Connect with us

Social

What if Microsoft had invented Android?

Published

on

Apple and Microsoft make life easier for iPhone and Windows 10 users
Microsoft unveils a new Apple iCloud for Windows app that integrates with Windows 10 File Explorer.

The smartphone war is long over; the two winners were Android and iOS. Most of the other contenders have long given up; right now Microsoft is slowly laying the last remnants of Windows Phone to rest.

That doesn’t meant there aren’t regrets. Indeed, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently listed the company’s failure to come up with an Android-like mobile platform as one of his greatest mistakes.

“The greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard phone platform – non-Apple platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win,” Gates said at an event hosted by a US venture capital firm recently.

SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

This provokes two related questions. First, why didn’t Microsoft, with its vast funds and stack of brilliant brains, come up with something like Android itself? And what would the tech world look like today if it had managed to do so?

It’s not like Microsoft didn’t want to break into the smartphone market; long before Android and iOS arrived it had spent years working on different handheld devices (PDAs as they were called back then).

But once the iPhone and iOS, and then Android arrived, Microsoft was wrong footed and scrambled for years to catch up, even buying Nokia’s smartphone business in a doomed attempt to re-invigorate its attack, before finally giving up.

And there are, of course, plenty of reasons why Microsoft didn’t, and couldn’t ever, create something like Android, or indeed even like iOS.

For me, a big part of the problem for Microsoft was that, for far too long, it saw smartphones as little more than scaled-down versions of the standard desktop (it even had a brand called Pocket PC).

For a company so dedicated to the PC that isn’t at all surprising, but it meant that the idea of a totally new user interface based on touch and a new way of using applications (these tiny ‘apps’) was always going to be a struggle. Even though, when the iPhone first launched it, only had 500 apps and Microsoft already had 18,000 for Windows Mobile. The real breakthrough was the integrated app stores of iOS and Android, which made downloads much easier.

Another big reason why Microsoft couldn’t have created Android was that it was (and still is, to a certain extent) an open-source product, in a time when open source was still viewed with great suspicion by Microsoft. But Android’s open nature meant that handset vendors could take it and tweak it and use the bits that they liked.

But even more important was that Android was cheap to use. Not having to worry about high licencing fees meant that handsets were cheaper for vendors to make and it was less risky to experiment. Hence the massive, Cambrian, explosion of different Android handsets in the market. As they lost market share to Android everyone, including Microsoft, finally dropped their licence fees but by then it was too late (a few years later Microsoft also offered a free upgrade to Windows 10 to many users, showing how pervasive the concept had become).

There was only room in the market for one mass-market mobile operating system, which was Android, while Apple had already got a secure lock on the premium market.

Still, if we put aside the institutional, technical and economic reasons why Android was unlikely to appear from within Microsoft, let’s consider what would have happened if, somehow, it had.

Gates himself has a pretty clear idea. “There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system. And what’s that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G to company M,” he said. So Microsoft would have been $400 billion better off at the expense of Google.

A smaller Google, a bigger Microsoft. Maybe, if it had been a big mobile player, Microsoft would have never made its pivot to the cloud, or maybe Google would have moved faster to the cloud itself. It’s hard to measure the implications of such a big change.

As for individual users, it’s worth remembering Google’s profit on Android comes from the services – maps, search, email – which are bundled with the operating system, which is why is can pretty much give it away to phone makers.

That was one of the huge breakthroughs with Android, but those Google services make money by capturing our information. As such, Android has played a significant role in normalising the idea that we can and should exchange our privacy for access to these services.

Most of us are still happy enough with that bargain, although more of us are worrying about it, too.

Could Microsoft have created something as successful as Android without using similar tactics? Perhaps, if it could have used smartphones as route into selling more paid-for services, much as it uses Windows today.

Perhaps then it might have taken a lot longer for surveillance capitalism to become the status quo. Perhaps not. Perhaps another company would have come up with a very similar offering to Google and we’d be exactly where we are today.

But it’s always worth remembering that the status quo is never inevitable, and doesn’t last forever.

ZDNET’S MONDAY MORNING OPENER

The Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. Since we run a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8:00am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet’s global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.

PREVIOUSLY ON MONDAY MORNING OPENER:

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Social

Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch

Published

on

The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.

The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).

Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.

“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on]  all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)

The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.

The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.

Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.

Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.

“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”

Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.

These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)

Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.

Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.

If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.

“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”

Continue Reading

Social

Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch

Published

on

Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.

Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.

In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.

Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.

On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.

Bitwarden

It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.

Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.

“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”

Continue Reading

Social

downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch

Published

on

As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).

Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital. 

Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.

The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.

The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.

Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories.
 and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.

Continue Reading

Trending