5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending March 18

Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is Microsoft, which came under fire for its efforts, perceived by some as overly aggressive, to get customers to upgrade to Windows 10.

Also making the list were PC makers who were hit by a bummer of a market forecast for 2016 sales; Pure Storage, which a jury ruled was in violation of an EMC patent; Apple iOS device users who learned of a new malware threat; and Capgemini for having the highest amount of debt among publicly traded solution providers.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves -- or just had good luck -- check out this week's Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Microsoft Hit For Nagware, Heavy-Handed Approach To Windows 10 Upgrades

Microsoft found itself under fire this week for its aggressive push to get customers to upgrade from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10.

Several solution providers told CRN this week that customers with PCs running Windows 7 and 8.1 have found Windows 10 upgrade "nagware" buried in security patches. The nagware is in the form of an ad on users' Internet Explorer browser encouraging them to upgrade. Partners used words and phrases such as "heavy-handed" and "abrasive" to describe Microsoft's upgrade efforts.

A discussion thread on Reddit about Windows 10 automatic updates had more than 2,600 entries this week -- many from angry Windows users who discovered Windows Update automatically installing Windows 10 on their machines without permission.

PC Makers Get The Bad News: Market Expected To Decline More Than 5 Percent This Year

Manufacturers and solution providers with a stake in the PC market can't be too happy with this week's forecast from market researcher IDC that the global PC market will drop 5.4 percent this year. The market researcher is forecasting that worldwide unit shipments in 2016 will be a disappointing 260.9 million units.

Despite the combined release of Microsoft's Windows 10 and Intel's sixth-generation Skylake processors, which some solution providers had counted on to boost PC upgrades, desktop and laptop PCs will continue to struggle in competition against tablets and large-screen phones, IDC said. The market research firm also said the CAGR for PC unit shipments between 2016 and 2020 will be -0.5 percent.

Solution providers retained a positive outlook, despite the downbeat forecast. Several told CRN that new business applications and PC hardware improvements -- including new ultra-slim and convertible notebooks -- should help keep PC sales steady.

Pure Storage Ordered To Pay $14 Million In EMC Patent Case

Pure Storage violated an EMC patent relating to de-duplication technology and must pay $14 million in royalty damages, a federal jury ruled this week. The verdict, according to a Wall Street Journal story, stems from a suit EMC filed against the flash storage system maker in November 2013.

While Pure Storage lost on the single patent infringement charge, it could have been much worse. EMC initially charged Pure with violating five patents in de-duplication and RAID technology; EMC later dropped one, a judge dismissed another and the Delaware federal district court jury in the trial that ended this week ruled that Pure did not infringe the other two patents in question. And EMC had initially sought $80 million in damages.

Still, $14 million is $14 million, and EMC argued that that number would grow because every Pure Storage product sold with the disputed technology, going forward, is subject to the royalty. Pure has vowed to appeal.

More Evidence Apple Device Users Not Immune From Hacks

Apple iPhones and iPads may be vulnerable to a new strain of malware identified this week -- more proof amid mounting evidence that owners of Apple devices aren't as safe as they once believed.

The malware, dubbed AceDeceiver, can infect non-jailbroken iPhones and iPads, according to security technology developer Palo Alto Networks. It exploits certain design flaws in FairPlay, Apple's digital rights management protection mechanism.

So far AceDeceiver seems to have affected only users in mainland China and solution providers who spoke to CRN weren't overly concerned about the threat. But coming on the heels of last week's first known ransomware attack on Mac computers, Apple users must be feeling a little uneasy right now.

Capgemini's Debt Soars More Than 50 Percent In 2nd Half Of 2015

CRN released its quarterly analysis of the most debt-laden solution providers this week and Capgemini ranked at the top of the list after taking on more than $1.4 billion in debt since mid-2015.

Capgemini's debt soared by 52.2 percent from $2.76 billion as of June 30 to $4.2 billion at the end of 2015. The Paris-based company issued $2.99 billion "triple tranche" loan in late June to help finance its acquisition of Bridgewater, N.J.-based IGATE with notes due in 2018, 2020 and 2023.