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Microsoft Purchases Sunrise, Will Reportedly Buy N-Trig as Well

Paul Thurrott


Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed reports that it would purchase online calendar maker Sunrise, though the software giant was oddly vague about its plans for the company. And in a separate development, Microsoft will reportedly buy Surface Pro 3 Pen maker N-Trig as well.

Rumors of Microsoft’s purchase of Sunrise surfaced a week ago when Techcrunch reported that the deal would be worth at least $100 million. On Wednesday, Microsoft confirmed the deal, but didn’t corroborate its value, nor specify exactly how it would integrate Sunrise’s “innovative calendar app for mobile devices” into its product portfolio. This contrasts sharply with its December 2014 purchase of Accompli, where Microsoft made that firm’s mobile app its new version of Outlook for mobile devices.

A brief, video-based Q & A with the former CEOs of both Sunrise and Accompli sheds some light on Microsoft’s plans, however.

Since we know that the former Accompli team is now tasked with moving mobile app and web versions of Outlook forward on multiple platforms, the appearance of these two men together suggests, logically enough, that the Sunrise team will be integrated in Microsoft’s new Outlook team. This makes sense: As a maker of calendar apps for mobile and the web, Sunrise should be part of Outlook, not something separate.

And while Microsoft doesn’t explicitly explain how Sunrise’s products will be added to, or integrated with, its current lineup of mobile and web apps, the text accompanying the video explains that it will move more slowly with Sunrise than it did with Accompli, which was a more complete solution, and a slide-in replacement for existing Microsoft apps.

“The Sunrise app will remain in market and free after the acquisition,” Microsoft’s Rajesh Jha explains.”It will continue to support a wide range of third-party apps and calendar services. In the coming months, we’ll share more about how we’ll build on its success and apply Sunrise’s innovations to other Microsoft apps and services.”

There may be one important reason for not immediately integrating Sunrise into its mobile and web-based Outlook solutions: While the mobile app versions of Sunrise support Exchange-based email services in addition to Google Calendar, iCloud and others, the web-based version does not. I can’t imagine Microsoft would want to put the Outlook name on a product that didn’t support its own service.

If you’re interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, you can find Sunrise on the web, in the Google Play Store (Android devices) and in Apple’s App Store (iPhone, iPad). The service and apps are free.

In other news, Reuters is reporting that Microsoft has purchased Israel-based N-Trig, the maker of the Surface Pro 3 Pen, for $200 million. According to the report, N-Trig will become part of a new research and development center at Microsoft Israel. Microsoft currently owns 6.1 percent of the company, thanks to last year’s deal to bundle the N-Trig-based Pen with Surface Pro 3. Other PC makers, including Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, and Sony use N-Trig technology in their own digital devices.

But for Microsoft, this technology is far more important: the Surface Pro 3 Pen is a key differentiator of the “tablet that can replace your laptop.” And Surface honcho Panas Panay recently told The Wall Street Journal that the Pen has driven sales of Surface Pro 3, which became Microsoft’s newest billion-dollar business in 2014.

“We are doubling down on the technology to bring digital ink to life,” he said. “It is an opportunity for people to create in different, natural ways. You are going to see more and more people picking up that Pen and using it. And there will be more integration with the software moving forward with Windows 10.”

Microsoft has yet to comment on the report about N-Trig, but if recent history is any guide, that simply means they’ll formally announce this purchase in the days ahead.

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