Monday tech roundupHow does it feel to roll out a billion devices? Microsoft will soon find out, but it will be using a very conservative method to rollout Windows 10 with a rolling rollout that will first reach the more experienced users. Also this week: Net Neutrality in Europe might be in danger, the Harvard Business Review puts some minds at rest and a report about Google slowly gaining ground over Bing at Yahoo.

Windows 10 – a rolling rollout

With Microsoft expecting a billion devices to be running Windows 10 in two to three short years, it is being very careful with how it meets that demand. Instead of giving it to anyone who wants upon its release date, the company is first serving five million Windows ‘Insiders’, who have been testing the OS and tend to be the most experienced and technical. That is meant to happen at the tail end of this month.

As a quick measure, Windows 7 has just reached that billion device mark – an achievement that took a full six years. The Insiders have first dibs, and because they are already using a test versions of the OS, it is clear that their machines are compatible.

The group for delivery are those who reserved Win 10 and whose machines passed the compatibility check. The compatibility test should be a good precaution, especially after the Windows Vista interoperability disaster. “In our testing of millions of systems, we’re seeing full compatibility today with the vast majority of Windows 8x and Windows 7x systems– and we are not yet done, we will never be done – we will be continuing this application and device compatibility work every day as part of our ongoing commitment to Windows as a service,” wrote Terry Myers, Windows Chief, in a blog post.

Windows Insiders aren’t the first to get the OS. That honor goes to partners. “Soon, we will give a build of Windows 10 to our OEM partners so they can start imaging new devices with Windows 10. The new devices our partners are working on are very exciting,” Myers said while mentioning how much he’s looking forward to hear the partners’ feedback as they get to use them.

“Soon after, we will distribute a build of Windows 10 to retailers all over the world, so they can assist their customers with upgrades of newly purchased devices that were originally imaged with Windows 8.1,” he continued. Myers also included a word of advice in his post and asked users to always check for the sticker for assurance that our OEM partners have proactively tested a device for compatibility with Windows 10.

Will EU let net neutrality die?

Net neutrality is a big deal the world over. The concept is everyone should have the same Internet performance experience, whether you’re a YouTuber, a multinational corporation, or a media giant.

In Europe, a loophole in a new regulation under consideration by the European Commission may undo all the hard work done to establish a fair and equal Internet.

The agreement is aimed at establishing strong Net Neutrality rules, and calls for no traffic throttling or prioritization. The proposed exceptions, though, have equal access proponents fuming. These are around so-called “specialized services” such as high-def video conferencing and IPTV (television over the Internet).

In the second case, commercial services such as TV are a main target of Net Neutrality rules. The justification for this tier is for services that “use the Internet protocol and the same access network but require a significant improvement in quality or the possibility to guarantee some technical requirements to their end-users that cannot be ensured in the best-effort open Internet.”

Having such a tier, even if technically justified, is a slippery slope, as an interview in the Huffington Post indicates.

“ ’Specialized services’ has always been a potential problem,” Harold Feld, senior vice president at Public Knowledge, told the Post. “On the one hand, regulators hate to ban anything completely. The argument is always that there might be some wonderful life-saving medical application or super awesome wonderful job-creating application that only works with prioritization. On the other hand, regulators also recognize that the exception can effectively nullify net neutrality if any application or content can simply be declared a ‘specialized service.’”

Good news – machines not replacing people

Machines and robotics, no matter how efficient they are, are not killing off jobs as many had feared. Or so argues a TechCrunch blogger who long held many of those fears.

Jon Evans lays out the supposed threat that tech poses to working men and women. “As hardware doubles its density every 18-24 months, courtesy of Moore’s Law, and as software eats the world, technology will replace a broad swathe of jobs outright – from burger-flippers to diagnosticians– and atomize many others from full-time positions into gigs performed by many fungible workers. Tech, in short, will eat jobs,” Evans wrote.

But that thesis, at least for now, is fortunately wrong. And the United States, which just hit a seven-year unemployment low, is a prime example. “If the USA is the canary in our global coal mine […] then the workers of the world have little to worry about any time soon. Robots Seem to Be Improving Productivity, Not Costing Jobs,” reports the Harvard Business Review. Total nonfarm payroll employment is far above where it was ten years ago,” Evans argued.

There are myriad possibilities, including that tech will eventually destroy a great swath of jobs, or creates new silos of work that are immune to tech. But Evans is far more optimistic, predicting that “Tech creates great, or at least better, new jobs for everyone.” Of course, Evans also leaves open the possibility that something completely different might happen, and my gut pushes me more towards that possibility.

Google gains search ground on Bing partner Yahoo

Microsoft scored a bit of a coup when it convinced Yahoo to forgo its own search engine and instead focus on Bing. Of course, a little (US) $1 billion investment might have had something to do with it!

Years after that deal was struck, Yahoo is perhaps opening the door to other engines, and may well let Microsoft’s nemesis Google right in. Popcorn anyone?

In 2008 Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo for some (US) $50 billion. When that fell through, the two negotiated a 10-year deal making Bing Yahoo’s primary search engine, and Microsoft giving Yahoo 88% of the proceeds. Plus that nice fat reported billion dollar signing bonus.

A recent deal reset allowed Yahoo to work more with other partners, and the most prominent search partner is – you don’t have to query – Google! Under the new arrangement, a slight minority – 49% to be precise – of ad revenue can come from non-Bing browsers.

Yahoo is currently testing Google results, and it is a foregone conclusion that Google will fare just fine. So is there a deeper meaning? Most definitely. When Microsoft created Bing it was desperate to compete with Google search, and supplanting the Yahoo search engine was a big step. Microsoft also heavily leveraged its own resources, making Bing the default engine for IE, Surface and Windows Mobile. That gave it a solid, if not earthshattering search foothold.

Now Microsoft doesn’t have to scratch tooth and nail for every bit of search share, but has a solid enough position to be comfortable.


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