Microsoft launches Outlook for iOS and Android

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Microsoft has unveiled its official Outlook app for iOS, a free email client based on the Accompli app it acquired at the end of last year.

An Android version is also available, although only as a preview.

The download gets you a unified view of your emails, calendar and contacts from all your accounts.

Outlook for iOS works with Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, iCloud, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail, and can attach files directly from your email, OneDrive or Dropbox.

As with desktop Outlook there’s a built-in calendar, notifications for appointments and easy mail filtering.

Mobile optimizations mean you can now delete, archive and generally process your emails with a swipe.

Outlook for iOS is short on calendar views and its Exchange support is basic in some areas, but on balance it’s a good start.

Nokia shows sharp Q4 profit growth

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Nokia’s best decision might have been selling its mobile division to Microsoft for £5 billion, removing the sinking division and giving the Finnish company enough capital to re-invest in networking and mapping technologies.

The results are already noticeable; Nokia reported £2.84 billion in revenue and £331 million net profit in the fourth quarter, compared to £2.60 billion in revenue and £17 million in net loss last year.

Networking sales increased by 10 percent since last quarter, partly due to strong interest in North America. Nokia also managed to maintain a strong portfolio of patent sales throughout 2014.

CEO Rajeev Suri was pleased with the results and bringing Nokia back to profitability, after removing the loss leader Nokia.

"We will not shy away from investing where we need to invest", he said. "But, we plan to always combine that with disciplined cost control and a focus on delivering ongoing productivity and quality improvements across the company".

Nokia HERE is another big market the Finnish company is actively exploring, after making a deal with Baidu to provide mapping technologies to Chinese people when on holiday.

In its quarterly report, Nokia said it expects all three sectors -- networking, mapping and patents -- to see growth in annual sales across 2015.

Nokia is also preparing to invest in other technologies and markets in 2015, but for now has been silent on the subject of a mobile device. Nokia recently announced the N1 tablet running Launcher Z on top of Android, but this has not been released yet.

Microsoft also noted growth on its mobile division, selling 10.5 million Lumia devices with an average sale price of £139. Microsoft decided to try and push Nokia’s into the low-end market, instead of competing against Apple and Samsung.

Published under license from ITProPortal.com, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

5 things Microsoft’s Android-powered CyanogenMod Lumia needs for success

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While I don't usually speculate on rumors, sometimes they are just too interesting to ignore. Imagine my surprise to hear a rumor from the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft has allegedly invested $70 million in Android ROM-maker, Cyanogen. Think about that for a moment -- the company behind Windows, investing in the Linux-based CyanogenMod operating system -- insanity!

Sure, it does sound crazy, but it's totally plausible that the new Microsoft, focusing on software and services, could jump-start its mobile offering by embracing Android and dumping the seemingly-stalled Windows Phone (or supporting both). Regardless of whether or not you believe the rumor, its fun to imagine what could be. With that said, here are 5 things a potential Android-powered CyanogenMod Lumia would need in order to be a success.

1.) Google Play Support -- Right from the start, if it doesn't have Google Play support, I don't want it. Omitting Google's store will make the phone DOA, just like the Amazon Fire phone. If you want to include your own store in addition, so be it, but even that is foolhearted; consumers don't want to be confused by competing app stores. It's annoying to buy an app on one store, and see a more recent version available in the other one -- it makes the consumer feel stupid.

2.) High-end camera -- You know the impressive cameras found on the high end Windows Phone Lumias? I want that. I also want a dedicated shutter button. Smartphones have replaced dedicated point-and-shoot cameras for many people, so it is one of the most important aspects of the device. Apple's iPhone already takes amazing photos, so you must at the very least meet or exceed that bar. You set the expectation that Lumia is synonymous with quality cameras, and there is no way to turn back without disappointing users.

3.) Lumia (Nokia) build quality and design -- Nokia phones, including the Lumia line, are notorious for being of high quality and durability. iPhones break so often, that an entire industry has been born to fix shattered screens -- you can do better than that. Show the world that a flagship can be svelte and rugged without looking silly.

On top of that, however, Lumia's are just downright sexy. Quite often, I hear Android fans say things like "imagine if that beautiful Lumia ran Android". Microsoft, you have the ability to make the dream of many come true. I also want many available colors -- blue, red, yellow -- hell, the whole damn rainbow.

4.) Exclusive apps and games -- If there are no apps exclusive to Android-powered Lumia, then what is the point? In other words, if I can install the same Microsoft apps on any off-the-shelf vanilla Android handset, why does the world need a Lumia running Android? Microsoft needs to develop exclusive camera apps, games and more that only run on Lumia. This can be done by restricting the downloads on Google Play and having a device check every time the apps run. Will the xda community quickly get around these restrictions? Probably, so you had better think smart.

5.) Multi-carrier support -- If you make this rumored phone an exclusive to any cell carrier, you might as well throw your money in a paper shredder. In 2015, exclusivity is reserved for only the lamest smartphones. Take a page from the Nexus 6, where one model can run on all carriers, unlocked. Sell it unsubsidized at the Microsoft Store and let carriers subsidize it on contract.

Cyanogenmod logo

If Microsoft does all of those things, it could see great success with the Android community, and maybe even steal some iOS users too. After all, if the phone is running CyanogenMod, updates will be timely, making it an easy sell to enthusiasts. Microsoft has been doing everything right lately, and if the rumor is true, consumers may be in for quite the treat.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen’s CEO was quoted as saying "we're going to take Android away from Google". Maybe it is time to hand the keys to Microsoft for a while.

Do you want the rumor to be true? What features would you like to see on this mythical device? Tell me in the comments.

Photo Credit: Taina SohlmanShutterstock

The EU’s awful cloud adoption rates revealed

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The growth in high-speed internet connectivity across Europe, the increasing adoption of cloud services, the consumerization of IT and the move towards mobile working are all trends that, in theory, play to the strengths of SMBs -- allowing them to compete more effectively.

The proliferation towards cloud-based services such as Skype, Google Drive and Salesforce is also making life easier for employees -- allowing staff to access content from anywhere and work collaboratively. However, research of 2,500 European office-based workers recently conducted by ZyXEL, has found that while SMBs are starting to make the most of new technologies and services, there are inconsistencies with the progress being made in each country.

The best and the worst

Germany is leading the way when it comes to the adoption of cloud computing, with 44 percent of staff saying they use cloud-based applications such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Salesforce. But this number was considerably ahead of any other region surveyed.

Only a quarter of businesses in the Netherlands said they are using cloud-based applications, and as many as 85 percent of employees in Czech Republic say they are still not using cloud computing.

Furthermore, only 20 percent of people in Czech Republic have the ability to work from home or off-site. On the other hand, nearly half (49 percent) of Swedish workers said they have the ability to work remotely along with 44 percent in the UK and Germany.

Cloud and BYOD

What is interesting here is that the number of respondents claiming to have the ability to work remotely far outnumbers those that have access to cloud-based applications. This raises the question of how productive office-based workers in SMBs can be when working off-site if they are not taking advantage of the latest technologies.

When asked about whether employers are enabling employees to use personal devices for work, almost 45 percent of German respondents replied positively. However, this is in contrast to the UK where only 18 percent office-based workers surveyed said they are able to use personal devices in the workplace.

CCMI research indicates that 17 percent of IT managers see BYOD as a means of increasing employee productivity. The ability to deliver BYOD schemes relies on having secure, reliable connectivity on-site as well as embracing cloud-based platforms that can be accessed through mobile browsers and applications using different operating systems.

What features SMEs need

Ultimately, if global trends are to be believed, the use of cloud-based services is set to rise.  Google Apps are used by 5 million businesses worldwide; more than half of US business use cloud computing; and an IBM survey from 2013 found that business see a 55 percent increase in efficiency by using cloud services.

This means that it will no longer be enough for businesses to simply provide fast connectivity. On the contrary, they need a network that is reliable, can prioritize traffic, cope with external devices and provide piece of mind over security issues. For SMEs with limited IT budgets it’s therefore crucial that investment is put into the right areas and the best solutions selected.

Lee Marsden is president of Europe for ZyXEL

Photo Credit: aslysun / Shutterstock

Published under license from ITProPortal.com, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Securing business applications in real-time

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As demand to access company information on the move and from mobile devices increases it places extra strain on security resources.

Existing web applications firewalls (WAFs) monitor traffic but don't have an understanding of the logic of data flows and the behavior of applications. This can make it hard for them to distinguish between legitimate traffic and attacks on apps such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting.

Israel-based security company Checkmarx is launching a run-time application self-protection (RASP) tool called CxRASP which will monitor an app’s bidirectional data flow, enabling the detection of and defense against real-time attacks.

Checkmarx's technology 'listens' at each interaction junction of the app, covering access points between the application and the user, the database, the network, and the file system. With complete visibility into the app's input and output, CxRASP tailors the protection mechanism to the specific flow within the application to achieve high detection accuracy in real-time. Suspicious activity is flagged when it enters the app, and then verified to see if it is actually malicious at the output to minimize false positives and false negatives. If an attack is identified, the organization is alerted and instructions are sent on how to fix the vulnerability.

"The fast increasing number of applications and the resulting vast amounts of insecure code written and released into production means that we need a more intelligent way to ensure software security," says Emmanuel Benzaquen, CEO of Checkmarx. "CxRASP is the ultimate way to protect applications as it lets applications do the work of protecting themselves so that security vulnerabilities are revealed and blocked in real-time".

The product can be integrated with static application security testing tools from Checkmarx and elsewhere to ensure application protection throughout the development process.

For more information on Checkmarx products you can visit the company's website.

Imaged Credit: soliman design / Shutterstock

VoltDB looks to simplify database app development

Business database server

As the need for real-time data increases thanks to the Internet of Things and growing demand for mobile services, organizations are looking for new ways to capture and process information.

In response to this demand database company VoltDB is launching version 5.0 of its in-memory database application offering increased support for the Hadoop ecosystem, expanded SQL support and a new Management Center.

"Developers are in need of better tools with which to develop fast data streaming applications with real-time analytics and decision making across industries," says Bruce Reading, President and CEO of VoltDB. "As the popularity and adoption for Hadoop continues to surge, there is an increased need for integration between fast and big data so developers can focus on the applications and not the infrastructure. Version 5.0 meets that demand".

Along with improved Hadoop support key features of the latest release include new export connectors for HDFS, HTTP, Kafka and RabbitMQ as well as Avro format. There’s also a new Kafka data Import option as well as bulk data import from, JDBC Loader, Hadoop OutputFormat and Vertica Udx. The new VoltDB Management Center (VMC) provides browser-based, one-stop database monitoring and configuration management.

As an example of how effective the product is, VoltDB Developer John Hugg has used version 5.0 to develop a real-time analytics app that counts the number of unique mobile devices/types of devices accessing an application. He was able to do that using only 30 lines of code, while the traditional Lambda architecture would have needed thousands of lines.

The latest version of VoltDB is available to download now. For more information visit the company's website.

Image Credit: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Simplifying enterprise mobility management

Mobile device management

Mobile device strategy, especially if it involves BYOD, can mean having to manage a wide range of devices and operating systems. That makes it difficult for IT departments to find a single solution to do the job.

Now though secure mobility specialist Good Technology is launching its Good Management Suite, a comprehensive cross-platform solution for organizations getting started with mobile business initiatives.

"As mobility continues to assume a larger role in the enterprise, organizations need to plan for both their current and future mobile needs," says John Herrema, senior vice president of product management at Good Technology. "By delivering a comprehensive cloud-based Enterprise Mobility Management solution, we are ensuring that organizations have access to a simple solution that expands as their mobile initiatives evolve".

Good Management Suite is a cloud based solution that can be installed and configured quickly. It provides a unified solution to simplify the deployment of mobile devices across an enterprise.

Unlike traditional MDM products, Good Management Suite is designed to adapt to an organization's growing and changing mobile needs. It can be used in conjunction with other Good Enterprise Mobility Management products for maximum flexibility, while simplifying management of these environments through a single management console called Good Control.

"The rising complexity of the mobile landscape is forcing many organizations to examine how MDM products can integrate with broader mobile management capabilities," says Stacy Crook, research director, mobile enterprise at research company IDC. "While standalone MDM products used to be the entry point, organizations are now looking for more comprehensive EMM solutions with flexible deployment options. We believe this shift is indicative of the growing sophistication of mobility strategies within these organizations".

For more information on Good Technology's mobile management solutions you can visit the company's website.

Image Credit: jannoon028 / Shutterstock

Warning! Linux is being haunted by a G-G-G-GHOST vulnerability — are you at risk?

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Recently, I declared that the Linux Desktop was dead, something that I stand by. However, Linux still dominates in the mobile device and server categories. And yes, a relatively minuscule number of people -- including myself -- will still continue to use Linux on the desktop. Why? People trust Linux-based operating systems to be safe and secure.

Because of Linux's popularity for servers and smart phones, it is imperative that it remains safe, and free from malware and vulnerabilities. Sadly, we learn today that Linux is being haunted by a g-g-g-ghost -- a ghost vulnerability, that is. Qualys explains that it is calling the vulnerability a "GHOST" because "it can be triggered by the GetHOST functions". In other words, Linux isn't as safe as we thought.

"The GHOST vulnerability is a serious weakness in the Linux glibc library. It allows attackers to remotely take complete control of the victim system without having any prior knowledge of system credentials. CVE-2015-0235 has been assigned to this issue. Qualys security researchers discovered this bug and worked closely with Linux distribution vendors. And as a result of that we are releasing this advisory today as a co-ordinated effort, and patches for all distribution are available January 27, 2015", says Qualys.

The company further explains "the first vulnerable version of the GNU C Library affected by this is glibc-2.2, released on November 10, 2000. We identified a number of factors that mitigate the impact of this bug. In particular, we discovered that it was fixed on May 21, 2013 (between the releases of glibc-2.17 and glibc-2.18). Unfortunately, it was not recognized as a security threat; as a result, most stable and long-term-support distributions were left exposed including Debian 7 (wheezy), Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 & 7, CentOS 6 and 7, Ubuntu 12.04, for example".

So what does this mean? The vulnerability was fixed on most newer versions of Linux distributions. However, it remains a threat to users of stable and older Long Term Support (LTS) releases where the bug remains. With Linux, the old adage of "if it's not broke, don't fix it" generally applies, especially for businesses. With that said, even though Ubuntu is up to version 14.10, version 12.04 is supported until April of 2017 -- many users are likely still on this older release. Hell, Intel just recently released a new product running 12.04.

It is quite maddening to think this vulnerability has existed for over 14 years. Even crazier is that it was fixed in 2013, but not properly categorized as a security issue, leaving it to haunt some distributions. I am sad to say this, but it looks like the fragmentation of Linux developers and a lack of leadership can be blamed on this most recent calamity. The Linux community needs to organize and get focused.

If you are using an affected distro, don't panic. Simply update your system as patches should be available now.

Does this make you trust Linux less? Tell me in the comments.

Photo Creditmilo827 / Shutterstock

Dell Precision M3800 Mobile Workstation gains 4K, Thunderbolt 2 and Ubuntu Linux options

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Dell makes damn good consumer computers, but the company really shines in the enterprise. Along with HP and Lenovo, the firm makes very solidly built and dependable workstations. Of all my years working in the corporate world, Dell has often been the brand of computers offered by the companies for which I have worked. Having dropped and abused many business-issued Dell laptops during travel, I have yet to have any issues beyond scuffs and dents -- impressive.

One of Dell's sexiest business machines is the Precision M3800 Mobile Workstation. Today, the company announces that the "thinnest and Lightest 15-Inch True Mobile Workstation" is getting some great new options that will make many professionals happy. You can now get a 4K display, Thunderbolt 2 and Ubuntu Linux to go with the Haswell Core i7 and NVIDIA Quadro K1100M.

"Starting today, the Dell Precision M3800 is available with 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) resolution and IGZO2 technology on its vivid 15.6-inch UltraSharp touch display made with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, delivering rich, saturated color and stunning brightness, and enabling customers to view their content in even greater detail than was possible before. With more than 8 million pixels, the 4K Ultra HD screen option is the highest resolution panel available on a 15-inch mobile workstation today, boasting 3.4 million more pixels than the Retina display on the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch and allowing customers to experience 59 percent higher resolution. The Dell Precision M3800 display also features ten-finger multi-touch, providing customers with an intuitive way to interact with the workstation", says Dell.

The manufacturer further explains that it is "expanding its ecosystem by adding a Thunderbolt 2 port to the Dell Precision M3800, so users can take advantage of transfer speeds up to 20Gbps, enabling viewing and editing of raw 4K video, while backing up the same file in parallel. Intel’s revolutionary Thunderbolt 2 technology delivers the fastest, most versatile connection, simultaneously supporting high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices through a single, compact port".

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While the new hardware options are great, the really exciting thing is the option of having Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS pre-installed. While most professionals will likely opt for Windows 7 or 8.1, it is nice to have options. Dell has long been a proponent of Linux, by offering Ubuntu on other machines. With that said, I am not sure it is needed here.

Sure, some companies may find great success with Ubuntu, but it seems a bit wasteful to have so much horsepower behind the open-source operating system. In my experience, 4K support on Ubuntu and other distros has been very poor.

It also seems a bit silly for a company to lose the ability to run essential software like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office. Can a small business get by with Ubuntu and Libreoffice? Absolutely, but it probably doesn't need a computer that starts at $1,699 either.

You can buy the refreshed machine here.

Delivering enterprise solutions faster via the cloud

Enterprise cloud

Shifting to mobile and cloud solutions has led to expectations that software projects should be delivered faster and more efficiently.

However, according to a recent Mendix survey 71 percent of development teams are unable to keep up with demand.

To help ensure software projects are delivered faster and within budget, enterprise and collaboration software company iRise is launching its iRise 10 Enterprise Visualization Platform in the cloud.

It allows dispersed teams, both business and technical, to work together in real time on software requirements, designs and prototypes. By allowing issues to be spotted early it can reduce the need for reworking and cut delivery times. iRise's Professional Services team works with each client to develop an adoption strategy that is scalable across the organization.

"Delivering software with speed and agility is more critical than ever before," says iRise CEO and CoFounder, Emmet B. Keeffe III. "In today's hyper-competitive business landscape, it's very difficult to compete without a world class software development capability. Collaborative visualization is the single best investment organizations can make to ensure they deliver the right software ahead of their competition".

Because it's web-based iRise is easy and intuitive to operate even for non-technical users. All team members can provide instant feedback on projects, thus allowing greater clarity and understanding across the enterprise.

Additional features include shared libraries to allow modules to be assembled using pre-built templates and UI elements that meet corporate design standards. An iRise Studio desktop companion permits the adding of complex behaviors, business logic and data operations.

Available from today, iRise 10 can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud and can be purchased on subscription or a perpetual license basis. For more information and to sign up for a free trial visit the iRise website.

Photo Credit: Vallepu / Shutterstock

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