That easyJet tweet–questions arising about how businesses protect their reputation

This morning I noticed (because others were retweeting) a tweet from Mark Leiser who claimed that he was threatened with denied boarding by easyJet after making a negative tweet about the company at the gate.

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It was a remarkable claim and hard to believe. There are two things to ponder here. One was why a company would be so foolish as to try to prevent a ticketed passenger from boarding a flight merely because of a tweet it disliked. The other was the mechanism by which easyJet saw the tweet, connected it to the passenger, and took immediate action. Is easyJet really monitoring all our tweets and cross-referencing against passenger lists? Further, if such a mechanism existed, it would presumably be for the sake of improved customer service.

I asked easyJet for comment and received this statement:

easyJet has never denied boarding due to comments on social media. On the rare occasion that we consider denying boarding it is on the basis of disruptive behaviour.

Now, you need to read this statement carefully; it is not quite as bland as it first appears. Note that the company will not comment publicly on any individual passenger. However, my understanding is that the tweets were part of a wider altercation. The passenger’s original complaint, incidentally, related to easyJet’s alleged refusal to compensate another passenger who would miss his connection (train?) because of a 90 minute flight delay.

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No doubt easyJet has strict policies on what it will and will not do to compensate passengers after delays and regulations also apply. I have no idea of the rights and wrongs here, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that a vocal discussion ensued and that easyJet’s knowledge of what was being tweeted arose out of it.

In the era of social media companies have nowhere to hide, we are often told. For example, Scott Monty, social media manager at Ford, says:

The reality is that the brand is what your customers say it is, not what you say it is

Does that mean that businesses are at the mercy of customers who are on social media? In the balance of power between customers and big business, a shift towards the customer is in my view an excellent thing; but it is still important to hear both sides of the story. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that in this case a policy of “no comment” on individual cases means (at the time of writing) silence from which readers may well assume the worst.

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How then do businesses ensure that at least a balanced view of incidents like this are heard on social media? I am not sure that I have the answer, except to give some credit to the wider audience to use common sense and their existing knowledge of a company (easyJet actually has a good reputation among the no-frills budget airlines) to conclude that 140 characters is unlikely to tell the whole story.

Update: for a fuller account from Mark Leiser see here.

Another update: Leiser has told me that he told easyJet he was tweeting, in order to further the cause of the potentially stranded passenger:

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Dear audio industry, fix mastering before bothering with high resolution

The audiophile world (small niche though it is) is buzzing with a renewed interest in high resolution audio, now to be known as HRA.

See, for example, Why the Time is Right for High-Res Audio, or Sony’s new Hi-Res USB DAC System for PC Audio, or Gramophone on At last high-resolution audio is about to go mainstream, or Mark Fleischmann on CD Quality Is Not High-Res Audio:

True HRA is not a subtle improvement. With the best software and hardware, a good recording, and good listening conditions, it is about as subtle as being whacked with a mallet, and I mean that in a good way. It is an eye opener. In lieu of “is that all there is?” you think “wow, listen to what I’ve been missing!” … The Compact Disc format is many good things but high-res it is not. It has a bit depth of 16 and a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. In other words, it processes a string of 16 zeroes and ones 44,100 times per second. Digitally speaking, this is a case of arrested development dating back to the early 1980s. We can do better now.

As an audio enthusiast, I would love this to be true. But it is not. Fleischmann appears to be ignorant of the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem, which suggests that the 16-bit/44.1 kHz CD format can exactly reproduce an analogue sound wave from 20–22,050 Hz and with a dynamic range (difference between quietest and loudest signal) of better than 90Db.

Yes there are some ifs and buts, and if CD had been invented today it would probably have used a higher resolution of say 24-bit/96 Khz which gives more headroom and opportunity for processing the sound without degradation; but nevertheless, CD is more than good enough for human hearing. Anyone who draws graphs of stair steps, or compares CD audio vs HRA to VHS or DVD vs Blu-Ray, is being seriously misleading.

Yes, Sony, you are a disgrace. What is this chart meant to show?

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If shows that DACs output a bumpy signal it is simply false. If it purports to show that high-res reproduces an analogue original more accurately within the normal audible range of 20-20,000 Hz it is false too.

As an aside, what non-technical reader would guess that those huge stair steps for “CD” are 1/44,100th of a second apart?

The Meyer-Moran test, in which a high-res original was converted to CD quality and then compared with the original under blind conditions (nobody could reliably tell the difference), has never been debunked, nor has anyone conducted a similar experiment with different results as far as I am aware.

You can also conduct your own experiments, as I have. Download some samples from SoundKeeper Recordings or Linn. Take the highest resolution version, and convert it to CD format. Then upsample the CD quality version back to the high-resolution format. You now have two high-res files, but one is no better than CD quality. Can you hear the difference? I’ve yet to find someone who can.

Read this article on 24/192 Music Downloads … and why they make no sense and watch the referenced video for more on this subject.

Still, audio is a mysterious thing, and maybe in the right conditions, with the right equipment, there is some slight difference or improvement.

What I am sure of, is that it will be nowhere near as great as the improvement we could get if CDs were sensibly mastered. Thanks to the loudness wars, few CDs come close to the audio quality of which they are capable. Here is a track for a CD from the 80s which sounds wonderful, Tracy Chapman’s debut, viewed as a waveform in Adobe Audition:

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And here is a track from Elton John’s latest, The Diving Board:

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This everything louder than everything else effect means that the sound is more fatiguing and yes, lower fidelity, than it should be; and The Diving Board is far from the worst example (in fact, it is fairly good by today’s standards).

It is not really the fault of recording engineers. In many cases they hate it too. Rather, it is the dread of artists and labels that their sales may suffer if a recording is quieter (when the volume control is at the same level) than someone else’s.

Credit to Apple which is addressing this to some extent with its Mastered for iTunes initiative:

Many artists and producers feel that louder is better. The trend for louder music has resulted in both ardent fans of high volumes and backlash from audiophiles, a
controversy known as “the loudness wars.” This is solely an issue with music. Movies, for example, have very detailed standards for the final mastering volume of a film’s
soundtrack. The music world doesn’t have any such standard, and in recent years the de facto process has been to make masters as loud as possible. While some feel that overly
loud mastering ruins music by not giving it room to breathe, others feel that the aesthetic of loudness can be an appropriate artistic choice for particular songs or
albums.

Analog masters traditionally have volume levels set as high as possible, just shy of oversaturation, to improve the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). With digital masters, the goal
is to achieve the highest gain possible without losing information about the original file due to clipping.

With digital files, there’s a limit to how loud you can make a track: 0dBFS. Trying to increase a track’s overall loudness beyond this point results in distortion caused by
clipping and a loss in dynamic range. The quietest parts of a song increase in volume, yet the louder parts don’t gain loudness due to the upper limits of the digital format.
Although iTunes doesn’t reject files for a specific number of clips, tracks which have audible clipping will not be badged or marketed as Mastered for iTunes.

Back to my original point: what is the point of messing around with the doubtful benefits of HRA, if the obvious and easily audible problem of excessive dynamic compression is not addressed first?

None at all. The audio industry should stop trying to mislead its customers by appealing to the human instinct that bigger numbers must mean better sound, and instead get behind some standards for digital music that will improve the sound we get from all formats.

Preventing auto-archive of Tasks in Office 365 with Retention Tags

I helped a contact set up Office 365 and encountered a curious problem.

He is a financial adviser and as part of his workflow, he uses tasks with a due date set far into the future. For example, “Call this client in two years time”.

He has an Office 365 E3 plan, which gives him enterprise-quality retention and archiving features.

We enabled archiving which by default means that messages over two years old are moved to an online archive mailbox.

He then noticed that tasks were disappearing. Then he found them in the archive mailbox. Some of the tasks that were being archived were the ones for action right now.

Why does Exchange archive tasks that are just on or even before their due date? It seems odd; but read this post carefully:

  1. A non-recurring task expires (or moves to the archive) according to its message-received date, if one exists.
  2. If a non-recurring task does not have a message-received date, it expires (or moves to the archive) according to its message-creation date.

You might not think that tasks are messages; but in Exchange everything is a message, kind-of. Nowhere does this post by Ross Smith at Microsoft refer to the task’s due date. That seems curious; but the evidence from both this post and our experience is that Exchange will indeed archive a task, regardless of its due date, if it is older than the archive period.

No problem, I thought, we’ll just set the Tasks folder not to auto-archive. Forget the folder properties though; this is Enterprise stuff set by policy and there is no auto-archive tab:

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OK, so we have to look at the policies. This gets a little complex. If you right-click a folder in Outlook Web App, after enabling online archiving, you will notice an Assign Policy option which refers to both Archive Policy and Retention Policy:

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However, you cannot right-click Tasks and choose “Personal never move to archive”. Nor can you use Policy tab that appears in Outlook (provided you have the right version) for most folders:

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The Tasks folder is special. It inherits the default archiving policy for the mailbox, which cannot be overridden.

Here is how we have (I hope) fixed this. What you have to do is to set a default archiving policy of “Never archive” and then override this for the folders that you do want to archive. A bit backwards, but there it is.

You can do this either through the Office 365 Exchange admin screens, or with PowerShell. First, go to Compliance Management and select Retention tags.

Why are we looking at Retention tags and not Archive tags? The reason, as far as I can make out, is that what Microsoft calls in some places the Archive policy is implemented as a Retention policy with Action “Move to Archive”. Therefore, we have to create a new Default Retention Tag which specifies Never archive:

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Now go to the Retention Policies tab. By default there is a single Default MRM policy. You can either amend this, or create a new policy. A policy is defined by a collection of Retention tags. The key tag in this instance is “Default 2 year move to archive”. You can either remove this and replace it with “Default never archive”, or create a new policy including “Default never archive”. It seems that Retention policies work better if they have a Default tag of some sort, so I suggest not omitting a Default tag altogether.

An Archive policy that never archives anything is not much use, so you should also include some Personal Retention tags. These let you override the default policy for specific folders, such as Inbox. You can also add Retention tags that apply automatically to specific folders (the Default MRM policy has examples for Junk Email and Deleted Items) but note that these cannot affect the Archive policy, as they cannot contain the action “Move to Archive”. Only Default and Personal tags can include Archive policy.

Finally, if you created a new policy rather than amending Default MRM Policy, you have to apply it to the mailbox. Go to Recipients, select the mailbox and click Edit, select Mailbox features, and change the Retention Policy.

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Note that the archive policy doesn’t seem to be applied until the archiving process next runs, which by default is every seven days. You can kick it off in PowerShell like this:

Start-ManagedFolderAssistant -Identity <name of the mailbox>

My opinion: that is a lot of work simply to have Tasks not auto-archive. But on the plus side, it gives you a good understanding of how archiving and retention policies work in Office 365.

If you know an easier way, please let me know!

Further reading:

Set Up and Manage Retention Policies in Exchange Online with Windows PowerShell

Apply Retention Policies and Archive Policies to Your Messages

Changing the Organization’s Default MRM Policy (Default Retention Policy)?

ComponentOne’s TouchToolkit for Windows Forms: another approach to the Windows tablet problem

Software component vendor ComponentOne has released Studio Enterprise 2013 v2.5, the latest in its suite of components, with support for Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013.

The piece that caught my eye is the TouchToolkit for Windows Forms.

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Here’s the problem. The Windows desktop is poor with touch control, which is why Microsoft created Windows 8 with its alternate, touch-friendly Windows Runtime platform. However users are resistant to the changed user interface, and it does not help with existing desktop apps.

Developers are also faced with a question of simple mathematics. Develop a Windows 8 Store app, get a market of x. Develop a Windows desktop app, get a market of many times x, since Windows 8 can run desktop apps, but Windows 7 cannot run Store apps.

Embarcadero approached this problem with a framework called Metropolis, for Delphi and RAD Studio. It builds apps that mimic the Windows Runtime look and feel, but which are actually desktop apps. Of course they do not run on Windows RT, the ARM version. It is a confusing solution in my opinion, leading users into what Martin Fowler calls the Uncanny Valley, where stuff works almost but not quite how you expect.

I prefer the thinking behind the TouchToolkit. Take your existing Windows Forms apps, or write a new one, using these controls to make them more touch-friendly. They will never be as well suited to touch control as a Store app, but they might be good enough, and of course will run on Windows 7 and earlier versions.

The controls include a magnifier, support for zoom gestures, and a touch event provider that adds gesture support to any control.

Windows Forms, we all know, is not as good as WPF if you want an application that scales nicely and supports modern design. On the other hand, Windows Forms is pragmatic and easy to use framework that remains popular for line of business apps.

Fixing a slow Lenovo laptop

Here is a problem I’ve not seen before. A Lenovo Thinkpad E530 laptop running Windows 7, which after working fine for months developed a critical problem. On start up the user would see the network icon in the notification area (bottom right) show a busy icon or a red cross. No network connectivity, and the machine almost unusable.

After around 20 to 25 minutes the network sprang into life and everything was fine, until the next reboot when the problem repeated.

I fixed several errors in the event log to no avail. The problem persisted.

Went into msconfig and did the usual trick of disabling all non-Microsoft services and startup items. Everything worked fine. Laptop booted quickly and connected to the network.

What was the culprit? Trial, error and instinct eventually narrowed it down to an Intel service: Bluetooth Device Monitor. If enabled, 25 minute boot. If disabled, two minute boot.

I updated the Intel Bluetooth driver, a substantial 300MB download. This fixed it. I noticed that the updated Bluetooth Device Monitor now says it is from Motorola:

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I understand it was always provided by Motorola but previously signed by Intel.

Posted here in case others run into this issue.

Update: this seems to be a common problem. It seems that a recent Microsoft update is incompatible with some versions of the Bluetooth driver. See here for discussion on the HP support forums, where it has occurred with the HP Probook 4540s and others.

As noted in the comments, I used Lenovo’s system update utility to grab the more recent “Motorola” driver. It shows there as an optional update.

Embarcadero RAD Studio XE5 (Delphi) for Android now available

Today Embarcadero released RAD Studio XE5 which lets you build apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. You can also buy Delphi XE5 separately if you prefer.

Embarcadero’s release cycle is relatively rapid. It was only six months ago that RAD Studio XE4 with iOS support appeared.

The big deal in this release is Android support. If you use the FireMonkey framework, you can build apps for all supported platforms.

There is also a new REST client library and some other enhancements – see here for a list of what’s new.

Embarcadero’s approach to Android development is distinctive. In keeping with Delphi’s tradition of native code compilation, Android apps are compiled using the NDK (Native Development Kit). Embarcadero’s developer evangelist John Thomas told me that this delivers excellent performance. I can believe it, though note what Google says:

Before downloading the NDK, you should understand that the NDK will not benefit most apps. As a developer, you need to balance its benefits against its drawbacks. Notably, using native code on Android generally does not result in a noticable performance improvement, but it always increases your app complexity. In general, you should only use the NDK if it is essential to your app—never because you simply prefer to program in C/C++.

Delphi developers are largely shielded from the complexity of the NDK, since you code using the high level abstraction provided by the runtime library (RTL) and the FireMonkey framework. If that is all you need I should think everything will be fine. If you have a Java library you need to call from your Delphi Android application, you need to use JNI (Java Native Interface) which is not so much fun.

Another point to note is that FireMonkey emulates most visual controls like buttons and lists, by drawing them itself. Users might not notice, if they look and behave exactly like the native controls, but this is hard to do perfectly. Embarcadero’s approach is native in respect of the code it generates, but not in respect of the controls it uses.

I installed RAD Studio XE5 on a Windows 8 machine and set about building an Android app. I already had the Android SDK installed so I asked the RAD Studio installer to skip the SDK but to install the NDK. As it turned out, I am not sure whether it did or did not (I could not find it quickly), but it was easier to download the NDK manually.

I have previously tried Delphi for iOS, for which the usual approach is to run Delphi (or RAD Studio) in a Windows emulator on a Mac, since the Delphi IDE is Windows only. This approach is not so good for Android development because its hard to attach Android devices to an emulator for debugging. Therefore, a real Windows PC is a better platform for Android development. If you want to target iOS as well, you can still do so, by using the remote agent running on a Mac.

Setting up for Android development is a little harder than setting up iOS development. The Android device I used for my test is a Sony Xperia T, and I installed the Sony PC Companion to be sure of having the correct USB drivers for debugging. With Java, the SDK, the NDK, RAD Studio itself, and getting the device connected, that is a fair number of moving parts.

It worked though. I created an Android app, connected my Xperia, and it showed up as a target in Delphi (it is also called the LT30p).

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I threw a label, a listbox and a button onto my app’s main screen.

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As it turned out, I should have taken a little more trouble. Here is my app running on the phone:

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Something has gone wrong with the list, but it looks easy to fix.

According to Embarcadero, a recent survey of over 1300 Windows developers showed that 85% get requests for mobile apps. But what mobile platform is most requested? Android is apparently at the top of the list:

  • 83% Android
  • 67% iOS
  • 33% Windows Phone
  • 17% Windows RT
  • 14% Blackberry

Is that really Windows RT (ARM) or could it include WinRT (Windows 8 Store app) I wonder? Neither are supported by Delphi yet; but at least with Android it now supports the most highly requested platform.

Cross-platform mobile development is critical today, and the new capabilities in Delphi and RAD Studio will be welcome. Is it the best approach? The trade-off is this. On the plus side, you get a cross-platform GUI framework that lets you share the maximum amount of code across all the targets you support. On the minus side, that might not be a good idea; see this post for some thoughts on that. You also get a native executable that should perform well, certainly better than an HTML/JavaScript approach, though I’m not convinced that using the NDK on Android is ideal.

How big is your Delphi Android app? Using the Hello World example above, this is what I got in debug configuration:

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24.52MB storage. I changed to release configuration and got this:

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That saved nearly 3MB, to 21.62MB.

Here is the RAM usage:

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I would be interested in hearing from developers using Delphi or C++ Builder for Android development. How is the quality of this first release? Is the fact that you are not developing in Java a problem in practice?

Fix screen dimming unexpectedly in Windows 8

Symptom: you are working away on your laptop or tablet, and suddenly the screen dims. Moments later, it brightens. Annoying and distracting.

The reason is the ambient light sensor. Someone thought it would be smart if the brightness of the screen varied according to the level of ambient light. If the room is more dimly lit, your screen does not need to be so bright. Microsoft’s Surface Pro, for example, has this enabled by default.

The idea is reasonable, but the implementation is lacking. Instead of the brightness gradually varying so you do not notice it, it dims and brightens like a mad thing.

You can fix this in Windows 8 through the power options – no it is not in display options so don’t bother looking there.

If you have a battery/mains icon in the notification area in the task bar, you can right-click and choose Power Options. Otherwise, open Control Panel (desktop version), and search for Power options.

Now click Change plan settings for the currently selected power plan.

Then click Change advanced plan settings.

Now scroll down to Display and expand the tree.

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The setting you want is Enable adaptive brightness. You can set this separately for mains and battery power. It does slightly extend battery life, so you might want to leave it On for battery and Off for when plugged in.

Then click Apply and close the dialog.

Does anti-virus work? Does Android need it? Reflections on AVG’s security suite

I’m just back from AVG’s press event in New York, where new CEO Gary Kovacs (ex Mozilla) presented the latest product suite from the company.

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Security is a huge topic but I confess to being something of a sceptic when it comes to PC security products. Problems include performance impact, unnecessary tinkering with the operating system (replacing the perfectly good Windows Firewall, for example), feature creep into non-security areas (AVG now does a performance tune-up product), and the fact that security software is imperfect. Put bluntly, it doesn’t always work; and ironically there was an example at a small business I work with while I was out there.

This business has AVG on its server and Microsoft Security Essentials on the clients, and somehow one of the clients got infected with a variant of a worm known as My little pronny which infects network shares. It may not be the exact one described in the link as these things mutate. Not too difficult to fix in this instance but a nuisance, and not picked up by the security software.

IT pros know that security software is imperfect, but uses do not; the security vendors are happy to give the impression that their products offer complete protection.

Still, there is no doubt that anti-malware software prevents some infections and helps with fixing others, so I do not mean to suggest that it is no use.

AVG is also a likeable company, not least because it offers free versions of its products that are more than just trialware. The freemium model has worked for AVG, with users impressed by the free stuff and upgrading to a paid-for version, or ordering the commercial version for work after a good experience with the free one.

Another key topic though is how security companies like AVG will survive the declining PC market. Diversification into mobile is part of their answer; but as I put it to several executives this week, Windows is particularly vulnerable thanks to its history and design, whereas operating systems like Android, iOS and Windows RT are designed for the internet and locked down so that software is only installed from curated app stores. Do we still need security software on such devices?

My further observation is that I know lots of people who have experienced Windows malware, but none so far who have complained about a virus on their Android or iOS device.

What then did I learn? Here is a quick summary.

AVG is taking a broad view of security, and Kovacs talked to me more about privacy issues than about malware. Mozilla is a non-profit that fights for the open web, and the continuity for Kovacs now with AVG is that he is working to achieve greater transparency and control for users over how their data is collected and shared.

The most striking product we saw is a free browser add-in called PrivacyFix. This has an array of features, including analysis of social media settings, analysis and blocking of ad trackers, and reports on issues with sites you visit ranging from privacy policy analysis to relevant information such as whether the site has suffered a data breach. It even attempts to rate your value to the site with the current settings; information which is not directly useful to you but which does reinforce the point that vendors and advertisers collect our data for a reason.

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I can imagine PrivacyFix being unpopular in the ad tracking industry, and upsetting sites like Facebook and Google which gather large amounts of personal data. Facebook gets 4 out of 6 for privacy, and the tool reports issues such as the June 2013 Facebook data breach when you visit the site and activate the tool. Its data is limited though. When I tried it on my own site, it reported “This site has not yet been rated”.

AVG’s other announcements include a secure file shredder and an encrypted virtual drive called Data Safe which looks similar to the open source TrueCrypt but a little more user-friendly, as you would expect from a commercial utility.

AVG PC TuneUp includes features to clean the Windows registry, full uninstall, duplicate file finder, and “Flight mode” to extend battery life by switching off unneeded services as well as wireless networking. While I am in favour of making Windows leaner and more efficient, I am wary of a tool that interferes so much with the operating system. However AVG make bold claims for the efficacy of Flight Mode in extending battery life and perhaps I am unduly hesitant.

On the small business side, I was impressed with CloudCare, which provides remote management tools for AVG resellers to support their customers, apparently at no extra cost.

All of the above is Windows-centric, a market which AVG says is still strong for them. The company points out that even if users are keeping PCs longer, preferring to buy new tablets and smartphones than to upgrade their laptop, those older PCs sill need tools such as AVG’s suite.

Nevertheless, AVG seems to be hedging its bets with a strong focus on mobile, especially Android. We were assured that Android is just as vulnerable to Windows when it comes to malware, and that even Apple’s iOS needs its security supplementing. Even if you do not accept that the malware risk is as great as AVG makes out, if you extend what you mean by security to include privacy then there is no doubting the significance of the issue on mobile.

Samsung takes over Times Square, New York City, for Galaxy Note 3

Samsung is launching the next Galaxy Note, its stylus-equipped phablet, at IFA in Berlin and Times Square, New York City.

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I am here for another event but who knows, might get a sneak look at the new Galaxy later.

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I am not keen on styluses but do like the idea of a converged device that does phone, tablet and notebook-like productivity all in one.

Microsoft acquires Nokia’s device business: a risky move for Windows Phone

Microsoft is to acquire Nokia’s device business:

Microsoft Corporation and Nokia Corporation today announced that the Boards of Directors for both companies have decided to enter into a transaction whereby Microsoft will purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services.

Nokia’s Stephen Elop is no longer CEO:

Stephen Elop, who following today’s announcement is stepping aside as Nokia President and CEO to become Nokia Executive Vice President of Devices & Services

The plan is that Elop, together with other executives from his team, will move to Microsoft. This is a circle completed for Elop, who was formerly in charge of Microsoft Office.

Nokia is retaining its patent portfolio, but licensing its patents to Microsoft for a 10 year term. 

Microsoft is acquiring approximately half of Nokia’s business overall, but all of its phones including the low end Asha range.

What are the implications for Windows Phone? One the face of it, the deal makes some sense. Nokia was the only Windows Phone OEM making real efforts to support and establish the platform, and has a large market share within the Windows Phone market. Although Windows Phone is struggling versus the iOS and Android giants, to Nokia’s credit it has established itself as a firm number three, ahead of Blackberry, and done some impressive work especially with the camera element.

Nokia has also managed to push out low-end but still capable Windows Phones at keen prices, and it is this more than anything else that has won it increasing market share. Recently, Kantar published a report showing solid gains for the platform:

Windows Phone, driven largely by lower priced Nokia smartphones such as the Lumia 520, now represents around one in 10 smartphone sales in Britain, France, Germany and Mexico. For the first time the platform has claimed the number two spot in a major world market, taking 11.6% of sales in Mexico.

What will be the effect of the acquisition on the Windows Phone platform and ecosystem? On the plus side, it gives Elop’s team access to more funds and removes any uncertainty surrounding Nokia’s future. If Microsoft keeps the proven team and its design and manufacturing expertise together, this could work.

There are obvious risks though. Without Nokia, Microsoft did a poor job of marketing Windows Phone, and while some of that is down to half-hearted hardware partners, Microsoft was also to blame for poor execution. Now that Nokia is Microsoft, there is a danger that its effectiveness will slip back.

Another question is how this will impact the other Windows Phone vendors, such at HTC and Samsung. Nokia already seemed to be a favoured partner, so perhaps little will change, but it seems unlikely that this will energise the other partners and it may have the opposite effect. The Windows OEMs hate Microsoft’s efforts with Surface (even though it was their own failings that forced Microsoft into the venture) and the phone vendors may well feel the same about Micro-Nok.

There is now no non-Microsoft smartphone vendor for whom Windows Phone is anything but a small sideshow. That could change, but it is not a sign of health.

Whether Nokia was right to embrace Windows Phone rather than Android is an open question; and perhaps it should not have abandoned its Meego (Linux) efforts, but given that it did both, it seems to me that Elop has performed well and was successfully growing the platform, albeit from a small base. Will he be allowed to continue that work at Microsoft, as well as gaining greater control over the software side of Windows Phone whose slow pace of development, it is rumoured, was a source of frustration to Nokia?

Alternatively, history tells that Microsoft can suffocate its acquisitions (remember Danger?).

Personally I like Windows Phone. When I looked at a Samsung Android recently, I was struck by how disorganised and confusing an Android smartphone can be, though impressed by its capability. Windows Phone is decent and I hope it carves out a reasonable market share.

The risks, though, are obvious.