Displaying items by tag: Microsoft

Oracle-TikTok deal wins US approval

Written on Monday, 21 September 2020 09:57

US President Donald Trump has given his approval to the proposed deal between ByteDance, Oracle and Walmart for TikTok’s US operations. The announcement was made a day after the US Commerce Department issued an order prohibiting business with WeChat and TikTok in order to protect national security.

The agreement will see the establishment of a new company called TikTok Global, with four US directors out of five. Together, Oracle and Walmart would hold 20 percent of the new company, for a still undisclosed price. The final transaction will need to get approval from the relevant US government agencies, as well as from Chinese authorities.

Oracle will take a 12.5 percent stake in TikTok Global and will store the data of US data in its own cloud infrastructure. Oracle CEO Safra Catz said Oracle will quickly deploy, rapidly scale and operate TikTok systems in the Oracle Cloud.

Oracle already announced that it was chosen to become TikTok’s secure cloud technology provider. The company believes this technical decision by TikTok was heavily influenced by Zoom’s recent success in moving a large portion of its video conferencing capacity to the Oracle Public Cloud.

“TikTok picked Oracle’s new Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure because it’s much faster, more reliable, and more secure than the first generation technology currently offered by all the other major cloud providers,” said Oracle Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison.

“In the 2020 Industry CloudPath survey that IDC recently released where it surveyed 935 Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) customers on their satisfaction with the top IaaS vendors including Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Google Cloud.... Oracle IaaS received the highest satisfaction score.”

“As a part of this agreement, TikTok will run on the Oracle Cloud and Oracle will become a minority investor in TikTok Global,” said Oracle CEO Safra Catz. “Oracle will quickly deploy, rapidly scale, and operate TikTok systems in the Oracle Cloud. We are a hundred percent confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world. This greatly improved security and guaranteed privacy will enable the continued rapid growth of the TikTok user community to benefit all stakeholders.”

ByteDance rejected Microsoft’s offer for its TikTok operations in the US and chose Oracle as “trusted tech partner”. Microsoft had indicated at the beginning of August that it was interested in acquiring TikTok's US operations, but later announced that bid had been rejected.

Microsoft expressed disappointment in the rejection and said it was confident its proposal would have been good for TikTok users, while protection national security interests. 

"ByteDance let us know they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft," the US tech giant said in a statement.

 "We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests," it added.

Published in Government

TikTok rejects Microsoft, chooses Oracle as “tech partner”

Written on Monday, 14 September 2020 07:25

ByteDance has rejected Microsoft’s offer for its TikTok operations in the US and has reportedly chosen Oracle as “trusted tech partner”.

The Oracle bid would next need approval from the White House and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, with both parties under the belief it would meet US data security concerns.

TikTok has been at the center of a diplomatic storm between the US and China, and President Donald Trump has given Americans a deadline to stop doing business with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance – effectively compelling a sale of the app to a US company.

Microsoft had indicated at the beginning of August that it was interested in acquiring TikTok's US operations, but later announced that bid had been rejected.

Microsoft expressed disappointment in the rejection and said it was confident its proposal would have been good for TikTok users, while protection national security interests. 

"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft," the US tech giant said in a statement.

 "We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests," it added.

Under the deal with Oracle, at least some of ByteDance’s existing investors will get stakes in the venture. These investors include Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic. Meanwhile, Walmart said in a statement that it is thinking of joining Oracle and that it is still in talks with ByteDance “leadership and other interested parties.” 

Sources said Oracle is mainly interested in TikTok to boost its cloud-computing business. For Microsoft, owning TikTok would have helped the company build its presence among everyday consumers, and given it more data on young users.

Downloaded 175 million times in the United States, TikTok is used by as many as a billion people worldwide to make quirky, short-form videos on their cellphones. It has repeatedly denied sharing data with Beijing.

TikTok meanwhile has filed a lawsuit challenging the crackdown by the US government, contending that Trump's order was a misuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because the platform is not "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

Controversially Trump has demanded that the US government get a cut of any deal, which critics contend appears unconstitutional and akin to extortion.

Bidding for TikTok comes amid a broader deterioration of relations between the world's top two economies in recent months, with the US and China locked in fierce recriminations over trade disputes, human rights and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Published in Finance

Oracle joins Microsoft, Twitter in race to buy TikTok

Written on Tuesday, 18 August 2020 08:08

Software giant Oracle is weighing a bid to join Microsoft and Twitter in the race to acquire part of TikTok, it is reported.

Oracle is “seriously considering” buying TikTok US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to the report.

The Financial Times sources added that ByteDance is also working with investment firms such as General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital to find a buyer. 

The US government has ordered TikTok parent ByteDance to sell off its US operations within 90 days. Under the emergency order, the US government will also have the final say on who gets to buy the Chinese company’s operations

China meanwhile slammed Washington for using "digital gunboat diplomacy" in the TikTok case.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said TikTok had done everything required by the US, including hiring Americans as its top executives, hosting its servers in the US and making public its source code.

But the app has been "unable to escape the robbery through trickery undertaken by some people in the US based on bandit logic and political self-interest," Zhao said at a regular press conference.

TikTok separately announced an alliance with music distribution platform UnitedMasters, playing to budding artists and their fans despite US steps to bar the popular app.

The deal to integrate UnitedMasters into TikTok promised to build on a trend of the platform being a way for musicians to be discovered by posting short-clip videos.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Published in Finance

Microsoft announces permanent closure of retail stores

Written on Sunday, 28 June 2020 06:44

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.

Published in Reports

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 revenue rises as remote work boosts cloud

Written on Thursday, 30 April 2020 10:38

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.

Published in Finance

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.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Microsoft deems US treatment of Huawei unfair

Written on Monday, 09 September 2019 13:12

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.

Published in Telecom Vendors

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.

Published in Finance

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)[1], 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.

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