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THE NEWS WRAP: Microsoft announces Siri competitor, gives Windows Phone away free to device makers

Thursday, 3 April 2014 | By Andrew Sadauskas

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella has announced the release of a Siri competitor called Cortana during a keynote speech to the company’s annual Build developer conference in San Francisco.


The company also announced a new series of Nokia Lumia smartphones, including the new flagship Lumia 930, and the lower cost Lumia 630 and 635.


Meanwhile, where the company has previously charged device manufacturers between $US5 and $US10 a copy to build devices running Windows, it will now give the software away for free.


“We are going to innovate with a challenger mindset. We are not coming at this as some incumbent trying to do the next version of Windows, we are going to come at this by innovating in every dimension,’ Nadella says.


“Our vision, simply put, is to thrive in this world of mobile first, cloud. Our goal is to really build platforms, create the best end-user experiences, the best developer opportunities and IT infrastructure for this ubiquitous computing world.”


Amazon launches Fire TV set top box, in competition to Google and Apple


Amazon has launched a set top box and streaming video service called Fire TV in a direct assault on Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Microsoft’s Xbox One.


The company also announced that a $US39.99 controller for video games will also be released for the device.


The announcement of the new device, which can access content from Netflix and Hulu TV, was made by the vice president of Amazon's Kindle unit, Peter Larsen, at an event in New York.


“If you add it all up, Fire TV has three times the performance and power of Apple TV, of Roku 3, of Chromecast. This is a powerful device,” Larsen says.


GST must rise, says treasury boss


Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson has warned the GST must be increased and broadened if the federal government wants to return to surplus in the foreseeable future.


“It is widely known that the National Disability Insurance Scheme and school reform funding will add $3.1 billion and $2.8 billion to total spending over the forward estimates, with the net cost to the Commonwealth of the of the NDIS to be $11.3 billion per annum by 2023-24,” Parkinson said.


“What is less well understood is that total Commonwealth expenditure on health is anticipated to rise from $64.7 billion in nominal terms to $116 billion in 2023-24.


“Similarly, our three main pension payments – the aged pension, disability support pension and carers’ payment – grow at an annual rate of 6% per annum in nominal terms over the forward estimates, adding around $13 billion to annual payments by 2016-17, and another $39 billion by 2023-24.”




The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up to 16573.0. The Aussie dollar is down to US92.52 cents.