CES 2021 Vision: Technology Is a Tool and a Force for Good

Consumer Technology Association (CTA) president and chief executive Gary Shapiro and CTA executive vice president Karen Chupka helped kick off the 54th annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with an emphasis on how the technology industry has innovated in the face of a worldwide pandemic. “The last 12 months have been a challenge like no other for everyone in the world,” said Shapiro. “But technology has been a stabilizing, unifying force keeping us connected to schools, jobs, doctors, families and friends.” Continue reading CES 2021 Vision: Technology Is a Tool and a Force for Good

Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

President-elect Joe Biden and top Democratic allies in Congress, including James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), are focused on significantly increasing federal spending on broadband to improve Internet access and affordability, especially in rural areas. The effort is more urgent as the pandemic continues, and the first step towards this goal is part of the new coronavirus stimulus package. Biden already endorsed the relief bill, passed by the House, that includes $4 billion for Internet access to low-income Americans. Continue reading Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

Microsoft Q1 Revenues Rise in Part Due to Azure Cloud Unit

Microsoft’s sales rose 12 percent to $37.2 billion, with a net profit of $13.9 billion for Q1 of its fiscal year, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Its cloud unit Azure’s revenue jumped 48 percent from the same quarter last year, driving the quarter’s results, said chief financial officer Amy Hood. Much of the dramatic leap in Azure’s use can be attributed to online demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the company’s gaming content business showed a 30 percent increase in sales from last year. Continue reading Microsoft Q1 Revenues Rise in Part Due to Azure Cloud Unit

Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

Microsoft is reentering the mobile phone market with the Surface Duo, a dual-screen Android device priced at $1,399 and up. According to Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay, the company is accepting preorders for the phone that will ship on September 10. The phone will be sold on Microsoft’s website, and at AT&T and Best Buy. The Surface Duo’s screens completely unfold to act as a phone or a book to provide more space for apps. The Surface Duo may appear before Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, which currently has no official release date. Continue reading Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

After weeks of negotiations and following a phone call between President Trump and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, the company stated it will purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations. Microsoft will work to seal the deal — which will also include Canada, Australia and New Zealand — with ByteDance by September 15. Stating appreciation for Trump’s “personal involvement,” Microsoft added that U.S. users’ data would be transferred to and remain in the country. Trump earlier said he would ban TikTok from the U.S. Continue reading With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft reported that sales rose 13 percent to $38 billion in its fiscal Q4, for a net profit of $11.2 billion. Largely due to continued demand for its Azure cloud-computing services, both figures exceeded Wall Street expectations. Microsoft’s revenue from the commercial cloud division “surpassed $50 billion for the first time ever in the latest fiscal year.” The company is also the target of a complaint Slack filed with the European Commission, accusing it of using its market power to crush rivals. Continue reading Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft Teams Faces Videoconferencing Rivals Zoom, Slack

Zoom Video Communications skyrocketed when the coronavirus pandemic necessitated remote working and learning. But Microsoft doubled down on creating competitive features for Microsoft Teams, and then promoting its videoconferencing and collaboration software to companies and organizations in need. When Zoom was temporarily sidelined by security issues, Microsoft saw its opportunity to step in. In New York City’s school district, for example, Microsoft established 110,000+ Teams while Zoom usage was on pause. Continue reading Microsoft Teams Faces Videoconferencing Rivals Zoom, Slack

Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jeff Teper wants Microsoft Teams — the company’s fastest growing business app — to overtake Windows, currently on 1+ billion active devices. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft Teams is experiencing significant growth, with 75 million daily active users as of April 29, a 70 percent leap in six weeks. In April, 200+ million participants used Teams in a single day. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still promoting Skype, which in March passed 40 million daily active users (up 70 percent from the previous year), but for a different customer base. Continue reading Microsoft Planning for Teams to Become Ubiquitous Platform

Microsoft and NBA Sign Multiyear Deal for AI, Cloud Services

Microsoft and the National Basketball Association have inked a multiyear deal to build a consumer-facing digital platform to debut with the 2020-2021 season. The NBA will utilize the tech company’s Azure cloud computing and artificial intelligence capabilities to customize games and experiences. The deal’s terms were not revealed, but it covers all NBA properties including the Women’s National Basketball Association and USA Basketball. To win the deal, Microsoft bested cloud competitors Amazon and Google. Continue reading Microsoft and NBA Sign Multiyear Deal for AI, Cloud Services

Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft’s gross margins for its commercial cloud business (including Azure and Office 365) grew to 67 percent, driving the company’s robust fiscal Q2 earnings on record sales. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella revealed that revenue from this sector grew 39 percent to $12.5 billion. Company executives told analysts that the gross margins percentage will increase this year while margins rose for the fourth consecutive quarter, noting that this reflects the “huge opportunity” selling cloud products and infrastructure. Continue reading Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, major tech players such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft asked lawmakers for regulations they once fought. Facing antitrust probes and pushback on AI, privacy and encryption among other issues, these companies believe laws are inevitable and want to have a role in creating them. They also fear a patchwork quilt of global laws. Most recently, the Justice Department sparred with Apple over its request for help to unlock the iPhones of the Saudi Arabian naval trainee who killed three people in Florida. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

Although many observers would name Microsoft’s Xbox as the tech company’s biggest hardware business, chief executive Satya Nadella instead points to the company’s cloud. In fact, Microsoft is building an entire cloud infrastructure from data centers to servers and network stack. Nadella said that he doesn’t want the company to be defined “by what we achieved.” He pointed to the Internet of Things about to emerge. “We look at if there’s going to be 50 billion endpoints,” he said. “Let’s go … and define a strategy for that.” Continue reading Microsoft Bets on Internet of Things, Ends Xbox TV Feature

Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida that was later declared an act of terrorism, Attorney General William Barr requested that Apple provide access to the two iPhones used by the killer. He later complained that Apple has thus far provided no “substantive assistance.” The Saudi Arabian assassin, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was training with the U.S. military but had earlier posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist screeds on social media. Continue reading Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

Microsoft Targets Phone Market with Foldable Surface Duo

Having exited the smartphone market in 2017, Microsoft will rejoin it by the 2020 holiday season with the Surface Duo, a foldable, dual-screen device. Developed in collaboration with Alphabet, Microsoft’s Surface Duo will run on the Android operating system and feature the Google Play Store. Microsoft stated its intent to develop its own software for the device. The company also announced its Surface Pro X, a thinner version of its Surface Pro laptop, which features a custom-designed chip co-developed with Qualcomm. Continue reading Microsoft Targets Phone Market with Foldable Surface Duo

Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

With Sam Altman as chief executive, OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence lab he founded with Elon Musk, has become a for-profit company pursuing investments. In fact, Altman, who stepped down as head of Y Combinator, just inked an impressive $1 billion contract with Microsoft. With Microsoft as a marquee investor, OpenAI will now pursue its lofty goal of creating artificial general intelligence (AGI), a system that can mimic the human brain. Alphabet’s DeepMind lab is also pursuing the creation of AGI. Continue reading Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

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