LOS ANGELES: Tech leaders love to make digs at their rivals over perceived sluggishness, particularly in areas where they consider themselves to be ahead of the curve.
The cloud has been a hotbed of such activity for many years. One of the leading proponents of this unique form of cloud computing trash talk is Aaron Levie, CEO of Box. V3 has heard Levie mock rivals on many occasions for failing to embrace the cloud, something which no doubt helped his own company to grow.
However, as Levie noted at the Cisco Collaboration Summit 2014 attended by V3, most major IT vendors are now fully committed to the cloud. One upshot of this is that the chance to chide rivals in a jovial fashion has diminished.
"I don’t even know who. Maybe IBM. I don’t know who’s not in the cloud now. All the people I make fun of has reduced over time," he said.
Indeed. Even IBM, which Levie unfairly name checks, has been making notable strides to get into the cloud, spending big on its SoftLayer acquisition and moving numerous services onto the platform to meet customer demand for this delivery model.
However, while the move to the cloud being undertaken by most IT giants has deprived Levie of his punchline punch bags, other areas of the industry still give him plenty of material.
When asked what he’s hearing from customers at present, Levie used the question as a chance to trot out one of his standards: "What we hear from customers is, what if Lync and SharePoint just worked?"
Given that Microsoft is rebranding Lync as Skype for Business, Levie might need to rewrite that zinger, or get some new material.
25 Apr 2014
V3 is seeking a reporter to work on its fast-paced, industry leading website. V3 is a UK site covering business technology news, analysis, video and reviews for IT professionals, so a passion for IT and the tech scene are crucial for this role.
The role is full-time and based in our central London office, where you will get plenty of opportunity to gain experience and hone your skills across all areas of digital journalism.
The role will see you writing news, features and blogs, attending events in London, the UK and across the world, and interviewing senior executives at world-leading companies ranging from the likes of Google and Microsoft to hot startups. You’ll also be encouraged to break stories, take unique angles on industry topics and source off-diary stories.
An ability to write clean, accurate, crisp copy under pressure is a must, as well as a can-do attitude, a willingness to adapt and alter working practices at a moment’s notice, and understanding the job may require working, and socialising, after office hours.
There will be the opportunity to film and edit video, so video production skills, while not a pre-requisite for the role, will be a bonus. You will also help manage the V3 brand on numerous social media sites, so we’re looking for someone with an affinity for Twitter, Google+ and the next big thing in social.
This is a great opportunity for someone looking to take on their first full-time role in journalism or making their next step on the career ladder onto an online, well-established tech brand, with plenty of scope for growth, development, training and fun too. Ideally you will already have some practical experience of working as a technology journalist, either through your current role, work experience or freelance.
Deadline: 23 May 2014
To apply, please email a covering letter and CV to news editor Dan Worth.
It’s official: Microsoft’s new CEO is former cloud chief Satya Nadella. The news had been expected since last week and was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon. The appointment marks a new era at Microsoft as it prepares for life under the third CEO in its history.
But who is Nadella? It’s fair to say he’s not the most well-known name in the business, even if he clearly was a high flyer at the company.
But Microsoft has done its best to bring his personality to the fore in their announcement, and included some nice touchy-feely details in the release that could prove useful for sounding like you know who he is in any board meetings or pub chats.
1. He’s a poetry lover, of both American and Indian writers, claiming it’s like code. “You’re trying to take something that can be described in many, many sentences and pages of prose, but you can convert it into a couple lines of poetry and you still get the essence, so it’s that compression,” he said.
2. He loves test cricket, which is almost certainly a first among big US tech CEOs. “[It] is the longest form of any sport in the world,” he said. “I love it. There’s so many subplots in it, it’s like reading a Russian novel.”
3. He was born in Hyderabad, India, is 46 and has three children. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University and a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin.
4. His first job in the industry was at Sun Microsystems before he joined Microsoft in 1992. While working at Sun he was also studying for a master's degree in business when the role at Microsoft became available. He wanted to continue studying, though, so would fly from Seattle to Chicago for the weekend to complete his studies, underlining his determination.
5. Nadella already knows many of Microsoft's key product areas well, and before taking the CEO role he led the Cloud OS platform team. Cloud OS is used to power all of Microsoft’s internet cloud services such as Office 365, Bing, SkyDrive – now renamed OneDrive – Xbox Live, Skype and Dynamics.
For more from the man himself, Microsoft has put together a little video chat. It's probably not the toughest grilling he'll face as the new CEO but it gives some nice insight into his style – it's fair to say it is very different to Steve Ballmer's.
Can anyone make a decent operating system? That’s the question tech lovers around the world appear to be asking as the biggest vendors appear unable to just make a decent platform that's easy to use and nice to look at.
Microsoft – the daddy of the operating system world – has been flailing for a while now to try and entice people to Windows 8. But so far it is failing. While Windows 8.1 is improving some areas, it is unlikely to prove a panacea for all its ills.
In fact, Microsoft could be said to have peaked as far back as 2001 when its beloved XP platform hit the market. Even now, 12 years later, there are those who see no reason to upgrade, even if support is set to end in six months.
Meanwhile Apple, the darling of the tech world, is facing unprecedented levels of criticism for numerous issues that users of its new iOS 7 operating system have found with the platform.
These range from functionality to design and many V3 readers have implored others not to move to the new platform if they haven't done so already. Such criticism of Apple, especially on a design and functionality level, would have been unthinkable a year or so ago.
So what is going on? In some ways it appears firms are trying to be too clever, to be too innovative. At the end of a day an operating system should be the base layer for everything else. It should be easy to use, simple to understand and allow you to run other applications over the top.
With too much focus now given to all-singing systems that can do everything and out-innovate rivals it almost seems as if the firms are forgetting to do any user feedback to find out if stuff just works.
One good example was raised by a V3 reader who noticed this bizarre iOS 7 issue. The phone automatically dims its display brightness when you open the new control panel menu. This means, though, if you’re trying to adjust screen brightness, you can’t accurately gauge the brightness of the screen. It’s almost comic in its failure to work at the most basic level.
Similarly, while one can understand Microsoft may have thought the bold and radical change of Windows 8 may have made them seem, well, bold and radical, someone really should have stepped in and said it was too much.
People never like change, even when it's good for them, so for Microsoft to develop Windows 8 was always going to prove an incredibly disruptive situation. And while the tech world loves the term disrupt for conjuring up the feeling they're changing the world, for most people disruption is a negative that can be done without.
The firm was probably so blinded by the need to innovate and impress that it overlooked the basic notion of KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. A motto that works well in a surprisingly large number of instances. Let's hope Apple has taken it on board for its Mac OS X Mavericks update, due to be unveiled next week.
By V3's Dan Worth, who loves a good operating system
Microsoft's user data requests transparency report contained a brief line about the customers using the firm's enterprise services.
It stated that 19 requests had arrived in the first six months of 2013, all of which came from US agencies relating solely to customers within the US. Microsoft also added that so far it had received no requests regarding enterprise customers in connection with national security orders, which are more serious requests that can't be reported in detail.
It said that the 19 requests related to 48 accounts, which resulted in customer content (emails, documents, chat messages) being disclosed on four occasions, with one other request responded to with non-content data, which includes usernames and IP addresses. Of those five requests, four of the customers were notified while one other was not. Thirteen other requests were rejected or had no relevant data, with one further case still pending.
Microsoft defines enterprise customers as organisations subscribing multiple users to services such as Office 365, Azure, Exchange Online and CRM Online.
Microsoft highlighted that this is particularly pertinent as, while it obviously affects such a tiny minority of users, it still means that enterprise customers using cloud services have no choice as to whether they choose to release their data or not. If it's stored on Microsoft's servers, it's Microsoft's responsibility to disclose data whether they like it or not.
The crumb of comfort for Microsoft's enterprise customers is that Redmond clearly has a crack legal team that will reject any request it sees as legally unjustified. With that being said, there's still a lot of faith the public has to put into a group of unknown legal experts.
It will be interesting to see how Microsoft's data compares with other enterprise cloud service providers if they choose to release their own data, which they are of course not obliged to do.
Written by V3's Michael Passingham, who has nothing to hide
Tech acquisitions are always dicey for any company, with the question of exactly how the two firm's will combine all but impossible to know.
In the past there have been some success stories, for example when Chinese tech company Lenovo bought IBM's Thinkpad business-focused brand. In this instance the rather than simply killing off the competition, Lenovo ran with the business, creating a slew of awesome new devices that reignited enterprise interest in the brand.
However, others have been less successful, like Google purchase of Motorola. Google originally shocked the tech world in 2011 when it announced plans to pay $12.5bn to buy Motorola Mobility. The move was a shock as Motorola was one of the few firms not to have partnered with Google to create an own-brand Nexus device.
The oddness of the deal split opinion, with some arguing the purchase was a purely defensive move on the part of Google, designed to protect it from further patent infringement claims from competitors like Apple. Others took a more positive attitude, hoping it would lead to a fresh wave of innovative handsets from Motorola, which had struggled since its heyday with the original feature phone Razr.
Sadly the first group turned out to be right, with Google showing little outward interest in the company, leaving Motorola to release good, but not great smartphones - with the notable exception of the Intel-powered Razr i which is still one of the best examples of what the chip-maker can offer the smartphone world. As proof of this Motorola continues to be one of the few big name tech companies not to have made a Nexus smartphone or tablet, with Google choosing Asus and LG for its latest run of own-brand devices.
The sad example set by Google and Motorola leaves me nervous that history will repeat itself with Microsoft and Nokia. During the speeches by soon-to-be-gone Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer and current Nokia head Stephen Elop neither really paid much attention to Nokia's top end technologies, like Pureview. Instead the emphasis was entirely on app development and using Nokia's Asha range as a stepping stone to get people onto Windows Phone.
While this emphasis makes perfect sense, after all every analyst under the sun has listed emerging markets as the next cash cow for mobile phone makers, it could be bad news for tech heads. In recent years Nokia's carved out a serious name for itself by creating top-end premier Lumia Windows Phones capable of competing with Samsung and Apple in terms of innovation.
This trend peaked earlier this year when Nokia unveiled its Lumia 1020 (pictured above). Featuring an amazing 41MP rear camera sensor, a host of custom Nokia apps and featuring the Finnish phone maker's iconic Lumia design, the phone truly showcased the best Windows Phone could offer.
While Microsoft and Nokia have promised the deal will "boost innovation" in the Windows Phone ecosystem, I'm not convinced it will be in the high-end space. Instead, I think it'll be solely aimed at creating affordable handsets designed to appeal to buyers on a budget or emerging markets. These fears are compounded by the departure of key players that have helped shape Nokia's top end offering, like designer Marko Ahtisaari.
Still, it is early days and key details about the deal remain unknown so my fears could well be misplaced and, as a business strategy, a focus on emerging markets would make perfect sense. Because of this, even if I am right, at worst the new strategy will simply leave myself and other early Windows Phone adopters sad not to see another top end Nokia Lumia.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
For the last couple of years Microsoft's been having a tough time of it. Competitors such as Apple and Google have been rolling out a host of new software, services and hardware that, to some commentators and a vast section of the general public, make Microsoft products look like something from the Stone Age.
One of the biggest parts of this criticism was the PC giant's stuttered entry into the tablet space and previous lack of ARM support for its Slate PCs, which – using fully blown computer processors – featured woefully short battery lives compared with their Android and iOS, non-Windows rivals.
Because of this when Microsoft unveiled its two brand-spanking-new Windows RT operating system and own-brand Surface RT tablet it made perfect sense, at least on paper. After all, the tablet technically ticked all the boxes, featuring an ARM mobile processor that while light on power offered decent battery life and a new touch-based tile user interface.
However come release the Surface RT suffered the same fate as BlackBerry's PlayBook tablet, with consumers and businesses by and large ignoring the device and sticking to their existing iPad and Nexus devices. As a result Microsoft's been forced to radically cut the price of the RT, leading to a massive $900m write-off on the quarter – for those who can't remember BlackBerry took a $485m hit on its 2012 third-quarter revenues when it slashed the PlayBook's price. In total that's almost $1.5bn in trying to enter the tablet market dominated by Apple and its iPad.
Of course there are multiple possible reasons for both tablets' poor sales, but for me there's one key explanation; they both boast woefully underdeveloped app stores. Unlike the Surface Pro, which runs using the full version of Windows 8, the RT uses the stripped-down version. This means unlike the Pro, the RT isn't legacy application compatible and can only run apps in the main Windows Marketplace, which sadly, like the PlayBook's, is woefully lacking when compared to iOS and Android's.
While there are of course other reasons for the RT's poor performance, for me it's the biggest as the understocked marketplace shows developers – a key component in any ecosystem's success – aren't interested in Windows RT. Time and time again we've seen that technical prowess means nothing unless developers are interested in the device's software ecosystem – remember MeeGo and Symbian?
For this reason it seems more than fair to say the Surface RT is the new PlayBook.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
For more than a decade, one of the largest untapped electronics markets in the world has been sealed off from game console developers.
Now, however, China could be opening itself up to console vendors, bringing a massive new crowd of potential customers. A government plan would allow for a limited lift of a ban that had forbidden console sales.
According to a report form the South China Morning Post, authorities would allow for sales of consoles within the Shanghai free trade zone. Vendors who would meet with country's “cultural” standard requirements would be allowed to sell consoles within the limited zone.
The move comes at a particularly advantageous time for hardware vendors. With a new generation of expensive consoles on the way from both Sony and Microsoft, expanding into China can help boost what is already expected to be higher margins on more expensive consoles.
The opening of the Chinese market could also help to boost what vendors hope will be a growing usage case for the consoles. Microsoft has already expressed hope that its Xbox One will be able to leverage its video-conferencing features to serve as a unified communications device in the enterprise sector.
Between the prospect of a move into China and the possibility of an expansion into the business market, the new-gen consoles could see a much smoother and more successful launch than their predecessors.