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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.

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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 

 

DataStax: a fully distributed and highly secure transactional database platform that is “always on”

When an open-source database written in Java that runs primarily in production on Linux becomes THE solution for the cloud platform from Microsoft (i.e. Azure) in the fully distributed, highly secure and “always on” transactional database space then we should take a special note of that. This is the case of DataStax:

July 15, 2015: Building the intelligent cloud Scott Guthrie’s keynote on the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015, the DataStax related segment in 7 minutes only 

Transcript:

SCOTT GUTHRIE, EVP of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise:  What I’d like to do is invite three different partners now on stage, one an ISV, one an SI, and one a managed service provider to talk about how they’re taking advantage of our cloud offerings to accelerate their businesses and make their customers even more successful.

First, and I think, you know, being able to take advantage of all of these different capabilities that we now offer.

Now, the first partner I want to bring on stage is DataStax.  DataStax delivers an enterprise-grade NoSQL offering based on Apache Cassandra.  And they enable customers to build solutions that can scale across literally thousands of servers, which is perfect for a hyper-scale cloud environment.

And one of the customers that they’re working with is First American, who are deploying a solution on Microsoft Azure to provide richer insurance and settlement services to their customers.

What I’d like to do is invite Billy Bosworth, the CEO of DataStax, on stage to join me to talk about the partnership that we’ve had and how some of the great solutions that we’re building together.  Here’s Billy.  (Applause.)

Well, thanks for joining me, Billy.  And it’s great to have you here.

BILLY BOSWORTH, CEO of DataStax:  Thank you.  It’s a real privilege to be here today.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  So tell us a little bit about DataStax and the technology you guys build.

BILLY BOSWORTH:  Sure.  At DataStax, we deliver Apache Cassandra in a database platform that is really purpose-built for the new performance and availability demands that are being generated by today’s Web, mobile and IOT applications.

With DataStax Enterprise, we give our customers a fully distributed and highly secure transactional database platform.

Now, that probably sounds like a lot of other database vendors out there as well.  But, Scott, we have something that’s really different and really important to us and our customers, and that’s the notion of being always on.  And when you talk about “always on” and transactional databases, things can get pretty complicated pretty fast, as you well know.

The reason for that is in an always-on world, the datacenter itself becomes a single point of failure.  And that means you have to build an architecture that is going to be comprehensive and include multiple datacenters.  That’s tough enough with almost any other piece of the software stack.  But for transactional databases, that is really problematic.

Fortunately, we have a masterless architecture in Apache Cassandra that allows us to have DataStax enterprise scale in a single datacenter or across multiple datacenters, and yet at the same time remain operationally simple.  So that’s really the core of what we do.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Is the always-on angle the key differentiator in terms of the customer fit with Azure?

BILLY BOSWORTH:  So if you think about deployment to multiple datacenters, especially and including Azure, it creates an immediate benefit.  Going back to your hybrid clouds comment, we see a lot of our customers that begin their journey on premises.  So they take their local datacenter, they install DataStax Enterprise, it’s an active database up and running.  And then they extend that database into Azure.

Now, when I say that, I don’t mean they do so for disaster recovery or failover, it is active everywhere.  So it is taking full read-write requests on premises and in Azure at the same time.

So if you lose connectivity to your physical datacenter, then the Azure active nodes simply take over.  And that’s great, and that solves the always-on problem.

But that’s not the only thing that Azure helps to solve.  Our applications, because of their nature, tend to drive incredibly high throughput.  So for us, hundreds of millions or even tens and hundreds of billions of transactions a day is actually quite common.

You guys are pretty good, Scott, but I don’t think you’ve changed the laws of physics yet.  And so the way that you get that kind of throughput with unbelievable performance demands, because our customers demand millisecond and microsecond response times, is you push the data closer to the end points.  You geographically distribute it.

Now, what our customers are realizing is they can try and build 19 datacenters across the world, which I’m sure was really cheap and easy to do, or they can just look at what you’ve already done and turn to a partnership like ours to say, “Help us understand how we do this with Azure.”

So not only do you get the always-on benefit, which is critical, but there’s also a very important performance element to this type of architecture as well.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Can you tell us a little bit about the work you did with First American on Azure?

BILLY BOSWORTH:  Yeah.  First American is a leading name in the title insurance and settlement services businesses.  In fact, they manage more titles on more properties than anybody in the world.

Every title comes with an associated set of metadata.  And that metadata becomes very important in the new way that they want to do business because each element of that needs to be transacted, searched, and done in real-time analysis to provide better information back to the customer in real time.

And so for that on the database side, because of the type of data and because of the scale, they needed something like DataStax Enterprise, which we’ve delivered.  But they didn’t want to fight all those battles of the architecture that we discussed on their own, and that’s where they turned to our partnership to incorporate Microsoft Azure as the infrastructure with DataStax Enterprise running on top.

And this is one of many engagements that you know we have going on in the field that are really, really exciting and indicative of the way customers are thinking about transforming their business.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  So what’s it like working with Microsoft as a partner?

BILLY BOSWORTH:  I tell you, it’s unbelievable.  Or, maybe put differently, highly improbable that you and I are on stage together.  I want you guys to think about this.  Here’s the type of company we are.  We’re an open-source database written in Java that runs primarily in production on Linux.

Now, Scott, Microsoft has a couple of pretty good databases, of which I’m very familiar from my past, and open source and Java and Linux haven’t always been synonymous with Microsoft, right?

So I would say the odds of us being on stage were almost none.  But over the past year or two, the way that you guys have opened up your aperture to include technologies like ours — and I don’t just say “include.”  His team has embraced us in a way that is truly incredible.  For a company the size of Microsoft to make us feel the way we do is just remarkable given the fact that none of our technologies have been something that Microsoft has traditionally said is part of their family.

So I want to thank you and your team for all the work you’ve done.  It’s been a great experience, but we are architecting systems that are going to drive businesses for the coming decades.  And that is super exciting to have a partner like you engaged with us.

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Fantastic.  Well, thank you so much for joining us on stage.

BILLY BOSWORTH:  Thanks, Scott.  (Applause.)

The typical data framework capabilities of DataStax in all respects is best understood via the the following webinar which presents Apache Spark as well as the part of the complete data platform solution:
– Apache Cassandra is the leading distributed database in use at thousands of sites with the world’s most demanding scalability and availability requirements.
Apache Spark is a distributed data analytics computing framework that has gained a lot of traction in processing large amounts of data in an efficient and user-friendly manner.
The joining of both provides a powerful combination of real-time data collection with analytics.
After a brief overview of Cassandra and Spark, (Cassandra till 16:39, Spark till 19:25) this class will dive into various aspects of the integration (from 19:26).
August 19, 2015: Big Data Analytics with Cassandra and Spark by Brian Hess, Senior Product Manager of Analytics, DataStax

September 23, 2015: DataStax Announces Strategic Collaboration with Microsoft, company press release

  • DataStax delivers a leading fully-distributed database for public and private cloud deployments
  • DataStax Enterprise on Microsoft Azure enables developers to develop, deploy and monitor enterprise-ready IoT, Web and mobile applications spanning public and private clouds
  • Scott Guthrie, EVP Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft, to co-deliver Cassandra Summit 2015 keynote

SANTA CLARA, CA – September 23, 2015 – (Cassandra Summit 2015) DataStax, the company that delivers Apache Cassandra™ to the enterprise, today announced a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to deliver Internet of Things (IoT), Web and mobile applications in public, private or hybrid cloud environments. With DataStax Enterprise (DSE), a leading fully-distributed database platform, available on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, enterprises can quickly build high-performance applications that can massively scale and remain operationally simple across public and private clouds, with ease and at lightning speed.

Click to Tweet: #DataStax Announces Strategic Collaboration with @Microsoft at #CassandraSummit bit.ly/1V8KY4D

PERSPECTIVES ON THE NEWS

“At Microsoft we’re focused on enabling customers to run their businesses more productively and successfully,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft. “As more organizations build their critical business applications in the cloud, DataStax has proved to be a natural  Azure partner through their ability to enable enterprises to build solutions that can scale across thousands of servers which is necessary in today’s hyper-scale cloud environment.”

“We are witnessing an increased adoption of DataStax Enterprise deployments in hybrid cloud environments, so closely aligning with Microsoft benefits any organization looking to quickly and easily build high-performance IoT, Web and mobile apps,” said Billy Bosworth, CEO, DataStax. “Working with a world-class organization like Microsoft has been an incredible experience and we look forward to continuing to work together to meet the needs of enterprises looking to successfully transition their business to the cloud.”

“As a leader in providing information and insight in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape, we knew it was critical to transform our back-end business processes to address scale and flexibility” said Graham Lammers, Director, IHS. “With DataStax Enterprise on Azure we are now able to create a next generation big data application to support the decision-making process of our customers across the globe.”

BUILD SIMPLE, SCALABLE AND ALWAY-ON APPS IN RECORD SPEED

To address the ever-increasing demands of modern businesses transitioning from on-premise to hybrid cloud environments, the DataStax Enterprise on Azure on-demand cloud database solution provides enterprises with both development and production ready Bring Your Own License (BYOL) DSE clusters that can be launched in minutes on theMicrosoft Azure Marketplace using Azure Resource Management (ARM) Templates. This enables the building of high-performance IoT, Web and mobile applications that can predictably scale across global Azure data centers with ease and at remarkable speed. Additional benefits include:

  • Hybrid Deployment: Easily move DSE workloads between data centers, service providers and Azure, and build hybrid applications that leverage resources across all three.
  • Simplicity: Easily manage, develop, deploy and monitor database clusters by eliminating data management complexities.
  • Scalability: Quickly replicate online applications globally across multiple data centers into the cloud/hybrid cloud environment.
  • Continuous Availability: DSE’s peer-to-peer architecture offers no single point of failure. DSE also provides maximum flexibility to distribute data where it’s needed most by replicating data across multiple data centers, the cloud and mixed cloud/on-premise environments.

MICROSOFT ENTERPRISE CLOUD ALLIANCE & FAST START PROGRAM

DataStax also announced it has joined Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Alliance, a collaboration that reinforces DataStax’scommitment to provide the best set of on-premise, hosted and public cloud database solutions in the industry. The goal of Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Alliance partner program is to create, nurture and grow a strong partner ecosystem across a broad set of Enterprise Cloud Products delivering the best on-premise, hosted and Public Cloud solutions in the industry. Through this alliance, DataStax and Microsoft are working together to create enhanced enterprise-grade offerings for the Azure Marketplace that reduce the complexities of deployment and provisioning through automated ARM scripting capabilities.

Additionally, as a member of Microsoft Azure’s Fast Start program, created to help users quickly deploy new cloud workloads, DataStax users receive immediate access to the DataStax Enterprise Sandbox on Azure for a hands-on experience testing out DSE on Azure capabilities. DataStax Enterprise Sandbox on Azure can be found here.

Cassandra Summit 2015, the world’s largest gathering of Cassandra users, is taking place this week and Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth, and Apache Cassandra Project Chair and DataStax Co-founder and CTO Jonathan Ellis, will deliver the conference keynote at 10 a.m. PT on Wednesday, September 23. The keynote can be viewed at DataStax.com.

ABOUT DATASTAX

DataStax delivers Apache Cassandra™ in a database platform purpose-built for the performance and availability demands for IoT, Web and mobile applications. This gives enterprises a secure, always-on database technology that remains operationally simple when scaling in a single datacenter or across multiple datacenters and clouds.

With more than 500 customers in over 50 countries, DataStax is the database technology of choice for the world’s most innovative companies, such as Netflix, Safeway, ING, Adobe, Intuit and eBay. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., DataStax is backed by industry-leading investors including Comcast Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Meritech Capital, Premji Invest and Scale Venture Partners. For more information, visit DataStax.com or follow us @DataStax.

September 30, 2014: Why Datastax’s increasing presence threatens Oracle’s database by Anne Shields at Market Realist 

Must know: An in-depth review of Oracle’s 1Q15 earnings (Part 9 of 12)

(Continued from Part 8)

Datastax databases are built on open-source technologies

Datastax is a California-based database management company. It offers an enterprise-grade NoSQL database that seamlessly and securely integrates real-time data with Apache Cassandra. Databases built on Apache Cassandra offer more flexibility than traditional databases. Even in case of calamities and uncertainties, like floods and earthquakes, data is available due to its replication at other data centers. NoSQL and Cassandra are open-source software.

Cassandra database was developed by Facebook (FB) to handle its enormous volumes of data. The technology behind Cassandra was developed by Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOGL). Oracle’s MySQL (ORCL), Microsoft’s SQL Server (MSFT), and IBM’s DB2 (IBM) are the traditional databases present in the market .

datastax[1]The above chart shows how NoSQL databases, NewSQL databases, and Data grid/cache products fit into the wider data management landscape.

Huge amounts of funds raised in the open-source technology database space

Datastax raised $106 million in September 2014 to expand its database operations. MongoDB Inc. and Couchbase Inc.—both open-source NoSQL database developers—raised $231 million and $115 million, respectively, in 2014. According to Market Research Media, a consultancy firm, spending on NoSQL technology in 2013 was less than $1 billion. It’s expected to reach $3.4 billion by 2020. This explains why this segment is attracting such huge investments.

Oracle’s dominance in the database market is uncertain

Oracle claims it’s a market leader in the relational database market, with a revenue share of 48.3%. In 2013, it launched Oracle Database 12C. According to Oracle, “Oracle Database 12c introduces a new multitenant architecture that simplifies the process of consolidating databases onto the cloud; enabling customers to manage many databases as one — without changing their applications.” To know in detail about Database 12c, please click here .

In July 2013, DataStax announced that dozens of companies have migrated from Oracle databases to DataStax databases. Customers cited scalability, disaster avoidance, and cost savings as the reasons for shifting databases. Datastax databases’ rising popularity jeopardizes Oracle’s dominant position in the database market.

Continue to Part 10

Browse this series on Market Realist:

September 24, 2014: Building a better experience for Azure and DataStax customers by Matt Rollender, VP Cloud Strategy, DataStax, Inc. on Microsoft Azure blog

Cassandra Summit is in high gear this week in Santa Clara, CA, representing the largest NoSQL event of its kind! This is the largest Cassandra Summit to date. With more than 7,000 attendees (both onsite and virtual), this is the first time the Summit is a three-day event with over 135 speaking sessions. This is also the first time DataStax will debut a formalized Apache Cassandra™ training and certification program in conjunction with O’Reilly Media. All incredibly exciting milestones!

We are excited to share another milestone. Yesterday, we announced our formal strategic collaboration with Microsoft. Dedicated DataStax and Microsoft teams have been collaborating closely behind the scenes for more than a year on product integration, QA testing, platform optimization, automated provisioning, and characterization of DataStax Enterprise (DSE) on Azure, and more to ensure product validation and a great customer experience for users of DataStax Enterprise on the Azure cloud. There is strong coordination across the two organizations – very close executive, field, and technical alignment – all critical components for a strong partnership.

This partnership is driven and shaped by our joint customers. Our customers oftentimes begin their journey with on-premise deployments of our database technology and then have a requirement to move to the cloud – Microsoft is a fantastic partner to help provide the flexibility of a true hybrid environment along with the ability to migrate to and scale applications in the cloud. Additionally, Microsoft has significant breadth regarding their data centers – customers can deploy in numerous Azure data centers around the globe, in order to be ‘closer’ to their end users. This is highly complementary to DataStax Enterprise software as we are a peer-to-peer distributed database and our customers need to be close to their end users with their always-on, always available enterprise applications.

To highlight a couple of joint customers and use cases we have First American Title and IHS, Inc. First American is a leading provider of title insurance and settlement services with revenue over $5B.  They ingest and store the largest number (billions) of real estate property records in the industry. Accessing, searching and analyzing large data-sets to get relevant details quickly is the new way they want to do business – to provide better information back to their customers in real-time and allow end users to easily search through the property records on-line. They chose DSE and Azure because of the large data requirements and because of the need to continue to scale the application.

A second great customer and use case is IHS, Inc., a $2B revenue-company that provides information and analysis to support the decision-making process of businesses and governments. This is a transformational project for IHS as they are building out an ‘internet age’ parts catalog – it’s a next generation big data application, using NoSQL, non-relational technology and they want to deploy in the cloud to bring the application to market faster.

As you can see, we are enabling enterprises to engage their customer like never before with their always on, highly available and distributed applications. Stay tuned for more as we move forward together in the coming months!

For Additional information go to http://www.datastax.com/marketplace-microsoft-azure to try out Datastax Enterprise Sandbox on Azure.

See also DataStax Enterprise Cluster Production on Microsoft Azure Marketplace

September 23, 2015: Making Cassandra Do Azure, But Not Windows by  Co-Editor, Co-Founder, The Next Platform

When Microsoft says that it is embracing Linux as a peer to Windows, it is not kidding. The company has created its own Linux distribution for switches used to build the Azure cloud, and it has embraced Spark in-memory processing and Cassandra as its data store for its first major open source big data project – in this case to help improve the quality of its Office365 user experience. And now, Microsoft is embracing Cassandra, the NoSQL data store originally created by Facebook when it could no longer scale the MySQL relational database to suit its needs, on the Azure public cloud.

Billy Bosworth, CEO at DataStax, the entity that took over steering development of and providing commercial support for Cassandra, tells The Next Platform that the deal with Microsoft has a number of facets, all of which should help boost the adoption of the enterprise-grade version of Cassandra. But the key one is that the Global 2000 customers that DataStax wants to sell support and services to are already quite familiar with both Windows Server in their datacenters and they are looking to burst out to the Azure cloud on a global scale.

“We are seeing a rapidly increasing number of our customers who need hybrid cloud, keeping pieces of our DataStax Enterprise on premise in their own datacenters and they also want to take pieces of that same live transactional data – not replication, but live data – and in the Azure cloud as well,” says Bosworth. “They have some unique capabilities, and one of the major requirements of customers is that even if they use cloud infrastructure, it still has to be distributed by the cloud provider. They can’t just run Cassandra in one availability zone in one region. They have to span data across the globe, and Microsoft has done a tremendous job of investing in its datacenters.”

With the Microsoft agreement, DataStax is now running its wares on the three big clouds, with Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine already certified able to run the production-grade Cassandra. And interestingly enough, Microsoft is supporting the DataStax implementation of Cassandra on top of Linux, not Windows. Bosworth says that while Cassandra can be run on Windows servers, DataStax does not recommend putting DataStax Enterprise (DSE), the commercial release, on Windows. (It does have a few customers who do, nonetheless, and it supports them.) Bosworth adds that DataStax and the Cassandra community have been “working diligently” for the past year to get a Windows port of DSE completed and that there has been “zero pressure” for the Microsoft Azure team to run DSE on anything other than Linux.

It is important to make the distinction between running Cassandra and other elements of DSE on Windows and having optimized drivers for Cassandra for the .NET programming environment for Windows.

“All we are really talking about is the ability to run the back-end Cassandra on Linux or Windows, and to the developer, it is irrelevant on what that back end is running,” explains Bosworth. This takes away some of that friction, and what we find is that on the back end, we just don’t find religious conviction about whether it should run on Windows or Linux, and this is different from five years ago. We sell mostly to enterprises, and we have not had one customer raise their hand and say they can’t use DSE because it does not run on Windows.”

What is more important is the ability to seamless put Cassandra on public clouds and spread transactional data around for performance and resiliency reasons – the same reasons that Facebook created Cassandra for in the first place.

What Is In The Stack, Who Uses It, And How

The DataStax Enterprise distribution does not just include the Apache Cassandra data store, but has an integrated search engine that is API compatible with the open source Solr search engine and in-memory extensions that can speed up data accesses by anywhere from 30X to 100X compared to server clusters using flash SSDs or disk drives. The Cassandra data store can be used to underpin Hadoop, allowing it to be queried by MapReduce, Hive, Pig, and Mahout, and it can also underpin Spark and Spark Streaming as their data stores if customers decide to not go with the Hadoop Distributed File System that is commonly packaged with a Hadoop distribution.

It is hard to say for sure how many organizations are running Cassandra today, but Bosworth reckons that it is on the order of tens of thousands worldwide, based on a number of factors. DataStax does not do any tracking of its DataStax Community edition because it wants a “frictionless download” like many open source projects have. (Developers don’t want software companies to see what tools they are playing with, even though they might love open source code.) DataStax provides free training for Cassandra, however, where it does keep track, and developers are consuming over 10,000 units of this training per month, so that probably indicates that the Cassandra installed base (including tests, prototypes, and production) is in the five figures.

datastax-momentum[1]

DataStax itself has over 500 paying customers – now including Microsoft after its partner tried to build its own Spark-Cassandra cluster using open source code and decided that the supported versions were better thanks to the extra goodies that DataStax puts into its distro. DataStax has 30 of the Fortune 100 using its distribution of Cassandra in one form or another, and it is always for transactional, rather than batch analytic, jobs and in most cases also for distributed data stores that make use of the “eventual consistency” features of Cassandra to replicate data across multiple clusters. The company has another 600 firms participating in its startup program, which gives young companies freebie support on the DSE distro until they hit a certain size and can afford to start kicking some cash into the kitty.

The largest installation of Cassandra is running at Apple, which as we previously reported has over 75,000 nodes, with clusters ranging in size from hundreds to over 1,000 nodes and with a total capacity in the petabytes range. Netflix, which used to employ the open source Cassandra, switched to DSE last May and had over 80 clusters with more than 2,500 nodes supporting various aspects of its video distribution business. In both cases, Cassandra is very likely housing user session state data as well as feeding product or play lists and recommendations or doing faceted search for their online customers.

We are always intrigued to learn how customers are actually deploying tools such as Cassandra in production and how they scale it. Bosworth says that it is not uncommon to run a prototype project on as few as ten nodes, and when the project goes into production, to see it grow to dozens to hundreds of nodes. The midrange DSE clusters range from maybe 500 to 1,000 nodes and there are some that get well over 1,000 nodes for large-scale workloads like those running at Apple.

In general, Cassandra does not, like Hadoop, run on disk-heavy nodes. Remember, the system was designed to support hot transactional data, not to become a lake with a mix of warm and cold data that would be sifted in batch mode as is still done with MapReduce running atop Hadoop.

The typical node configuration has changed as Cassandra has evolved and improved, says Robin Schumacher, vice president of products at DataStax. But before getting into feeds and speeds, Schumacher offered this advice. “There are two golden rules for Cassandra. First, get your data model right, and second, get your storage system right. If you get those two things right, you can do a lot wrong with your configuration or your hardware and Cassandra will still treat you right. Whenever we have to dive in and help someone out, it is because they have just moved over a relational data model or they have hooked their servers up to a NAS or a SAN or something like that, which is absolutely not recommended.”

datastax-table[1]

Only four years ago, because of the limitations in Cassandra (which like Hadoop and many other analytics tools is coded in Java), the rule of thumb was to put no more than 512 GB of disk capacity onto a single node. (It is hard to imagine such small disk capacities these days, with 8 TB and 10 TB disks.) The typical Cassandra node has two processors, with somewhere between 12 and 24 cores, and has between 64 GB and 128 GB of main memory. Customers who want the best performance tend to go with flash SSDs, although you can do all-disk setups, too.

Fast forward to today, and Cassandra can make use of a server node with maybe 5 TB of capacity for a mix of reads and writes, and if you have a write intensive application, then you can push that up to 20 TB. (DataStax has done this in its labs, says Schumacher, without any performance degradation.) Pushing the capacity up is important because it helps reduce server node count for a given amount of storage, which cuts hardware and software licensing and support costs. Incidentally, only a quarter of DSE customers surveyed said they were using spinning disks, but disk drives are fine for certain kinds of log data. SSDs are used for most transactional data, but the bits that are most latency sensitive should use DSE to store data on PCI-Express flash cards, which have lower latency.

Schumacher says that in most cases, the commercial-grade DSE Cassandra is used for a Web or mobile application, and a DSE cluster is not set up for hosting multiple applications, but rather companies have a different cluster for each use case. (As you can see is the case with Apple and Netflix.) Most of the DSE shops to make use of the eventual consistency replication features of Cassandra to span multiple datacenters with their data stores, and span anywhere from eight to twelve datacenters with their transactional data.

Here’s where it gets interesting, and why Microsoft is relevant to DataStax. Only about 30 percent of the DSE installations are running on premises. The remaining 70 percent are running on public clouds. About half of DSE customers are running on Amazon Web Services, with the remaining 20 percent split more or less evenly between Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure. If DataStax wants to grow its business, the easiest way to do that is to grow along with AWS, Compute Engine, and Azure.

So Microsoft and DataStax are sharing their roadmaps and coordinating development of their respective wares, and will be doing product validation, benchmarking, and optimization. The two will be working on demand generation and marketing together, too, and aligning their compensation to sell DSE on top of Azure and, eventually, on top of Windows Server for those who want to run it on premises.

In addition to announcing the Microsoft partnership at the Cassandra Summit this week, DataStax is also releasing its DSE 4.8 stack, which includes certification for Cassandra to be used as the back end for the new Spark 1.4 in-memory analytics tool. DSE Search has a performance boosts for live indexing, and running DSE instances inside of Docker containers has been improved. The stack also includes Titan 1.0, the graph database overlay for Cassandra, HBase, and BerkeleyDB that DataStax got through its acquisition of Aurelius back in February. DataStax is also previewing Cassandra 3.0, which will include support for JSON documents, role-based access control, and a lot of little tweaks that will make the storage more efficient, DataStax says. It is expected to ship later this year.

 

Open Live Writer 0.5 to succeed the Windows Live Writer

To move back to Live Writer was an easy decision for me:
– The Open Live Writer screen on my 15.6 inch notebook Back to [Open] Live Writer - The Open Live Writer screen on my 15.6 inch notebook -- 11-Dec-2015

– The classic WordPress.com editing screen on my 15.6 inch notebook
Back to [Open] Live Writer - The classic WordPress.com editing screen on my 15.6 inch notebook -- 11-Dec-2015
– The improved posting experience WordPress.com editing screen on my 15.6 inch notebookBack to [Open] Live Writer - The improved posting experience WordPress.com editing screen on my 15.6 inch notebook -- 11-Dec-2015

In fact with the last two editing capabilities I was not able to use my 15.6” notebook screen at all. Now with Open Live Writer 0.5 I have a perfect two monitor environment. This is an enormous difference by itself, and then all the Live Writer goodies which I’d been so fun of during the first years of 2010s are just coming on the top of that.

December 9, 2015 on .NET Foundation: Live Writer is now Open Source by Rob Dolin

Today Microsoft announced that Open Live Writer was released and has been contributed to the .NET Foundation. Open Live Writer is an open source application enabling users to author, edit, and publish blog posts. It is based on a fork of the wellloved but not actively developed Windows Live Writer code. Scott Hanselman helped carry the torch at Microsoft on this project, and I’ve been proud to be part of the all-volunteer team to make it happen.

History of Windows Live Writer

The product that became Live Writer was originally created by a small, super-talented team of engineers including Jeremy Allaire, JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng, Charles Teague, and Spike Washburn. The team joined Microsoft through an acquisition in 2006 and organized with the Spaces team where I was working. Becky Pezely joined the team and over time, the team grew and shipped many popular releases of Windows Live Writer.

As Microsoft was planning for the version of Windows Live that would coincide with the Windows 8 operating system release, the teams that built the Windows Live client apps for Windows were encouraged to focus on building a smaller set of Windows 8 apps designed to work well with both traditional PC input mechanisms and touch. The original team concluded their work on Windows Live Writer with Windows Live Writer 2012.

Reviving Live Writer

Even though there was no active development, Windows Live Writer continued to be a favorite tool of a passionate community of Windows PC users for authoring, editing, and publishing blog posts. Data from WordPress.com at the time suggested that Windows Live Writer (even two years after active development ended) was the #1 app for authoring a blog post to WordPress.com on a Windows PC. In fact, some of our technical evangelists were actively using Windows Live Writer for publishing on WordPress-powered blogs. A few team members from my former MS Open Tech team took an early interest in joining Scott Hanselman to revive Live Writer as an open source project.

By January 2015, a group of about a half-dozen engineers interested in spending some of their volunteer time to help release an updated version of Live Writer had found each other. Jon Gallant sent an email to a few large group email lists at Microsoft soliciting volunteers and we collected about 50 people interested in helping. Anne Legato, Ed Essey, and the team at The Garage were most helpful in sharing advice on launching external projects. Scott Guthrie also agreed to be Open Live Writer’s sponsor.

Why v0.5

You might wonder why we’re releasing a version 0.5 now instead of waiting to get to a v0.9 or a v1.0. A few considerations went into this. First, we wanted to get this out as an open source project as quickly as possible so people outside of Microsoft could start participating. Second, we suspect many people may be taking some vacation around the end of December and we wanted to make sure the project was available. Third, Eddie Kessler and the folks on Google’s Blogger team asked us to ship no later than early December 2015 so they could turn-off an old API that Windows Live Writer was dependent on. Eddie and team originally had planned to turn-off the API earlier and we are thankful for their collaboration and partnership in extending its life until we could release Open Live Writer.

Why .NET Foundation

The volunteer team considered a few options for releasing Open Live Writer. Ultimately, we found a great partnership in the .NET Foundation to support our goals around growing community participation for the project. Martin Woodward, Robin Ginn, and the team has been super-helpful in many matters including open source governance and administrative support, to marketing and communications.

And Open Live Writer is many thousands of lines of C# code, so the .NET Foundation is a good technical match too.

December 9, 2015 on Scott Hanselman blog: Announcing Open Live Writer – An Open Source Fork of Windows Live Writer

Meta enough for you?Today is the day. An independent group of volunteers within Microsoft has successfully open sourced and forked Windows Live Writer. The fork is called Open Live Writer (also known as OLW) and it is part of the .NET Foundation and managed by this group of volunteers. Read the fantastic announcement at the .NET Foundation Blog! Download Open Live Writer now!

Windows Live Writer 2012 was the last version Microsoft released and can still be downloaded from http://www.windowslivewriter.com. If you’re not comfortable using Open Source Software, I recommend you stick with classic WLW.

If you’re willing to put up with some bugs, then join us in this brave new world, you can download Open Live Writer from http://www.openlivewriter.org. We’re calling today’s release version 0.5.

Here’s some of the added features, the removed features, the stuff that doesn’t work, and our plans for the future:

  • REMOVED: Spell Checking. The implementation was super old and used a 3rd party spell checker we didn’t have a license to include an open source release. Going forward we will add Spell Check using the built-in spell checker that was added in Windows 8. Open Live Writer on Windows 7 probably won’t have spell check.
  • REMOVED: The Blog This API. It was a plugin to Internet Explorer and Firefox and was a mess of old COM stuff.
  • REMOVED: The “Albums” feature. It uploaded photos to OneDrive but depended on a library that was packaged with Windows Live Mail and Live Messenger and we couldn’t easily get permission to distribute it in an open source project.
  • ADDING VERY SOON: Google runs the excellent Blogger blog service. We’ve worked with the Blogger Team within Google on this project, and they’ve been kind enough to keep an older authentication endpoint running for many months while we work on Open Live Writer. Soon, Google and Blogger will finally shut down this older authentication system. Blogger will use the more modern OAuth 2 and Open Live Writer will be updated to support OAuth 2. Windows Live Writer will never support this new OAuth 2 authentication system, so if you use Blogger, you’ll need to use Open Live Writer.
  • BROKEN/KNOWN ISSUES: We are actively working on supporting Plugins. We have an plan in place and we are looking for your feedback on the most popular plugins that you want brought over from the Windows Live Writer ecosystem.

Our roadmap for the future is published here on GitHub.

NOTE: Open Live Writer is NOT a Microsoft product. It is an open source project under the .NET Foundation and is managed and coded by volunteers. Some of the volunteers work for Microsoft and are doing this work in their spare time.

Julia Liuson: “Microsoft must transform from a company that throws a box with software into the market … into a company that offers pure services”

April 9, 2015Microsoft Changes Course by Hsiao-wen Wang
from CommonWealth Magazine, Taiwan

On Oct 21, 2015 she expanded her role as the head of the Visual Studio and .NET engineering with all the rest of the once existing DevDiv, except Brian Harry's Visual Studio Online Team (responsible for both the 3rd party developer services from Microsoft, as well as for new One Microsoft Engineering System–1ES). So product management and cross-platform developer tools belong to her as well. See the announcement below.

On Oct 21, 2015 Julia Liuson, corporate vice president of Microsoft, expanded her role as the head of the Visual Studio and .NET engineering with all the rest of the once existing DevDiv, except Brian Harry’s Visual Studio Online Team (responsible for both the 3rd party developer services from Microsoft, as well as for new One Microsoft Engineering System). So now product management and cross-platform developer tools belong to her as well. See the announcement below. Note that in August 2013 she was the manager of Brian Harry’s TFS (Team Foundation Server) DevTeam. In her …get more girls in STEM disciplines (STEM=science, technology, engineering and mathematics) article of Sept 10, 2012 she is already a corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Developer Tools business. In June 2010 she was Visual Studio Business Applications and Server & Tools Business (STB) China co-General Manager.

Microsoft remains a technology giant that is able to post net earnings of more than NT$100 billion [$3B USD] per quarter. The giant is currently transforming itself and redefining its battlefield. Industry insiders wonder how Microsoft will make money if it can no longer rely on software licensing.

It seems that commercial cloud services are Microsoft’s answer. One of the crucial parties in overcoming in-house resistance to turning Windows into open source software is Julia Liuson. Born in Shanghai, Liuson grew up in Beijing. Upon obtaining a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Washington, she joined Microsoft in 1992, holding various technical and managerial positions when the company was still in its heyday. Liuson [as a corporate vice president] works closely with Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella and oversees software development for Visual Studio and the .Net framework.

Q: When taking the helm of Microsoft, Nadella said, “Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation.” How has Microsoft changed since Nadella called for the company’s transformation when taking office more than a year ago?

A: There has been a very big change in terms of acceptance for going open-source. In terms of operating procedures, we have also seen massive changes. In the past we used to release major software updates every three years, as if we were selling a precious encyclopedia set. But in a speed-hungry Internet business environment, someone needs to run and maintain [software], racing against time 24 hours a day. It is like having to update one encyclopedia page per day, updating a chapter every week.

We have also changed our organization’s operating model. In the past, the ratio of software developers to software testing personnel was one to one. When the developers had developed new software, they would throw it over the wall to the testing staff, where it was no longer the developers’ business. Now, the real work begins when the developers have written the software and release it into the market, because we need to pay attention to customer feedback before we go back to make modifications.

In order to tear down the fences between developers and other departments, we reorganized our staff in work teams of eight to twelve members so that planning, development, testing, marketing and sales as well as customer support can communicate closely with each other and shorten the time needed for product updates and new releases.

INSERT from Oct 1, 2015: Our DevOps Journey – Microsoft Engineering Stories

… In the past, we had three distinct roles on what we call “feature teams”: program managers, developers, and testers. We wanted to reduce delays in handoffs between developers and testers and focus on quality for all software created, so we combined the traditional developer and tester roles into one discipline: software engineers. Software engineers are now responsible for every aspect of making their features come to life and performing well in production. … One of our first steps was to bring the operations teams into the same organization. Before, our ops teams were organizationally distant from the engineering team. … [Now] we call our operations team “Service Engineers.” Service Engineers have to know the application architecture to be more efficient troubleshooters, suggest architectural changes to the infrastructure, be able to develop and test things like infrastructure as code and automation scripts, and make high-value contributions that impact the service design or management. …

In addition to the Our DevOps Journey – Microsoft Engineering Stories briefing from Microsoft see also the background information in the end of this post under the “DevOps Journey” title.
END OF THE INSERT


Q: As Microsoft transforms, what attitudes and skills are needed most?

A: Microsoft must learn to listen more closely to its customers; that’s a huge change.

Just the Beginning

Corresponding to these attitudinal changes, everything was different from before, like the requirements of the products, analysis of customer behavior, and the collection of big data.

Previously, we only needed to sell our products and everything was fine; we didn’t need to look at what the user wanted. However, now that I need to collect [data] on the behavior of these users, how am I going to go about my product support? How do I analyze the data I’ve gathered? These have all been huge transformations at Microsoft.

We cannot dig moats like before to protect the high market share of our products Windows and Office. Now we are a challenger, a new service that starts with a zero market share with zero users. We need to win over every single customer.

We need to adjust our own mindset: If I were a small startup, what would I do? This is completely different from our mindset in the past, when Microsoft was the industry leader with a market share above 90 percent.

Q: What keeps you awake at night?

A: Everything (laughs)! Just kidding. Come to think of it, I am in charge of Microsoft software, which has millions of users around the globe. But I don’t know who they are and how they use our software. If you told this to the people at Amazon, they would laugh at you.

Microsoft must transform from a company that throws a box with software into the market, a company that does not know who its customers are into a company that offers pure services, that knows who every single customer is and how they use its services. This is what keeps me awake at night.

There are still many things that need to be done. How much I wish it was still yesterday. Then I would have another 24 hours to get things done (laughs).

Dec 22, 2011: cached by Zoominfo page of Microsoft Chinese Employee – 微软华人协会 > Julia Liuson

Julia[1]Julia Liuson (潘正磊) is the General Manager for Visual Studio Business Applications. Her teams are responsible for enabling developers to easily build business applications on Microsoft platforms by reinvigorating development paradigms for build LOB application, deliver first class tooling for Office server and client, and bring .Net programmability to all ISV applications.

Julia joined Microsoft in 1992 as a software developer on Access 1.0. After the successful launch of Access 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0 she became development lead for the database and web project tools in Visual InterDev 1.0 and 2.0. In 1998, she assumed the role of development manager for Visual Basic.Net, and led the development effort for Visual Basic.Net 2002 and 2003. Julia served as Director of Development for all Visual Studio product line, and tackled division wide process and engineering excellence issues.

As the Partner Product Unit Manager of Visual Studio Team Architect, she was a core member of the leadership team that led the successful development and launch of Visual Studio Team System in 2005.

In 2006, she became the Partner Product Unit Manager for Visual Basic, and was responsible for delivering the most productive development tool on .Net for professional developers, and for moving millions of VB6 users forward to the .Net platform.

Oct 21, 2015: Microsoft Executive VP of the Cloud and Enterprise Group [C+E] Scott Guthrie:

Today we are announcing some organizational changes within C+E that will enable us to further accelerate our customer momentum and move even faster as an organization.  Our new C+E structure will be aligned around our key strategic businesses (Cloud Infrastructure, Data and Analytics, Business Applications and App Platform, Enterprise Mobility, Developer).  As part of today’s changes we are also bringing several teams even closer together to enable us to make deeper shared technology bets.

Each team in C+E will have a clear, focused charter.  Our culture will continue to be grounded in a Growth Mindset.  We’ll exercise this by being Customer-Obsessed, Diverse and Inclusive, and by working as One Microsoft to Make a Difference for our customers and partners. We’ll embrace data driven decision making and optimize for continuous learning and improvement.

Developer Tools and Services

Our Visual Studio Family of developer tools and services provides a complete solution for building modern cloud and mobile applications.

The Visual Studio Tools and .NET Team will be led by Julia Liuson.  John Montgomery who leads the Visual Studio and .NET PM team will report to Julia going forward.  The VS Code Team, led by Shanku Niyogi, which is responsible for our cross-platform developer tools, will also today join the Visual Studio Tools and .NET Team with Shanku also reporting to Julia.

The Visual Studio Online Team will continue to be led by Brian Harry.  The VSO team is responsible for both our 3rd party developer services, as well as for new One Microsoft Engineering System.

4336.image_5F00_thumb_5F00_768E6E83[1]

“… TFS on-prem[ises] is growing slowly because it’s already huge. VS Online usage is growing more rapidly but is still far smaller than TFS on-prem[ises]. … Here’s a month by month trend of VS Online adoption by major organization. The numbers look a little larger than they really are because adoption is still early and people are using only subsets of the functionality or using VS Online as a supplement to on-prem TFS.” ASG = Application & Services Group for “Reinvent productivity and business processes” ambition, C&E = Cloud & Enterprise for “Build the intelligent cloud platform” ambition, OSG = Operating Systems Group for “Create more personal computing” ambition. Forrás: Team Foundation Server and VS Online adoption at Microsoft by Brian Harry, June 3, 2015

Oct 24, 2014 excerpt from the web according to “Visual Studio Online” “One Microsoft Engineering System” search:

… Visual Studio Online’s goal is to become the single place for all developer targeted services – for both the internal One Microsoft Engineering System and for customers. It provides software development teams with capabilities of project planning, work item management, version control, build automation, test lab management, elastic load test, Application Insights and more. We ship new features every 3 weeks at http://www.visualstudio.com&gt;   and our adoption is growing at a very rapid clip. Ultimately, our audience is Engineers like YOU! Come onboard to build one of the most mission-critical services that will set the tone for all future engineering practices – inside Microsoft and outside in the developer community!

VS Online makes use of a wide range of technologies on premise and in the cloud, so you’ll have the opportunity to learn new stuff and go deep in many domains. Our key technologies are Azure, SQL Azure, AAD, and ASP.NET MVC on the backend. On the front end we use Knockout to build out an awesome user experience on the web, WPF for VS, and SWT for Eclipse. …

Sept 1, 2015: Cached Software Engineer II career

As Microsoft transforms to a devices + services company, Visual Studio continues to evolve and adapt in significant ways to support this transformation; requiring a strong team to deliver great engineering tools and systems. The Visual Studio Engineering Tools and Systems team is driving big, bold improvements for current and future releases in the ability to operate at a faster cadence by improving daily engineer productivity, speeding up builds and other advancements in how the software is built and delivered. This team is tasked with creating the next generation engineering system that aligns with the One Microsoft Engineering System vision (1ES). An engineering system that allows hundreds of people to work together efficiently and be very productive on one of the most important products at Microsoft, Visual Studio. This team is responsible for designing, creating, implementing, and managing the tools, services, and processes to arm the Developer Division engineers to do their best work.

As of 24 Oct, 2015Principal Software Engineer Manager – C+E career

… The Tools for Software Engineers team (TSE) is set out to maximize the productivity of all Microsoft engineers and reduce the time from idea to production.

In Satya’s memo to the company he states “In order to deliver the experiences our customers need for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, we will modernize our engineering processes to be customer-obsessed, data-driven, speed-oriented and quality-focused.” Come join us to be a part of this change!

TSE develops and operates a set of engineering tools and services including build tools, build languages (MSBuild), CloudBuild service, drop and artifact services, verification services including unit test execution and code review tools, engineering reporting and analysis services; all working towards a unified, world-class engineering system offering for internal Microsoft needs and third parties.

CloudBuild is at the center of Microsoft 1ES and is helping major groups within the company build faster, more reliable and at scale. CloudBuild serves thousands of developers and builds millions of targets daily in a highly scalable and distributed service running at scale in multiple Data Centers across the world. …

July 31, 215: 2015 Annual Report>The ambitions that drive us

To carry out our strategy, our research and development efforts focus on three interconnected ambitions:

  • Reinvent productivity and business processes.

  • Build the intelligent cloud platform.

  • Create more personal computing.

Reinvent productivity and business processes

We believe we can significantly enhance the lives of our customers using our broad portfolio of communication, productivity, and information services that spans devices and platforms. Productivity will be the first and foremost objective, to enable people to meet and collaborate more easily, and to effectively express ideas in new ways. We will design applications as dual-use with the intelligence to partition data between work and life while respecting each person’s privacy choices. The foundation for these efforts will rest on advancing our leading productivity, collaboration, and business process tools including Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Bing, and Dynamics. With Office 365, we provide these familiar industry-leading productivity and business process tools as cloud services, enabling access from anywhere and any device. This creates an opportunity to reach new customers, and expand the usage of our services by our existing customers.

We see opportunity in combining our offerings in new ways that are more contextual and personal, while ensuring people, rather than their devices, remain at the center of the digital experience. We will offer our services across ecosystems and devices outside our own. As people move from device to device, so will their content and the richness of their services. We are engineering our applications so users can find, try, and buy them in friction-free ways.

Build the intelligent cloud platform

In deploying technology that advances business strategy, enterprises decide what solutions will make employees more productive, collaborative, and satisfied, and connect with customers in new and compelling ways. They work to unlock business insights from a world of data. To achieve these objectives, increasingly businesses look to leverage the benefits of the cloud. Helping businesses move to the cloud is one of our largest opportunities, and we believe we work from a position of strength.

The shift to the cloud is driven by three important economies of scale: larger datacenters can deploy computational resources at significantly lower cost per unit than smaller ones; larger datacenters can coordinate and aggregate diverse customer, geographic, and application demand patterns, improving the utilization of computing, storage, and network resources; and multi-tenancy lowers application maintenance labor costs for large public clouds. As one of the largest providers of cloud computing at scale, we are well-positioned to help businesses move to the cloud so that businesses can focus on innovation while leaving non-differentiating activities to reliable and cost-effective providers like Microsoft.

With Azure, we are one of very few cloud vendors that run at a scale that meets the needs of businesses of all sizes and complexities. We believe the combination of Azure and Windows Server makes us the only company with a public, private, and hybrid cloud platform that can power modern business. We are working to enhance the return on information technology (“IT”) investment by enabling enterprises to combine their existing datacenters and our public cloud into a single cohesive infrastructure. Businesses can deploy applications in their own datacenter, a partner’s datacenter, or in our datacenters with common security, management, and administration across all environments, with the flexibility and scale they want.

We enable organizations to securely adopt software-as-a-service applications (both our own and third-party) and integrate them with their existing security and management infrastructure. We will continue to innovate with higher-level services including identity and directory services that manage employee corporate identity and manage and secure corporate information accessed and stored across a growing number of devices, rich data storage and analytics services, machine learning services, media services, web and mobile backend services, and developer productivity services. To foster a rich developer ecosystem, our digital work and life experiences will also be extensible, enabling customers and partners to further customize and enhance our solutions, achieving even more value. This strategy requires continuing investment in datacenters and other infrastructure to support our devices and services.

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 ambition for Windows 10 is to broaden our economic opportunity through three key levers: an original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) ecosystem that creates exciting new hardware designs for Windows 10; our own commitment to the health and profitability of our first-party premium device portfolio; and monetization opportunities such as services, subscriptions, gaming, and search. Our OEM partners are investing in an extensive portfolio of hardware designs and configurations as they ready for Windows 10. By December 2015, we anticipate the widest range of Windows hardware ever to be available.

With the launch of Windows 10, we are realizing our vision of a single, unified Windows operating system on which developers and OEMs can contribute to a thriving Windows ecosystem. We invest heavily to make Windows the most secure, manageable, and capable operating system for the needs of a modern workforce. We are working to create a broad developer opportunity by unifying the installed base to Windows 10 through upgrades and ongoing updates, and by enabling universal Windows applications to run across all device targets. As part of our strategic objectives, we are committed to designing and marketing first-party devices to help drive innovation, create new categories, and stimulate demand in the Windows ecosystem, including across PCs, phones, tablets, consoles, wearables, large multi-touch displays, and new categories such as the HoloLens holographic computing platform. We are developing new input/output methods like speech, pen, gesture, and augmented reality holograms to power more personal computing experiences with Windows 10.

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.

We believe the breadth of our products and services portfolio, our large global partner and customer base, our growing ecosystem, and our ongoing investment in innovation position us to be a leader in these areas and differentiate ourselves from competitors.

Regarding the digital work and life experiences see my earlier Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft post of July 23, 2014:

Those ambitions are also reporting segments now
Oct 22, 2015Earnings Release FY16 Q1

Revenue in Productivity and Business Processes declined 3% (up 4% in constant currency) to $6.3 billion, with the following business highlights:

  • Office commercial products and cloud services revenue grew 5% in constant currency with Office 365 revenue growth of nearly 70% in constant currency and continued user growth across our productivity offerings
  • Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 18.2 million, with approximately 3 million subscribers added in the quarter
  • Dynamics revenue grew 12% in constant currency, with the Dynamics CRM Online enterprise installed base growing more than 3x year-over-year

Revenue in Intelligent Cloud grew 8% (up 14% in constant currency) to $5.9 billion, with the following business highlights:

  • Server products and cloud services revenue grew 13% in constant currency, with revenue from premium products and services growing double-digits
  • Azure revenue and compute usage more than doubled year-over-year
  • Enterprise Mobility customers more than doubled year-over-year to over 20,000, and the installed base grew nearly 6x year-over-year

Revenue in More Personal Computing declined 17% (down 13% in constant currency) to $9.4 billion, with the following business highlights:

  • Windows OEM revenue declined 6%, performing better than the overall PC market, as the Windows 10 launch spurred PC ecosystem innovation and helped drive hardware mix toward premium devices
  • Phone revenue declined 54% in constant currency reflecting our updated strategy
  • Search advertising revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs grew 29% in constant currency with Bing US market share benefiting from Windows 10 usage
  • Xbox Live monthly active users grew 28% to 39 million

July 9, 2014Upcoming VS Online Licensing Changes by Brian Harry

Through the fall and spring, we transitioned VS Online from Preview to General Availability.  That process included changes to branding, the SLA, the announcement of pricing, the end of the early adopter program and more.  We’ve been working closely with customers to understand where the friction is and what we can do to make adopting VS Online as easy as possible.  This is a continuing process and includes discussions about product functionality, compliance and privacy, pricing and licensing, etc.  This is a journey and we’ll keep taking feedback and adjusting.

Today I want to talk about one set of adjustments that we want to make to licensing.

As we ended the early adopter period, we got a lot of questions from customers about how to apply the licensing to their situation.  We also watched as people assigned licenses to their users: What kind of licenses did they choose?  How many people did they choose to remove from their account?  Etc.

From all of this learning, we’ve decided to roll out 2 licensing changes in the next couple of months:

Stakeholders

A common question we saw was “What do I do with all of the stakeholders in my organization?”  While the early adopter program was in effect and all users were free, customers were liberal with adding people to their account.  People who just wanted to track progress or file a bug or a suggestion occasionally, were included.  As the early adopter period ended, customers had to decide – Is this really worth $20/user/month (minus appropriate Azure discounts)?  The result was that many of these “stakeholders” were removed from the VS Online accounts in the transition, just adding more friction for the development teams.

As a result of all this feedback we proposed a new “Stakeholder” license for VS Online.  Based on the scenarios we wanted to address, we designed a set of features that matched the needs most customers have.  These include:

    • Full read/write/create on all work items
    • Create, run and save (to “My Queries”) work item queries
    • View project and team home pages
    • Access to the backlog, including add and update (but no ability to reprioritize the work)
    • Ability to receive work item alerts

Some of the explicitly excluded items are:

    • No access to Code, Build or Test hubs.
    • No access to Team Rooms
    • No access to any administrative functionality (Team membership, license administration, permissions, area/iterations configuration, sprint configuration, home page configuration, creation of shared queries, etc.)

We then surveyed our “Top Customers” and tuned the list of features (to arrive at what I listed above).  One of the conversations we had with them was about the price/value of this feature set.  We tested 3 different price points – $5/user/month, $2/user/month and free.  Many thought it was worth $5.  Every single one thought it was worth $2.  However, one of the questions we asked was “How many stakeholders would you add to your account at each of these price points?”  The result was 3X more stakeholders if it’s free than if it’s $2.  That told us that any amount of money, even if it is perceived as “worth it”, is too much friction.  Our goal is to enable everyone who has a stake to participate in the development process (and, of course, to run a business in the process).  Ultimately, in balancing the goals of enabling everyone to participate and running a business, we concluded that “free” is the right answer.

As a result, any VS Online  account will be able to have an unlimited number of “Stakeholder” users with access to the functionality listed above, at no charge.

Access to the Test Hub

Another point of friction that emerged in the transition was access to the Test hub.  During the Preview, all users had access to the Test hub but, at the end of the early adopter program, the only way to get access to the Test hub was by purchasing Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN (or one of the other products that include it, like VS Premium or VS Ultimate).

We got ample feedback that there were a class of users who really only need access to the web based Test functionality and don’t need all that’s in VS Test Professional.

Because of this, we’ve decided to include access to all of the Test hub functionality in the Visual Studio Online Advanced plan.

Timing

I’m letting you know now so that, if you are currently planning your future, you know what is coming.  I’m always loathe to get too specific about dates in the future because, as we all know, stuff happens.  However, we are working hard to implement these licensing changes now and my expectation is that we’ve got about 2 sprints of work to do to get it all finished.  That would put the effective date somewhere in the neighborhood of mid-August.  I’ll update you with more certainty as the date gets a little closer.

What about Team Foundation Server?

In general, our goal is to keep the licensing for VS Online and Team Foundation Server as “parallel” as we can – to limit how confusing it could be.  As a result, we will be evolving the current “Work Item Web Access” TFS CAL exemption (currently known as “Limited” users in TFS) to match the “Stakeholder” capabilities.  That will result in significantly more functionality available to TFS users without CALs.  My hope is to get that change made for Team Foundation Server 2013 Update 4.  It’s too early yet to be sure that’s going to be possible but I’m hopeful.  We do not, currently, plan to provide an alternate license for the Test Hub functionality in TFS, though it’s certainly something we’re looking at and may have a solution in a future TFS version.

Conclusion

As I said, it’s a journey and we’ll keep listening.  It was interesting to me to watch the phenomenon of the transition from Preview to GA.  Despite announcing the planned pricing many months in advance, the feedback didn’t get really intense until, literally, the week before the end of the early adopter period when everyone had to finish choosing licenses.

One of the things that I’m proud of is that we were able to absorb that feedback, create a plan, review it with enough people, create an engineering plan and (assuming our timelines hold), deliver it in about 3 monthsIn years past that kind of change would take a year or two.

Hopefully you’ll find this change valuable.  We’ll keep listening to feedback and tuning our offering to create the best, most friction-free solution that we can.

Thanks,

Brian

July 7, 2014: TFS Adoption at Microsoft – July 2014 by Brian Harry

Years ago, I used to do monthly updates on TFS adoption at Microsoft.  Eventually, the numbers got so astronomical that it just seemed silly so I stopped doing them.  It’s been long enough and there’s some changes happening that I figured it was worth updating you all on where we are.

First of all, adoption has continued to grow steadily year over year.  We’ve continued to onboard more teams and to deepen the feature set teams are using.  Any major change in the ALM solution of an organization of our size and complexity is journey.

Let’s start with some stats:

As of today, we have 68 TFS “instances”.  Instance sizes vary from modest hardware up to very large scaled out hardware for the larger teams.  We have over 60K monthly active users and that number is still growing rapidly.  Growth varies month to month and the growth below seems unusually high (over 10%).  I grabbed the latest data I could get my hands on – and that happened to be from April.  The numbers are really staggeringly large.

Current 30 day growth
Unique users 62,553 7,256
TPCs 788 46
Projects 15,581 187
Work items 42,088,748 5,572,355
Source files 320,224,466 11,959,935
Builds/month 568,190 109,764
Test cases 9,483,760 1,172,495

In addition we’ve started to make progress recently with Windows and Office – two of the Microsoft teams with the oldest and most entrenched engineering systems.  They’ve both used TFS in the past for work planning but recently Windows has also adopted TFS for all work management (including bugs) and Office is planning a move.  We’re also working with them on plans to move their source code over.

In the first couple of years of adoption of TFS at Microsoft, I remember a lot of fire drills.  Bringing on so many people and so much data with such mission critical needs really pushed the system and we spent a lot of time chasing down performance (and occasionally availability) problems.  These days things run pretty smoothly.  The system is scaled out enough and the code, and our dev processes have been tuned enough, that for the most part, the system just works.  We upgrade it pretty regularly (a couple of times a year for the breadth of the service, as often as every 3 weeks for our own instances).

As we close in on completing the first leg of our journeygetting all teams at Microsoft onto TFS, we are now beginning the second.  A few months ago, The TFS team and a few engineering systems teams working closely with them moved all of their assets into VS Online – code, work items, builds, etc.  This is a big step and, I think, foreshadows the future for the entire company.  At this point it’s only a few hundred people accessing it but it’s already the largest and most active account on VS Online and it will continue to grow.

It was a big decision for us – and we went through a lot of the same anxieties I hear from anyone wanting to adopt a cloud solution for a mission critical need.  Will be intellectual property be safe?  What happens when the service goes down?  Will I lose any data?  Will performance be good?  Etc.  Etc.  At the same time, it was important to us to live the life that we are suggesting our customers live – taking the same risks and working to ensure that all of those risks are mitigated.

The benefits of moving are already visible.  I’ve had countless people remark to me how much they’ve enjoyed having access to their work – work items, build status, code reviews, etc from any device, anywhere.  No messing with remote desktop or any other connectivity technology.  As part of this, we also bound the account to the Microsoft Active Directory tenant so we can log in using the same corporate credentials as we do for everything else.  Combining this with a move to Office 365/SharePoint Online for our other collaboration workflows has created for us a fantastic mobile, cloud experience.

I’ll see about starting to post some statistics on our move to the cloud.  As, I say, at this point, it’s a few hundred people and mostly just the TFS codebase – which is pretty large at this point.  Over time that will grow but I expect it will be slow – getting larger year over year into a distant future when all of Microsoft has moved to the cloud for our engineering system tools.

I know I have to say this because people will ask.  No, we are not abandoning on-prem TFS.  The vast majority of our customers still use it, the overwhelming majority of our internal teams still use it (the few hundred people using VS Online is still rounding error on the more than 60K people using TFS on premises).  We continue to share a codebase between VS Online and TFS and the vast majority of the work we do accrues to both scenarios – and that will continue to be the case.  TFS is here to stay and we’ll keep using it ourselves for a very long time.  At the same time VS Online is here to stay too and our use of it will grow rapidly in the coming years.  It will be a big milestone when the first big product engineering team not associated with building VS Online/TFS moves over to VSO for all of their core engineering system needs – I’ll be sure to let you know when that happens.

Brian

DevOps Journey

Sept 2, 2015DevOps – Enabling DevOps on the Microsoft Stack by Michael Learned a Visual Studio ALM Ranger currently focused on DevOps and Microsoft Azure

There’s a lot of buzz around DevOps right now. An organization’s custom software is critical to providing rich experiences and useful data to its business users. Rapidly delivering quality software is no longer an option, it’s a requirement. Gone are the days of lengthy planning sessions and development iterations.  Cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure have removed traditional bottlenecks and helped commoditize infrastructure. Software reigns in every business as the key differentiator and factor in business outcomes. No organization, developer or IT worker can or should avoid the DevOps movement.

DevOps is defined from numerous points of view, but most often refers to removing both cultural and technology barriers between development and operations teams so software can move into production as efficiently as possible. Once software is running in production you need to ensure you can capture rich usage data and feed that data back into development teams and decision makers.

There are many technologies and tools that can help with DevOps. These tools and processes support rapid release cycles and data collection on production applications. On the Microsoft stack, tools such as Release Management to drive rapid, predictable releases and Application Insights help capture rich app usage data. This article will explore and shed some light on critical tools and techniques used in DevOps, as well as the various aspects of DevOps (as shown in Figure 1).

IC826498[1]
Figure 1 The Various Aspects of DevOps

The Role of DevOps

Most organizations want to improve their DevOps story in the following areas:

  • Automated release pipelines in which you can reliably test and release on much shorter cycles.
  • Once the application is running in production, you need the ability to respond quickly to change requests and defects.
  • You must capture telemetry and usage data from running production applications and leverage that for data-driven decision making versus “crystal ball” decision making.

Are there silos in your organization blocking those aspects of DevOps? These silos exist in many forms, such as differing tools, scripting languages, politics and departmental boundaries. They intend to provide separation of duties and to keep security controls and stability in production.

Despite their intentions, these silos can sometimes impede an organization from achieving many DevOps goals, such as speedy, reliable releases and handling and responding to production defects. In many cases, this silo structure generates an alarming amount of waste. Developers and operations workers have traditionally worked on different teams with different goals. Those teams spend cycles fixing issues caused by these barriers and less time focused on driving the business.

Corporate decision makers need to take a fresh look at the various boundaries to evaluate the true ROI or benefits these silos intend to provide. It’s becoming clear the more you can remove those barriers, the easier it will be to implement DevOps solutions and reduce waste.

It’s a challenge to maintain proper security, controls, compliance and so on while balancing agility needs. Enterprise security teams must ensure data is kept secure and private. Security is arguably as important as anything else an organization does.

However, there’s an associated cost for every security boundary you build. If security boundaries are causing your teams waste and friction, those boundaries deserve a fresh look to ensure they generate ROI. You can be the most secure organization in the world, but if you can’t release software on time you’ll have a competitive disadvantage.

Balancing these priorities isn’t a new challenge, but it’s time for a fresh and honest look at the various processes and silos your organization has built. Teams should all be focused on business value over individual goals.

The Release Pipeline

The release pipeline is where your code is born with version control, then travels through various environments and is eventually released to production. Along the way, you perform automated build and testing. The pipeline should be in a state where moving changes to production is transparent, repeatable, reliable and fast. This will no doubt involve automation. The release pipeline might also include provisioning the application host environment.

Your release pipeline might not be optimized if these factors are present:

  • Tool and process mismatches, whereby you have different tools and processes in place per environment. (For example, the dev teams deploy with one tool and ops deploy with another.)
  • Manual steps can introduce error, so avoid them.
  • Re-building just to deploy to the next environment.
  • You lack traceability and have issues understanding which versions have been released.
  • Release cycles are lengthy, even for hotfixes.

Provisioning

Provisioning containers is sometimes considered an optional part of a release pipeline. A classic on-premises scenario often exists in which an environment is already running to host a Web application. The IIS Web server or other host and back-end SQL Server have been running through numerous iterations. Rapid releases into these environments deploy only the application code and subsequent SQL schema and data changes needed to move the appropriate update levels. In this case, you’re not provisioning fresh infrastructure (both IIS and SQL) to host the application. You’re using a release pipeline that disregards provisioning and focuses only on the application code itself.

There are other scenarios in which you might want to change various container configuration settings. You might need to tweak some app pool settings in IIS. You could implement that as part of the release pipeline or handle it manually. Then you may opt to track those changes in some type of versioning system with an Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) strategy.

There are several other scenarios in which you would want to provision as part of an automated release pipeline. For example, early in development cycles, you might wish to tear down and rebuild new SQL databases for each release to fully and automatically test the environment.

Cloud computing platforms such as Azure let you pay only for what you need. Using automated setup and tear down can be cost-effective. By automating provisioning and environmental changes, you can avoid error and control the entire application environment. Scenarios like these make it compelling to include provisioning as part of a holistic release management system.

There are many options and techniques for including provisioning as part of your release pipeline. These will differ based on the types of applications you’re hosting and where you host them. One example is hosting a classic ASP.NET Web application versus an Azure Web app or some other Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) application such as Azure Cloud Services. The containers for those applications are different and require different tooling techniques to support the provisioning steps.

Infrastructure as Code

One popular provisioning technique is IaC. An application is an executable that can be compiled code, scripts and so on combined with an operational environment. You’ll find this environment yields many benefits.

Microsoft recently had Forrester Research Inc. conduct a research study on the impact of IaC (see bit.ly/1IiGRk1). The research showed IaC is a critical DevOp component. It also showed provisioning and configuration is a major point of friction for teams delivering software. You’ll need to leverage automation and IaC techniques if you intend to completely fulfill your DevOps goals.

One of the traditional operational challenges is automating the ability to provide appropriate environments in which to execute applications and services, and keeping those environments in known good states. Virtualization and other automation techniques are beneficial, but still have problems keeping nodes in sync and managing configuration drift. Operations and development teams continue to struggle with different toolsets, expertise and processes.

IaC is based on the premise that we should be able to describe, version, execute and test our infrastructure code via an automated release pipeline. For example, you can easily create a Windows virtual machine (VM) configured with IIS using a simple Windows PowerShell script. Operations should be able to use the same ALM tools to script, version and test the infrastructure.

Other benefits include being able to spin up and tear down known versions of your environments. You can avoid troublesome issues because of environmental differences between development and production. You can express the application environment-specific dependencies in code and carry them along in version control. In short, you can eliminate manual processes and ensure you’ve tested reliable automated environment containers for your applications. Development and operations can use common scripting languages and tools and achieve those efficiencies.

The application type and intended host location will dictate the tooling involved for executing your infrastructure code. There are several tools gaining popularity to support these techniques, including Desired State Configuration (DSC), Puppet, Chef and more. Each helps you achieve similar goals based on the scenario at hand.

The code piece of IaC could be one of several things. It could simply be Windows PowerShell scripts that provision resources. Again, the application types and hosting environment will dictate your choices here.

For Azure, you can use Cloud Deployment Projects that leverage Azure Resource Management APIs to create and manage Azure Resource Groups. This lets you describe your environments with JSON. Azure Resource Goups also let you manage group-related resources together, such as Web sites and SQL databases. With cloud deployment projects, you can store your provisioning requirements in version control and perform Azure provisioning as part of an automated release pipeline. Here are the sections that make up the basic structure of a provisioning template:

Figure 3 Separate Configuration Data Within a DCS Script
Configuration InstallWebSite
{
  Node $AllNodes.NodeName
  {
    WindowsFeature InstallIIS
    {
      Ensure = "Present"
      Name = "Web-Server"
    }
  }
}
InstallWebSite –ConfigurationData .\config.ps1
Where config.ps1 contains
$ConfigData = @{
  AllNodes = @(
  @{
    NodeName = “localhost”
  })
}

For more information on templates, go to bit.ly/1RQ3gvg, and for more on cloud deployment projects, check out bit.ly/1flDH3m.

The scripting languages and tooling are only part of the changes needed to successfully adopt an IaC strategy. Development and operations teams must work together to integrate their work streams toward a common set of goals. This can be challenging because historically operations teams have focused on keeping environments stable and development teams are more focused on introducing new features into those environments. Sophisticated technologies are emerging, but the foundation of a successful IaC implementation will depend on the ability of the operations and development teams to effectively collaborate.

Release Orchestration

Release Management is a technology in the Visual Studio ALM stack. It’s really more of a concept whereby you can orchestrate the various objects and tasks that encompass a software release.  A few of these artifacts include the payload or package produced by a build system, the automated testing that happens as part of a release pipeline, approval workflows, notifications and security governance to control environments closer to production.

You can use technologies such as DSC, Windows PowerShell scripts, Azure Resource Manager, Chef, and so on to manage environment state and install software and dependencies into running environments. In terms of tooling provided by Visual Studio ALM, think of Release Management as the service that wraps around whatever technologies and tools you need to execute the deployments. Release Management might leverage simple command-line or Windows PowerShell scripts, use DSC, or even execute your own custom tools. You should aim to use the simplest solution possible to execute your releases.

It’s also a good practice to rely on Windows PowerShell because it’s ubiquitous. For example, you can use Windows PowerShell scripts as part of a release pipeline to deploy Azure Cloud Services. There are a lot of out-of-the-box tools with Release Management (see Figure 2), but you also have the flexibility to create your own.

IC826496[1]
Figure 2 Tools and Options Available for Release Management

Release Management can help you elegantly create an automated release pipeline and produce reliable automated application releases. You can also opt to include provisioning.  The Release Management tooling with Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server can help you orchestrate these artifacts into the overall release transaction. It also provides rich dashboard-style views into your current and historical states. There’s also rich integration with Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Online.

Where Does DSC Fit In?

There has been a lot of press about DSC lately. DSC is not, however, some all-encompassing tool that can handle everything. You’ll use DSC as one of the tools in your DevOps structure, not the only tool.

You can use DSC in pull or push modes. Then you can use the “make it so” phase to control the server state. Controlling that state can be as simple as ensuring a file or directory exists, or something more complex such as modifying the registry, stopping or starting services, or running scripts to deploy an application. You can do this repeatedly without error. You can also define your own DSC resources or leverage a large number of built-in resources.

DSC is implemented as a Local Configuration Manager (LCM), running on a target node, accepting a Management Object File (MOF) configuration file and using it to apply configuration to the node itself.  So there’s no hard-coupled tool. You don’t even have to use Windows PowerShell to produce the MOF.

To start using DSC, simply produce the MOF file. That will eventually describe the various resources to execute, which end up written mostly in Windows PowerShell. One of the big advantages of DSC on Windows Server-based systems is the LCM is native to the OS, giving you the concept of a built-in agent. There are also scenarios for leveraging DSC with Linux. See Figure 3 for an example of separating the configuration data for the DSC script.

Figure 3 Separate Configuration Data Within a DCS Script
Configuration InstallWebSite
{
  Node $AllNodes.NodeName
  {
    WindowsFeature InstallIIS
    {
      Ensure = "Present"
      Name = "Web-Server"
    }
  }
}
InstallWebSite –ConfigurationData .\config.ps1
Where config.ps1 contains
$ConfigData = @{
  AllNodes = @(
  @{
    NodeName = “localhost”
  })
}

DSC can be an important piece of a release pipeline if it has the resources available to help support your deployment. With on-premises or IaaS applications, DSC is an excellent choice to help control the environment configuration and support your deployment scenarios.

Still DSC isn’t meant to be used for every scenario. To put this in context, if you’re deploying Azure PaaS resources, it’s recommended you use Azure Resource Manager to get the VMs started and the networking configured. This isn’t something DSC is designed for. Once the VMs are running, you can use DSC to get the local configuration the way you want it and ensure the configuration elements you care about don’t change.

 Monitor with Application Insights

Once an application and environment is in production, it’s critical to collect data and monitor the operational health. You also need to understand usage patterns. This data is critical to managing a healthy service. Collecting and monitoring this data is an important piece of DevOps. For example, Microsoft has used production data to improve the Visual Studio Online teams. This rich data helps the Visual Studio Online teams ensure service availability, demonstrates to them how developers are using the service and informs decisions on feature prioritization. You can read more about the Microsoft DevOps journey at bit.ly/1AzDL9V.

Visual Studio Application Insights adds an SDK to your appli­cation and sends telemetry to the Azure Portal. It supports many different platforms and languages, including iOS, Android, ASP.NET and Java. You can capture performance data, application uptime and various usage analytics. You can show this rich data to decision makers and stakeholders to help make better decisions, detect issues and continuously improve your applications. You can read more about Application Insights at bit.ly/1IbRnrF.

Figure 4 and Figure 5 show examples of the types of data collected by Application Insights.

IC826495[1]Figure 4 Application Insights Can Provide Data on Users and Page Views

IC826494[1]Figure 5 Application Insights Also Monitors Web Tests

Wrapping Up

DevOps helps teams drive toward continuous delivery and leverage data from running applications to help make better-informed decisions. This article has examined various prominent Microsoft technologies you can use to achieve these goals:

  • Release Management lets you use any technology to drive deployments. These technologies include simple Windows PowerShell scripts, DSC configurations or even third-party tools such as Puppet.
  • Infrastructure-as-Code strategies help development and operations teams efficiently work together.
  • Visual Studio Application Insights gives you a mechanism to capture rich data from running applications, to help stakeholders understand application health and examine usage patterns to drive informed decision making.

These technologies can help you greatly improve your DevOps maturity. You’ll also need to blend an appropriate set of technologies while working to overcome cultural barriers.

Additional Resources

  • To learn more about Infrastructure as Code, listen to Brian Keller’s discussion on Channel 9 at bit.ly/1IiNqmr.
  • To learn more about Azure Resource Group Deployment Projects, check out bit.ly/1flDH3m.
  • To learn more about TFS Planning, Disaster Avoidance and Recovery, and TFS on Azure IaaS, check out the guide at vsarplanningguide.codeplex.com.
  • To learn more about Config as Code for DevOps and ALM practitioners, check out vsardevops.codeplex.com.

Micheal Learned is a Visual Studio ALM Ranger currently focused on DevOps and Microsoft Azure. He has worked on numerous software projects inside and outside of Microsoft for more than 15 years. He lives in central Illinois and devotes his free time to helping the community, as well as relaxing with his daughter, two sons and wife. Reach him on Twitter at twitter.com/mlhoop.

Thanks to the following technical experts for reviewing this article: Donovan Brown (Microsoft), Wouter de Kort (Independent Developer), Marcus Fernandez (Microsoft), Richard Hundhausen (Accentient), Willy-Peter Schaub (Microsoft) and Giulio Vian (Independent Developer)

PC Market Trends

A comment from IDC brought ahead: “Competition from 2-in-1 devices and phones remains an issue“. In the notes to the IDC press release it is mentioned as well that “tablets with detachable keyboards [i.e. 2-in-1 devices] running either Windows or Android are not included in the PC category” by IDC. This approach to the PC category is one of the reasons why the decline of the PC market in Q2 2015 is 11.8% according to IDC, while it is 9.5% according to Gartner.

But most importantly: the PC market has continuously been shrinking for the last 3 years as is shown by the chart below:
Infographic: PC Market Plunge Is Picking Up Pace | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista
July 14, 2015: After a brief respite throughout last year, the global PC market returned to its pre-2014 slump in the first half of 2015. According to Gartner’s latest estimates, worldwide PC shipments amounted to 68.4 million in the past three months – down 9.5 percent from last year’s June quarter.

The struggling PC industry had received a boost when Microsoft ended official Windows XP support in April 2014, prompting a replacement cycle that has now apparently faded. Despite the sobering results, analysts remain cautiously optimistic about the industry’s mid-term outlook. They argue that the recent decline is no sign of structural weakness but partly a consequence of last year’s unusually positive results and partly an effect of inventory control ahead of the Windows 10 launch scheduled for later this year.

[Gartner’s latest estimates:]
July 9, 2015: Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Declined 9.5 Percent in Second Quarter of 2015

PC Industry Faces Slowdown as Industry Anticipates the Launch of Windows 10

STAMFORD, Conn., July 9, 2015 — Worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.4 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 9.5 percent decline from the second quarter of 2014, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. This was the steepest PC shipment decline since the third quarter of 2013. PC shipments are projected to decline 4.4 percent in 2015.

There were many contributors to the decline of PC shipments in the second quarter of 2015, and Gartner analysts highlighted three of the major reasons for the drop in shipments. Analysts emphasized that these inhibitors are temporary events, and they are not changing the PC market’s structure. Therefore, while the PC industry is going through a decline, the market is expected to go back to slow and steady growth in 2016.

The price hike of PCs became more apparent in some regions due to a sharp appreciation of the U.S. dollar against local currencies,” Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “The price hike could hinder PC demand in these regions. Secondly, the worldwide PC market experienced unusually positive desk-based growth last year due to the end of Windows XP support. After the XP impact was phased out, there have not been any major growth drivers to stimulate a PC refresh. Lastly, the Windows 10 launch scheduled for 3Q15 has created self-regulated inventory control. PC vendors and the channels tried clearing inventory as much as possible before the Windows 10 launch.”

Lenovo maintained the top position in worldwide PC shipments in the second quarter of 2015 (see Table 1), but the company suffered a year-on-year shipment decline for the first time since the second quarter of 2013. EMEA, Latin America and Japan were tough regions for Lenovo, as the company experienced double-digit shipment declines. HP also experienced a shipment decline after five consecutive quarters of PC shipment growth. HP showed a steep decline in EMEA, which was potentially due to the currency impact. The company was also impacted by tight inventory controls in the consumer market before the Windows 10 launch.

Table 1
Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q15 (Thousands of Units)

Gartner - Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q15 -9-July-2015Notes: Data includes desk-based PCs, notebook PCs and ultramobile premium (see “Market Definitions and Methodology: Consumer Devices”). All data is estimated based on a preliminary study. Final estimates will be subject to change. The statistics are based on shipments selling into channels.
Numbers may not add up to totals shown because of rounding.
Source: Gartner (July 2015)

For the second consecutive quarter, Dell experienced a decline in PC shipments. Dell’s decline was relatively moderate in EMEA compared with Lenovo and HP. Analysts said this could be partly attributed to Dell’s lower presence in the consumer market, which created less impact to Dell from the Windows 10 prelaunch inventory control.

In the U.S., PC shipments totaled 15.1 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 5.8 percent decline from the second quarter of 2014 (see Table 2). The decline was led by a double-digit decline of desk-based shipments, which offset single-digit growth of mobile PCs. Based on preliminary results, the desk-based PC shipment decline was the steepest since 2009 when the market was hit by the economic crisis.

“The weakness of desk-based PC shipments in the second quarter of 2015 is partly due to relatively large shipments in the second quarter last year when the market was driven by the end of XP support,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Despite inventory controls for the Windows 10 launch, mobile PC shipments grew in the quarter, which resulted in five consecutive quarters of mobile PC growth in the U.S. Affordable thin/light notebooks are attracting more business buyers.”

HP maintained the top position for PC shipments in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2015 despite a 10.1 percent decline (see Table 2). Dell narrowed the gap with HP compared with a year ago. Lenovo was the only vendor showing year-over-year PC shipment growth among the top five vendors in the U.S.

Table 2
Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q15 (Thousands of Units)

Gartner - Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q15 -- 9-July-2015Notes: Data includes desk-based PCs, notebook PCs and ultramobile premium (see “Market Definitions and Methodology: Consumer Devices”). All data is estimated based on a preliminary study. Final estimates will be subject to change. The statistics are based on shipments selling into channels.
Numbers may not add up to totals shown because of rounding.
Source: Gartner (July 2015)
[The Ultramobile (Premium) category includes devices such as Microsoft’s Windows 8 Intel x86 products and Apple’s MacBook Air. Source]

PC shipments in EMEA totaled 18.6 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 15.7 percent decline from the second quarter of 2014. In Europe, vendors spent most of the quarter trying to manage already high inventory levels. They tried clearing that inventory with promotions, having to absorb this with lower margins. In the third quarter of 2015, vendors should see better “sell-in” into the channel with new Windows 10-based devices.

Asia/Pacific PC shipments reached 24.2 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a 2.9 percent decline from the same period last year. Both desk-based and mobile PC shipments declined from the second quarter of 2014. PC shipments in China are estimated to have declined 4 percent in the quarter as demand for consumer PCs remained weak.

These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner’s PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing product planning, distribution, marketing and sales organizations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe.

See also
July 16, 2015, Forbes: Why Are IDC And Gartner’s PC Market Stats Different, And Does It Even Matter? by Scott McCutcheon

July 9, 2015PC Market Continues to Decline Ahead of Windows 10 Release, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Worldwide PC shipments totaled 66.1 million units in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. This represented a year-on-year decline of -11.8%, about one percent below projections for the quarter.

The slow PC shipments were largely anticipated as a result of stronger year-ago shipments relating to end of support for windows XP as well as channels reducing inventory ahead of the release of Windows 10. In addition, weaker or changing exchange rates for foreign currencies have effectively increased PC prices in many markets, thereby reducing purchasing power and also complicating investment planning.

“Although the second quarter decline in PC shipments was significant, and slightly more than expected, the overall trend fits with expectations,” said Loren Loverde, Vice President, Worldwide PC Trackers & Forecasting. “We continue to expect low to mid-single digit declines in volume during the second half of the year with volume stabilizing in future years. We’re expecting the Windows 10 launch to go relatively well, though many users will opt for a free OS upgrade rather than buying a new PC. Competition from 2-in-1 devices and phones remains an issue, but the economic environment has had a larger impact lately, and that should stabilize or improve going forward.”

“The U.S. market was in line with forecasts, declining -3.3% from a year ago, after avoiding the global market declines over the past five quarters. Soft retail demand, short term weakness from inventory reductions, some cannibalization from competing devices, and low demand for large commercial refreshes are among the factors that reduced PC shipments,” said Rajani Singh, Senior Research Analyst,Personal Computers. “Nevertheless, moving forward, we expect a healthy second half as inventory and purchase decisions pick up following the launch of Windows 10. Emerging product categories will remain a bright spot as attention shifts to convertibles and Chromebooks in the commercial as well as consumer segments.”

Regional Highlights

United States – With shipments totaling nearly 16.4 million PCs in 2Q15, the U.S. market shrank -3.3% from the same quarter a year ago. Although most vendors saw volume decline, gains from Apple and Lenovo helped limit the overall decline. A tough year-on-year comparison contributed to a decline in desktop shipments, while portable PCs shipments continued to grow.

Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) – In EMEA, weakening demand and high inventory levels inhibited sell-in, driving results below expectations. Vendors continued to clean stock ahead of the back-to-school season and Windows 10 launch. Moreover, unfavorable exchange rates led to increasing prices and continued to affect demand both in the business and consumer spaces. The commercial market also faced a difficult year-on-year comparison with 2Q14, when the end of support for Windows XP boosted sales.

Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) – China was impacted by excess commercial notebook inventory from earlier quarters as the anti-corruption campaign continues to suppress commercial spending. Currency fluctuation also remained a key factor in many countries in the region, contributing to lower demand. Nevertheless, volume was close to expectations, reflecting a slight decline in growth from prior quarters.

Japan – continued to see low growth as the weak Yen contributed to a difficult market. The Japanese PC market faced a particularly difficult comparison to year ago shipments that were boosted by the end of support for Windows XP and also changes to Japan’s tax code. As the market responds to these shifts and managing inventory, Yamada Denki (one of Japan’s major electronics stores) announced the closure of unprofitable stores in both urban and rural markets.

Vendor Highlights

Lenovo held onto the top position with shipments of 13.4 million units. Volume was up 1% from the prior quarter, but down -7.5% from the prior year. The vendor continued to aggressively court expansion outside of Asia/Pacific, leading to share gains in the U.S. and EMEA.

HP remained the number 2 vendor, but saw shipments decline -10.4% from a year ago. Slowing business demand and inventory control of entry notebooks contributed to the dip. While most of the slowdown was from outside of the U.S., the vendor also saw its U.S. volume contract nearly -7%.

Dell came in at number 3, shipping more than 9.5 million units and registering a year-over-year decline of -8.7%. Strong results in 2Q14 contributed to a poor year-over-year comparison. Stronger performance in Asia/Pacific and EMEA were offset by slower growth in the U.S.

Apple continued to outperform other vendors, with growth of 16.1% globally. The vendor has largely avoided the price competition affecting other players and may be benefitting from some of the uncertainty around the launch of Windows 10, along with refreshed products like the 12-inch MacBook and a relative concentration of shipments in the U.S.

Acer continued to see growth in Chromebooks with more models introduced. However, the vendor also struggled with the larger pullback in the market, particularly in EMEA where it had seen a rebound in mid-2014. The vendor ended 2Q14 with a volume of 4.33 million, a significant decline from the prior quarter and year ago volumes.

ASUS was statistically tied* with Acer for the number 5 position. ASUS has also been affected by currency factors and inventory management, but strong growth in the U.S. boosted overall results.

IDC - Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth for the Second Quarter of 2015 -- 9-July-2015Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, July 9, 2015
* Note: IDC declares a statistical tie in the worldwide PC market when there is less than one tenth of one percent difference in the revenue share of two or more vendors.

In addition to the table above, an interactive graphic showing worldwide PC market share for the top 5 vendors over the previous five quarters is available here. The chart is intended for public use in online news articles and social media. Instructions on how to embed this graphic can be found by viewing this press release on IDC.com.

IDC - Top 5 Vendors, United States PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Second Quarter of 2015 -- 9-July-2015Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, July 9, 2015

Table Notes:

  • Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports.
  • Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.
  • PCs include Desktops, Portables, Ultraslim Notebooks, Chromebooks, and Workstations and do not include handhelds, x86 Servers and Tablets (i.e. iPad, or Tablets with detachable keyboards running either Windows or Android). Data for all vendors are reported for calendar periods.

IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker gathers PC market data in over 80 countries by vendor, form factor, brand, processor brand and speed, sales channel and user segment. The research includes historical and forecast trend analysis as well as price band and installed base data.