Tech Retrospect: Satya Nadella gets the nod, Sony bids farewell to Vaio

Miss a few stories this week? We'll bring you up to speed with this rundown of all the tech news.

After a generally strong 14-year run as CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer is stepping aside. Having announced his desire to retire last year, the longtime friend of Bill Gates is handing things over to career Microsoft engineer Satya Nadella. Nadella has been with Microsoft for 22 years, nearly half his life, joining the company back in 1992.

In his letter to employees this week, Nadella wove in references to Qi Lu and Oscar Wilde, talking of his pride at taking the role and reiterating his endless curiosity: "I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things."

Learning new things will be vitally important to the man as he attempts to steer the company into a stronger position. With the PC market eroding and Microsoft struggling to gain traction in the world of mobile devices, Nadella has much to do. But, his former position as head of the company's cloud computing efforts (now filled by Scott Guthrie ) means he has a strong perspective on what it will take the company to be competitive in an increasingly virtualized, PC-averse market. Speaking of which...

Sony sells its PC business, spins off TVs

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's been speculation for a few weeks now about Sony stepping out of the decidedly uncool PC business to focus instead on smartphones, tablets, stereo receivers, cameras, and the dozens of other product categories that the company covers. Initial word was that it would be Lenovo stepping in, much like it recently did for IBM's PC offerings. Instead, it's an investment fund called Japan Industrial Partners that will be taking over the Vaio brand. Sony will continue to provide support to existing customers but will cease production this spring, and it remains to be seen what future iterations of the Vaio line will look like.

Additionally, the company will be spinning off its television operations as a separate business entity, leaving the company without two of its most recognizable product categories as it bets even more on mobile and attempts to turn around a projected $1.1 billion loss. This is bad news for Microsoft, losing a major vendor for Windows machines, but Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai left a bit of hope , saying: "Microsoft has various OSes, including mobile. So, as Sony, we will consider new product development going forward."

Xbox One and PS4 get updates

If you made the early investment into either of the next-gen consoles, your systems are about to get a little better. Sony's PS4 update dropped first , adding support for Bluetooth headsets -- but not much else. Microsoft, meanwhile, detailed two larger updates for the Xbox One, the first of which will occupy download queues on February 11. That adds a charge indicator for controllers, USB keyboard support, and a bunch of stability and voice-recognition improvements. The second update, coming March 4, is a bit more nebulous, said to exist explicitly to make the system ready for the March 11 release of Titanfall. Expect "many new features and improvements, most significantly to our party and multiplayer systems."

Luscious red Nexus 5 available now

If you demand a smartphone with a bit more pop than the standard black Nexus 5, then get a load of this beauty. Google has released a red Nexus 5 that will stand out in any crowd of technicolor mobile devices. It's available now, unlocked as always, for $349 or $399 depending on whether you want 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. Sunglasses recommended, but not included.

Newegg preps $50 Amazon Prime competitor

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

After last week's news that Amazon was considering raising the price on Prime, many of you expressed your extreme displeasure. Newegg is now looking to give you an alternative. The online retailer launched Premier , a $50 yearly service that gives you free three-day shipping, with discounts on faster options -- not nearly as good as Amazon's free two-day and $4 overnight offerings, but cheaper. Sign up within the next week and you can try it free for a month.

Target credit card hackers got in through the HVAC system

Target

No, they didn't crawl in through the air ducts, "Mission Impossible"-style, but the hackers responsible for the Target credit card breach apparently accessed the company's secure network via credentials exposed by Fazio Mechanical Services . The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning company performed contract work for Target and apparently was given the keys to the company's network. Those keys were stolen, and the rest, as they say, is history -- as is the sanctity of 110 million customers' private information.

See sapphire glass in action on an iPhone 5

Finally this week, as ever, I leave you with a video. Plenty are talking about the potential for a next-gen iPhone with a display made of incredibly strong sapphire crystal -- the stuff used on many watch faces to resist scratches. Well, a company called Aero Gear already makes a replacement glass face for the iPhone, and 9to5Mac dug up a 2013 demo video showing what happens when that replacement glass comes in close contact with a cinder block. Enjoy.

 

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