Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2013 - 05:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wall street, OEM, microsoft, dell
Dell, ranked third in terms of global market share, has announced that it is entertaining a buyout offer by CEO and founder Michael Dell and his associates. The $24.4 billion deal will see Dell leave wall street and return to a privately held company. Michael Dell has managed to secure funding for the buyout offer, which amounts to $13.65 per share.
Funding sources for the buyout offer includes:
- Cash and equity from Michael Dell and Dell cash on hand.
- Cash from Silver Lake
- Cash from MSD Capital
- A $2 billion loan from Microsoft
- A rollover of existing debt
New debt financing compromised of
- Bank of America Merril Lynch
- Credit Suisse
- RBC Capital Markets
The deal will leave Dell with $15 billion of new debt, but it will also allow them to go in new directions and focus on long term goals. Dell will no longer be forced to focus on short term growth and profitability over long term goals to keep stockholders/wall street content. It is an interesting move on Dell's part because traditionally companies do the opposite: transition from being privately to publicly held corporations. Michael Dell is at the forefront of the buyout offer and should it go through, Dell will remain the CEO of the now-private company. The deal is expected to close by the end of the company's second fiscal quarter (July 2013)-- though the board does have 45 days to solicit alternative offers.
According to the New York Times, Michael Dell wrote the following memo to employees.
“Dell’s transformation is well under way, but we recognize it will still take more time, investment and patience. I believe that we are better served with partners who will provide long-term support to help Dell innovate and accelerate the company’s transformation strategy.”
It is an interesting move, and hopefully Dell will be able to turn its luck around, and gain back its lost market share. Many enthusiasts are wondering whether or not the $2 billion loan from Microsoft suggests the software giant has a special interest in the OEM--and whether that means Dell will become some kind of premium partner for Windows and/or Windows Phone devices.
That is certainly one option, but it is not the only one. While I think Dell will continue to produce Windows-powered computers, there is also the growing popularity of Linux to consider. Dell could continue to produce Windows PCs without going private, but pursuing Linux in a big way might be one reason to do so. Dell has traditionally been supportive of the open source Linux operating system with initiatives like Project Sputnik. While it would not happen overnight and would require quite the effort, Dell could do for Linux what Apple has done for Unix with OS X.
It could focus on a premium line of computers running a Linux-based operating system along with quality customer support. It may be an unlikely option compared to the suggestions of a Dell and Microsoft premium partnership, but it is not completely without merit.
Why do you think Michael Dell is transitioning Dell to a privately-held company? Will Dell cozy up to Microsoft for the next Surface, is there some other grand plan in the works, or is the answer more simple?
Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2013 - 01:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dell, microsoft, purchase
It is a bit of an exaggeration to entertain the thought that Microsoft is involved in buying Dell so that they will finally have a supplier that will have to sell Surface tablets but you can bet there will be some Dell branded Win8 ultra-portables bearing touchscreens released in the near future. Microsoft and Dell have been close partners for quite a while, on the retail side but more importantly on the enterprise side and there will not be any changes to that partnership if Microsoft does indeed purchase a part of Dell. What might change drastically is Dell's product lineup; with no stockholders demanding a steady dribble of short term profits regardless of the effect of long term profits Dell will be free to develop products and product lines which might be more varied. That does not guarantee success in the development and sales of new products, but it will be interesting to see what Dell comes up with if the sale does go through. On the other hand it could be that Dell's allegiance will be torn between the various companies involved in this buy out and that innovation will be stifled by it. Get more predictions from The Register right here.
"It’s a comment on the times that Dell floated in 1988, just as IBM compatible PCs – systems running Intel chips fused with the then-new Windows operating system – were exploding into people's homes and workplaces, taking the PC from the hands of enthusiasts. Two decades later, Dell's going private as PC sales tumble at the expense of tablets while web2.0 companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Zynga are the ones listing."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- RAMDisks: Maximizing High-Capacity RAM @ Bjorn3D
- Typing Secret Word Will Kill Almost Any App in Apple's OS X Mountain Lion @ DailyTech
- Bring out your dead: Reg readers reveal filthy, filthy PCs...
- Finding 1s and 0s with a microscope and computer vision @ Hack a Day
- The TR Podcast 128: Rough surfaces and a change for Catalyst
- AMD’s Never Settle Game Bundle; Reloaded & Updated @ Hardware Canucks
- The obligatory Super Hole VII – Creative Director edition @ The Tech Report
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 2, 2013 - 06:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webkit, w3c, microsoft, internet explorer, html5
Microsoft has been doing their penance for the sins against web developers of the two decades past. The company does not want developers to target specific browsers and opt to include W3C implementations of features if they are available.
Microsoft traditionally fought web standards, forcing developers to implement ActiveX and filters to access advanced features such as opacity. Web developers would program their websites multiple times to account for the... intricacies... of Internet Explorer when compared to virtually every other browser.
Now Google and Apple, rightfully or otherwise (respectively, trollolol), are heavily gaining in popularity. This increase in popularity leads to websites implementing features exclusively for Webkit-based browsers. Internet Explorer is not the browser which gets targeted for advanced effect. If there is Internet Explorer-specific code in sites it is usually workarounds for earlier versions of the browser and only muck up Microsoft's recent standards-compliance by feeding it non-standard junk.
It has been an uphill battle for Microsoft to push users to upgrade their browsers and web developers to upgrade their sites. “modern.IE” is a service which checks for typical incompatibilities and allows for developers to test their site across multiple versions of IE.
Even still, several web technologies are absent in Internet Explorer as they have not been adopted by the W3C. WebGL and WebCL seek to make the web browser into high-performance platform for applications. Microsoft has been vocal about not supporting these Khronos-backed technologies on the grounds of security. Instead of building out web browsers as a cross-platform application platform Microsoft is pushing hard to not get their app marketplace ignored.
I am not sure what Microsoft should fear most: that their app marketplace will be smothered by their competitors, or whether they only manage to win the battle after the war changes theaters. You know what they say, history repeats itself.
Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2013 - 01:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: irony, microsoft, IE10, blocker toolkit
It could only have been an unintentional slip that the verification that IE10 for Win7 is coming down the piped was that a tool was released to block the installation. The Internet Explorer 10 Blocker Toolkit will prevent Windows Update from installing IE10 automatically, which would signal a change from Microsoft's usual way of introducing a browser. Remember Beauty of the Web, the site used to distribute new Internet Explorer versions before they arrived as an automatic update? The blocker toolkit is nothing new, most versions of IE which did not come with the OS coexisted with a toolkit to allow sysadmins to prevent updates to the new browser before they could test it fully. We've been waiting about 9 months now for IE10 on Win7 and from what The Register and other sites say it will be worth upgrading when it arrives ... someday.
"Microsoft has dropped a strong hint that the long-awaited version of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 might actually ship soon – ironically, by releasing a tool that blocks installation of the browser on users' PCs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Liquid Image Torque HD Video Goggles Review @ TechwareLabs
- Netgear WNDR4700 Centria review: multi-functional router with hard disk @ Hardware.info
- Wintek starts trial production on thin-film type touch screen lamination line @ DigiTimes
- 'Silent but deadly' Java security update breaks legacy apps - dev @ The Register
- The Uncertain Age of Steam on Linux @ Linux.com
- An In-depth Look at Steam for Linux @ Techgage
- Rumored Console Specs Comparison – Microsoft Durango vs Sony Orbis @ hardCOREware
Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2013 - 12:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: office 2013, microsoft
That might be exaggerating somewhat, Java runs between your library of apps and Office but the actual store is HTML and XML based; on the other hand why you need an app store for office or what these apps will be is a bit of a mystery. The Register also noticed a rather poorly thought out feature, your controls recede into the background when you are working on your document which can make finding the right button on the ribbon a more difficult task than it should be. On the plus side the controls are more spaced out making it easier to use with the touchscreen input capabilities of Windows 8 and who wouldn't want to build an Excel spreadsheet from scratch using a touch screen keyboard? This release also marks a serious effort by Microsoft to make Office applications mobile, not only for Surface but iOS and Android as well, so there is that.
"Fourteen revisions since the first Office that it may not be easy, because spell checking, grammar checking, wiggly underlines, paragraph styles and even Track Changes have been in Word since way back when.
With Office 2013 now officially available, is there anything in it actually worth upgrading for?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- PC sales in the toilet? Excuse Lenovo while it gut laughs at you @ The Register
- Blackberry has priced itself out of the market with the Blackberry Z10 @ The Inquirer
- Blackberry Z10 vs iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S3 battle royale video @ The Inquirer
- Yes, PlayBook Does Get BlackBerry 10 Update @ Slashdot
- Five entry-level all-in-one printers for less than £90 @ Hardware.info
- Turning the Belkin WeMo into a deathtrap @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2013 - 09:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows rt, microsoft, arm
One of the downsides to Microsoft’s ARM-powered Windows RT operating system is the lack of desktop applications. While Windows RT devices to retain the traditional Windows desktop, only Microsoft applications that come pre-packaged with Windows are allowed to run. Instead, Microsoft wants users to stick to Modern UI applications and the Windows Store to get new apps. (Granted, the ARM hardware powering these devices necessitates porting x86 desktop applications in order to run in the first place, but Windows RT locks out even recompiled apps).
Enthusiasts are working on changing that, however. A XDA Developers forum member known as Netham45 recently released a tool that allows users to run unsigned desktop applications on Windows RT. The new RT Jailbreak tool is a batch file that automates a hack discovered by another hacker known as clrokr.
The hack is currently only temporary, and needs to be redone after every computer restart. It does, however, allow Windows RT to run unsigned code on the desktop. After downloading the batch file, you run the runExploit.bat and follow the prompts. After it completes, you users can run recompiled desktop apps such as PuTTY, 7-zip, TightVNC, DOSBox, Quake 2, and more.
While it is not a permaent solution, it is a step in the right direction, and makes ARM-powered Windows RT devices a lot more interesting and useful to power users. For more information on the RT Jailbreak hack, and to grab the batch file to unlock your WinRT tablet, check out this forum thread on the XDA Developers website.
Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2013 - 03:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, surface, winRT, tegra 4, nvidia, arm
NVIDIA's new Shield gaming device might have distracted your attention from another new product they demonstrated which could be even more important to their success, a fully functional WinRT tablet. The tablet is powered by a Tegra 4 chip and apparently runs smoothly even on this OS which was theoretically designed for ARM hardware. DigiTimes feels that this is a sign that NVIDIA, who have had a long if somewhat troubled relationship with Microsoft, could become a chip supplier for new Surface devices and tablets. Hopefully in the near future we will get to see a head to head review of two devices powered by different chips so that we can see which provides the best experience.
"Nvidia unveiled a pilot tablet based on its new Tegra 4 processor and Microsoft's Windows RT operating system at CES 2013, and since the device is already operating smoothly, Nvidia will have a chance of becoming the CPU supplier for next-generation Surface tablets or Windows RT-based tablets from other IT players, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst Eric Lin."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Potty-mouthed Watson supercomputer needed filth filter @ The Register
- Java Zero-Day Vulnerability Rolled Into Exploit Packs @ Slashdot
- GlobalFoundries plunks $2bn into New York fab @ The Register
- RIM plans six BlackBerry 10 handsets for 2013 @ The Register
- Canonical Shakes Up Mobile with Ubuntu for Phones @ Linux.com
- Unsigned code running on Windows RT @ Hack a Day
- The weird and wonderful from 2013's Las Vegas technology show @ The Inquirer
- Richland, Kaveri, Kabini & Temash; AMD’s 2013 APU Lineup Examined @ Hardware Canucks
- CES 2013 Day 1 Coverage @ Legit Reviews
- CES digest, part 3: Intel, Silverstone, Thermaltake, Diamond, and Xi3 @ The Tech Report
- Nvidia's CES 2013 Press Conference Replay @ NGOHQ
- TechwareLabs CES 2013 News and Event Coverage with Videos
- CES 2013 Coverage Day 1 @ OCC
- CES 2013 Coverage Day 2 @ OCC
Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia has released a preliminary report on last quarter’s WP8 handset sales. There is good news and bad news.
On the positive side of things, Nokia managed to sell approximately 4.4 million Lumia-series smartphones running the Windows Phone OS. While not spectacular, it is a healthy ramp-up in Lumia phone sales versus previous quarters. For example, in Q4 of 2011 the company sold 1 million Windows Phone handsets, and then it managed to sell 2.9 million in Q3 of 2012 resulting in both year over year and quarter over quarter growth. Another interesting figure from the report is that Nokia has sold a total of 14.3 million Lumia smartphones to date. Lumia sales in Q4 2012 have also managed to surpass the company’s 2.2 million Symbian OS phone sales in Q4’12.
And now for the slightly-less-good news. The Lumia series (and Windows Phone 8 OS/handsets in general) continue to occupy the spot of ‘mobile OS underdog’ by a significant margin. To put the Lumia/WP8 sales in perspective, according to Android Authority, Samsung made $8.1 billion through sales of approximately 65.7 million Android smartphones. On the other hand, Nokia’s sales of Windows Phone hardware has surpassed its sales of phones powered by Symbian OS (at 2.2 million in Q4’12).
The numbers do seem to suggest that the market for Nokia Lumia handsets is slowly growing so it will be interesting to see sales figures a few years down the road. (Note that historic growth does not necessarily equal future growth. It does suggest that it is on the rise though. heh).
Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2012 - 06:39 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: microsoft, Microsoft Store
A new year is nearly upon us, and Microsoft today committed itself to expanding its retail presence throughout 2013. In a blog post, the Redmond-based company talked-up the successful launch of its 51 physical Microsoft Store locations. Reportedly, the retail venture was successful enough to warrant expansion. As such, the compnay will convert several of its pop-up stores to permanent locations as well as opening six new Microsoft Stores in new locations next year.
Microsoft did not indicate how many of the pop-up locations will be converted and how many (if any) will be closed, but the post did detail the locations of the new stores. The lineup is as follows:
- The Shops in La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas
- Dadeland Mall in Miami, Florida
- Beachwood Place in Beachwood, Ohio
- Westfield San Francisco Centre in San Francisco, California
- City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
- St. Louis Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri
The expansion is encrouaging, and it seems that the store locations are worthwhile for Microsoft despite the less than stellar Surface tablet sales. The store in St. Louis will be interesting to see as it is somewhat close to me. You can find all of the details in the blog post on the company's Technet website.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s retail expiriment?
Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2012 - 02:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows Store, windows blue, windows 8, update, subscription, OS, microsoft
In other Microsoft news, the company is rumored to be working on its next generation operating system. Codenamed Windows Blue, it will be a low cost upgrade for existing Windows users that will be based on a subscription service for updates.
Details are extremely scarce at this point but it does seem like a probable move from Microsoft. It does seem like Microsoft has been moving in that direction for some time now. According to The Verge in reporting on sources in the know, Windows Blue will keep the Windows 8 name for branding purposes but the OS will receive a new SDK, UI changes, and performance tweaks during yearly updates. The updates are due in mid-2013, and the Windows Blue update service will span from Windows 8 to Windows Phone (Windows Server was not mentioned). Oddly enough, with the Windows Blue update Microsoft will stop accepting new Windows Store applications built to run on Windows 8. The Windows Store will continue to allow existing Windows 8 applications, but will require developers to rewrite their applications using the new SDK in order to get them on the Store for users running Windows Blue subscription service.
It is a lot to take in, and there are many unknowns at this point. Do you think Microsoft has a good idea with the yearly subscription model, or will it cause backlash from users used to the way Windows has worked for years. Especially those that buy an OEM system with a pre-installed OS and use it until something breaks. Will they be receptive to yet another subscription service for an OS that traditionally has been a one-time purchase?
Assuming it is a good idea, how much would you pay for yearly updates? Will the Windows Store be enough of a success to essentially subsidize the development cost and allow for cheap pricing on the subscriptions?
Find more details on the rumored Windows Blue subscription over at The Verge.
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