No one rightly can accuse Adobe of playing the ostrich, digging in and pretending the cloud isn't changing the market for desktop software. The developer of popular publishing tools like InDesign and Photoshop takes huge risks that will either make or break future revenue. A year ago, Adobe unveiled the Creative Cloud subscription service. Today, in Los Angeles, the company rebranded CS suite as CC and moved all future features, updates and versions to the cloud subscription service. You want new Photoshop, Adobe will take your money monthly, baby.
I cannot understate the risk taken here, as Adobe delivers double-whammy to customers. Changing an iconic brand is trouble enough -- how people pay and what for, even more so. But the CC (for Creative Cloud) also demarks change, break from the old model for the new. With risks come rewards.
SkyDrive has been around since 2007, so perhaps there is no surprise that the cloud storage service has a large number of users. Combine its venerability with the fact the service is now rolled into Windows 8 and Office 2013, and you have a recipe for success. That is exactly what Microsoft reports today.
Microsoft's Mike Torres, group program manager for SkyDrive apps, says "the service continues to grow: since October 2012 when Windows 8 launched, 50 million more people have started using SkyDrive, helping us reach an important milestone -- over 250 million people are now using SkyDrive as the new place to save their files".
Microsoft continues the trend of expanding the interoperability options of its flagship unified communications product, Lync Server 2013 -- federation with Skype arrives in June.
Microsoft Lync Server 2013 is an already impressive offering with instant messaging, presence, enterprise telephony, conferencing and collaboration features out of the box. The latest version of the Lync client features even tighter integration with Microsoft Office, as well as a robust mobile version for the three major platforms. Lync Server 2013 is also being touted as an enterprise ready PBX replacement with major improvements around high availability and disaster recovery options. Other highlights include support for a hybrid voice topology that integrates with Lync online, and support for virtualizing all workloads including voice. The product continues to make impressive inroads with enterprise customers, already adopted by 70 percent of the Fortune 500.
I subscribe to Office 365, as it is a great value -- for just under $10 per month I can install Office 2013 on up to five computers and even gain an additional 20GB of SkyDrive storage, taking my total to 45GB, thanks to being grandfathered into the 25GB free plan. The subscription even gives me a bit of free Skype that, perhaps, one day I shall actually use. All of this sounds great -- what more could you want? Well, how about a payment system that has customers in mind?
Over this past weekend, I had occasion to meet with the dysfunctional payment system that Microsoft has implemented. While I use many of the company's products, Office 365 Home Premium is my first occasion making monthly payments to the software giant. I am used to doing so with other services, such as Amazon.
Twenty-seventh in a series. Growth remained stable but below the 2,000 new apps mark this week. The overall app count is now at 46,143 in the U.S. Windows Store, an increase by 1,788 apps in total. The store features 36,164 free apps, an increase of 1,362 apps, and 9,979 paid applications, which increased by 426 apps this week.
Several core apps were updated this week. The OneNote application for Windows 8 received an update that adds finger drawing support to it. To use the new feature, tap on the screen and select draw from the radial menu that opens up when you do.
Cloud workspace platform Podio introduced another round of fresh updates on Thursday, bringing exciting new functionality to the quickly evolving SaaS offering. Hot on the heels of a major UI facelift that was released back in late April, the newest refresh brings much requested real-time chat capability with online members of your various workspaces. For my company that uses Podio on a daily basis, these additions are definitely appreciated.
For those unfamiliar with the service, I provided a mostly positive in-depth review back in December of last year. For those who have never given Podio a spin, placing a label on what it "is" definitely takes a little effort since it is almost anything you want it to be. The product fills the gap of online task, project, and customer management that is much cheaper and flexible than any other mainstream CRM offering. It also correctly introduces the aspect of "professional social", something which Yammer forces down your throat -- but Podio makes feel like a natural fit.
If Google does not already rule your internet world, then it is still aiming to do so. Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs -- the company aims to offer you everything. Now it looks at integrating more of these features to make things a bit easier for customers, adding better Calendar options right into the email app.
"If you do a lot of scheduling over email, it's now a little bit easier to create events directly from your Gmail. Now available: dates and times within emails are lightly underlined: click them to schedule that conference call or lunch date without ever leaving Gmail" says Google product manager Boris Khvostichenko.
Email remains one of the most popular forms of communication in the world, currently fending off the unwanted attentions of Twitter, Facebook and Skype after effortlessly swatting away the threat of SMS and the printed letter. Yet we’re increasingly happy to entrust our email to the cloud, accessing through a web browser whenever we want to stay in touch.
Whether or not your email is with a cloud-based provider like Gmail or Hotmail, there’s always room for a decent email client. And if you want something that’s simple, elegant and feature-packed, we suggest you take a closer look at eM Client 5.0.
Here's a question for you: Is a company-provided device a benefit? You don't pay for hardware, software or service but might get older gear as hidden personal cost. I ask, because if Gartner is right, you'll soon pay, whether or not you want to. A survey of CIOs finds that 38 percent of companies plan to stop providing employees with devices by 2016. Wait a bit before reading on and think about what that really means.
"We're finally reaching the point where IT officially recognizes what has always been going on: People use their business device for nonwork purposes", David Willis, Gartner vice president, says. As someone working from home full time since May 1999, I must confess to rarely using company-issued computers or other devices. But that was my choice, and one often not supported by IT departments. Now, for many workers, there will be only choice of bringing their own.
Microsoft is on an update streak with Windows Azure, introducing significant new features at a steady pace. For the past couple of months we have witnessed an overwhelming number of changes meant to improve the company's cloud platform, including the Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service) support announced two weeks ago.
Microsoft's latest move in this never-ending chess game with its rivals is the Windows Azure SDK (Software Development Kit) 2.0 for .NET which now features improvements for websites, cloud services, storage, service bus and PowerShell automation. Let's take a look at what's new.
Digg hopes to capitalize on Google Reader's unceremonious execution, scheduled for July 1, and no last-minute reprieve from the governor appears to be coming. Today the social-sharing site released more details about its plans, including a timeframe for the beta and results from its survey of RSS users.
The new Digg reader app will arrive in June, at least in beta form. However, the company promises that this is only the start of the work. "Our beta release in June will be just the beginning, a product built with experimentation in mind by a team eager to work with you to build something you love", Digg says in an announcement today.
Some days, I look at Google and my mind's eye sees Microsoft. This is one of them. Developers adopting Google+ Sign-In will get a big benefit in search results. The tie-in -- to monopoly search -- feels oh-so like Microsoft tactics to woo and keep developers on Windows during the 1980s and 90s. Yeah, I feel déjà vu right about now.
In February, the search and information giant added Google+ Sign-In as an option developers can include with their apps. In my news analysis then, I called the authentication service "bold and disruptive" and a "Facebook killer". The direct search tie-in makes my early sentiment a gross understatement. Google gives developers every reason to prefer its authentication mechanism, which hugely benefits the social network. The monopoly product is used to extend reach into an adjacent market. Say, didn't trustbusters on two continents prosecute Microsoft for tying together Windows and browser?
After using the Android and iOS counterparts, Facebook app for Windows Phone 8 feels rudimentary and out of place by comparison. Even though the interface takes some design cues from the operating system, it is not very intuitive, wastes too much screen estate and displays content in a visually unappealing way. The app would be rather nice, except 2010 has long passed.
Now Microsoft wants you to love the Facebook experience on Windows Phone 8, releasing a beta app that stands up against the Android and iOS alternatives. Gone is the infinite horizontal scrolling, now replaced by tabs that you might actually find useful. Swiping to the right reveals a tab to the left of the screen, containing a link to your profile, favorites, groups, friends, apps, settings, the usual policy information and a log-out button.
Windows Phone customers have options for driving apps -- both Bing and Nokia produce excellent solutions. Now one of the most intriguing options for Android and iOS is preparing for a push to the Microsoft mobile platform and impending competition with the existing solutions already in place.
Waze, which happens to be my GPS app of choice on Android, announces early beta testing on Windows Phone 8: "We are now opening a beta program for Windows Phone users and we'd like you to join" says the company in its announcement.
One way to gain loads of free online storage space is to mix and match storage providers, taking advantage of each to quickly build up tens of gigabytes of cloud-based storage for backup, sync and sharing purposes. The downside of such an approach is the fact you need to manage each provider using its own dedicated app.
Nowhere is this frustration more evident than when using a tablet or phone to access your data, as you have to switch between apps to try and locate where you’ve stored a particular file. But help may be hand in the form of an app for Windows 8, iPad and Android calledRainbowDrive 2.0.0 that attempts to bring multiple providers together under one roof.