Lots to shout about at Microsoft’s Autumn NY Windows 10 event

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This week Microsoft held its Windows 10 device event showcasing their latest and greatest for both consumers and enterprise.

• The event kick started with their entertainment platform Xbox, with Windows 10 coming to Xbox One later this year. It brings improved user experience, performance and the ability to run their previous generation of software which has been their most requested feature since launch.

• Next was a new HoloLens demo: the presenter used a new hand held controller whilst wearing the device and battled augmented reality robots live on stage. Visually this was very impressive for an untethered device (ie. Not connected to a PC).  After this the development kit was announced for Q1 2016 with a price tag of $3000.

• The focus then was on fitness with the unveiling of Microsoft Band 2. The new band features a sleeker design with curved screen and new Barometer which measures elevation for more accurate “caloric burn” readings.

• Multiple Microsoft phone announcements followed with the Lumia 550, 950 and 950XL. The two 950’s were the real attention grabbers and feature high performance with liquid cooling and twin antenna for greater connectivity.  Continuum (connecting Windows 10 phone to keyboard and screen through a dock + mouse to use as a PC.  USB memory sticks and hard drives can also be used and in this mode the interface looks and feels like any other PC, at the same time the phone can still be used as a phone.

• From phones to tablets, Surface was next. The Surface Pro 4 us announced with a larger screen, without increasing the size of the device, thanks to smaller bezels. The new Surface is also thinner, more powerful and with better battery life.  Also included is a more advanced stylus with 1-year battery and a new improved, but still optional keyboard with bigger trackpad, separated keys and a fingerprint scanner. These new accessories can also be used with last year’s Surface Pro 3.

• Next Microsoft borrowed the Apple “one more thing..” to announced a new product entirely called the Surface Book. This device is a premium laptop, which you can also rip the screen off to use as a tablet. The base also contains additional computing and graphic processing adding up to 2x the performance of a Mac Book Pro.

All in all, Microsoft announced a lot this week in New York and won the attention and rare applause of their sceptical industry audience . Microsoft is now selling a very compelling ecosystem of not just software and services but also hardware tailored to both. It has a tremendous battle ahead with its rivals, but they have certainly put their best foot forwards to bring genuine intrigue and excitement which was arguably lacking from many recent tech events by Microsoft, Google and Apple.

This Week’s technology news – 22nd November 2013

Slap on the risk
Interruptions caused by IT failures of major institutions like banks or 3rd party suppliers can have a substantial impact on a company’s ability to function. Eliminating software bugs and system weaknesses can be very expensive and is often a commercial balance between risk and reward. Banks and large institutions are predominantly old, with 20% of banks for instance, running on “out of life” technology. Cheap software can be prone to locking up or crashing, whilst a lack of thorough testing prior to rollout by people and process failure, often lies at the heart of problems. Strategic outsourcing of a project or pilot (though not washing hands of the responsibility), offers a chance for organisations to assess reliability and modernisation – and inform longer term decisions for their valuable IT estate.

When social media is infectious
A recent US survey has established the extent that employees are putting themselves and their companies at risk through the uninformed use of social media and a lack of understanding as to how information published on the internet gets used. Over 60% embraced the principle of individual responsibility to protect online privacy, but only 20% had ever having adjusted their own account settings. Companies meanwhile compounded matters with many activating the most open settings by default, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Firms should not make assumptions that employees understand how to be safe online personally, or when using company devices. Policies and firewalls should only be the first step to an educated and integrated HR approach to risk minimisation.

Musical chairs at Microsoft
Stephen Elop, former CEO of Nokia and shortlisted for the new Microsoft CEO position, has been considering killing off Bing and selling Xbox if he wins the big seat. The advantage would be a return to a business focus. This would be a high risk strategy, despite Bing not being profitable in itself, as it has now been deeply integrated into most of Microsoft’s products. Xbox on the other hand has become the entertainment brand, absorbing Zune music service as Xbox Music and Xbox Video, to compete with Apple offerings. Current CEO Steve Ballmer however, reiterated at a shareholder’s meeting this week that his vision includes Bing and Xbox! Will Elop’s ruthless attitude, which arguably saved Nokia, stop Elop getting the top job at Microsoft?

Apple buys PrimeSense, creators of the Kinect camera
Apple is reported to have acquired PrimeSense for $345 million. This is the company which created the 3D camera used by Microsoft’s Xbox console for ‘controller free’ motion control. The current technology is too bulky to go in an iPad or MacBook. Is Apple planning the next generation for Apple TV using virtual swiping gestures versus a traditional remote control? It would give Apple a new market in a new App Store for TV and offer developers the ability to create unique Apps powered by tracking people in 3D space. Mere speculation now, but it would not be the biggest surprise if it was announced in 2014.

Amicus ITS – Our views on this week’s new

Apple’s profits – The Bigger Picture

Research firm, Statisa have announced Apple’s profits amount to more than Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and Yahoo combined.  Their $47.1 billion profits are primarily thanks to the popularity of their well-designed, fashionable, mobile devices and the growing impact on the work environment.  Whilst we love the iPad and the iPhone, can Apple maintain this lead by using their design and phenomenal budgets to drive consumers to the next big thing?

The end of XP

This week saw the start of the 500 day countdown for the end of XP support, giving Windows 8 a fighting chance in gaining significant sales figures.  Although Windows 8 has so far seen a slow start, we think Microsoft’s big gamble will pay off.  As mobility grows, organisations will look to the best solution to meet their OS needs and we think Windows 8 will come up trumps.

Windows Phone anyone?

Microsoft is placing all bets on the new Windows 8 ecosystem to push sales of its phone division.  The new device comes with a similar look and feel to its desktops, tablets, Xbox and phones, in the hope that users will enjoy the experience on one device and try another. We think this is a smart move for Microsoft and predict that by the end of 2014, we may see the market share spilt between Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Security breaches enhance corporation’s awareness

In recent months, hacking has increased.  Many big names are currently in the firing line; Google, Yahoo and Microsoft becoming the latest.  As industry leaders succumb to security breaches, the rest of the world becomes increasingly concerned as to how secure their IT infrastructure really is.  Organisations need to step up their game and will look to managed service providers for help.