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"Clippy," the office assistant from Microsoft Word. Image from Wikipedia. Nearly two decades and several text-handling paradigms ago, I was an editorial assistant at a weekly newspaper, where a few freelancers still submitted their work on typewritten pages. Stories would come in over the fax machine.
Building a Windows PC is a cooperative process. PC makers design and build the hardware, Microsoft designs and builds the OS, and then third-party software developers join the party. If everything works together, the end result can be a joy to use. But if any part of the partnership breaks down, the poor PC buyer is the one who suffers. Making PCs is a tough business, with low profit margins and cutthroat competition.
Back in the days when Microsoft could just behave as a monopolist without the legal consequences thereof, the acronym FUD was tossed around (meaning fear, uncertainty and doubt): Merely by intimating that their competitors' products were sub-par, they could lock folks into their own regardless of the technical merits or even that newer versions of their products had yet to be created. As Wikipedia cites , an IT department would buy technically inferior software because upper management was more likely to recognize the brand. To be fair, FUD has been around long before PC DOS, and was made popular by the mainframers such as Amdahl and IBM before Microsoft adopted it as its own. But perhaps things are changing out in Redmond. A presentation that Mary Jo Foley of ZDnet published here shows a new mantra: Engage, Evolve, Evaluate and Execute, the four E's of enterprise innovation.
“Online Services Division revenue grew 14% year-over-year primarily driven by increases in search revenue.” That was Microsoft’s statement about the Online Services Division in their earnings release yesterday. Growth! Yippee!
Microsoft just reported its third quarter 2011 earnings today with revenues of $16.43 billion, an increase of 13% from the same period of 2010. Microsoft’s operating income was $5.71 billion, its net income was $5.23 billion and its diluted earnings per share were at $0.61, a 36% increase from last year. With this report Microsoft surpassed Wall Street analyst expectations which were at 56 cents per share on $16.19 billion in revenue. Microsoft said that the strong financial results were primarily due to Office, Xbox and Kinect sales. From Microsoft CFO Peter Klein : “We delivered strong financial results despite a mixed PC environment, which demonstrates the strength and breadth of our businesses.
IE10 Platform Preview 1, available for download today is the first step in delivering the next wave of progress in native HTML5 support. Web sites and HTML5 run best when they run natively, on a browser optimized for the operating system on your device. We built IE9 from the ground up for HTML5 and for Windows to deliver the most native HTML5 experience and the best Web experience on Windows. IE10 continues on IE9’s path, directly using what Windows provides and avoiding abstractions, layers, and libraries that slow down your site and your experience: The only native experience of the Web and HTML5 today is on Windows 7 with IE9. IE9’s approach to taking advantage of what the operating system offers – from the native graphics stack to jump lists in the shell – maximizes performance, usability, and reliability.
Update 11/1/2010: Officual update from Bob Muglia: http://team.silverlight.net/announcement/pdc-and-silverlight/ This is an article in response to Microsoft's new web strategy that was announced this week at the PDC 2010. In a nutshell, Microsoft is fully embracing HTML 5 and re-purposing Silverlight for rich client development (Windows Phone 7). Here are my 5 reasons why Microsoft really messed this one up (coming from a perspective of timing, tooling and corporate means of making money):
Microsoft is making available for download the Release Candidate (RC) test build of its Forefront Endpoint Protection client software. Forefront Endpoint Protection is the new name for Forefront Client Security (FCS) . Microsoft reiterated on November 8 that the product is still on track to be released to manufacturing before the end of calendar 2010.
Dear Microsoft, Remember me? I’m that guy at TechCrunch who actually defends you and your products, when appropriate , and whenever people start talking that crazy talk about you. I would like to genuinely thank you for your part in making Web-based email popular with Hotmail – now called Windows Live Hotmail I see – and all.
Each holiday season, there’s a must-have product that sends consumers scrambling to buy it before the store shelves are bare. Years ago, that product was the Tickle Me Elmo doll, and more recently, the Nintendo Wii during its initial launch. These two products and every hot holiday item in-between have shared one commonality: They were all standalone products. This year is different, however. In 25 days, Microsoft has sold 2.5 million of its Kinect controller: a $150 accessory to an existing product.
With the recent releases of Xbox Kinect and Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is demonstrating how its TellMe voice technology is becoming a key component to its products and how voice overall is going to be a major battleground with rivals such as Google and Apple. I talked with Ilya Bukshteyn, senior director of marketing for Microsoft’s speech business, who explained how voice control is an integral part of the interfaces for both Kinect and Windows Phone 7 and how it will increasingly be a consistent experience across many of Microsoft’s products, including its Sync automotive service in Ford cars. Bukshteyn said voice is an effective way to enhance user interfaces when used in conjunction with other gesture inputs like motion or touch. On Windows Phone 7 devices, users can conduct searches or open apps by voice. On Kinect, users can control the interface and media playback through a microphone that’s always on.
Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer shows off a slate PC at CES 2010. (Credit: James Martin/CNET) Wall Street's confidence in Microsoft for next year has taken a hit, with what Goldman Sachs is attributing to the software giant's approach in both tablet PCs and mobile phones. In a Goldman Sachs research note released over the weekend, picked up by blog Techflash , the firm says that Microsoft is due for a "more challenging year" and that the company's top-line growth (or revenue) could slow from 12 percent this year to 7 percent next year. Microsoft beat expectations in its last fiscal quarter, pulling in $5.41 billion in net income, on revenue of $16.2 billion. The company also saw a 13 percent growth in sales, taking into account a deferral of revenue ahead of the release of Windows 7 .
Microsoft released to manufacturing on December 16 its Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) 2010 security product. FEP 2010, the renamed and updated Forefront Client Security , is Microsoft's paid security client. An evaluation version is available immediately ; Volume licensees will be able to get the bits from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center starting January 1, 2011. Forefront Endpoint Protection — which is based on System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 – is designed to provide security for XP, Windows Server 2003 and all subsequent versions of Windows client and server. The coming release includes the same anti-virus engine that is part of MSE; new behavioral threat detection; better protection against “unknown” and “zero day” threats; Windows Firewall management; and on-demand signature updates from the cloud.
These thee Microsoft stories weren't the biggest news of the week, but they are worth knowing about if you missed them. One of the stories is merely a clue into an ongoing mystery surrounding Microsoft's acquisition of some patents from Novell that have analysts speculating and open source advocates worrying. Each story sheds a little light on Microsoft's strategy and where the company is headed.
Microsoft’s Office 2011 for the Mac goes on sale today –the first version to support Office’s Ribbon interface, the first one in years with Outlook, and one that’s priced to move . The company provided me with a pre-release copy a few weeks ago, and when I’ve been using a Mac I’ve been running Office and mostly enjoying the experience. That wasn’t a given: I mostly avoided its predecessor, Office 2008, which was slow and not only lacked the Ribbon but had a floating-palette interface I actively disliked.