Microsoft re-Surfaces; BlackBerry bought, Oracle faster

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Microsoft’s new Surface 2 tablets look remarkably like the original Surface tablets

There were no surprises when Microsoft took the wraps off its Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro tablets in New York overnight.

Instead of offering something fresh and different, Microsoft followed the PC industry tradition of spec-bumping:  the new models are faster, with better graphics and improved battery life.

Microsoft dropped the misunderstood Surface RT label. The new Surface 2 is its replacement coming with a cut-down version of Office. The Surface 2 Pro include a full version of Windows can can run Office 365.

Surface is key to Microsoft’s plan to move away from being just a software company by adding devices and services to its offering. Significantly the new tablets come bundled with free international calling via Skype and a generous 200GB of SkyDrive storage for two years.

Microsoft says the new models will go on sale in many countries, including New Zealand on October 22.

Surface got off to a poor start. Recently Microsoft wrote off almost US$1 billion for unsold inventory. While many talk as if Surface is in head-to-head competition with Apple’s iPad, Microsoft’s tablets are more a re-imagination of laptop computing.

  • There are six weeks of due diligence to get through, but it appears troubled BlackBerry has found a buyer. A consortium led by Fairfax Financial says it has a letter of intent to buy BlackBerry for around US$4.7 billion. That’s roughly four percent of the BlackBerry’s peak value.
  • Larry Ellison showed new products he says will make data flow faster across corporate data centres and the Internet. Oracle’s flagship 12c database gets an in-memory upgrade which can make it work 100 times faster than before.
  • Another day, another oversized Android smartphone. LG has launched its Vu 3 in Korea. The device has a 5.2 inch screen and works with a stylus. There’s a 13 megapixel camera and a range of proprietary software which hardly anyone will ever use.