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Entry level Chrome OS based commercial and consumer products built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC

Once you have regular security problems on your Windows 10 PC like me, and you are essentially already close to 100% using web applications only like me, than it is time to move over to the Chrome OS platform. And this could be done now with a rock bottom cost. This is what I’ve found by examining the latest Chrome OS platform information as well as the entry level hardware represented by devices built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC (a low-end quadcore 64-bit ARM SoC with lowest cost IP inside, so the SoC is the lowest cost too).

There is a “hidden” advantage as well. The “Android apps on Chrome OS” is in Beta now, but when the current Android Framework in Chrome OS will move from support of Android Marshmallow [6.0] to Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59 all Google Play store apps will be available properly on Chrome devices as well. In a companion post I’ve examined the current state-of-the-art of Android security as well, and that is looking much better than that of current Windows 10. So as far as all this information is concerned such a platform change looks like the final solution for my current security issues on Win10.

There is a further impetus from yesterday’s news on Microsoft Edge comes last in browser security battle By 18 hours ago from techradar

Chrome remains the undisputed champion at Pwn2Own

So let’s examine first the state-of-the-art of Chrome OS security:

1:57-2:00: “What we know is that every Chrome device on the market today has a TPM.”
Streamed live on Feb 1, 2017G SuiteChrome OS Security Guide, an in-depth discussion by David Karam, Chrome OS Product Manager. An overview of Chrome OS security across the entire stack.

Next let’s see the latest information about the strategic value proposition of the Chrome OS:
March 9, 2017, Google CloudSimple, flexible, and secure Chrome OS solutions built for the future (Google Cloud Next ’17) by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google. As businesses evolve, they need technology solutions that are simple, flexible and cost-effective to help them succeed today and build for tomorrow. Chrome provides solutions fit for the workplace of the future – providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. Learn how your business can leverage ChromeOS in multiple ways.

March 15, 2017G SuiteOptimizing your Retail Business with Google Chrome (17- min) by Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google)
– Retail is being disrupted by digital. With a need to improve the in-store experience, retailers want technology to optimize employee effectiveness and customer experience.
Chrome devices empower retail store employees and delight customers while improving IT efficiency.

March 8, 2017, The Keyword from Google: How businesses are smartly transforming with Google Cloud, Android, and Chrome by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google.

While businesses with a mobile strategy are commonplace today, that doesn’t mean the mobile transformation is over. Today, we’re highlighting how companies are using Google Cloud, Chrome, and Android to reimagine the way they engage customers in public spaces and also equip employees to work more productively in the office and in the field.

Smart signs cut costs and provide customer insights

We recently collaborated with Coca-Cola on Chrome-based digital signs for supermarkets that pull in localized ads from DoubleClick and are equipped with beacon technology for pushing personalized messages to mobile users.

Coca-Cola_digital_signage.width-458[1]

The company has worked closely with Google Cloud to build a new signage solution that includes affordable digital sign and menu boards for Coca-Cola sellers.

“Our mission at Coca-Cola is to elevate the consumer experience to a place of pure excellence and the ability to send the right message to the right person at the right time is key to driving that world class experience in the connected retail world,” said Greg Chambers, Global Group Director of Digital Innovation at Coca-Cola.

The displays are powered by inexpensive Chromebit devices connected to a content management system (CMS) on Google Cloud Platform. The Chromebits also provide simple, centralized management of the signs. Combined with sensors, they can offer the company detailed, actionable information through Google Analytics as well as highly contextual advertising to other screens like nearby customer smartphones.

Android plus cloud intelligence enables field workers

UK pest control company Rentokil Initial is piloting a fleet of Android devices that utilize Google Cloud machine learning, including our Vision API image classification technology, to help field workers better identify pests and get treatment suggestions. Employees use an Android app to capture images that are identified using a machine learning model that’s been trained on Rentokil’s pest imagery database. The app then provides solutions to eradicate the pests. The PestID app, jointly developed by Accenture Mobility, is among the first wave of solutions Google is helping build as part of an alliance announced last year with Accenture.

Connecting manufacturing to the back office

42Q, a product division of manufacturing services provider Sanmina, developed a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) solution that runs on Google Cloud Platform.

42q-android-manufacturing.width-500[1]

It enables Sanmina employees and 42Q’s customers to bring real-time transparency to their factory operations using Android and Chrome devices. Using 42Q with Chrome, “deskless” back office workers can access work instructions, data requirements, and quality plans without deploying heavy client applications and expensive equipment.

Factory operators can also use the 42Q Android app for a “tailored” mobile interface, ensuring they only see critical information on demand.

When combined with G Suite, everyone from front office planners to back office operators can collaborate on current production line states, critical orders and real time reporting on factory operations.

Tomorrow’s businesses: empowered with advanced devices, collaboration and context

With a Google Cloud devices and mobility strategy, businesses are able to gather contextual data through devices and apply machine learning analytics to quickly take smart, well-informed actions. And the more employees who use managed Chromebooks and Android devices to collaborate and securely access documents in G Suite, the more efficient your whole team becomes.

Several new devices support this secure data-driven strategy. The Asus Chromebook Flip and recently-announced Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus function as both a Chromebook and an Android tablet with Google Play support. Last month, AOPEN launched the Chromebox mini and Chromebase mini, which also support Android apps and can use our new Kiosk APIs for improved app management and a robust customer experience.

To learn more about the Google Cloud devices and mobility solutions that enable a connected workspace, visit our booth at Next 2017 between March 8 and 10. There we’ll be demonstrating how a business becomes smarter when you pair Chrome and Android devices, cloud services and sensors with employees, customers and spaces. Or sign up here for additional information as we continue to evolve our range of data-driven tools to make every workspace connected no matter where it is.

Google Devices are built for the cloud -- Google Next 17 March 8, 2017

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 1: Developing Next Gen Solutions AOPEN’s Jim Hoey along with Google’s Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google) go over Chrome OS, developing on Chrome, and an example of a fully integrated Chrome solution.

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 2: Chrome Device Management AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield discuss the benefits of Chrome Device Management (CDM) and how businesses can utilize it for rapid deployments, reducing and controlling costs, and much more.

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 3: AOPEN Chrome Mini Devices AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield introduces two new AOPEN Chrome Devices: Chromebox Mini and Chromebase Mini

Re: “TPM chip” mentioned in the early part of the 1st video above:
from Trusted Platform Module article in Wikipedia

Overview 

Trusted Platform Module offers facilities for the secure generation of cryptographic keys, and limitation of their use, in addition to a random number generator.[4][5] It also includes capabilities such as remote attestation and sealed storage, as follows:

  • Remote attestation – creates a nearly unforgeable hash key summary of the hardware and software configuration. The program hashing the configuration data determines the extent of the summary of the software. This allows a third party to verify that the software has not been changed.
  • Binding – encrypts data using TPM bind key, a unique RSA key descended from a storage key.[6]
  • Sealing – encrypts data in a similar manner to binding, but in addition specifies a state in which TPM must be in order for the data to be decrypted (unsealed).[7]

Software can use a Trusted Platform Module to authenticate hardware devices. Since each TPM chip has a unique and secret RSA key burned in as it is produced, it is capable of performing platform authentication.

Generally, pushing the security down to the hardware level in conjunction with software provides more protection than a software-only solution.[8] However even where a TPM is used, a key would still be vulnerable while a software application that has obtained it from TPM is using it to perform encryption/decryption operations, as has been illustrated in the case of a cold boot attack. This problem is eliminated if key(s) used in TPM are not accessible on a bus or to external programs and all encryption/decryption is done in TPM.[citation needed]

TPM implementations 

Starting in 2006, many new laptop computers have been sold with a built-in Trusted Platform Module chip. In the future, this concept could be co-located on an existing motherboard chip in computers, or any other device where the TPM facilities could be employed, such as a cell phone. On a PC, either the LPC bus or the SPI bus is used to connect to the TPM.

Many manufacturers make TPMs. The Trusted Computing Group has certified TPMs manufactured by Infineon Technologies, Nuvoton, and STMicroelectronics.[15] The Trusted Computing Group has assigned TPM vendor IDs to Advanced Micro Devices, Atmel, Broadcom, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Lenovo, National Semiconductor, Nationz Technologies, Nuvoton, Qualcomm, Rockchip, Standard Microsystems Corporation, STMicroelectronics, Samsung, Sinosun, Texas Instruments, and Winbond.[16]

There are five different types of TPM 2.0 implementations: discrete TPMs (dTPM), integrated TPMs, firmware TPMs (fTPM), software TPMs, and virtual TPMs.[17][18] 

  • Discrete TPMs are chips that implement TPM functionality and nothing else, and are in their own semiconductor package.[17] These implement their functions in hardware to resist software bugs and implement tamper resistance.[18] They are therefore the most secure type of TPM.[18] 
  • Integrated TPMs are part of another chip that implements other functionalities.[17] While they use hardware that resists software bugs, they are not required to implement tamper resistance.[18] Intel has integrated TPMs in some of its chipsets.[17]

from ARM TrustZone FAQ article on Open Virtualization – ARM TrustZone and ARM Hypervisor Open Source Software site

How does the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) compare to Trusted Platform Mobile (TPM)?

There are two main components of platform security:

  1. Trusted Execution Environment
  2. Trusted Platform Module

They work in tandem; one is not designed as a replacement of the other. As an analogy, TEE is the bulletproof safe, while TPM is the 128-digit combination lock for the safe. Both are needed to ensure the safe is protected.

TEE encompasses the following elements:

  1. A protected or secure execution of critical applications in a virtualized environment
  2. Safe and secure boot ensures all system software components are in a known and “trusted” state before launching.

TPM provides the following services:

  1. Remote attestation: External services can verify that the system has not been altered or tampered with by using a hash of both system state. The verification is performed on both hardware and software. It is necessary to check that the system is not compromised before executing sensitive processes.
  2. Binding: Encryption of data using a unique RSA key that is burned into the chip when the chip is manufactured.
  3. Sealing: A feature that ensures that data isn’t accessed or decrypted when the system is in normal operation. It ensures that applications cannot access protected data when the system is in a sealed mode. But it can also allow legitimate applications to access protected data.

Arguments were made that TPM is not necessary if the TEE is robust. Some vendors have chosen not to use external TPM and store the keys and protected data in a TEE-only addressable area. TEE can help with Binding and Sealing. ISO standards suggest using a full-fledged TPM. External TPM could be very useful in coordinating between several masters and other complex systems. On the other hand, solutions that only rely on TPM are very vulnerable for execution and boot attacks. It is easy to override the application run states and circumvent TPM.

Do Intel or AMD offer Trusted Execution Environments?

Yes, other processor architectures support TEE. Popular CPU Architectures and their TEE implementations:

  1. ARM TrustZone
  2. Intel TXT
  3. AMD Secure Execution Environment

All three of these TEE implementations provide a virtualized Execution Environment for the secure OS and applications. To switch between the secure world and the normal world, Intel provides SMX Instructions, while ARM uses SMC. Programmatically, they all achieve very similar results.

Popular TPM Implementations:

  • ARM SecureCore
  • TPMs from Broadcom and other vendors who meet ISO standards

ARM: SecurCore Processors
Tamper resistant – optimized for security applications

The ARM® SecurCore processor family provides powerful 32-bit secure solutions based upon industry leading ARM architecture. By enhancing highly successful ARM processors with security features, SecurCore provides smart card and secure IC developers easy access to the benefits of ARM 32-bit technology such as small die size, energy efficiency, low cost, excellent code density and outstanding performance. SecurCore processors, used in a wide range of security applications, outperform legacy 8-bit or 16-bit secure processors.

Performance, anti-tampering

SC300
High performance smartcard and embedded security applications

Optimized, anti-tampering

SC000
Highest volume smartcard and embedded security applications.

SecurCore characteristics

ARM SecurCore processors are designed primarily for tamper-resistant smart cards and incorporate several security features that make SecurCore an ideal choice for such applications. Further details on the SecurCore security features are available under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) from ARM.

ARM SecurCore are built upon the ARM Cortex-M series. They benefit from wide tools support, including full support from RealView® Microcontroller Development Kit (the Keil uVision environment), the most popular smart card development tool chain in the industry.

SecurCore applications

SecurCore is shaping the future of smart cards and it is successfully adopted in many applications:

  • Advanced payment systems
  • Electronic passports
  • Electronic Ticketing
  • SIM
  • Transportation
  • Smart cards

Industry Standards

SecurCore is the industry standard architecture of choice for smart cards.

Re: “Android apps on Chrome OS” also mentioned in the 1st video above:
March 13, 2017, Chromebook Central Help ForumAndroid apps on selected Chromebooks FAQ

Hi everyone

We have been rolling out the Google Play Store on select Chromebooks on the Stable channel and the Play store will now be available on more Chromebooks in the coming months.

You can find the full list of Chromebooks here  but please note also that all the Chromebooks we launch in  2017 will support  Android apps.

This post aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about Android apps on Chrome OS and provide more clarity on which what Chromebooks run Android Apps:

Stable Channel

Android apps are now available on Stable Channel in the following devices

  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA
  • Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T / CB5-132T
  • Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus

Beta Channel

  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
  • Acer Chromebook R13 (CB5-312T)

Dev Channel

  • ThinkPad 11e Chromebook 3rd Gen (Yoga/Clamshell)
  • Dell Chromebook 13 7310
  • ASUS Chromebook C202SA/C300SA/C301SA
  • HP Chromebook 13 G1
  • Samsung Chromebook 3
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5 / HP Chromebook 11-vxxx

FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS

WHY ANDROID APPS AND HOW WE BUILT

What does it mean  that “Android apps are coming to Chromebooks”?

“Android apps are coming to Chromebooks” means that we are bringing the Google Play Store and all Android apps to compatible Chromebooks.

Why are we building it?

Chrome OS has brought the web as a first class citizen to our users. With that, we made great productivity and  knowledge devices. We want to give the Google Play Store Google’s app ecosystem, the same treatment and treat  both the web and Android apps as first class citizens to our users and provide them with a platform for productivity, consumption, gaming and more.

How did we build this?

Android will run in a container side-by-side with Chrome OS. The apps will then be composited into Chrome OS inside of windows. Input into those windows (touch, mouse, keyboard) will be sent to the Android container and processed by the app. All concepts expected by Android apps (intents, notifications, toasts, you name it) will be fully supported by Chrome OS.

GETTING STARTED

Why is Play Store not available for download on my Chromebook?

The Play Store is available for certain Chromebooks. To see the list of Chromebooks that will eventually be able to run the Play Store, check here.

I did not opt into to download Play Store support – how do I enable it?

You can enable Android apps by going into Settings and checking – Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook. You can check steps in our Help Center.

I’m using Chromebook in my workplace or school, and heard that Play Store should be available for download – how come it’s not showing up? 

Please ask your IT administrator so that you can enjoy using Play Store applications as soon as possible.

APPS & GOOGLE PLAY RELATED QUESTIONS

March 10, 2017ClintonFitch.com: Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59

While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated.  The answer is yes and pretty soon.  This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59.  Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.

As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow [6.0].  So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome.  The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow.  All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.

The other big challenge with Marshmallow is that you can only run one app at a time, somewhat related to the multi-window aspect.  In other words, if you are running an Android app on your Chromebook and switch focus to another app, the first app quits running on the backend.  So things like sync don’t work.  That would change in a Nougat framework.

When I asked Google about this, they confirmed that Nougat is coming to Chrome OS in the 58 or 59 train.  That’s good because 58 is in the Beta Channel and 59 is in the Developer channel.  So, at best, we are likely 6 weeks away and at worst, 12 weeks.

Perhaps the better news in all of this, the Chrome team also confirmed that they want to accelerate support in the future of Android so when Android O [8.0] is released later this year, we could see widespread support of it much faster than we have Nougat.

New AOPEN Chrome devices offer enterprise grade performance at an affordable price

New York, 17 January 2017 – Two new powerful and innovative AOPEN Chrome devices, from one of the leading commercial* Chrome device manufacturers, are set to drive customer experience in 2017.

The AOPEN Chromebase Mini and Chromebox Mini devices are part of a new enterprise range aimed at bringing enterprise reliability and features at an affordable price.

The Chromebase Mini is an enterprise-ready interactive 10.1-inch all-in-one touchscreen solution. It’s designed to be managed with ease, reliability, and security – making it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments including digital signage, POS, self-service kiosks, digital corporate communication, and AV room control.

The second device, the Chromebox Mini, is the smallest Chromebox on the market today and also runs on the Chrome OS platform. It is solid state and can be used as an SME or enterprise desktop replacement hosting IOT applications, digital signage and kiosks and affording greater control of in-store engagement.

Stephen Borg, Global Chief Digital Officer AOPEN Group, says the devices represent a major leap forward in design – allowing a ubiquitous approach to multiple use cases, rapid application development, and ease of use for the signage, kiosk, POS, and other enterprise markets.

“AOPEN designed its new Chrome OS device line to empower the customer by servicing a wide range of verticals and needs,” says Borg. “They are fully enterprise-ready in terms of product longevity and reliability, ease of large deployment, remote access, and service.”

Chromebase Mini
The Chromebase Mini, an all-in-one 10.1-inch solution, does not require a kiosk protective case, is waterproof and tamper proof unlike like a consumer touch device.

The enterprise ready all-in-one touch device supports audio-video conference platforms, such as Google Hangouts. It offers mounting options for A/V or desktop use (including a built-in Vesa Mount stand), high-quality camera and audio, and a dual microphone. The chromebase mini is also accompanied by optional accessories such as recess wall mounts, POE adapters, and adapters to mount various payment solutions.

By leveraging AOPEN software layer meldCX, the Chromebase Mini is compatible with end-user legacy POS systems – featuring local app instances for offline use and device integration, while maintaining a competitive price point.

“The Chromebase Mini achieves both customer and operational benefits. Its aesthetic and interactive design makes it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments and provides a compelling way for customers to transact. Retailers or Integrators can also use Chrome Device Management to control and manage their device fleets. It means that content updates and management of the devices can be done remotely via the cloud, and its ease of rollout gives retailers an amazing experience,” says Borg.

“The Chromebase Mini is also ideal for enterprise business solutions. It positions Chrome squarely in the cloud, offering secure flexibility of business cloud solutions and enabling both Google Hangouts and other video conferencing solutions.”

Chromebox Mini
The Chromebox Mini is a solid-state, ultra-small form factor device. It is the smallest enterprise-ready Chromebox currently available.

It supports Chrome Device Management, and can be used as an enterprise desktop replacement. Its features include fanless design, Bluetooth, wide-reaching dual-band antenna, and power button extension ports for ease of mounting behind device or having other AV equipment control on/off state .

Both the Chromebase and Chromebox Mini are enterprise-grade solutions, at a price point suitable for home use for those wanting a more reliable silent solution. Both feature fanless/non-venting hole designs, can operate in a wide range of temperatures, and meet Google’s security requirements.

“Rather than re-purposing consumer-grade products and support for commercial environments, AOPEN has introduced a design for the Chrome Mini Range that is robust and reliable enough for enterprise deployments across key verticals – including retail, hospitality, and QSR,” says Borg.

Chromebase Mini – key features:

  • Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
  • Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
  • CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
  • DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
  • Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
  • FHD Webcam (2M)
  • Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
  • WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

Chromebox Mini Fievel – key features:

  • Fanless/non venting hole design
  • CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
  • DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
  • Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
  • WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

*AOPEN commercial grade products are engineered for 24/7, 365 use in a commercial environment. Products are all solid state. In addition, the Chromebase Mini has tamper proof and water resistant features.

About AOPEN
Founded in 1996, AOPEN is today a major global electronics manufacturer and a thought leader in digital signage.

AOPEN is an official partner for Google Chrome devices, including the following tiers:

  • Google Cloud Sales Premier Partner (Chrome)
  • Google for Education Sales Premier Partner
  • Google Cloud Services Partner (Chrome)
  • Google for Work Education Services Partner

Specialising in multi-platform, ultra-small form factor computing for both home and business, AOPEN works with a wide range of partners – from hardware to software and services. Through these partnerships, AOPEN creates advanced digital display solutions for many of the world’s top brands.

Part of the Wistron group, AOPEN has a presence in over 100 countries. AOPEN customers and partners range from governments and financial institutions to retailers, retail design firms, strategic consultants, and branding agencies.
www.aopen.com

Features:

● Fanless/non venting hole design
● CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
● Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.8 x 0.94 in

For additional details, download the Chromebox Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET

Features:

● Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
● Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
● CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● FHD Webcam (2MP)
● Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

For additional details, download the Chromebase Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET

201605-09, Rockchip: RK3288-C based CTL J4+ Chromebook, priced at under $200!

The humble Chromebook has gone through many revisions since its inception nearly five years ago. Originally designed as a low-cost notebook running the Google Chrome OS and connected to the cloud for everyday work, there are now ultra-premium models such as the Pixel, a wider range of touchscreen-enabled designs primarily from Asus, as well a bevy of entry-level offerings that target value above all else.

This budget end of the market is dominated by Chromebooks powered by the ARM architecture. Chief amongst the proponents of this Internet-connected device is Chinese chipmaker Rockchip, whose RK3288 system-on-chip processor powers a number of Chromebooks for the consumer and education markets.

Found in Chromebooks from Asus, Haier and HiSense, as well as the novel Chromebit, the RK3288(C) SoC is also present in education-focussed notebooks made popular by CTL. Priced at under $200 for the best-in-breed J4+, we have one in for evaluation today.

Under the hood: RK3288C

But before we get to the Chromebook it is instructive to take a peek at what makes the RK3288 SoC an ideal fit for these devices. The RK3288 uses two of ARM’s best-known technologies – Cortex A-class processor and Mali graphics – and then wraps them inside a fully-baked SoC with display, memory, camera and connectivity support.

The Cortex-A17, which is ostensibly a speed-bumped version of the Cortex-A12, is arranged in a quad-core configuration and scales up to 1.8GHz. Though now superseded by the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A72, the 32-bit-only processor remains a potent choice for an entry-level Chromebook. Graphics oomph is provided by the Mali-T760 GPU also in a quad-core configuration, and its performance in a range of last year’s premium handsets bodes well for the kind of work that Chromebook users will engage in on a daily basis.

The rest of the SoC treads familiar ground. There’s a dual-channel 64-bit memory controller supporting DDR3/L memory, 4K-capable HDMI-out, an H.264 video encoder/decoder, and 13MP ISP for snapping duties.

The point to appreciate is that a budget SoC provides enough general chutzpah for a fluid experience on a Chromebook. We’ve seen this proved empirically with the evaluation of the similar, yet more expensive, Chromebook Flip from Asus.

The CTL J4+

Designed primarily for the classroom but available to purchase from a selected number of retailers for regular customers, the CTL J4+ is solid enough to withstand the usual knocks that might be expected in an education environment. The carbon-like pattern is, as you would expect, made of plastic, but it’s of a high quality throughout. Grabbing the sides of the Chromebook in both hands results in very little flex. Indeed, we’ve seen full-on notebooks costing multiple times more having inferior build quality.

That said, the lid, although a dark grey, is a magnet for fingerprints. The slightest bit of grease or moisture shows up, so you’ll be rubbing it away constantly to ensure it’s kept nice and clean. Portability is a key concern for the education market, too; the J4+’s 1,124g weight is very competitive against other Chromebooks of a similar bearing, while the total travel weight, including small power charger, is less than 1,500g. My 11-year-old niece felt it was portable enough to be carried in a rucksack during the daily 15-minute walk to school.

There are inevitable compromises when retailing a sub-$200 Chromebook. One area where the J4+ falls slightly short is shown by a lack of USB 3.0. An older, slower port lines either side, with HDMI-out and a micro-SD card-reader also available. Though it would be nicer to have USB 3.0, the question we ask ourselves is whether it makes much of a real-world difference on a machine that’s purposely designed to be used almost exclusively with the Internet?

Other than the previously mentioned quad-core Rockchip SoC operating at up to 1.8GHz, this Chromebook is supported by 16GB of eMMC storage, 4GB of DDR3L memory, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and an integrated, 3,400mAh battery promising up to nine hours of regular usage from a single charge. A couple of 1.5W speakers offer rudimentary sound capabilities.

The smooth hinge goes back about 120° revealing an 11.6in display with large bezels on all sides. Premium Chromebooks look more like expensive laptops, but at the cheaper end of the market the design has barely changed over the past decade. But hey, it works well enough for its intended market.

The + suffix is the differentiator between this and an otherwise similar Chromebook from the CTL stable. The regular machine also has an 11.6in screen with a native 1,366×768 resolution but it uses a TN display instead. The + model improves this to an IPS screen with wider viewing angles and, in our opinion, considerably better colour reproduction.

It’s bright, sharp enough for the modest resolution and a good fit for a budget Chromebook. In a world where children often have higher-resolution tablets as the norm rather than exception, my niece noted that the fidelity wasn’t as impressive as her retina-equipped iPad. Yet good enough for basic spreadsheets and some simple word processing? Sure.

The keys offer shallow travel that take a little getting used to if coming from a full-size, discrete keyboard. Optimised for Chrome it misses out the regular Caps Lock key which gives way to Search while the usual function keys are routed instead to common Chrome tasks.

In a similar vein to the Chromebook Flip, the trackpad is solid. It also supports Chrome gestures and has a satisfying click each time it’s depressed. We’d describe the inputs as generic for an entry-level Chromebook, but do understand that isn’t meant in a pejorative sense; the duo work well.

The power-sipping nature of the SoC is a boon for those searching for quietness. A lack of vents hints to silent computing, and it is, with the Rockchip SoC cooled passively. Students coming from a tablet world will appreciate that, in terms of noise, it’s no different to what they’re accustomed to.

In use

General performance is dictated by the SoC and supporting memory contained within the Chromebook. In concert with the majority of others plying this end of the market, one where Rockchip has a leadership position, applications open quickly and the user experience is smooth and predictable. This isn’t a machine for doing anything taxing, mind – the Chrome OS is built for Internet-centric usage – yet playing videos, opening up multiple tabs in simple programs, and calling on Skype does little to push the capabilities of the RK3288C SoC.

For those that haven’t used a Chromebook of late, think of the performance as analogous to a mid-range smartphone of this year. It’s never electric, as on the latest PCs or high-end phones, but neither is it slow at any task you would commonly undertake.

More pertinently, it’s quick enough for the education market for which this model is primed. Rather than conduct looping battery tests, we used the J4+ over the course of a weekend, doing the usual browsing and video playback, and noted that it kept going for approximately 10 hours before running out of juice.

A simple machine with a simple premise of appealing to a broad educational market, the CTL J4+ is a solid Chromebook arriving with an attractive bulk price of under $200. It strikes all the right notes for an entry-level Chromebook powered by the ever-popular Rockchip RK3288C SoC. Pricing, though, remains absolutely key, as more feature-filled models are available for a little more, while the absolute budget end, based on the same chassis, starts at just $150. Tablets, too, offer a similar level of performance, albeit without physical keyboard, for less money.

The evolution of mobile SoCs has meant that adequate performance can be gained by spending a very reasonable amount of money. A case in point is the Rockchip RK3288C, widely seen in these devices, and with enough grunt and longevity to run everyday tasks for well, all day. CTL naturally takes this on with the J4+ education-focussed Chromebook equipped with a solid IPS display and surprisingly decent build quality.

Available to purchase to regular consumers for $189 at present, it represents good value in a congested marketplace. If your heart is set on a Chromebook and require a solid machine that covers all the basics, the CTL J4+ is a good starting point.

Rockchip: RK3288

  • Quad-core Cortex-A17 up to 1.8GHz
  • Mali-T764 GPU
  • Dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3
  • 4K UHD H265/H264
  • BT.2020/BT.709
  • H264 encoder
  • TS in/CSA 2.0
  • USB 2.0
Process • 28nm
CPU • Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
GPU • Mali-T764 GPU, Supports AFBC (ARM Frame Buffer Compression)
• support OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.1, OpenCL, DirectX9.3
•  High performance dedicated 2D processor
Multi-Media • 4K 10bits VP9/H265/H264 video decoders, up to 60fps
• 1080P other video decoders (VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP8)
• 1080P video encoder for H.264 and VP8
• Video post processor: de-interlace, de-noise, enhancement for edge/detail/color
Display • Support RGB/Dual LVDS/Dual MIPI-DSI/eDP interface, up to 3840*2160 resolution
• HDMI 2.0 for 4K@60Hz with HDCP 1.4/2.2
Security ARM TrustZone (TEE), Secure Video Path, Cipher Engine, Secure boot
Memory • Dual-channel 64bit DDR3-1333/DDR3L-1333/LPDDR2-1066
• Support MLC NAND, eMMC 4.51
Connectivity • Embedded 13M ISP, MIPI CSI-2 and DVP interface
• Dual SDIO 3.0 interface
• TS in/CSA2.0, support DTV function
• Embed HDMI, Ethernet MAC, S/PDIF, USB, I2C, I2S, UART, SPI, PS2
Package • BGA636 19X19, 0.65mm pitch
State • MP Now

xx

Android security

February 14, 2017, RSA Conference: Delivering Secure, Client-Side Technology to Billions of Users Adrian Ludwig, Director of Android Security, Google.
Google aims to make the web safe for all. Director of Android Security Adrian Ludwig will discuss the progress they’ve made, the gaps that remain and how client-side security can make the web more secure.

THE BASICS
30 Aug 2016, WIRED UK: How Google is putting security at the heart of Android By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s director of Android Security explains the operating system’s built-in security features

Android has been the fastest growing operating system of all time.

Google launched the first Android phone in the US in 2008, and there are now 1.4 billion Android users around the world.

The total ecosystem is huge: 400 companies partner with 500 carriers to produce over 4,000 distinct phones, tablets, and TVs running Android.

When we founded Android, the idea was somewhat crazy — build an open standard for hardware makers. Android is open-sourced and provided for free on all hardware.

This makes it possible for hardware makers to build a wide variety of different devices (phones, tablets, and even watches) while simultaneously making it easier for developers to build one app that works across any of these different devices.

Having an open ecosystem and over a billion users means that we take security very seriously. From the very beginning, security has been baked into the heart of Android. For example:

Application Sandbox

All Android applications run in what we call an “Application Sandbox.” Just like the walls of a sandbox keep the sand from getting out, each application is housed within a virtual ‘sandbox’ to keep it from accessing anything outside itself. This means that even if a user were to accidentally install a piece of malware, it’s forbidden from accessing any other app on the device.

The latest security technology

Android devices use leading hardware and software security technologies such as encryption, application signing, system integrity checks, SELinux, ASLR, and TrustZone to protect user data and the device.

More control in Android M

Users are even more safe with the new permissions model in Android M by giving them more control over what apps are allowed to access. Apps trigger requests for permissions at the time they need to do something.

For example, if your photo posting app wants to access your photo roll, it has to ask you first. So if a flashlight app starts asking for access to your phone book, you can just say no.

Google Play

Google Play —  our official marketplace for Android apps and games — is also an important part of Android security. Before applications become available in Google Play, they undergo an application security review process to confirm that they comply with Google Play policies, prohibiting potentially harmful applications. We suspend developer accounts and apps that violate our policies.

Third Party Verify Apps Feature

Since Android allows alternative app stores other than Google Play, our users often download apps from third-party app stores. In order to help make this third-party experience secure, we also have a feature called Verify Apps that warns the user or blocks potentially harmful apps, even if the app wasn’t from the Play Store.

It will check apps when you install them and periodically scans for potentially harmful apps to keep users safe. Over 1 billion devices are protected with Google Play which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day.

The results of these efforts have made malware relatively rare on Android. Based on our research, fewer than one per cent of Android devices had a Potentially Harmful App (PHA) installed in 2014, and fewer than 0.15 per cent of devices that only install from Google Play had a PHA installed.

In future installments, we’ll talk more about how we work with the broader security community to protect Android users, and offer a few tips for you to protect your phone as well.

THE CONTRIBUTION FROM THE PARTNERS COMMUNITY
31 Aug 2016, WIRED UK: How Google’s bug bounties reward you for hunting out flaws in its Android software By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s head of Android Security explains how bug bounties keep the OS secure.

Our last post looked at the ways in which we protect users against harmful software inside of Android and through our app store Google Play.

Android, however, is an open ecosystem used by more than 1.4 billion people around the world, so it makes sense to tap into all of those Android partners, developers, users, and researchers to help locate vulnerabilities and problems. This is the advantage of an open ecosystem: we can work with the broader security community who help us improve security and make Android stronger.

The priority for this approach is that we must be transparent about how exactly Android works. Android is open source, and this means we publish the latest programming source code for Android here.

Anyone can review the code to identify potential security risks. Anyone can build a device using this open source code (as well as add their own customisations). And anyone can suggest modifications or improvements to the core open source project.

Secondly, we work hard to encourage research on Android. We have come up with many ways to incentivise people to poke around in our code and find problems.

In 2010, Google started what we call security reward programs to pay security researchers who find major flaws. In 2014 alone we paid more than $1.5 million to security researchers who found vulnerabilities in Chrome and other Google products.

The success of this program led us to extend it directly to Android. In 2014, we started Google Patch Rewards — an experimental program to reward proactive security improvements for a few of our open-source projects. Rewards for qualifying submissions range from $500 for one-line improvements, up to $10,000 for complicated, high-impact improvements that almost certainly prevent major vulnerabilities in the affected code.

Then in 2015, we started the Android Security Rewards Program to help reward the contributions of security researchers who invest their time and effort in helping us make Android more secure. Through this program we provide monetary rewards and public recognition for vulnerabilities disclosed to the Android Security Team.

The reward level is based on the bug severity, increasing for higher quality reports that include reproduction code, test cases, and patches. In the last six months of 2015, we paid more than $200,000 to researchers for their work, including our largest single payment of $37,500 to an Android security researcher. This was part of the total $2 million paid out to researchers across all the programs.

On top of our own programs, we also sponsor third-party competitions such as Mobile pwn2own, ZDI’s annual contest that rewards security researchers for highlighting security vulnerabilities on mobile platforms.

Finally, we work closely with our hardware partners so devices can be updated with the latest patches. For more than three years, we have been working with Android manufacturers every month through bulletins of security issues with which they can keep their users secure.

Manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, and Blackberry are collectively providing millions of devices with these monthly security updates.

Nexus devices have always been among the first Android devices to receive platform and security updates. Since last year, Nexus devices have been regularly receiving security-focused, over-the-air (OTA) updates each month in addition to the usual platform updates. These fixes are also released to the public via the Android Open Source Project.

For Android, security has always been a priority. We are extremely grateful to the wider research community for helping us find security flaws. It’s great to us — but more importantly, to 1.4 billion people around the world — to see so many people pitching in to make Android safer.

FROM THE USERS THEMSELVES
2 Sept 2016, WIRED UK: How to keep your Android phone safe from prying eyes By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s director of Android Security reveals practical ways to keep your data safe.

Over the course of this dedicated security series we have focused on how security is baked into the very heart of Android.

But the Android operating system also empowers you to take safety into your own hands.

This final piece in our series focuses on how each and every Android phone user can play an active role when it comes to safety on the internet. Today, smartphones have become nearly indispensable. So it’s important to keep your phone, but also its contents, secure.

We’re going to walk you through some top ways to keep your mobile security skills as sharp as possible. These are simple but highly effective ways to keep you safe, such as finding your phone if it’s lost, keeping your personal information secured, and making sure the apps and games you download are safe.

One of the most basic threats to mobile security is pretty simple and is probably something that has happened to all of us: losing your own phone. We entrust our phones with some of our most personal data – texts from loved ones, family photos, work emails, bank account information, and more. In the wrong hands, that data could cause trouble but when your phone goes missing, it’s not always easy to figure out where to start, who to call, or how to keep your information safe.

Find Your Phone is a new Android feature that will help you if your phone is ever lost or stolen. In a few simple steps, you can not only locate your phone, but also lock and call it, secure your account, leave a callback number on the screen, and more. The feature can be used to find lost Android and iOS devices, and soon, you’ll also be able to access it by searching Google for “I lost my phone.”

You can use Find Your Phone in My Account, or just by searching ‘find my phone’ on any Google browser. Plus, it works for both Android and iOS devices.

A second easy thing you can do if you don’t want anyone who picks up your phone or tablet to have access to your stuff is to switch on your mobile device lock. On an Android phone or tablet, you can pick a PIN, a password, or a pattern.

For added security, you should also set your device to automatically lock when it goes to sleep. You can take this even one step further and customise your settings so that your patterns and passwords are not visible when you’re entering them.

Download apps from trusted stores and marketplaces and help ensure your phone is safe when it’s in your own hands. Some apps can affect your device’s security, so only download them from places you trust. We work to make sure that all apps available on Google Play pass stringent policy checks, including checks for potentially harmful behaviour.

If you have Google Play installed, you’re automatically protected from potentially harmful apps with the Verify Apps feature. It’s turned on by default and warns you before you install an application we believe is potentially harmful. It’ll also check your device once a week for potentially harmful apps. If you see a warning from Verify Apps, we recommend not installing that app.

In the last year, we’ve significantly improved our machine learning and event correlation to detect potentially harmful behaviour. We protect users from malware and other Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs), by checking more than 6 billion installed applications per day. We protect users from network-based and on-device threats by scanning 400 million devices per day. And we protect hundreds of millions of Chrome users on Android from unsafe websites with Safe Browsing.

We have also continued to make it even more difficult to get PHAs into Google Play. Last year’s enhancements reduced the probability of installing a PHA from Google Play by over 40 per cent compared to 2014. Within Google Play, install attempts of most categories of PHAs declined. Data Collection decreased over 40 per cent to 0.08 per cent of installs, spyware dropped 60 per cent to 0.02 per cent of installs and hostile downloaders also decreased 50 per cent to 0.01 per cent of installs.

Overall, PHAs were installed on fewer than 0.15 per cent of devices that only get apps from Google Play. About 0.5 per cent of devices that install apps from both Play and other sources had a PHA installed during 2015, similar to the data in last year’s report.

It’s critical that we also protect users who install apps from sources other than Google Play. Our Verify Apps service protects these users and we improved the effectiveness of the PHA warnings provided by Verify Apps by over 50 per cent. In 2015, we saw an increase in the number of PHA install attempts outside of Google Play, and we disrupted several coordinated efforts to install PHAs onto user devices from outside of Google Play.

xx

A year of healthy progress along Microsoft strategic ambitions

Microsoft Stock Price for the last 5 years — July 22, 2016:Microsoft Stock Price for the last 5 years -- 22 July, 2016 My earlier posts related specifically to this 3 years overall transition history:
– Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform as of July 10, 2013
– Microsoft reorg for delivering/supporting high-value experiences/activities as of July 11, 2013
– An ARM-focussed Microsoft spin-off could be the only solution to save Microsoft in the crucial next 3-years period as of August 24, 2013
– Opinion Leaders and Lead Opinions: Reflections on Steven Sinofsky’s “Era of Continuous Productivity” vision as of September 1, 2013
– The question mark over Wintel’s future will hang in the air for two more years as of September 15, 2013
– Microsoft could be acquired in years to come by Amazon? The joke of the day, or a certain possibility (among other ones)? as of September 16, 2013
– Sinofsky’s ‘continuous productivity’ idea to be realised first in Box Notes as of September 21, 2013
MS FY15 NEW STRATEGIC SETUPMicrosoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
– Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft as of July 23, 2014
– Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates: “We’ve dusted-up many times”, on His Biggest Regret: “doing hardware earlier [for being] more effective in phone business” AND on Amazon: “They Make No Money.” as October 25, 2014
– The Empire Reboots — Can C.E.O. Satya Nadella Save Microsoft? | Vanity Fair, Oct 27, 2014

WPC Day 1: The Digital Transformation Opportunity from Microsoft Partner Network UK Blog as of July 11, 2016:

“Empower every person and every
organisation on the planet to achieve more”
The Microsoft Mission

At the core of today’s opening Worldwide Partner Conference keynote was ‘Digital Transformation’ aka the desire of CEO’s to use technology to change business outcomes – whether it be how they:

  • Engage their customers,
  • Empower employees to make better decisions,
  • Optimise their operations,
  • Build up the predictive power within their organisations so that every operation is intelligent,
  • Transform their products and services.

Digital Transformation = An Unprecedented Partner Opportunity

Every customer of every size business (startup to Enterprise) is not only looking to use digital technology, but to build digital technology for their own.

Digital-transformatoin-all-partner-types1-1024x530[1]

Businesses are looking to drive greater efficiency – automating processes and enhancing productivity, particularly in those areas where there are operating expenses. This poses an unprecedented opportunity for you no matter what partner type you are.

Digital Transformation Opportunity by Microsoft and Partners -- July 11, 2016Microsoft Ambitions to Drive Digital Transformation

Microsoft has three core ambitions which play a fundamental part in digitally transforming businesses:

  • Re-inventing Productivity and Business process
  • Building the Intelligent Cloud
  • Create more Personal Computing

These will be covered in more detail over the next two days keynotes, however, Satya provided some great examples of what these 3 ambitions entail.

1) Re-inventing Productivity and Business Process

This is all about removing the barriers between productivity tools and business applications. Satya focused on two key areas:

  • ‘Conversations as a Platform’: Using human language understanding personal assistants and Bots (conversational interfaces) which augment our connection with technologies. (Watch the demo 48 minutes into Day 1 Keynote)

2) Building out the intelligent Cloud

To showcase how intelligent cloud is helping transformation, Satya invited General Electric CEO, Jeff Immelt, on stage to discuss how he has digitally transformed the GE business.

Considering GE is over 140 years old, it’s a company that has embraced transformation and digital transformation. You can read more about their story and find out about Microsoft’s new partnership with GE to bring Predix to Azure, accelerating digital transformation for industrial customers.

Satya then went on to talk about ‘The next phase of building the Intelligent cloud’ with ‘Cognitive services’.  We’re seeing the beginnings of a new platform for cognitive services. Microsoft has taken decades of research from Microsoft Research encapsulating speech, computer vision, natural language text understanding, and made these available as API’s. These API’s are being used to infuse perception into apps – the ability for Apps/Bots to understand speech and see i.e. computer vision. These cognitive capabilities are capable of transforming business by bringing productivity gains. A great example of this is how Macdonalds are creating efficiency in their Drive Thru’s with speech/order recognition (Watch the demo 1 hour 10 minutes into the Day 1 keynote).

3) Create More Personal Computing

Create more personal computing was the third and final ambition covered. Satya discussed Windows 10 – an OS system spanning multiple devices from Raspberry PI to Hololens and bringing centralised infrastructure benefits and cost savings to business.

It was on the topic of Hololens, he discussed how personal computing is shaped by category creation moments. Moments where input and output change. ‘Mixed Reality’ is that moment. With Hololens its created an interface changing moment – Mixing real with virtual, enabling us to be anywhere and everywhere – fully untethered and mobile.

What followed was a great demo showcasing how Japan Airlines are using Microsoft HoloLens to change how they train flight crews and mechanics (Watch the demo 1 hour 17 minutes into the Day 1 keynote)

Mixed reality offers huge opportunities for partners with so many applications across so many sectors.

Expect more details on Digital Transformation and Microsoft’s three ambitions in WPC Day 2 and 3 keynotes.

News From WPC2016 Day 1

The three ambitions announced a year ago and the proof-points of healthy progress along them in FY16:

  1. Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource, and LinkedIn as all being part of one overarching strategy in Productivity and Business Process:
    – core part of an overarching strategy
    – digital transformation both for us and our partnerships with customers
  2. Significant differentiation vs. Amazon AWS in Intelligent Cloud:
    – enterprise cloud leadership
    – every customer is also an ISV
    – hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach with annuity focus enabling cloud lead conversation with customers
    – meeting cloud needs of customers where they are
  3. Windows strategy to achieve progress in More Personal Computing:
    – deliver more value and innovation, particularly for enterprise customers
    – grow new monetization through services across our unified Windows platform
    – innovate in new device categories in partnership with our OEMs

The Q1FY16 progress was presented in my Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders as of October 24, 2015.

Reinvent Productivity and Business Processes“, “Build the Intelligent Cloud” and “Create More Personal Computing” were the original 3 “interlocking ambitions” the Microsoft CEO talked about at Microsoft Iginite held on May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago. The proof-points of FY16 progress are shown along that list, and explained in detail by remarks from Microsoft (MSFT) Satya Nadella on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript as of July 18, 2016.

For more information see also:  Q4 2015 Earning Call Transcript, the 2015 Annual Report or—even better—my earlier posts indicated here under each ambition. For a deeper strategic intent underlying these ambilitions see my earlier post Julia Liuson: “Microsoft must transform from a company that throws a box with software into the market … into a company that offers pure services” published on These ambitions also became reporting segments in FY16. See Earnings Release FY16 Q1 as of October 22, 2015. The major corporate groups were also organised along these line: ASG = Application & Services Group for “Reinvent productivity and business processes” ambition, C&E = Cloud & Enterprise for “Build the intelligent cloud platform” ambition, and OSG= Operating Systems Group for “Create more personal computing” ambition.

Note that the overall strategic approach was developed 2 years ago and it was described in my post Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft of July 23, 2014:

image.png

Here are the remarks from Microsoft (MSFT) Satya Nadella on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript as of July 18, 2016. for details

1. Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource, and LinkedIn as all being part of one overarching strategy in Productivity and Business Process:

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud as of February 10, 2014
– OneNote is available now on every platform (+free!!) and supported by cloud services API for application and device builders as of March 18, 2014
– An upcoming new era: personalised, pro-active search and discovery experiences for Office 365 (Oslo) as of April 2, 2014
– Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service as of October 22, 2014

In fact, this last quarter, some of the most strategic announcements were all around our application platform. At our partner conference, there was a significant amount of excitement with the tools that we announced like PowerApps and Power BI, Azure functions and Flow. These are tools that our developers and system integrators and solution partners will use in order to be able to customize applications around Azure. And so to me that’s another huge advantage and a competitive differentiation for us.

1.1 Core part of an overarching strategy

The move to the cloud for our customers and for us is not just about a new way of delivering the same value just as a SaaS service. It’s really the transformation from having applications that are silos to becoming more services in the cloud where you can reason about the activity and the data underneath these services to benefit the customers who are using these services. So that’s what this notion of a graph [by Microsoft Graph] represents.

So when somebody moves to Office 365, their graph [by Microsoft Graph], their people, their relationships with other people inside the organization, their work artifacts all move to the cloud. You can connect them with all the business process data that’s in Dynamics 365, but not just in Dynamics 365 but all the applications in AppSource because business process will always be a much more fragmented market as opposed to just one market share leader by industry, by vertical, by country. And so that’s our strategy there.

And now the professional cloud or the professional network helps usage across all of that professional usage. Whether it’s in Office 365 or whether you’re a salesperson using any application related to sales, you want your professional network there. Of course, it’s relevant in recruiting, it’s relevant in training, it’s relevant in marketing. So that’s really our strategy with LinkedIn as the professional network meeting the professional cloud. And these are all part of one overarching strategy, and ultimately it’s about adding value to customers.

1.2 Digital transformation both for us and our partnerships with customers

This past year was a pivotal one in both our transformation and in our partnerships with customers who are also driving their own digital transformation. Our progress is best captured in the results of our three ambitions, starting with Productivity and Business Process. In a world of infinite information but finite attention and time, we aim to change the nature of work with digital technology. In pursuit of this ambition, we continue to add value to our products, grow usage, and increase our addressable market. Along these lines, let me start with Office 365 and then move to Dynamics 365.

In the last quarter, we advanced our collaboration tools. We launched Microsoft Planner, which helps teams manage operations, as well as Skype Meetings, which is aimed at helping small businesses collaborate. In June, we further strengthened our security value proposition with the release of Advanced Security Management.

Lastly, we continue to add intelligence in machine learning to Office to help people automate their tasks and glean insights from data. These advancements helped to drive increased usage across enterprises, small and medium businesses, and consumers. In the enterprise, Office 365 Commercial seats grew 45% year over year, and revenue grew 59% in constant currency. Also 70% of our Office Enterprise agreement renewals are in the cloud. Innovative companies like Facebook, Hershey’s, Discovery Communications, Cushman Wakefield all adopted Office 365 and now see how transformative this service can be for their own business.

We are enthusiastic about the early feedback and growth opportunity from companies using our newly released Office 365 E5, which includes powerful security controls, advanced analytics, and cloud voice. These customers tell us that they love the simplification that comes with standardizing across all of our productivity workloads.

We will continue to grow our install base and drive premium mix through offers like Office 365 E5, but they’re very, very early days of E5. And E5 value proposition across all three of the areas, whether it’s cloud voice or analytics or security are all three massive areas for us. And I would say if anything, the initial data from our customers around security is gaining a lot of traction. But at the same time, one of the things that customers are looking for is making an enterprise-wide architectural decision across all of the workloads.

We see momentum in small and medium businesses, with a growing number of partners selling Office 365, now up to nearly 90,000, a 25% increase year over year. We continue to grab share and adding over 50,000 customers each month for 28 consecutive months.

We also see momentum amongst consumers, with now more than 23 million Office 365 subscribers. Across segments, customers increasingly experience the power of Office on their iOS and Android mobile devices. In fact, we now have more than 50 million iOS and Android monthly active devices, up more than four times over last year.

Now let’s talk about progress with the other pillar of this ambition, Dynamics 365. We are removing any impedance that exists between productivity, collaboration, and business process. This month we took a major step forward with the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource. Dynamics 365 provides business users with purpose-built SaaS applications. These applications have intelligence built in. They integrate deeply with communications and collaboration capabilities of Office 365.

Dynamics 365 along with AppSource and our rich application platform introduces a disruptive and customer-centric business model so customers can build what they want and use just the capabilities they need. The launch of Dynamics 365 builds on the momentum we’re already seeing in this business. Customers around the globe are harnessing the power of Dynamics in their own transformation, including 24 Hour Fitness and AccuWeather. Overall, Dynamics now has nearly 10 million monthly paid seats, up more than 20% year over year, and Q4 billings grew more than 20% year over year.

Overall, Business Processes represent an enormous addressable market, projected to be more than $100 billion by 2020. It’s a market we are increasingly focused on, and I believe we are poised with both Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource to grow and drive opportunity for our partners.

Across Office 365 and Dynamics 365, developers increasingly see the opportunity to build innovative apps and experiences with the Microsoft Graph, and we now have over 27,000 apps connected to it. Microsoft AppSource will be a new way for developers to offer their services and reach customers worldwide.

Lastly, with Office 365 and Dynamics 365, we have the opportunity to connect the world’s professional cloud and the world’s professional network with our pending LinkedIn deal. Overall, the Microsoft Cloud is winning significant customer support. With more than $12 billion in Commercial Cloud annualized revenue run rate, we are on track to achieve our goal of $20 billion in fiscal year 2018. Also, nearly 60% of the Fortune 500 companies have at least three of our cloud offerings. And we continue to grow our annuity mix of our business. In fact, commercial annuity mix increased year over year to 83%.

2. Significant differentiation vs. Amazon AWS in Intelligent Cloud 

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– Windows Azure becoming an unbeatable offering on the cloud computing market as of June 28, 2013
Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform as of July 10, 2013

– 4. Microsoft products for the Cloud OS [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] (was separated from the next “half bakedness” post because of its length)
– 4.5. Microsoft talking about Cloud OS and private clouds: starting with Ray Ozzie in November, 2009[‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] (was separated from the next “half bakedness” post because of its length)
Microsoft’s half-baked cloud computing strategy (H1’FY14) as of February 17, 2014 Note that this “half bakedness” ended by the facts published in Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders as of October 24, 2014
– Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
– Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 2: “rebranding” to Microsoft Azure and moving toward a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services as of April 27, 2014
– Scott Guthrie about changes under Nadella, the competition with Amazon, and what differentiates Microsoft’s cloud products as of October 2, 2014
– Sam Guckenheimer on Microsoft Developer Division’s Journey to Cloud Cadence as of October 19, 2014
– Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service as of October 22, 2014
Microsoft Cloud state-of-the-art: Hyper-scale Azure with host SDN — IaaS 2.0 — Hybrid flexibility and freedom as of July 11, 2015
– Microsoft’s first quarter proving its ability to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings as of Januar 27, 2015
– DataStax: a fully distributed and highly secure transactional database platform that is “always on” as of February 3, 2016
– Microsoft chairman: The transition to a subscription-based cloud business isn’t fast enough. Revamp the sales force for cloud-based selling as of June 6, 2016

Cloud Growth Helps Microsoft Beat Street in Q4 from TheStreet as of July 19, 2016 

… [0:34] and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility [Suite]
customers nearly doubled YoY to 33,000. [0:40] …

Note that the Q1FY16 report was that “Enterprise Mobility [Suite] customers more than doubled year-over-year to over 20,000, and the installed base grew nearly 6x year-over-year“. Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is a service available in the CSP (Cloud Solution Partner program) along with Windows Intune, Office 365, Azure and CRM Online. The reason for that very impressive growth was given by Satya Nadella in the much earlier Q2FY15 report as:

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite is one key of product innovation that I would like to highlight given the growth and uniqueness of our offering. Microsoft offers a comprehensive solution that brings together mobile device management, mobile application management, hybrid identity management and data protection into a unified offering via EMS.

Office 365 now includes new app experiences on all phones and tablets for mobile productivity.  Further, we have released completely new scenarios. This includes Office Sway for visualizing and sharing ideas; Delve, to help search and discover content; Office 365 Groups to make it easier to collaborate; andOffice 365 Video for secure media streaming for businesses.

Finally, we continue to invest in enterprise value by integrating MDM and the Enterprise Mobility Suite into Office 365; new encryption technologies and compliance certifications; and new eDiscovery capabilities in Exchange.

Overall at the highest level, our strategy here is to make sure that the Microsoft Services i.e. cloud services be it Azure, Office 365, CRM Online or Enterprise Mobility Suite are covering all the devices out there in the marketplace. So that, that way we maximize the opportunity we have for each of these subscription and capacity based services.

2.1 Enterprise cloud leadership

Now let’s get into the specifics of the Intelligent Cloud, an area of massive opportunity, as we are clearly one of the two enterprise cloud leaders. Companies looking to digitally transform need a trusted cloud partner and turn to Microsoft. As a result, Azure revenue and usage again grew by more than 100% this quarter. We see customers choose Microsoft for three reasons. They want a cloud provider that offers solutions that reflect the realities of today’s world and their enterprise-grade needs. They want higher level services to drive digital transformation, and they want a cloud open to developers of all types. Let me expand on each.

To start, a wide variety of customers turn to Azure because of their specific real-world needs. Multinationals choose us because we are the only hybrid and hyperscale cloud spanning multiple jurisdictions. We cover more countries and regions than any other cloud provider, from North America to Asia to Europe to Latin America. Our cloud respects data sovereignty and makes it possible for an enterprise application to work across these regions and jurisdictions. More than 80% of the world’s largest banks are Azure customers because of our leadership support for regulatory requirements, advanced security, and commitment to privacy. Large ISVs like SAP and Citrix as well as startups like Sprinklr also choose Azure because of our global reach and a broad set of platform services. Last week GE announced it will adopt our cloud for its IoT approach.

Next, Azure customers also value our unique higher-level services. Now at 33,000, we nearly doubled in one year the number of companies worldwide that have selected our Enterprise Mobility Solutions. The Dow Chemical Company leverages EMS along with Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics to give its thousands of employees secure real-time access to data and apps from anywhere.

Just yesterday, we announced Boeing will use Azure, our IoT suite, and Cortana Intelligence to drive digital transformation in commercial aviation, with connected airline systems optimization, predictive maintenance, and much more. This builds on great momentum in IoT, including our work with Rolls-Royce, Schneider Electric, and others.

This is great progress, but our ambitions are set even higher. Our Intelligent Cloud also enables cognitive services. Cortana Intelligence Suite offers machine learning capabilities and advanced predictive analytics. Customers like Jabil Circuit, Fruit of the Loom, Land O’Lakes, LIBER already realize the benefits of these new capabilities.

Lastly, central to our Intelligent Cloud ambition is providing developers with the tools and capabilities they need to build apps and services for the platforms and devices of their choice. We have the best support for what I would say is the most open platform for all developers. Not only is .NET first class but Linux is first class, Java is first class. The new Azure Container service cuts across both containers running on Windows, running across Linux. So again, it speaks to the enterprise reality. .NET Core 1.0 for open source and our ongoing work with companies such as Red Hat, Docker, and Mesosphere also reflects significant progress on this front. We continue to see traction from open source, with nearly a third of customer virtual machines on Azure running Linux.

So those would be the places where we are fairly differentiated, and that’s what you see us gaining both for enterprise customers and ISVs.

On the server side, premium server revenue grew double digits in constant currency year over year. New SQL Server 2016 helps us expand into new markets with built-in advanced analytics and unparalleled performance. More than 15,000 customers, including over 50% of the Fortune 500, have registered for the private preview of SQL Server for Linux. And we’re not slowing down. We will launch Windows Server 2016 and System Server 2016 later this year.

2.2 Every customer is also an ISV

One of the phenomena now is that pretty much anyone who is a customer of Azure is also in some form an ISV, and that’s no longer just limited to people who are “in the classic tech industry” or the software business. So every customer who starts off consuming Azure is also turning what is their IP in most cases into an ISV solution, which ultimately will even participate in AppSource. So at least the vision that we have is that every customer is a digital company that will have a digital IP component to it, and that we want to be able to partner with them in pretty unique ways.

That’s the same case with GE. It’s the same case with Boeing. It’s the same case with Schneider Electric or ABB or any one of the customers we are working with because they all are taking some of their assets and converting them into SaaS applications on Azure. And that’s something that we will in fact have distribution agreements with.

And AppSource is a pretty major announcement for us because we essentially created for SaaS applications and infrastructure applications a way to distribute their applications through us and our channel. And I think it makes in fact our cloud more attractive to many of them because of that. So we look – I think going forward, you’ll look to see – or you’ll see us do much more of this with many other customers of ours.

2.3 Hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach with annuity focus enabling cloud lead conversation with customers

The focus for us is in what I describe as this hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach when you think about the current approach, which is pretty unique to us. Overall, I believe this hyperscale plus hybrid architecturally helps us a lot with enterprise customers because we meet them where their realities are today and also the digital transformation needs going forward, so that’s one massive advantage we have.

And the way we track progress is to see how is our annuity growth of our server business, and how is our cloud growth. And if you look at this last quarter, our annuity grew double digits and our cloud grew triple digits. And that’s a pretty healthy growth rate, and that’s something that by design both in terms of the technical architecture as well as the traction we have in the marketplace and our sales efforts and so on are playing out well, and we are very bullish about that going forward.

The Transactional business is much more volatile because of the macro environment, IT budgets, and also the secular shift to the cloud. The question again that gets asked is about the cannibalization. But if you look at Boeing or you look at any of the other examples that I talk about when it comes to the cloud, our servers never did what these customers are now doing in our cloud. So at a fundamental long-term secular basis, we have new growth, new workloads, and that’s what we are focused on, and that’s a much bigger addressable market than anything our Transactional Server business had in the past.

[Amy E. Hood – Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President:]
The first thing really that I think Satya and I both focus on every quarter, every month, is how much of our business are we continuing to shift to annuity and specifically to the cloud. We structure all of our motions at this company, from how we engineer to how we do our go-to-markets to how we think about sales engagement to how we do our investments, fundamentally toward that long-term structural transition in the market.

In terms of server products and services, I tend to think of it as the all-up growth. It’s really about growing the cloud, growing the hybrid, and then whatever happens in the Transactional business happens.

And so to your question on Transactional performance, there were some deals that didn’t get done in Q3 that got done in Q4, and there were some deals done in Q4 on the Office side with large companies that I’m thrilled by. But at the same time, we still will focus on those deals moving to the cloud over time. And so this volatility that we are going to see because of macro and because of budget constraints, especially on Transactional, we will focus on because we expect excellent execution and have accountability to do that in the field. But our first priority, every time, is to make sure we are focused on annuity growth and digital transformation at our company, which is best done through that motion.

In terms of the sales motion they are absolutely incented more towards cloud versus Transactional going into this year.

I do believe that every conversation that we’re having with customers is cloud-led. That cloud-led conversation and making a plan for customers to best change and transform their own business certainly is a far more in-depth one than on occasion is required by long-time Transactional purchasers, especially in Office, as an example, because what we’re talking about now is really pivoting your business for the long term.

And so I’m sure there are examples where that has elongated the sales cycle, for good reason. But I would generally point back and say most of these are driven at the structural level, which is – structurally over time, on-premises Transactional business will move to the cloud or to a hybrid structure through an annuity revenue stream.
[END BY Amy E. Hood]

2.4 Meeting cloud needs of customers where they are

The position that we have taken is that we want to serve customers where they are and not assume very simplistically that the digital sovereignty needs of customers can be met out of a fewer data center approach. Because right now, given the secular trend to move to the cloud across all of the regulated industries across the globe, we think it’s wiser for us and our investors long term to be able to meet them where they are. And that’s what you see us. We are the only cloud that operates in China under Chinese law, the only cloud that operates in Germany under German law. And these are very critical competitive advantages to us.

And so we will track that, and we will be very demand driven. So in this case we’re not taking these positions of which regions to open and where to open them well in advance of our demand. If anything, I think our cycle times have significantly come down. So it will be demand-driven, but I don’t want to essentially put a cap because if the opportunity arises, and for us it’s a high ROI decision to open a new region, we will do so.

3. Windows strategy to achieve progress in More Personal Computing

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– Windows Embedded is an enterprise business now, like the whole Windows business, with Handheld and Compact versions to lead in the overall Internet of Things market as well as of June 8, 2013
– How the device play will unfold in the new Microsoft organization? as of July 14, 2013
– With Android and forked Android smartphones as the industry standard Nokia relegated to a niche market status while Apple should radically alter its previous premium strategy for long term as of August 17, 2013
– Windows [inc. Phone] 8.x chances of becoming the alternative platform to iOS and Android: VERY SLIM as it is even more difficult for Microsoft now than any time before as of August 20, 2013
– Leading PC vendors of the past: Go enterprise or die! as of November 7, 2013
– Xamarin: C# developers of native “business” and “mobile workforce” applications now can easily work cross-platform, for Android and iOS clients as well as of November 15, 2013
Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is the ultimate tablet product from Microsoft. What the market response will be? as of May 21, 2014
Windows 10 Technical Preview: Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore on the future of Windows as of October 1, 2014
– The Era Of Sub-$90 Windows 8.1 Phones in U.S. as of October 3, 2014
– Windows 10 is here to help regain Microsoft’s leading position in ICT as of July 31, 2015
– Microsoft and partners to capitalize on Continuum for Phones instead of the exited Microsoft phone business as of June 5, 2016

We have increased Windows 10 monthly active devices and are now at more than 350 million. This is the fastest adoption rate of any prior Windows release. While we are proud of these results, given changes to our phone plan, we changed how we will assess progress. Going forward, we will track progress by regularly reporting the growth of Windows 10 monthly active devices in addition to progress on three aspects of our Windows strategy:

3.1 Deliver more value and innovation, particularly for enterprise customers

We continue to pursue our goal of moving people from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows. In two weeks, we will launch Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which takes a significant step forward in security. We are also extending Windows Hello to support apps and websites and delivering a range of new features like Windows Ink and updates to Microsoft Edge. We expect these advances will drive increased adoption of Windows 10, particularly in the enterprise, in the coming year. We already have strong traction, with over 96% of our enterprise customers piloting Windows 10.

3.2 Grow new monetization through services across our unified Windows platform

As we grow our install base and engagement, we generate more opportunity for Microsoft and our ecosystem. Bing profitability continues to grow, with greater than 40% of the search revenue in June from Windows 10 devices. Bing PC query share in the United States approached 22% this quarter, not including volume from AOL and Yahoo!. The Cortana search box has over 100 million monthly active users, with 8 billion questions asked to date.

We continue to drive growth in gaming by connecting fans on Xbox Live across Windows 10, iOS, and Android. Just this quarter we launched our Minecraft Realm subscription on Android and iOS. Overall engagement on Xbox Live is at record levels, with more than 49 million monthly active users, up 33% year over year. At E3 we announced our biggest lineup of exclusive games ever for Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. And we announced Xbox Play Anywhere titles, where gamers can buy a game once and play it on both their Windows 10 PC and Xbox One. We also announced two new members of the Xbox One console family, the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio.

The Windows Store continues to grow, with new universal Windows apps like Bank of America, Roku, SiriusXM, Instagram, Facebook, Wine, Hulu, and popular PC games like Quantum Break.

3.3 Innovate in new device categories in partnership with our OEMs

Our hardware partners are embracing the new personal computing vision, with over 1,500 new devices designed to take advantage of Windows 10 innovations like Touch, Pen, Hello, and better performance and power efficiency.

Microsoft’s family of Surface devices continues to drive category growth, and we are reaching more commercial customers of all sizes with the support of our channel partners. We recently announced new Surface enterprise initiatives with IBM and Booz Allen Hamilton to enable more customer segments. Also in the past year, we grew our commercial Surface partner channel from over 150 to over 10,000.

Lastly this quarter, more and more developers and enterprise customers got to experience two entirely new device categories from Microsoft Surface Hub and Microsoft HoloLens. While we are still in the early days of both of these devices, we are seeing great traction with both enterprise customers and developers, making us optimistic about future growth.

What is behind the ARM Holding’s acquisition by SoftBank Group?

Update: Recently SoftBank Group among other Silicon Valley notaries such as Apple and Facebook, have poured over $100 billion into a new Softbank “vision Fund” that Founder Masayoshi Son says is going to be used to help develop AI. This is allocated to spending on emerging technology companies in the next 5 years. To put that number in perspective, the entire global venture capital “industry” is only $65 billion in size. Here is his presentation about that from MWC 2017:
March 3, 2017: Globalfuturist.org: Softbank CEO, Masayoshi Son Keynote at MWC 2017 (25 and half min)

The How to Invest in the Singularity – It’s Near from June 3, 2017 will also give you a deep analysis of this initiative. Highly recommended!
End of Update

The quick answer is that “ARM is the driver of the IoT era” when every thing is interconnected. Another reason is that they have been steadily working in an early investment mode from very beginning, and quite successfully.

SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son has been referring back to the PC and Internet era when his company invested into Yahoo US which had only 16 employees then. In the beginning of PC broadband they have invested into mobile internet. And now is one of the biggest paradigm shifts is coming BIG TIME, that is IoT — he says. Some of his quotes shed light on what kind of perspective he is thinking of:

I truly believe Singularity [*] is coming and that computers will one day become smarter than mankind.

Every street light will be interconnected to the internet because we can save when car is not passing.

Automobile will all be connected so driverless car much safer.

All the things will be connected and what is biggest common denominator, that is Arm.

Technological singularity (Wikipedia): “is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that would, qualitatively, far surpass all human intelligence.[1][2] This would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate.[3]
For more information see the rest of the Wikipedia article.

And about the automobile opportunity alone he said:

I would say automobile is becoming smarter and smarter so when automobile becomes so smart it is required to have more and more chips integrated inside the car, especially when it becomes a driverless car. Automotive itself will become a super computer which consists of a bunch of multiple chips so ARM will be going into that market very aggressively.

More information along these lines see in the SoftBank CEO: the average person will have 1,000 internet-connected devices by 2040 article by Tech in Asia.

July 18, 2016: ARM CEO Simon Segars about SoftBank acquisition 

Official video released at https://www.acceleratingtech.com/ a site to explain the SoftBank acquisition of ARM, they claim:
– SoftBank’s £17 offer price gives ARM shareholders a 43% premium on Friday’s closing share price and a 41.1% premium on the all-time high share price
– Assurance to double ARM’s UK headcount in the next five years and increase headcount outside the UK
– Leaves ARM’s successful partnership business model, culture and brand unchanged
– Great endorsement of UK tech

July 18, 2016: Acquisition of ARM Holdings plc
Background and Rationale by SoftBank Group Corp.
(from Recommended Acquisition of ARM by SoftBank)

The acquisition of ARM by SBG will deliver the following benefits:

  • Support and accelerate ARM’s position as the global leader in intellectual property licensing and R&D outsourcing for semiconductor companies

SBG’s deep industry expertise and global network of relationships will accelerate adoption of ARM’s intellectual property across existing and new markets.

  • Maintain ARM’s dedication to innovation

SBG intends to sustain ARM’s long-term focus on generating more value per device, and driving licensing wins and future royalty streams in new growth categories, specifically “Enterprise and Embedded Intelligence.”

  • Increased investment to drive the next wave of innovation

SBG intends to support ARM’s multiple growth initiatives by investing in engineering talent and complementary acquisitions with the aim of ensuring ARM maintains a R&D edge over existing and emerging competitors. SBG believes such an investment strategy in long-term growth will be easier to execute as a non-listed company.

  • Shared culture and long-term vision

SBG believes the two companies share the same technology-oriented culture, long-term vision, focus on innovation and commitment to attracting, developing and retaining top talent. These common values will be the foundation for the strong strategic partnership necessary to capture the significant opportunities ahead.

  • Maintain and grow the UK’s leadership in science and technology

SBG is investing in the UK as a world leader in science and technology development and innovation and, as evidence of this, intends to invest in multiple ARM growth initiatives, at least doubling the number of ARM employees in the UK over the next five years.

July 18, 2016: Our Business Model (from Presentation material (English) (PDF) )

SoftBank Group Corp. Business Model -- 18 July 2016

Everything in violet color has been added by myself to the slide.

July 2015, from CEO Message:

Transformation into “SoftBank 2.0”

Thirty-four years have now passed since the foundation of SoftBank, and so far, our position has been one of SoftBank holding assets in overseas companies as a company in Japan. Now, however, we are going to the second stage of SoftBank—“SoftBank 2.0”—in which we will transform SoftBank into a truly global company that can ensure sustained business growth over the long term. We are now in a major transition period.

As the founder, I have set out to create a business model that can deliver continued business growth for centuries. However, many technology companies face the common challenge of a 30-year life cycle where growth is followed by decline. This decline stems from factors such as the increasing obsolescence of technologies and business models, and an over-reliance on founders.

What is the solution? Not only do we need to transform our existing businesses, we also need to have a comprehensive structure in place for supporting disruptive entrepreneurs and facilitating continued development with them.

… [the rest is to see at the place of original]

July 18, 2016Press Conference: ARM to be acquired by SoftBank

Japanese SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Masayoshi+Son), the richest person in Japan, speaks at the SoftBank Press Conference to announce the acquisition of ARM Holdings for $31.4 Billion, SoftBank promises to keep the same business model for ARM, to increase the employee count in the UK by 2x within the next 5 years, to increase ARM’s employee count around the world. You can read the official presentation materials here:
http://www.softbank.jp/corp/d/sbg_press_en/list/pdf/pressconference_01/material_en.pdf
[i.e. Presentation material (English) (PDF)]

July 2015, Major Subsidiaries

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Mobile Communications Segment

SoftBank Mobile Corp.*1                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices
BB Mobile Corp.                         100 Holding company
Ymobile Corporation*1*2                        99,7 Mobile broadband services, development and sale of communications devices, ADSL services, PHS-based mobile communications services
GungHo Online Entertainment, Inc.*3 40.2
[18.6]*
Production and distribution of online games for smartphones and other devices
Wireless City Planning Inc.                        33,3 Planning and provision of mobile broadband services
SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp.*5                         100 Manufacture, distribution, and sale of IT-related products, IT-related services
Brightstar Global Group Inc.                         100 Holding company
Brightstar Corp.                         100 Mobile device distribution, supply chain solutions, handset protection and insurance, buy-back and trade-in, omnichannel solutions and financial services
GRAVITY Co., Ltd.*6                        59,3 Planning, development, and operations of online games
Supercell Oy*7                        53,7 Production and distribution of mobile game applications

Sprint Segment

Sprint Corporation                        79,5 Holding company
Sprint Communications, Inc.                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices and accessories, fixed-line telecommunications services

Fixed-line Telecommunications Segment

SoftBank BB Corp.*1                         100 ADSL services, IP telephony services
SoftBank Telecom Corp.*1                         100 Fixed-line telephone services, data transmission and leased-line services

Internet Segment

Yahoo Japan Corporation                        43,0 Operation of the Yahoo ! JAPAN portal, sale of Internet advertising, operation of e-commerce sites, membership services
IDC Frontier Inc.                         100 Data center business
ValueCommerce Co., Ltd.                        50,6 Ad affiliate marketing service, StoreMatch online advertising distribution service

Others

Mobiletech Corporation                         100 Holding company
SB Energy Corp.                         100 Generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, supply and sale of electricity
SoftBank Payment Service Corp.                         100 Settlement services, card services and related services
Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS Corp.                         100 Ownership of professional baseball team, operation of baseball games, management and maintenance of baseball stadium and other sports facilities, distribution of video, voice and data content via media
SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corp.                         100 Planning, development, and sale of robots
SBBM Corporation                         100 Holding company
ITmedia Inc.                        57,9 Operation of comprehensive IT information site ITmedia, etc.
SoftBank Technology Corp.                        55,4 Solutions and services for online businesses
Vector Inc.                        52,4 Operation, sales, and marketing of online games, software downloads, advertising
SFJ Capital Limited                         100 Procurement of funds by issuing preferred (restricted voting) securities
SB Group US, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SB CHINA HOLDINGS PTE LTD                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Ventures Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
Starburst I, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Holdings Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank America Inc.                         100 Holding company
STARFISH I PTE. LTD.                         100 Holding company
SB Pan Pacific Corporation                         100 Holding company
Hayate Corporation                         100 Holding company
*1   On April 1, 2015 SoftBank BB, SoftBank Telecom, and Ymobile, merged into SoftBank Mobile.  On July 1, 2015, SoftBank Mobile changed its company name to SoftBank Corp.
*2   eAccess merged with WILLCOM on June 1, 2014 and changed its company name to Ymobile on July 1, 2014.
*3   As a result of the completion of a tender offer by GungHo for its shares on June 1, 2015, and other factors, GungHo became an equity method associate of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).  Please refer to page 190 for details.
*4   Holdings by parties in close relationships, etc., with SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.)
*5   SoftBank BB Corp., divided its commerce and service business and newly established SoftBank C&S on April 1, 2014.  All shares of SoftBank C&S held by SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.) were transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary of Brightstar.
*6   Since GRAVITY Co., Ltd.’s parent company GungHo is an equity method associate, as noted in *3, as of the publication of this annual report, GRAVITY is not a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).
*7   The Company purchased additional shares of Supercell from existing shareholders on May 29, 2015.  After this transaction, the Company’s share of voting rights stands at 77.8%.

July 2015, Major Associates

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Internet Segment

ASKUL Corporation                    41,9 Mail order sales of stationary, office products, services, etc.
The Japan Net Bank, Limited                    41,2 Banking business
BOOKOFF CORPORATION LIMITED                    15,0 Auction service and reuse business

Others

Scigineer Inc.                    33,2 Provision of Internet marketing support services using the personalized engine “deqwas” for e-commerce business operators and retailers
Bharti SoftBank Holdings Pte. Ltd.                    50,0 Holding company
Renren Inc.                    43,0 Investor company of company operating Renren.com SNS site in China
Alibaba Group Holding Limited                    31,9 Investor company of companies operating e-commerce sites Alibaba.com, Taobao. com, and Tmall.com
InMobi Pte. Ltd.                    35,2 Mobile advertising services

Main Overseas Fund Data

Fund Name
Subsidiaries
SoftBank Ranger Venture Investment Partnership
SoftBank Capital Fund ’10 L.P.
Associates
SoftBank US Ventures VI L.P.
SoftBank Capital Technology Fund III L.P.

 

Microsoft chairman: The transition to a subscription-based cloud business isn’t fast enough. Revamp the sales force for cloud-based selling.

See also my earlier posts:
– John W. Thompson, Chairman of the Board of Microsoft: the least recognized person in the radical two-men shakeup of the uppermost leadership, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 23, 2014

May 17, 2016John Thompson: Microsoft Should Move Faster on Cloud Plan in an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang on “Bloomberg West”

The focus is very-very good right now. We’re focused on cloud, on the hydrid model of the cloud. We’re focused on the application services we can deliver not just in the cloud but on multiple devices. If ever I would like to see something change, it’s more about pace. From my days at IBM [Thompson spent 28 years at IBM before becoming chief executive at Symantec] I can remember we never seemed to be running or moving fast enough. That is always the case in the established enterprise. While you believe that you’re moving fast in fact you’re not moving as fast as a startup.

June 2, 2016: Microsoft Ramps Up Its Cloud Efforts Bloomberg Intelligence’s Mandeep Singh reports on “Bloomberg Markets”

If you look at their segment revenue 43% from Windows and hardware devices. That part is the one where it is hard to come up with a cloud strategy to really kind of migrate that segment to the cloud very quickly. The infrastructure side is 30%, that is taken care of, and the Office is the other 30% that they have a good mix. That is really the other 43% revenue they have to figure out how to accelerate that transition to the cloud.

Then Bloomberg’s June 2, 2016 article (written by Dina Bass) came out with the following verdict:

Microsoft Board Mulls Sales Force Revamp to Speed Shift to Cloud 

Board members at Microsoft Corp. are grappling with a growing concern: that the company’s traditional software business, which makes up the majority of its sales, could evaporate in a matter of years — and Chairman John Thompson is pushing for a more aggressive shift into newer cloud-based products.

Thompson said he and the board are pleased with a push by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella to make more money from software and services delivered over the internet, but want it to move much faster. They’re considering ideas like increasing spending, overhauling the sales force and managing partnerships differently to step up the pace.

The cloud growth isn’t merely nice to have — it’s critical against the backdrop of declining demand for what’s known as on-premise software programs, the more traditional approach that involves installing software on a company’s own computers and networks. No one knows exactly how quickly sales of those legacy offerings will drop off, Thompson said, but it’s “inevitable that part of our business will be under continued pressure.”

The board members’ concern was born from experience. Thompson recounts how fellow director Chuck Noski, a former chief financial officer of AT&T, watched the telecom carrier’s traditional wireline business evaporate in just three years as the world shifted to mobile. Now, Noski and Thompson are asking whether something similar could happen to Microsoft.

“What’s the likelihood that could happen with on-prem versus cloud? That in three years, we look up and it’s gone?” Thompson said in an interview, snapping his fingers to make the point.

Small, but Growing

Nadella has said the company is on track to make its forecast for $20 billion in annualized sales from commercial cloud products in fiscal 2018. Still, Thompson said, the cloud business could be even further along, and the software maker should have started its push much earlier. Commercial cloud services revenue has posted impressive growth rates — with Azure product sales rising more than 100 percent quarterly — but the total business contributed just $5.8 billion of Microsoft’s $93.6 billion in sales in the latest fiscal year.

Thompson praised the technology behind smaller cloud products, such as Power BI tools for business analysis and data visualization and the enterprise mobile management service, which delivers apps and data to various corporate devices. But the latter, for example, brings in $300 million a year — just a sliver of overall annual revenue, which will soon top $100 billion, Thompson said.

The board is examining whether Microsoft has invested enough in its complete cloud lineup, Thompson said. It’s not just about developing better cloud technology — it’s a question of how the company sells those products and its strategy for recruiting partners to resell Microsoft’s services and build their own offerings on top of them. Persuading partners to develop compatible applications is a strong point for cloud market leader Amazon.com Inc., he said.

Thompson declined to be specific about what the company might change in sales and partnerships, but he said the company may need to “re-imagine” those organizations. “The question is, should it be more?” he said. “If you believe we need to run harder, run faster, be less risk-averse as a mantra, the question is how much more do you do.”

Cloud Partnerships

Analysts say Microsoft should seek to develop a deeper bench of partners making software for Azure and consultants to install and manage those services for customers who need the help. Microsoft is working on this, but is behind Amazon Web Services, said Lydia Leong, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

“They are nowhere near at the same level of sophistication, and the Microsoft partners are mostly new to the Azure ecosystem, so they don’t know it as well,” she said. “If you’re a customer and you want to migrate to AWS, you have this massive army that can help you.”

In the sales force, Microsoft’s representatives need more experience in cloud deals — which are generally subscription-based rather than one-time purchases — and how they differ from traditional software contracts, said Matt McIlwain, managing director at Seattle’s Madrona Venture Partners. “They haven’t made enough of a transition to a cloud-based selling motion,” he said. “It’s still a work in progress.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the company’s cloud strategy or any changes to sales and partnerships for this story, and director Noski couldn’t be reached for comment.

One-Time Purchases

The company’s dependence on demand for traditional software was painfully apparent in its most recent quarterly report, when revenue was weighed down by weakness in its transactional business, or one-time purchases of software that customers store and run on their own PCs and networks. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood in April said that lackluster transactional sales were likely to continue.

Microsoft’s two biggest cloud businesses are the Azure web-based service, which trails top provider Amazon but leads Google and International Business Machines Corp., and the Office 365 cloud versions of e-mail, collaboration software, word-processing and spreadsheet software. Microsoft’s key on-premise products include Windows Server and traditional versions of Office and the SQL database server.

Slumps like last quarter’s hurt even more amid the company’s shift to the cloud, which has brought a lot of changes to its financial reporting. For cloud deals, revenue is recognized over the term of the deal rather than providing an up-front boost. They’re also lower-margin businesses, squeezed by the cost of building and maintaining data centers to deliver the services. Microsoft’s gross margin dropped from 80 percent in fiscal 2010 to 65 percent in the year that ended June 30, 2015.

“This business growing incredibly well, but the gross margin of that is substantially lower than their core products of the olden days,” said Anurag Rana, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “How low do they go?”

‘Different Model’ [of doing business for subscription-based software]

It’s jarring for some investors, but the other option is worse, said Thompson.

That’s a very different model for Microsoft and one our investors are going to have to suck it up and embrace, because the alternative is don’t embrace the cloud and you wake up one day and you look just like — guess who?” Thompson doesn’t finish the sentence, but makes it clear he’s referring to IBM, the company where he spent more than 27 years, which he says is “not relevant anymore.” IBM declined to comment.

The pressure is good for Microsoft, Thompson said — pressure tends to result in change.

“You can re-imagine things when you’re stressed. It’s a lot easier to do it when you’re stressed because you feel compelled to do something,” Thompson said. “I see a lot of stress at Microsoft.”

Microsoft and partners to capitalize on Continuum for Phones instead of the exited Microsoft phone business

With The Nokia phone business is to be relaunched via a $500M private startup with Android smartphones and tablets in addition to the feature phones for which manufacturing, sales and distribution, would be acquired from Microsoft by a subsidiary of Foxconn published on this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog on May 20, 2016 I now dare to publish this follow-up post to the original message which was already available on October 13, 2015 under the title “Windows 10 enhancements for tablets and phones to achieve a powerful PC experience” (that original content see in the final part of this post) and with a statement for the start:

These are significant capabilities with which (although not only with these but with quite a number of other innovations) Microsoft—first time in its history—was able to beat Apple in its own game. You couldn’t believe it?

Unfortunately I’d felt a growing uncertainty about the future of the Microsoft Device business and therefore decided to wait till the picture gets clear. With the following Terry Myerson video appearing on the HP Business YouTube channel I’ve now felt certain to make the original information available in this curent post:

June 2, 2016HP Elite x3 and Windows 10: Terry Myerson

http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President at Microsoft, talks about the collaboration between HP and Microsoft that brings to life the new HP Elite x3 with Windows 10 for business, pioneer in the 3-in-1 category.

My certainty was also supported by the Microsoft decision to exit the phone business as it had been acquired from Nokia:

May 25, 2016Microsoft announces streamlining of smartphone hardware business

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to streamline the company’s smartphone hardware business, which will impact up to 1,850 jobs. As a result, the company will record an impairment and restructuring charge of approximately $950 million, of which approximately $200 million will relate to severance payments.

“We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “We will continue to innovate across devices and on our cloud services across all mobile platforms.”

Microsoft anticipates this will result in the reduction of up to 1,350 jobs at Microsoft Mobile Oy in Finland, as well as up to 500 additional jobs globally. Employees working for Microsoft Oy, a separate Microsoft sales subsidiary based in Espoo, are not in scope for the planned reductions.

As a result of the action, Microsoft will record a charge in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 for the impairment of assets in its More Personal Computing segment, related to these phone decisions.

The actions associated with today’s announcement are expected to be substantially complete by the end of the calendar year and fully completed by July 2017, the end of the company’s next fiscal year.

More information about these charges will be provided in Microsoft’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement on July 19, 2016, and in the company’s 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K.

In addition to the following sentence in the previous Microsoft selling feature phone business to FIH Mobile Ltd. and HMD Global, Oy press release on May 18, 2016:

Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO.

That last statement was not enough for me at that time, just 3 weeks ago as I had a truly shocking experience with upgrading my wife’s Lumia 640 XL to the Windows 10 Mobile version which had been released for that type of earlier Lumia phones last March. The software was so much buggy that I had’seen in my life any time before. I’d got so much angry that immediately bought an Android based Samsung Galaxy J5 for her. However, I became again confident in the future of Window 10 Mobile based phones after her bad experience with that Android software in terms of functionality (e.g. too many steps needed for some vital functions vs. that needed on Lumia) and the success of restoring the earlier 8.5 release on the 640 XL.

Several other videos which appeared on the same HP Business YouTube channel a little earlier gave me the final assurance:

May 27, 2016: HP Elite x3 turned heads at Mobile World Congress 2016

http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 -HP Elite x3 made a powerful first impression at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, winning 24 awards and positive reviews from industry experts. Meet the new HP Elite x3 the one device that’s every device.

June 2, 2016Reinventing mobility: Dion Weisler 

http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 -Dion Weisler President and Chief Executive Officer for HP Inc. introduces to the revolution of mobility. Meet the new HP Elite x3 pioneer in the 3-in-1 category; the next generation of computing, designed specifically for business.

June 2, 2016The new HP Elite x3: Michael Park

http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3Michael Park, Vice President for Commercial Mobility & Software division at HP Inc., introduces the new HP Elite x3, pioneer in the 3-in-1 category that will transform business mobility.

June 2, 2016HP Elite x3 and Qualcomm: Steve Mollenkopf

http://www.hp.com/go/elitex3 -Steve Mollenkopf, Chief Executive Officer of Qualcomm Incorporated, presents the power of Snapdragon 820 processor in HP Elite x3, as part of the recent collaboration with HP. Meet the new HP Elite x3, pioneer in the 3-in-1 category; the next generation of computing, designed specifically for business.


Now a brief retrospective for the start:

From the full text of Q&A part of the Transcript of Microsoft Nokia Transaction Conference Call: Steve Ballmer, Stephen Elop, Brad Smith, Terry Myerson, Amy Hood; September 3, 2013 [Microsoft, Sept 3, 2013]

OPERATOR: Walter Pritchard, Citigroup, your line is open.
WALTER PRITCHARD: Great. Thanks for taking the question. Steve Ballmer, on the tablet side, obviously, we could say many of the same things as you’ve put into this slide deck as rationale for doing an acquisition on the phone side as we could say about the tablet side including picking up more gross margin.

I’m wondering how this transaction impacts the strategy going forward in tablets and whether or not you need to, in a sense, double down further on first-party hardware in the tablet market. And then just have one follow up.

STEVE BALLMER: Okay. Terry, do you want to talk a little bit about that? That would be great.

TERRY MYERSON: Well, phones and tablets are definitely a continuum. You know, we see the phone products growing up, the screen sizes and the user experience we have on the phones. We’ve now made that available in our Windows tablets, our application platform spans from phone to tablet. And I think it’s fair to say that our customers are expecting us to offer great tablets that look and feel and act in every way like our phones. We’ll be pursuing a strategy along those lines.

More information: Microsoft answers to the questions about Nokia devices and services acquisition: tablets, Windows downscaling, reorg effects, Windows Phone OEMs, cost rationalization, ‘One Microsoft’ empowerment, and supporting developers for an aggressive growth in market share ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, September 4, 2013

From the Microsoft Q4 2015 Earning Call Transcript by CEO Satya Nadella on July 21, 2015:

I am thrilled we are just days away from the start of Windows 10. It’s the first step towards our goal of 1 billion Windows 10 active devices in the fiscal year 2018. Our aspiration with Windows 10 is to move people from meeting to choosing to loving Windows. Based on feedback from more than 5 million people who have been using Windows 10, we believe people will love the familiarity of Windows 10 and the innovation. It’s safe, secure, and always up to date. Windows 10 is more personal and more productive with Cortana, Office, universal apps, and Continuum. And Windows 10 will deliver innovative new experiences like Inking on Microsoft Edge and gaming across Xbox and PCs, and also opens up entirely new device categories such as Hololens.

From Windows 10 available in 190 countries as a free upgrade Microsoft news release on July 28, 2015:

Windows 10 is more personal and productive, with voice, pen and gesture inputs for natural interaction with PCs. It’s designed to work with Office and Skype and allows you to switch between apps and stay organized with Snap and Task View. Windows 10 offers many innovative experiences and devices, including the following:

  • Cortana, the personal digital assistant, makes it easy to find the right information at the right time.
  • New Microsoft Edge browser lets people quickly browse, read, and mark up and share the Web.
  • The integrated Xbox app delivers the Xbox experience to Windows 10, bringing together friends, games and accomplishments across Xbox One and Windows 10 devices.
  • Continuum optimizes apps and experiences beautifully across touch and desktop modes.
  • Built-in apps including Photos; Maps; Microsoft’s new music app, Groove; and Movies & TV offer entertainment and productivity options. With OneDrive, files can be easily shared and kept up-to-date across all devices.
  • A Microsoft Phone Companion app enables iPhones, Android or Windows phones to work seamlessly with Windows 10 devices.
  • The all new Office Mobile apps for Windows 10 tablets are available today in the Windows Store.4 Built for work on-the-go, the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps offer a consistent, touch-first experience for small tablets. For digital note-taking needs, the full-featured OneNote app comes pre-installed with Windows 10. The upcoming release of the Office desktop apps (Office 2016) will offer the richest feature set for professional content creation. Designed for the precision of a keyboard and mouse, these apps will be optimized for large-screen PCs, laptops and 2-in-1 devices such as the Surface Pro.

More information around the above 2 excerpts:
Windows 10 is here to help regain Microsoft’s leading position in ICT ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 31, 2015

From 2015 Annual Report>The ambitions that drive us on July 31, 2015:

Create more personal computing

Windows 10 is the cornerstone of our ambition to usher in an era of more personal computing. We see the launch of Windows 10 in July 2015 as a critical, transformative moment for the Company because we will move from an operating system that runs on a PC to a service that can power the full spectrum of devices in our customers’ lives. We developed Windows 10 not only to be familiar to our users, but more safe and secure, and always up-to-date. We believe Windows 10 is more personal and productive, working seamlessly with functionality such as Cortana, Office, Continuum, and universal applications. We designed Windows 10 to foster innovation – from us, our partners and developers – through experiences such as our new browser Microsoft Edge, across the range of existing devices, and into entirely new device categories.

Our future opportunity

There are several distinct areas of technology that we aim to drive forward. Our goal is to lead the industry in these areas over the long-term, which we expect will translate to sustained growth. We are investing significant resources in:

  • Delivering new productivity, entertainment, and business processes to improve how people communicate, collaborate, learn, work, play, and interact with one another.
  • Establishing the Windows platform across the PC, tablet, phone, server, other devices, and the cloud to drive a thriving ecosystem of developers,unify the cross-device user experience, and increase agility when bringing new advances to market.
  • Building and running cloud-based services in ways that unleash new experiences and opportunities for businesses and individuals.
  • Developing new devices that have increasingly natural ways to interact with them, including speech, pen, gesture, and augmented reality holograms.
  • Applying machine learning to make technology more intuitive and able to act on our behalf, instead of at our command.

January 14, 2016Continuum for Phones: Making the Phone Work Like a PC by  / Principal Program Manager Lead

Imagine having a phone that works like a PC. Continuum for Phones makes this a reality, enabling Windows customers to get things done like never before.

Check out the ways this capability comes alive. You’ll be able to travel and leave your laptop at home, knowing you’re still equipped to complete your most common tasks. Walk into a meeting with just your smartphone – you’re fully equipped for seamlessly projecting PowerPoint presentations to a larger screen. Or take a seat in a business center where you plug your phone into a monitor and keyboard – you’ve instantly gained PC-like productivity using Office apps and the Microsoft Edge browser.

Continuum for Phones - Making the Phone Work Like a PC -- January 14, 2016

How it all started

The road to Continuum began three years ago with a simple observation: we take our phones everywhere, we depend on them, and we feel lost without them. Yet, when the time comes to do “real work,” we reach for a laptop or desktop PC. So we end up carrying our phones plus our laptops, or we wait until we are at our desks to do the heavy lifting.

The thing is, today’s phones have more than enough processing power to handle our most common tasks and activities. We knew this was especially true in emerging markets where people rely only on their mobile phones to get online.  So — with these thoughts top of mind — we set out on our mission to help people get real work done with just their phone.

Who are we? We are the small team of people who built Continuum for Phones with a passion to change the future of personal productivity.

What people want

We started by talking to customers to understand what they needed. We spoke to people around the globe – from Chicago to Shanghai – and found that most people wanted the same thing: a phone that did more. Here are the main insights from the research:

  • “My most important device”: people universally describe their smartphone as the center of their connected life.
  • Connect to a bigger screen: people rely on their laptops and desktops because their phone lacks a large screen, keyboard and mouse. They want to easily connect to larger screens for both work and entertainment.
  • Tech-savvy people expect more: as the processing power of phones has risen, so has the expectations of the tech-savvy.
  • Many people around the world don’t have PCs: because they can’t afford a PC, people have a TV and a phone and that’s it. So any computing work gets done on their phone.

We realized that people embraced the idea of having a phone that could work like a PC.

Getting it done

So we started building Continuum, and we soon realized that we faced many technical and design challenges.

For example, there were two paradigms for connecting to a second screen: (1) mirroring your phone’s screen to a larger screen or (2) connecting your PC to multiple monitors. We needed to create a new design paradigm with two independent experiences – one on the phone and a separate one on the second screen. This was important because customers wanted to continue to use their phone as a phone, even while having a PC-like experience on the second screen. We spent months iterating with paper and software prototypes to arrive at an experience that was easy to understand and use.

The technical hurdles were just as big. For example, we had to build support for keyboard and mouse into Windows 10 Mobile. And many substantial architecture changes were needed in Windows to make Continuum work.

At the //Build conference in April 2015, we did our first live demo, and at the Windows 10 launch in July, we showed the full power of a phone running Office* apps on a second screen. The response – which exceeded our expectations — motivated us to keep going, working relentlessly with hundreds of colleagues around the world to deliver an integrated solution that required major changes to Windows, new capabilities in the phones, and creation of docks such as the Microsoft Display Dock.

Announcing Continuum

So, with the debut of Continuum for Phones, you really can have something new in your pocket: a smartphone that has the power and ability to work like a PC. In the words of our CEO Satya Nadella: “This is the beginning of how we are going to change what the form and function of a phone is.”

Right now, this means that you can carry a smartphone – like the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL – and use a small dock or wireless dongle to connect it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor for a familiar PC-like experience. Run Office* apps, browse the Web, edit photos, write email, and much more.

Continuum for Phones No 2 - Making the Phone Work Like a PC -- January 14, 2016

While you’re working on the larger screen, you won’t lose your phone’s unique abilities. Continuum multi-tasks flawlessly so you can keep using your phone as a phone for calls, emails, texts, or Candy Crush. Or if you don’t have a mouse, you can use your phone as the trackpad for the apps on the larger screen.

If you share my enthusiasm for Continuum for Phones, please check out all the details, including multiple usage scenarios, at windows.com.

* App experience may vary. Office 365 subscription required for some Office features.

June 4, 2016 snapshot: New features coming soon to Windows 10 Anniversary Update

This year’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update will have great new innovative features including:1

The pen just got even mightier.

Windows 10 Anniversary Edition with a mightier Ink -- June 4, 2016

Turn thoughts into action with Windows Ink – using the pen, your fingertip, or both at once.2 Pair it with Office apps to effortlessly edit documents. With Windows Ink, you’ll be able to access features like Sticky Notes with a simple click of the pen.3 When you start drawing a figure like a chart or graph, it’ll turn into the real thing right before your eyes. And because Windows Ink stays active when your device is locked, you’ll be able to jot down notes even when you don’t have time to enter a password.

Cortana’s got you covered.

No time to enter your password but need some quick help? No problem — just ask. Cortana4 will now be at your service, even before you login. Whether you want to make a note, play music or set a reminder, Cortana will have you covered.

The secret password is: you.

With Windows Hello, unlocking your PC and devices is as quick as looking or touching.But the new Windows Hello will also let you unlock your PC simply by tapping your Windows Hello enabled phone.6 Beyond the hardware, Windows Hello will also give you instant access to paired apps and protected websites on Microsoft Edge – all while maintaining enterprise-level security. Windows Hello lets you say goodbye to cumbersome passwords.

Got game? We’ll deliver.

Windows 10 Anniversary Edition will deliver DirectX 12 games and Xbox Live features -- June 4, 2016Windows 10 will deliver incredible DirectX 12 games and Xbox Live features that will transform what you expect from PC gaming. Now you can play and connect with gamers across Xbox One and Windows 10 devices. From the best casual games to the next generation of PC releases, you’ll have more ways to play new games optimized for Windows.7

And that’s not all: Microsoft Studios is bringing a full portfolio of new games to Windows 10, including the forthcoming Forza Motorsport 6: Apex, which will be freefor Windows 10 users.

Ongoing progress reports (only two latest ones are summarised here):

June 1, 2016Announcing Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 14356

  • Cortana Improvements:
    – Get notifications from your phone to your PC
    – Send a photo from your phone to PC
    – New listening animation

May 26, 2016Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14352

  • Cortana Improvements:
    – Cortana, Your Personal DJ
    – Set a timer
  • Windows Ink:
    – Updated Sticky Notes
    – Compass on the ruler
    – General improvements to the Windows Ink experience
  • Other items of note:
    – Windows Game bar improved with full-screen support
    – Feedback Hub will now show Microsoft responses
    – Updated File Explorer icon
    – Deploying Windows Enterprise edition gets easier
    – Limited Period Scanning
    – Introducing Hyper-V Containers (ADDED 5/31)

For more information see: https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/tag/windows-insider-program/

Particularly relevant recent information from A change in leadership for the Windows Insider Program on June 1, 2016 by  / Corporate Vice President, Engineering Systems Team:

Since we first started the Windows Insider Program back in September 2014, Windows Insiders have helped us ship Windows 10 to over 300 million devices. We have released 35 PC builds and 22 Mobile builds to Insiders to date. This is a huge change from Windows 7 and Windows 8 which only had 2 and 3 public pre-release builds respectively. Windows Insiders have been more directly plugged in to our engineering processes for Windows than ever before, including participating in our first ever public Bug Bash this year. Windows Insiders contribute problem reports and suggestions which help us shape the platform, and are currently helping us get ready to ship the next major update to Windows 10 this summer – the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. This is just the beginning of the journey we’re on though. We really appreciate having such an amazing connection with our customers, and want Windows Insiders to continue to help shape Windows releases for years to come. With that in mind, I want to talk about a change to the Windows Insider Program going forward.

When I was introduced as leader of the Windows Insider Program over 18 months ago, I was responsible for the team that built our feedback and flighting systems for Windows. It made sense for me to be on the front lines talking with customers of the systems that my team was building to get Insider Preview Builds out and hear the feedback rolling in. In August of last year, I changed jobs to work on the Engineering Systems Team in WDG. In this role, I am responsible for the tools our engineers use to build Windows, including our planning and work management systems, source code management, build infrastructure, and test automation systems. …

Meet Dona Sarkar

I have worked with Dona for many years and think she is the perfect person to guide the Windows Insider Program forward. Her technical expertise, passion for customers, and commitment to listening to feedback is unmatched. …

You can follow Dona here on Twitter. Please welcome her as the new leader of the Windows Insider Program!

Get to know more about Dona here from Microsoft Stories!


Finally more as well as historic information on this subject which I’d originally put together on October 13, 2015 and intended to publish under the title:

Windows 10 enhancements for tablets and phones to achieve a powerful PC experience

These are significant capabilities with which (although not only with these but with quite a number of other innovations) Microsoft—first time in its history—was able to beat Apple in its own game. You couldn’t believe it?

First watch these two very short videos from CNNMoney presenting Microsoft’s “ultimate laptop” in terms of its device innovations:
Hands-on with Microsoft Surface Book


See Microsoft’s reversible laptop in :60

Then follow with the below information which is presenting one the most important Windows 10 software innovations, called Continuum (Continuum tablet mode for touch-capable devices) which makes that “ultimate laptop” an “ultimate tablet” as well.

Then get acquainted with a similar Windows 10 software innovation, called Continuum for Phones (it is rather for Mobile devices) which is allowing an entry level tablet or a premium phone to become a true PC with an extension to an external large size display after docking to it.

Note that while the “ultimate laptop/ultimate tablet” hybrid is for the premium client market, the second one is targeted at the entry level emerging markets as well. In that scenario Microsoft is hoping to capitalize on the availability of extremely low-cost tablets which could be enhanced to a PC-like experience with Continuum for Phones. When coupled with a similarly low-priced Windows 10 phone the emerging market user will have 2 devices for around $200 and a consistent Windows 10 experience easily dockable to a large size display, and with that easily achieving a true PC experience.

Suggested other information:
– July 30, 2015: Docking – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center
– March 28, 2015: Display – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center
– March 28, 2015: Graphics – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center

Continuum tablet mode for touch-capable devices

The Continuum feature of Windows 10 desktop edition adapts between tablet and PC modes when docking/undocking. More generally: “Continuum is available on all Windows 10 desktop editions by manually turning “tablet mode” on and off through the Action Center. Tablets and 2-in-1s with GPIO indicators or those that have a laptop and slate indicator will be able to be configured to enter ‘tablet mode’ automatically.” Source: Windows 10 Specifications, Microsoft, June 1, 2015

May 4, 2015Continuum For Windows 10 PCs and Tablets At Microsoft Ignite Event 2015 

June 12, 2015Continuum Overview – Windows 10 hardware dev, Microsoft Hardware Dev Center

Continuum is a new, adaptive user experience offered in Windows 10 that optimizes the look and behavior of apps and the Windows shell for the physical form factor and customer’s usage preferences. This document describes how to implement Continuum on 2-in-1 devices and tablets, specifically how to switch in and out of “tablet mode.”

Tablet Mode is a feature that switches your device experience from tablet mode to desktop mode and back. The primary way for a user to enter and exit “tablet mode” is manually through the Action Center. In addition, OEMs can report hardware transitions (for example, transformation of 2-in-1 device from clamshell to tablet and vice versa), enabling automatic switching between the two modes. However, a key promise of Continuum is that the user remains in control of their experience at all times, so these hardware transitions are surfaced through a toast prompt that must be confirmed by the user. The users also has the option to set the default response.

Target Devices

Dn917883.Continuum_tablet(en-us,VS.85).png Dn917883.Continuum_Detachables(en-us,VS.85).png Dn917883.Continuum_Convertibles(en-us,VS.85).png
Tablets Detachables Convertibles
Pure tablets and devices that can dock to external monitor + keyboard + mouse. Tablet-like devices with custom designed detachable keyboards. Laptop-like devices with keyboards that fold or swivel away.

When the device switches to tablet mode, the following occur:

  • Start resizes across the entire screen, providing an immersive experience.
  • The title bars of Store apps auto-hide to remove unnecessary chrome and let content shine through.
  • Store apps and Win32 apps can optimize their layout to be touch-first when in Tablet Mode.
  • The user can close apps, even Win32 apps, by swiping down from the top edge.
  • The user can snap up to two apps side-by-side, including Win32 apps, and easily resize them simultaneously with their finger.
  • The taskbar transforms into a navigation and status bar that’s more appropriate for tablets.
  • The touch keyboard can be auto-invoked.

Of course, even in “tablet mode”, users can enjoy Windows 10 features such as Snap Assist, Task View and Action Center. On touch-enabled devices, customers have access to touch-friendly invocations for those features: they can swipe in from the left edge to bring up Task View, or swipe in from the right edge to bring up Action Center.

With “tablet mode”, Continuum gives customers the flexibility to use their device in a way that is most comfortable for them. For example, a customer might want to use their 8” tablet in “tablet mode” exclusively until they dock it to an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard. At that point the customer will exit “tablet mode” and use all their apps as traditional windows on the desktop—the same way they have in previous versions of Windows. Similarly, a user of a convertible 2-in-1 device might want enter and exit “tablet mode” as they use their device throughout the day (for example, commuting on a bus, sitting at a desk in their office), using signals from the hardware to suggest appropriate transition moments.

Imagine the overall smoothness of that combined laptop and tablet experience on the brand new Microsoft Surface Book announced just on October 6, 2015. Out of a plethora of videos reporting on that new device with quite an entusiasm I’ve selected the one which—in my view—just right with its judgement and very concise at the same time.

Surface Book hands-on: Microsoft’s first laptop is simply amazing by Mark Hachman, senior editor of the PCWorld: “No one expected the Surface Book, and what they got was a true flagship for the Windows ecosystem.

And if you don’t need the leading edge ultrabook performance provided by the clever, “more power (GPU, longer batery life …) is in the detachable keyboard part” design of the Surface Book, then the 4th generation Surface Pro 4 may be more than sufficient for you to provide a state-of-the-art productivity work capability, including the best of the pen computing available on the market (which is also on the Surface Book, you could notice the same pen in the previous video), in addition to a new type cover for the tablet part. Here again the same source has been the best to present all that.

Surface Pro 4: Hands on with Microsoft’s category-creating productivity tablet by Mark Hachman, senior editor of the PCWorld 

Continuum for phones

With Continuum for phones in Windows 10 Mobile edition, connecting a phone enables a screen to become like a PC. Additionally: “Continuum for phones limited to select premium phones at launch. External monitor must support HDMI input. Continuum-compatible accessories sold separately. App availability and experience varies by device and market. Office 365 subscription required for some features.” Source: Windows 10 Specifications, Microsoft, June 1, 2015

April 29, 2015: As part of the Universal Windows Platform Microsoft shared at Build 2015 how apps can scale using Continuum for phones, enabling people to use their phones like PCs for productivity or entertainment. With that your phone app can start using a full-sized monitor, mouse, and keyboard, giving you even more mileage from your universal app’s shared code and UI.

April 29, 2015Windows Continuum for Phones See how new Windows Continuum functionality for mobile phones tailors the app experience across devices to transform a phone into a full-powered PC, TV or a Smart TV 

May 4, 2015Continuum For Windows 10 For Phones At Microsoft Ignite Event 2015

IC830854[1]7″ Tablet
[Sept 17, 2015]
IC830852[1]Premium Phone
[March 29, 2015]
Key Features
Low cost
Cortana
Continuum for Phones
Cortana
Windows Hello
Continuum for Phones
Operating System
Windows 10 Mobile
Windows 10 Mobile
Recommended Components
CPU
Supported entry SoC
Supported premium SoC
RAM/Storage
1-2GB/8-32GB eMMC w/SD card
2-4GB / 32-64GB with SD slot
Display
7” 480×800 or 1280×720 w/touch
4.5-5.5”+ / FHD-WQHD
Dimensions
<9mm & <.36kg
<7.5mm & <160g
Battery
10+ hours
2500+ mAh ( 1 day active use)
Connectivity
802.11ac+, 1 micro USB 2.0, mini HDMI, BT, LTE option
LTE/Cat 4+ /802.11b/g/n/ac 2×2, USB, 3.5mm jack, BT LE, NFC
Audio/Video/ Camera+
Front camera, speakers, headphones
20MP with OIS/Flash; 5MP FFC

Oct 6, 2015Windows 10 Continuum for Phones demo on Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL by Bryan Roper, Microsoft marketing manager, at Microsoft Windows 10 Devices Event 2015 

 

The Next Revolution: 3D XPoint™ non-volatile memories with speed and performance close to DRAM

UPDATE

June 20, 2017, Intel Online: How fast is Intel® Optane™ Memory? Performance results
Comparing two identical NUCs – one with Intel® Optane™ memory.

28%

14x

2x

Overall system performance is
up to 28% faster6 7 8
Increase system performance for hard drive access
by up to 14x faster 9 7 8
Improve everyday task responsiveness
by 2x 6 7 8

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