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Posts tagged: microsoft

Skype version coming that gives users instant translations, due later this year

Redmond-based Microsoft is working on a beta version of Skype that gives real-time translations of conversations between people speaking different languages.

CEO Satya Nadella, who showed off the app at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., said the service has been in the works for 15 years.

It will be available free to Skype users by the end of this year as a Windows 8 beta app, the WSJ’s Douglas MacMillan reports.

 

20 to 25 percent of large firms are still using Windows XP. Any of them here?

Most people know that Microsoft shut down product support for individual users of Windows XP. But it still offers custom product support for companies that want to maintain that operating system.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley summarizes how that works in this article.

The article noted that despite the relative advantages of Windows 7 and 8.1, a lot of companies are maintaining a base of XP machines. Those are mostly large organizations with dispersed operations in different locations.

The article says:  “Gartner estimates 20 percent to 25 percent of enterprise systems are still running Windows XP, and that one-third of enterprises have more than ten percent of their systems still on XP. Often times, enterprise customers are still running XP because they have custom applications and/or peripherals that make migrating complicated and difficult.”

“In 2012, Gartner says some customers were claiming Microsoft was charging as much as $5 million for extended support coverage for Windows XP. But by 2013, according to Gartner, that cost was closer to a maximum of $2 million.”

The big takeaway: if you still need XP support, bargain. Microsoft will start higher than you will end up on the pricing.

We'd like to find some area examples of companies still using XP in their workplaces.  Send your comments to business@spokesman.com.

Foley also wrote: “It's also worth noting that there is a time limit  — which Microsoft is not disclosing — on how long the company will continue to provide XP patches to those users who are paying for CSA coverage. And in order to qualify for CSA coverage, customers must have migration plans with quarterly deployment milestones and a project completion date.”

 

Best places to work list includes STCU, Nordstrom and Schweitzer Engineering

Liberty Lake-based STCU is ranked 16th-best place to work in Fortune magazine’s rankings of medium-sized U.S. companies.

STCU is the third-largest credit union in Washington and the largest credit union in the Inland Northwest. It has 110,000 members with branches in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The Best Places to Work ranking at cnnmoney.com praises STCU for a culture of celebration, fun and commitment to employees. The review noted STCU provides a tuition reimbursement for its staff of up to $8,225 per year for related studies.

“It allows parents to take time off for their kids' first day of kindergarten and first grade, as well as for parent-teacher conferences,” the magazine said.

The top-ranked medium-sized business in the ranking was Acuity, an insurance company based in Sheboygan, Wis. A total of 25 companies are listed.

Fortune's lists also include the annual 100 Best Companies to Work For. Northwest companies on that list include: Perkins Coie law firm, No. 58; Nordstrom, No. 61; Umpqua Bank in Portland, No. 69; Starbucks, No. 73,, Microsoft, No. 76; Everett Clinic, No. 87; and Schweitzer Engineering, No.  97.

Microsoft introduces a squarish new logo

Microsoft has released its new logo.

It's the first serious change to the four-colored window theme logo in 25 years.

A company blog notes:

The Microsoft brand is about much more than logos or product names. We are lucky to play a role in the lives of more than a billion people every day.

The ways people experience our products are our most important “brand impressions”. That’s why the new Microsoft logo takes its inspiration from our product design principles while drawing upon the heritage of our brand values, fonts and colors.

Amway plans huge production facility in Port of Quincy, adding 30 jobs

The Port of Quincy has sold 12 acres in its industrial park to Amway, the giant direct-sales company that distributes thousands of household products.

The company, based in Grand Rapids, Mich.,  plans to build a  48,000-square-foot extraction and concentration facility to process ingredients for nutritional products sold under the Nutrilite brand.
 
The company has an option to buy an additional 15 acres of property at the same industrial park. 
 
Amway said it hopes to start the  $31.8 million project later this year. It will create 30 manufacturing and quality assurance jobs, as well as 100 or more temporary construction jobs. 
 
The Amway plant should start production  in 2014.
 
Port officials said the decision is another affirmation of Grant County's and the port district's coordinated efforts to use high-end infrastructure, such as broadband, and transportation advantages to market itself as a world-class industrial site.
 
The port has several other major clients, including Microsoft and Yahoo, both of which have large data centers on land managed through the port.

Thank you, 14Four. Improved sobriety test protects you from reckless tweets

The Step 2 tagline on the online version of the Social Media Sobriety Test sums it up:

“Choose your hours of intoxication.”

About a year ago the coders who work at Spokane creative agency 14Four had fun making a “social media sobriety kit” that kept people from posting drunken comments on sites like Facebook or Twitter.

The test was just upgraded by 14Four with a holiday theme.  As the new version gains blog and broadcast notoriety, those at 14Four who've worked on the sobriety test project say it's been a great showcase of their talents and skills.

In the world of advertising and creative marketing, half the battle is winning eyeballs. And that has clearly happened with the sobriety test, said Jeff Oswalt, 14Four’s president.

Last year’s version involved just a web browser tool that set time limits when one could post messages or photos. The tests themselves were simple: follow a moving object onscreen with a mouse or type the alphabet backwards.

The new version comes with holiday-themed warnings, such as: “Before you hand out copies of your backside or tell your in-laws how you really feel, download the Holiday Party Sobriety Test and protect yourself, from yourself.”

It also added mobile versions for Android and iPhone; you can download the free sobriety app from iTunes.

Burt Rutan joins up again with Paul Allen in new space launch venture

The big gathering Tuesday in Seattle was the reunion of two big shots in the dawning era of aerospace travel: billionaire Paul Allen and spacecraft designer Burt Rutan, who now hails from Coeur d’Alene.

Rutan, the renowned engineer who built the first commercially successful spacecraft, was at the side of the former Microsoft co-founder to launch their joint space venture, Stratolaunch Systems.

Stratolaunch hopes to become a successful aircraft-assisted launch company taking humans and payloads into orbit. Its first test flights won’t start until 2016. For a full overview of the new venture, here's Alan Boyle's report for MSNBC.com.

Rutan retired in April from his company Scaled Composites. He and his wife Tonya moved to Coeur d’Alene and say they have no plans to leave.

In an email, Rutan wrote that he'll serve as a Stratolaunch board member and adviser.

With funding from Allen, Rutan’s engineers at Scaled Composites designed SpaceShipOne, which won a $10 million prize in 2004 for being the first privately built and privately funded manned craft to reach space.

Rutan’s earlier accomplishments included developing the narrow-winged Voyager aircraft, which became in 1986 the first plane to fly around the world nonstop without refueling.

The couple lived in dry Mojave, Calif., for more than 25 years, where Scaled Composites is based.

As he prepared to retire, Rutan and Tonya drove across the West and looked at cities where they might retire.

“We looked at a lot of cities,” said Tonya Rutan.

When they went back to Mojave, they realized Coeur d’Alene was the city that made the biggest impression on them.

“It’s a charming city. And to us, it’s not small. It’s a big city to us, because we’re from a town of 3,000 people,” she said.

Photo shows Mike Griffin, Stratolaunch CEO, with Burt Rutan and Paul Allen. (Credit: Elaine Thompson / AP)

AARP’s Get Connected event for seniors gives online tips on social networking

Presentations by Microsoft and a well-known how-to author are part of a Dec. 1 session in Spokane on how seniors can use the Web more safely and explore social networking.

Washington state AARP and Microsoft Corp. are hosting the Get Connected session that runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at  the Spokane Convention Center.
 
The free event requires registration, and space is limited.
 
Gary Moulton, a Microsoft specialist in online access, and Marsha Collier, author of several books including “Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies,”  will also be on the program.
 
To register or get more information, go to http://aarp.us/vWRqQQ or call toll-free 1-877-926-8300. 
 
This is the second such event hosted by Microsoft with the AARP. The first one, earlier this year in Redmond, sold out.

Commerce Dept. gives $3 million wastewater grant to Quincy for growth

Quincy continues using its data-center cluster as a way to increase its economic profile.

The acting U.S. Commerce Secretary, Rebecca Blank, announced on Wednesday that Quincy has been given a $3 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to build a reverse osmosis treatment plant and related infrastructure that will support the region’s data processing industry.
 
The grant will increase the city’s water capacity and allow for continued expansion of nearby tech businesses who have or might in the future build data centers there.

The grant will help the community treat industrial and domestic wastweater to cool the Quincy data centers. The added capacity will also help area food processing and shipping businesses, according to an EDA press release.

Let's recap the companies using Grant County for affordable energy:  Microsoft, Yahoo, Sabey, Intuit and Dell, so far.

Windows 95 was the answer; plus, Sagan vs. Apple and how that turned out

We have a winner. Tmeatzie correctly noted that early on Windows 95 bore the codename “Spokane.” Our sources, who worked at the Redmond company, say the name lasted a short while, replaced by the official codename “Chicago.”

We gathered up this other odd little tidbit in our research: all the rest of this explanation is taken from the Wikipedia entry on Apple Inc. litigation.

In 1994, engineers at Apple Computer code-named the mid-level Power Macintosh 7100Carl Sagan” after the popular astronomer in the hope that Apple would make “billions and billions” with the sale of the PowerMac 7100. The name was only used internally, but Sagan was concerned that it would become a product endorsement and sent Apple a cease and desist letter.

Apple complied, but engineers retaliated by changing the internal codename to “BHA” for “Butt-Head Astronomer”. Sagan then sued Apple for libel. The court granted Apple's motion to dismiss Sagan's claims and opined that a reader aware of the context would understand Apple was “clearly attempting to retaliate in a humorous and satirical way, adding “One does not seriously attack the expertise of a scientist using the undefined phrase 'butt-head'.”

Sagan then sued for Apple's original use of his name and likeness, but again lost. Sagan appealed the ruling. In November 1995, an out of court settlement was reached and Apple's office of trademarks and patents released a conciliatory statement that “Apple has always had great respect for Dr. Sagan. It was never Apple's intention to cause Dr. Sagan or his family any embarrassment or concern.”

Win a coffee card naming what Microsoft release was code-named Spokane

We spotted a recent story from Western Washington, noting that Microsoft apologized to the Tulalip Tribe for using the name “Tulalip” as an internal designation for a new product.

The two sides apparently discussed the minor flap and settled it sensibly. The tribe understood the name would not be used on an actual product, and Microsoft agreed to stop using the name internally.

But this practice has a long tradition.

In fact, at one time “Spokane” was a code name for an early test version of a prominent Microsoft product.

Can anyone identify it?  First person to correctly identify which MS product had the “Spokane” test name for a brief while gets a $10 Starbucks card.

Current Microsoft company workers are not eligible. Each participant is allowed just one guess.
  

 

Why do people pick one smartphone over another: A graphic with some answers

Trying as hard as we can to offer the occasional useful chart or graphic. Today's offering:  a recently published graphic on what matters to people when buying a smartphone.

Definition first: A smartphone is: a mobile phone that offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. Smartphones and feature phones may be thought of as handheld computers that use applications similar to those you would use on a computer. (Definition from Wikipedia).

The graphic comes by way of Businessinsider.com.  The big determining factor, the survey shows, was “platform.” which means: Is this running on Apple software, Microsoft or Google Android software?

The second leading factor in smartphone selection appears to be features (the kind of buttons, the presence of a video recorder, etc.)  The third main factor are apps.

Quincy Microsoft server farm lands at No. 9 on largest data center list

Website  datacenterknowledge.com recently listed the 10 largest data centers in the world. Landing at No. 9 is the Microsoft Data Center in Quincy, in the heart of Grant County. Officially, the website made Quincy 9A, with Microsoft’s San Antonio data center 9B.

The photo above shows the Quincy site. Until two years ago, Microsoft planned to build a second adjoining center. For reasons involving state taxes, it stopped and moved more of its data to Texas.

Both San Antonio and Quincy measure about 470,000 square feet.  To view a video showing the inside of the Quincy site, it’s here.

Is Washington’s data center tax break too late?

Washington state leaders feel they’re back in the data center game.

Last week Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that could help data centers expand or set up shop in Washington rural counties. The law allows tax breaks for data centers in any county other than Spokane, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Clark and Thurston.

Though Washington is facing massive budget deficits, state leaders were clearly warned that without a bill that cut sales taxes on new data center equipment, the future of expansion by Yahoo, Microsoft and other tech firms was minimal.

From 2006 until 2008, Microsoft, Intuit and Yahoo all built large data centers in Grant County, using the Port of Quincy’s low power rates and redundant fiber connectivity to justify the investment.

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