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Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Impressions of Microsoft Office for iPad

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Paul Thurrott:

As for how powerful these apps are, consider this. I loaded up my 575 page Windows 8.1 Field Guide Word document, and while it took a while to download originally (it’s stored in OneDrive for Business as part of my Office 365 Small Business Premium subscription), the performance reading and editing the document was impressive. In fact, it was… amazing. This is the real deal.

As important, the fidelity of the document was perfect: Everything was formatted correctly, including images. I could actually write a book on this thing if I wanted to. (Relax, I don’t.) Microsoft claims that documents look as good on the iPad as they do on the PC. And I gotta say. They really do.

Ed Bott:

What’s fascinating about Office for the iPad is how it leapfrogs Microsoft’s Windows tablets. On Windows 8 and Windows RT devices, Office is still a desktop app with some grudging interface tweaks designed to ease the pain of using an app without a mouse. Anyone who owns a Surface RT is likely to look enviously at these iPad apps, which for now are the gold standard for Office on a modern tablet.

With the release of Office for iPad, the divide between laptop and tablet just got reduced to a negligible crack. These are truly outstanding apps, and you can do real work on them with no caveats. As far as I can tell, Office for iPad is to Office as Photoshop Elements is to Photoshop. Sure, you don’t get 100% feature coverage, but for the 70% of the stuff most people do every day with office documents, it’s there, it’s graphically beautiful, and it works flawlessly.

Apple’s Dominance, In Context

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We all read the headlines today that position Apple as one of the most powerful companies on earth. Most everyone understands the magnitude of Apple’s ascent from the doldrums of the late 1990s and early 2000s. But do you really understand Apple’s power in the market? If you’re not a hopeless Apple nerd like me, allow me to provide you some context:

Last Thursday, Apple’s stock hit $494/share, making Apple worth more than Microsoft and Google — combined. When you look at what Apple purportedly has lined up for this year, you realize they still have tons of upside. How successful will the iPad 3, iPhone 5, and rumored Apple TV/iTV be? I wouldn’t bet against them.

And then there are the observations from David Leonhard over at the NYTimes Economix blog:

• With a market value of about $460 billion, Apple is worth more than Google, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, Ford, Starbucks and Boeing combined.

• Apple is now worth almost twice as much as Microsoft (about $258 billion) and more than twice as much as Google ($198 billion).

• It is also worth more than twice as much as General Electric (about $202 billion), I.B.M. (about $224 billion) or Wal-Mart ($212 billion).

• Apple — ranked 35th in the Fortune 500, which is based on annual sales — is worth eight times as much as the company just below it on the Fortune list (Boeing, at about $56.5  billion). Its value is 20 times as much as the company just above it (Medco Health Solutions, about $23.4 billion).

If you want a glimpse of just what the iPhone hath created, understand that today, Apple’s iPhone business is bigger than Microsoft in its entirety. Let that sink in for a bit. Even if you removed the iPhone business from Apple, what’s left of Apple would still be worth more than Microsoft. 15 years ago, Apple was on the verge of death. And now this? Amazing.

Finally, in 4Q of 2011, Apple took 80% of all profits in the mobile space. Eighty. Percent.

All this from a company that a decade ago was making candy-colored iMacs and this thing called an iPod, which was not met with a favorable popular reaction.

My, how times have changed.

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Windows Phone Was a Response to Apple’s iPhone

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Josh Ong, reporting for AppleInsider:

Microsoft’s head of software design for Windows Phone has admitted that the company completely redesigned its mobile operating system platform as a response to Apple’s iPhone and the “sea change” it created in the industry.

Joe Belfiore, one of the first engineers brought to the new Windows Phone team when it was formed, made the comments in an interview with The New York Times.

“Apple created a sea change in the industry in terms of the kinds of things they did that were unique and highly appealing to consumers,” he said. “We wanted to respond with something that would be competitive, but not the same.”

According to the report, “once the iPhone exploded into the marketplace, Microsoft executives knew that their software, as designed, could never compete.” In December 2008, Microsoft’s then head of mobile engineering called a meeting to decide the fate of its aging Windows Mobile software. Seven hours later, Myerson and his team decided to scrap the OS and start again from scratch.

One could argue extremely cogently that everything that has happened in the last five years in the mobile market was in response to the iPhone.

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SaaS Valuations Sky-High — And Staying That Way

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Barb Darrow, GigaOm:

Wolf’s numbers show that a select group of SaaS companies saw their values grow 313 percent from January 2009 to October 2011, compared to 154 percent growth for other software companies over the same period.

No wonder Oracle shelled out $1.5 billion for RightNow Technologies and Salesforce.com keeps snapping up smaller SaaS players every month.

“With Saas, the more vertical the better,” Wolf said in interview. SaaS companies offering financial services, healthcare services or employee benefits outsourcing services, are all hot now, he added.

So who’ll be buying? The usual suspects: IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft.

Increased valuation begets consolidation, and SaaS is where all the buying is going to be happening. That much is clear. But this bubble, as it were, seems awfully vulnerable to macroeconomic factors and externalities. And as legacy software companies acquire SaaS players to broaden/deepen their portfolios, eventually valuations will get pretty muddy.

Something to watch.

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Paul Thurrott on Google, Hypocrisy and Antitrust

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Paul Thurrott:

And I’d also point out that Google licenses Android for free. So by raising the price of Android by imposing licensing fees on technologies Android is in fact using, Apple, Microsoft, and others are arguably simply leveling the playing field and taking away an artificial Android advantage, forcing the OS to compete more fairly. Arguably, by “dumping” Android in the market at no cost, Google—which has unlimited cash and can afford to do such a thing — is behaving in an anticompetitive fashion. In fact, one could argue that Google is using its dominance in search advertising to unfairly gain entry into another market by giving that new product, Android, away for free. Does this remind you of any famous antitrust case?

I’ve been saying this exact same thing for weeks to anyone who will listen.

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Microsoft To Acquire Skype

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Quick update today on the news everyone’s (already) talking about, which is that Skype has agreed to be acquired by Microsoft for $8.5B.  From Skype’s corporate blog:

I’m excited to announce that Skype and Microsoft have entered into a definitive agreement whereby Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 billion US. Once the acquisition closes, Skype will become a new business division of Microsoft. It is an exciting day for all of us at Skype – we’ve taken a significant step towards realising our vision of making the world a better, more connected place.

I believe this acquisition is the very best way to extend Skype’s reach and will allow us to bring real-time video and voice communications to more people around the world than ever before. The combination of Skype and Microsoft will directly benefit all of you who use Skype by ushering in a new era of generative ways for everyone to communicate.

And here’s Ballmer’s commentary, which is fairly boilerplate thus far:

“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”

$8.5B seems like a hefty price to me, especially when profitability has remained ‘elusive’ for Skype.

My only hope: that they have real plans for this (native integration into Windows 7 Phones, etc.) and they’ll keep it free (or perhaps freemium) instead of going to a paid model for all users.

Crowd-Sourcing Public Sector App for Windows Phone, Azure

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We’re pretty thrilled to see our good friends and partner Blue Dot Solutions highlighted on Bruce Kyle’s MSDN Channel 9 blog demoing their Advanced Mobile 311 solution.  Says Kyle:

Blue Dot’s Advanced Mobile 311 solution is an innovative crowd-sourcing solution for Public Sector that enables citizens to quickly and easily create non-emergency Service Requests through their Smart Phones.  Leveraging the power of Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Blue Dot has developed a ‘Mobile 311’ application that is freely available on the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Very cool, and we’re impressed by the fact that Blue Dot could build such a strong app from Microsoft’s excellent WP7 development tools in such a short timeframe.

Here’s the app being demoed:

Congratulations to the team over at Blue Dot for catching Channel 9’s eye!

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‘Yes, Hypervisors Are Vulnerable’

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Given the massive popularity of virtualization/VMMs/hypervisors in enterprise datacenters, this article by Gartner’s Neil MacDonald struck a chord with  me.  Like Neil, I have always been wary of the relative security of hypervisors and their ability to remain truly secure/hardened:

A breach of the virtualization platform which results in an escape to the hypervisor represents a worst-case security scenario. I’ll reiterate what I’ve been saying for more than 4 years:

  • The virtualization platform (hypervisor/VMM) is software written by human beings and will contain vulnerabilities. Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, …. all of them will and have had vulnerabilities.
  • Some of these vulnerabilities will result in a breakdown in isolation that the virtualization platform was supposed to enforce. This is not good.
  • Bad guys will target this layer with attacks. The benefits of a compromise of this layer are simply too great.
  • While there have been a few disclosed attacks, it is just a matter of time before a widespread publicly disclosed enterprise breach is tied back to a hypervisor vulnerability.

What do you do? I’ve written about this extensively for clients. First and foremost, extend the your vulnerability and configuration management processes to this layer just as you would for any sensitive OS. In fact, I’d argue that the virtualization platform is the most sensitive x86-based OS in your data center.

Does your organization use hypervisors?  MacDonald’s article, including the links it references, are more than worth your time.  In a word: scary stuff. If hypervisors aren’t in your configuration management and vulnerability practices, it’s time you put them there.

(Via @Beaker on Twitter)

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

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Chasing Pirates

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Great NYT feature column by Ashlee Vance about the battles Microsoft has to fight in the name of counter-piracy.

Donal Keating, a physicist who leads Microsoft’s forensics work, has turned the lab into an anti-piracy playpen full of microscopes and other equipment used to analyze software disks. Flat-screen monitors show data about counterfeit sales, and evidence bags almost overflow with nearly flawless Windows and Office fakes. Mr. Keating serves as the CD manufacturing whiz on what amounts to Microsoft’s version of the A-Team, clad in business-casual attire.

As John Gruber notes, so much of these efforts revolve around physical media: CDs, holographic stickers, DVDs.  I wonder how much of this is attributable to Microsoft’s enterprise footprint?  In my experience, enterprises want physical media, whereas most consumers are happy with an online install.

Ask yourself: when’s the last time you really used physical media to install software?

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

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Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 11/5/10

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First, I’d like to thank all our readers for their steady readership.  Last month we had the biggest traffic month (in terms of unique visitors and pageviews) we’ve had since starting this blog back in 2008, and we’re flattered you keep coming back for more.  Hopefully, we can keep this pattern going.  We appreciate you coming along for the ride.

Here’s the past week summed up in tidy links, all of which were deemed interesting by yours truly and not at all objectively measured or ranked within any credible system whatsoever.

For the first time, the TSA meets resistance.

Microsoft changes strategy with Silverlight, acknowledging “…HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform.”  The days of  proprietary Rich Internet Application (RIA) frameworks are quickly coming to an end.  See also: Adobe’s own Flash to HTML5 conversion tool.

The #1 most crazy idea Steve Ballmer has ever heard.

MapCrunch: teleport instantly to a Google Street View location somewhere in the world.  More fascinating than I just made it sound.  Seriously.

Blekko: live slashtag search.  (Say what? you ask.  It’s all about a new way to tag information on the web.  Read about slashtags here.)

The NYTimes’s Christoph Niemann nails another one, this time very entertainingly showing us that daily human life is subject to the universal laws of physics.

The hand pause.  In the words of Jim Coudal: “What hands do whilst waiting for devices to catch up with their intent.”  Simple and accurate observation.

Finally, Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie pens a long (3,500 word) missive on the state of the company and the industry – as he departs for greener pastures.  Maybe it’s just me, but this writing is about as opaque as it gets and serves almost no one.  Perhaps this is/was part of Microsoft’s messaging problems to the consumer markets.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.

More Linkology posts.

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