Amazon continues to flourish

For some time now, Alphabet, the parent company of our beloved Google, has been holding the position of the runner-up, right behind Apple Inc. in the global market. In recent events, has just surpassed Alphabet in acquiring the position of the second most valuable company in the world. This is the first of such occurrence. Apple Inc. has been valued at $889 billion for the past two years. As of now, Amazon’s market capitalization is $7 billion ahead of Alphabet, with $768 billion and $761 billion respectively.

This should not come as a surprise since Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has recently been proclaimed by Forbes as the wealthiest man in the world. At a net worth of $130 billion, he holds the label of the first and only centi-billionaire in the United States. Over the past 5 years, Amazon has been experiencing a positive growth in market value. At present, it has acquired a growth of 2.69 percent in its stock price as opposed to Alphabet’s 0.39 percent decrease.

In addition to three of these tech giants, Microsoft is also in the game, placing fourth. The company’s market capitalization is valued at $717 billion as of today.

Due to the comparably small gap between the top three firms, any change in positions between them will not bring about too much of a commotion. Besides, with the obvious and consistent growth that Amazon has seen recently, it is highly possible for it to surpass the rests and safely secure the position as the most valuable company across the world.

Amazon has been venturing towards different industries. They range from shopping to banking as well as healthcare. The Motley Fool has even insinuated at the company’s possible endeavor in being a “major hospital supplier”. With Bezos brisk success in recent years, it would not be surprising if they continue to achieve excellence in any possible plans. To put it briefly, a $5,000 investment in from 21 years ago would have gotten you a million dollars today.

On the other hand, Google is seemingly losing its grip as the firm is already anticipating a further decline, particularly in their share of the country’s advertisement industry. At the moment, Google seems to be directing its effort on the invention and production of hardware like speakers, in order to compete with the other tech giants.

For instance, Apple has found its success in various products, ranging from iPhones to Apple watches. Two years ago, Apple had introduced the AirPods, a pair of wireless earphones. This product was a huge success such that its purchasing demand far surpassed the supply. It is not easy and there are hardly any goods or services, that are not necessities, that can achieve that, especially when it is not the most affordable item. However, Apple has always been able to acquire demand for its product since brand loyalty is one of the most significant element that has led to its top spot in the global market. This is clearly evident from the series of Apple products. For instance, the series of iPhone, up till iPhone X, has consumers queueing up to purchase it. In spite of the passing of the late Steve Jobs, Apple is still coming up with each products’ successor. Take the Apple Watch for instance. From its debut in 2015, the Apple Watch has not lost its popularity within the market. From the first, to Series 2 and the latest Apple Watch Series 3. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple has revealed that the sales of the newest batch are twice the sale of the second batch.

With Apple’s consistent growth, will Amazon be able to surpass its market value or will Apple be able to hold on to the top spot?

Featured image via flickr/ simone.brunozzi

Jeff Bezos, First Centi-Billionaire in America

Jeff Bezos, the co-founder of Amazon has officially made it all the way to the top of Forbes list of world’s billionaires. Moreover, he has become the first and only person in America to acquire the title of centi-billionaire at a total worth of $127 billion, as determined by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He has now surpassed other well-known billionaires, like Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who is estimated at the worth of $90 billion, and Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Though Bezos was already a centi-billionaire from the sudden development of the Amazon shares last year, he has already earned about $15 billion more in the start of just this year and is expecting further growth.

This is apparent by the four percent increase – in Amazon stocks – in February when the broader market suffered a decline of four percent.

“Bezos has seen his wealth remain in excess of $100 billion, and with the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg also tipped to reach that eye-watering milestone, it seems we’re entering the era of the centi-billionaire,” articulated by Vishal Chhatralia, the Vice President of Digital Operations for RS Components.  

To illustrate the astronomical extent of his wealth, juxtapositions have been made. To begin with, the ratio of a centi-billionaire with exactly $100 billion juxtaposed with an average American’s wealth (based on the country’s Gross Domestic Product) is 1 to 1.8 million. Likewise, the ratio of an average American’s wealth juxtaposed with Jeff Bezos’ fortune is 2.3 million to one.

Capitalism promotes profitability and long term economic expansion. It is the market system that has led to the United States’ success in today’s global market. However, it is also a system that works by merit. Although it can bring about a vast reduction in the unemployment rate that consequently eliminates the costs and wastes in the society, many have brought up the counterargument concerning the increasing gap in wealth inequality. Ultimately, the decision-making power within the market will fall on the top tier of the society, the centi-billionaires and the government, resulting in the negligence of other consumers’ wants and needs. This is a cause of distress because if the gap of wealth inequality gets bigger without a solution, various form of political instability and radicalization of society will be more likely to happen.

Nonetheless, the neoliberal form of capitalism is believed to be the most satisfactory political economic future so far as it is able to solve the demand problem caused by wealth inequality. This is attributable to the increase in state spending following the increase in profit margins as business proprietors dominate the labor industry. Like the conventional capitalist system, this, too, works by merit and though wealth inequality may become an issue, the increased collective spending can act as a counter against it. The strength of continuing the neoliberal form of capitalism, perhaps with some adjustments to it is that it is currently the most efficient system in maintaining a balanced relationship between the society and economy of a nation. Yet again, this system, without its previous function to ensure a stable growth in the economy, will only result in a decline in the living standard of the majority.

Hence, a centi-billionaire’s decision towards the final placement of their fortune can affect the future of many; ranging from an individual to an entire nation. Prospective centi-billionaires such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg have all pledged to return a big portion of their fortunes to the society for the greater good. No such promise has been made by Jeff Bezos. Then again, Bezos and his spouse have been quite the philanthropist for some time now. As alumni of Princeton University, they have previously donated a sum of $15 million to the college. In addition, the United States branch of Reporters Without Borders opened an office in San Francisco, California after receiving a generous donation of $250,000 from Bezos.

Adding to the list is a $33 million donation made to TheDream.US, a scholarship reserved for a thousand immigrant high school students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status who are receiving tertiary education. His reason for choosing this cause could be traced back to his father. As a sixteen years old Cuban immigrant, his father travelled by himself to the States under Operation Pedro Plan.

All things considered, however, the key aspect to keep an eye on is Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company. His alleged plan is to support this company by trading off $1 billion worth of Amazon stock annually. Blue Origin centers its research with the goal to acquire technological revolution. Bezos have explained his vision to build an economical space platform to compete with the Internet, despite its current focus on commercial purposes.

“That will be necessary to save the Earth, because without being able to expand into space, human civilization will have to contract,” he justified at a conference held in Los Angeles, California last November.

Featured Image via Wikimedia

Microsoft Sales Reorganization May Produce Layoffs

Microsoft recently reorganized its global sales force to highlight its focus on selling cloud services instead of standalone software. This reorganization is not the first the company has faced since former CEO Steve Ballmer resigned and Satya Nadella took over in 2014. While the series of structural changes the company has undergone have not immediately resulted in layoffs, the Wall Street Journal reports that thousands of jobs have the potential of being made redundant.

The reshuffle does not appear to have a huge impact on how Microsoft conducts its daily business. The company has already been placing a priority on its Azure cloud computing platform and selling software subscriptions to businesses ever since Nadella, the former head of Microsoft’s cloud division, had been appointed CEO. These changes show a steady shift away from its previous business model of selling one-time software licenses for products like Windows and Office, as these products are not long-term revenue funds. Cloud services instead provide a large portion of Microsoft’s revenue stream by selling software services to enterprises, which does not require as many sales persons in contact with consumers.

Cloud services are attractive because they are able to scale with its user, while also allowing the resources and staff allocation to be managed by whoever is providing the service. Services typically include online data storage and backup solutions, document coloration services, database processing and the management of technical support services. The reason why this is a lucrative option for Microsoft is that it able to constantly provide these services to enterprises, reaching a larger scale than it would if serving consumers, and in return for the services Microsoft maintains a steady revenue stream.

Despite the progress towards cloud services increasing Microsoft’s revenue stream, Microsoft is still trailing behind Amazon with the massive success it has had with its AWS business. Furthermore, Microsoft needs to look out for further competition from Google and its growing cloud division. AWS is the market leader and combined with Azure and Google Cloud Platform the three of them make up the fronts runners in the field of cloud services.

Accepting that AWS is dominant, Azure outplays Google from a business standpoint, while Google is more popular from a consumer standpoint. It is clear from Azure contribution to Microsoft’s revenue stream that cloud services are its future, and while they continue to constantly improve its services for enterprises, there is an opportunity for growth by also emphasizing on consumer services. This would allow Microsoft to asserts its position as a cloud service provider for enterprises, while also drawing from the user base that mostly utilizes the Google Cloud Platform.

Microsoft has stated that it will now focus on two distinct areas, big enterprise customers, and then small to medium-sized businesses. While the specifics of the changes have yet to be clarified, the sales reorganization was designed to align Microsoft’s resources to meet the need of its customers. Nadella is making some much-needed changes to transition Microsoft away from its old ways of mass sales team selling one-time products to a larger focus on product innovation.

Returning to the potential layoffs, while the magnitude is not yet clear, the cuts are expected to be made in offices globally, as Microsoft tries to slim itself down. Microsoft’s stock has been growing over the past 5 years and is currently up 11% since the start of the year. One can expect a further increase in stock, as there is a trend of stock increasing during layoffs. It seems this reorganization will only be affecting people working in sales.

Pacific Crest Lowers Amazon Rating

Pacific Crest lowered the stock rating of Amazon from overweight to weight after this week of trading. They believe the well-performing internet company has reached a peak and they are expecting a slow in gains.

In the past 12 months, Amazon’s stock raised 53 percent with 22.5 percent in 2017. The S&P 500 only had a 7 percent return. Amazon was more successful than expected in the first quarter and Friday premarket trading saw shares up by 4 percent.

Signs Against Amazon

However, Pacific Crest says that competitors are growing as well. Walmart and Microsoft will increasingly cut into Amazon’s business in the future, according to the firm. For example, Microsoft’s cloud business experienced a growth of 93 percent in March but Amazon’s cloud services went down from 47 percent in the fourth quarter to 43 percent last quarter.

There are other signs as well. The first party (1P) sector of the company in which Amazon sells items to customers directly experienced growth rates similar to and lower than in preceding quarters. The first quarter growth rate of 16 percent matched that of the previous fourth quarter. Furthermore, the rate is down from 2016’s first quarter rate of 21 percent.

Edward Yruma, an analyst for Pacific Crest explained the downgrade to clients in a note on Thursday. He stated that Amazon was near to its projected price target of $961. He later retracted the target without stating another.

Not Without Value

Regardless of Pacific Crest’s change, Amazon is still considered a valuable buy by many analysts. Although Raymond James decreased its rating of the company this week, no analysts assigned it a sell rating. Out of 40 analysts, 33 rate the stock as overweight or buy. The other seven gave it a hold rating.

This is the first time in more than a year that the successful company has been downgraded by an important sell-side firm. In fact, most companies with Amazon’s historic success rarely experience such decreases in ratings.

This doesn’t mean that the decrease should be ignored. The prediction of greater competition will likely be fulfilled. Walmart’s continued pursuit of growth in e-commerce poses an increasing threat.

Microsoft’s 700 Job Cuts Coming Soon

There is a high possibility that job cuts will be hitting Microsoft soon. When the company announces it’s quarterly earnings, it is expected a round of layoffs that can affect around 700 jobs.

Seven hundred might not seem like such a big number compared to the 113,000 employees the company currently has. However, tension has been high since Microsoft announced that hundreds of jobs would be cut.

In its annual report during the summer, Microsoft said that it would cut about 2,850 positions. During that time Microsoft hoped that those positions would be eliminated by June of this year. However, many of the 2,850 positions to be cut have already been terminated. These positions aren’t limited to a specific group but widespread throughout the company. Positions from human resources all the way to finance can be affected.

Microsoft claims that these layoffs won’t have too big of an impact on its initial head count. Microsoft hopes to alternate different skill sets through smaller layoffs. The company is also still hiring, with more than 1,600 job opportunities posted on sites like Linked In.

However, even though many jobs will be eliminated, Microsoft reportedly offers assistance to its employees.  Microsoft gives its employees sixty days to find new employment internally after termination from a position.

During its last fiscal year, Microsoft cut an estimated 7,400 positions which majority of those were in its phone business. That, however, is a small number compared to the 18,000 jobs it eliminated back in 2014.

Microsoft Acquires an A.I. Start-Up

Microsoft announced on a blog post from Friday morning that it has acquired Maluuba, a start-up based out of Toronto that focuses on using deep machine learning for natural language processing. Deep learning is the current popular approach to artificial intelligence, based on a set of algorithms that attempt to model high-level abstractions in data. In the post, Microsoft said, “We’ve recently set new milestones for speech and image recognition using deep learning techniques, and with this acquisition we are, as Wayne Gretzky would say, skating to where the puck will be next—machine reading and writing.”

In the summer of 2016, Mauluuba shared the results of an AI system that could read and comprehend text in an almost human-like capacity on The Verge. These result easily outperformed those of similar systems shared by Google and Facebook. Microsoft has also recently developed closer ties to Yoshua Bengio, a former advisor to Maluuba and soon-to-be advisor of Microsoft’s AI department. Benigo is a pioneer in the field of deep learning.

Maluuba’s AI system presents unique possibilities for Microsoft, such as integration with the company’s digital assistant Cortana. With a system that can read and comprehend as well as Maluuba’s, the endless chore of sorting through emails can be made much more efficient and less time consuming.

Microsoft echoed this idea in its blog post, “Imagine a future where, instead of frantically searching through your organization’s directory, documents or emails to find the top tax-law experts in your company, for example, you could communicate with an AI agent that would leverage Maluuba’s machine comprehension capabilities to immediately respond to your request.”

The post continued to explain how this AI system differentiates itself from the pack, “The agent would be able to answer your question in a company-security-complaint manner by having a deeper understanding of the contents of your organization’s documents and emails, instead of simply retrieving a document by keyword matching, which happens today.”

Microsoft hints at a plethora of other uses, “This is just one of hundreds of scenarios we could imagine as Maluuba pushes the state-of-the-art technology of machine literacy.”

Microsoft and LinkedIn Join Forces

Microsoft closed its biggest deal ever by purchasing LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. This deal exceeded the one Microsoft made by purchasing Skype for $8.5 billion back in 2011. Six months ago, Microsoft had announced that they planned on buying LinkedIn, and this Thursday the details were made final.

Although Microsoft will own LinkedIn, the CEO of the company, Jeff Weiner will still oversee the company. LinkedIn simply reports to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Weiner commented on the deal saying that he was “more confident than ever” about the pair up with Microsoft.

LinkedIn has been around for nearly thirteen years providing free online resume service to its 433 million users. While initial services are free, you must pay if you want other features like sending messages to people you don’t know and making advanced searches.

LinkedIn has had its fair share of hard times. The company has tried very hard to expand its brand further than being just an online resume. The expansion included the $1.5 billion purchase of and the upgrade of the LinkedIn mobile app. Weiner said, “This relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn’s network, now gives us a chance to…change the way the world works.”

For those of us who are current LinkedIn users, Wiener says that, for now, things with the site will remain the same. During the next few months, however, we can only wait and see what type of interesting influence Microsoft products will have on LinkedIn.

Japan to Spend $173 Million on new Supercomputer

Japan has always been first in the technology world. As times begin to change, the world has crept into the digital age where industrial labor has started to become less humane. The nation of Japan hopes to launch itself even further into the future by building the world fastest supercomputer which, for now, is named ABCI (AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure).

The resulting machine will achieve 130 petaflops which would surpass China’s Sunway TaihuLight, which runs at 93 petaflops. It is even rumored that Japanese officials will spend at least $173 million on the ABCI project.

Although the hope of this new supercomputer is steering toward 2018, Japan has been having a rough time getting started. Recently its economic and workforce issues have put it behind South Korea and China who have been beating Japan in the distribution of consumer electronics. The development of a new supercomputer would put Japan back on the right path. It has been four years since Japan had a boast-worthy supercomputer. Back in 2011, Japan’s Fujitsu’s K Computer beat out other supercomputers with a whopping 10.5 petaflops, setting world records.

Japan has decided to let multiple companies bid for the rights to build the supercomputer. It has been rumored that the highest bidder will be announced as the winner on December 8th. The machine is estimated to be online by 2018. Once the supercomputer is fully operational, Japan has plans to lease out use of the machine for a small fee to companies who use Microsoft, Google, and others. According to Reuters, Fujitsu Ltd, a Japanese company responsible for building the fastest supercomputer, has yet to say if it would be one of the companies in on the bidding.

As the world begins its transition into a digital future, countries like Japan are doing everything they can to stay on the ball. Whether their efforts are in vain, only time will be able to tell.

Will Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google’s Parent Company Meet High Expectations?

The four tech giants (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet) are reaping in tons of profit this year.The companies are valued at $1.8 trillion combined. All four will report their earnings for the quarter next week.

These four tech giants may boost the Nasdaq, the American stock market, to an all-time high. Nasdaq is only 3% away from last year’s high at 5,232.

Microsoft is setting an example with its new cloud business reaping profits. Microsoft reported an increase of 5% and surpassed an all-time high back in December 1999. If you combine Microsoft’s $440 billion market value to the other four tech giants, it will amount to at least $2.2 trillion.

Apple, on the other hand, is not doing so well. Apple stock has declined by 6% and stocks may drop more due to the iPhone’s waning popularity. Market analysts are expecting a dip in revenue for the quarter. At this rate, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, will have to convince investors to stay with something other than the iPhone.

Amazon is having an amazing year and is anticipating an all-time high and Amazon’s Prime Day sales are the cause. Analysts are estimating a six-fold increase in revenue.

Although Alphabet is down by 3% this year, it may change with analysts estimating a 15% increase for Alphabet. Alphabet, however, needs to beat analyst predictions to get back on track.

Facebook is best off in comparison to the other tech giants. Facebook recently hit one billion users on Messenger and Facebook continues to expand. With this milestone, analysts predict that sales will increase by 50% and revenue will skyrocket up to 60%.

If these tech giants meet our high expectations, Nasdaq will be on the road to a new record high.

Microsoft’s Cloud Business is Raking in the Money

While Microsoft is famous for its PC programs such as Windows and Office, these programs aren’t making as much profit as they used to. Microsoft’s investments in the smartphone business so far have also been disastrous.

Back in 2014, Microsoft bought Nokia’s mobile business for $9.4 billion. Microsoft had planned to combine Windows and smartphones but failed. Microsoft had to lay off thousands of employees and scrap its plan. On Tuesday, Microsoft reported a 71% decrease in revenue for its mobile business.

After Microsoft’s mishaps in the smartphone industry, Microsoft has to learn to transition. Microsoft’s plan to introduce Windows 10 platform on more than one billion of its devices has been pushed back due to Microsoft’s smartphone flop.

Microsoft, however, is determined to make a comeback with its new cloud business. Microsoft plans to replace Amazon as the lead company for cloud computing services. Cloud computing is the new trend that helps connect people online to software housed in big data centers.

On Tuesday, Microsoft reported its quarterly earnings. These earnings indicated that Microsoft’s cloud business was growing rapidly. Revenue from Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing business, has increased by more than 100%.

Cloud computing was always one of Microsoft’s priorities. The reason why Microsoft didn’t take action earlier was due to the reluctance Microsoft’s previous chief executive Steven A. Ballmer. Microsoft’s present chief executive, Satya Nadella, had prioritized cloud computing since two years ago.

Microsoft has to keep in mind that the cloud computing business model is not made to reap exceptionally high profits. Renting software in the cloud is cheaper than selling licenses to consumers. Microsoft will have to accept that cloud computing has a more stable business model.

Microsoft Wins Legal Battle Concerning Overseas Data Searches

On Thursday, a federal court ruled for Microsoft in a case concerning customer privacy. Microsoft, along with Apple and Amazon, agree that consumer data stored outside the United States should not be breached by the United States government for criminal evidence.

Microsoft had argued that turning over data stored in other countries would cause foreign countries to turn over evidence stored in the U.S. On the other hand, the U.S. government argued that withholding data could create a legal loophole for criminals and potentially make it harder to put them behind bars.

The federal court ruled in favor of Microsoft and overturned a similar case back in 2014 (the ruling in 2014 ordered Microsoft to relinquish overseas data). U.S. Circuit Judge Susan Carney wrote for the New York appeals court saying that it doesn’t “authorize courts to issue and enforce against US-based service providers warrants for the seizure of customer e-mail content that is stored exclusively on foreign servers.”

Although the government can’t acquire data on foreign servers, it can acquire data from U.S. servers with a court granted warrant. The ruling stated that:

“law enforcement officers may be directed by a court-issued warrant to seize items at locations in the United States and in United States-controlled areas, but their authority generally does not extend further.”

Microsoft marked the ruling as a victory for the protection of foreign privacy rights stating, “As a global company we’ve long recognized that if people around the world are to trust the technology they use, they need to have confidence that their personal information will be protected by the laws of their own country.”

Windows 10 Offers All New Updates

As the launch of Microsoft Windows 10 approaches, the company releases more information about what users can expect.

After uses expressed disappointment over Windows 8.1, the company jumped to their next OS: Windows 10.

A Windows Insider describes the operating system, saying it, “combines the strengths of Windows 8 with Windows 7.”

This update will make lives of Windows users easier. One of the things Windows is planning on do is making it compatible with different computers, phones, tablets and even game consoles.

“Windows 10 enables your apps to look and work great in all modes, on all devices. On 2-in-1 devices, your screen can be optimized to work with touch or keyboard and mouse,” said

This would allow anyone working on the operating system on a certain device, to be able to effortlessly work on it with another device.

It’s not just the features and capabilities of the new update, it’s also the design. Windows has gone back to some of the original design found in Windows 7, and even older operating systems, and taken the convenience and style of the applications that became so popular in Windows 8.

According to ABC News, “The operating system is intended to give apps a similar feel on all devices and comes with a new web browser integrated with Cortana, the company’s voice-activated answer to Apple’s Siri.

Windows 10 is all about convenience, and Microsoft Edge is just another way that they are making it happen.

According to Blogging Windows, “Microsoft Edge, is an all-new browser designed to get things done online in new ways, with built-in commenting on the web – via typing or inking – sharing comments and a reading view that makes reading websites much faster and easier.”

For an inside sneak peak to what the new Windows will be like, there’s an app for that. For Windows supported phones, either an HTC or Lumia brand, you can download the Windows Insider Program, and you’ll be able to see if the upgrade is right for you.

Another feature that Windows hopes to improve upon is their Wi-Fi hotspots. They’re in the talks of creating 10 million hotspots in 130 countries, according to Venture Beat.

The website also said that a Microsoft spokesperson said, “We can confirm that we are working on a new service, called Microsoft Wi-Fi that will bring hassle-free Wi-Fi to millions.”

This will be accessed through the Microsoft Wi-Fi app, available for multiple operating systems such as iOS and Windows. This was all announced on A website that was up for only a short period of time, before being taken down. Now all that appears is an error message saying, “Microsoft Wi-Fi (coming soon)”.

Windows 10 is getting more personal, but not only giving it Cortana, but Windows 10 will learn your name, and greet you accordingly. As of now, Windows 8.1 has security features such as pin numbers and facial recognition.

According to Blogging Windows, “With Windows Hello, biometric authentication is easy with your face, iris, or finger, providing instant recognition.”

When the website was up, more information was gathered such as the service will be pay-as-you-go.

Windows 10 will be available on July 29, and available for free to users who have windows 7 and Windows 8.1, as long as they upgrade within the first year of the release.

If neither one of those options work for you, Microsoft has released their pricing.

According to PC Mag, “Windows 10 Home will set you back $119, while Windows 10 Pro will be $199. Windows 10 Pro Pack, meanwhile, which lets you upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows Pro, will cost $99.”

Microsoft is Slowly Saying Goodbye to Internet Explorer


Online rumors may be hinting that Microsoft may or may not be getting rid of Internet Explorer.

Microsoft’s marketing chief, Chris Capossela, told those attending Monday’s Microsoft Convergence meeting that they have plans for a new browser that will essentially outdate one of the biggest names in online browsers.

Capossela told the conference, that they have a new project in the works, but they have yet to give it an official name for the softwaresaying, “We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10. We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser called Project Spartan, which is codenamed Project Spartan. We have to name the thing.”


Photo By: Microsoft Corp./AP Photo

While Capossela stated that the company would keep Internet Explorer on some models of Microsoft products, the Spartan Project will be the main resource for those using Microsoft products.

Over the years Internet Explorer has been given a bad name and bad reputation amongst the online community, and this could potentially be Microsoft’s attempt to reinvent them, and to disassociate them with any type of insufficient technology in a world that essentially runs on Internet capability.

Microsoft then toldABC, “Project Spartan is Microsoft’s next generation browser, built just for Windows 10. We will continue to make Internet Explorer available with Windows 10 for enterprises and other customers who require legacy browser support.” It appears that they still are backing Internet Explorer, but know the time is now to move on to newer things.


The New Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Tablet and What You Need to Know

Microsoft has managed to draw widespread opinions and attention to their Surface ever since it debuted in 2012, but much was left to be desired in the area of sales. In the past, the Surface Pro was praised for build quality and overall performance, but battery life and pricing were noted as major drawbacks. Add the costs of a keyboard and docking station, and you have a trio of fairly serious issues that need to be address for the generation of Surfaces.

Enter the Surface Pro 3, a 12-inch tablet/laptop hybrid with a slimmer body than its predecessor, a multi-angle kickstand and an improved Type Cover keyboard. The kickstand can open from 22 degrees to a whopping 150 degrees. Microsoft claims that the Surface Pro 3 is “the tablet than can replace your laptop.” Likewise, on Microsoft’s website as well as commercials, Pro3 issues a full frontal attack against the formidable Apple (13-inch) Macbook Air.

On the surface, it seems like Microsoft makes a compelling argument that the Pro 3 is better is a slew of areas. Pro 3 comes with a high-quality pen for writing and drawing while Macbook Air doesn’t. Pro 3 feature two five megapixel front-and-rear-facing cameras that can run 1080 HD; you’re stuck with front-facing 720 HD camera with the Macbook Air. The former weighs in at 2.4 lbs and measures .55 inches in thickness, and the latter weighs 2.96 lbs and .68 inches thick.

Surface Pro’s screen size has stepped up from 10.6 inches to 12 inches. Resolution has increased from 1,920 x 1,080 to 2,160 x 1,440. Vibrant colors are rendered beautifully and the screen enables tons of excellent viewing angles. Outdoor viewing could be troublesome due to a glossy finish. The new Pro 3 is actually lighter and thinner than the Pro 2, despite the increase in screen size.

Some consumers may grit their teeth when soaking in the reality that the keyboard is still sold separately. Another accessory that may feel like a necessary once you buy it is the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station; there isn’t anything besides a kitchen sink that you can’t attach to it. It comes with three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, a Mini-DisplayPort, a headset jack, a security lock slot and a power input.

The Surface Pen is yet another move in the right direction. Click the top of the pen, and the Pro 3 wakes up, and OneNote opens up for note-taking. While on the Web, you can double-click the pen button to take a snapshot and loads it to OneNote.

The Surface Pro runs on fourth-generation i3, i5 or i7 processors. Pro 3’s are available with 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. For more room, a MicroSD slot is situated under the kick stand. Under heavy workloads, the Pro 3 battery charge can be expected to last close to seven hours. The Pro 3 starts at $799 with 64GB storage. The 128GB i5 version comes in at $999, and the 256GB i5 version jumps to $1,299. The 256GB i7 is $1,549, and the 512 i7 is $1,949. The keyboard, which is a necessary accessory, can be had for $119, $129 or $199.

Microsoft to Lay Off 18,000 Through Next Year

Microsoft announced Thursday that it will cut up to 18,000 jobs in the following year to restructure the management layer.

CEO Satya Nadella sent an email to all employees notifying them about the job cuts. He wrote, “The first step to building the right organization for our ambitions is to realign our workforce.” Within the 18,000 cuts, 12,500 will be professional and factory workers. He also said this change will help the company to “become more agile and move faster.”

Executive Vice President Stephen Elop, former CEO of Nokia, also sent an email to Microsoft employees on Thursday. He wrote more on what the company will be working on in the future, as well as how they will approach it. He also said the decisions were hard to make, but the company needed to do it.

“We operate in a competitive industry that moves rapidly, and change is necessary,” he wrote.

According to CBS News, Microsoft’s work force increased from 99,000 to 127,000 when it bought Nokia in September 2013, so the job cuts are predictable. Investors seem to support the company’s decision as Microsoft’s stock price went up almost 3 percent and recorded a 52-week high of $45.7 when the announcement was out.

This layoff is the biggest one in the company’s history, which surpassed the 5,800 job cuts in 2009.



Microsoft CEO Refines Company Priorities

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is shifting the company into a new dynamic. Former CEO Steve Ballmer had previously implemented strategies for the business that Nadella is now out to change. According to PCWorld, Ballmer had fixated Microsoft’s attention to a “devices and services” theme, which Nadella wishes to adjust.

“While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy,” Nadella said in a recent email to all his employees.

Nadella’s goal is to reinstate core values into the company and to demonstrate that Microsoft is “the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world,” according to the email.

Many feared what this shift would entail, but The Verge reported that even with the fundamental modifications, products such as Xbox, Surface and Windows Phone would not be eliminated.

“We are fortunate to have Xbox in our family to go after this opportunity with unique and bold innovation. Bottom line, we will continue to innovate and grow our fan base with Xbox while also creating additive business value for Microsoft,” Nadella said, according to The Verge.

This presumed business value is going to come in part from Nadella’s strategy to redesign product teams. The Verge explained Nadella’s desires to speed up engineering processes while upholding the excellence of the software.

Microsoft is on the road to forming a new philosophy in and of itself. Just as Nadella said in his email, “Our ambitions are bold and so must be our desire to change and evolve our culture.”


Amazon Introduces “Fire” – Entering the Smart Phone Fray

Amazon’s brand new smart phone is slated for release July 25th. It’s aptly named the Fire Phone, and it has a few features that may bring customers in droves.

One aspect of smart phones that’s been lacking overall is camera quality. Nothing beats a device made only to take great pictures, but since many more of us use phones than real cameras, we have to make due. The Fire Phone comes jam-packed with five infrared cameras, four of which are strategically placed in the front four corners. They’re designated to work in sweet harmony to enable the plethora of 3D effects. The fifth eye is the front-facing camera.

Gorilla Glass, placed on both the front and back of the phone, are intended to give the phone a high-quality feel. Another cool feature is tilt-to-scroll; simply tilt the phone forward or backward to scroll the page. You press the screen with your finger to stop it. The more you tilt, the faster the screen will scroll. Scroll speed can also be chosen and locked. This feature has been offered by apps in the past, but Amazon is the first to offer hands-free scrolling for every phone they produce.

The Fire Phone implements an Amazon-heavy version of Android, Fire OS 3.5, which highlights mostly Amazon goodies. You’ll notice that well-known Google services, including Google Play Services, are missing here. As it runs on Android Jelly Bean, there are some Android KitKat 4.4 features that are included, like storage compression.


It appears that the Fire Phone’s biggest pull will come from Prime customer; unlimited photo storage is available for Prime customers, and the X Ray app and Second Screen app from Kindle will be included as well. If those pluses weren’t enough, the phone comes with a free year of Amazon Prime; if you’re an existing Primer, a free year is added to your account.

The Firefly app is yet another lane in which Amazon can lock in new customers. Firefly is a visual-scanning app that allows users to scan and identify various objects to either identify them or determine their availability on Amazon. That ability isn’t breaking new ground; Bing Vision, offered by Microsoft Windows Phone, scans QR’s, music and audio tracks and URL’s as well.

One ability Firefly has that the Bing Vision doesn’t is that it recognizes TV shows and pulls up info through IMDB. On top of that, the Firefly button doubles as a secondary camera button that you can access with a brief long press. The 3D interface shows promise in everyday apps, like maps, but the possibilities in gaming are vast. The results here are definitely better than the HTC Evo 3D and the LG Optimus 3D; it’s evident that smart phone camera technology has come a long way in the past four to five years.

In the United States, AT&T will offer the Fire Phone exclusively for $299 with 64GB storage or $199 with 32GB storage, with a two-year contract. You can pre-order the Fire Phone now.



Photo:  C|Net / Amazon

Spielberg Producing Halo TV Show

It appears pretty much official that Steven Spielberg (known for directing classics such as Jaws and Jurassic Park) is set to produce a live-action TV series based off of the Halo franchise. The project is rumored to begin production in the fall of 2015 which will coincide nicely with the release of Halo 5. The TV show story will supposedly take off from the end of Halo 4, though details have not been widely released.

When the announcement was made, Spielberg spoke digitally saying “For me, the Halo universe is an amazing opportunity to be at that intersection where technology and myth-making meet to create something really groundbreaking.” Groundbreaking is just the way that Spielberg roles. Though not everything he touches turns into enormous success, his track record obviously leans way into the positive column. To some, Halo is the tent pole of microsoft’s Xbox franchise. And they expect big things from Spielberg to bring this story to life.

The show will only be available to those who subscribe to Xbox Live. Microsoft already offers free downloads and exclusive viewing content through their subscription service. Most likely they’re hoping to bolster their subscription numbers. To those who are already familiar with Master Chief and his multiple adventures, the show will be highly anticipated. Those who are not die hard fans should still look forward to its debut as well. Steven does not go into projects lightly and neither does Microsoft. We’re excited to see what these two giant forces will end up coming up with.


Bill Gates on Track to Own No Microsoft Stock in Four Years

Bill Gates was recently listed as the wealthiest man in the world by Forbes. According to the list he is currently worth $77.2 Billion. He made his fortune as the co-founder of Microsoft which makes it a little shocking to believe that he will have no more company stock in four years. Gates has been selling 20 million shares a quarter for the last dozens years and if this current rate continues it will be all gone by 2018.

The end of last week witnessed the history of Gates no longer being the largest shareholder of the company. It is estimated that he still holds 330 million shares of the company. This equates to roughly 4% of the total Microsoft shares in existence. He stepped down as CEO in 2000 and removed himself as chairman this past February. Gates is still on the board though, spending a chunk of his time advising the company on new technological innovations.

In the grand scheme of things Gates going stockless won’t really change too much. He hasn’t had the same hands on control since he abdicated his position as CEO. Besides, when you’re an individual who is valued as the wealthiest person on the planet earth, you’re probably not stressing about money. Infact it has become Gates mission to give away most of his wealth. Started by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, billionaires such as Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, and Michael Bloomberg have pledged to give away half their fortunes during their lifetimes.

This is what we truly like to see from the people who have it all. Giving back. With the economic gap between rich and poor reaching its greatest differential, Gates is proving that there are wealthy individuals who care about those less fortunate. Their greatest focus through the foundation has been assisting those in extreme poverty with poor health care systems in developing countries, as well as failures in the American education system. He will be just fine once he runs out of shares. Bill knows money isn’t real, but you can sure do a lot of good with it anyways.