Microsoft President defends Huawei, calling Trump Un-American

Microsoft President Brad Smith has leapt to the defence of under-fire Chinese vendor Huawei, suggesting the US Government should table evidence if it wants to continue on this path.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Smith has aired his views on the prolonged tensions between China and the US. In a similar position to some more considered regulators around the world, Smith has demanded the burden of proof to back-up serious accusation made by the White House.

“Oftentimes, what we get in response is, ‘Well, if you knew what we knew, you would agree with us.’ And our answer is, ‘great, show us what you know so we can decide for ourselves. That’s the way this country works,” Smith said.

Smith is of course 100% correct here. We completely understand some details will not be able to be released in their entirety to the general public, but certain individuals, organizations and agencies should be offered insight to evidence which the White House is hording. The burden of truth is not one which should be brushed aside, and President Trump has not earned the right to demand blind belief.

Fortunately, there are some across the world who elect to make responsible and considered decisions. We’re not talking about the Australians, the state which decided to blindly follow the orange light without asking any questions or demonstrating the ability of independent thought, but the Germans.

The fact that Huawei has not been banned from the German market tells us and the world that the White House has not deemed it pertinent to demonstrate proof of nefarious activities to one of its allies.

Last December, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) took a bold stance against the White House, demanded the US Government produce evidence to support the claims should it want the Germans to introduce its own ban. As there has been no action taken by the German Government or any of its agencies to date, it would be a fair assumption the US Government is yet to produce anything.

The Germans are not alone in ignoring the huffing and puffing from the Oval Office, though Smith joining the party is a notable development.

What is worth noting, is this is probably a commercially based decision, though that is not necessarily something Smith should be scalded for. Like most other US companies, Smith wants the opportunity for his firm to work with one of the technology industry’s fastest growing innovators.

Huawei is one of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers, but it has also been making some promising moves in the PC and laptop segments also. With tetherless connectivity in laptops set to become a common trait over the next few years, this segment could witness a disruption. As Windows is installed on most PCs and laptops, Smith and Microsoft will win irrelevant as to which brand triumphs, but it will want to make sure it is working with every brand possible.

Microsoft will want to continue working with Huawei, as will many other companies. At least 130 applications have been submitted to the US Commerce Department seeking exemption from the ban to work with Huawei, though none have been approved thus far.

Soon enough, the US Government will have to present evidence to back up the claims. This administration seemingly believes it can bully its way through international relations, though if US companies start turning against US ‘foreign policy’ it creates a very uncomfortable situation.

Azure is on a spending spree

Cloud has led the Microsoft recovery in recent years, and the Azure team is doubling down on that momentum with a third acquisition in as many months.

The financial details of the deal have not been revealed, though Movere will join the Microsoft Azure family, adding migration smarts to an already comprehensive armoury.

“As cloud growth continues to unlock opportunities for our customers, cloud migration is increasingly important for business’s digital strategy,” said Jeremy Winter Partner Director for Microsoft Azure. “Today, I am pleased to announce that Microsoft has acquired Movere, an innovative technology provider in the cloud migration space.”

Founded in 2008 as Unified Logic, the focus of the business was altered in 2014 after the management team experienced difficulties in migrating their business onto the Azure platform. The start-up has been a partner of Microsoft for more than a decade, though in the last five years, it has been more acutely focusing on migration challenges for customers.

For Microsoft, this is just another tool it can talk to potential customers about, adding to two acquisitions over the last couple of weeks.

In July, the Azure team announced the acquisition of BlueTalon, a firm which aims to simplify data privacy and governance across modern data estates. Just after in August, jClarity was added to the mix. jClarity, a leading contributor to the AdoptOpenJDK project, will help teams at Microsoft to leverage advancements in the Java platform.

Alongside Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure is leading the pack in the cloud world and it does not want to give any opportunity for the ‘also rans’ to close the gap. These acquisitions are simply increasing the breadth, depth and variety of the Azure proposition.

And the importance of the cloud to Microsoft should never be under-estimated.

After joining the Microsoft in 2014, CEO Satya Nadella shifted the focus of the business towards the cloud. Azure was the new poster boy of the firm, which was looking like a shadow of the dominant player which dominated the 90s and 00s.

Since that point, total revenues have grown to $110.36 billion in 2018, from $86.833 billion in 2014. Operating income increased to $35.058 billion in 2018, up from $27.759 billion in 2018. And looking at market capitalisation, Microsoft is now valued at $1.05 trillion, the largest in the technology world.

The cloud is driving Microsoft forward, and it is not afraid to spend some cash to capitalise on the momentum.

Nvidia brings its cloud gaming to Android

2019 was already looking like a promising year for cloud gaming and now Nvidia is bringing its own service, GeForce NOW, to Android, the streaming scrap is heating up.

Specifics on timing have not been released just yet, neither have pricing details, though Nvidia has said its streaming service will be available on Android devices over the coming months. With the service already available on PC and Mac devices, entering the Android world adds the potential of another two billion devices.

“Already in beta to the delight of 1 billion underpowered PCs that aren’t game ready, GeForce NOW will soon extend to one of the most popular screens in the world, Android phones – including flagship devices from LG and Samsung,” the team said on its blog.

“Just like on PC, Mac and Shield TV, when the Android mobile app releases it’ll be in beta. We’ll continue improving and optimizing the experience.”

The move into Android will take Nvidia into direct competition with both Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud. There are of course pros and cons for all the available services, though a couple of bonus’ for Nvidia will gauge the interest of some gamers. Firstly, second purchases on titles will not be needed for the cloud gaming service, while the GeForce RTX graphics performance will be introduced soon enough.

Google was the first to plug the potential of cloud gaming back in March, promising users they will be able to access their games at all times, and on virtually any screen. The initial launch will be for £8.99 a month, though the team does plan on launching a ‘freemium’ alternative soon after. As you can imagine, Google is always looking for ways the complex data machine can offer content to users for profit.

It didn’t take long for Microsoft to launch its own alternative following the press Google collected. Hyped as the ‘Netflix of video games’, Microsoft will charge $9.99 to access a range of Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles on any screen. Like Stadia and GeForce NOW, a controller would have to plugged into Android devices.

There are some ridiculous figures which are being banded around concerning the percentage of traffic cloud gaming will account for during the 5G era, it is a segment worth keeping an eye on.

Samsung seeks to improve its productivity offering by cozying up to Microsoft

One of the more interesting parts of the Galaxy Note 10 launch was the announcement of a productivity partnership with Microsoft.

This seems to be more of a general increase in cooperation than anything substantively new. The aim of the move is to make it easier to switch between Samsung devices when using Microsoft stuff, such as the Office suite. Samsung does the full monty of devices that could be used for productivity, from laptops to smartphones, and reckons there’s untapped demand for switching between them as circumstances and whim dictate.

“We believe the mobile industry is on the cusp of a transformation, one in which individual devices give way to seamless, connected and continuous experiences, wherever we go,” said DJ Koh, head of IT & Mobile Communications at Samsung. “Open collaborations, like this industry-leading partnership with Microsoft, are instrumental in pioneering a new generation of mobile experiences. As new technologies like 5G become a reality, our partnership will play an important role in helping people live more fluid, flexible lives.”

“Microsoft and Samsung share a long history of innovation and collaboration, and today’s announcements mark the next stage in our partnership,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Our ambition is to help people be more productive on any device, anywhere – and the combination of our intelligent experiences with Samsung’s powerful, new devices makes this a reality.”

“Samsung’s deepening partnership with Microsoft was arguably the biggest news at the event,” said Ben Wood of analyst firm CCS Insight. “Samsung Mobile’s relationship with Microsoft started in 2015 when it first offered a trio of Microsoft apps and OneDrive storage on the Galaxy S6. This was followed by a “Microsoft Edition” of the Galaxy S8 in 2017. Being able to wirelessly connect your smartphone directly to a PC running Windows at the touch of a button is a big step forward. The cooperation between Microsoft and Samsung is a potent combination. Samsung can deliver unrivalled reach in terms of hardware and scale, while Microsoft is the leader in enterprise apps.”

The announcement was made as part of the launch event for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Samsung’s Q3 flagship smartphone event. The point of the Note range used to be that it was significantly bigger than the Galaxy but that is no longer the case, so it looks like Samsung is trying to focus on the productivity side of the Note instead.

And they might as well, considering how difficult it is to generate any buzz around new smartphones that are usually little more than spec upgrades. Perhaps conscious of the fact that the regular Note 10 is just 0.2 inches bigger than the Galaxy S10 Samsung has decided to make a supersized option with the ‘plus’ suffix, which offers 6.8 inches of shiny smartphone action.

The other big differentiator for the Notes is the S Pen, a smart stylus that allows you to write on the device and that sort of thing. This ties in neatly to the productivity narrative, especially since the devices come with handwriting-to-text software and the S Pen even has some gesture UI functionality. As you would expect from the Microsoft announcement, the phones have quick links to Office apps.

At the same event Samsung Also launched a new laptop and some tweaks to its smartwatch range. As is often the case, at least some of Samsung’s strategy seems to be defensive, presumably in anticipation of whatever Apple is going to launch on the next month or two. Last year Apple revealed a supersized phone and has long focused on productivity. We’ll leave you with a vid of the launch event and some specs.

 

Galaxy Note10, Note10+ Specifications

    Galaxy Note10 Galaxy Note10+
Display 6.3-inch FHD+ 6.8-inch Quad HD+
Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display, 2280×1080 (401ppi), HDR10+ Certified Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display, 3040×1440 (498ppi), HDR10+ Certified
* Screen measured diagonally as a full rectangle without accounting for the rounded corners; actual viewable area is less due to the rounded corners and camera hole.
* Default resolution of the Galaxy Note10+ is full HD+, which can be changed to Quad HD+ in Settings.
Camera Rear: Triple Camera
– Ultra Wide: 16MP F2.2 (123°)
– Wide-angle: 12MP 2PD AF F1.5/F2.4 OIS (77°)
– Telephoto: 12MP F2.1 OIS (45°)
Rear: Quad Camera
– Ultra Wide: 16MP F2.2 (123°)
– Wide-angle: 12MP 2PD AF F1.5/F2.4 OIS (77°)
– Telephoto: 12MP F2.1 OIS (45°)
– DepthVision Camera: VGA
Front: 10MP 2PD AF F2.2 (80°) Front: 10MP 2PD AF F2.2 (80°)
Body 71.8 x 151.0 x 7.9mm, 168g
(BLE S Pen: 5.8 × 4.35 × 105.08mm, 3.04g)
77.2 x 162.3 x 7.9mm, 196g
(BLE S Pen: 5.8 × 4.35 × 105.08 3.04g)
* Galaxy Note10+ 5G weighs 198g.
AP - 7nm 64-bit Octa-core processor (Max. 2.8 GHz + 2.4 GHz + 1.7 GHz)
* May differ by market and mobile operator.
Memory - 8GB RAM with 256GB internal storage - 12GB RAM with 256GB internal storage
– 12GB RAM with 512GB internal storage
* May differ by model, color, market and mobile operator.
* User memory is less than the total memory due to storage of the operating system and software used to operate the device features. Actual user memory will vary depending on the operator and may change after software upgrades are performed.
Battery11 3,500mAh (typical) 4,300mAh(typical)
*Typical value tested under third-party laboratory condition. Typical value is the estimated average value considering the deviation in battery capacity among the battery samples tested under IEC 61960 standard. Rated (minimum) capacity is 3400mAh for Galaxy Note10 and 4170mAh for Galaxy Note10+. Actual battery life may vary depending on network environment, usage patterns, and other factors.
* Super Fast Charging compatible on wired with QC2.0, AFC and PD3.0
* Wireless charging speeds with Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 compatible with WPC and PMA
* Wireless PowerShare: Wireless PowerShare is limited to Samsung or other brand smartphones with WPC Qi wireless charging
OS Android 9.0 (Pie)
Network LTE Enhanced 4×4 MIMO, Up to 7CA, LAA, LTE Cat.20
– Up to 2.0Gbps Download / Up to 150Mbps Upload
* Actual speed may vary depending on market, carrier and user environment.
5G 5G Non Standalone (NSA)
*Requires optimal 5G connection. Actual spend may vary depending on market, mobile operator and user environment.
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz), VHT80 MU-MIMO, 1024QAM
– Up to 1.2Gbps Download / Up to 1.2Gbps Upload
*May differ by market and mobile operator.
Bluetooth® v 5.0, ANT+, USB Type-C, NFC, Location (GPS, Galileo*, Glonass, BeiDou*)
*Galileo and BeiDou coverage may be limited. BeiDou may not be available for certain markets.
Payment NFC, MST
*May differ by market, mobile operator and service providers.
Sensors Accelerometer, Barometer, Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB light sensor
(BLE S Pen: 6-axis Sensor including Gyro Sensor and Acceleration Sensor)
Authentication Lock Type: Pattern, PIN, Password
Biometric Lock Types: Fingerprint sensor, Face recognition
Audio Stereo speakers and earphones: Sound by AKG
(In-box earphones: Type-C plug, hybrid canal type, 2way dynamic unit)
Surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus included)
Audio Playback Format: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, DSF, DFF, APE
Video MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

Microsoft has also been a member of the eavesdropping gang – report

Microsoft contractors have been listening to Skype and Cortana conversations without the full knowledge and consent of the apps’ users, claims a report.

We were almost immediately proved wrong when we said Microsoft, in comparison with Apple, Google, and Amazon, “fortunately has not suffered high profile embarrassment” by its voice assistant Cortana. Motherboard, part of the media outlet Vice, reported that Microsoft contractors, some of them working from home, have been listening to some Skype calls using the app’s instant translation feature, as well as users’ interactions with the Cortana.

Motherboard has acquired audio clips, screenshots as well as internal documents to show that Microsoft, just as its peers, have been employing humans to constantly improve the software algorithm and the quality and accuracy of the translations and responses. Also similar to the other leading tech companies that run voice assistants, Microsoft is ambiguous in its consumer communication, lax in its policy implementation, and does not give the users a way to opt out.

“The fact that I can even share some of this with you shows how lax things are in terms of protecting user data,” the Microsoft contractor turned whistle-blower, who supplied the evidence and decided to remain anonymous, told Motherboard.

“Microsoft collects voice data to provide and improve voice-enabled services like search, voice commands, dictation or translation services,” Microsoft said a statement sent to Motherboard. “We strive to be transparent about our collection and use of voice data to ensure customers can make informed choices about when and how their voice data is used. Microsoft gets customers’ permission before collecting and using their voice data.”

“Skype Translator Privacy FAQ” states that “Voice conversations are only recorded when translation features are selected by a user.” It then goes on to guide users how to turn off the translation feature. There is no possibility for a customer to use the translation service without having the conversation recorded. Neither does the official document say the recorded conversations may be listened to by another human.

Due to the “gig economy” nature of the job, some contractors work from home when undertaking the tasks to correct translations or improve Cortana’s response quality. This is also made obvious by Microsoft contractors’ job listings. However, the content they deal with can be sensitive, from conversations between people in an intimate relationship, to health status and home addresses, as well as query records on Cortana. “While I don’t know exactly what one could do with this information, it seems odd to me that it isn’t being handled in a more controlled environment,” the whistle-blower contractor told Motherboard.

The report does not specify where the eavesdropping they uncovered took place, but the line in the Microsoft statement that “We … require that vendors meet the high privacy standards set out in European law” can’t help but raise some suspicion that the practice could run afoul of GDPR, the European Union’s privacy protection regulation.

At the time of writing, Microsoft has not announced a suspension the practice.

Apple and Google suspend some of their eavesdropping

Two of the world’s leading voice assistant makers pulled the plug on their respective analytics programmes of Siri and Google Assistant after private information including confidential conversations were leaked.

Apple decided to suspend its outsourced programme to “grade” Siri, by which it assesses the voice assistant’s response accuracy, following reports that private conversations are being listened to by its contractors without the users’ explicit consent. The company committed to add an opt-out option for users in a future update of Siri. It also promised that the programme would not be restarted until it had completed a thorough review.

“We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy. While we conduct a thorough review, we are suspending Siri grading globally,” the Cupertino-based iPhone maker told The Guardian. “Additionally, as part of a future software update, users will have the ability to choose to participate in grading.”

This is in response to the leak that was first reported by the British broadsheet, which received tipoff from whistle-blowers. The paper learned that contractors regularly hear private conversations ranging from dialogues between patients and doctors, to communications between drug dealers and buyers, with everything is between. These could include cases when Siri has triggered unintentionally without the users’ awareness.

The biggest problem with Apple’s analytics programme is that it does not explicitly disclose to consumers that some of Siri recordings are shared with contractors in different parts of the world who will listen to the anonymous content, as a means to improve Siri’s accuracy. By not being upfront, Apple does not provide users with the option to opt out either.

Shortly before Apple’s decision to call a halt to Siri grading, Google also pulled the plug on its own human analysis of Google Assistant in the European Union, reported Associated Press. The company promised to the office of Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s commissioner for data protection and Germany’s lead regulator of Google on privacy issues, that the suspension will last at least three months.

The decision was made after Google admitted that one of the language reviewers it partners with, who are supposed to assess Google Assistant’s response accuracy, “has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data.” Over 1,000 private conversations in Flemish, some of which included private data, were sent to the Belgian news outlet VRT. Though the messages are supposed to be anonymised, staff at VRT were able to identify the users through private information like home addresses.

At that time Google promised “we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.”

These are not the first cases where private conversations are leaked over voice assistants. Last year an Alexa-equipped Amazon Echo recorded a conversation between a couple in Portland, Oregan, and sent it to a friend, which was another recent case that rang the alarm bell of private data security.

It should not surprise those in the tech world that AI powered natural language processing software still has a long way to go before it can get all the intricacies right. Before that it needs human input to continuously improve the accuracy. The problems that bedevilled Google and Apple today, and Amazon in the past, and Microsoft (Cortana) which fortunately has not suffered high profile embarrassment recently, are down to the lack of stringent oversight of the role humans play, the lack of clear communication to consumers that their interactions with voice assistants may be used for data analysis purposes, and the failure to give consumers the choice to opt out.

There is also the controversy of data sovereignty, as well as the question of whether private data should be allowed to be stored in the cloud or should be kept on device. Apple’s leak case is not geographically specified, but Google’s case is a clear violation of GDPR.  According to the AP report, Germany has already started proceedings against Google.

UK is falling behind on IoT adoption – Microsoft

A new report from Microsoft suggests the UK is falling behind the trend when it comes to IOT adoption, risking losing out on the economic benefits of the digital economy.

At the moment, it seems the UK can’t do much right in the digital world. Yes, it might be one of the quickest nations worldwide to get all of its MNOs into the 5G race, but there are numerous stories which condemn the potential of the country, suggesting actions are not following the strong rhetoric which has been set forward by the UK Government.

Whether it is Brexit and the delayed decision on Huawei, a sluggish approach to fibre broadband deployment or poor regulations which inhibit speedy deployment, the UK constantly seems to be at risk of losing out on the promised bonanza in the digital economy. Here, Microsoft is suggesting sluggish adoption of IOT could be another worry.

According to the research, 73% of the respondents work for UK companies which have adopted IOT. This might sound like an impressive number, though it compares to 88% in Germany and China, 87% in France and the US, and 83% in Japan. Of those who have adopted IOT in the UK, only 80% of the respondents believed it was ‘critical’ to their success in the future.

Although you always have to take these reports with a pinch of salt, Microsoft will certainly benefit from hyping the importance of IOT, it might be considered a concern the UK is not dining at the top table. Some of those with the biggest worriers might be the telcos.

The original promise of 5G was to drive higher download speeds to satisfy the consumer’s insatiable appetite for data, though the conversation has evolved over the last 18-24 months. Now you have numerous telcos around the world preaching the benefits of IOT to enterprise customers as this could represent a significant new revenue stream in the future.

In the UK, IOT has been central to the messaging from Vodafone while O2 has been exploring how it can work with enterprise business customers more intimately. The telcos are searching for ways they can engage enterprise customers beyond traditional connectivity, and not only does IOT drive additional revenues, it opens up conversations with new customers.

At almost every Vodafone event over the last few years, seeing a large plastic cow with a sensor draped around its neck was a guarantee. The connected cow has become as much as an inside joke as the talking fridge, but it does represent entirely new opportunities for the telcos. Farmers might never have been customers in the past, but should the benefits of IOT be effectively communicated, there are numerous segments where the door could be opened.

That said, first and foremost the telcos will have to navigate the traditional reserved and conservative nature of the Brits. As you can see from the adoption rates listed above, it seems the old attitudes of the UK are still prevalent.

Microsoft profits soar on back of cloud

Microsoft has unveiled it earnings for the quarter ending June 30 and it has certainly given investors something to smile about.

Revenues for the fourth quarter stood at $33.7 billion, a year-on-year increase of 12%, while net income increased by 49% at $13.2 billion. For the full year, revenues totalled $125.8 billion while net income was $39.2 billion, a 137% increase on the previous year. Investors certainly seemed happy with the results, with Microsoft’s share price increasing 3.4% in pre-market trading.

“It was a record fiscal year for Microsoft, a result of our deep partnerships with leading companies in every industry,” said CEO Satya Nadella.

“Every day we work alongside our customers to help them build their own digital capability – innovating with them, creating new businesses with them, and earning their trust. This commitment to our customers’ success is resulting in larger, multi-year commercial cloud agreements and growing momentum across every layer of our technology stack.”

With Nadella at the helm and cloud computing driving momentum, Microsoft has reaffirmed itself as the most valuable company on the planet, with market capitalisation now standing at $1.05 trillion.

Although the cloud business segment will steal the headlines, the More Personal Computing unit, the legacy shunned child of the Microsoft family, drove year-on-year growth of 4% for the final three months of the year.

Looking at the growth segments of the business, Productivity and Business Processes, featured the LinkedIn and Office products, bolstered revenues by $11 billion, a 14% year-on-year increase. The Intelligent Cloud unit brought grew 19% accounting for $11.4 billion.

There might have been some mixed headlines across the last couple of days, Teams overtaking slack was balanced by the Office 365 ban in schools in Germany, but Nadella and his cronies will certainly be sleeping comfortably.

AT&T gets Microsoft and IBM to help with its cloud homework

US telco AT&T has decided it’s time to raise its cloud game and so has entered into strategic partnerships with Microsoft and IBM.

The Microsoft deal focuses on non-network applications and enables AT&T’s broader strategy of migrating most non-network workloads to the public cloud by 2024. The rationale for this is fairly standard: by moving a bunch of stuff to the public cloud AT&T will be able to better focus on its core competences, but let’s see how that plays out.

IBM will be helping AT&T Business Solutions to better provide solutions to businesses. The consulting side will modernize its software and bring it into the IBM cloud, where they will use Red Hat’s platform to manage it all. In return IBM will make AT&T Business its main SDN partner and general networking best mate.

“AT&T and Microsoft are among the most committed companies to fostering technology that serves people,” said John Donovan, CEO of AT&T. “By working together on common efforts around 5G, the cloud, and AI, we will accelerate the speed of innovation and impact for our customers and our communities.”

“AT&T is at the forefront of defining how advances in technology, including 5G and edge computing, will transform every aspect of work and life,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and we are delighted that AT&T chose Microsoft to accelerate its innovation. Together, we will apply the power of Azure and Microsoft 365 to transform the way AT&T’s workforce collaborates and to shape the future of media and communications for people everywhere.”

“In AT&T Business, we’re constantly evolving to better serve business customers around the globe by securely connecting them to the digital capabilities they need,” said Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO of AT&T Business. “This includes optimizing our core operations and modernizing our internal business applications to accelerate innovation. Through our collaboration with IBM, we’re adopting open, flexible, cloud technologies, that will ultimately help accelerate our business leadership.”

“Building on IBM’s 20-year relationship with AT&T, today’s agreement is another major step forward in delivering flexibility to AT&T Business so it can provide IBM and its customers with innovative services at a faster pace than ever before,” said Arvind Krishna, SVP, Cloud and Cognitive Software at IBM. “We are proud to collaborate with AT&T Business, provide the scale and performance of our global footprint of cloud data centers, and deliver a common environment on which they can build once and deploy in any one of the appropriate footprints to be faster and more agile.”

Talking of the US cloud scene, the Department of Defense is reportedly looking for someone to provide some kind of Skynet-style ‘war cloud’ in return for chucking them $10 billion of public cash. Formally known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (yes, JEDI), this is designed to secure military and classified information in the event of some kind of catastrophic attach, contribute to cyber warfare efforts and enable the dissemination of military intelligence to the field.

It looks like the gig will be awarded to just one provider, which had led to much jostling for position among the US cloud players. The latest word on the street is that either AWS or Microsoft will get the work, which has prompted considerable moaning from IBM and Oracle and reported concern from President Trump, prompted by politicians apparently repaying their lobbying cash. Here’s a good summary of all that from Subverse.

Microsoft wastes no time in countering Google’s cloud gaming ambitions

Cloud gaming is emerging as a major new front in the competitive war between tech giants, who are using the E3 gaming trade show to flex their muscles.

A few days ago Google added some substance to its cloud gaming ambitions by announcing more details, including a list of games and pricing, of its Stadia platform. Shortly after Microsoft had its big E3 reveal, which of course focused on plans for its Xbox gaming console. These included the ability to stream games from a console to a mobile device and the opportunity for attendees to stream games from the cloud via the Project xCloud streaming service.

The difference between the two is that the latter doesn’t require you to own an Xbox console and so is directly equivalent to Stadia. Microsoft first announced Project xCloud last October, so it’s clearly a tricky proposition if this is the progress it has managed in the intervening 8 months. Having said that, at least one gaming hack seemed impressed with the streaming performance, noting that the latency was acceptably low.

Low latency will be the killer feature of 5G if this sort of thing is to drive truly mobile gaming, as we noted from MWC earlier this year. Not only is it a prerequisite for fast-paced first-person shooter games, in which any delay presents a massive competitive disadvantage, but it’s widely recognised that its essential for the virtual reality user experience.

You can see a bit more from the Microsoft E3 announcement below, but the company still seems to be keeping its cards fairly close to its chest on this topic. Maybe one reason is that it’s trying to work out what this means for its cloud gaming partnership with Sony, which just happens to make the main competitor to the Xbox. The market is clearly receptive to cloud-based subscription services for its entertainment such as Netflix and Spotify. We will soon find out if this applies to gaming too.