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Microsoft Now The Most Valuable Public Company, Surpassing Apple

Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager for Synovus Trust, said Microsoft is outperforming its tech rivals in part because of what it's not.

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Microsoft
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. Microsoft says it’s requiring its U.S. suppliers to offer their employees at least 12 weeks paid leave to care for a new child. The company announced the new parental leave policy Thursday. VOA
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Microsoft’s big bet on cloud computing is paying off as the company has surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.

The software maker’s prospects looked bleak just a few years ago, as licenses for the company’s Windows system fell with a sharp drop in sales of personal computers.

But under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has found stability by focusing on software and services over the internet, or the cloud, with long-term business contracts.

That 1990s personal-computing powerhouse is now having a renaissance moment, as it eclipses Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other tech darlings of the late decade.

Apple had been the world’s most prosperous firm since claiming the top spot from Exxon Mobil earlier this decade. Microsoft surpassed Apple briefly a few times this week, but didn’t close on top until Friday, with a market value of $851 billion to Apple’s $847 billion. Microsoft hadn’t been at the top since the height of the dot-com boom in 2000.

Microsoft
An advertisement is played on a set of large screens at the Microsoft office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S, VOA

Apple’s plunge

Microsoft became a contender again in large part because Apple’s stock fell nearly 20 percent in November, while Microsoft hasn’t done any worse than the rest of the stock market. But the fact that it hasn’t done poorly reflects its steady focus on business customers in recent years.

Microsoft lost its luster as people were shunning PCs in favor of smartphones. In 2013, PC sales plunged 10 percent to about 315 million, the worst year-to-year drop ever, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. It didn’t help that Microsoft’s effort to make PCs more like phones, Windows 8, was widely panned.

But a turnaround began when the Redmond, Wash., company promoted Nadella as CEO in 2014. He succeeded Microsoft’s longtime CEO, Steve Ballmer, who initially scoffed at the notion that people would be willing to pay $500 or more for Apple’s iPhones.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivers the keynote address at Build, the company’s annual conference for software developers. VOA

That bet paid off. Windows is now a dwindling fraction of Microsoft’s business. While the company still runs consumer-focused businesses such as Bing search and Xbox gaming, it has prioritized business-oriented services such as its Office line of email and other workplace software, as well as newer additions such as LinkedIn and Skype. But its biggest growth has happened in the cloud, particularly the cloud platform it calls Azure. Cloud computing now accounts for more than a quarter of Microsoft’s revenue, and Microsoft rivals Amazon as a leading provider of such services.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said Azure is still in its early days, meaning there’s plenty of room for growth, especially considering the company’s large customer base for Office and other products.

“While the tech carnage seen over the last month has been brutal, shares of [Microsoft] continue to hold up like the Rock of Gibraltar,” he said.

Being less reliant on consumer demand helped shield Microsoft from holiday season turbulence and U.S.-China trade war jitters affecting Apple and other tech companies.

President Donald Trump amplified those tariff concerns when he told The Wall Street Journal in a story published late Monday that new tariffs could affect iPhones and laptops imported from China.

Microsoft, PUBG
A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

The iPhone maker had already seen its stock fall after reporting a mixed bag of quarterly results in early November amid fears about how the technology industry will fare in the face of such threats as rising interest rates, increased government regulation and Trump’s escalating trade war with China. 

Reporting change

Apple also spooked investors with an unexpected decision to stop disclosing how many iPhones it sells each quarter. That move has been widely interpreted as a sign that Apple foresees further declines in iPhone sales and is trying to mask that.

While smartphones caused the downturn in personal computers years ago, sales of smartphones themselves have now stalled. That’s partly because with fewer innovations from previous models, more people choose to hold on to the devices for longer periods before upgrading.

Also Read: Apple In Court Battle Over App Store

Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager for Synovus Trust, said Microsoft is outperforming its tech rivals in part because of what it’s not. It doesn’t face as much regulatory scrutiny as advertising-hungry Google and Facebook, which have attracted controversy over their data-harvesting practices. Unlike Netflix, it’s not on a hunt for a diminishing number of international subscribers. And while Amazon also has a strong cloud business, it’s still more dependent on online retail. (VOA)

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Kaizala App Now Helping Over 1,000 Indian Firms to Boost Workplace Productivity: Microsoft

Microsoft Kaizala is available as a free mobile app on Android, iOS and Windows platforms for individual users

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Kaizala app helping 1,000 Indian firms boost workplace productivity: Microsoft. Pixabay

Microsoft on Thursday announced that its enterprise social network app Kaizala is now helping over 1,000 government and private businesses in India improve workplace productivity and streamline growth.

The company also said it will expand the reach of Kaizala — launched in India last year and now available in 18 languages across 28 markets in Asia, Middle East, Africa and South America — to Office 365 commercial plans worldwide.

“Kaizala, with Cloud scale and enterprise security, is enabling organisations to achieve more by empowering employees, engaging customers and enhancing workplace productivity. We are delighted with the rapid adoption in just over a year,” said Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India.

Developed by the Microsoft Garage team, Kaizala allows people to be connected in a group, create hierarchy-based access to a group and create groups within groups.

Microsoft also announced new features in Kaizala, like “Me Chat” and “Persistent Chat” along with video and voice calling and web app.

“Kaizala is a chat-based communication and data management tool. It is an enterprise ready, compliant and secure chat app, offering organisations easy and simple way to share data for insightful decision making and gives employees an easy-to-use solution for efficient collaboration and improved productivity,” explained Rajiv Kumar, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft.

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

Backed by Microsoft’s Azure platform, organisations like YES Bank, UPL, Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Shopper’s Stop and Eureka Forbes are using the Kaizala app.

“Microsoft Kaizala serves as an Electronic Medical Record, with no attendant cost, and the patient’s data is shared across the group of treating doctors and nurses,” said Dr Devi Shetty, Founder and Chairman, Narayana Health who is one of the early adopters of Microsoft Kaizala.

“All group members monitor a patient’s treatment and make interventions in real time,” he added.

The customers are using Kaizala to bridge gap between employees, extended workforce and customers; share information among employees; collect data from the field through polls or surveys; track movement of first line workers; and get real-time analytics on integration with Office 365, said the company.

Also Read- Facebook Dismisses Report of Journalists’ Frustration With Fact-Checking

Earlier this year, Microsoft enabled digital payments services on Kaizala in India. The UPI payment integration on Microsoft Kaizala works with all the banks that are already participating in UPI.

Microsoft Kaizala is available as a free mobile app on Android, iOS and Windows platforms for individual users. (IANS)