Microsoft is best known for software products like Windows and Office. If you bought a PC, more often than not it came with Windows, and chances are you bought a copy of Office to go with it.
But the personal computers that Microsoft makes a lot of software for aren’t selling the way they once did. And the company’s entry into the smartphone business — which has been eating into PC sales for several years — was a disaster.
It’s a good thing Microsoft is determined not to miss the boat on cloud computing, a current trend that connects people over the internet to software hosted in big data centers.
On Tuesday, in its quarterly earnings results, Microsoft offered strong signs that its cloud business was growing quickly. Revenue from Azure, a business Microsoft started to compete in cloud computing with Amazon, the market leader, rose more than 100 percent in the quarter.
Revenue from Office 365, a subscription version of the old Office software, rose 54 percent from commercial customers and 19 percent from consumers.
“I think they’ve done extraordinarily well,” said Merv Adrian, an analyst at the technology research firm Gartner. “There’s nobody else who is arguably the challenger to Amazon that Microsoft is.”
If there were any concerns that retailers and other vendors of goods and services are hunkering down on their ad spending, those fears can be safely swept under the rug because just days after Facebook’s dramatic beat, moments ago GOOG likewise slammed expectations by beating massively both on the top and bottom line.
Q4 EPS of $8.67 beat expectations of $8.08, up $2.00 from the $6.76 reported a year ago.
Revenues of $21.33 billion soared 18% compared to the year ago period; Traffic Acquisition Costs were $2.9 billion for the fourth quarter; net of TAC’s revenues of $17.3 billion beat expectations of $16.9 billion
Aggregate paid clicks jumped 31%, while paid clicks on Google websites surged 40%
On the less than pleasant said, the cost per click dropped by 13%, well below the expected, suggesting some mobile tranisition pains
Free cash flow for the quarter soared to $4.3 billion, more than doubling the $2.8 billion a year ago, as a result of a drop in CapEx from $3.6 billion to $2.1 billion.
A report in the Independent cites the revelation by the New York Times that just hours after the shooting in San Bernardino, California, the top term typed into Google didn’t just contain the word “Muslims” — but actually spelled out “kill Muslims.”
Islamophobic sentiments typed into search engines appeared to peak in the US at the same time that hate crimes against Muslims were at their highest recorded level.
By trawling through data between 2004 and 2013, the paper discovered a direct correlation between anti-Muslim searches and anti-Muslim hate crimes.
The New York Times suggests that analyzing data related to what people search for on Google could help predict hate crimes that have yet to be committed.
The ‘Cassandra’ of the Internet
The technique used in the US does not, however, work in the UK. Britain doesn’t break down hate crime data based on the religion of the victim. The Independent concludes that Google search terms may act as a barometer for anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US — but it remains inconclusive with regards to using Google data to predict hate crimes in the UK.
However, one organization, Tell Mama, which stands for Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks, recently compiled a report for the British government detailing verbal and physical abuse suffered by Muslims. Its data does reveal that anti-Muslim hate crime spiked following the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. Many of the hate crime attacks took place on public transport and targeted women wearing the hijab.
“The bullying has got worse since the Paris attacks,” one mother reported.
Investigators for India’s competition authorities have concluded that Google has abused its dominant position in online search advertising, adding to the lengthening list of global regulatory problems facing the US technology group.
The Competition Commission of India first began investigating Google in 2012, focusing in particular on AdWords, its online advertisement service.
As part of that process, the CCI’s investigative arm has completed a preliminary report, a copy of which has been seen by the Financial Times. It suggests a variety of breaches of competition law.
The Indian investigation comes as Google readies for a protracted legal dispute with the European Commission, which earlier this year accused the group of unfairly promoting its shopping services in search results.
It also follows other global antitrust investigations over recent years, including a landmark 2013 ruling in the US that cleared the company of giving unfair search prominence to its own products.
India’s government is investigating four complaints against Google, two of which are dealt with in the report. These were filed by Bharat Matrimony, an online matrimonial site, and Consumer Unity & Trust Society, a consumer protection group.
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Google Maps has blurred out the home of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who deliberately crashed a Germanwings flight into the French Alps.
Lubitz reportedly lived with his girlfriend in a flat in Dusseldorf, Germany, but anyone typing the address into Google Street View is shown a pixelated square instead of the property.
Following Lubitz’s decision to crash the Airbus 320 into the Alps last Tuesday, killing himself and 149 other people on board, some of his relatives have deleted their Facebook pages in order to maintain their privacy, according to reports.
Google did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
Germany has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, with Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company, claiming it was powerless to know the details of Lubitz’s medical history amid reports he had suicidal tendancies.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the internet will become so ubiquitous that it will “disappear,” CNET reports.
When asked about his views on the future evolution of the web, the Google Chairman stated that he would “answer very simply that the internet will disappear.” Schmidt explained “there will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it; it will be part of your presence all the time.”
“Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room. A highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges,” he noted.
Schmidt was speaking at a panel dubbed “The Future of the Digital Economy,” along with top executives from Vodafone, Facebook, and Microsoft.
This won’t upset any Thanksgiving dinner plans, but Google should still take note.
The US-based web company has earned the ire of European parliamentarians, who have just voted 458 to 173 in Strasbourg in favour of a resolution that suggests its search engine could be separated from the rest of its services in order to remove a perceived bias in its results.
The vote lacks any of the heft of an antitrust investigation, but has ticked off US legislators, who say the move unnecessarily politicises the European Commission’s continuing inquiry into Google’s affairs.
The motion calling for the commission to consider unbundling Google’s services had been widely expected to pass on Thursday since it had the backing of the parliament’s two main political groups – the centre-right EPP and the centre-left Socialists.
It echoed ideas raised earlier this year by Sigmar Gabriel, the centre-left German vice-chancellor.
The commission’s five-year antitrust probe into Google’s search practices is currently under review after three aborted attempts to settle the case.
Although it is facing increasingly vocal demands from MEPs to take a tougher and more radical approach, competition officials have so far shown little enthusiasm to restructure Google.