Microsoft has released its earnings results for the fourth fiscal quarter of the year (that is Q2 CY2014), posting revenue of $23.38 billion, gross margin of 15.79 billion and operating income of $6.48 billion. As a result, earnings per share (EPS) came in at $0.55 (below analyst expectations of $0.60).
Revenue, gross margin and operating income are higher than a year before, when they reached 19.89 billion, 14.29 billion and 6.07 billion, respectively. However, EPS is lower, dropping from $0.59. "We are galvanized around our core as a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, and we are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution", says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off -- our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate".
Despite its repeated attempts to elbow its way into mainstream popularity, Windows Phone is going on four years old and is still being slapped down by iPhone and Android -- like an overly buoyant younger sibling with a penchant for multi-colored tiles.
Trouble is, now more than ever the pressure is on. LG, Samsung and HTC have all already fired their flagships into the market, and with the promise of a bigger, bolder iPhone in September, it's high time we saw a Windows Phone that can start leading the pack rather than trailing behind it.
Nokia Lumia 520 has proved to be an extremely important entry-level handset for Windows Phone, allowing the platform to reach more consumers and become more relevant in emerging markets. Its successor has to live up to high expectations, as it has to exceed the 12 million activations mark quicker than Lumia 520 has managed to, in order to be considered a success. That is no easy task, when the competition in the entry-level smartphone market is heating up.
So does the new Lumia 530 have what it takes to become a worthy Lumia 520 successor? Well, it at least gets off on the right foot, as Microsoft says its new Windows Phone 8.1 entry-level offering is expected to cost €85 before any local taxes and subsidies, and under €100 "on the highstreet". And that goes for the Dual SIM version as well; it will play a key role in increasing Windows Phone's popularity among price-conscious buyers.
Eighth in a series. What goes around comes around. It's cliché but describes my return to Nokia after abandoning the brand five years ago. I never expected to come back, and the app experience, while a backwater compared to Android or iOS, is little different than when I left. Cameras are great and app selection limited, but it's hugely improved because of Microsoft.
Nokia was in 2009 still the world's mobile handset leader, except for one major market: The United States. As such, Symbian dominated mobile app development, even as iOS rose in prominence. (Remember: Apple opened its app store in July 2008, and the first Android phone shipped a few months later.) But the majority of apps and supporting services, developed by Nokia and third-parties, best suited the rest of the world. Americans had limited choices on the company's handsets.
While two-factor authentication acts as an effective security barrier against malicious attacks, it also makes the login process more cumbersome for legitimate users by requiring them to type in security codes, on top of usernames and passwords. Luckily, there are dedicated apps that can make things easy.
One such app is Microsoft account (the choice of name is not particularly inspired), which was just released by the software giant to allow its Android users to manage -- validate or deny -- log in requests, when two-factor authentication is turned on for their Microsoft accounts.
Windows 9 hasn’t been officially announced yet (we don’t even know if that will be its name) but already we’re starting to see screenshots purportedly showing off the feature that is set to get most, if not all of the attention -- the restored Start menu.
Myce.com managed to get hold of two new screenshots -- one showing off the new menu, and the other providing an example of windowed apps. They were taken from build 9795, which was compiled on July 13 (the calendar says both shots were taken a day later).
Bing is a wonderful search engine. My love for it is hardly a secret, as I declared my affection earlier today. However, while Internet Explorer is getting better all the time, Chrome is still my preferred browser on Windows, Linux and OS X. Unfortunately, using Bing as the default search engine on Chrome just felt wrong. I pictured Google employees spying on my web activity and shaking their heads in disappointment at my horrible crime.
Of course, that is not really happening (I hope), but still Bing on Chrome felt out of place and third-rate in comparison to Google. Today, this changes as Bing comes to new tabs in the Chrome browser.
Google is a great search engine, but so is Bing. Many people dismiss Microsoft's offering without even trying it. This is a shame, as people do not know what they are missing. While its search-results are relevant and appropriate, there is so much more. Google is simplistic in its design, but Microsoft creates a world of color, images and discovery to bring life to the overall experience. There are benefits to both design choices and it is a personal preference, but I prefer beauty over a white page with a Google logo.
Besides all of those benefits of Bing, one of my favorites is Rewards. Essentially, Microsoft will pay you to use its search engine. Is it bribery? Sort of, I suppose. However, if you are searching anyway, why not take advantage of it? In addition to Rewards, Microsoft has Bing Offers, which lists special deals for Bing users (sort of like Groupon). Today, Microsoft announces that it is expanding Bing Offers beyond the web with a new program called Bing Offers Card-Linked -- uninspired name, but cool concept.
Modern programs are so complex that bugs are pretty much unavoidable, but Microsoft is looking at ways of reducing coding errors as much as possible, including trialling an experimental approach that involves monitoring developers as they work.
The idea is to track eye movements and other mental and physical characteristics of the developers, in order to spot when their alertness levels drop or they are struggling with a task -- which is when errors are most likely to creep into their work.
Microsoft might have seen sales of the Xbox One more than double in June, but the games console is still being outsold by Sony’s PS4, according to industry-tracking firm NPD Group.
While the uncoupling of the Kinect and introduction of a $399 base model has caused a clear sales spike it will likely be some time before we see whether that's enough to help the Xbox One catch up to its rival.
In the second of our (hopefully) regular competitions, we have quite a treat for you. You've read the headline so you should know what's up for grabs, but if you missed it, the prize is a year's subscription to Office 365 Home worth $99.99.
Microsoft has very kindly donated a full subscription for us to give away, but this is more than just one copy of the world-famous office suite -- you can install Office 365 Home on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as five tablets. Enough for all the family!
Microsoft is keen to get its tiled OS on as many devices, from as many hardware makers, as possible. It introduced the license-free Windows with Bing back in May as part of this push, but prior to that, at Build 2014, it announced it would be offering Windows for free to OEMs and ODMs on all tablets smaller than nine inches.
The dream of an army of smaller devices running Windows 8.1 has suffered a major setback now though with news that one of the largest Windows device makers, Lenovo, has decided to kill off its smaller tablets in the US, citing lack of interest.
If you live in Europe and don't like the fact that Binging yourself throws up results you'd rather didn’t appear, Microsoft has created a form you can use to request removal of these links from searches. (Yeah, ok…Bing doesn't really work as a verb in the same way as Google. Lesson learned.) Not all that long ago, Google was forced to consider censoring search results that people considered to be out of date, incorrect or irrelevant -- it's a ruling that has been dubbed the right to be forgotten. A form was set up to make it easier for people with complaints to get in touch, and now Microsoft has followed suit and created a Request to Block Bing Search Results In Europe form.
Filling in the form is absolutely no guarantee that a search result will be removed -- and it is important to remember that this is only about removing links from search results, not removing actual content. Or, as Microsoft puts it in the form:
When Microsoft introduced SkyDrive, it provided every customer with 25GB of storage space for free. The company later reduced this to only 7GB, but existing users were grandfathered into their plans and allowed to retain the old amount of cloud space.
Now the company has quietly reduced that down to only 15GB -- sort of. No official announcement was made regarding this move -- users simply learn of it by checking available storage within their accounts. But all is not what it appears to be at first.
Today, as part of an expected restructuring plan, Microsoft announces that it will cut 18,000 jobs within a year. The company claims this move will "simplify its organization and align the recently acquired Nokia Devices and Services business with the company's overall strategy". Yes, basically, Microsoft wants to get rid of excess employees, and the software giant is doing so following Satya Nadella's last memo to employees.
Of the 18,000 jobs to be cut, 12,500 positions are to be eliminated as a direct result of its deal with Nokia. The job cuts are not expected to be carried out completely until the end of June, 2015, and will cost Microsoft between $1.1 and $1.6 billion, which includes between $750 and $800 million in severance packages. The writing has been on the wall since the Devices and Services purchase was finalized earlier this year.