All posts in “Microsoft”

Bill Gates has finally switched to an Android phone

At last, Bill Gates has joined us in the present. The Microsoft co-founder announced in an interview with Fox News Sunday that he’s now using an Android phone. 

The move was probably inevitable. Windows on mobile has effectively been a dead platform ever since Microsoft gutted its phone division two years ago. While Windows 10 technically works on phones, there’s been pretty much zero support from hardware makers and app developers outside of Microsoft.

Gates told Fox that the phone he uses is an “Android phone with a lot of Microsoft software.” This could suggest that he’s using the Microsoft Edition of the Samsung Galaxy S8, or perhaps he’s just downloaded Microsoft’s lineup of apps, available across Android systems.

Gates also noted, with a noncommittal laugh, that he’s still forgoing the iPhone. This choice, while unsurprising, shouldn’t be seen as a jab at Steve Jobs, Gates emphasized. 

“Steve was a genius. Absolutely amazing,” Gates carefully told Fox of the Apple co-founder. “The competition in the software and IT space that Steve helped foster, it’s phenomenal.” 

Although Microsoft apps run on Macs, iPhones, and iPads, Microsoft and Apple have always been more rivals than allies. Microsoft is opening a flagship store just down the block from Apple’s London hub, and it continues to challenge Apple in hardware and design.

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Apple finally ditches Bing for Siri’s search results

Siri will depend on Google search now, like the rest of the civilized world.
Siri will depend on Google search now, like the rest of the civilized world.

Image: brittany herbert/mashable

The next time you ask Siri a question, Apple’s AI will finally offer up search results to help you find an answer using Google, like the rest of the civilized world.   

Apple is dumping Microsoft’s Bing as the default search platform for Siri, Search inside iOS, and Spotlight on Macs in favor of Google, according to Tech Crunch

The iPhone maker said that the switch is being made in order to create a more “consistent web search experience” for its users, since Google is currently the default search engine on its Safari browser thanks to a reported $3 billion annual deal between the two companies. 

Google doesn’t get the whole Apple search pie, however. Bing will still offer up image search results for queries through Siri.

Apple has used Bing for Siri’s search functionality since iOS 7 in 2013. It was a major coup for Microsoft at the time — Apple and Google had also tussled over the YouTube app the year before — but now, the search tides have shifted back in Google’s favor. The aforementioned deal between Apple and Google might have played a part in the shift for Siri, but we can’t be sure without knowing its terms.

News of the move to Google comes the same day the latest version of macOS, High Sierra, was released to the public, so users upgrading to the new OS will find their new Spotlight search is now powered by Google. iOS device owners should have the update, too — so ask Siri to search for something, and rest assured that your answers are coming from Google. 

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Facebook and Microsoft’s big undersea cable is finally finished

More than 17,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, there now lies the “most technologically advanced subsea cable,” providing up to 160 terabits (Tbps) of data per second — beating Google’s alternative, now poorly named, “Faster.” The cable is the handiwork of Facebook, Microsoft, and Spanish telecommunication company Telxius. 

Construction on the cable, which stretches 4,000 miles from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain, began in August 2016. Microsoft announced its completion on Thursday, but it won’t be operational until early 2018

Facebook, Microsoft, and Telxius will jointly own the cable, which weighs almost 10.25 million pounds — as much as 34 blue whales. Telxius will serve as the cable’s operator and will sell and lease its capacity to outside service providers. Microsoft and Facebook will use the cable to serve their own capacity needs. 

Marea coiled on a ship

Marea coiled on a ship

Image: microsoft

Most transatlantic communication cables connect to the U.S. in either New York and New Jersey, but having the Marea as its called (meaning “tide” in Spanish) connect in Virginia diversifies connectivity between the U.S. and Europe. Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York and New Jersey in 2012, disconnected North America from Europe for several days.

“The superstorm sparked the realization that another major event could disrupt the vital connectivity lifeline across the Atlantic,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “As part of its ongoing efforts to drive innovation and expand capacity of its global network, Microsoft sought options for making transatlantic connections more resilient.” 

Microsoft will not disclose the amount of its investment, or how much its partners have paid. 

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Microsoft confirms plans for a new flagship store in Regent Street opposite Apple


Shopping may be turning into an increasingly virtual experience, with people buying goods online and through apps, but there is no denying the power of a physical in-store experience — a lesson that Microsoft is taking to heart. Today the company announced that it would be opening a new flagship store in London in Regent Street near Oxford Circus — just a stone’s (or an iPhone’s) throw from the Apple flagship store that saw a huge revamp a year ago.

The area around Oxford Circus, which is at the intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street, is one of the most high-profile shopping precincts in the world, so having a presence there underscores Microsoft’s strategy to double down on retail.

“We couldn’t be happier to be opening a flagship store in the heart of central London at Oxford Circus, where two of the world’s most iconic shopping streets meet,” said Cindy Rose, head of Microsoft in the U.K. “We know our customers and fans, whether they are from London, the broader U.K. or just visiting, will love our bold plans for the space. This will be so much more than just a great place to experience all that is possible with Microsoft, but a real hub for the community where we’ll be bringing to life our passion for helping people explore their creativity through an ambitious program of workshops and training along with moments that work to unite the community.”

The announcement comes after a day of speculation about the new store, but also after what has seemed like years of stops and starts for Microsoft and its retail plans in London.

Back in 2012, it was reported that Microsoft planned to open a retail store in the city in March 2013, after it emerged that the company had registered a separate company in the UK to handle a retail business. But it seems that the March 2013 launch never happened.

Then in 2015, yet more reports emerged, this time noting that the company might have abandoned its plans for a store after all, after the dissolution of that 2012 entity.

But the story didn’t end there. Later in 2015, yet more rumors emerged of a retail plan for Microsoft in London. But once more nothing materialised.

And in a way, the starts and stops are not too surprising. The company’s mobile efforts, which had been seen as a major part of its consumer business, were floundering, and while Apple has been nailing retail for years, others that tried to replicate the success had failed. Notably, Samsung retreated from its own physical store efforts in London, which had been located in a mall, not in the Regent Street area.

Now, it may be third time lucky for the Xbox and Windows maker. Notably, today’s announcement seems to be the first time that the company has officially confirmed any plans directly.

There is no timescale noted on Microsoft’s announcement. What is more obvious is that this is as much about creating a showcase for Microsoft products — in a symbolic location right near Apple’s store — as it is about creating a space where people can buy those Microsoft products.

“The  United Kingdom is home to some of our most passionate fans,” David Porter, head of Microsoft Stores, writes in his blog post announcing the news. “We already enjoy connecting through our partners and in our digital stores, and look forward to bringing a physical store to the region as another great choice for customers to experience the best technology from Microsoft.”

There are currently 75 Microsoft Stores globally, with two flagships, in New York (pictured above, also very close to Apple’s ‘cube’ store) and Sydney.

While it’s not clear how much Microsoft makes from its retail stores today, the gold standard shows that it can clearly be a lucrative business: Apple today is the world’s most lucrative retailer, according to research from CoStar, which said that the Mac and iPhone company made $5,546 per square foot in the last year. As a point of comparison, though, the average was a mere $325 per square foot.

Big fat Stratolaunch plane tests all six of its engines

Remember the “Roc”? The awe-inspiring, gigantic carrier aircraft from Stratolaunch, the company owned by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen?

Back in June, it was ready to make its first rollout for a series of tests, starting with fuel testing. 

Well, this week the six-engine mothership completed its first round of engine testing, as tweeted by Allen: 

As explained by Stratolaunch in a blog, the engine testing was divided into three phases:

First as a ‘dry motor,’ where we used an auxiliary power unit to charge the engine. Next, as a ‘wet motor,’ where we introduced fuel. Finally, each engine was started one at a time and allowed to idle. In these initial tests, each of the six engines operated as expected.

With its 385-foot wingspan — longer than a football field — and 500,000-pound weight, the “Roc” is a big fat aircraft that will eventually carry up to three rockets and launch them into space — which sounds awesome. 

Besides the fueling tests, the company trialled the flight control, the electrical, pneumatic, and fire detection systems. 

“Over the next few months, we will continue to test the aircraft’s engines at higher power levels and varying configurations, culminating to the start of taxi tests,” Jean Floyd, CEO at Stratolaunch, said. 

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