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New Microsoft ad touts Cortana, slams Apple’s Siri

Siri vs. Cortana might just be an updated version of the PC vs. Mac showdown. Microsoft just debuted a new video ad touting Cortana, its virtual assistant found on Windows Phone. The 30-second spot features Cortana accomplishing tasks like scheduling reminders and providing traffic alerts. Meanwhile, Apple’s digital assistant cannot understand the human commands. “Now that is a smart phone,” Siri… Read More

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GeekWire Radio: Fire phone, iPhone 6 and Microsoft’s smartwatch, with Essex Porter and Andru Edwards

We get a glimpse of the future this week on the GeekWire radio show, talking about Amazon’s newly released Fire phone, the widely rumored iPhone 6, and Microsoft’s unannounced smartwatch — with some Windows Phone thrown in for good measure. Joining me in the studio are Andru Edwards, editor of the GearLive tech news site, who extends his record as our… Read More

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Microsoft says it will closely monitor the impact of contractor policy changes

Microsoft is getting lots of attention for a new policy that will prevent its large contract workforce from accessing company buildings and the internal network after 18 months on the job — requiring a six-month break even for “v-dash” vendors who previously were on indefinite assignments. It’s a significant change in policy that promises to make many Microsoft teams think twice about using large numbers of… Read More

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Yammer co-founder David Sacks leaving Microsoft, two years after $1.2B acquisition

Yammer co-founder David Sacks is leaving Microsoft, and the team developing the business-oriented social network will be folded into the Office 365 and Outlook development teams. Sacks announced the news on Twitter this afternoon, and Microsoft confirmed the changes in a statement to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The company said in the statement: “As we’ve seen… Read More

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Q&A: Nokia HERE targets iOS and Android, expanding its role as the ‘location cloud’

The launch of Amazon’s Fire phone today marks an important step for Nokia’s HERE location-technology business, which is supplying the underlying mapping platform used by the new smartphone. But it’s just part of a broader expansion strategy for the Nokia-owned company — including the planned release of new consumer services for iOS and Android later this year. That’s one of the… Read More

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Uber app arrives on Microsoft’s Windows Phone

Uber, the popular on-demand ride service, launched its first native Windows Phone app today, filling a notable gap in Microsoft’s mobile marketplace. The app, available here, works in the same way as Uber’s existing apps for iPhone and Android, letting users request, track and pay for a ride via the app. Previously, Windows Phone users needed… Read More

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Microsoft mum on Xbox One sales; notes 1.1M ‘Xbox consoles’ shipped in past 3 months

Microsoft hasn’t reported Xbox One sales statistics for quite some time, and that didn’t change with today’s quarterly earnings report. The company noted that it sold 1.1 million Xbox consoles to retailers worldwide in the past three months — that’s counting both Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles. It’s unclear how many were actually sold to consumers…. Read More

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Microsoft revenue up 18%, beating expectations, but profits come up short

Microsoft posted $23.4 billion in revenue for the June quarter, a 17.5 percent increase, but its earnings of 55 cents a share fell short of analysts’ expectations as the company reflected the acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business on its financial statements for the first time. Companywide profits (net income) fell to $4.6 billion, a 7 percent decline… Read More

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Microsoft’s contractor crackdown: ‘Shadow layoff’ could force big cultural changes inside company

Microsoft employed about 100,000 people directly prior to its acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business. That’s the employment number the company reports publicly — the “blue badges” who make up the core of its workforce. But in addition to those employees, more than 71,000 worked with Microsoft as “orange badges” — contractors, vendors and other contingent staff who do a ton of work… Read More

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Internal memo: Microsoft to cut off all ‘external staff’ after 18 months, imposing mandatory 6-month break

An internal Microsoft memo, distributed earlier today, outlines new restrictions on the company’s use of “external staff” — including a new limit on people who work on projects for Microsoft through vendors. All contingent workers will be prevented from accessing Microsoft’s buildings and network for a period of six months after every 18-month period in which they perform work for the company, according to the memo. Perhaps most notably,… Read More

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Nadella earns high marks from Microsoft employees, outpacing Ballmer, prior to this week’s job cuts

The psychological impact of Microsoft’s job cuts is still rippling through the company’s workforce, but CEO Satya Nadella has the advantage of a very high approval ratings from employees prior to the cuts. Numbers provided to GeekWire by the Glassdoor employment review and ratings site put Nadella’s cumulative approval rating at 88 percent. That’s well above the average CEO approval… Read More

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Xbox One August update includes mobile purchasing, new social features, low battery notifications

Microsoft is rolling out another update for Xbox One owners beginning next week, and gamers will see several new additional features on their console. Here’s a rundown of some of the new updates: Mobile purchasing: You’ll be able to buy games remotely on a mobile device using Xbox SmartGlass or Xbox.com, and have them automatically… Read More

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Nokia’s MixRadio streaming service hopes to spin off from Microsoft amid layoffs

Nokia’s MixRadio music streaming service is aiming to spin off from Microsoft as a part of the layoffs the company announced yesterday. The service will still be pre-loaded onto Windows Phone handsets, but a successfully spun off MixRadio would also have the ability to make apps for other platforms, including Android and iOS, according to a… Read More