International Womens Day

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Mobile World Congress is in full swing today and Microsoft woke the press up early to discuss new features coming to their smartphone and tablet space. Top of the bill, presented by Stephen Elop, are the new Lumia 640 and Lumia 640XL devices. The regular 640, with it 5-inch HD display comes as the upgrade from the 630, whereas the 5.7-inch XL version sits as the move up from the large Lumia 1320.

Lumia 640

Lumia 640

Both devices will be available in 3G and LTE versions, with single and dual SIM in both of those depending on the market. The 640 uses a Snapdragon 400-series quad core processor at 1.2 GHz featuring Gorilla Glass 3, 1 GB of DRAM and 8 GB of storage. One might expect SD card support to come as standard, although a short hands on with the device failed to find one. The rear 8MP camera was described as a wide angle lens (although no numbers were given), with auto-HDR and dynamic LED flash. The battery weighs in at 2500 mAh also. Pricing for the 3G model starts at 139€ with the LTE version at 159€.

The 640 XL was described as ‘a slim 9mm’ with similar specifications to the smaller model but at 5.7 inches, namely a 1280×720 screen but the battery is pushed up to 3000 mAh. Internal specifications were not discussed, but the rear 13MP camera features Zeiss optics. Pricing starts at 189€ for the 3G model with LTE at 219€.

Both devices will ship with Windows 8.1 but will be upgraded to Windows 10, with Microsoft going all out to encourage Windows 10 across all of its future devices when available. The 640 and 640XL will also come with one year of Office 365, allowing installation on one PC and one other device as part of the deal. It also comes with 1TB of One Drive storage and 60 Skype World minutes.

Microsoft universal portable keyboard

An interesting element to the launch, especially with the ‘seemless feel’ push of Office across all different sizes of devices, was the Microsoft Universal Portable Keyboard. Barely bigger than a wallet, it is designed to fit into an office bag and be able to connect seamlessly via Bluetooth. No pricing or date was announced, but the focus was more on the office environment.

Microsoft Surface Hub

Microsoft Surface Hub

One demonstration that took me (Ian) by surprise was that of the Microsoft Surface Hub. This was an 84-inch display, normally the size used by large scale demonstrations, but this featured 4K resolution at 120 Hz as well as touch screen functionality. Naturally my thoughts drifted towards a TN type panel using MST, although taking the typical wide-angle test for TN panels was confusing as color consistency remained the same – it seems like they are using some kind of IPS display, which seems odd at 120 Hz.

The combination of 4K and 120 Hz and possibly IPS is mind boggling, which pointed me more towards an MST arrangement – either two panels or four. We managed to ask one of the product managers for the Surface Hub about this, but he was unable to give that information until launch. One of the demonstrations of the device featured a white-board scenario, as well as writing on office presentations. Anything written on the screen was recreated back to the controlling Surface tablet, and the tablet user could write as well, or what Microsoft calls ‘ink-back’. In a similar vein, ‘swipe-back’ to allow both users to change slides was demonstrated. The Surface Hub is linked to Windows 10, and we were told to expect more details at Windows 10 launch, along with another version at 55-inches but with 1080p resolution.

Accela Logo

Accela Closes $143.5 Million in New Funding to Accelerate Civic Platform Development and Global Sales Reach. Accela, which provides cloud-based civic engagement solutions for government, has closed $143.5 million in new financing, bringing its total raised to more than $200 million in the past 15 months. The most recent funding round included a $40 million growth equity investment led by Bregal Sagemount in Oct. 2013 and $20 million in debt financing raised from Wells Fargo Capital Finance. Accela said it plans to invest in its cloud offering, expand the capabilities of its Civic Platform and scale its sales efforts globally.


wipsterWipster Raises $1.2 Million in Funding to Fuel Growth of Its Cloud-Based Collaborative Video Review and Approval Platform. Wipster, a New Zealand company that offers a cloud-based video review and approval platform, has secured $1.2 million in its first round of funding. New Zealand-area angel investors provided the funding, and Wipster said it is focused on expanding its feature set and migrating its platform to mobile devices.

virtacoreVirtacore Expands Rapidly Growing Cloud Business with Silicon Valley Bank Financing. Virtacore Systems, a cloud services provider (CSP) that specializes in virtual infrastructure, has secured multi-million dollar financing from Silicon Valley Bank. Virtacore said it will use the capital to support its cloud services operations and infastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.

XEROAccounting Cloud Provider Xero Raises $111m, Announces Slew of Appointments. Xero has added $110.8 million in funding from investors Accel Partners and Matrix Capital Management. The cloud-based accountancy services provider said it will use the funds to bolster its marketing and sales efforts. Xero also has added ex-Salesforce (CRM) executive Graham Smith and former Dell (DELL) executive Russ Fujioka to its executive team and board of directors.

TrovTrōv Closes $6.5M Financing Deal and Adds Facebook’s Director of Analytics to Board. Trōv has completed a $6.5 million funding round led by the Anthemis Group, bringing its total funding to $13.3 million. The San Francisco-based company that provides “the cloud for your things” noted that it will use the funds to accelerate its technology development. Also, Trōv has appointed Facebook (FB) Director of Analytics Ken Rudin and Anthemis Group founder Sean Park to its board of directors.

Compiled from: Weeks trend changes and readings on investment magazines and cloud dailies.