Microsoft’s Xbox Music due for October 26th

The Xbox music service owned by Microsoft is said to be rolling out its service which is Spotify-like come October ending and according Microsoft it will also be launching its Windows 8 at the same period.

A streaming music service which is aided by internet is to be live October 26th and will be available on a subscription or free ad-supported basis.

Xbox Music will not be restricted to the Xbox 360 and will also be accessible from Windows Phone 8 devices and on Microsoft’s new operating system. It is also planned to be brought over to other platforms including iOS and Android, but apps for these devices will not be available at launch.

Earlier price leaks suggest that a monthly subscription to the service will cost £8.99 with an annual pass selling for £89. At launch, Xbox Music is expected to have library of more than 30 million tracks.

Xbox Music was debuted at this year’s E3 alongside Xbox Video and SmartGlass. It is part of Microsft’s wider ambition to allow people to have a continuous digital experience across multiple platforms. The service will have Skydrive support, Microsoft’s cloud solution to let people access content across multiple devices.

The Xbox 360 has seen an increasing focus towards general media outside of games with support for film and video. One of Microsoft’s previous efforts in the music space, its Zune mp3 player, was discontinued in October 2011 so the company could focus more time and resource on Windows Phone.

Windows phone 8 smartphone unveiled by Microsoft thanks to HTC

HTC has produced two new smartphones for Microsoft, running on its Windows Phone 8 operating system.

Microsoft and HTC yesterday unveiled the first two “signature Windows Phones”, the Windows Phone 8X and 8S. Both devices will be available from November, though more than 150 mobile operators worldwide, although pricing details have yet to be revealed.

The X and the S nomenclature mirror HTC’s existing one product line. The 8X is the higher device of the two, with a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 4.3-inch display and 8-megapixel camera (with the now obligatory burst mode). There’s also an 88-degree wide angle 2.1MP front-facing camera, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of memory and NFC capability.

The 8S is physically smaller and less capable, with a dual-core 1GHz S4 chip, 5MP camera and a non-HD 4-inch display. Both models come in a variety of bold colours, rather akin to Nokia’s Lumia series. Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, stretched credulity somewhat when he said:

“Windows Phone has clearly emerged as one of the top mobile ecosystems and is competitive against any other smartphone platform in the world.

We’ve been inspired by Windows Phone 8 to create new smartphones that give the platform the iconic design and personality it deserves.”

That’s salesmanship for you. Microsoft is going to need more support from HTC and others to bolster the early efforts of Nokia in getting more devices out into the market – and devices that truly stand out from the very capable Android and iPhone alternatives. And as Motorola showed earlier this week with its new Intel-powered RAZR i phone, the battle now is for those feature phone owners who have yet to be persuaded (either through price or complexity) to switch to smartphones.

The new HTC models certainly appear to span the market from low to high-end Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, added:

“Pairing these beautiful new HTC phones with our Windows Phone brand is a big milestone for both of our companies and our partnership. Together we are offering customers a simple choice and a truly unique experience.”

Chris Weber, Nokia’s Head of Marketing, made a blatant attempt to deflect attention away from HTC and towards Nokia (well, he certainly got some column inches here, so his tactic worked). “It takes more than matching colour to match the innovation of the Lumia 920”, he tweeted, as well as later alluding to the fact that HTC has chosen to merely “tactically re-brand their products”. You would have thought Nokia would have been grateful for more market support for Windows Phone, but his aggressive negativity simply highlights the rotten culture at the once great Nokia.

We shall leave him to his little tweets and instead welcome the expansion of the Windows Phone line-up. Let’s not forget HTC was the OEM behind some of Microsoft’s earlier forays into mobile – the iPAQ and Orange SPV.

Gates foundation formally registered in Nigeria as International NGO

The Federal Government and the Gates Foundation on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen the participation of non-governmental organizations in reducing poverty and improving agriculture in Nigeria.

Gates visits the Bini Community Health Post, in Sokoto in February; the community is one of those combating the polio disease in Nigeria.

The Foundation’s director for Africa, Laurie Lee said that the agreement will make it imperative for the government to provide an office for the country representative of the organization.

According to him, the foundation’s representative in Nigeria will directly ensure the implementation of BGF objectives which includes fighting polio, providing family planning support, HIV/AIDS treatment and promoting agricultural development.

“The Gates Foundation is about helping families throughout the world live healthy and productive lives, particularly in developing countries,” Mr Lee said.

He said the organisation have worked in Nigeria for a long time “particularly in areas of health like polio, HIV, malaria, child and mother health as well as in agriculture.

“By signing this agreement today and agreeing that we would have a country representative on the ground in Nigeria, we think that we would be able to work much closely with the government and our partners here in Nigeria to be even more effective on the ground,” he added.

On his part, the Minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman said that the support provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation will assist the federal government achieve its transformation agenda and the vision 2020.

“Nigeria being such a big and important country, they need to be formally represented here and they’ve sent in their application which we have processed. Though it took some time because it has to go through the due process and they have succeeded. Today we sign the Memorandum of Understanding that now formally registers them as an international NGO in Nigeria,” the minister said.

Facebook pays Microsoft $550 million for AOL patents

Facebook will pay Microsoft Corp $550 million in cash for hundreds of patents recently sold by AOL, the social networking company’s latest move to bulk up its intellectual property in the wake of a lawsuit filed by Yahoo.

A variety of logos hover above the Microsoft booth on the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

The deal, shortly before Facebook is expected to have the largest initial public offering in Silicon Valley history, will give the social network 650 patents and patent applications, as well as a license to another 275 patents and applications owned by Microsoft.

Microsoft trumped Amazon, eBay and other tech giants earlier this month with its more than $1 billion purchase of most of AOL Inc. patent trove.

Valuing patents is a complex process, and it was not immediately clear whether Microsoft profited from the deal with Facebook.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel, said in a prepared statement on Monday that the Facebook deal allows it “to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction.”

Facebook was also a participant in the AOL auction, a source told Reuters at the time.

Facebook’s deal with Microsoft comes as the world’s No.1 social networking company is preparing for an initial public offering that could value it at up to $100 billion and as Facebook fights a legal battle with Yahoo Inc.

Yahoo sued Facebook earlier this year, alleging that Facebook infringed 10 Yahoo patents, including several that cover online advertising technology. Facebook countersued Yahoo in April, alleging that Yahoo infringes 10 of Facebook’s patents.

In March, Facebook acquired 750 patents from International Business Machines Corp.

Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook in 2007 and the two companies have forged various business collaborations over the years. Facebook features search results from Microsoft’s Bing search engine in its social networking service as well as video chat technology provided by Skype, which Microsoft acquired last year.

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings serves on the board of directors of both Facebook and Microsoft.


Microsoft to Release Office Suits for Tablets

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates

With the wave of tablets introduced into the market and complains about the restriction of tablets with Microsoft Office Suits, Microsoft is now set to accommodate tablet users with tablet versions of the popular Microsoft Office Suits.

According to The Daily Mail, Microsoft office is working hard to release the tablet versions of the suit sometime in mid-2012.

The relationship between Apple and Microsoft when it comes to the Office package has been one of mutual respect. The Apple version on OSX is very stable, capable and works perfectly well, and so this relationship of “quid pro quo” between the two companies has proved to be one area that the competing brands have enjoyed a happy friendship in.

With reports of tablets slowly taking over laptops as the go to PC for pretty much everything, one distinct area currently lacking is the familiar Microsoft Office package for everyday writing/publishing needs.

There is an argument that Microsoft should wait until their own tablet is released, prior to an iOS office application going on sale.

Forrester research analysts are of the opinion that the rise of subsidised, cut-price versions of tablets from Amazon, WhSmith and Barnes and Noble will mean that Windows 8 tablets will face tough competition from cheap varieties and also well-established tablet manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and Blackberry.