Tech's giants and their giant headaches

MPs grilled big tech corporations over their tax payments this week

Remember the song about the old man who turned ninety-eight, won the lottery and died the next day? You know, the one where the Canadian woman yelled about plane crashes and spoons and stuff.

It turns out that the song also describes the past seven days in tech, with some of tech's biggest firms encountering equally large headaches.

Tech firms don't get much bigger than Microsoft, and tech news doesn't get much bigger than the man in charge of Windows deciding to spend more time with people who aren't Steve Ballmer. Did Steven Sinofsky fall, or was he pushed? We don't really care, but we do care about what it means for Microsoft and the future of Windows.

Mary Branscombe explains: "Windows development has been handed over to Julie Larson-Green, who was behind Office's ribbon redesign and the Windows 8 UI... [Windows is] moving to faster releases, especially for Windows RT".

The tax debacle rumbles on

Microsoft employees weren't the only people pulling WTF faces this week: UK MPs were too. Grilling Amazon and Google over epic tax avoidance, MPs mocked Amazon's answers and called Google's tax practices "immoral" - even though their activities are perfectly legal, and other tech firms have similar arrangements.

How can something be legal and immoral? Gary Marshall explains the argument:

"For example, in Google's case the fiction is that its UK-based engineers don't actually do anything because the important stuff all happens in America," he says. "That's nonsense, of course". While Google's Matt Brittin was telling MPs that "all of the engineering work is done in California", Google UK was advertising for engineers to work on "Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Voice, AppEngine, and more... our engineers develop products used by millions." As Marshall put it: "Oops!"

Apple doesn't pay much tax either, but it does look like it's about to start paying more for chips: its best frenemy, Samsung, was rumoured to be upping the prices it charges Apple for processors.

If true at all, the price increase wasn't the only thing Samsung did to Apple's wallet this week. Apple has also been ordered to pay Samsung's costs after Apple's court-ordered online apology - which was supposed to say "Sorry Samsung, you didn't copy the iPad" - essentially said "UK judges suck! Samsung Galaxy IPAD, bitches!" or something along those lines.

Nokia is HERE

Remember Apple Maps? Of course you do: barely a moment goes by without someone making a hilarious joke on the internet about the not-entirely-accurate mapping app. Now Nokia's piling on with the excellently named Here, which sadly isn't exclusive to Everything Everywhere. In fact, it isn't exclusive to anyone: there's an iOS app, an Android SDK and a web-based version that runs on pretty much anything.

The aim, of course, is world domination: whenever you need to go there, Nokia wants you to start from Here.

As Kate Solomon says: "If nothing else, it will annoy Apple no end to have iOS users rocking Apple device homescreens proclaiming 'Nokia Here'". Apple Maps was supposed to end Google Maps' dominance, but instead it's encouraged people to put non-Apple maps on stacks of iOS devices. Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

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