Analysis: Windows 10 shows that Microsoft’s getting back on track

Analysis: Windows 10 shows that Microsoft's getting back on track

During Microsoft's Windows 10 launch event yesterday, one thing became clear: Microsoft is absolutely desperate to banish the dual-interface confusion that made Windows 8 (though not so much Windows 8.1) a joke.


With the move to a more unified UI, I can't help but feel like Microsoft is turning a little against touch with this release – even if there are still numerous touch features present, but Windows 10 handles touch differently than Windows 8. Could Microsoft yet reveal a tablet version of Windows Phone 10? It's possible.


One thing's for sure – Windows 10 does mark a new beginning; a unified OS across various devices and Universal apps, too. The idea is that the new Windows will work on basically any device, maybe including ARM devices.


Many devices, one Windows


Microsoft wouldn't be drawn on it, instead preferring to talk up Windows Phone 10 as its ARM option, but if Microsoft wants Windows on every device, it will have to offer an ARM option for full-on productivity tablets.


Windows RT was the OS for ARM devices that was meant to change tablets. It was pretty much dead on arrival (which we always said it should be) thanks to a total lack of sales and manufacturer support. RT has now disappeared into the great recycle bin in the sky, along with the Windows 8 task switcher and possibly charms as we knew them.


Windows 10


But the good news is that Universal apps mean the line between Intel and ARM devices should be broken down in future – as well as the line between devices that have touch and those that don't.


As Microsoft's Terry Myerson says: "Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise data centers worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens – some have 80 inch screens – and some don't have screens at all. Some of these devices you hold in your hand, others are ten feet away. Some of these devices you primarily use touch/pen, others mouse/keyboard, others controller/gesture – and some devices can switch between input types."


Continuum's the key


That's why the new Continuum feature is absolutely key to the success of Windows 10 – the OS being able to adapt the user interface depending on the type of input and the type of display it is attached to. It's a very Apple-style feature in name as well as seamless function (well, it's designed to be seamless) but should bridge the gap between the increasingly diverse community of Windows devices.


As Mary Branscombe says in our hands on review, Microsoft is trying to strike a balance for every kind of user with Windows 10. And that includes business and enterprise – yesterday's event was designed specifically to signpost Windows 10 for these types of users, some of whom are persevering with the non-supported Windows XP while others wonder where they will go after Windows 7.


Windows 10


There were some interesting developments for those types of users, especially around device management and the ability to customize enterprise app stores and ensure that personal and corporate data don't mix. But the event didn't go that heavy on the detail so enterprises will certainly need to check out Windows 10 and its associated tools themselves.


One key benefit is that corporates will be able to choose between Windows Group Policy and Mobile Device Management (MDM) for the management and deployment of all Windows devices – even bog-standard beige-box desktop PCs. That even includes the management of what users do with their data.


The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture that's pervading through our businesses is also leaking data left, right and centre. According to a recent survey by PwC over 56% of UK companies have mobile security strategies – higher than the global figure – but 18% say they do not have any controls in place over the devices that enter into their businesses.


Developers, on the other hand, have a lot to celebrate with Windows 10's Universal apps (although we knew this One Microsoft-derived idea was in the pipeline). This is also key to the multi-device future of Windows 10.


There will be one app store across all devices including mobile and Xbox and apps will run on all sizes of device and in all environments (desktop and Modern UI). Apps will update across all of the devices and be simpler to administer.


Right now, Windows 10 isn't that different to Windows 8.1 for consumers. Yes, the new Start Menu should assuage some users coming from Windows XP and Windows 7, but there is precious little polish in the Technical Preview build. That's OK – Microsoft has two thirds of a year to add all that in.


Windows 10


Microsoft cites 14% growth in shipments of enterprise PCs during the first half of 2014 alongside a rise in enterprise tablet shipments of 33%.


It is those users Microsoft desperately wants to target with this new OS as it endeavours to persuade them away from older products. Microsoft is not only offering a Technical Preview of the OS itself, but is also releasing technical previews of Windows Server and its management tools, too.


So does Windows 10 see Windows getting back on track? Probably. But Microsoft has a big challenge in persuading people that it is serious about Windows 10 as a corporate tool as well as something that consumers should want to upgrade to, whether they're converts to Windows 8 or they resolutely stuck with Windows 7.


And that's before you mention the millions of people still persevering with Windows XP - the operating system that simply won't die. Truth be told, Microsoft still needs to bridge the gap back to those guys, too.



  • Windows 9 is no more! Check out our updated Windows 10 news, features, price update and release date hub here and our Hands-on Windows 10 Technical Preview here.


Reuters News: Rocket Internet likely to IPO at the upper end price range: sources



FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Rocket Internet (RKET.DE), the global e-commerce investor, will likely price its flotation at the upper end of the 35.50 euros ($44.75) to 42.50 euros a share price range, three people familiar with the deal said.



"Books for retail investors are still open until 5 o'clock (German time), and no final price has been set. But it certainly looks like the price will be 42.50 euros," one of the people said.



The shares are poised to be priced Wednesday night with trading to start on Thursday.



The Rocket flotation comes hot on the heels of the blockbuster listing of China's Alibaba (BABA.N) and just a day after the listing of Zalando (ZALG.DE), a European fashion site that Rocket helped found.



(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hübner)



Breaking News: Turkish citizens fight back against Twitter ban


Analysis: Here’s why Oracle could buy AMD tomorrow

Analysis: Here's why Oracle could buy AMD tomorrow

AMD has been the subject of acquisition speculations, more often than not in the past and with yesterday's joint presentation with tech giant Oracle, many will wonder whether now isn't the right time for the Austin-based company to start looking for potential suitors.


To borrow one of Microsoft's favourite terms, AMD is now at a "threshold" in its journey as a company. It's being gradually pushed out by Intel from a shrinking x86 desktop market and its mobile/tablet products are barely registering anywhere.


Standalone graphics cards (or add-in boards) are still big business, but they are steadily shrinking as embedded graphics solutions now provide plenty of oomph for the average computer user.


AMD's GPU shipments in Q2 jumped by 11% according to analyst Jon Peddie but it cannot mask a long term decline in that particular market; desktop GPU shipment units peaked in 2011 and have shrunk by nearly 20% since then.


That leaves AMD in a precarious position with its server business unit being the only real, sustainable area of growth for the next few years. I recently wrote about why Qualcomm could potentially buy AMD to give it a head start in the ARM server market but Oracle could very well be another suitor.


Sense of deja vu


It won't be the first time both companies are linked; in 2010 and 2011, rumours emerged that a deal might be on the table.


Time has changed since then; the company has lost 92% of its value since 2005, 62% since 2010 and lost 4% just yesterday. AMD was worth $2.73 billion at the time of writing (£1.70 billion, AU$ 3.13 billion).


At the beginning of this decade, x86 performance was the main driver behind a potential adoption but things have moved on. Yesterday's AMD/Oracle event was about Java's performance on AMD's ARM-based Opteron A-series with a particular focus on application accelerators.


AMD is a leader there with years of experience in customising xPU (CPU, GPU, APU) for customers (Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) but it is its experience as a heterogeneous player that could attract Oracle.


Put it simply, AMD is the only one in the market that can play well on the strengths of three different architectures: x86, ARM, GPU (Taiwanese firm VIA could also do it but I won't bet money on it).


That Skybridge ambidextrous, platform-agnostic design AMD presented earlier this year, could turn up to be very, very enticing.


Throw in a sprinkle of heterogeneity and it would all make sense. AMD was one of the founding members of HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) in June 2012 together with TI, Imagination, ARM and Mediatek.


Oracle and a bunch of other major technology players joined in late 2013 and it is now clear abundantly clear that Oracle could use HSA to offer an even more differentiated product portfolio, one that it controls from end-to-end, hardware, software and services included. Think Apple but for enterprise.


Oracle buying AMD would be devastating for enthusiasts and consumers worldwide though, both in the GPU and the CPU markets where Nvidia and Intel would be the only respective major players.

















Reuters News: Rocket Internet likely to IPO at the upper end price range: sources



FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Rocket Internet (RKET.DE), the global e-commerce investor, will likely price its flotation at the upper end of the 35.50 euros ($44.75) to 42.50 euros a share price range, three people familiar with the deal said.



"Books for retail investors are still open until 5 o'clock (German time), and no final price has been set. But it certainly looks like the price will be 42.50 euros," one of the people said.



The shares are poised to be priced Wednesday night with trading to start on Thursday.



The Rocket flotation comes hot on the heels of the blockbuster listing of China's Alibaba (BABA.N) and just a day after the listing of Zalando (ZALG.DE), a European fashion site that Rocket helped found.



(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hübner)



Breaking News: Mom tries to Facebook-shame daughter, gets pizza on face


Review: Sharp MX-C301W printer review

Review: Sharp MX-C301W printer review

Overview, printing and scanning


The Sharp MX-C301W printer is the latest offering in the competitive enterprise printing space, which includes models like HP's LaserJet Enterprise M601 Mobile Printer and Lexmark's C740 and CS510 series printers. The Sharp MX-C301W is designed to handle a multitude of tasks in a smaller office environment quickly and cost effectively (at just 4 cents per page, according to the Sharp rep with whom I spoke). The 72.8 lb. unit handles copying, printing, scanning, and faxing, all with a footprint of just 17" (w) x 22½" (d) x 18½" (h). So, while the Sharp MX-C301W won't be practical for larger organizations, this printer will be of interest to small and medium-sized businesses that require more than a simple desktop device. Let's see how it held up after we took it for a test run.


Out of the Box


The Sharp MX-C301W sets up easily either via a Wi-Fi connection or a setup CD. The driver installation is quick and straightforward. Initial setup took about five minutes from plug-in to the first printed page. Features include a 250 GB hard drive; the ability to scan to email, network folders or a USB device; a 300 sheet tray capacity (expandable to 800 sheets with an optional 500-sheet high capacity cassette); a print speed of 30 pages per minute in both black & white and color; and a customizable high-resolution color touch screen. The touch screen is a great feature; it's fairly intuitive to navigate and works in tandem with the numerical punch keys below. It should be noted that the actual screen is about 6.1" (w) by 3.8" (h) and not 7" as the specs claim (Sharp gets the 7" figure by measuring the screen diagonally). The unit also comes with a Stylus pen for point-and-touch navigation. The printer is compatible with the Sharpdesk mobile app which allows for printing on the go. And while the boxy design won't win it any fans on appearance alone, the above features make it a competitive option for medium-sized businesses (more on this later).


Printing


Printing at an advertised 600 x 600 dpi in both color and black & white, the MX-C301W's printing capabilities are a step up from your standard desktop (although not competitive with full-sized units that offer a standard 1200 dpi). A 50mb color jpeg took about 4 seconds to print and turned out beautifully. The full-color print out of the galaxy (courtesy of the Hubble telescope via Wikicommons) captured an impressive amount of detail and color gradation. A high-resolution black & white photo of an ink-blot printed with fully-saturated black ink with no streaking, bleeding or patching. The printer also handled a number of large jobs sent in a row. I sent 6 jobs of multiple pages with color images in succession with no problems (the manufacturer claims the printer can handle up to 94 jobs in its memory). There was no discernable difference between the time it took to print a high-resolution color image and a page of black & white text.


Sharp MX-C301W printer review


Printing both quickly and quietly (no labored start up sounds or squeaks) this unit does a top notch job as a printing device. Print cartridges are supplied by a Sharp dealer.


Scanning


The Sharp MX-C301W advertises a scan speed of 37 pages per minute. A test scan of 50 black and white pages, including images, to a USB device, ran generally smoothly with just one paper jam and took about three minutes total (including the time it took to fix the paper jam). The Sharp MX-C301W also works with Cloud Portal Office, Sharp's new content management software service for storing and sharing scanned documents.


Sharp MX-C301W printer review


Copying


Via the touch screen, the user has a variety of options to tailor their needs for each copying project. Under the "Special Modes" tab users can add various "Stamps," including a watermark, the date, or page numbers. Users can also scan and copy a business card, adjust margins, or edit images before copying. Standard features such as selecting various paper sizes or choosing 2-sided copying are also supported. Copies were generally clean and quick with no visible difference between the copy and the original.


Security, the mobile app and verdict


The printer also incorporates some security features designed to protect the device and its data from unauthorized access. The model supports up to 1,000 separate users with both user number authentication and login and password protection on the device. It includes extended SSL (Security Sockets Layer) support and 256-bit data encryption. It also allows data overwrite protection (up to seven times). Finally, an "end of lease" feature enables an organization to erase all files on the printer's hard disk drive, all its user data, job status data, and address book information at trade-in time.


Sharpdesk Mobile app


The Sharp MX-C301W is compatible with the Sharpdesk Mobile app which allows users to print documents and receive scans on the go. The app is free and available on iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.


The 4.2 MB app can print documents stored on a user's mobile device in addition to receiving, previewing, and storing scanned documents from the printer (over a Wi-Fi network). The app also allows users to email scanned documents sent to the app. A mobile device's profile can be stored as a "scan-to" location on the printer for quicker access.


It looks like the app isn't yet compatible with iOS 8 which may explain why the app's latest update is rated 3 out of 5 stars by just 6 users in the iTunes store but 4 out of 5 by 229 users over at Google Play.


Verdict


This compact unit is a great, multi-purpose device for small-to-medium-sized enterprise use. With a straightforward out of the box set up, quick and easy color printing, speedy scanning, and standard copying features, the Sharp MX-C301W is a competitive addition to the enterprise market.

















Reuters News: EU says Ireland swapped Apple tax deal for jobs



EU says Ireland swapped Apple tax deal for jobs




BRUSSELS/LONDON Tue Sep 30, 2014 1:50pm EDT








Apple Operations International, a subsidiary of Apple Inc, is seen in Hollyhill, Cork, in the south of Ireland May 21, 2013. REUTERS/Michael MacSweeney



Apple Operations International, a subsidiary of Apple Inc, is seen in Hollyhill, Cork, in the south of Ireland May 21, 2013.


Credit: Reuters/Michael MacSweeney











Related Video















Related Topics

















BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union has accused Ireland of swerving international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from revenue collectors in return for maintaining jobs.



European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told the Dublin government in a letter published on Tuesday that tax deals agreed in 1991 and 2007 amounted to state aid and may have broken EU laws.



"The Commission is of the opinion that through those rulings the Irish authorities confer an advantage on Apple," Almunia wrote in the letter, which was dated June 11.



Apple said it had received no selective treatment.



"We're subject to the same tax laws as the countless other companies who do business in Ireland," a spokesman said.



An Irish government spokesman referred to previous statements saying it followed EU rules. When publication of the letter was flagged on Monday the Irish finance department said it was confident it had not breached state aid rules and had responded to the Commission to address "concerns and misunderstandings."



The Commission said the tax rulings were "reverse engineered" to ensure that Apple had a minimal Irish bill, adding that minutes from meetings involving Irish officials showed that the Irish tax authority did not even attempt to apply international tax rules in its deals with Apple.



Instead, the company's tax treatment had been "motivated by employment considerations", the Commission said, citing the minutes of meetings between Apple representatives and Irish tax officials.



An Apple spokesman referred to previous statements where the company denied seeking any "quid pro quo" from Dublin.



The company employs 4000 people at a manufacturing plant in Cork, south-west Ireland, its only such facility outside of the United States.



Apple, along with other multinationals, has found its arrangements scrutinized in recent years as corporate tax avoidance rose to the top of the political agenda in the United States and Europe.



Widespread profit shifting by tech giants was referred to by Britain's finance minister George Osborne on Monday as one of the problems his government would create new measures to tackle, and the G20 group of leading economies has also asked the OECD to review international tax rules.



The EU is also investigating tax deals between coffee chain Starbucks Corp and the Netherlands and Luxembourg tax rulings received by a subsidiary of automotive group Fiat.



A COMPLEX STRUCTURE



Apple Inc licenses the right to exploit Apple intellectual property in Europe, Africa and Asia to two Irish-registered subsidiaries that are not registered for tax in any country at all, a U.S. Senate investigation revealed last year.



A series of inter-company agreements with contract manufacturers and other Apple distribution companies ensures that tens of billions of dollars of profits flow into Apple Operations Europe (AOE) and Apple Sales International (ASI), the Senate probe found.



The European Commission is now questioning Irish tax authority rulings which allowed AOE and ASI to declare combined annual taxable profits of just 40 to 80 million euros in recent years.



Those arrangements save Apple - the world's most valuable corporation - billions of dollars in tax each year, analysts said.



Under EU rules, if the Commission's suspicion that the tax treatment amounted to illegal state aid is proven, the company could be forced to pay that money back to the Irish government.



Apple paid an average tax rate of just 2.5 percent on around $109 billion of non-U.S. profits in the past five years - a fraction of Ireland's 12.5 percent tax rate.



Even if the EU deemed an additional 10 percentage points in tax should have been charged in Ireland on all that money, the consequent hit of around $10 billion would scarcely dent Apple's $111 billion offshore cash pile.



But any outcome is highly uncertain and potentially distant.



The EU can take as much as five years to decide on state aid cases and Ireland could challenge any ruling in the European Court of Justice.



Apple could also challenge any tax demand in court, said Neal Todd, corporate tax partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner.



"We're in uncharted water here," Sheila Killian, Assistant Dean in Accounting & Finance at the University of Limerick, said.



Some experts think the most likely outcome is that Ireland would simply be forced to be less accommodating with multinationals in future.



That could limit its ability to attract international investment, although the country hopes this could be balanced by planned OECD tax changes that may handicap low tax competitors, like Singapore and Switzerland, Killian said.



The Commission also criticized the fact that Apple and Ireland's 1991 tax agreement had lasted 16 years - far longer than the five year limit that many other EU countries apply when issuing rulings about how transactions should be treated for tax purposes.



One function of that tax agreement was that while revenues from the sale of Apple's hot products like the iPad soared, the group's taxable profit in Ireland did not.



An unnamed tax advisor to Apple "confessed that there was no scientific basis for the figure" that Apple would declare as its Irish taxable income, the Commission noted, from minutes of meetings between Irish tax authority officials and the advisor.



The minutes of another meeting say that a tax advisor for the company stated it was his view that Apple was deliberately shifting profits into the lightly taxed Irish operation.



(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Sophie Walker)




FILED UNDER:














Breaking News: Netflix's Hastings makes the case for Net neutrality


Updated: Windows 10 unveiled – Microsoft ushers in the next era of Windows by skipping 9

Updated: Windows 10 unveiled - Microsoft ushers in the next era of Windows by skipping 9

Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 at an event in San Francisco today, lifting the lid off the highly anticipated Windows upgrade, though not under its expected name, before a gathered group of journalists and analysts.


Microsoft's Terry Myerson said the new Windows needed to be built from the ground up for a "mobile-first, cloud-first world," the mantra Microsoft has adopted ever since CEO Satya Nadella took over.


To that end, Windows 10 will run on more types of devices than ever before, and Microsoft will bring forth a single application platform, complete with one integrated Store, to deliver Windows experiences across products.


Myerson called Windows 10 "our most comprehensive platform ever." The OS is scalable across devices big and small, and developers will only need to write one universal app that targets all platforms. Everything from the Internet of Things to data center servers to devices with 4- or 80-inch screens (or no screen at all) will be able compatible with the new version of Windows.



  • Check out full Windows 10 hands on review!


Reuters News: U.S. charges four with stealing $100 million in software, data



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four members of an alleged international computer hacking ring were charged with stealing more than $100 million worth of software and data - some of it used to train military pilots and some related to Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Xbox gaming console - the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.



Two of the four - a 28-year-old New Jersey man and a 22-year-old Canadian man - pleaded guilty to charges contained in an indictment unsealed earlier in the day, the agency said.



Prosecutors said the ring gained unauthorized access to the computer networks of Microsoft and some of its partners between January 2011 and March 2014 to steal source code, technical specifications and other information.



Some of the intrusions were directed at the Xbox One gaming console before its November 2013 release. The hackers tried to build a counterfeit version of the console, according to the indictment.



The hackers also stole information about pre-release versions of the “Gears of War 3” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” video games, prosecutors said.



Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft declined to comment on the case.



The men were also accused of logging into a U.S. Army network to steal simulator software for the Boeing (BA.N) Apache attack helicopter, the Justice Department said.



Those attacks occurred after the ring hacked into the network of Zombie Studios, a Seattle-based video game developer contracted by the Army to make the training software, according to the indictment.



The men allegedly obtained access to the computer networks partly by using the stolen user names and passwords of employees at the partner firms.



Sanadodeh Nesheiwat of Washington, New Jersey and David Pokora of Mississauga, Ontario pleaded guilty to charges in Delaware federal court, the Justice Department said.



Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland, and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana, were also charged in an 18-count superseding indictment. A fifth member of the ring who is an Australian citizen was charged under Australian law for his alleged role in the conspiracy, the agency said.



Tuesday's charges marked the second big hacking case announced by the Department of Justice this year.



In May, the agency charged five Chinese military officers and accused them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets.



(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Ros Krasny, Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)



Breaking News: Turkish citizens fight back against Twitter ban


Windows 9: New ways to build, test, release and update coming?

Windows 9: New ways to build, test, release and update coming?

Microsoft may have learnt its lessons after all. Rather than just focusing on the front-facing user interface, the software and services giant has apparently been doing a lot of work in the back end. The tantalising result may change the way we experience Microsoft's operating system.


According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, the OS group has come up with new mechanisms to (a) to gather user feedback (b) test new features, and (c) roll out new functionalities and fixes. Whether that also means providing a new way to roll out entire operating systems (like Apple and its Mac App Store) remains to be seen.


Foley reckons that there might be only a few weeks between socalled milestone test builds of Windows with weeks-old code being pushed as soon as it is ready. The fundamental shift is that Windows is being seen as an ever-evolving service, rather than a fixed application, as part of Microsoft's CFMF (Cloud First, Mobile First) strategy.


At your service


A fundamental cog of Windows-as-a-Service is the Halo/Sci-Fi-influenced real-time telemetry system called Asimov that, according to Foley, allows the OS team to see what's happening in near real-time on users' machines.


That solution was apparently built by the Xbox team before being adopted by other parts of Microsoft for testing new features. Windows 9 might well be the last true Windows, in the traditional sense. What comes after it might be an always-connected, always-updating, cross platform operating system.


Microsoft will shed more light on Windows 9 later today in a special event to be held in San Francisco.



  • What can we expect from Microsoft's event later today?


Reuters News: EU says Ireland tax deal with Apple was state aid



EU says Ireland tax deal with Apple was state aid




BRUSSELS/LONDON Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:24am EDT








Apple Operations International, a subsidiary of Apple Inc, is seen in Hollyhill, Cork, in the south of Ireland May 21, 2013. REUTERS/Michael MacSweeney



Apple Operations International, a subsidiary of Apple Inc, is seen in Hollyhill, Cork, in the south of Ireland May 21, 2013.


Credit: Reuters/Michael MacSweeney

















Related Topics

















BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union has accused Ireland of giving Apple Inc. state aid by letting the iPhone maker shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from tax, in return for maintaining jobs.



European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told the Dublin government in a letter published on Tuesday that tax deals agreed in 1991 and 2007 appeared to amount to state aid that may have broken EU laws.



"The Commission is of the opinion that through those rulings the Irish authorities confer an advantage on Apple," Almunia wrote in the letter, which was dated June 11.



Apple said it had received no selective treatment while an Irish government spokesman referred to previous statements saying it followed EU rules. On Monday, when publication of the letter was flagged, the Irish finance department said it was confident it had not breached state aid rules and had responded to the Commission to address "concerns and misunderstandings".



The Commission said the tax rulings were "reverse engineered" to ensure that Apple had a minimal Irish bill, adding that minutes from meetings involving Irish officials showed that the Irish tax authority did not even attempt to apply international tax rules in its deals with Apple.



Instead, the company's tax treatment had been "motivated by employment considerations", the Commission said, citing the minutes of meetings between Apple representatives and Irish tax officials.



An Apple spokesman referred to previous statements where the company denied seeking any "quid pro quo" from Dublin.



The company employs 4000 people at a manufacturing plant in Cork, south-west Ireland, its only such facility outside of the United States.



Apple, along with other multinationals, has found its arrangements scrutinized in recent years as corporate tax avoidance rose to the top of the political agenda in the United States and Europe.



Widespread profit shifting by tech giants was referred to by Britain's finance minister George Osborne on Monday as one of the problems his government would create new measures to tackle, and the G20 group of leading economies has also asked the OECD to review international tax rules.



The EU is also investigating tax deals between coffee chain Starbucks Corp and the Netherlands and Luxembourg tax rulings received by a subsidiary of automotive group Fiat.



A COMPLEX STRUCTURE



Apple Inc licenses the right to exploit Apple intellectual property in Europe, Africa and Asia to two Irish-registered subsidiaries that are not registered for tax in any country at all, a U.S. Senate investigation revealed last year.



A series of inter-company agreements with contract manufacturers and other Apple distribution companies ensures that tens of billions of dollars of profits flow into Apple Operations Europe (AOE) and Apple Sales International (ASI), the Senate probe found.



The European Commission is now questioning Irish tax authority rulings which allowed AOE and ASI to declare combined annual taxable profits of just 40 to 80 million euros in recent years.



Those arrangements save Apple - the world's most valuable corporation - billions of dollars in tax each year, analysts said.



Under EU rules, if the Commission's suspicion that the tax treatment amounted to illegal state aid is proven, the company could be forced to pay that money back to the Irish government.



However, tax advisors and academics said it was more likely Ireland would simply be forced to be less accommodating with multinationals.



The Commission also noted that Apple and Ireland's 1991 tax agreement had lasted 16 years - far longer than the five year limit that many other EU countries apply when issuing rulings about how transactions should be treated for tax purposes.



One function of that tax agreement was that while revenues from the sale of Apple's hot products like the iPad soared, the group's taxable profit in Ireland did not.



An unnamed tax advisor to Apple "confessed that there was no scientific basis for the figure" that Apple would declare as its Irish taxable income, the Commission noted, from minutes of meetings between Irish tax authority officials and the advisor.



The minutes of another meeting say that a tax advisor for the company stated it was his view that Apple was deliberately shifting profits into the lightly taxed Irish operation.



(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Sophie Walker)




FILED UNDER:




























Breaking News: Mom tries to Facebook-shame daughter, gets pizza on face


The Passport 2 is only one of BlackBerry’s weird upcoming handsets

The Passport 2 is only one of BlackBerry's weird upcoming handsets

The company that tried to tell us earlier this year that a completely square phone isn't that weird now says it's already working on an "unconventional" follow-up.


The jury is still out on the BlackBerry Passport, but it seems that hasn't stopped BlackBerry from basing its future plans around it.


"When it comes to design and being a little bit disruptive, we want that 'wow' factor," BlackBerry Devices and Emerging Solutions President Louks told Reuters. "Not all of the products will have it, but we definitely have opportunities."


And one of those opportunities will come soon, Louks said, as BlackBerry is already working on another "unconventional device," one that's apparently received positive feedback from carriers.


Because why not


BlackBerry CEO John Chen also hinted at three devices that could debut at Mobile World Congress in 2015, including the BlackBerry Passport 2, another "classic" BlackBerry in the vein of the BlackBerry Q20, and a new concept device, which may be the "unconventional" handset that Louks referred to.


Louks also implied that future handsets will be easier to use with one hand.


That's been one of the main criticisms leveled against the square Passport, which launched in late September and reportedly sold out on Amazon within six hours. BlackBerry had received about 200,000 orders for the Passport as of September 26, the company said.


Louks said the company has its losses under control and is ready to take risks again. Here's hoping thinking out of the box pays off.



  • BlackBerry finally got apps this year thanks to Amazon


Reuters News: Vista Equity to buy Tibco Software for $4.3 billion



n">(Reuters) - Business software maker Tibco Software Inc (TIBX.O) on Monday agreed to be bought by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners for $4.3 billion, the latest software company to go private after becoming a target for activist investors.



Vista will pay $24 per share in cash for Tibco. That would be a 26 percent premium to the stock's closing price on Sept. 23, the day before Reuters reported that several private equity suitors, including Vista, were vying for Tibco.



Shares of Tibco closed 21.2 percent higher at $23.65.



Tibco, following the likes of Compuware and BMC Software, is the latest enterprise software company to go private. Its board had come under pressure from activist investors Praesidium Investment Management Co LLC and Starboard Value LP.



The Palo Alto, California-based company develops software that companies use in processes such as inventory keeping and cross-selling products.



Tibco's share price has fallen 25 percent in the last 12 months as the company's products, including flagship data platform Spotfire, have come under competitive pressure.



The company, which has been facing declining software revenue, had been reviewing its strategic options since Aug. 16.



"As a private company, Tibco will have added flexibility to serve our customers and execute on our long-term strategy," Chief Executive Officer Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement.



Vista Equity, a technology-focused shop with $13.5 billion in capital commitments, is run by CEO Robert Smith and known for its hands-on approach to running enterprise software companies.



The parties said they expected the deal, which is subject to approval from shareholders and regulators, to close in the fourth quarter.



Tibco board member David West said in a statement that the company had undergone an "extensive process involving a large and diverse group of strategic and financial buyers."



It will pay a $116.7 million breakup fee to Vista if it decides to accept a better proposal.



"We think it is highly unlikely that a higher bidder comes in at this point, given that the search for a buyer has been very public over the last two months," said Wells Fargo analyst Jason Maynard.



Founded in 1997 as a subsidiary of Reuters Holdings Plc with backing from Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O), Tibco went public in 1999 under CEO Ranadivé. Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO) is no longer a material shareholder in the company.



Ranadivé, a computer scientist from India and owner of basketball's Sacramento Kings, in 1986 founded Tibco's predecessor, Teknekron Software Systems Inc, where he spearheaded the automation of Wall Street's trading floors. Reuters acquired the company in 1994 for $125.1 million.



Ranadivé will stay on as chairman and CEO until the deal closes, but after that, his future role at the company is not yet clear, according to a source familiar with the matter.



In June, the company named former senior Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) executive Todd Bradley as president. Bradley left the company on Sunday, it said in a filing.



Goldman Sachs (GS.N) was Tibco's financial adviser. Vista was advised by Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Jefferies, JP Morgan (JPM.N) and Union Square Advisors. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati was Tibco's legal adviser, while Kirkland & Ellis advised Vista.



JP Morgan and Jefferies will provide debt financing to Vista.



(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Ted Kerr, Lisa Von Ahn and Richard Chang)



Breaking News: Turkish citizens fight back against Twitter ban


HP outs ultra-cheap Windows tablets and laptops that don’t seem half bad

HP outs ultra-cheap Windows tablets and laptops that don't seem half bad

Turns out the Stream 14 wasn't the only affordable(ish) device HP had cooking, though its latest offerings are decidedly cheaper, smaller and less Chromebook-rivaling than the last one.


The company is out with a duo of tablets and a pair of laptops running Windows and carrying the Stream name to less sizeable screen sizes.


The HP Stream 7 and Stream 8 are Windows tabs with display girths to match their names. Intel processors tick inside. HP didn't cough up many other details, though Engadget has word the tablets feature 32GB of on-board storage, a microSD slot to expand, 1GB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.0.


Both tablets come with a one-year Microsoft Office 365 Personal subscription, including 1TB of OneDrive online storage and 60 Skype minutes/month. Stream 8 owners will have an optional 200MB of free 4G data to play with if they choose for as long as their tablet is kicking, no contract required.


The Stream 7 starts at $99.99 (about £61, AU$114) while the Stream 8 price begins at $149.99 (about £91, AU$171. Both tablets will be available in the US sometime in November.


Stream laptops


As for the keyboard-fitted Stream devices, HP introduced laptops with 11.6- and 13.3-inch displays.


The machines are flush with touch-optional HD displays and a fanless design. An Intel Celeron processor hums in both machines' inner chambers, and each counts 32GB of eMMC flash memory on its spec sheet. They will apparently feature 2GB of RAM, an Intel HD graphics card and boast a one-charge lifespan of 8.5 hours.


For better or worse, the Stream laptops come in either Orchid Magenta or Horizon Blue because, "Who doesn't love color?" as the Windows blog wonders.


Like their tablet cohorts, the Stream laptops comes with one year of Office 365 personal, 1TB of OneDrive online storage included. There's also a $25 gift card in the box because Microsoft REALLY wants you to buy its Windows Store apps.


The 11.6-inch Stream laptop starts at $199.99 (about £123, AU$229) and the 13.3-inch will get buyers going at $229.99 (about £141, AU$264). They too will be available stateside in November.



  • Windows 9: Everything you need to know before Tuesday's big reveal


Reuters News: Supervalu says malware affects four stores in Minnesota



n">(Reuters) - Supermarket chain Supervalu Inc(SVU.N) reported on Monday a second attack against its payment systems barely two months after it said it was investigating a potential data breach.



The company said it found malicious software on a part of its network that might have affected payment cards used at four of its Cub Foods franchise stores in Hastings, Shakopee, Roseville and White Bear Lake, Minnesota.



The company said an intruder installed different malware on some parts of its computer network in late August or early September at some of its retail, food and associated stand-alone liquor stores.



The retailer, which operates 3,320 outlets in the United States, said this security breach was separate from the one it reported on Aug. 14.



Supervalu said the malware could have recorded account numbers, payment card expiration dates and cardholder names from cards used at the four Cub Foods stores between Aug. 27 and Sep. 21. These stores had yet to implement its protective technology.



The supermarket operator believed the malware had not succeeded in capturing data from payment cards used at any of its other stores, where it had implemented protective technology.



The attacks are not expected to have an adverse impact on its financial results or position, the company said.



Supervalu also said it notified federal law enforcement authorities and is cooperating in the investigation of the intrusion. It also notified the major payment card brands.



Cyber attacks at retailers and corporations have been growing as cyber criminals use increasingly sophisticated attacks to hack into networks and steal valuable data.



Home improvement chain Home Depot Inc(HD.N) said earlier this month that about 56 million payment cards were likely compromised in a cyber attack at its stores.



Home Depot said criminals used unique, custom-built software that had not been seen in previous attacks and was designed to evade detection.



Restaurant chain Jimmy John’s also said last week there was a potential security breach involving customer credit and debit card data at 216 of its stores and franchised locations.



Supervalu shares were down about 1.8 percent in extended trading on Monday.



(Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bangalore. Editing by Andre Grenon)



Breaking News: Mom tries to Facebook-shame daughter, gets pizza on face