Microsoft to Business: You Need Windows Phone 7

Citing the strong integration between its upcoming mobile phone software and its popular business-oriented products such as Office, Exchange, and SharePoint, Microsoft is actively pitching Windows Phone 7 to IT pros and developers at its TechEd 2010  conference, which got underway June 7 in New Orleans, PC World reports. With a touch-oriented interface that borrows elements from the Apple iPhone and Microsoft’s own underappreciated Zune HD, Windows Phone 7 clearly has strong consumer appeal. However, its tight hooks into Redmond’s bread-and-butter business apps also make it a smart buy for enterprise customers, Microsoft argues. Windows Phone 7 will “combine a smart new user interface with familiar tools such as PowerPoint, OneNote, Word, Excel and SharePoint into a single integrated experience via the Office hub,” writes Microsoft’s Paul Bryan in a June 7 post on the Windows Phone Blog. Businesspeople would rather carry a single smartphone for office and personal use, and a new crop of Windows Phone 7 devices coming later this year will suit their needs, he asserts…

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Microsoft gets more aggressive with free software

Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a new edition of its Office programs to enterprise customers on May 12, and for the first time it’s adding versions of Word and other programs that work in a web browser and will be free for consumers, reports the Associated Press. Office 2010 marks a milestone in Microsoft’s efforts to keep up with an industry shift from programs that are stored on PCs to free ones that can be accessed from any computer over the internet. Microsoft must be careful not to make the free apps so appealing as to undermine its lucrative desktop software business, which accounted for 29 percent of Microsoft’s revenue and 51 percent of its operating income in the most recent quarter. The free apps will have fewer features than the desktop versions. For businesses, access to the apps is included in their regular Office licensing fees, while the consumer apps will carry advertisements. Consumers can start buying Office 2010 or using the free Web Apps in June…

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Microsoft, ePals team up on collaborative tools

ePals users will have access to online versions of popular Microsoft software within a secure learning environment.
ePals users will have access to online versions of popular Microsoft software within a secure learning environment.

In a move that could spur more widespread use of online tools for communicating and collaborating within K-12 education, software giant Microsoft Corp. has announced a strategic partnership with ePals, which provides a safe online platform for teachers and students to share information and work together on projects.

Under the terms of the alliance, ePals this fall will add Microsoft’s Live@edu eMail and calendaring software to the services it already provides for some 600,000 educators in 200 countries through its ePals Learning Space platform.

Sometime early next year, ePals users also will have access to the web-based versions of Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint within the ePals Learning Space, the two companies say.…Read More

Microsoft creates Office plug-in for Moodle

Microsoft is releasing a free add-on that could make life easier for teachers, professors, and others who use the online educational system Moodle, CNET reports. The plug-in, which works with Office 2003 and Office 2007, allows users to save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents directly to the open-source online service. It also allows users to edit directly in Office a document saved on Moodle, which is widely used in colleges and K-12 schools. Saving documents to Moodle from Office used to require up to eight steps, but the new add-on cuts that in half. Opening an Office document from Moodle is now a single step, said Jon Perera, general manager of Microsoft’s Educational Products Group.

The add-on helps those using the current version of Office for Windows PCs, but doesn’t help the many educational users on a Mac. Perera said Microsoft is evaluating how to support Moodle in Office 2010, which also includes browser-based Office Web Apps that run on both Macs and PCs…

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Technology coalition seeks stronger privacy laws

A broad coalition of technology companies, including AT&T, Google, and Microsoft, and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum said March 30 that it would push Congress to strengthen online privacy laws to protect private digital information from government access, reports the New York Times. The group, calling itself the Digital Due Process coalition, said it wanted to ensure that as millions of people moved private documents from their filing cabinets and personal computers to the web, those documents remain protected from easy access by law enforcement and other government authorities. The coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology, wants law-enforcement agencies to use a search warrant approved by a judge or a magistrate, rather than rely on a simple subpoena from a prosecutor to obtain a citizen’s online data. The group also said it wants to safeguard location-based information collected by cell-phone companies and applications providers. Members of the group said they would lobby Congress for an update to the current law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was written in 1986—nearly a decade before internet use became mainstream. They acknowledged that some proposals were likely to face resistance from law-enforcement agencies and the Obama administration. This year, Justice Department lawyers argued in court that cell-phone users had given up the expectation of privacy about their location by voluntarily giving that information to carriers…

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Gloves off, Microsoft pushes antitrust review of Google

Microsoft has confirmed it had a hand in helping bring about a European antitrust investigation of its web competitor, Google, The Washington Post reports. Freshly empowered by its search alliance with Yahoo, Microsoft said–in its most vocal criticism of Google yet–that the world has a new monopolist to watch in the search engine giant. “Our concerns relate only to Google practices that tend to lock in business partners and content (like Google Books) and exclude competitors, thereby undermining competition more broadly,” wrote Dave Heiner, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel in a blog post last Friday. “Ultimately the competition law agencies will have to decide whether or not Google’s practices should be seen as illegal.”

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New Windows software turns one PC into many

Microsoft announced Feb. 24 that it is ready with Windows MultiPoint Server 2010, a product that lets schools run a classroom full of systems using just a single computer, CNET reports. Multipoint Server allows up to 10 different setups—each with its own keyboard, mouse, and monitor—to run from a single server. “We heard clearly from our customers in education that to help fulfill the amazing promise of technology in the classroom, they needed access to affordable computing that was easy to manage and use,” Microsoft vice president Anthony Salcito said in a statement. NComputing, which already offers a similar approach using both Linux and standard versions of Windows, said it will incorporate MultiPoint Server across its product lineup. HP, ThinGlobal, Tritton, and Wyse also plan to offer products based on the software…

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Microsoft unveils new mobile software platform

Microsoft unveiled on Monday an upgrade to its mobile operating system as the US software giant seeks to regain lost ground in the competitive handset market, according to an AFP report. Windows Mobile 7 was made public on the first day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, ending months of speculation about what Microsoft had in store for the industry’s biggest trade show. The new system, which follows the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 in October, is “a major new step in our strategy,” Nicolas Petit, director of Microsoft’s mobile division in France, told AFP. “It is a total break from what we were doing before,” Petit said. Microsoft completely changed the platform’s interface, with a “dynamic screen” allowing users to install his or her favourite icon, from music, to contacts and social networks, he said. It was inspired by the design of Zune, the Microsoft MP3 player that is only available in the United States at the moment.

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Challengers gain in important phone software fight

As smart phones increasingly appear alike, with high-end models mostly taking their cues from Apple Inc.’s iPhone, more and more it’s the software they run that makes a difference, reports the Associated Press. A growing number of operating systems are jostling for the attention of phone buyers and manufacturers. The winners will determine what our phones can do, which web sites we’re steered to, and which manufacturers will survive the next few years. The battle will be on display as wireless carriers and phone makers gather next week in Barcelona, Spain, for the industry’s largest trade show, Mobile World Congress. The CEO of Google Inc., suddenly a strong contender in phone software, will address the show. Also hoping to make a splash is Microsoft Corp., which is struggling to revitalize its software.

These are the contenders, starting with the largest worldwide market share: (continued)…

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Microsoft opens its cloud to researchers

A new partnership between Microsoft and NSF will give researchers access to Microsoft's cloud-computing infrastructure.
A new partnership between Microsoft and NSF will give researchers access to Microsoft's cloud-computing infrastructure.

Researchers have until March 15 to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF) that would grant access to Microsoft Corp.’s massive cloud-computing power for three years.

Researchers and academic teams chosen by NSF officials will use Microsoft Azure, a program that offers enormous data storage and computing capabilities using the corporation’s data centers.

College and university researchers have gravitated to cloud computing in recent years as the model has proven cost efficient—campuses don’t have to maintain pricey on-site server racks—and has removed many restrictions prevalent on traditional computer networks.…Read More