Tag Archives: search engine

Microsoft makes Baidu a big piece of Windows 10 in China

Microsoft announced today that it has partnered with Chinese web giant Baidu — the country’s answer to Google — as it continues its quest to push Windows 10 in the market. The deal will make Baidu.com the default homepage and search option for users of the Microsoft Edge browser in the country, will add an easy way for Baidu’s 600 million-plus users to upgrade to Microsoft’s new operating system, and will introduce universal Baidu search, video, cloud, and map apps to Windows 10.

Chinese customers will be able to upgrade to an official version of Windows 10 through Baidu’s “Windows 10 Express” distribution channel. Microsoft says it’s already got 10 million Windows 10 users in China, but the company has many hundreds of millions more using older or pirated versions of its operating systems. The company has tried a few methods to lure these users over to its newest OS — earlier this year, Microsoft offered Chinese pirates the chance to upgrade to (an unlicensed version of) Windows 10 for free, a move the company said was designed to “re-engage” with users in the country.

The deal means that Microsoft will be forgoing Bing as its default search and homepage options in its Edge browser in China, but it’s indicative of the company’s strategy in the eastern market, in which it has deferred to home-grown leaders. The American company had previously brokered partnerships with a number of China’s biggest companies, including Tencent, Lenovo, and Xiaomi. This latest deal with Baidu continues that trend, giving it a reach in the lucrative Chinese market that Google — which largely pulled out of the country in 2010 — can’t yet match.

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Google ordered to remove news links by UK authority

Google has been ordered to remove nine links to news stories by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under the “right to be forgotten”.

Details of a “minor criminal offence” were referenced in the stories regarding an individual, the ICO said.

Earlier links about the case had already been removed – but this act of removal itself later became news.

It is the links to those new articles, when searched for via the individual’s name, which must now be removed.

In a statement, the ICO revealed that Google had refused to remove the linkswhen asked by the complainant, which is why officials are now stepping in.

Being able to access the links by searching for the complainant by name constitutes a breach of the Data Protection Act, according to the ICO.

“Let’s be clear. We understand that links being removed as a result of this court ruling is something that newspapers want to write about,” said deputy commissioner David Smith.

“And we understand that people need to be able to find these stories through search engines like Google.

“But that does not need them to be revealed when searching on the original complainant’s name.”

The ICO says that Google must remove the links within 35 days of the order, dated 18 August.

Google has so far declined to comment.

Messy compromise

The situation was described as a “messy compromise” by Ian Walden, professor of information and communications law at Queen Mary, University of London.

“You can search under ‘right to be forgotten’, ‘takedown’, and you can look at the whole discussion about whether it’s being taken down,” he told the BBC, “but if you search the individual’s name you should get a different set of search results.”

Dr Walden added that as the complexity of removal requests grows, it’s possible that search engines like Google may become less willing to challenge them.

“In five years’ time perhaps Google will say, ‘It’s not worth the hassle, let’s take down more stuff, let’s not spend as much time evaluating the case,’ – they obviously have to employ people for this,” he said.

“My concern is it [will become] easier and easier to get stuff taken down when in fact there continues to be a balancing act that needs to be carried out,” he said.

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Google loses data as lightning strikes

Google says data has been wiped from discs at one of its data centres in Belgium – after it was struck by lightning four times.

Some people have permanently lost access to their files as a result.

A number of disks damaged following the lightning strikes did, however, later became accessible.

Generally, data centres require more lightning protection than most other buildings.

While four successive strikes might sound highly unlikely, lightning does not need to repeatedly strike a building in exactly the same spot to cause additional damage.

Justin Gale, project manager for the lightning protection service Orion, said lightning could strike power or telecommunications cables connected to a building at a distance and still cause disruptions.

“The cabling alone can be struck anything up to a kilometre away, bring [the shock] back to the data centre and fuse everything that’s in it,” he said.

Unlucky strike

The Google Compute Engine (GCE) service allows Google’s clients to store data and run virtual computers in the cloud. It’s not known which clients were affected, or what type of data was lost.

In an online statement, Google said that data on just 0.000001% of disk space was permanently affected.

“Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain,” it said.

The company added it would continue to upgrade hardware and improve its response procedures to make future losses less likely.

A spokesman for data centre consultants Future-Tech, commented that while data centres were designed to withstand lightning strikes via a network of conductive lightning rods, it was not impossible for strikes to get through.

“Everything in the data centre is connected one way or another,” said James Wilman, engineering sales director. “If you get four large strikes it wouldn’t surprise me that it has affected the facility.”

Although the chances of data being wiped by lightning strikes are incredibly low, users do have the option of being able to back things up locally as a safety measure.

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Google spells out focus on future with Alphabet

New umbrella company turns web company into a cash machine for risky technology, but investors get more transparency

As far as bids for immortality go, it must already be the most lucrative in history. Larry Page’s restructuring of Google under a new umbrella called Alphabet – in a way designed to ensure both its longevity and his own – delivered an instant $28bn boost to the company’s stock market value.

As Wall Street and Silicon Valley processed what was a genuine shock to an industry long accustomed to leaks, analysts and pundits grasped for deeper meaning in the prosaic details of a corporate reshuffle.

The reason for the leap in market capitalisation was clear, at least. Page separated his pet projects and Google’s speculative technologies – human longevity, self-driving cars and internet-connected smoke thermostats – from its core online businesses. Web search, Android, YouTube, Maps, advertising and the rest of Google’s money spinners will now report their performance separately from the loss-making units.

Even before they are told how much the company has been spending on drones and hi-tech contact lenses, shareholders effectively celebrated the prospect of having a better idea of what is going on at their company. Under Alphabet, businesses that were valued negatively as part of Google are worth closer to zero, according to Wall Street, so the shares jumped.

The move was announced to investors, in Google’s traditional style, as a fait accompli. But while Page and other senior executives exercised the special power their shares hold, the age of Alphabet will be seen in some quarters as a concession to the market.

Until recently, Google’s shares were flat-lining while the wider technology sector boomed. Disquiet on Wall Street at Page’s apparent focus on sci-fi projects was growing, as analysts and investors questioned how the company would remain at the heart of the consumer internet.

Having already effectively given up social media to Facebook as a lost cause, questions were being asked about how Google’s dominance of web advertising, based on desktop search, would survive the shift to smartphones and apps. On mobile people search less, preferring to go straight to the relevant app and cutting out Google as the middleman.

At the same time, the company was suffering a brain drain. Amid the sluggish share price performance, some of Google brightest minds were being tempted by start-ups.

In the context of a long-running antitrust investigation in Europe, Google began to invite unflattering comparisons with Microsoft in the late 1990s. Could the defining company of the web era follow the defining company of the PC era to join the technologically irrelevant ranks of Wall Street income stocks?

Page acknowledged the threat as he revealed Alphabet as his solution, saying “where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant”. By divorcing the leadership of the company from its most successful business, Google, he aims to avoid the fate of Microsoft: a highly lucrative, occasionally innovative giant, but one with a seemingly weak grip on the future.

The creation of Alphabet helps to address some of Google’s problems immediately. The instant share price bump comes on the heels of an even bigger one in July – prompted by a pledge of “great care regarding resource allocation” – and means an equity gain for investors of more than 20pc so far in 2015. Some talented Google software experts sitting on options might also be less likely to jump ship early.

Page’s blue-sky tendencies should also be less of a problem for hard-headed investors. The problems of Alphabet’s for-profit business are now the domain of Sundar Pichai, the new chief executive of Google. The fundamental mobile challenge, YouTube’s intensifying battle with Facebook for online video advertising dollars and myriad regulatory problems are will be faced day-to-day by the 43-year-old Indian. A new holding company will not provide him with answers, however.

Google's Project Loon, The Cool ListProjects such as Loon, balloons for delivering broadband to remote areas, are risky

Page and the Alphabet board are meanwhile free to devote time and Google cash to futuristic ventures such as Calico, the longevity biotech business apparently inspired by the Google founders’ personal fears of degenerative diseases. Page suffers from a nerve problem that can paralyse his vocal chords and Sergey Brin, his co-founder, has donated more than $100m to research into Parkinson’s disease, which he has a 50pc chance of developing.

Page has spoken admiringly recently of one of corporate America’s elder statesmen, Warren Buffett and the structure of separate businesses with a common culture he has built at Berkshire Hathaway. Comparisons between Alphabet and Buffett’s conservative investing in profitable established brands do not stand up to much scrutiny though.

On day one, Google’s new owner looks more like a highly adventurous venture capital firm, albeit one that is funded not by institutions or wealthy individuals but by a massively profitable collection of advertising businesses.

The investments Alphabet is making are in new, risky technology businesses rather than Heinz baked beans or Coca-Cola and outside even Google’s comfort zone on the web. The only certainty at the moment is that under the new structure it will be easier to count the costs.

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Sundar Pichai: Meet Google’s new CEO

Sundar Pichai has been appointed chief executive of Google, after the company’s founders announced plans to restructure its operations under the Alphabet parent company

Google has announced a major restructuring, that will see the internet giant separate its core business from its ambitious research divisions, and launch a new parent company called Alphabet.

As part of the restructure, Larry Page will become chief executive of Alphabet, Sergey Brin will become president, Eric Schmidt will become executive chairman, and Sundar Pichai, who previously oversaw many of the search company’s core products, will become chief executive of Google – which will incorporate search, web advertising, Gmail, YouTube, Chrome and Android.

Mr Page said that Mr Pichai was the natural choice to lead Google, adding that he has “really stepped up” since October of last year, when he took on product and engineering responsibility for Google’s internet businesses.

“Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company. And it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google,” he said in a blog post.

“I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations. I have been spending quite a bit of time with Sundar, helping him and the company in any way I can, and I will of course continue to do that.”

Others suggested that Mr Pichai had been approached by Twitter, which islooking for a chief executive, and that he was promoted in order to keep him on board.

Mr Page said that Mr Pichai will continue to drive innovation and stretch boundaries at Google, and ensure that the company “can continue to make big strides on our core mission to organise the world’s information”.

The rise and rise of Sundar Pichai

Mr Pichai’s appointment as chief executive of Google is an endorsement of his talents as both an engineer and a manager. Since joining Google in 2004, he has risen rapidly, leading innovation efforts for Chrome and Chrome OS, overseeing the development of Gmail, Drive and Maps, and later taking on responsibility for Android.

In a recent profile by Bloomberg magazine, Mr Pichai was described as soft-spoken, self-deprecating and well-liked. “I would challenge you to find anyone at Google who doesn’t like Sundar or who thinks Sundar is a jerk,” said Caesar Sengupta, a vice president who worked with Mr Pichai for eight years.

However, Mr Pichai’s rise to the top of one of the world’s biggest companies has not been easy. Born in Chennai, India, he had a humble upbringing. His family lived in a two-room apartment, and Sundar did not have a bedroom – he slept on the living room floor with his younger brother.

Although the family did not own a car or a television, Sundar was attracted to technology from a young age, partly thanks to his father’s job as an electrical engineer for the British conglomerate General Electric Company.

“I used to come home and talk to him a lot about my work day and the challenges I faced,” Sundar’s father, Regunatha Pichai, told Bloomberg. “Even at a young age, he was curious about my work.”

The Pichai family got their first telephone when Sundar was 12 years old and, as well as cementing his interest in technology, it helped him discover a remarkable talent for remembering numbers – something that has come in handy throughout his 11 years at Google.

After studying metallurgical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, he won a scholarship to Stanford University to study materials science and semiconductor physics. The plane ticket to America reportedly cost more than his father’s annual salary.

Mr Pichai planned to get a PhD at Stanford and pursue an academic career, but he dropped out to work as an engineer and product manager at Silicon Valley chip maker Applied Materials. After getting an MBA from the Wharton School of Business in 2002 and doing a stint as a consultant at McKinsey, Mr Pichai joined Google in 2004.

He started off working on Google’s search toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox, but quickly suggested that Google should build its own browser. Despite some resistance from then-CEO Eric Schmidt, he won the support of the company’s co-founders, and Google ended up launching Chrome in 2008. Today, Chrome is the most used browser across desktop and mobile, representing 25pc of the market.

Mr Pichai went on to help develop the Chrome operating system for laptops, which stores data in the cloud rather than locally on the device. Chrome OS runs on Google’s Chromebooks, which are particularly popular with the education sector. Analysts at Gartner recently predicted that sales of Chromebooks will increase by 27pc in 2015.

After supervising the development of some of Google core applications like Gmail, Google Drive and Google Maps, Mr Pichai was also given oversight of Android in 2013, taking over from Android founder Andy Rubin. He has since led the expansion of Android from a mobile-only operating system to a platform for smartwatches, TVs, cars and even payments.

Mr Pichai’s promotion to product chief in October 2014 made him Mr Page’s second-in-command, with oversight of day-to-day operations for all of Google’s major products including Maps, Search and advertising, as well as new products like Google Photos and Google Now. His new title of chief executive essentially consolidates this role.

The appointment has been hailed not only as a personal achievement, but as a reflection India’s growing importance in the global technology industry, following the appointment of Satya Nadella as chief executive of Microsoft last year.

Google: a timeline of major events
Google has come a long way in the past 20 years. Here are some of the key events in the company’s history
The founders meet
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin meet at Stanford University. Mr Brin, 21, is assigned to show Mr Page around the campus.
The search engine project
The pair begin to work together on a search engine called BackRub as part of a research project.
Google.com hits the web
Google.com is registered as a domain, the name having been chosen as a play on the word “googol”, the number one followed by 100 zeroes, to represent the near-infinite amount of content on the web.
The company is incorporated
Google as a company is launched, filing for incorporation in California. The first office is in a garage.
New offices
The company outgrows the garage and moves to new premises in Palo Alto with eight employees, then later the same year another relocation takes the company to Mountain View, where Google employs its first chef. The company raises $25m in equity funding.
The world’s largest search engine
Google is launched in ten new languages. Today search is available in more than 150 languages. In June Google becomes the world’s largest search engine, with an index of one billion pages.
Eric Schmidt appointed CEO
Eric Schmidt, a former director of Apple, becomes chairman of the board of directors, then in August he is appointed CEO. Meanwhile Mr Page is president of products and Mr Brin president of technology. The same year, Google image search launches.
AdWords introduced
Google AdWords, first launched in 2000, is given an overhaul with cost-per-click pricing. Google News launches, as does Google Labs which allows users to try out beta technologies from the research and development team.
Blogger creators acquired
The company acquires Pyra Labs, creators of Blogger. Google AdSense is launched.
Google floats
Google launches its IPO with a share price of $85. The company is valued at $27bn. Email service Gmail is launched. Google acquires Keyhole, a digital mapping company which later helps create Google Earth. The European headquarters in Dublin open.
Google maps the world
February sees the launch of Google Maps and in June Google Earth is introduced.
Google buys YouTube
In October, the company announces the acquisition of video site YouTube. A number of new features launch this year including Google Calendar, Google Translate and Google Docs and Spreadsheets.
Android launched
In November, Google announces Android, the first open platform for mobile devices. Also this year, Google is named the best company to work for by Fortune. Street View is started in five US cities. But Google Earth receives some bad press as intelligence sources warn terrorists are using aerial footage from the feature to target British bases in Basra.
The introduction of Chrome
Web browser Google Chrome is launched. Google Suggest, now known as Autocomplete, is introduced on Google.com, predicting search queries.
Google supports innovation
Google Ventures is announced, a fund aimed to support innovation and new technology companies.
Nexus devices and driverless technology
The Nexus series of smartphone and tablet devices using the Android operating system is launched. Google announces the development of technology for self-driving cars.
Larry Page reinstated as CEO
Larry Page becomes CEO, ten years after he passed the title to Eric Schmidt, who is now named executive chairman. Google+ is launched.
Google campaigns against censorship
Google is part of the campaign against the SOPA and PIPA bills in the US, saying they would censor the internet and impede innovation. In April, Google Glass is unveiled, as is Google Drive, a file creation and sharing platform.
Shares pass the $1,000 mark
Less than a decade after Google’s flotation, shares hit $1,000. A milestone for Android as it passes one billion device activations.
Stock split
A stock split creates a new level of non-voting shares and cements Mr Page and Mr Brin’s control over the company.
Alphabet becomes holding company in big corporate overhaul
A massive corporate overhaul separates Google’s core business from its research divisions with a new holding company, Alphabet, of which Mr Page will be chief executive.
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Google it’s just… offline.

But I got a little fix on that. You can search on Google’s database and search engine using this door.
You can thank me later. Get back, Google! We need you!

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