Microsoft Announces Layoffs as It Refocuses Its Smartphone Business

Today's topics include Microsoft's announcement that it will be laying off employees as it shrinks its smartphone operations, the raid of Google's Paris offices by local tax authorities, Samsung and SK Telecom's plans to collaborate on building an IoT-dedicated network and Red Hat's expansion of its Ansible technology.

Microsoft is laying off up to 1,850 workers in its smartphone hardware business as it moves to cut its losses, shrink its sales focus and sell smartphones to enterprise customers who want specialized devices with additional security and manageability features.

The company announced the layoffs on May 25, saying in a statement that it will "streamline" its smartphone hardware business and take an impairment and restructuring charge of about $950 million, including about $200 million for severance payments, in the fourth quarter.

About 1,350 of the layoffs will come at Microsoft Mobile Oy in Finland, formerly Nokia, while another 500 will be spread around the world, the company said. Employees working for Microsoft Oy, a separate Microsoft sales subsidiary based in Espoo, Finland, are not included in the layoffs.

Tax authorities in France raided Google's Paris offices on May 24 in a dramatic escalation of an ongoing investigation of the company's tax payment practices in the country. The Guardian described the raids as taking place in the early morning and involving some 100 investigators, including 25 IT specialists and five magistrates.

The purpose of the investigation is to verify whether Google Ireland Ltd. has a permanent base in France and, if so, whether the company failed to fulfill its tax obligations in the country, the Guardian said, quoting a statement from France's financial prosecutor Parquet National Financier.

Samsung Electronics is working with SK Telecom to create what officials with both companies say will be the first nationwide commercial network dedicated to the Internet of things and using the LoRaWAN networking standard.

The network will launch in the South Korean city of Daegu in June and will become available throughout the country sometime in the middle of the year, company officials announced May 24.

Samsung and SK Telecom envision a network that can support everything from cloud platforms and infrastructure for renewable energy technologies to big data analytics for health care and medical facilities and infrastructures for self-driving cars.

Red Hat updated its recently acquired Ansible technology on May 25 with a new version that provides enhanced support for Docker container deployment as well as Microsoft technologies.

Red Hat acquired Ansible in October 2015, adding DevOps IT automation technologies into its product portfolio.

The new Ansible 2.1 update is actually the second incremental update since Red Hat acquired the company. Ansible 2.0 was released in January, providing a cleaner code architecture. Among the big changes in Ansible 2.1 is broader support for Microsoft Azure and Windows.

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