Tag Archives: Microsoft

CeBIT 2017 Points the Way to VR and Smart Device Growth

With 200,000 participants flocking to Hanover this year, the week-long CeBIT show can be an intimidating prospect. Over 3,000 exhibitors set up shop at the world’s biggest technology expo. And while this is not a show for big name product launches, it still provides a very useful snapshot of what’s hot in the tech industry from one year to the next.

This year, as we predicted, there was plenty of buzz around smart devices, the Internet of Things and Virtual Reality (VR)/ Augmented Reality (AR). These, after all, will be the technologies that in years to come delight consumers and power the next generation of European businesses.

VR/AR catches the eye
CeBIT 2017 had a bigger focus on VR/AR than ever before, highlighting the growing maturity of this burgeoning technology. If you were in any doubt of the scale of interest in this space, half of Hall 17 – one of the show’s aircraft hangar-sized expo spaces – was devoted entirely to firms exhibiting VR-related tech. As we predicted at the end of 2016, gaming will continue to drive forward interest in VR on the consumer side. But, as evidenced by its exposure at the business-centric CeBIT show, more and more companies are exploring corporate applications.

Examples included the “Virtofy” VR presentation system, which offers companies an opportunity to demo products and showcase projects to prospective clients/customers. Another interesting use case developed by engineers at the Zwickau University of Applied Sciences incorporates integrated data goggles into the helmets worn by steel workers – designed to flash up safety warnings and the like.

In Hall 2 Intel, in cooperation with Microsoft, presented the dataflow the companies expect in the near future. Based on the BMW i8, Intel presented with the Microsoft AR Hololens how cameras and sensors scan the environment of a future car in order to drive autonomously. Intel predicts that approximately 4000 GB of data will be tracked, processed and uploaded from cars in the future, which creates brand new business scenarios in this market.

IoT everywhere
As we mentioned in December, the Smart Home market is really heating up, with Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Microsoft set to battle it out for hearts and minds in 2017 and beyond. True to form, the Internet of Things formed a major part of CeBIT 2017, with over 270 exhibitors from 29 countries participating. The IoT also had its own spin-off summit at the conference – a first for the organisers and again illustrative of the growing interest in smart products.

The IoT, of course, extends far beyond the smart home. In fact, attendees were treated to demos of everything from smart shirts and dog collars from Telefonica Deutschland, to Toshiba’s industrial applications for the energy sector.

Drones are taking off
The smart device revolution also increasingly extends up into the sky. As evidenced by the buzz at CeBIT, drones are fast carving out an IoT niche of their own. A large outdoor area sponsored by Intel drew many of the crowds, with much attention drawn to the bright orange H520 hexacopter from Chinese firm Yuneec. When combined with an on-board camera and Intel RealSense tech, it’s able to detect movements and distances like the human eye – enabling it to avoid obstacles in flight.

The Drone Park even drew the interest of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

by AD

 

 

 

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Filed under Connectivity, gaming, Home automation, IoT, Mobile technology, Retail, Smart Home, Smart Technology, virtual reality, Wearables

Windows 10 Pro adoption beginning to rise

Thirteen months after its launch, adoption of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system is slowly beginning to increase amongst business users. By August, Windows 10 Pro (excluding the Windows 7/Windows 10 downgrade version) made up 24% of Windows Business PC sales in Western European distribution, up six percentage points compared to July. Whilst adoption in the first half of the year had largely been driven by the Windows 7/Windows 10 Pro downgrade version, July and August were the first months to see the share for “pure” Windows 10 Pro sales grow faster month-on-month than share for the downgrade version, albeit from a much smaller base. The share of Windows 10 Pro was up from 16% in June to 18% in July and 24% in August, while Windows 7/Windows 10 Pro moved from 65.5% in June to 66% in July, followed by a drop to 64% in August. Combined adoption rates for the two versions increased from 81% to 88% over the period.

The rise in Windows 10 Pro share, though moderate for the time being, is good news for the PC industry, which is looking at Windows 10 refreshes as the next larger growth driver in commercial PC sales. Certainly, some of the recent rise in adoption might be driven by the fee that we hear is being applied to the downgrade version, which is likely to cause budget-conscious buyers to move faster to “pure” Windows 10. But anecdotal evidence suggests that there is also a more “genuine” rise in interest for the new operating system, particularly within the small- and medium-sized business segment, as companies are slowly beginning to make the move from testing to deployment. In terms of volume growth, the business segment does indeed see a positive development: Windows Business PCs across our Western European panel were up by +7% year-on-year in the first two months of Q316, and while it would be taking things too far to say that this was entirely down to Windows 10, the new OS certainly did play a role.

Comparing adoption rates of Microsoft’s latest version of Windows to its most successful predecessor, Windows 7, the “pure” Windows 10 still has a long way to go to catch up. The 24% share of Windows 10 Pro that we’re seeing now, thirteen months after its launch date, compares to an adoption rate of 77% for the “pure” Windows 7 version at the same time after launch in October 2009. Things look better however when comparing the two OS’s combined shares of “pure” and downgrade versions: Windows 10’s 88% share in August this year is not that far off from the 98% held by the combined Windows 7 and Windows 7/XP versions in November 2010.

It will be interesting to see if the first few signs of an increase in Windows 10 sales will translate into a more significant growth trend over the next few months. Expectations are for the commercial segment to start refreshes in earnest at the beginning of 2017, with larger enterprises transitioning over the course of the next two years. We will be monitoring this closely.

by MCP

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3D Printers in Consumer Retail- Yes or No?

It is not uncommon to hear desktop 3D printer users defined as ‘makers’ and the evolution of 3D printing outside of professional and industrial markets defined as the ‘maker movement’. By definition, makers make. So why try to sell 3D printers to consumers? Consumers by definition just consume, right? While the desire of many in the industry is for every household to have a 3D printer in it, is this realistic in the near term? These machines and their users make things after all, and making things is not as easy as consuming them. Creating 3D CAD-type files, for example, is not straightforward. Regardless of how well-reviewed they are, even the best 3D printers are currently far from ‘plug and play’. However, students are learning more each year, thanks to the focus on STEM education (hence the strength of sales of desktop 3D printers in this market) and 3D printers continue to get easier to use with each generation.

Seeing this market evolve, one cannot help but draw comparisons with the early PC market. In the early years, they too were still hard to use and purchasers often required significant hand-holding before and after the sale. Back then, while PC companies also wanted EVERY household to eventually be a PC household, many fully recognised that education and exposure were key and that generations might first need to become comfortable with the technology before it really took off; thus companies like Apple focused their sales effort on such markets as schools. While actually selling PCs to businesses, government entities and educational institutions, PC companies also targeted general consumers by way of distributing products through brick-and-mortar retailers across the globe. Many soon came to agree that targeting office users was more profitable in the near term but that the exposure to so many by way of general retail was also invaluable, just to a less quantifiable extent.

So, if your run-of-the-mill consumer is not about to purchase a 3D printer anytime soon, why are they appearing more and more on retail shelves? Because the reach and exposure allowed by retail storefronts is hard to pass up – seeing new devices live (and being able to put your hands on them) is very important for industry growth. Every B2B buyer is also a consumer at the weekend. So each engineer, architect, student and software developer using a 3D printer at their work/office during the week also shops at Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Media Markt, Carrefour, Tesco and the like. For the retailer, showcasing the latest products in their storefront demonstrates that they are on the cutting edge of technology.

Retail floor space is expensive, however. Most of the current momentum in the industry has come by way of the press and by word-of-mouth, with exposure to the technology at a storefront looking to be the next evolution of the market (rather than say by way of a Super Bowl advertisement). Companies like Microsoft recognise this and have showcased 3D printers in their retail outlets for some time now. Sure Microsoft has them available for sale, but it is primarily using the technology as part of its branding effort: by showcasing the technology there, Microsoft stores become a destination retailer like Apple stores (which are not usually located far away).

The desktop 3D printing market continues to grow at a sizeable rate and, while consumer electronics retailers can be a part of this growth, they are not expected to lead the effort although they are integral to the process. Having 3D printers available in major retail outlets across the globe makes sense for the retailer as well as for the 3D printer manufacturers both today and tomorrow. At the current stage of the market, the return on investment of placement in retail is measured in terms of advertising and brand development rather than being based on the number of units shipped.

by CC

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Filed under 3D Printing, Retail in CONTEXT

Windows 10 makes the Smart Home simple, it’s time for retailers to do the same

If I asked you to guess what TIME magazine has called ‘Microsoft’s big secret Windows 10 feature’, your mind might not leap to the smart home. Nevertheless, Windows 10’s support for smart device protocol AllJoyn could well be the tech giant’s hidden weapon; and one with the potential to revolutionise how retailers and consumers view the smart home.

AllJoyn is a framework that allows all of your smart devices to connect to all others on the network, irrespective of the manufacturer. This means that from the moment Windows 10 launched, the number of devices that AllJoyn has the potential to connect jumped multiple times to the tens of millions. Microsoft has set itself a lofty goal of having one billion users by 2018, by which point smart home technology could be much more prevalent.

The appeal of AllJoyn is that it promises both vendors and consumers the ease of plug and play. Whether you’re running Windows 10 on a smartphone, tablet, or PC, you can now control all of your smart home devices from one device. This is vital for European consumers, who according to our research prioritise ease of access, smartphone control, and automatic installation above other considerations when purchasing a smart home product.

With Microsoft’s endorsement, AllJoyn now has a vast potential user base that smart home developers can tap into. The framework is making a major push to establish itself as the leading Internet of Things (IoT) standard due to additional commitments from Sony, LG, HTC, Lenovo and Asus to create compatible end-user mobile and tablet devices.

However, Microsoft’s involvement is only the latest step on the journey to transforming consumer perception of the smart home. Consumers are still not connecting the dots between smart products and the smart home, something that retailers must work to resolve. While many people we surveyed confirmed that they knew of individual products such as smart TVs, smart thermostats, and smart smoke detectors, our research showed that 62% still hadn’t heard of the term ‘smart home’.

While Windows 10 has facilitated connecting and controlling a network of smart home devices with ease, it’s now time for retailers to educate the consumer. In-store displays should be encouraging consumers to think about the smart home as a whole; placing all smart devices and appliances together and educating consumers on how everything communicates with each other.

Knowledgeable staff who can demonstrate how devices can connect will also foster excitement, and consequently drive sales. In Germany, this is already underway, with around 40% of people having heard about the smart home while in a retail store.

Finally, stores should consider whether they want to be more than just a retailer, and help play the customer support role when customers need assistance with their smart home devices. Media providers and utility companies already provide this service, and it’s now up to retailers to decide whether to adapt their model to add value through after-sales support.

So while Windows 10’s support for AllJoyn makes the reality of a smart home closer than ever before, it’s now up to retailers to educate customers of its benefits, and persuade them to view the smart home as larger concept than being able to turn off the lights with your phone.

by AS

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Filed under Home automation, Retail in CONTEXT, Smart Technology, Windows

Windows 10 PCs trickle through Europe’s IT Distributors

PC Devices pre-installed with Windows 10 are still only trickling through Western Europe’s IT distributors in week one after the operating system’s release.

Following the launch week where around 150 unit sales of Windows 10 Home based notebooks were recorded, a similar number have appeared in the channel in the first week after launch.

In the lead up to the release of the new OS, Microsoft’s publicity spoke of a phased adoption with an initial upgrade phase to be followed by another, going into the fourth quarter, when OEMs are expected to bring out more Windows 10 devices. The decision to delay the release of the OS to OEMs and to offer consumers a free upgrade means that the range of such systems is much smaller than that which accompanied the launch of most earlier versions of windows.

In 2007, Vista was pre-installed on 57% of new Windows Home PCs sold by distributors in the first  week after release, while Windows 7 made it to a 61% consumer share and Windows 8 to 58% in comparable weeks in 2009 and 2012. Adoption of the Business version of all of Windows 10’s predecessors was slower, although Windows 7 was preloaded on 10.2% of Windows business PCs in the week following that of its 2009 release.

Windows 10 charts week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by LW

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Windows 10 has launched – how quickly will we see it in European IT distribution?

Microsoft has released its long-awaited Windows 10 operating system. From today, Windows 10 is officially available as a free upgrade to people using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on qualified devices, or pre-installed on new devices.

It might take some time however, before we see the adoption of Windows 10 gather pace after today’s launch.

While the new OS is officially available as a free upgrade as of today, Microsoft will deliver this in waves. Members of the Insider program will receive it first, followed by consumers who reserved a slot in the upgrade queue.  While Windows 10 is also available pre-installed on new PC devices from today, a tight release schedule to OEMs and high levels of old PC stock still around in many Western European countries mean that consumers are likely to still see plenty of Windows 8-based devices in their local shops today – and many of these will be offered at very attractive prices. Finally, adoption in the commercial segment usually comes with a delay. The feedback we’re getting here is that there is strong interest from business users in Windows 10, but that noticeable refresh activities are unlikely to happen before some time in 2016.

Microsoft itself expects a phased adoption of Windows 10. During the company’s recent Q4 2015 earnings call, CEO Satya Nadella spoke of “three distinct phases”: the “upgrade phase”, starting now; the autumn time frame, when “you will see the devices from all the OEMs going into the holiday quarter” and “then the enterprise upgrades”.

CONTEXT’s most recent data, covering distributor sales up to 19 July, do not yet show any new PC devices with Windows 10 pre-installed – a fact, which will be down to the relatively late release of the new OS to OEMs.  By contrast, all four previous OS releases by Microsoft had seen a ramp up of new devices in distribution a few weeks before their respective launch date. It will be interesting to see when the first Windows 10 devices will show in our data, and how quickly they will then ramp up. CONTEXT will be closely monitoring this.

by MCP

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Filed under PCs, Windows

Will IT distribution ride the W10 wave? Watch this space!

Next week, Microsoft will begin to roll out its new Windows 10 operating system. From the 29th July, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade to people using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on qualified devices, and pre-installed on new ones.

The latest Windows operating system comes with a host of new features, including improved security, the return of the start menu, the “continuum” (a multi-platform approach that lets the OS adapt to whatever device is being used) and universal apps that can be used across all devices.

Clearly, the expectation is that Windows 10 will bring a number of improvements, and it is hoped that the new OS will eventually help (re)fuel PC demand in Europe where PC sales have recently suffered from inventory issues and the effects of currency fluctuations. While Windows 10 is not expected to have an immediate impact on PC growth in the region, it is widely thought it will help boost sales over the course of 2016.

CONTEXT is in a unique position to measure such expectations against reality. By tracking distributor sales of new PCs pre-installed with Windows 10 from the moment of launch, we will be able to follow the adoption rate of the new OS on a weekly basis. What is more, we will also be able to compare this with Windows 10’s predecessors – and, as we all know, there were significant variations in penetration of those, particularly in the business sector.

Vista, for example, was launched at the end of January 2007 and accounted for only 39% of Windows business PC sales across Western European distribution six months after its launch. It was followed by the more successful Windows 7, launched in late October 2009, which made up an impressive 86% of business PC sales a similar time after its release. Microsoft’s next OS, Windows 8, made it to a 50% share of business sales half a year after it was launched in October 2012*.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Windows 10 penetrates new PC sales in distribution and if it follows the pattern of previous launches. Watch this space for more updates!

*All data is based on share by units of business OS installed on Dektops, NoteBooks and PC workstations in Western European distribution and includes dual OS versions.

by MCP

 

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