Microsoft unveiled its new Windows 10 platform yesterday in events held in 13 cities across the world.
While the firm held similar events at 12 other global cities to unveil what it terms as its best Windows to-date, the venue of the Dubai event – Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower – perhaps best symbolises its ambitions for the platform.
“Today we’re launching Windows 10 in 190 countries. It is a free upgrade for those on Windows 7 and later platforms,” said Samer Abu Ltaif, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf.
But why would a software maker give away its bread-and-butter product – the software – for free? After all, we don’t see hardware makers giving away free hardware upgrades… say, Apple giving away free iPhone 7 a year after you bought the iPhone 6.
There are an estimated 1.5 billion people on the Windows operating system worldwide. If, theoretically, Microsoft were to retail its latest OS at the same price as its previous version (Windows 8 retails for $119.99 at the Microsoft Store) to all those customers, it stands to make a staggering $179.9 billion (Dh661bn) in sales.
Accepted that not everyone would purchase it at the retail price as there will be special rates for enterprise and education institutional customers, in addition to the fact that not everyone will be on genuine, licensed copy. Also, a reasonable proportion might not upgrade at all at that price.
A good number to then use will perhaps be the 211 million-odd user base of Windows 8 and 8.1, who might want an upgrade. If Microsoft were to sell the new OS to just this group, it would still stand to rake in $25.3bn (Dh93bn) in sales – a much smaller amount, but still not to be sneezed at.
Why then is Microsoft doing so? Surely it isn’t following the footsteps of its philanthropic founder and donating Windows 10 for the greater good of mankind.
“I believe that what Windows 10 can provide to our eco-system – our partners and our users – is a great opportunity for Microsoft beyond a short-term thinking of what it means financially,” Samer explains to Emirates 24|7.
“We believe that we’re building an eco-system that is going to create a platform for innovation, for connectivity to a new set of devices, a new set of applications, opportunities for developers that are special and unique,” he notes.
But how will Microsoft leverage that for financial gains, we ask.
“We as Microsoft have a very large business,” he explains. “We are the largest software company on the planet. We believe that Windows 10 is an opportunity for us in order to reach out to customers in different segments, enable them to do more and achieve more by leveraging an array of products and solutions that we can offer,” he explains.
“Be it solutions from the cloud, be it other software that they can attach on the Windows platform, apps, productivity tools, etc. that will enable them to leverage the power of Windows 10 on everything that can be built on top of it,” Samer adds further.
“In addition to that, we are lighting up some of our hardware business, the likes of Surface, Surface Hub, our Xbox business… So, this is an incremental excitement to what has been made available by Microsoft in terms of innovation, he says.
Microsoft’s game plan is ambitious yet simple. It wants to use the Windows 10 platform to connect a host of devices – the PC, the laptop/tablet, the smartphone, the gaming console and even the car and home appliances (think Internet of Things) – seamlessly, garnering a lion’s share of the connected devices market.
“There are 1.5 billion users of the Windows OS around the globe,” he says. “Add to that the exciting developer opportunity that exists here – one platform, one operating system, one Store, one experience, and an array of devices – from the smallest sensors in the connected IoT devices all the way to tablets, PCs, smartphones, TVs, Xbox, holographic computing… There has never been any ecosystem that can deliver that comprehensive, holistic experience.”
That’s exactly why Microsoft has, starting yesterday, begun the free OS upgrade of those who registered with it and who have a Windows 7 or later OS.
The freemium model means that the software maker wants to get people into its ecosystem with the ‘free’ Windows 10 promise, and then ultimately convince them to buy its other products and services.
Like once you’re comfortable with the free Windows 10 upgrade and are, sometime later, in the market for a gaming console, would it make more sense for you to go for one that can stream live on your laptop and for which there’s already a built-in app in your browser?
Or, if you’re looking to purchase a virtual reality headset, wouldn’t you be tempted to go for the one that’s fully compatible with your laptop and smartphone?
“The fact that Windows has now become a service rather than a version released every two or three years is a fantastic journey,” he says.
“The 5 million people who tested the platform and offered their feedback have managed in many ways to influence us to bring the familiarity of Windows 7 with the excitement of Windows 8 and 8.1 Touch and apps and Store,” he maintains.
So even if Microsoft is giving up the opportunity of making $25bn or even more in sales from its hot new OS, it is after a much bigger share of your pocket. After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Microsoft’s much-maligned Windows 8 finally has an update in the form of Windows 10, which launches today in 13 select cities including Dubai.
The platform is, of course, freely available as an upgrade (for Windows 7 and later versions) across 190 countries and 111 languages this summer.
Microsoft is obviously making a big deal out of it (including promoting the hashtag #UpgradeYourWorld), but the fact that it skipped a number in the Windows nomenclature – from Windows 8 to Windows 10 – in order to make it a round 10 suggests that Microsoft does have high hopes from the platform.
Or maybe it’s just that seven ate nine.
Whatever it is, for the first time, Microsoft undertook a huge beta testing of its platform – with feedback from more than five million customers, it maintains – and that should (at least in theory) mean that it will have less of the bugs that were the hallmarks of some of its previous Windows editions.
“A new era of Windows starts today. From the beginning, Windows 10 has been unique — built with feedback from over 5 million fans, delivered as a service and offered as a free upgrade,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices Group, at Microsoft.
“Windows 10 delivers on our more personal computing vision, with a natural, mobile and trusted experience. Along with our partners, we’re excited to deliver the best Windows ever, which will empower people and organisations around the world to do great things.”
The firm says its Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever, and offers many innovations for more personal and productive experiences across devices. That shouldn’t come as a surprise at all, given the times we’re living in. Our security has never been more vulnerable, and we’ve never been more connected with and through our devices.
However, to be fair, the platform does have its selling points even as it is ‘free’ to upgrade.
So let’s take a quick sneak preview of some of the features that Microsoft hopes will make this the best Windows to date.
#1 All-new browser: Bye, bye Explorer. Hello, Edge
Codenamed Project Spartan, the new browser is officially called Edge, and will make sharing stuff from the browser window a child’s play. No more clumsy cuts-and-pastes into your e-mails, promises Microsoft.
With Edge’s Web Note feature, you could even doodle with a stylus or your fingers right on a webpage, and then e-mail it to whoever you wish to. Or just insert you own image to a report about an official meeting in Buckingham Palace, and watch your friends’ jaws drop!
#2 Game on
With Xbox on Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing some of the features from Xbox Live and some of the most popular Xbox experiences into Windows 10 itself. The browser even comes with a built-in Xbox app so you don’t always have to be next to your gaming console to play online with your friends. Now you can do it on your mobiles and PCs too.
In addition, the platform also offers game developers the convenience of developing one game for Windows 10 that will be compatible across all three Microsoft platforms – Xbox, mobile and PC.
#3 Welcome back, Start button
The Start button introduced in Windows 95 to the tune of Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up on August 24, 1995 is back with Windows 10. Microsoft was quick to realise its folly when its Windows 8 interface, called Metro, did away with the Start button and users made a huge hue-and-cry. The new interface gives the Start button its due by welcoming it officially back in its fold, right where you’d expect it.
#4 The Hero desktop
Microsoft says it drew inspiration from a number of components including the engineers who provided their feedback, along with the creative team building on the power of the word Windows for their new ‘Hero’ desktop.
It notes that its creative team worked closely with the engineers to ensure that all the breakthrough features (i.e., Cortana, Microsoft Edge, etc.) of Windows 10 were encompassed in the image.
#5 The Action Centre
Microsoft has moved all the Charms functions in a new Windows 10 Notifications panel and called it the ‘Action Centre’, which can be launched from the notifications area of the task bar.
#6 All-new File Explorer
The Windows 10 new File Explorer provides a Quick Access area to which you can pin and unpin any folders you want to regularly access. In the 'home' screen of File Explorer you can also see Frequent Folders and Recent Files.
#7 Search for anything, anywhere
Search your PC and the web from the taskbar to find help, apps, files, settings or anything. Your personal assistant Cortana will be your guide (alas, still not available in the UAE). After you enter a search term, select ‘Search my stuff’ to find results for apps, settings, photos, videos, and music across your PC and OneDrive.
#8 Universal Apps; new Windows Store
With its Universal App Platform or UAP, Windows 10 provides an opportunity to developers to develop apps that will work across PC, Windows 10 on mobile and Xbox too – essentially on every screen size.
These Universal apps are the replacement for the apps that, in Windows 8 and 8.1, were known as Metro apps or Modern UI apps.
#9 Built-in apps
Windows comes with built-in apps for photos, music, movies, and email. For instance, there is a new Photos app that provides a complete back catalogue as well as editing and filter capabilities. Sport and News are improved experiences too, claims Microsoft. The Music app, now called Groove Music, is synced up with Microsoft’s new subscription service.
The Windows Store has thousands more apps, says the firm, and can be accessed right from the Start button.
#10 It’s free to upgrade – and available now
Upgrading is simple for those on a (genuine) Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC or tablet. Starting today, people who reserved their upgrade to Windows 10 will be notified in phases when their upgrade is ready to be installed. For business customers, Windows 10 is available to start deploying within their work environments, and starting August 1, organisations that have volume licensing can upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.
Etisalat today announced the launch of the first interactive touch screen 'Smart Service' machine to sell new activated prepaid SIM cards for the first time in UAE.
The automated innovative machine will enable customers to buy SIM cards within minutes with an inbuilt ability to verify the Emirates ID. At the time of the launch, prepaid SIM cards will be available to customers. Etisalat plans to sell postpaid and introduce services such as SIM Swap (SIM replacement) and SIM re-registration via the machine in the near future.
Etisalat will be introducing the first machine at its office located at Al Kifaf in Dubai. Before the end of the year, there are plans to add 20 machines across UAE in Etisalat business centers, airports and malls.
Etisalat and Du customers who registered their mobile numbers as part of the My Number, My Identity programme may have to re-register the numbers before the expiry of their Emirates ID or visa to avoid facing immediate suspension of service.
A document prepared by the UAE’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) laying out the guidelines for registration requirements states that mobile SIM Card and mobile services may be suspended if the consumer does not submit the required and verifiable registration information prior to the date of expiry.
The initial registration process that was initiated three years ago required users to register their numbers by either producing a valid Emirates ID or passport with a valid visa.
However, guidelines issued by the TRA required that the number be re-registered upon the expiry of the document that was produced as proof for registration.
According to TRA's 'Registration Requirements for Mobile Consumers' issued in September 2011, the expiry date is deemed to be the expiry date of the individual’s visa or residence, or the expiry date of the passport, whichever comes sooner in case the individual is neither a UAE citizen nor a GCC citizen.
It also makes it mandatory for all operators to issue a notification or an advice no less than one calendar month prior to the registration expiry date.
“The licensee shall advise the mobile consumer that his or her registration will expire, and the date of that expiry; advise the mobile consumer that his or her mobile SIM card and mobile services will be suspended unless the mobile consumer submits the required and verifiable registration information for registration renewal prior to the date of expiry,” the note states.
“If the Mobile Consumer does not submit the required and verifiable Registration Information prior to the date of expiry, the Licensee shall Suspend the Mobile Consumer’s Mobile SIM Card and mobile services, and give the Mobile Consumer notice of the Suspension within twenty-four (24) hours,” the TRA document states.
The same procedures would be followed in case the customers use false registration information.
Once the service is suspended, the customer will be provided three months to issue the required documents or else the number could be permanently deactivated following which it can be issued to a third party.
“Every notice of suspension given to the mobile consumer shall state that unless the mobile consumer submits the required and verifiable registration information prior to the expiry of three (3) months from the date of the suspension, his or her mobile SIM card and mobile services will be deactivated.
“Once a SIM card and mobile services have been deactivated, the licensee (operator) is under no obligation to accept any additional registration information from that person… and is entitled to reuse the number,” the document adds.
Etisalat users can actually re-register their mobile numbers online.
Cyber security firm Zimperium on Monday warned of a flaw in the world's most popular smartphone operating system that lets hackers take control with a text message.
"Attackers only need your mobile number, using which they can remotely execute code via a specially crafted media file delivered via MMS (text message)," Zimperium Mobile Security said in a blog post.
"A fully weaponized successful attack could even delete the message before you see it. You will only see the notification."
Android code dubbed ‘Stagefright’ was at the heart of the problem, according to Zimperium.
Stagefright automatically pre-loads video snippets attached to text messages to spare recipients from the annoyance of waiting to view clips.
Hackers can hide malicious code in video files and it will be unleashed even if the smartphone user never opens it or reads the message, according to research by Zimperium's Joshua Drake.
"The targets for this kind of attack can be anyone," the cyber security firm said, referring to Stagefright as the worst Android flaw discovered to date.
"These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited."
Malicious code executed by hackers could take control of smartphones and plunder contents without owners knowing.
Stagefright imperils some 95 percent, or an estimated 950 million, of Android phones, according to the security firm.
Zimperium said that it reported the problem to Google and provided the California Internet firm with patches to prevent breaches.
"Google acted promptly and applied the patches to internal code branches within 48 hours, but unfortunately that's only the beginning of what will be a very lengthy process of update deployment," Zimperium said.
It did not appear as though hackers had taken advantage of the Stagefright vulnerability, according to Zimperium.
Updating Android software powering mobile devices is controlled by hardware makers and sometimes telecommunication service carriers, not Google.
While Apple controls the hardware and software in iPhones, iPads, and iPods powered by its mobile operating system, Google makes Android available free to device makers who customize the code and update it as they see fit.
More about Drake's research was to be disclosed at a Black Hat computer security conference taking place in Las Vegas early in August.
UAE users say video and voice chat platform IMO messenger has stopped working in the UAE as of yesterday.
IMO messenger, which works on both the iOS and Android devices, allows users to send messages as well as make free Skype-like calls from mobile devices.
Several users in the country who had been able to make calls until Sunday night told this website that the messenger platform stopped working since Monday morning.
“I don’t even hear a ring tone now. Looks like it has been blocked,” says Sadiq who works with an Abu Dhabi-based bank.
“It was the only VoIP messenger that worked flawlessly from my phone, until yesterday,” says Mustafa Ahmad.
IMO can be used to make voice calls, as well as send messages apart from sharing pictures. The messenger however has a few flaws where an intended recipient is able to see the text even as you type them on your screen.
Also an incoming voice call from the telecom network will simultaneously get connected along with the VoIP call.
IMO messenger has been gaining traction in recent months, especially in the UAE, as it was one of the few working VoIP solutions.
Other similar services like WhatsApp calling, BBM voice, and Viber continue to remain blocked.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority has been insisting that all VoIP services, except for those provided by licensed operators in the UAE – Etisalat and Du – are illegal.
Last year, the world was shaken by the ‘big news’ of a solar road built in the Netherlands in the small town of Krommenie, north of Amsterdam.
The road is actually a 70-metre bike path, made of solar panels embedded in between glass, silicon rubber and concrete layers. The panels are capable of sustaining the load of 12-tonne fire trucks. Their life span is claimed to be as long as 20 years. Each individual panel is connected to a smart meter designed to optimize their output and ensure straight supply of electricity into the grid or the street lighting system. Besides, if any of those is broken, in shadow, or covered with dirt, the system will only switch off that panel without affecting the rest.
In all, it took five years to make this installation durable enough to run the tests. Now, after a six-month testing period, the bike path seems to be functioning even better than expected. Its generating power totals 3,000 kWh, which is enough for a small household to go on for a year. So far, the only fault the testing team noticed was a small road section delaminated because of temperature fluctuations.
Engineers believe the potential of such roads is huge. In fact, SolaRoad, the group behind the project, is now negotiating with local councils to expand the project to other Dutch provinces and has signed a similar agreement with California. So, it’s a breath-taking perspective we are in for.
Facebook has always done its best to help users enjoy their social network experience. Thus, for instance, based on the information about users’ most frequently viewed posts and pages, it links them to similar posts and web-resources.
The new feature Facebook is about to launch is intended to enable users to customize their news feed to their own liking by prioritizing posts and people. Besides, Facebook representatives claim the new feature to be the answer to the so-called “FOMO” problem when people are afraid to miss out on something really important. All one needs to do to always keep up with the latest news of importance is to star a person or a page, and posts from those will, from then on, appear at the top of their news feed, no matter what. In addition, this new feature enables users to reconnect with certain people or pages they unfollowed some time before.
It is planned that the feature will first be introduced for the iPhone app, with support for Android and the web version to follow some time later.
In 2015, smartphone shipments in the MEA region (Middle East and Africa) are expected to total 155 m units, already exhibiting growth of 66% as compared to the last year. The fastest growing markets include Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan, with Samsung, Apple, and Huawei taking up the three top supplier positions.
Overall, the region’s most popular operating systems are Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, jointly making up 95% of the smartphone market. In the Middle East, Android accounts for 80% of the market, and iOS –for 17%, while, in Africa, the figures are 89% and 7%, accordingly. Such an impressive market success of Android devices is probably due to their low cost. In general, the region’s consumers tend to be more willing to buy devices within the price range of $100 - $200. Preferred screen sizes range from 4 to 5.5 inches.
Meanwhile, feature phones have suffered a decline of 20%. By 2019, their share is expected to be as low as just some 27% of the total MEA handset market. BlackBerry, despite all the new models launched, has also performed way less successful, perhaps, because it has lost much of its corporate market.