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Microsoft is Reportedly Aiming to Acquire TikTok's Entire Global Business, Including in India

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Microsoft is officially seeking to buy the TikTok operations in North America, Australia and New Zealand for a reported figure of $50 billion.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 7, 2020, 6:20 PM IST

Not just the US operations, Microsoft is aiming to acquire the global business of Chinese short-video making app TikTok, including in India where the app is banned, The Financial Times reported on Thursday. Microsoft is officially seeking to buy the TikTok operations in North America, Australia and New Zealand for a “reported figure of $50 billion”.

However, according to the FT report, the Satya Nadella-run tech giant is aiming to buy the entire business of TikTok, including in India where it has been banned along with 58 other Chinese apps. Microsoft “is exploring whether it can add regions including India and Europe to the deal”.

Microsoft has been involved in the Chinese tech world for far longer than many rivals. “Microsoft has mentored and trained the talent behind China’s consumer tech explosion. That brought Bytedance founder Zhang Yiming to approach them once President Trump threatened to ban TikTok if it wasn’t sold to an American company,” tweeted Yuan Yang, Beijing deputy bureau chief and tech correspondent of the Financial Times.

US President Donald Trump has said that the country should get a large percentage of the proceeds if part of the short video-sharing platform TikTok’s business is bought by an American firm. Microsoft has confirmed that it wanted to proceed with talks to purchase the US business of TikTok. The discussion between the Microsoft CEO and the US President led to setting a date for closure of the deal around September 15.

If such a deal does not materialise, TikTok will be out of business in the US by that time, Trump said. “I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen,” Trump said in a meeting with US tech workers this week.

Meanwhile, facing threats of a US ban and smears by rival Facebook, ByteDance, owner of the video platform, said that in the course of becoming a global firm, it has “faced all kinds of complex and unimaginable difficulties, including the tense international political environment, collision and conflict of different cultures and plagiarism and smears from competitor Facebook”.

TikTok has nearly 80 million monthly active users in the US. Many users have grown to rely on the platform for building a career in social media and earn a living. The firm’s US job growth has already nearly tripled this year, surging from almost 500 employees on January 1 to just under 1,400.

Last month, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) directed the 59 banned Chinese apps to strictly adhere to the orders or face serious action in case of violation. The government banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community in June over national security concerns amid the border tussle at Ladakh which also led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash with Chinese PLA troops.

“These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” MeitY had said in a statement.


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Tech

Global AI Market to See 12.3% Growth in 2020, Revenues to Reach $156.5bn: IDC

Worldwide revenues for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) market, including software, hardware, and services, are expected to total $156.5 billion in 2020, a growth of 12.3 per cent over the previous year, according to a new forecast by International Data Corporation (IDC). While this year’s growth is somewhat slower than previous years due to the economic impact of Covid-19, investment in AI will recover quickly, said the IDC ‘Worldwide Semiannual Artificial Intelligence Tracker’. Worldwide AI market revenue revenues are likely to surpass $300 billion in 2024 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.1 per cent.

Software is the largest AI technology group delivering roughly 80 per cent of all AI revenue. Most of the software revenue comes from AI applications — $120.4 billion in 2020 — with AI Software Platforms delivering the remainder. “AI applications continue to be at the forefront of digital transformation (DX) initiatives, driving both innovation and improvement to business operations,” Ritu Jyoti, programme Vice President, Artificial Intelligence Research at IDC, said in a statement.

Customer relationship management (CRM) AI applications and enterprise relationship management (ERM) AI Applications are the two largest segments with 20 per cent and 17 per cent share of the AI applications market. Other key segments include AI for content workflow and management applications, production applications, and collaborative applications. In terms of vendor share, Adobe had the top spot for AI-centric CRM applications while Microsoft was No.1 in AI non-centric CRM Applications. Meanwhile, in ERM AI applications, Ceridian and Intuit take the top spots in AI-centric and AI non-centric types, respectively, IDC said.

As for the rest of the AI applications market, IBM is in the first position under AI-centric type while Microsoft occupies the top spot under AI non-centric type. The second-largest AI category is services, which IDC forecasts will reach $18.4 billion in 2020, an increase of 13 per cent year over year. Within the AI services market, AI IT services accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the category’s revenue with AI Business Services delivering the rest.

The top five companies in terms of market share — IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, Infosys, and Cognizant — captured roughly one-third of the worldwide AI services market in 2019. IDC expects AI hardware (server and storage combined) revenues to reach $13.4 billion in 2020, representing 10.3 per cent year-over-year growth. In terms of vendor share, the top three companies in AI Server are Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Inspur, IDC said. In the AI Storage market, Dell Technologies, NetApp and Hewlett Packard Enterprise hold the top three positions, it added.


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Tech

Samsung, Microsoft to Bring 100 Xbox Games and Free Passes to Galaxy Note 20 Series Users

Samsung on Wednesday announced its partnership with Microsoft to bring the upcoming Xbox Project xCloud game streaming platform on Galaxy Note20 series on September 15. Samsung Galaxy Note20 series will come with a dedicated Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Bundle, featuring the device alongside a three-month free subscription and Note20-compatible Bluetooth gaming controller.

“Beginning September 15, play over 100 Xbox games on your phone or tablet, directly from the cloud (beta) with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, including hits like Minecraft Dungeons and Gears 55,” South Korean tech giant said in a statement. Phil Spencer, Executive vice-president of Gaming at Microsoft, discussed Project xCloud during the Samsung event.

According to Samsung, the gaming will benefit from the Galaxy Note 20’s AI game booster and Bluetooth audio response optimisation. Described as “Netflix for video games”, Game Pass grants users access to a catalogue of more than 100 games for a single monthly subscription price. The service is currently available on Xbox One and Windows 10, though that’s expanding to mobile with the launch of xCloud. Microsoft is all set to launch its much-anticipated game streaming service xCloud on September 15 for Android users in 22 countries.


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Categories
Tech

TikTok to Become American App? Report Says Microsoft May Acquire TikTok's Global Operations

Microsoft Corp is chasing a deal to buy all of TikTok’s global business, including its operations in India and Europe, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing five people with knowledge of the talks. TikTok parent ByteDance and Microsoft did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. Microsoft was already said to be in advanced stage talks to take over TikTok’s US operations, but US president Donald Trump urged that a partial takeover may not be fruitful, before going on to proclaim rather amusingly that a chunk of the deal’s financials must be deposited in the US government’s treasury.

TikTok faces a Sept 15 deadline to either complete a sale of its US operations to Microsoft, or face a ban in the United States. The Bytedance-owned short video social media service is already banned in India, after government officials deemed it and 58 other apps to be detrimental towards India’s data security and integrity. India was one of TikTok’s biggest markets outside of China, and was also one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the country, before it faced the injunction that has marooned all of Bytedance-operated services in India.

TikTok, which is Bytedance’s flagship social media service, is also massively popular in USA. The latter has now been embroiled in a prolonged standoff with China. The Donald Trump government began by placing Huawei, incidentally one of China’s largest companies and among the world’s leading telecommunications service providers, in an entities list. The premise for the imposed bans was growing concerns regarding Chinese cyber espionage, and the way the nation’s Communist Party has a stronghold on many private Chinese companies.

The recent aspect of TikTok’s potential sale to an American company has also attracted considerable backlash from Chinese state-controlled media, which has criticised Bytedance founder and CEO, Zhang Yiming, for giving in to pressure from the American government. However, it is important to note that being banned in India, and potentially facing a similar future in USA as well, would have considerably hurt Bytedance, for which TikTok was at the centre of all operations.

Also Watch

Trump Backs Potential Microsoft- TikTok Deal, Gives Microsoft 45 Days To Land Deal | CNN News18

IF the deal goes through, it will be intriguing to see if the service gets un-banned from nations where it is presently suspended, such as India itself.

(With inputs from Reuters)


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Tech

Android Phone Users Will Love What Microsoft Is Bringing To Your Phone For Windows 10

Microsoft is giving Android phone users a rather cool feature which will allow them to run the apps on their Android phone side by side with Windows apps on their Windows 10 PC. This is part of the big update to the Your Phone functionality in Windows 10. This cool functionality is part of the next version of the Your Phone app which is shipping to testers as part of the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20185 and is rolling out to Windows Insider testers at this time. The fact that you can run your Android phone’s apps side by side mean you won’t need to install the same apps on your PC as well, and these can run seamlessly from the phone. Interestingly enough, at this time, the upgraded Your Phone functionality is pretty much limited to Samsung Galaxy smartphones, with further support for the just announced Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra arriving later this year.

The list of compatible phones at this time includes the Samsung Galaxy Note10, Samsung Galaxy Note10+, Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite, Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S20+, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung Galaxy A30s, Samsung Galaxy A31, Samsung Galaxy A40, Samsung Galaxy A50, Samsung Galaxy A50s and the Samsung Galaxy A70, to name a few. “Later in the year, Samsung Galaxy Note20 users will experience the power and convenience of running multiple apps side by side and we will continue to work with Samsung to bring this feature to additional devices. Apps will launch in separate windows enabling you to interact with multiple apps at the same time,” says Microsoft in an official statement. Expect more Android phones, including those from other brands, to get support for Your Phone’s new functionality by the time this rolls out for all users later this year as part of a Windows 10 update.

Microsoft confirms that users will also be able to pin shortcuts for the apps from their Android phone to the Windows 10 task bar or the Windows 10 Start Menu. The Your Phone app will list all the apps on the Android phone connected at the time and will let you access these apps from there itself. It is not just that—you can also run multiple apps from your phone side-by-side too. The Your Phone app will list the most used apps on your phone at the top of the apps list and any apps that you launch will open in their own dedicated windows on your PC. There will also be new notification badges for your Android phone apps that you have kept open on the Windows 10 PC. However, Microsoft does warn that certain apps may block this functionality considering they do limit the ability to cast screens to other devices, for instance, and it’ll need an update from the app developers to make those apps compatible with the new Your Phone for Windows 10.

All said and done, this is perhaps the biggest update we will get for the phone mirroring experience on Windows 10 and Android phones. For instance, you will be able to not only access photos and messages from your phone without having to reach out for it, but also not have to duplicate apps between your phone and PC. For instance, WhatsApp, Gmail, Microsoft Word, Microsoft To-Do and Spotify, to name a few. This just makes everything simpler, and you will genuinely be able to plug in your Android phone as a productivity device without actually having to reach out for it much lesser than you probably do right now. Users who aren’t part of the Windows 10 Insiders testing program can expect this app to rollout for them in the coming months, with support for more phones baked in by then.


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Tech

Microsoft expands TikTok takeover ambitions to entire global business – FT

Microsoft expands TikTok takeover ambitions to entire global business - FT

Microsoft Corp is chasing a deal to buy all of TikTok’s global business, including its operations in India and Europe, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing five people with knowledge of the talks.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: August 6, 2020, 9:14 PM IST

Microsoft Corp is chasing a deal to buy all of TikTok’s global business, including its operations in India and Europe, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing five people with knowledge of the talks.

TikTok parent ByteDance and Microsoft did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. (https://on.ft.com/3guMGjc)

TikTok faces a Sept. 15 deadline to either complete a sale of its U.S. operations to Microsoft or face a ban in the United States.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor



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Microsoft Rolls Out Its Power Platform Solution in India to Streamline Employees' Return to Office

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

The ‘Power Platform Return to the Workplace’ solution is a comprehensive, end-to-end set of modules built on a secure and compliant platform, Microsoft said.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 6, 2020, 1:43 PM IST

Microsoft has announced the general availability of its Power Platform Return to the Workplace solution in India to help organisations prepare for the return to work. Returning to the workplace will be a phased process and it will be vital for organisations to be equipped to give their leaders and employees timely and accurate information.

Designed for fast deployment and customisation, the ‘Power Platform Return to the Workplace’ solution is a comprehensive, end-to-end set of modules built on a secure and compliant platform, Microsoft said in a statement. Together, the modules provide an end-to-end experience for executive leaders, facility managers, employees, managers, as well as health and safety leaders.

The solution will be free to download and use for businesses of all sizes as an integral part of all existing and new paid Power Apps licenses. “The ability to be agile, react swiftly to changing conditions, and adapt will be core to the success of companies. Fast feedback loops and acting on data available within the organisation will matter most for accurate and informed decision making,” elaborated Rajiv Sodhi, COO, Microsoft India.

The new solution comprises tools like ‘Location Readiness,’ ‘Employee Health and Safety Management,’ ‘Workplace Care Management,’ and ‘Location Management’. It provides an opportunity for Microsoft partners to help and support customers with customizations and deployment. According to the company, the ‘Power Platform’ is a low-code platform that allows organisations to analyse data, build solutions, automate processes, and create virtual agents, to meet business challenges effectively. “We believe the new Return to Workplace solution will help our customers reopen responsibly, monitor intelligently, and protect continuously with solutions for the rapidly evolving needs of the workplace,” Sodhi said.


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Why Does Microsoft Want To Buy TikTok? The Answer Is You, The Consumer, And The Data You Create

Microsoft wants to buy TikTok. Donald Trump is not happy about it. Donald Trump is okay with it. Donald Trump has given his blessings. Donald Trump has set a deadline for the deal. Well, depending on which side of the bed you wake up and what day it is, the intersection of politics and technology is undoubtedly creating more confusion that it does good. At the time of writing this, it seems the political dispensation in the US is okay with Microsoft going ahead with the attempt to follow through on its interest in acquiring TikTok. At least the operations for certain parts of the world, including the US. Works out well for the tech giant, because TikTok is trying everything possible to remain present and active, in the US in particular, where it has a large and active user base. But the question still remains, why does Microsoft want to buy TikTok?

The way things have been over the past few years, Microsoft has focused on the enterprise space. The part consumer plays, that have included the Surface computing device line-up and the revamped Microsoft 365 subscriptions, in the end, do plug into the enterprise space very nicely. But Microsoft, for most intents and purposes, doesn’t really do consumer products. Except perhaps the Microsoft Xbox ecosystem. Let us look at some of Microsoft’s consumer products that no longer are around. Windows Phone, Groove Music, the Microsoft Band fitness accessory are some examples. Cortana, the virtual assistant, seems to be going down that path—the app for Android and iOS will be shut down next year, along with Cortana access for Harman Kardon Invoke smart speakers and the first-generation Microsoft Surface headphones. Cortana instead is getting deeper integration within the Outlook email app and Teams video meeting app, which have great enterprise significance. Gives you a sense of the demographic of users Microsoft is largely designing products and services for.

At this time, it is believed Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok’s operations for US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. “This is a unique deal of a decade opportunity with a price tag that could easily be consummated,” wrote Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush, to the investors earlier this week, as reported by CNN. It is believed TikTok’s value stands at $50 billion.

One of the primary reasons why Microsoft believes TikTok is an investment worth doing is it will get a readymade product in the social media space. The closest Microsoft right now is to that space is with LinkedIn, a professional network. Yet, it is no match for the might of Facebook, the Facebook owned Instagram and even Twitter and Snapchat. Maybe that LinkedIn acquisition holds a clue—Microsoft didn’t change the branding or the foundations of the network that made it successful in the space it operates. If the company does the same with TikTok, as in leave the branding and the app as is, it could simply be successful because of the numbers that drive TikTok engagement on a daily basis. The only change would be that the user data for US based accounts will be saved on servers in the US. As a consumer, that would make no difference, except you may perhaps have to again accept the new terms and conditions at some point when you open the app post the expected Microsoft acquisition.

Second, it is the oil of the modern world. Data. It all started with data, and the fears that data of US users was ending up with the Chinese government. After all, TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. In China, the National Intelligence Law of 2017 governs all tech companies that are based in China or are under Chinese ownership. The law mandates all businesses to share any and all information that the Chinese Government may ask for. This is something that is worrying governments around the world, including India.

Microsoft acknowledges the importance of the data that it’ll get from TikTok. “Among other measures, Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred,” says the company in an official statement confirming the talks.

As of January, TikTok had clocked 800 million users worldwide. The app saw more than 49 million downloads in the US just last year. On an average, TikTok users in the US open the app 8 times a day, with each session around 5 minutes—that works out to around 40 minutes of app usage in a day. This is the sort of ready-made platforms that don’t become available so easily for tech companies to acquire. Microsoft will finally have a product to take Facebook on with.

If you notice the list of countries that Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok in, these are all English-speaking. That would mean limited challenges when it comes to moderating content as well, without having to deal with complexities of localization.

TikTok is as consumer centric as it gets. In fact, this gives Microsoft a head-start in trying to understand a younger demographic of users, who will consume more services and apps in the years to come. While Microsoft fell behind with the previous generation with its much delayed attempts at battling with Google, Apple and Facebook in the past when it came to platforms such as Windows Phone, Outlook Mail, Bing Search and social networks in general, it’ll have an advantage over the rival big tech companies when it comes to understanding these users that it’ll adopt with TikTok.

Microsoft is also in a safe spot as far as regulators are concerned. While Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are all very much under scrutiny by the US Congress, Microsoft hasn’t been dragged into it just yet because of its business and enterprise focus.

Remember, TikTok is the one social media platform that has had Facebook worried for a while now. The popularity, the quick video format and the product itself has been some concern for Facebook, which is trying the same with Instagram Reels. With Microsoft’s might behind it, TikTok can logically stand to gain. The key for Microsoft will be to leave TikTok as is, and not make it a Microsoft product.


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Microsoft Teams Allows 20,000 Participants in Virtual Meetings, Brings 1:1 Calling Feature

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

The company has also introduced new capabilities like allowing people to add the company’s branding to meetings for a professional look and feel.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 4, 2020, 10:27 AM IST

Microsoft has announced that its video meet app will now limit the size of interactive meetings to 1,000 participants, with a seamless shift to a ‘view only mode after the limit is met, for up to 20,000 participants. The company has also introduced new capabilities like allowing people to add the company’s branding to meetings for a professional look and feel.

“Start out with a branded meeting lobby, launching in the coming months, and extend your branding to the core meeting experience coming later,” said Nicole Herskowitz, Microsoft Teams General Manager. A new Cloud-based phone calling system in Team will help employees who use phone numbers to make and receive calls with customers, partners, and vendors, whether they are in the office or working from home. “Connecting 1:1 with colleagues, customers and partners is important, especially when meeting face-to-face can be challenging. Employees in your organization can easily call each other from Teams without a phone number,” Herskowitz said in a statement on Monday. The new ‘Teams Displays’ feature will offer “a fresh perspective on what a phone could be.”

This is a dedicated Teams device featuring an ambient touch screen, high-quality calling and video, and a hands-free experience powered by Cortana. With Cortana built-in, the Lenovo ThinkSmart View and Yealink will deliver the first Microsoft Teams displays in the US later this year. “We are announcing extended support for Skype for Business (3PIP) phones beyond 2023, so you can continue to use your existing Skype for Business phones as you move to Teams,” said the company. Additionally, it will be supporting core calling features on SIP phones from Cisco, Yealink, Polycom, and others with Teams.

Support for SIP phones will be available in the first half of 2021. A new lineup of Microsoft Teams phones with physical buttons, high-quality audio, and core calling features are also coming at affordable prices. “These phones are designed for common areas and basic information worker scenarios, with options available from AudioCodes, Poly, Yealink starting early 2021,” said Microsoft. “We are also expanding our portfolio to deliver new USB peripherals that have dial pads and a modern Teams user interface for heavy call users,” it added.


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Tech

Microsoft says in talks to buy TikTok's U.S. operations from China's ByteDance

BEIJING/SHANGHAI Microsoft Corp said it will push ahead with talks to acquire the U.S. operations of Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok, a potential blockbuster deal that could re-shape the social media industry and further inflame crumbling U.S.-China relations.

The U.S. tech giant formally declared its interest on Sunday after President Donald Trump reversed course on a planned ban of Tiktok and gave the two firms to 45 days to come to a deal.

The proposed acquisition of parts of TikTok, which boasts 100 million U.S. users, would offer Microsoft a rare opportunity to become a major competitor to social media giants such as Facebook Inc and Snap Inc.

Microsoft, which also owns professional social media network LinkedIn, is also seeking to buy TikTok’s Canadian, Australian and New Zealand interests.

ByteDance has not publicly confirmed the news. But in an internal letter to staff on Monday seen by Reuters, the company’s founder and CEO Zhang Yiming said the firm had started talks with a tech company that was not identified.

The letter also said ByteDance did not agree with the stance taken by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) that it must fully divest TikTok’s U.S. operations.

“We disagree with this CFIUS conclusion,” the letter said but added: “…we understand the decision in the current macro environment.”

ByteDance did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump had said on Friday he was planning a ban amid concerns that its Chinese ownership represents a national security risk because of the personal data it handles.

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He only agreed to allow Microsoft to negotiate a deal if it could secure a deal in 45 days, three people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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