Monday tech roundupLast week was Google’s rebranding week where the tech giant changed its look and logo in order to be multi-platform friendly. For the whole week it was everything everyone was talking about. Do you like the new logo? Is it too simple? Too minimalist? Where has the serif gone? Did a child design it? So many questions and even more opinions, but while Google was getting a facelift, last week we saw Microsoft fighting for cloud data privacy, some impressive numbers about the uptake of Windows 10, and with the purchase of Good Technology, Blackberry revealed it is seeking to completely reinvent itself.

Microsoft fights for cloud data privacy

Many international customers contract their cloud services with European providers rather than their NSA-ravaged, US-based counterparts for fear their data will be scoured by authorities. Now a search warrant aimed at accessing data on the Microsoft cloud threatens to make the move to non-US cloud providers more complete.

Unlike NSA interests, The US Justice Department is looking for information to bolster a drug case, and demanding Microsoft give up the goods. While it is going after Microsoft, the data actually resides in one of the companies’ data centers in Ireland, which has different privacy laws. If Microsoft hands over the data, customers have even less reason to feel their data is safe from prying government authorities’ hands.

The search warrant raises some interesting issues. Does the ability to get at data depend on where the provider is based, or where the data actually resides? This is made more complex by the fact that large providers can and do move data from one data center to another, sometimes dynamically and automatically. Most customers don’t even know where their data physically resides.

Microsoft already lost a couple rounds in the courtroom and was ordered to offer up the info. However, knowing the ramifications and potential loss of customers to foreign rivals, they continue to appeal. We’ll be watching this one closely as any decisions taken will be shaping the future of the cloud and privacy.

Month-old Windows 10 as popular as year’s old Mac

After just one month of availability Windows 10 is now on 5% of PCs worldwide. That’s because the OS was in widespread test before its release and the upgrades are largely free – unlike its predecessors.

What is shocking is that 5% market share is roughly equal to what the Mac has. According to NetMarketShare.com, when you look at all current version of the MacOS, the share is around 7%. And that machine has been around for close to three decades.

Two separate researchers, Net Application and StatCounter, both roughly concur on the 5% figure, with Net Applications putting the share at 5.21% and StatCounter going for the somewhat lower 4.88%.

Being free is largely responsible for the enormously fast uptake, StatCounter believes.

“Windows 10 came out of the traps much faster than Windows 8 and also exceeded the launch of Windows 7,” said Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. Here is what StatCounter  came up with:

Table A. Internet usage share for first calendar month since launch

Windows 10 Windows 8 Windows 7
Worldwide 4.88% 1% 4.05%
US 5.64% 1.16% 4.3%
UK 8.45% 1.17% 4.34%

So how far can Windows 10 go? Microsoft hopes that in three years some 1 billion devices will run the OS. The big question is how many of these will be smartphones. While Windows 10 in my estimation will rule the PC/laptop space, Windows is still not cutting it on phones, and pure tablets tend to be Apple or Android territory.

Would you pay (US) $500 million for a (US) $666 computer?

The original Apple 1 was a breakthrough not just for its size, but its price of (US) $666, a fraction of the mainframe and minicomputers in use at the time.

One of these early models in reportedly perfect shape is up for auction and the seller is hoping to fetch up to a half million US dollars. Think that price is nuts? Think again as another Apple 1 went for over (US) $900,000 last year.

apple

But not every Apple 1 is worth so much. The expensive ones are the earliest models, especially from the first batch of 50. This particular machine was traded into a dealer in exchange for an NCR computer (now entirely worthless even if it still existed), and was only used a time or two, ComputerWorld reports. The most astonishing thing is that it works just fine according to this video.

The price tag of the Apple 1 shows the place it has in IT history and it seems like the story of the Apple 1 is a little different than it has been portrayed in recent movies about Steve Jobs. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently admitted that Jobs had little to do with the engineering of the device, and he does so in a candid interview with fourteen year old Sarina Khemchandani picked up by Business Insider.

“Steve Jobs played no role at all in any of my designs of the Apple I and Apple II computer and printer interfaces and serial interfaces and floppy disks and stuff that I made to enhance the computers. He did not know technology. He’d never designed anything as a hardware engineer, and he didn’t know software. He wanted to be important, and the important people are always the business people. So that’s what he wanted to do.”

Blackberry turning into a software company

Blackberry ultimately failed as a device company, even though it still produces some phones but that doesn’t mean the company itself failed. Instead, in a rather remarkable display, Blackberry has reinvented itself as a software company.

The latest indication is the purchase of Good Technology (not sure how they managed to score that name!) for (US) $425 million. Good Technology is all about mobile device management, which helps IT secure, configure, and manage mobile devices. MDM as it’s known is a must for the world of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) where employees make use of their own phones and tablets for work.

Blackberry was already in the MDM business, and now has a broader portfolio.

Part of the plan involves mobile security, said Blackberry COO Marty Beard. “We are strengthening BlackBerry’s software and cloud portfolio – and with Good, BlackBerry is creating the most comprehensive secure mobility platform in the market. Good has strength in multi-OS management and applications – particularly with iOS as well as Windows and Android, which BlackBerry has been delivering with BES12. Good also has established a strong ecosystem of more than 2,000 independent software vendor and customer-developed applications. And the two companies share an unrelenting commitment to security and privacy on behalf of our customers,” he said in a company posted Q&A.

Beard continued by saying that the new acquisition will contribute to the growth of Blackerry’s Internet of Things platform to go beyond mobile devices and manage new, connected endpoints: “Together, we will be able to quickly scale customers’ mobile environments, transforming traditional MDM deployments to mission-critical mobile hubs that will ultimately manage an IoT world.” He explained how, with the help of Good Technology, Blackberry will be able to bridge the world of IoT so regulated industries can better leverage mobile devices and tablets when working with next generation machines and devices.

Chrome pushes browser speed to the max

Many of us spend most of our computing time staring at a browser, and when that browser takes too long to respond, that staring becomes insufferable. That is the basis of the browser speed wars where we reported on the performance prowess of the new Microsoft Edge browser recently.

Not to be outdone, Google has a Chrome browser update that is all about response time. Speed means it uses less resources, so for those of us on batteries, like laptop users, we would be able to computer longer.

One technique involves smarter management of tabs. “Chrome has long had the option to “continue where you left off” by restoring tabs when you relaunch Chrome. Now, Chrome is smarter about restoring your tabs more efficiently. Tabs are restored from most to least recently viewed, so you get to see the most important tabs faster. And Chrome will now detect if your computer is running low on resources and stop restoring the rest of your tabs to save you precious memory. You can always click to restore them if you’d like to access them later,” a Google blog said.

On the power front, Google knows how much many use Flash (even though it’s not the most security and stable). “We’ve also made changes to Chrome to improve power usage. A new setting introduced in June will auto-pause Flash content that’s not central to a website. Our testing has shown that turning on this setting makes your battery last up to 15% longer depending on your operating system, so over the next few weeks we’ll begin turning on this feature by default for all users.,” the blog said.