Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on how it’s different from Apple and Google

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is in the middle of a whirlwind tour across the world for his book “Hit Refresh” which talks about how he is in the process of reinventing the company. Right now he is visiting India, and from giving the keynote at the first edition of the India Today Next Conclave to sharing stage with legendary Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble, Nadella has been on an energetic mission spreading the gospel of this new Microsoft which he terms as being empathetic, and being an innovator which will help people do more.

As he walked into the room along with Anant Maheshwari Microsoft’s India head, Nadella spots my iPad and a colleague’s iPad and cheerfully says, ”You need to get a real computer, my friend.”

This was the very essence of what Nadella is doing with Microsoft. He is quietly confident about the technology his company is inventing and championing and at the same time, he stays humble and true to his own roots.

At being asked a question about his faux pas at Grace Hopper Celebration for women’s event, he immediately admits his mistake and says, “It was a huge learning experience for me because the answer I gave was utter nonsense.” But he goes beyond this and says that he made changes to the compensation structure of his leadership team where they are judged by numeral metrics for improving diversity and compensation of women in Microsoft.

“One of the things we have done — than saying a set of words — we changed the compensation of me and my leadership team where we now have to make numeric progress. I feel there is more to be done. In fact, Melinda Gates joined Microsoft as a computer scientist, the number was at 35 percent and now it has dropped to 17 percent so there is a lot more to do to make computer science attractive,” he said.

Even when it was pointed out that he achieved the zenith at Microsoft despite flunking IIT exams in India and not attending an Ivy League university in the United States, he talked about how it was important to keep learning from mistakes.

“I look at it and say let’s have perspective. What matters more isn’t what you did yesterday but what your posture of learning is tomorrow. That’s where parents and institutional leaders can be elitist and we have to be about identifying kids and giving them the confidence to not be know-it-alls but be learn-it-alls. It is my personal philosophy flunking exams has definitely taught me as long as I’m learning I’m fine. Failure is part and parcel of life, the question is what you going to do about it,” Nadella told me humbly.

Microsoft is different from Apple and Google

But the bigger and pressing questions were surrounded around the fact despite Microsoft’s recent success in the cloud computing business, it was being viewed as an enterprise company, but not a glamorous maker of consumer electronics like Apple, Nadella leans on this monk-like zen and sense of clarity of how Microsoft is a different company than say other tech titans like Apple or Google.

“Whenever we have done things that come naturally to us we’ve been successful. Even if it’s a consumer product it is a tool. I fell in love with Microsoft technology because of what it created.”

“In a way, I don’t want to take away from whatever success Apple or Google are having. We are very different companies. We are not some middleman in the marketplace. We are a tool creator we are not a luxury good manufacturer. That’s not who we are. We are about creating technologies so that others can build,” he states with a sense of monk-like clarity.

Nadella makes one thing crystal clear for Microsoft to win it is not a zero-sum game that Apple, Google or some other technology company has to lose. He is also willing to make hard decisions if there is a clear diction from the market.

“You take a look at what we did with groove and Spotify. Look at the Harmon and Kardon speaker. In some sense, it is a fantastic Cortana speaker but also for Spotify. The last time I checked there were a lot more Spotify people than Groove people. So let us bring the best of what Microsoft has to a Spotify user and create consumer fans. So that’s the approach we want to take,” he says echoing a similar hardiness he displayed when he swiftly jettisoned Nokia’s smartphone business that he had inherited which had already lost the market to Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone.

Microsoft is a different kind of a consumer company

Nadella is quite comfortable with the fact that it doesn’t make phones or widely sold consumer electronics. He feels it is a different type of a consumer-facing company. He cites the example of the Surface hardware unit.

“Even with Surface, we created a premium product and premium brand and basically said you know what every OEM should create a lower priced model. We want to democratise things. I want to us to be proud of what we can do,” he says.

His lieutenant in India Anant Maheshwari weighs in and states that Microsoft has plans to launch the new LTE models of the Surface tablet which have already arrived in China, though their arrival is gated by mass-market demand.

Nadella is also very happy about what Microsoft is doing with mixed reality, a buzzword it uses for virtual reality and even the tools that come included as a part of Windows.

“What we are doing in gaming that’s a consumer for consumer franchise. We have doubled down on it in a big way whether it is Xbox live or mixer, game pass, PC or console gaming,” he says.

He also says that there are 100 million people using the paint application on Windows machines which has been a staple of the operating system for decades. With the latest release of the operating system, he talks about how he’s proud that Microsoft is enabling painters to join the mixed reality bandwagon.

      

Consumers offered more choice on IoT

Vodafone is going a bit IoT-crazy. The company has already launched a new range of IoT products and an accompanying consumer service. Now, the company has tapped into the growing interest in IoT and announced an agreement with TechData to integrate a range of IoT services.

The pan-European deal will allow resellers and systems integrators across Europe to access Vodafone’s value-added IoT services. This, in turn, will enable customers to integrate IoT into their own businesses.

Under the terms of the agreement, Tech Data’s IoT SIM-enabled devices, hardware and software will be able to be combined with Vodafone’s Managed IoT connectivity services for remote monitoring and control of industrial operational applications, mobile asset tracking, fleet management, building security, network access and worldwide device management solutions.

New opportunities

Victor Paradell, vice president, IoT & Analytics Solutions at Tech Data, said: “The agreement is a breakthrough as Tech Data is now able to offer a comprehensive, end-to-end Vodafone IoT connectivity solution across Europe.”

He welcomed the new agreement. “We’re excited to partner with Vodafone and help solution providers grow their businesses with new recurring revenue streams based on connectivity for IoT applications. Interest in IoT is stronger than ever, enterprise investment is increasing, and so is the number of IoT connections.” The rollout of the new service will start in the UK before the end of the year, with other services coming on stream in the new year.

      

Office 2007 still a popular choice for businesses despite security risks

You may be aware that Microsoft’s venerable Office 2007 is no longer supported as of last month, but that hasn’t stopped over two-thirds of businesses using the productivity suite.

According to a new report from Spiceworks, 68% of firms are still using Office 2007 somewhere in their business, even though it is no longer receiving any security updates (or indeed other patches).

As for the most commonly used version of Microsoft’s suite, that’s Office 2010, which 83% of firms are using. And it’s certainly not the latest Office 2016, which is only being used by 17% of businesses.

That said, there’s brighter news for Office 365, as 53% of companies are using the subscription-based offering, and a further 17% are planning to shift to the cloud-based suite within the next two years.

That rather dwarfs the amount of businesses using G Suite, Google’s rival online product, which is only used by 17% of organizations.

Ancient Office

The research, which encompassed IT departments across the US, UK and Canada, came up with a further very worrying nugget: some firms (3%) are even still using Office 97.

Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, commented: “Although they’re aware of the security risks of running end of life software, many IT departments haven’t had the budget, time, or resources required to implement new productivity suites and train end users accordingly.

“However, as IT budgets and staff begin to grow in 2018, more organizations will look to invest in newer cloud-based and as-a-service productivity suites with more resources to manage the transition.”

In other words, Office 365 is expected to be the biggest growth area among the various incarnations of Microsoft’s productivity suite, particularly when it comes to enterprises with more than a thousand staff members, Spiceworks observes.

      

Top 5 best infrastructure management services

If you run your own business, you no doubt use a ton of IT equipment and software on a daily basis, covering a range of purposes. And it’s very easy for all this stuff to pile up and become overwhelming.

This is where effective IT infrastructure management software is essential. It provides you with the ability to manage company processes and policies, computing equipment, data, contacts, human resources and security systems.

Normally, infrastructure management (IM) can be sorted into different use categories, such as storage management, network management, system management, server management, workstation management, IT security management and application support.

The ultimate aim of this technology is to help you streamline your internal IT processes – but you’ll also get a plethora of other benefits, too. For instance, you can ensure you conform to internal and external regulations, enhance data flows, run an efficient IT operation and avoid wasting time duplicating efforts.

There are plenty of IM software packages out there, and they’re suitable for a variety of different businesses and sectors. Large vendors such as HP, IBM and Microsoft all offer IM software. In this article, we’re going to highlight five of the best.

When it comes to software, it’s hard to beat American tech giant Microsoft, and the company has a great tool for infrastructure management. Configuration Manager is a suite of IM tools developed for IT managers and experts.

This solution deals primarily with operating systems, malware protection, power consumption and IT hardware. It can work on a variety of devices and across different work applications.

In terms of core features, the software offers device management, power management, update management, endpoint protection and inventory reporting. You can also use it to deploy Windows 10 quickly and efficiently on new devices.

  • PagerDuty is an excellent infrastructure management solution. It offers incident and dispatch features for multiple services and applications, and has been tailored for a plethora of businesses and industries.

    This is primarily a system monitoring and alert platform, providing incident management through a web or mobile application. What’s great is that it can send crucial infrastructure alerts through phone, SMS and push notifications. It can even send them to specific people or groups via email.

    Feature-wise, the software offers team scheduling management, real-time collaboration information through different devices and platforms, system and user reporting, always-on delivery and business-grade security. There are also integrations with apps and services such as Slack, AppDynamics, Desk.com, Watcher, ZenDesk and more than 200 others.

    If you’re after a cloud-based infrastructure management platform, you should check out Datadog. The system offers monitoring and analytics management for businesses of all sizes and sectors, as well as maintaining a rich and yet simple interface.

    The software can work with a wide selection of systems, apps and devices, and there are integrations which cover the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Slack, SQL Server, Docker, Apache, Campfire and even PagerDuty above. And like PagerDuty, you have the option to receive alerts – in this case, the software will alert you to performance problems via email.

    You can create your own IM dashboards, too. They offer high-resolution metrics and graphs covering data such as hosts, devices, tags, rates, ratios and averages. There’s also the ability to search for different metrics and events.

    Formerly known as LabTech, ConnectWise Automate is a remote monitoring and management platform designed by IT service providers for technology companies, and it provides automated IT service.

    With a focus on network management, this solution offers powerful cloud-based reporting and visibility into your IT capabilities, allowing you to perform almost any IT management task remotely and efficiently.

    Meanwhile, on the automation front, ConnectWise will analyse all your systems, solve problems and reduce time spent visiting on-site assets. As well as being able to access the software from a PC, there’s also an app for iOS and Android devices.

    Automation isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly handy if you want to speed up internal processes. There’s a free trial available, so you don’t have to rush into making a final decision as to whether you want to adopt ConnectWise.

    Pulseway’s Real-Time Remote Monitoring and Management Software is one of the most popular and highly commended services of its kind. It lets you monitor Windows, Mac and Linux computers, and provides you with real-time status on network performance, system resources and logged in users.

    There’s a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, meaning you can track and manage all your IT resources remotely. You also get access to advanced IT automation so you don’t have to spend time on mundane tasks, such as maintenance, backup and security checks.

    You can set up alerts, too. Like some of the other systems mentioned here, they’ll flag any system issues that could potentially lead to damage or failure, and you can tailor them based on your IT devices. Pulseway is suitable for smaller firms and businesses all the way up to large enterprises.

          

Telstra will compensate thousands of customers for broken NBN promises

After failing to deliver on the advertised speeds of its high-end NBN plans, Telstra will be compensating roughly 42,000 of its unhappy broadband customers.

According to The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australia’s biggest telco has offered to reimburse NBN customers who were promised speeds that were simply unattainable on their fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) connections.

Though they were promised download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 40Mbps, many could not even reach the top speeds of the speed tier below that, according to ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

“In essence, people were paying more to get higher speeds that they just weren’t able to get,” said Sims.

The ACCC stated that 56% (26,497) of FTTN customers on 100/40Mbps plans were unable to achieve the advertised top speeds, while 9,606 users on the same plans could not even reach half of that speed.

Top speeds were also not obtained by 45% (6,352) of FTTN customers on 50/20Mbps plans and 2% (9,342) on 25/5Mbps plans.

Telstra has put forward a detailed, court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that outlines what the telco will do to remedy the situation with its customers, including such measures as refunds and the ability to exit their contract free of charge.

It’s worth noting that the ACCC does not consider this a Telstra-specific problem, but an industry-wide one.

“We will continue to investigate other retail service providers (RSPs) selling broadband plans over the NBN and take enforcement action where appropriate,” said Sims, further stating that RSPs are expected to “provide consumers with accurate information up front about the internet speeds they can expect to receive, and then deliver on those promises.”

      

Microsoft reveals the requirements for a ‘highly secure’ Windows 10 PC

Microsoft has posted an article which stipulates the requirements PCs or laptops must conform to in order to be considered ‘highly secure’ by the company, and interestingly, the Surface Pro 4 does not meet those specifications.

These details are for OEMs (hardware manufacturers) and show what these vendors need to achieve in order to make a ‘highly secure Windows 10 device’, with Microsoft clarifying that the standards are for ‘general-purpose’ PCs, laptops, tablets and hybrids (running the Fall Creators Update – the latest version of the OS).

The main requirements are a 64-bit processor that must be at least 7th-generation (i.e. Kaby Lake in the case of Intel’s CPUs), along with a minimum of 8GB of system RAM, and support for TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module).

The latter isn’t a surprise considering Microsoft made this a compulsory element for hardware vendors last year, with TPM 2.0 offering even more security measures to protect a device against tampering if it’s lost or stolen (compared to TPM 1.2).

A 64-bit CPU is required for virtualization-based security, and Microsoft also stipulates that “systems must implement cryptographically verified platform boot”, clarifying that this means: “Intel Boot Guard in Verified Boot mode, or AMD Hardware Verified Boot”.

Memory mystery

The requirement for 8GB of system memory is a complete mystery, with Microsoft not offering up any explanation as to why 4GB might fall short in terms of security. There are, of course, plenty of machines still running with the latter amount of RAM (at the budget end of the laptop market in particular).

As mentioned, what’s perhaps most interesting here in some respects is that something as (relatively) modern as Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 4 doesn’t meet these standards, as it runs with a Skylake CPU (6th-generation).

Before we start flaying the SP4 alive on the security front, though, it’s worth repeating that these are requirements for a ‘highly secure’ device, so it doesn’t suggest that hardware which fails to conform to these standards is insecure; it just doesn’t have top-notch security, as Microsoft sees it.

Meanwhile, on the software side of things, the company is working hard to make Windows 10 as secure as possible, with the latest Fall Creators Update hardening protection against ransomware, a very useful boost.

Via: The Inquirer

  • One of Microsoft’s Surface range is on our best laptops list

      

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