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IBM made its support for Apache Spark clear back in June at Spark Summit, when it announced a $300 million commitment to Spark -- including dedication of 3500 researchers and the establishment of a Spark Technology Center in San Francisco. At its own IBM Insight event in Las Vegas today, the company is announcing availability of IBM Analytics on Apache Spark, a Spark-as-a-service offering as part the IBM Bluemix cloud.

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Venture capitalists are investing more money in private companies than at any time since the dot-com bust, with software companies grabbing the biggest slice of the pie.

In the third quarter this year, the software sector received the highest level of funding of all industries in the U.S., scooping up US$5.8 billion in 412 deals, according to the latest MoneyTree Report.

Venture capitalists also invested $5 billion in 242 of what the report calls "Internet-specific" companies, a classification for companies with business models that are fundamentally dependent on the Internet, according to the report, put out by  PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.

Within the software arena, social-oriented companies and software as a service business models appear to be hot. "We're seeing a lot of Saas models, a lot in the on-demand category because it's not capital intensive, it's not people-intensive, it has a recurring revenue stream and once people get their hands on the product, hopefully they keep using it," said Tom Ciccolella, U.S. venture capital market leader at PwC.

The top 10 VC deals of the third quarter included a $450 million investment in data analysis company Palantir Technologies; a $251 million deal with software services site GitHub; and a $150 million cash injection into customer experience management software maker Medallia. Also in the top 10, Avidxchange, an IT services company specializing in accounts payable and payment technology, snapped up about $225 million in VC money.

The $47.2 billion invested in all company categories in the first three quarters of 2015 is higher than full-year totals for 17 of the last 20 years. In the third quarter alone, the figure was $16.3 billion. That's 5 percent lower than the second quarter, but the VC market is on a path to be bigger than for any year since 2000, when the dot-com craze flamed out.

The inevitable question is whether it amounts to a bubble that's about to burst. There are, however, rational reasons for the increase in VC funding, points out Ciccolella.

First of all, there are more players, and therefore more competition, in the VC market these days, with non-traditional players like hedge funds getting into the private-investment game. In addition, some of these companies may be taking a long view and not necessarily be looking for a quick initial public offering (IPO). Many private companies are electing to take advantage of the situation and receive late-stage funding rather than going public.

"Private companies don't have analysts looking at their quarterly results to see if they missed expectations," and can focus on improving their products, Ciccolella said.

Software companies, meanwhile, are relatively low-risk. "The barriers to entry in software are lower than in other types of businesses," Ciccolella said. Software companies, for example, don't need to worry about manufacturing plants and the material costs of hardware.


Source: PC World

At this year’s build conference, Microsoft announced several ‘bridges’ that will enable developers from competing platforms port over their popular apps to Windows without any major changes to their apps. One of those bridges is Project Astoria.

What is “Project Astoria”?
“Project Astoria” (also referred to as “Project A”), is a Universal Windows Platform Bridge toolkit that enables you to build Windows apps for phones by reusing your Android code. With “Project Astoria” you’ll be able to:

  •  Build Windows apps for phones with few code changes
  •  Use a Microsoft interoperability library to integrate Microsoft services into your app with very little effort
  •  Test and debug your app from your preferred IDE
  •  Publish your app and get paid through the Windows Store

windows10 skype

Microsoft is previewing its latest Windows 10 update today, and it comes with some interesting changes. While the software giant has been promising a new Messaging app with Skype integration, it's finally available to test out. It's fairly basic right now, but it does give you access to features like Skype messaging, video, and audio all in integrated lightweight apps for Windows 10.
The new Messaging app is Microsoft's equivalent to Apple's own iMessage system. It's also identical to the Messages app on OS X, with the same two-panel interface and circular UI for contacts. Microsoft has started linking Skype usernames with mobile numbers to make it easier to find friends who are using the service without having to know their user ID. That makes this whole approach a lot more like iMessage, allowing Skype users to chat to friends easily on the service.

skype translator


When Microsoft first revealed its Skype Translator, it was a rather interesting technology, not only allowing Microsoft to flaunt its prowess at machine learning, but also bridging gaps between people and countries. The feature has now been built into the main Skype for desktop application, allowing users everywhere to enjoy its instant translation capabilities.
When making audio and video calls now, the desktop application touts support for instant translation between six languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin. Not only that, but you can also converse in as many as fifty languages if using only text messages, making inter-language communication easier than ever before.
To avail the feature, users can press the settings button for each contact to alternate between the translation for calls and text messages, where you can select the language for each. This will turn on the translator icon (represented by a globe) and voila!
Of course, with automated processes like these, it's still a little hit-and-miss at the moment (just look at Cortana's quirks) but, after almost a year since its announcement, the Skype Translator is good enough today that you can easily carry conversations with people in other countries, even though the translations may not always be entirely accurate. Also, the more you use it, the better it gets.
Source: Neowin