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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

February 20, 2015 at 4:30 AM

Pri0 has moved

With the launch of our updated website, blogs at seattletimes.com have moved. We’ll still be posting Microsoft-related news and analysis, which you can find here. As always, happy to hear comments, tips and suggestions at mday@seattletimes.com.

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February 18, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Amazon still has wide lead in the cloud, but Microsoft gaining

Amazon.com’s cloud-computing unit is still a world beater. Microsoft is doing its best to entrench itself in second place.

RightScale, a California company that helps information technology departments manage their use of cloud-computing services, on Wednesday released the results of its survey  of more than 900 of corporate technology experts.

Among companies that tap into the “public cloud,” or pooled servers and data storage units accessed via the Web, 57 percent reported using Amazon Web Services. Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform, Azure, was a distant second at 12 percent.

A graphic taken from RightScale's 2015 cloud-computing survey shows usage of the leading cloud infrastructure platforms.

A graphic taken from RightScale’s 2015 cloud-computing survey shows usage of the leading cloud infrastructure platforms.

There are two bright spots for the Redmond company in that figure. It’s double the 6 percent share Azure had when the survey was conducted a year ago. And Azure’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) product, which is primarily used by developers to write programs and web sites, was the fourth most widely used cloud service.

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Comments | More in Cloud computing | Topics: amazon, amazon web services, azure

February 17, 2015 at 9:20 AM

Microsoft, Apple, broaden access to their productivity apps

Cooperation is the word of the day in office applications.

Apple recently opened up its iWork word processing and spreadsheet applications to consumers who don’t own an iPhone or Mac. On Tuesday, Microsoft continued its own effort to broaden the reach of Office, announcing that users of the productivity suite on Apple devices will be able to store their documents with a variety of cloud storage providers.

“We want Office to be the preferred way to work with documents no matter where they’re stored,” Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer said in a blog post.

Koenigsbauer also announced a program allowing users of cloud services like Citrix, Salesforce.com and Box to edit and save Office files stored on those platforms.

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Comments | More in Office | Topics: apple, microsoft, office

February 12, 2015 at 4:48 PM

Senators move to limit government’s ability to grab data abroad

Congress will have another crack at a data privacy topic close to Microsoft’s heart.

A trio of Senators on Thursday introduced a bill that would limit the scope of U.S. law enforcement to reach data stored abroad.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Dean Heller, and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to prevent prosecutors from grabbing data stored abroad unless the owner of the data was a U.S. person or company. The measure would also give courts the ability to void or modify warrants seeking foreign-stored data from service providers if the court finds that turning that data over would violate the laws of a foreign country.

Hatch introduced the same bill — dubbed the LEADS Act — last year, but it didn’t go anywhere before Congress adjourned. LEADS stands, clumsily, for “Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad.”

Microsoft, caught between government demands and its effort to reassure customers that their data is free from improper government collection, has campaigned for such a policy tweak.

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Comments | More in | Topics: brad smith, government, microsoft

February 12, 2015 at 11:01 AM

First Windows 10 phone preview ready to download

Four months after unveiling a preview of Windows 10 for desktops, Microsoft says a smartphone version of the operation system is now available.

If you have one of a half-dozen Windows phones, that is. The roster of devices Microsoft supports for the preview is limited so far to Lumia smartphone models 630, 635, 636, 638, 730, and 830.

“This is the earliest publicly available preview we’ve ever done for Windows on phones,” Microsoft’s Gabe Aul says in a blog post. “This preview is still very much under development and you’re going to see some rough edges.”

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Comments | More in Windows | Topics: microsoft, mobile, smartphone

February 12, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Minority-owned firms handled 4% of Microsoft’s record bond sale

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, on a campaign to spotlight the lack of diversity in the technology industry, praised Microsoft this week after the company included minority-owned banks its largest-ever bond sale.

“Microsoft is making a major statement,” Jackson said on Monday after Microsoft raised its heap of cash.

How much of that cash did Microsoft put behind its statement? The company told us in a securities filing Wednesday.

Microsoft included four minority-owned firms — CastleOak Securities, Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., Williams Capital Group and Loop Capital Markets — among the 14 banks and brokers charged with selling its bonds. The four together sold $422 million, or just under 4 percent, of the $10.75 billion in bonds Microsoft ended up selling on Monday.

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Comments | More in Financial | Topics: bonds, diversity, microsoft

February 11, 2015 at 12:38 PM

Microsoft buys calendar app Sunrise

Microsoft is adding another mobile productivity app to its quiver.

The company says it has acquired Sunrise, a maker of calendar apps for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems. The deal comes two months after the purchase of Acompli, a popular builder of email apps that Microsoft later used as the base for new Outlook email apps for those operating systems.

Microsoft, whose Windows platform accounts for a tiny share of the global tablet and smartphone markets, has been trying reaching customers on competing platforms. In November, the company unveiled free versions of some of its Office productivity suite for iOS and Android, and has since completed the Acompli and Sunrise deals to bolster its ability to build products for those platforms.

Rajesh Jha, a vice president with Microsoft’s Outlook and Office group, said in a blog post that the company planned to keep Sunrise free of charge and available to download. Jha didn’t disclose the terms of the purchase.

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Comments | More in Deals | Topics: apps, deals, microsoft

February 9, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Microsoft, Samsung settle Android patent fee dispute

Microsoft and Samsung won’t duke it out in court after all.

The two technology giants on Monday say they settled a 6-month-old court battle concerning fees Samsung owed Microsoft for manufacturing phones running the Android  mobile operating system.

“Samsung and Microsoft are pleased to announce that they have ended their contract dispute in U.S. court” as well as related arbitration overseen by the International Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard and Samsung Executive Vice President Jaewan Chi said in a brief statement on Microsoft’s website.

They didn’t detail the terms of the agreement. Representatives of both companies declined to comment beyond the statement.

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Comments | More in | Topics: android, google, microsoft

February 5, 2015 at 10:28 AM

Nadella tells ABC News about women-in-tech flub, daily routine

Microsoft didn’t make a big fuss about Satya Nadella’s first anniversary as CEO, but they did invite ABC News in for an interview.

The main segment of that conversation, which ran on ABC’s World News Tonight Wednesday, spent about half of its time on Nadella’s comments in October suggesting that women in technology should trust the system rather than demand raises. A contrite Nadella said he was “absolutely schooled” by his mother after the comments.

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Comments | More in Satya Nadella | Topics: microsoft, satya nadella

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