Microsoft to Offer Windows Cloud Subscription to Small Businesses

Microsoft to Offer Windows Cloud Subscription to Small Businesses
  • Windows 10 Enterprise Edition will be available for $7 a month per user
  • Microsoft is targetting small companies with this announcement
  • Surface tablets will be available as subscription as well

Microsoft will offer the high-end version of its Windows 10 software to small businesses via a cloud-based subscription for the first time, expanding the number of products available to a wider range of customers. The company will also rent Surface tablets for a monthly fee.

Starting this fall, the Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, which offers more security features, will be available to any size company for $7 (roughly Rs. 470) a month per user through partners in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program. Previously it was available mainly to larger companies and only with an upfront payment and an agreement for several years.

“It’s basically the price of a cup of coffee and a doughnut,” said Matt Barlow, Microsoft’s general manager for Windows Marketing.

(Also see:  Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update Release Date Confirmed)

Microsoft is looking to the cloud and to smaller businesses to expand the use of its programs, including the almost one-year-old Windows 10. The small-business offer marks the first time companies will be able to upgrade and manage the Windows Enterprise Edition via the cloud. It’s also the first time companies of that size can easily gain access to a monthly subscription of the product.

While some smaller businesses in industries with strict regulatory requirements need these kinds of enhanced security features, companies of that size often don’t have an information technology department to manage the software. With the new offering, Microsoft partners handle that, said Nic Fillingham, senior marketing manager for Windows Small Business.

The partners – outside companies that re-sell Microsoft products and provide support – will also be able to offer Surface tablets as a subscription. The price for that wasn’t disclosed.

The company announced the new programs at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto Tuesday.

Satya Nadella Shakes Up Microsoft Leadership as Kevin Turner Departs

Satya Nadella Shakes Up Microsoft Leadership as Kevin Turner Departs

Microsoft on Thursday announced a shake-up in its top ranks, including the departure of longtime chief operating officer Kevin Turner for a new job.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said that five executives will divide the duties held by Turner, who played a pivotal role over the past decade as Microsoft shifted from packaged software to programs offered as services in the internet cloud to a gamut of connected devices.

Turner will remain at Microsoft to aid with the transition through this month, then leave to become chief executive officer at global financial firm Citadel Securities, according to Nadella.

“Kevin is a world-class business builder with experience managing large and complex organizations.” said Citadel founder and chief Kenneth Griffin said in a separate release.

“Kevin is a proven innovator who brings expertise in technology and operations with a client-first focus.”

Nadella praised Turner as having a tremendous impact at Microsoft during his 11 years with the software giant.

“I have learned a lot from Kevin over these past few years and wish him all the best,” Nadella said in a blog post.

Turner’s departure comes with shifts in the duties and responsibilities of Microsoft executives Judson Althoff, Jean-Philippe Courtois, Chris Capossela, Kurt DelBene, and Amy Hood.

The leadership changes come as Microsoft prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of Windows 10 with a major update to the software powering more than 350 million computing devices.

The Windows 10 update is set for release on August 2.

Windows 10 operating system is designed to work on laptops, desktops, smartphones, Xbox One consoles, HoloLens augmented reality headsets and more.

Microsoft has been aggressively promoting upgrades from old versions of Windows, and has made Windows 10 available as a free upgrade until the operating system turns one year old on July 29.

After that, it will be sold pre-installed on new devices or available for purchase separately, with a home computer version priced at $119, according to the Redmond, Washington-based company.

Microsoft provoked ire by pushing people to upgrade to Windows 10 by automating the process and, for a time, modifying the red “x” in a corner of an upgrade notice pop-up box to approve the action, instead of simply closing the message.

Microsoft has set a goal of having the operating system in use in more than a billion devices by 2018, which would put it on par with Apple, which said this year it has one billion active devices running iOS.

Acer TravelMate X349 Ultraportable Laptop Launched: Price, Specifications

Acer TravelMate X349 Ultraportable Laptop Launched: Price, Specifications, and More
  • TravelMate X349 to feature 14-inch FullHD IPS panel
  • Laptop packed with 6th gen Intel processors, 512GB SSD
  • TravelMate X349 to feature fingerprint scanner for instant login

Acer has announced its new TravelMate series of ultraportable laptops with flag-bearer product being TravelMate X349. The laptop, with thickness of 18mm and total weight of 1.5 kg, comes with an all-aluminium chassis.

The laptop will pack sixth-generation Intel processors and will have up to 8GB of DDR4 RAM. It sports a 14-inch full-HD IPS panel that reclines all the way to a 180 degree angle. The company claims that the laptop has battery life of up to 10 hours. The laptop comes up with 512GB of SSD and will ship with Windows 10 Pro. It also features an LED backlit keyboard.

TravelMate X349 comes with a fingerprint scanner that supports Windows Hello, which allows its users to securely unlock their laptops with ease. In terms of connectivity ports, there is a USB Type-C port (with support for Acer dock) for charging and fast data transfers.

What was once considered a universal standard but now becomes a necessity to state is that the laptop will come with a standard set of ports like USB 3.0, HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Acer has said that TravelMate X349 will be available in North America from October, starting at $649.99 (roughly Rs. 44,000). The company will then launch TravelMate X349 in Europe and the Middle East in September, where prices will start from EUR 480 (roughly Rs. 36,000). The device will then also be available in China where prices start at CNY 5,999 (roughly Rs. 60,500). There’s no word yet on India price and availability

Samsung Launches 4TB SSD in 850 Evo Series at $1,500

Samsung Launches 4TB SSD in 850 Evo Series at $1,500

  • 4TB is the biggest option available in 850 Evo series
  • It read, write speeds are capped at 540MB/s, 520 MB/s
  • The 2TB variant available on Amazon India for Rs. 65,000

Samsung on Monday launched a 4TB solid-state drive in its 850 Evo lineup. The new addition is now the biggest storage option available in the series and will set you back by around $1,500 (roughly Rs. 1 lakh).

The Samsung 4TB 850 Evo SSD’s sequential read and write speeds are capped at 540MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively. The new storage drive is powered by Samsung V-NAND Technology with 48 layers, and AnandTech reports that it features the same write endurance rating as the 2TB variant, at 300TB, though it appears Samsung is being conservative.

Solid-state drives are unanimously regarded as much superior to the hard disk drives that most consumers use for their storage needs. They have lower latency as well as access times. They are also considered to be more resistant to physical shocks than hard disk drives as there are no moving parts inside solid-state drives.

However, the only thing that prevents everyone from getting an SSD is that they cost much more in comparison to an HDD. As of now, SSDs are only for enthusiasts with deep pockets who can afford the prices for their storage needs.

The prices have come down over a period of time and might soon come into a range where it can be afforded by regular users for their personal storage needs.

As of now, 4TB of storage provided by Samsung seems more than sufficient for you to transfer your HD movies, music, and entire game library. In other terms, it can easily substitute your hard drive with this, though of course, the cost still remains forbidding.

The company also offers a 2TB option that is available for around Rs. 65,000 on Amazon India. In 2015,the company announced the world’s largest SSD with 16TB storage, meant for data centres.

Asus ZenBook Flip UX360 Convertible Ultra-Portable Laptop Launched

Asus ZenBook Flip UX360 Convertible Ultra-Portable Laptop Launched

The ZenBook Flip UX360 starts from $699

  • Laptop to be available in Icicle Gold, Mineral Grey colours
  • Laptop packs a 13.3-inch full-HD touchscreen IPS display

Asus last week launched its new convertible laptop – ZenBook Flip UX360 (aka ZenBook Flip UX360CA) – with a 360-degree rotatable display (that turns it into a tablet) and an all-metal body.

The Windows 10 Home-based Asus ZenBook Flip UX360 is already available to buy in the US, with the base model starting at $699 (roughly Rs. 47,000) with a 256GB SSD, and another model with a 512GB SSD priced at $799 (roughly Rs. 53,700). A 128GB storage model will also be available, but pricing has not been detailed as of now. It will be available in Icicle Gold or Mineral Grey colours.

The ZenBook Flip UX360 sports a 276ppi 13.3-inch full-HD (1920×1080 pixel) IPS touchscreen display. A QHD+ (3200×1800 pixel) display model will also be launched at a later date. The ultra-thin and ultra-light laptop is 13.9mm thick and weighs just 1.3 kilograms.

asus_zenbook_flip_ux360_every_angle.jpgThe company claims that the battery life for the device lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge with its 3-cell 54WHr polymer battery. The ZenBook Flip UX360 comes with 8GB of LPDDR3-1866 RAM (4GB of RAM is optional, but pricing has not yet been detailed) and a choice of Intel’s 6th-generation Intel Core M processor (models include Core m3-6Y30, Core m5-6Y54, and Core m7-6Y75) with two cores and four threads. All three chipsets feature Intel HD Graphics 515.

Asus also claims that UX360 will be able to work at full throttle staying relatively silent, thanks to the ultra-thin 0.5mm-diametre chromium-copper alloy heatpipe it has used.

In terms of connectivity, ZenBook Flip UX360 features Wi-Fi 802.11ac with Intel WiDi support, Bluetooth v4.1, has a USB 3.0 Type-C port, two USB 3.0 Types-A ports, a Micro-HDMI port and an SD card reader.

The touchpad on ZenBook Flip UX360 uses Asus Smart Gesture technology and the company claims that as it uses exclusive technology developed for smartphone touchscreens, adding that “it is highly sensitive and incredibly accurate.”

The laptop is powered by Asus SonicMaster audio technology and the company says that it enhances the sound the ZenBook Flip UX360 can produce. “The tailored mix of superior hardware and cleverly designed software gives ZenBook Flip the ultimate sound experience,” the company says on its official website.

Apple’s Mac No Longer Bucking PC Industry’s Sales Slide

Apple's Mac No Longer Bucking PC Industry's Sales Slide

  • Apple shipped 4 – 8% fewer Mac computers during the 2016 Q2
  • Besides, global PC shipments fell to 62.4 million in the last quarter
  • Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC-maker, saw shipments fall too

After defying industry trends in recent years, Apple is feeling the slowdown in global purchases of laptop and desktop computers.

Apple shipped 4 to 8 percent fewer Mac computers during the second quarter of 2016, compared with a year earlier, according to new estimates from two research firms – even while some of its bigger rivals managed to find growth in the PC business.

Apple enjoyed steady increases in Mac sales for most of 2014 and 2015, while the rest of the PC market was in a slump. Although the leading PC-makers sell more units, Apple’s Macs tend to command both higher prices and consumer loyalty.

But Apple Inc. has been reporting a dip in Mac unit sales since the end of last year, and estimates released Monday suggest that trend is continuing. Analysts estimate Apple shipped 4.4 million to 4.6 million Macs in the quarter ending June 30.

PC sales overall have been declining for the last four years, as more consumers and businesses turn to smartphones and other gadgets. Global PC shipments fell to 62.4 million in the last quarter, down 4.5 percent from a year earlier, according to researchers at International Data Corp. Analysts at a second firm, Gartner, estimated that drop at 5.2 percent.

Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC-maker, saw shipments fall more than 2 percent around the world, to 13.2 million, despite a strong showing in the United States.

But HP, Dell and Asus all increased their shipments during the last quarter, according to both research firms. Analysts said those companies benefited from a healthy US market, consumer interest in new laptops running Google’s Chrome software, and seasonal purchases by public agencies.

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 software hasn’t given PC sales much of a boost. Analysts say that could change in coming months, as the end of a promotional offer means consumers will no longer be able to upgrade older Windows machines for free.

Some Apple fans say an update for the popular MacBook Pro laptop is overdue, while the Cupertino, California, company has been promoting its iPad Pro tablet, which works with a detachable keyboard. Apple enjoyed eight consecutive quarters of year-on-year Mac sales increases before posting a 4 percent drop in units sold during the last three months of 2015. That was followed by a 12 percent drop in the first quarter of this year.

Macs are a small part of Apple’s overall business, however, since the company makes most of its money from iPhones. Apple will report second-quarter sales on July 26.