Company in the middle of model shift from Windows to services revenue
Microsoft today announced that revenues for the quarter that ended March 31 grew to $21.7 billion. Net income, however, was a bit less than expected, coming in at $5 billion -- a 12 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. These financial results include $190 million of integration and restructuring expense related to Microsoft's turnaround plan, and the ongoing integration of the Nokia Devices and Services business.
Gaming news summary for April 22, 2015
The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN and Electronista, noting a few of the major stories in the industry from earlier this week. Today's story collection includes incoming Xbox One changes, Gearbox Software's loss of the Borderlands creator, and more Halo content
Smart document scanning app comes to iOS
Didn't we just do this one? At first glance, if you compare the new Microsoft Office Lens to Evernote Scannable, you might conclude that one is red and one is a sort of cyan blue. Otherwise, they do the same job of scanning documents very quickly, they do the same job of processing them, and they do a very similar job of passing that data on to other applications. In the case of Office Lens, that is chiefly anything beginning with Microsoft, and with Scannable, that is chiefly Evernote.
Gaming news summary for April 19, 2015
The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look by MacNN and Electronista on the wider gaming landscape, highlighting some of the more notable stories from the last few days. Today's list includes improvements to security on Steam, "Timewalking" in World of Warcraft, and the small matter of a new Star Wars game.
Skype, Microsoft Office, other apps will be included in future Cyanogen releases
Users of CyanogenMod will soon find more Microsoft apps on their devices. Cyanogen and Microsoft have announced a strategic partnership between the two companies, which will see the Android ROM producer adding Microsoft-created apps to Cyanogen OS, including Bing services, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, Microsoft Office, and Skype.
Lumia 540 Dual SIM has 5-inch 720p display, quad-core 1.2GHz processor
Microsoft has unveiled a Windows-based smartphone that seems to be a slightly improved version of the recent Lumia 640 for emerging markets. The new Lumia 540 Dual SIM shares much of its specifications with last month's smartphone launch, but it does include a few useful changes, such as a higher-resolution front-facing camera and, as the name suggests, the ability to use two SIM cards.
Audio Description tracks added to Netflix-produced shows
Netflix is making some of its content more accessible to the visually impaired, by adding an alternate "Audio Description" track to shows. Starting with the recently-released Daredevil today and reaching other Netflix-produced shows in the coming weeks, the extra option provides a narration track that describes scenes and important character attributes, such as costumes, facial expressions, and actions.
Trusted Voice Smart Lock option rolling out to stock Android devices
Owners of devices running stock Android will be able to unlock their smartphones and tablets by uttering "OK Google." Following changes to Google Play Services, Android Police reports that the Trusted Voice unlocking option is starting to roll out, appearing in the Smart Lock settings. Users are warned before setting up Trusted Voice that it is "less secure" than a knowledge-based security measure, such as a PIN or a pattern, as "someone with a similar voice or a recording of your voice could unlock your device."
News from the video game industry for the week of April 12
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista take a moment to look back at some of the notable stories in the world of gaming. This week, the EFF take on the ESA over potential DMCA exemptions, Microsoft makes the Xbox One less power hungry when switched off, and Blizzard enabled a system for purchasing of in-game World of Warcraft gold using real-world money.
Sprint International Value Roaming includes unlimited free texts, 2G data
Sprint has introduced a new International Value Roaming option that will provide free texts and 2G data to subscribers visiting a list of countries, including the United Kingdom, Japan, and Mexico, with calls in the countries priced at $0.20 per minute. Along with the new add-on, which can be included with a number of plans at no extra charge, travelers can acquire International Speed Data Roaming Passes, providing connections at 3G speeds. The three passes consist of 100MB of data at $15 for one day, 200MB at $25 for seven days, and 500MB of data for $50 for two weeks.
Updated app allows multiple users
Previously on Sway ... we reviewed Microsoft's latest app Office Sway back in January, and not only did we say lots of positive things, we managed to stop ourselves making a "walk this Sway" gag. Now Sway has been updated, and specifically to allow you to collaborate on these online articles with other people.
News from the video game industry for the week of April 5
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista take a moment to look at some of the notable stories in the world of gaming. This week, Sony says goodbye to the PlayStation Home virtual world, Blizzard starts up the beta for StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, a report claims the original Xbox could have been given away as a free console, and Microsoft is discontinuing the second-generation Kinect for Windows sensor.
Office Lens originally launched on Windows Phone, out on iOS, in preview for Android
Microsoft is making an Office app it released last year for Windows Phone available to iOS and Android users. Office Lens is an imaging app that effectively turns a smartphone into a scanner, allowing users to electronically keep track of receipts, forms, letters, and other paperwork using their device's camera, storing it on Microsoft's OneNote and OneDrive cloud services for later retrieval.
HBO joining Sling TV this month, add-on priced at $15
Sling TV will be getting HBO before the new series of Game of Thrones is set to begin on April 12. Confirming a Wall Street Journal report to Slashgear, the Dish-owned service will offer HBO to subscribers of its "Best of Live TV" core package as a $15 per month add-on, bringing the total monthly cost to $35. While there will be only one of HBO's channels available to watch, subscribers will still have access to the broadcaster's on-demand catalog.
Apple, BlackBerry, others partnered on former Nortel patents
The Rockstar Consortium, a group comprised of Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony, will see a windfall on its 2011 purchase of some 4,000 patents from Canadian tech giant Nortel, with Apple expected to gain at least $392 million from the holding, one analyst says. Wells Fargo's Maynard Um has used BlackBerry's reported gain of 17 percent of a base figure in predicting Apple's share of the profits.
App previews for Music, Video available to download in Windows 10 Technical Preview
Microsoft has released preview versions of two universal apps that will ship along with Windows 10, providing access to the user's media. The new Music and Video apps are available to download from the Windows Store beta within the Windows 10 Technical Preview, with Microsoft notably dropping the Xbox branding from the front of both app names.
Surface 3 has 10.8-inch 1080p display, Intel Atom processor
Microsoft has unexpectedly launched a new item in its Surface line. The Surface 3, originally expected to be launched alongside the Surface Pro 3 and previously believed to be scrapped by Microsoft altogether in favor of a smaller device, is a mix between the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 3, though in a notable change from the Windows RT-based range, it will instead run a full 64-bit version of Windows 8.1.
Partition stitching addition widens reach of Windows 10 phone preview
Microsoft is making the technical preview of Windows 10 for smartphones available to more devices, the software giant has advised. Initially available to a small number of Lumia smartphones, the technical preview will be installable on a wider array of hardware, with over 30 Lumia devices on a preliminary list set to receive the software in the next preview release.
Microsoft dodges questions about free versions to pirates, Parallels users
Microsoft has made a passing attempt to clarify some of its policy on free upgrades to Windows 10. In an interview, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft Aaron Woodman detailed what the company has decided about the offering -- and an alarming amount of decisions seem to have not been made yet about licensing the OS.
Google using Microsoft-created API to fix scrolling issues in Chrome
Google is going to be leaning on some Internet Explorer technology to fix scrolling and touch support in its Chrome browser. At the same time, Google has launched an extension for the desktop versions of Chrome which aims to reduce the amount of data used to surf the Internet, a feature that has already made an appearance on iOS and Android versions of the browser.
Disrupting industries is the new black, great apps and fair app prices, bad jokes
The MacNN Podcast episode seven is now available, and this week we looked at the rumor that Apple is preparing to revamp the Apple TV and sweeten the pot with an optional package of channel offerings that don't require a cable subscription; Google's entry into the MVNO space; the recent Microsoft announcements about Windows 10; Facebook getting into inter-site payments; the return of Launcher to the App Store, and the removal of so-called "anti-virus" iOS apps; our latest "Living With" column; and our favorite apps of the week.
Budget-priced Lumia 430 has four-inch display, 1.2GHz processor, 8GB storage
Microsoft has introduced what it calls its "most affordable Lumia" smartphone, priced at $70. The Lumia 430 Dual SIM leans towards the entry-level end of the smartphone spectrum, though despite the price, it manages to pack a 4-inch 800x480 display and runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, and it will be able to use Windows 10 when it is released.
Microsoft to provide PCs in China running pirated Windows with free upgrade
Microsoft may end up allowing more people to use a free version of Windows 10 than previously thought. One report claims Microsoft is going to be trying to make it easier for Android users to switch to a Windows mobile device by transforming their existing smartphone, and some pirates may also end up being able to upgrade their existing Windows installation to the new release.
Company discovered breach seven months after intrusion
Washington state-based healthcare provider Premera has suffered a massive cyberattack, which has potentially led to the theft of 11 million customers' data. More than six million people affected by the breach live in Washington state, with many employees of Microsoft and Amazon at risk. The initial attack happened on May 4, 2014, with the realization that the system had been breached not occurring until January 29, the same day fellow provider Anthem realized that they had been attacked.
Microsoft partners with Chinese companies to help spread Windows upgrade
Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 to the public in the coming months, the software maker has confirmed. Exiting its current Windows Insider technical preview program sometime this summer, the latest iteration of the operating system will be shipping in 190 countries around the world in 111 languages, with Microsoft also announcing a greater push into China.
Fingerprint scanning, face and iris recognition coming to Windows 10
Windows 10 will be including more alternative log-in systems when it launches, with Microsoft embracing biometric security on computers. The software giant also advises that the team behind Windows 10 have made changes to the way it compresses system files and how the operating system handles recovery functions, helping reduce the software's footprint on the device's storage.
Lawsuit alleged every Apple mobile device abused assortment of ex-Nokia patents
Late Monday, a jury ended a legal battle with a patent licensing firm. A jury in Texas' "rocket docket" declared that Apple did not infringe on five patents held by Conversant owned Core Wireless Licensing SARL, who was seeking $100 million in damages, and a portion of Apple's device sales going forward, some of which may have been paid out to Microsoft.
Option to download from networked PCs, other systems found in leaked Windows 10 build
Microsoft may be using a peer-to-peer file distribution system for system updates in Windows 10, a report claims. A leaked build of Windows 10 is said to include an option to "get updates from more than one place," suggesting Microsoft may be shifting away from its existing direct-from-server system to a more modern system that is closer to BitTorrent and other similar file-sharing services.
Video game inspired artificial intelligence assistant part of Microsoft's broader plan
Microsoft has broader ambitions for its Windows Phone voice-enabled assistant "Cortana." As part of an upcoming initiative slated for later in this year, not only will the voice recognition technology arrive on the desktop with Windows 10, it will also be seen on Android and iOS as a standalone app, according to Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research. The company had previously given a vague suggestion that it would come to alternative operating systems, but no details were provided until now.
Initial 2010 Stuxnet patch left Windows PCs vulnerable for five years
Microsoft has finally fixed an issue with Windows that allowed it to be vulnerable to the Stuxnet worm, by issuing another patch. An initial fix released in August 2010 to fix the USB exploit is claimed by security researchers not to have completely solved the problem, subsequently keeping all Windows PCs susceptible to the attack over the last five years, though a patch released today as part of "Patch Tuesday" is claimed to solve it once and for all.
OnePlus makes flagship smartphone available to buy in 16 more countries
OnePlus is making its OnePlus One smartphone available in more countries in Europe. The extra 16 countries, including Ireland and Greece, join another 19 countries in being able to acquire the mobile device, though The Next Web reports they will still be subject to requiring an invitation to purchase or ordering it during the Tuesday sales events, just like customers in other countries are subjected to.
Some of the best -- and worst -- trends in tech this week
The MacNN Podcast is now up to episode five, and this week we looked at the new Microsoft Office 2016 preview; the disturbing trend of legitimate app makers inserting adware (or worse) into their apps to make a few extra bucks; the news from last week's Mobile World Congress, including the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge; our favorite reviewed apps of the week, and more news about Monday's public debut of the Apple Watch.
The behemoth of office data processing returns -- and it is very good
We're not going to judge Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 in the detail or the depth that we will when it finally ships as a finished product. However, Microsoft has made it available in preview beta form, and it is irresistible. It's also very good, and if you have even a modicum of interest in Microsoft Office, you should try it now - though there are one or two caveats you'll want to keep in mind.
Chrome, Firefox for OS X safe; no ETA on Android, Windows patches
In an advisory published on Thursday, Microsoft has admitted that all versions of its OS and browser are susceptible to the FREAK bug. Additionally, all BlackBerry devices are also vulnerable. The flaw allowing the attack exists in approximately 36 percent of websites that use HTTPS, and miscreants are able to intercept and modify data passing between a vulnerable browser and a susceptible site. Neither BlackBarry devices nor Windows devices were intially pegged as susceptible, due to a flaw in the coding of the test site.
Building iPad version assisted in Mac rebuild and rethink of programs, company says
Microsoft on Thursday released a public preview beta of the programs that make up the forthcoming Office 2016 for Mac. The new versions, which inherit many of the features from the last Windows release, offer a Yosemite-inspired look that support Retina displays, full-screen mode, and other modern Mac and OS X features. The preview versions are completely free to download and use, but are intended to give customers a sneak peek and to gather feedback from users ahead of the final release.
Foldable Keyboard has spill-resistant design, can switch between two devices
Microsoft has made a second version of its multi-platform keyboard, this time in a more-portable form. Unveiled at Mobile World Congress alongside new Lumia devices, the Universal Foldable Keyboard is a full QWERTY keyboard which can be paired with two iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or Windows devices, with the user able to switch between the two with a press of a button.
Lumia 640 XL has larger screen, better cameras than Lumia 640
Microsoft has added two more mid-ranged devices to its Lumia device roster. The Lumia 640 has a five-inch 720p ClearBlack IPS display, with the Lumia 640 XL boasting a similar-resolution 5.7-inch display, and though they both have similar core specifications and share the same name, the XL version has a few more extra changes.
Case machined out of aluminum, boasts 12+ hour battery life
HP today announced the HP Spectre x360, a 13.3 inch convertible PC. The HP Spectre x360 is designed with an all-CNC aluminum chassis, is 15.9mm (0.63 inches) in height, and weighs 3.3 pounds. Notably, the company paired with Microsoft during all aspects of development, leading to tight Windows integration, and a software suite so light that the company calls it "one of the cleanest images HP has ever produced."
Microsoft simplifies student enrollment process for free Office 365 subscription
Microsoft is offering a simpler way for students around the world to check their eligibility for a free Office 365 license. While free subscriptions have been around for a while, it typically involved a lengthy process to check for eligibility. Now, students and teachers need to just sign up with a valid school email address to receive their subscription, which includes installation of Office apps on up to five computers and up to five mobile devices, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Cycling tile added to Microsoft band, more exercise tiles incoming
The first update for the Microsoft Band will introduce new tools for users and developers, as the company tries to improve its standing in the fitness-tracking market. A tile for monitoring cycling, improved communications between the band and mobile apps, and an on-screen keyboard are joined by Microsoft's preview release of an SDK, giving developers a hint at what they could do with the wearable device.
Google adds more editing options to Google Docs for Android
Google Docs for Android has been updated to provide more from its Office Compatibility Mode. The latest version allows for the cutting, copying, and pasting of text, images, tables, and charts in the mode, according to the Google Apps Updates blog, with the app also introducing the ability to insert links into Google documents. The updated app is available to download now from Google Play.
OneNote for Mac gains OCR support, close window, hide authors
On Wednesday, Microsoft updated its OneNote note-taking program for the Mac to include support for scanning and OCR of documents. The new 15.7.1 also includes to user-requested features -- the ability to close (rather than quit) the application's window using the standard Mac convention, and the ability to hide author initials in shared notebooks from the View tab.
Sunrise purchase believed to cost Microsoft at least $100M
Microsoft has confirmed it has acquired calendar app creator Sunrise. Rumored last week, the purchase provides Microsoft with a powerful calendar tool for iOS, Mac, Android, and a web-based version, and when combined with the earlier deal to buy Acompli, appears to show Microsoft is trying to improve its Office suite by incorporating already-successful third-party apps, rather than developing its own solutions.
Trademark suggests Microsoft considering more subscription services
Microsoft may be considering a future change to a subscription-based version of Windows, according to reports. A trademark filing for "Windows 365," mirroring the Office 365 branding, strongly suggests the software giant is looking to possibly charging a regular fee to consumers for the operating system or some specific functionality, rather than using the current one-time payment system used for major version upgrades.
Lower-specification Windows Phone devices could gain feature-limited WIndows 10
Microsoft is still working on allowing owners of lower-specification Windows Phone devices to use Windows 10. Concerns that owners of smartphones including the Lumia 520 would miss out were allayed by a Microsoft executive, though it appears that they may miss out on some of the functionality expected to arrive within the mobile operating system.
Calendar app purchase echoes earlier acquisition of Acompli
Microsoft has made another acquisition of an existing mobile productivity app, according to reports. Sunrise, the producer of calendar apps of the same name, is allegedly being acquired by the software giant, and based on the results of its last major third-party app acquisition, could end up adding the software to its Office app collection.
Cyanogen investment may be ploy to weaken Google control of Android
Microsoft may be planning to make an investment in an Android-related startup, a report claims. According to sources of the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft will allegedly take part in a funding round as a "minority investor" of Cyanogen, creators of the CyanogenMod Android ROM, with rumors that the round will bring in a total of $70 million to the ROM maker.
Web, iOS app first to gain new photo views, albums in OneDrive
Microsoft has made some changes to its cloud storage service OneDrive, with updates primarily concerning photography. Overall updates to image organization, searching, and sharing are accompanied by changes to the iOS app for work-related items, alterations which make it easier to access files stored on OneDrive for Business accounts without requiring a dedicated app, as well as a Mac client -- making file synchronization smoother.
Outlook preview edition for iOS, Android rebrands existing Acompli app
Microsoft has made its Office apps available to all Android users, following the limited preview release and the iOS version. The apps, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, are accompanied by a new preview of another Office app, with a rebranded version of email app Acompli as Outlook downloadable from both Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
Surface accounts for $1.1B in revenues thanks to Surface Pro 3
Microsoft's last quarter saw the company pull in $26.47 billion in revenues, beating the previous quarter and the same quarter last year's figures by $3.27 billion and $1.95 billion respectively. The gross margin is up 1 percent year-on-year to $16.33 billion, though operating income is down 2 percent to $7.78 billion, with the diluted earnings per share at $0.71, down nine percent.