The tech business week: Microsoft to ditch brands, and it may buy Minecraft

15 Sep 2014

Microsoft's recently launched Nokia device, the Lumia 130, a €19 phone with buttons and a month-long battery life

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with the news Microsoft is preparing to drop the Nokia and Windows Phone brands forever, replacing them simply with Windows.

End of the road for Nokia as Microsoft prepares to jettison brand

In a bid to break free of the past, Microsoft is preparing to jettison the Nokia and Windows Phone brands forever, replacing them simply with Windows.

According to internal documents seen by GeekOnGadgets, branding guidelines for the vital Christmas sales season make it clear that the Nokia manufacturing name is to be dropped.

New commercials in the US for Microsoft’s mobile products, such as the Lumia 930, don’t mention Windows Phone, and just refer to the OS as Windows, while HTC ads for its latest device refer to the new One M8 for Windows.

Microsoft in talks to buy Minecraft for US$2bn

Software giant Microsoft is believed to be in serious negotiations with the publisher of Minecraft, Mojang AB, about buying the platform for US$2bn.

Minecraft is a hugely popular online game that allows players to build things out of textured cubes in a 3D world.

The deal makes infinite sense for Microsoft due to the success of its Xbox 360 console business, but also it could be critical to the future of Microsoft’s Windows platform among consumers, especially in terms of app downloads and online services.

Microsoft believes it can drive even higher profitability out of Minecraft by increasing its user base and merchandising through toys and movies.

Google buys ‘smartspoon’ company Lift Labs

Internet search giant Google has purchased Lift Labs, a developer of a ‘smartspoon’ to help the infirmed eat more easily.

The spoon has a large handle that contains both a battery and a system of electronics designed to stabilise the utensil in reaction to tremors, which would prove useful for those suffering from a number of motor-neuron diseases, according to the BBC.

Under the deal, Lift Labs will now Google’s X division, the company’s research and development wing.

HP buys cloud software firm Eucalyptus

Computer maker HP has struck an agreement to acquire cloud software company Eucalyptus to accelerate hybrid cloud adoption in the enterprise. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Eucalyptus is a provider of open-source software for building private and hybrid enterprise clouds. 

“Enterprises are demanding open-source cloud solutions, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to grow the HP Helion portfolio and lead a world-class business that delivers private, hybrid, managed and public clouds to enterprise customers worldwide,” said Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus, who will join HP as senior vice-president and general manager of the cloud business after the acquisition closes.

Smart homes devices maker Nest is coming to Europe

Smart homes appliance maker Nest, creator of self-learning thermostats and smoke and carbon alarms, is going to be selling its technology in Ireland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands within the coming month.

The Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm will be in 400 stores by the end of the month, said Erik Charlton, Nest’s head of business.

“The Nests (customers) buy will speak to them in the language of their home country,” Charlton said.

Ardagh Group in US$1m deal with HP to deploy network tech to 20k workers

Irish packaging multinational Ardagh Group has invested US$1m in a new HP networking rollout that will bring wired and wireless networking to more than 20,000 employees in 25 countries.

Replacing its mixed legacy network with a US$1m investment in a unified core-to-edge wired and wireless network, HP Networking solution has enabled the Ardagh Group to boost IT reliability and reduce the load on its IT team while lowering costs.

Headquartered in Luxembourg, Ardagh Group produces glass and metal packaging primarily for the food and beverage sectors, and operates from more than 100 locations worldwide. The company employs about 20,000 people and produces 32bn containers per year.

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