Tag Archives: microsoft

Microsoft to Open its First Data Centers in Africa

Microsoft today announced that it will soon open two data center regions for its cloud-based services in Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa. This marks Microsoft’s first data center expansion into Africa, and the plan is to get these new regions online in 2018.

Like most of its other data centers around the world, these new regions will offer both Azure’s suite of cloud computing tools for developers as well as productivity tools like Office 365 and Dynamics 365. With no data centers in the region, developers and other Microsoft customers currently have to connect to data centers in Europe and accept the increased latency that entails.

“Few places in the world are as dynamic and diverse as Africa today,” Microsoft’s executive vice president for its Cloud and Enterprise group Scott Guthrie writes in today’s announcement. “In this landscape, we see enormous opportunity for the cloud to accelerate innovation, support people across the continent who are working to transform their businesses, explore new entrepreneurship opportunities and help solve some of the world’s hardest problems.”

The addition of these two new regions brings Microsoft’s total number of regions to 40, significantly more than its biggest competitors. As far as competing cloud platforms go, Google currently offers its developers access to eight regions (but has a plan to aggressively increase this number over the course of this year) and Amazon’s AWS currently operates 16 regions and 42 availability zones.

It’s worth noting that neither Google nor Amazon currently operate regions in Africa, though the number of data centers in the region that are being operated by other companies continues to increase rapidly.

Source: TechCrunch

Ecobank, Microsoft and a $500,000 FinTech Challenge

Ecobank and Microsoft signed a MoU

Ecobank has obviously decided to increase and improve its presence and participation in tech arena. This can be observed in resent strategic moves that extends to corperate social duties.
The transnational incorporated bank has partnered with Microsoft to complement African government’s efforts to modernise and raise the standards of the continent’s major cities through state of the art digital solutions.

The partnership will see to the modernisation of sectors that will have the most immediate and significant impact for African countries.

These sectors will include bursary, disbursements, and school fees collections in he education sector, market shop and small vendor municipality collections, vehicles and driving licensing as well as Vis and passport fee collections.

The partnership will also supports the implementation of a comprehensive skills and a digital literacy programme.

Other key areas such as land registration and fee collection in the municipal and hospital services are all expected to see some tremendous modernisation.

Following the rise in the need for financial solutions in Africa, Ecobank also has challenged developers, programmers and FinTech innovators all over Africa to join forces in combating the continent’s most pressing banking issues, and proffer lasting solutions that would transform Africa’s finance through technology and innovation.

The bank is doing this through $500,000 FinTech challenge for African startupsn. Asides the chance to win up to $500,000 funding, the Ecobank FinTech Challenge affords applicants benefits such as partnership with the bank, full Pan-African visibility, multi-national exposure and the list goes on.

All African startups and technology innovators are eligible to apply for the challenge, are to choose from different areas of interest and build a demo to serve as prototype 

A total of 20 teams will be selected to pitch at the bank’s Innovation Fair, which will be held at the global headquarters of Ecobank in Lomé in May, 2017.

Microsoft Invests in Marijuana (Weed) Business


Microsoft is making a bet on the legal weed business. Today, it announced it would partner with LA-based pot startup ‘Kind’ to create software that helps track marijuana plants from “seed to sale.” The software — powered by Microsoft’s cloud platform ‘Azure’ — is designed to facilitate sales and commerce for states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana use.

“The goal of this relationship is to leverage each company’s resources to provide State, County, and Municipalities with purpose built solutions for track and trace (‘seed to sale’ in the cannabis industry) technology,” Kind said in the statement.

The venture is a significant one as there’s still considerable stigma attached to the weed business.

Microsoft moving into the legal marijuana segment is certainly a risky move.

Although legal in a handful of states — and many more for medicinal use — marijuana still has a stigma attached to it that has mostly kept big businesses unwilling to invest. It’s one of the most tightly-regulated in the country, it’s mostly devoid of investment funds and it still resides in a sort of government-created purgatory as states (where it’s legal) fight against the federal government (where it’s not).

Is Marijuana A.K.A Weed Medicine? Yes

Will Microsoft kick off a series of other major companies investing in weed startups? Only time will tell.

Source: TNW

HP Is Launching A Windows 10 Phone That Can Be Turned To A PC


HP Inc. — the PC and printer side of the recently split HP – is trying to get back into the phone game with an interesting approach.

At Mobile World Congress, HP announced the Elite x3, a phablet (3.29 x 0.31 x 6.36 inches) designed for enterprise customers. But it’s not just a big smartphone – the device can be paired with two accessories that turn the device into either a desktop computer or laptop.

The phone will run Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile operating system and will take advantage of Microsoft’s Continuum feature, which lets developers make universal apps that run on any screen size: PCs, phones, tablet, Xbox One and even HoloLens, Microsoft’s foray into augmented reality headsets.

There are three parts to HP’s Elite x3. First is the phone equipped with Qualcomm’s latest high-end mobile “system on a chip,” the Snapdragon 820. The chip will have all the processing power to turn it into a PC. “For the first time, mobile chips can rival PC workloads,” said Michael Park, the vice president and general manager of HP’s mobility division, in an interview.

To turn the phone into a desktop PC, HP is creating the “Desk Dock” that supports an external monitor. Plug the phablet into this docking station and hook it up to a larger screen. For a laptop experience, HP has a 12.5-inch diagonal high-definition display that folds up with a keyboard and trackpad. Inside the laptop is just WiFi radio and a big battery — about two and a half times larger than a normal laptop battery. The phablet will connect to the laptop through WiFi direct or a USB cable.

For apps that can’t run on the phone — many of the traditional workplace apps were developed  on Intel’s x86 chip architecture and built for traditional mouse and keyboard interactions — HP is offering a catalog of these apps that can be virtualized. HP plans to start selling the Elite x3 this summer and pricing hasn’t been determined yet.

HP hasn’t had much luck in mobile so far. The company killed off its phone division for the most part in 2011, after having spent $1 billion acquiring Palm. Palm isn’t likely to have much luck in the consumer smartphone market, as that segment has matured and the dominant players have mostly been set. Attempts at introducing a new smartphone brand for consumers is close to impossible at this point. But HP thinks the business market has plenty of openings left. HP is jumping back into the phone game because it thinks it has a chance to address the growing need for business-specific phones that integrate with legacy enterprise software made for the PC era.

“For us, it’s difficult to lead on the consumer side,” Park said. “The real pain point is in commercial. All the x86 apps are trapped in the PC world. What we’re doing is building a bridge to the future. We think HP can really differentiate there.”

This new mobile effort from HP provides a pretty compelling answer for what Microsoft’s future mobile strategy could be. Another phone that supported the 
continuum feature is the Lumia 950, which relied on a weaker Qualcomm processor. Now a company like HP is willing to try out this approach and run with it. “This is the best implementation of Continuum I’ve seen so far,” said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead, who has had a chance to get a hands-on demo of the phone.

“Windows 10 was built for an era of more personal computing, one in which your experiences, content and data are mobile with you,” said Microsoft CEO  Satya Nadella in a statement. “Together with partners including HP andQualcomm, we are focused on enabling customers to be productive wherever they are, furthering our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

“You’re going to see a lot more phones like this in the future,” Moorhead said. “Smartphone growth has been leveling out. People are looking for ways to make smartphones do more.”

Source: Forbs Magazine

Apple vs FBI: Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gate Disagree


Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Monday he was“sympathetic” with Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook in his stand-off with the US government over breaking into the iPhone of a mass shooter.

“I don’t think that requiring back doors to encryption is either going to be an effective thing to increase security or is really the right thing to do. We are pretty sympathetic to Tim and Apple,” he said at the world’s biggest mobile congress in Barcelona.

“At the same time we feel we have a really big responsibility running this big networking community to help prevent terrorism and different types of attacks. If we have opportunities to basically work with the government to make sure there are not terrorist attacks, obviously we are going to take those opportunities.”

The controversy emerged earlier this month when Apple refused to help the FBI break into an iPhone belonging to the late Syed Farook, who along with his wife went on a deadly shooting rampage in California’s San Bernardino in December.

Apple claims that cooperating with the probe would undermine privacy and security for its devices, while the US government counters it is a one-time request that will aid an important investigation.

But today, the Financial Times reported that Microsoft founder Bill Gates has come out to back the FBI. Breaking ranks with Silicon Valley companies who support Apple in its refusal to hack the phone of one of the attackers, Gates said technology companies should be forced to co-operate with law enforcement in terrorism investigations, the paper said.

Gates disagreed with Apple chief Tim Cook’s claim that the government was looking for a “back door” into phones and that compliance would set a wider precedent, it said. Syed Farook, a US citizen, and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik in December gunned down 14 people at an office party in San Bernardino, California, before they were killed in a shootout with police.

The FT report comes a day after a poll indicated that a majority of Americans also back the FBI in its battle with Apple. The Pew Research Center survey found 51 percent of respondents supported the effort to require Apple to help unlock the iPhone, while 38 percent said Apple should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of other users’ communications. Apple’s challenge of a court order to unlock the phone opens up a new front in the long-running battle between technology companies and the government over encryption.

US magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple last week to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the FBI, including disabling an auto-erase feature after too many unsuccessful attempts are made to unlock the iPhone 5C. Apple rejected the order, saying it was “too dangerous” to create such a back door.

Culled from: Vanguard Newspaper