chief Innovation Officer at Altran.
“The reality however is that the software release cycle needs more than automation of assembly and delivery activities. It needs algorithms that can help make strategic judgments ‒ especially as code gets more complex. Code Defect AI does exactly that.”
Code Defect AI relies on various ML techniques including random decision forests, support vector machines, multilayer perceptron (MLP) and logistic regression. Historical data is extracted, pre-processed and labelled to train the algorithm and curate a reliable decision model. Developers are given a confidence score that predicts whether the code is compliant or presents the risk of containing bugs.
Code Defect AI supports integration with third-party analysis tools and can itself help identify bugs in a given program code. Additionally, the Code Defect AI tool allows developers to assess which features in the code have higher weightage in terms of bug prediction, i.e., if there are two features in the software that play a role in the assessment of a probable bug, which feature will take precedence.
“Microsoft and Altran have been working together to improve the software development cycle, and Code Defect AI, powered by Microsoft Azure, is an innovative tool that can help software developers through the use of machine learning,” said David Carmona, General Manager of AI Marketing at Microsoft.
Code Defect AI is a scalable solution that can be hosted on premise as well as on cloud computing platforms such as Microsoft Azure. While the solution currently supports GitHub, which is owned by Microsoft, it can be integrated with other source-code management tools as needed.
Microsoft reported higher results for its fiscal third quarter to end March, powered by sharp demand for its Teams chat and online meeting app and cloud computing services as the world shifted to working and playing from home because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Microsoft Teams now has 75 million daily active users. This comes as the coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to operate remotely, and has boosted the demand for Microsoft's products that enable communication and collaboration.
The company said net impact was minimal and that cloud usage increased. There was a slowdown in transactional licensing, particularly among SMEs, and a reduction in advertising spends on LinkedIn.
In the More Personal Computing segment, Windows OEM and Surface benefited from increased demand for remote work and learning, but supply chain constraints in China offset that rise, though these improved late in the quarter.
Gaming benefited from people in lockdown, but Search was negatively impacted by less ad spend. Microsoft noted that the full effects of the pandemic may not be fully felt until later in the future.
Revenue for the quarter climbed 15 percent from the year before to USD 35.0 billion, the operating profit increased 25 percent to USD 13.0 billion and the net profit rose 22 percent to USD 10.8 billion or USD 1.40 per share. Commercial Cloud helped lift results, generating USD 13.3 billion worth of revenues, up 39 percent.
Total Intelligent Cloud revenues went up 27 percent to USD 12.3 billion, with server products and cloud services going 30 percent higher and Azure leaping 59 percent. Enterprise Services revenue increased 6 percent.
Productivity and Business Processes was the next largest division, with revenues rising 15 percent to USD 11.7 billion. These included Office Commercial products and cloud services revenue up 13 percent, driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 25 percent. Office Consumer products and cloud services revenue strengthened 15 percent, also helped Office 365, with consumer subscriber numbers growing to 39.6 million. LinkedIn revenue went up 21 percent while Dynamic products and cloud services had revenues rising 17 percent, driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth of 47 percent.
Microsoft said it returned USD 9.9 billion to shareholders in the quarter, in the form of share buybacks and dividends, an increase of 33 percent from the year earlier.
In a multi-year partnership, Etisalat has announced that it has teamed up with Microsoft to drive public cloud first strategy through a digital transformation program that enables Etisalat to build a digital platform infused with automation and AI providing a simplified network architecture and operations empowering Etisalat subscribers and improving customer experience.
“Today, Etisalat and Microsoft embark together on a bold new digital transformation journey that will allow us to leverage our industry expertise to deliver the next generation of networks,” said Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President, Mobile Networks, Etisalat.
“Keeping in line with our overall strategy and vision of ‘Driving the Digital Future to Empower Societies, we at Etisalat are committed to nothing less than the total transformation of the consumer and business customer experiences. Etisalat today has transitioned to a digital service provider – the provider of choice for digital services among enterprises and SMB customers, supporting them to monetize services to generate new revenue streams. Together with Microsoft, we are building the communications network of the future.”
Microsoft Azure will power the infusion of AI capabilities into Etisalat’s network by expanding Microsoft Azure solutions into the network, and for Etisalat’s new technologies like Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and Network Edge Computing (NEC). These will significantly speed up computing at the edge, which combined with 5G, will enable new types of applications related to smart cities, autonomous systems, gaming, AR/VR, IoT, and vision computing solutions.
“Our partnership with Etisalat is further demonstration of the trust regional enterprises place in the intelligent Microsoft Cloud,” said Sayed Hashish, General Manager, Microsoft UAE.
“Our mission is to empower every individual and organization on the planet to achieve more. Etisalat’s digital transformation journey centers on a public-cloud-first strategy including network workloads. Its partnership with Microsoft is designed to merge its telecommunications capabilities with our intelligent cloud solutions, including artificial intelligence and self-healing networks.”
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith says the way the U.S. government is treating Huawei is un-American. As far as he knows, China’s leading maker of networking equipment and mobile phones should be allowed to buy U.S. technology, including software from his company.
US technology behemoth Microsoft is edging nearer a trillion-dollar valuation after its profits soared in the first-quarter of 2019. Microsoft enjoyed the increase in its revenues largely because of its cloud and business services continue to resonate with the market.
Profits’ in the opening quarter climbed by 19% to $8.8bn and that represents an increase of 14% from the same period a year earlier. Microsoft also saw its shares gain 3% on the New York Stock Exchange which pushes it closer to a $1 trillion valuation.
By the close of the bell on Wall Street, Microsoft was valued at $960m, which places them just behind Apple and slightly ahead of Amazon.
The financial results indicate that Microsoft is now becoming increasingly reliant on cloud computing and other business services which now drive its earnings, in contrast to its earlier days when it focused on consumer PC software.
“Leading organizations of every size in every industry trust the Microsoft cloud," chief executive Satya Nadella said in a statement.
Commercial cloud revenue rose 41 percent from a year ago to $9.6 billion, which now makes up nearly a third of sales, Microsoft said.
In addition to this, it was disclosed that some $10.2 billion in revenue came from the productivity and business services unit which includes its Office software suite for both consumers and enterprises, and the LinkedIn professional social network.
The more personal computing unit which includes its Windows software, Surface devices and gaming operations generated $10.6 billion in the quarter.
Hélène Auriol Potier has been appointed Executive Vice President, International at Orange Business Services. She joins Orange from Microsoft where she spent 10 years, most recently as General Manager, Artificial Intelligence, Western Europe.
“Hélène’s deep knowledge of B2B customer needs, as well as her expertise in digital technologies will help our customers shape their innovation and is a perfect match with our ambition to become a leader in a new global, data-driven ecosystem where people, objects and business processes are all connected both inside and outside the company. This is what we envision as the “Internet of Enterprises,” said Helmut Reisinger, CEO, Orange Business Services.
Bringing information technology industry expertise gained in the US, Europe, Africa and Asia, Auriol Potier will help drive forward the company’s growth in areas that are key to support multinational companies in their data journey, including IoT, SD-WAN, cloud, analytics, big data and cyberdefense.
This strategy has already delivered significant results for Orange Business Services, with over 100 new major international customers signed up in 2018.
In cloud services and cybersecurity for example, Orange Business Services has posted seven consecutive years of double-digit growth globally, putting it well on the way to meeting its ambition for 50 percent of cloud revenues to come from outside France by 2022. This has also been driven by key acquisitions in the industry, including Basefarm and the opening of new data centers in Amsterdam and Atlanta.
With 60 percent of the world’s data expected to come from enterprises in 2025 (vs 30 percent today), Orange Business Services continues to transform its core service portfolio, including network services with the development of its software defined network (SDN)-based offerings, including Flexible SD-WAN. That solution was recognized as Best Enterprise Service in the 2018 World Communications Awards and attracted many new customers, including Siemens, one of the biggest SD-WAN deals ever signed.
Thanks to the Orange international focus on innovation, the company has pioneered a co-innovation approach that facilitates collaboration among the customer, Orange experts and partners to deliver new ideas, test them and bring them to market.
Successes include a project where Orange and its partner Foxtrot Systems are developing a proof of concept to optimize logistics using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for one of its largest European manufacturing customers. With a collaborative open ecosystem of internal talent and partners, Orange Business Services is poised to continue developing innovative solutions to benefit its customers.
PCCW Global, the international operating division of HKT, Hong Kong’s premier telecommunications service provider, has launched the Online Cloud Connect service providing connectivity to Microsoft Azure.
This is an innovative Network-as-a-Service product that extends a customer’s MPLS network service to both Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365, benefiting them by providing a service which is insulated from the public Internet with improved and predictable performance and vastly reduced latency.
The Online Cloud Connect service leverages the capabilities of PCCW Global's Software Defined Network (SDN) and is an evolution beyond traditional and existing cloud connect services in the market. Enterprises and institutions gain flexibility, scalability, reliable performance and control over their connectivity to the cloud to fit their requirements at any given time.
Mr. Jordick Wong, Senior Vice President, Product and Vendor Management, PCCW Global, said, “Through an intuitive, easy to manage online service portal, our MPLS customers can now establish their own private connection to Microsoft Azure very easily and conveniently.”
Wong added, “The service portal offers online ordering and automatic provisioning together with flexible subscription packages starting from as little as a one-hour timeslot. Customers can subscribe to the bandwidth they require from a range of 50 to 1000 Mbps at the point of demand, and pay as they go without any human interaction being required.”
The Online Cloud Connect service is in the process of further extending its online ordering and automatic provisioning capabilities to include other major public cloud service providers.
Amazon and Microsoft announced that Alexa, Amazon’s AI personal assistant, will soon be able to communicate with Cortana, the personal assistant for Windows 10, and vice versa. Users of Amazon’s Alexa-controlled Echo speaker will be able to turn on their device and say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” or turn to their Windows 10 device and say, “Cortana, open Alexa.”
The two US technology giants said Alexa and Cortana will begin talking to each other later this year. Under the agreement, Microsoft customers first will be able to access Alexa via Cortana on Windows PCs, and later on Android and iOS devices, said Andrew Shuman, corporate vice president, Cortana Engineering.
Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana's unique features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home, or reading your work email – all using just your voice. Similarly, Cortana customers can ask Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop on Amazon.com, interact with many of the more than 20,000 skills built by third-party developers, and much more.
"Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "Bringing Cortana's knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal."
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said, "The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience.”
Tractica analyst Mark Beccue speculates that Amazon and Microsoft have mutual interest in developing the ability for their AI assistants to communicate, because neither company has enough presence in the mobile space to stand alone.
He told TechNewsWorld: “Neither Microsoft nor Amazon have the market penetration that Apple and Google do. Their virtual assistants are not very multimodal yet. Maybe they feel stronger together.”
Both Amazon and Microsoft have their own strengths that they can bring to the table; for example, Microsoft is stronger in productivity and search, whereas Amazon is known for e-commerce and has a vast ecosystem of skill applications, including many related to smart home technologies.
Some of the most prominent figures in the US technology sector have publicly expressed their dismay and anger following the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last week. Microsoft, Apple and Facebook have all announced they will implement measures in a bid to fightback against the rise of white supremacists in the US.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook criticized President Trump’s response to the events last week - and in a letter to his employees said counter-protesters were standing up for human rights. Cook said, “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”
Cook revealed that Apple would contribute $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, who are both human right groups. In addition to this, he said it was suspending its Apple Pay support on websites that sell white supremacy clothing and accessories. E-commerce platform PayPal has also implemented similar measures.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella also voiced her concern at the violence in Virginia, and said there was absolutely unequivocally no place for such racist rhetoric in the US. In a letter to employees, Nadella said, “There is no place in our society for the bias, bigotry and senseless violence we witnessed this weekend in Virginia provoked by white nationalists.”
Cloud security and performance firm Cloud-flare also publicly announced that it has now terminated its account with neo-Nazi outlet ‘The Daily Stormer. The publication drew widespread criticism following the publication of a hate-filled feature on the victims of the Charlottesville violence.
Social media colossus Facebook has also moved swiftly to take action and suspended the account of infamous white supremacist Christopher Cantwell’s accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. Twitter has also removed the online account of The Daily Stormer from its platform.
President Trump drew criticism from technology leaders following his appointment to The White House in November. His controversial policies on immigration were widely condemned in Silicon Valley, and while President Trump has taken steps to build relationships with technology firms in Silicon Valley since taking office – there scathing criticism of his response to Charlottesville will not be well received by either Trump or his republican administration in Washington DC.