Microsoft CMO's Talk Reignites Rumors of Surface Phone

Today's topics include fresh rumors about Microsoft introducing a Windows Surface phone, the completion of Intel's $16.7 billion deal with Altera, what the discovery of a vulnerability in Juniper's Virtual Private Network means for the security of communications and data, and Fujitsu's decision to spin out its PC and smartphone business.

Rumors about a Surface Phone are circulating again after Microsoft's chief marketing officer discussed the tech giant's smartphone strategy for 2016. In a Windows Weekly podcast, CMO Chris Capossela said that Microsoft will make an effort to provide handsets for corporate customers that want to equip their employees with smartphones. Capossela's comments indicate that Microsoft's efforts will involve more than merely slapping the Surface brand on a next-generation Lumia phone.

Intel has closed the $16.7 billion deal for programmable chip maker Altera. Company officials indicate the acquisition will boost Intel's efforts in such areas as the data center, the Internet of things and intelligent systems.

Company officials announced the completion of the deal Dec. 28, almost seven months after they said Intel was buying Altera after months of on-again, off-again negotiations. Altera--Intel's largest-ever acquisition--will be a new business unit within Intel called the Programmable Solutions Group (PSG).

On Dec. 17, Juniper announced that an internal code review revealed two backdoors had been added to its ScreenOS VPN operating system. There is speculation that one of the backdoors may have originated with a U.S. intelligence agency.

This adds fuel to the debate about government agencies getting backdoor access to networks and software. It comes at a time when politicians and law enforcement officials continue to call for technology companies to weaken the security of their products, allowing authorities to have access to their communications and data.

Fujitsu is spinning out its PC and smartphone businesses into separate companies as officials continue to look for ways to manage product lines that are becoming increasingly commoditized. Officials announced the decision last week, saying that the two new companies will begin operations Feb. 1, 2016. It's only the latest move by a major system vendor to respond to a PC market in which worldwide shipments have declined quarter after quarter since late 2011.

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