5 Tech Observations to Start Your Day, Oct 2

Greetings from the ongoing road trip near Orlando, Fla. I woke up to plenty of chatter in my inbox. Now, it's time to share the chatter with you. So here are five technology news nuggets, rumors, observations and gossip to start your day for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014.

Actually, today's list involves 10 entries... because just like Microsoft I wanted to leap beyond nine. Here they are:

10. Windows 10's Biggest Challenges: Now that Microsoft has introduced the technical preview of Windows 10 (the successor to Windows 8), it got me thinking... what is Microsoft's "biggest" competitive challenge with this operating system? It ain't Apple. It ain't Google. No. The real challenge comes from Microsoft itself. More thoughts on that later today.

9. Business Priorities: If you built an IT company from scratch right now, what platforms would you choose and what business priorities would you set? Obviously, After Nines Inc. has been weighing those questions amid our own recent company launch. We'll share more details about our platform choices and business priorities in the next few days...

8. Telecoms & Consumer Cloud Services: Indeed, big European telecom providers like Orange and Bouygues will start offering Netflix as part of their pay-TV set top boxes. Telecom companies have made great strides offering consumer-focused cloud applications to their customers. But I still think those same telecoms -- in Europe and the US -- have been pretty lousy promoting SMB cloud services to customers.

7. Economic Alerts: Throughout today watch for several key economic reports to emerge, including initial jobless claims, factory orders, the Fed balance sheet, and more. Place those pieces together, and IT entrepreneurs may be able to make more informed bets over the next few months.

6. IBM Is Shrinking... And Growing: IBM's falling revenues have been well documented over the past year or so. But Stock Market Sherpa -- a blogger over on SeekingAlpha -- says IBM offers a different type of growth that you shouldn't ignore: Dividend growth. I love dividends as much as the next shareholder... but IBM was late to the cloud and late to sell off its PC server business. Still, I like last year's SoftLayer acquisition and I love dividends. So maybe it's time to buy...

5. Angie's List Exiting, Work Market Accelerating: There's a rumor Angie's List is up for sale. Here's a list of potential suitors. But I'm more focused on talent finder platforms in the IT industry. Work Market and OnForce come to mind. Keep a particularly close eye on Work Market -- which is in serious growth mode and... well... stay tuned. Meanwhile, OnForce is merging into Beeline. Instead of hiring full-timers, systems like Work Market and OnForce allow IT businesses to rapidly scale up or down with freelance and contract IT employees. Work Market will ultimately push into additional verticals beyond IT, as well.

4. Slide Shows on IT Media Sites: I still hate most of them. If you see a "good" slide show that doesn't feel like a shameless effort to get more clicks and page views, please send me a link. PS: I'm already familiar with the great "Friday's Last Word" slideshow over at Penton's Talkin' Cloud (where I previously worked). Other examples welcome.

3. Giving Comcast A Second Chance: Mike Elgan (@MikeElgan) and I have documented lousy Comcast customer service on the Tech News Today netcast. I experienced a range of phone support problems in August (at the time, a Comcast manager confirmed to me that their service desks were experiencing phone issues). More recently, Regional Sales Consultant Megan McAvaney addressed my concerns during a face to face meeting. I'll share the longer story soon. But it's a great case study that new Comcast Senior VP of Customer Experience Charlie Herrin should review. I'll write it up soon. In the meantime, Charlie: Give Megan a call and ask about her experiences providing front-line support to customers like me. I'm impressed with her approach.

2. Tech IPOs -- Hot or Not?: Venture backed IPOs through Q3 2014 have already surpassed 2014's total, according to The Wall Street Journal. The two big financing trends appear to be health care IPOs and tech M&A activity, the report said. Still, I remain worried about venture capitalist who are sounding the alarm over startup burn rates and valuations (see item 2, Sept. 17, 2014).

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That's all for now. Thank you for visiting. And be sure to check the blog later today for more updates.