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Before Microsoft deal, Nokia was testing Android Lumia

Published by on Sep 16th, 2013, No Comments

elop-ballmer

Microsoft decided to acquire the handset business of Nokia to strengthen its mobile platform, aiming to strengthen Windows Phone from within. But it seems that might not have been their only incentive. According to the New York Times, Nokia was busy testing Android versions of Lumia devices, which might have prompted Microsoft to complete the deal.

This might have meant that Windows was afraid of being ditched by Nokia in favour of the open source platform. Nokia has 80% market share in terms of Windows Phone devices; other manufacturers like HTC and Samsung have not been successful bringing their devices to market, with miniscule sales to speak of. (more…)

Microsoft to buy Nokia’s handset business for $7.2 billion

Published by on Sep 3rd, 2013, No Comments

elop-ballmer

Microsoft Corp said it will buy Nokia Oyj’s phone business and license its patents for 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion), making its boldest foray yet into mobile devices and bringing executive Stephen Elop back into the fold. The sale of Nokia’s phone business marks the exit of a 150-year-old company that once dominated the global cellphone market and remains one of Europe’s premier technology brands, even though Apple and Samsung Electronics’ ascendancy all but reduced it to irrelevancy in Asia and North America in recent years.

“For a lot of us Finns, including myself, Nokia phones are part of what we grew up with. Many first reactions to the deal will be emotional,” said Alexander Stubb, Finland’s minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade. “What should be paid for declining business, where market share has been constantly lost and profitability has been poor?” said Hannu Rauhala, an analyst at Pohjola Bank. “It is difficult to say if it’s cheap or expensive.”

Sales of Nokia’s Lumia series have helped the market share of Windows Phones in the global smartphone market climb to 3.3 percent, according to consultancy Gartner, overtaking ailing BlackBerry Ltd for the first time this year. Still, Google Inc’s Android and Apple’s iOS system make up 90 percent of the market. (more…)

Rumour: Microsoft interested in Foursquare

Published by on Sep 2nd, 2013, No Comments

Foursquare

Technology giant, Microsoft, is reportedly in talks with social networking company, Foursquare, concerning a possible investment in the young company.

According to Bloomberg, the talks between the two companies are already at an ‘advanced stage’.

However, Microsoft is not the only company looking to get in on the Foursquare pie. According to other reports, Foursquare is also talking to other potential partners.

But, as usual, both Foursquare and Microsoft are keeping mum about the possible investment. (more…)

Windows 8.1 to launch in mid-October

Published by on Aug 13th, 2013, No Comments

Windows-8.1

While Microsoft unveiled plans to release an update for Windows 8 at the beginning of the year, it has been slow to announce any type of release schedule. We now finally know it is planning a release in roughly two months. The RTM build is still on track for manufacturers; they will receive it at the end of August.

The OS, along with the hardware carrying it, will be available to the public in mid-October. Windows 8 alienated many people with its touch-based mind set. No need to fret, though; Windows 8.1 will see the return of the Start button, insofar as there’s now a Start icon fixed to the lower-left corner of the screen. (more…)

Microsoft launches White Space Project in SA

Published by on Jul 29th, 2013, No Comments

Microsoft is bringing it’s white spaces project, which forms part of their 4Afrika Initiative, to South Africa.

What is the ‘white spaces projects’ you may ask? ‘White Spaces’ refers to unused television frequencies. These are usually used as buffers to prevent interference between the different channels that are being used.

Microsoft Africa

The wondrous thing about these ‘white spaces’ is that they can be used to deliver wireless Internet services. And that is exactly what Microsoft is planning on doing in Africa.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced their first white spaces projects in Kenya and Tanzania and it looks like South Africa is next in line.

The US company plans to explore the potential to deliver broadband Internet at a lower cost in South Africa through the white spaces project.

Mteto Nyati, the managing director of Microsoft South Africa, has emphasised the importance of bringing wireless Internet to remote areas and first time web users.

Nyati said in a statement: “Technology holds enormous potential for many aspects of development, but it is particularly key to areas such as education and healthcare. Reducing the cost of broadband access means millions more South Africans will get online. This will create new opportunities for education, healthcare, commerce and the delivery of government services across the country”

(more…)

Microsoft Research turns Kinect into sign reader

Published by on Jul 19th, 2013, 1 Comment

signlang

Kinect was always touted by Microsoft to have many different uses ever since it was unveiling at E3 five years ago. While most of those haven’t materialised and it is primarily using it as an extension of the gaming experience, Microsoft is not giving up on its technology. They actually have many patents linked to the Kinect just laying around the office, but not this one.

Microsoft Research Asia recently showed off software that allows the Kinect to read almost every American Sign Language gesture via hand tracking, even at conversational speeds. In addition to converting signs to text or speech, the software can also let a hearing person input text and “sign” it using an on-screen avatar. All of this is still confined to a lab so far, but the researchers hope that one day it’ll open up new lines of communication between the hearing and deaf. We can really get behind this innovative idea, as it can make a big difference to many people’s lives. Check out the demo after the break. (more…)

Microsoft licences ‘Age of Empires’ for iOS and Android

Published by on Jun 26th, 2013, No Comments

AoE

Get ready for the nostalgia train! If you remember this strategy classic and you want to give it another whirl that could happen soon. That’s right; Microsoft is bringing its games to iOS and Android, starting with Age of Empires sometime in 2013.

The news comes from mobile developer KLab, which licences games from Microsoft for global distribution. According to sources, this could be a turning point in the gaming market, as the move could possibly affect the mobile strategies of other gaming giants Sony and Nintendo. (more…)

Microsoft Backtracks on Xbox One Licensing Policies

Published by on Jun 20th, 2013, 2 Comments

Xbox_Consle_Sensr_controllr_F_TransBG_RGB_2013

Boy is this good news for gamers. The Xbox One was officially unveiled recently – and despite brilliant features and excellent hardware, the device got hammered in the media for two reasons.

First off, the Xbox One needed a daily check-in through the internet to ensure you are licensed for the games you are playing. This means that if your internet was down that day you simply could not play any games. Ridiculous.

Secondly, Microsoft wanted to control licensing of games through digital rights management. This meant that you could not simply go and buy a second hand game from a store like BT Games. You had to have the “license” transferred to your console, just like say, a piece of software. Once again, no internet, no go.

The backlash was so big that many Xbox fans simply stated they would switch to Playstation 4 due to these policies (and who could blame them?).

Sony was very quick to point out their upcoming PS4 will not force publishers to use the license transfer system, and gamers could simply go ahead and swap and buy second hand games as always. Needless to say, the sentiment of the Xbox One quickly fell out of favour with the general public. (See our comparison of Xbox One vs PS4 here)

So here is the the good news: Microsoft has stepped back from these ridiculous policies. Microsoft’s president of interactive entertainment made a lengthy blog post about this very issue, and had the following to say: (more…)

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