Microsoft cleared to acquire Call of Duty maker Activision

UK regulators have approved Microsoft’s revised offer for video game publisher Activision.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had previously blocked the original $69bn acquisition, but said on Friday that the updated bid — which excludes cloud streaming rights — “substantially addressed” its concerns.

Activision’s games include Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Candy Crush.

In its original investigation, the CMA found that Microsoft already held a strong position in relation to cloud gaming and rejected the deal.

Under the new agreement French video game publisher Ubisoft, instead of Microsoft, will take over the rights to distribute Activision’s PC and console content over the cloud.

This will prevent Microsoft from “locking up competition” in cloud gaming as the market takes off, preserving competitive prices and services for UK customers, the CMA said.

Microsoft president Brad Smith, quoted by BBC News, said that the “final regulatory hurdle” had now been crossed for the company to complete the deal.

Despite clearing the acquisition, the regulator criticised Microsoft.

“Businesses and their advisors should be in no doubt that the tactics employed by Microsoft are no way to engage with the CMA,” said CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell. “Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work. Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money.”

Microsoft steps away from Windows 10 Mobile OS

Microsoft appears to be moving away from its smartphone operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, according to BBC News.

Microsoft Windows 10 chief Joe Belfiore tweeted that it was no longer a “focus” for the tech company to develop new features and hardware for the mobile operating system. Belfiore added that he had changed to an Android phone himself.

The USP of Windows 10 Mobile was that users could run the same ‘universal apps’ on PCs and handsets, but the concept did not prove successful. IDC research figures showed that Windows 10 Mobile handsets represented a mere 0.03% of smartphone shipments within the global market between April and June 2017.

IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo said: “There wasn’t a range of devices running Windows 10 Mobile, so it wasn’t attractive to retailers or operators. And from a consumer perspective, the operating system didn’t provide as good an experience as Android or iOS.”

Belfiore’s series of tweets confirmed that Microsoft would continue to support the platform through bug fixes and security updates. Belfiore confirmed that Microsoft had tried to incentivise app developers for the platform but that the number of users was too low to attract investment.

However, Microsoft is said to be working on a new version of Windows 10 known as Andromeda which would run on all types of computer. The platform would be compatible with all third-party apps without a special ‘universal’ version being required.

Microsoft acquires marketing automation software firm MarketingPilot

US marketing automation software specialist MarketingPilot Software LLC has been acquired by technology major Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), the target company said without unveiling the purchase price.

MarketingPilot will now operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. The former’s chief executive, Ken Kornbluh, commented that through the deal the firm will be able to boost its operations and provide further innovation to marketers.

In its official blog, Microsoft said that the agreement will enhance its abilities to meet the demands of CMO’s through rich business expertise. The company will also be better positioned to help marketers plan, execute, monitor and optimise client interactions across digital, social and traditional channels, and measure return on investment (ROI).

As part of the deal, all of MarketingPilot’s staff will join Microsoft Business Solutions Division. The company will continue to provide its products, services and support and will in the future seek to broaden its business. For the time being, the firm’s solutions will continue to be offered under the MarketingPilot brand.

The target company offers integrated marketing management solutions that allow organisations to improve their understanding of their clients, manage and streamline marketing operations and establish automated and measurable multi-channel marketing initiatives.

Microsoft completes $1.2bn acquisition of networking portal firm Yammer

US technology giant Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) has wrapped up the USD1.2bn (EUR978m) takeover of enterprise social networking portals operator Yammer Inc.

Jared Spataro, director, Office Division at Microsoft, said on the company’s official blog that all closing conditions have been satisfied.

The tech giant unveiled the deal in June saying that Yammer will become part of the company’s Office Division. Spataro said that Microsoft will speed up the implementation of Yammer’s standalone service and that the deal will also enhance the social capabilities in the company’s communication and collaboration products.

Yammer was founded in 2008 and is based in San Francisco, California. The company serves over 5m corporate users, including clients at 85% of the Fortune 500 companies.

Earlier in July, Microsoft said it had inked a definitive deal to purchase multi-touch platforms specialist Perceptive Pixel Inc for an undisclosed sum. Kurt DelBene, president, Office Division for Microsoft, said in a statement that Windows 8-based personal computers will benefit from the combination of the target company’s touch displays and hardware from Microsoft’s OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

Windows 8 is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s popular operating system. Australian Sky News reported that the newest version will be released for consumers in late October.