Consumer Reports is sort of like a purchaser’s Bible – if it says a product is good, you can generally trust that it is. According to the Seattle Times, four of Microsoft’s laptops and tablets have had their Consumer Reports recommendation withdrawn. Not an ideal situation for Microsoft – especially right before the back to school season.
Consumer Reports allegedly withdrew the recommendations after a survey showed that these devices caused problems for their owners after a mere two years of ownership. Two versions each of the Surface Laptop and Surface Book were officially blacklisted for “poor predicted reliability in comparison to most other brands.”
So what problems do the devices have? After two years, the survey found that many of devices had problems at startup, were prone to freezing or shutting down unexpectedly, and had issues with their touch screen responsiveness.
Microsoft denied that there are problems with it’s devices. “While we respect Consumer Reports, we disagree with their findings,” the company said in a statement. “Microsoft’s real-world return and support rates and customer satisfaction data show we are on par if not better than other devices in the category. We stand firmly behind the quality and reliability of the Surface family of devices and continue to make quality our primary focus.”
Microsoft will lay off thousands of employees across the globe as part of its plan to change the company’s sales organization. According to TechCrunch, Microsoft will merge parts of its enterprise customer business with its small-and-medium-enterprise business unit.
According to a comment Microsoft made to GeekWire, “Microsoft is implementing changes to better serve our customers and partners.”
The goal is to focus more on the growing cloud computing business side of things, including Microsoft’s rapidly expanding Azure business. As of the fiscal quarter that ended in March, Azure’s run rate reached $15.2 billion. In the same time period, its intelligent cloud group roped in $6.8 billion.
This is significant revenue for Microsoft, and there is no question on why it would choose to focus more of its attention on this aspect its business. However, it is undisclosed as to whether the layoffs in other departments will be followed by openings for cloud-related positions.
As of March 31, Microsoft employed 121,567 worldwide.
Slack has been making a splash as a workplace collaboration tool, taking advantage of a new and interesting business communications market. But according to the Seattle Times, software giant Microsoft has decided to give the new start-up a run for its money by unveiling its workplace-messaging software, Microsoft Teams.
Like Slack, Microsoft Teams allows users to set up chat rooms with individuals and groups, make expandable threads, and share files.
If your business or school uses Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite, you should already be able to access the new application with no extra charge. Microsoft Teams has been two years in the making, and is not only going to compete with Slack, but also with Google Hangouts and similar products being developed by Facebook and Amazon.
Research firm Gartner has estimated that businesses worldwide will spend $5.1 billion on conferencing in 2017. Business communication is an up-and-coming and potentially very profitable industry.
Microsoft’s Office 365 for consumers has been around for four years now and has sold 25 million subscriptions. However, according to ComputerWorld, the rate of new subscribers plunged down 62 percent from 2015.
In each of the final three quarters of 2016, Office 365 subscriptions grew by approximately 900,000 subscribers, which is its smallest period of growth since early 2014. Subscriptions reached an all time high in the first quarter of 2015, with 3.2 million additions.
Microsoft has never set public goals for its subscription numbers, but have spoken in the past about transferring its software business from a one-time licensing purchase to a recurring payment subscription system.
Right now, the best deal on Office 365 is a one-user subscription called “Home” for 70 dollars a year or seven dollars a month.
Apple versus Microsoft – it’s a question that divides a lot of people. According to an article from CNET, Microsoft wants to make switching sides an appealing option for those on team Apple. It’s making an offer of up to $650 for anyone in the United States willing to switch their MacBook Pro or MacBook Air for a Surface Book or Surface Pro.
Users interested must make the trade-in at a Microsoft Store or on Microsoft.com, according to Brian Hall, corporate VP of marketing for Microsoft devices.
One reason Hall believes users will switch teams is because the updated MacBooks coming soon from Apple are not expected to have touch screens. Microsoft and other PC makers that run Windows have popularized the touch-screen laptop along with hybrid laptop-tablet devices.
“At this point, they’re really doing customers a disservice to not to have an option for touch on a MacBook,” Hall said in an interview with CNET. “We’re going to announce tomorrow a trade-in program so that people who feel disappointed by the Mac not going all the way to touch screen can trade in their Apple computers for Surface.”
Windows 10’s free upgrade period ends July 29, and Microsoft really wants you to take advantage. From now until Friday, all American and Canadian Microsoft retail stores are offering to install Windows 10 on compatible devices for free. And if Microsoft can’t complete the upgrade by the end of that business day, they will give you a free 15-inch Dell Inspiron notebook.
Of course, some conditions apply. If your PC isn’t capable of running Windows 10, the offer isn’t valid. However, you may be eligible to receive $150 credit towards a new PC. Also, the offer specifies that your computer be checked in by noon of the given day.
Microsoft has made no secret that it wants you, desperately, to upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re a holdout, you may have noticed a frustrating stream of annoying pop-ups enticing you to update and install Windows 10.
Recently, Microsoft has admitted in won’t hit the desired goal of having one billion devices running Windows 10 by mid 2018. But it isn’t giving up on the effort anytime soon.
Microsoft is scooping up LinkedIn in one of the biggest tech mergers to date. The deal will cost Microsoft $26.2 billion, or $196 per share, all cash. This is Microsoft’s largest ever acquisition.
LinkedIn has a prestigious history. At one point it was the best-performing social network in the stock market, until it was beat out by Facebook. It has a base of 433 million members across the globe, and last year has a revenue growth of 35 percent, reaching $3 billion.
Microsoft plans on using LinkedIn’s database of professional information as a distribution program for its software systems. In return, LinkedIn will gain additional financing and access to millions of people who could join its network.
How might the LinkedIn data help you? Well, say you’re a sales rep using Outlook to compose emails. You could look up the information of someone you’re pitching to while writing the email, without having to leave the window.
If you’re a loyal member of LinkedIn, don’t fret. The service will continue as normal after the deal is closed. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, is keeping his job and will be reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella was quoted as saying in a CNN story. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft 365.”
Online payment processor PayPal has recently announced it will stop supporting Amazon Kindle, BlackBerry, and Microsoft Windows’ mobile apps in order to dedicate more effort to Apple iOS and Android devices. As of June 30, these platforms will no longer be affiliated with PayPal.
For many, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Microsoft’s recent news that it is getting out of the mobile game gives PayPal little reason to stay, and likewise BlackBerry has been declining in popularity for years now. The only question is why PayPal would choose to abandon Amazon Kindle, which is still widely used by consumers. Unfortunately, PayPal didn’t give many answers.
“It was a difficult decision to no longer support the PayPal app on these mobile platforms,” explained Joanna Lambert, PayPal’s vice president of consumer product, in a blog post. “But we believe it’s the right thing to ensure we are investing our resources in creating the very best experiences for our customers.”
If you are a Windows, BlackBerry, or Kindle mobile user, you will now have to access PayPal via its website.
Microsoft announced this week it intends to sell its entire feature phone business FIH Mobile – the Foxconn subsidiary – as well as Finnish company HMD Global Oy for only $350 million.
Microsoft has a rocky history with the mobile phone industry. In 2013, retiring CEO Steve Ballmer purchased Nokia’s weak mobile phone business, mostly because Nokia is one of the only brands that used the Windows 10 Mobile OS. And while Nokia is great at pumping out inexpensive handsets worldwide, its products didn’t fit into Microsoft’s software-based business model. This was evident when current CEO Satya Nadella laid off 18,000 employees from the Nokia sector in 2014 and cut 7,800 from the smartphone hardware business last year.
This purchase gives FIH Mobil all of Microsoft’s feature phone assets, including brands, software, customer contracts, and a Vietnam-based factory. In addition, 4,500 Microsoft employees will be transferred.
Although this is a huge move, Microsoft isn’t completely willing to part with the smartphone. The company will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile for Lumia. However, it may be all for naught as Lumia and Windows 10 have not been able to compete with Apple or Android in the past and do not seem poised to take any major market share now.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are launching parallel probes into the mobile industry’s security update practices. The agencies want to determine how manufacturers issue security updates for mobile devices, and how carriers review and release the patches.
“As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use,” stated an FCC press release.
“There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including ‘Stagefright’ in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally.”
In all, the FTC has contacted eight companies – Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola and Samsung – to gain insight into how manufacturers determine if a vulnerability needs to be patched. It has also asked for a list of all devices offered for sale since 2013, with information on any bugs that have impacted them and any fixes that were issued.
The main concern is that delays in developing patches may be leaving devices unprotected. Older devices may never receive the necessary protection.