Windows 10 Mobile Payments, LiveLoop Acquisition: Microsoft Review

Reports of Microsoft acquisitions and partnerships surface amidst updates on Internet Explorer, Project Spartan, and Windows 10.
11 Office 2013 Shortcuts That Will Change Your Life
11 Office 2013 Shortcuts That Will Change Your Life
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Microsoft kept the IT community on its toes last week with a wealth of news from its Convergence 2015 conference. We learned about the death of Internet Explorer, upgrades to Office Delve, and the launch of Windows 10 (coming this summer to a Microsoft device near you).    

You might think that after last week, Microsoft might go back to being a sleeping giant -- but you would be wrong. The past few days have brought another series of updates on Project Spartan, Windows 10, mobile payments, and new Microsoft acquisitions, most of the action occurring earlier this week.

On Monday we learned that customers who purchase a Surface Pro 3 are getting another price cut -- this time up to $150 -- and a free sleeve for the device. While the sleeve deal will terminate on April 5, the price cut does not have a specific end date. Could this be a sign that we'll see the Surface Pro 4 soon? Some seem to think so.

If Microsoft can't attract customers for its own devices, it has a backup plan. This week it announced deals with OEMs like Dell, TrekStor, and QMobile, in addition to an expanded partnership with Samsung to preinstall Microsoft apps and services on Android tablets, writes ZDNet. Businesses buying devices via Samsung's B2B channel can choose from the Business, Business Premium, and Enterprise versions of Office 365.

Reports also surfaced indicating that Microsoft will move forward with mobile payments through Windows 10 on smartphones. The company shed some light on plans to include Host Card Emulation in Windows 10 at its WinHEC conference, according to WindowsITPro. The technology is used alongside NFC, and will employ a "Tap to Pay" capability. Microsoft will collaborate with MasterCard, Visa, and American Express on this project.

[Internet Explorer's Demise: 7 Things IT Pros Should Know]

Developers got their share of news this week when Microsoft launched a software developer kit and other tools for the Windows 10 technical preview. The tools are currently in preview mode, writes VentureBeat, but can be used to build universal Windows apps. 

Tuesday arrived with a few browser updates. We learned that Internet Explorer 11 will not run Microsoft's new "Edge" rendering engine; that will exclusively go to Project Spartan. In fact, there will be no fundamental changes to IE going forward so as to maintain compatibility with versions in Windows 7 and 8.1, and to allow for greater focus on the new browser's development.  

Microsoft plans to enhance that development through collaboration with other tech companies. Its partnership with Adobe is the first to go public. The Adobe Web Platform Team will have the ability to make alterations to Microsoft's new browser. It's good news for millions of Microsoft browser users, who will have access to new features. 

Developers got more news on Tuesday, when Microsoft rolled out its Azure App Service. The cloud-based offering enables developers to build apps for mobile and the Web while providing them with tools designed to automate business operations in the cloud. Existing tools like Azure Website, Biztalk Services, and Mobile Services serve as a foundation for the new product, writes TechCrunch

Skype for Web is now available in a beta version, we learned later in the week. Microsoft is introducing in-browser video calls so that users can communicate over the Internet via Skype without downloading the app to their desktop.

Reports also surfaced on Thursday claiming that Microsoft will run Android apps on Windows 10 phones in an effort to increase upgrades, which occur less frequently on Microsoft devices, reports Neowin. The site claims that multiple sources within the company confirmed they are aware of Android apps running on the new mobile OS.

Microsoft closed off its week with its acquisition of LiveLoop, which develops Microsoft Office collaboration tools. LiveLoop for PowerPoint, its first creation, is a plug-in that enables a team to work on a project together in real time. Financial details were not released.

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
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Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing