UnknowingFool writes: MS has invited journalists to an exclusive event on Monday, June 18 at 3:30 PM Pacific time. While MS has not disclosed the purpose of the event, rumors are that MS is showing off a MS designed and built Win 8 tablet. If true, what does that mean to OEM partners of MS who are making their own tablets? The last time MS made their own hardware, it abandoned former PlaysForSure partners and used their own Zune format. Music these days is mostly DRM free but that does not yet apply to other media like movies and books.
UnknowingFool writes: According to an interview with the Yangcheng Evening News, Nokia's Stephen Elop said that dual-core and multi-core phones of Nokia's rivals waste batteries as they can't be used all the time. The original Chinese story is here if readers wish to translate themselves. The assertion while technically true ignores that rivals have done battery/core optimizations like nVidia's Tegra and Apple's A5. As for functionality, there are times when having multiple cores help. Also isn't the next generation of Windows Phone supposed to support dual-core? Is this just a case of sour grapes as purported real world tests of the Lumia have found that it does not last as long Android or iPhone or that Microsoft's multiple core support is behind its rivals?
UnknowingFool writes: Today Microsoft unveiled the logo to their next OS, Windows 8. It is more minimalist than previous logos and actually looks like a window. But it is a single color. What is up with the war on color these days. Both MS and Apple have billions in the bank. Surely they can afford printing in more than one color.
UnknowingFool writes: When the Courier project was leaked out, it was a bold look at how MS would design new tablets. Microsoft was currently selling tablets but they didn't make a dent in the market. The problem was it was too bold. According to the story Ballmer had two competing executive visions for tablets: J. Allard and Steven Sinofsky. Allard's vision was very different from MS thinking while Sinofsky's was more inline with existing Windows but was years away. Ballmer called on Gates to help and Gates met with Allard. Gates was apparently troubled on how Courier would not mesh with Windows or Office. The project was cancelled shortly thereafter. An interesting detail was that Courier was more complete than most outsiders knew. While there was no one prototype than unified all the concepts of Courier, there were parallel efforts in the different aspects of it.
UnknowingFool writes: After changing their story and admitting that the Zune was dead, MS has changed the story again and says that Zune isn't dead saying that there was “no official info has been released stating hardware is being discontinued.” Other than the notice on the Zune website (which has been pulled), they mean. At this point it is either comical or sad.
UnknowingFool writes: On Monday MS updated webpages to announce a price drop for the Zune pass subscription, it removed all references to the Zune hardware. This prompted many to suspect the Zune was dead. A MS spokesman then tweeted that the updates were in error and the Zune was not dead. Then MS later admitted that they will no longer produce hardware but would honor any existing orders. It appears MS has trouble with managing their PR.
UnknowingFool writes: Last week Microsoft announced that the FTC approved the buyout of Skype. This morning Skype announced eight executives were leaving the company. While the departure of executives is not unusual before a buyout, the size is interesting due to the small size of Skype (500 estimated workforce). The executives are mostly vice presidents and represents a broad swath of the company ranging from key executives in Advertising, HR, Business, and Marketing. Some reports have called the departures firings while others have not confirmed the nature of the departures. This brings more uncertainty to the future of Skype.
UnknowingFool writes: Greenlight Capital President David Greenhorn publicly called for Microsoft to replace Ballmer. Under Ballmer's 11 year tenure, the stock price has stagnated around $30 per share; this is weak especially compared against other tech giants. During this time, MS has seen its problems like the Vista debacle, the failure of costly products like the Zune and Kin, and the exodus of top management like J. Allard. Besides the core products of OS and Office, MS has not expanded into new markets and met with financial success.
While MS is still extremely profitable, investors want growth. Tech analysts see MS as increasingly reactionary rather than proactive in new markets and trends. Inside MS, there has been a growing dissatisfaction with Ballmer if the posts at mini-Microsoft are representative. Personally I think Ballmer is a decent manager which is fine if he was COO. As CEO, I think he's lacked the vision and direction that MS needs.
UnknowingFool writes: MS wants to open many more retail stores to match or even surpass those of Apple. Currently with eight stores and two more coming soon, MS has far fewer than Apple with 300. Stores are expensive and there is no word from MS about the profitably of the current stores with analysts estimating that they are not profitable at the moment. Despite this, CEO Steve Ballmer and COO Kevin Turner are eager to expand aggressively but have been convinced to hold back by other executives.
UnknowingFool writes: Bob Muglia, currently VP of the Server and Tools Business division, will be leaving Microsoft by summer 2011. A 23 veteran of Microsoft, Muglia will stay on to train his replacement whom has not been named yet. No word is given on why Muglia is leaving although it is suggested that he and Ballmer disagreed on strategy. The Server and Tools Business contains the Windows Server and Azure Cloud Computing products and generated $15 billion a year in revenue for the company. This marks another high level executive to leave Microsoft in the last 18 months: J. Allard, Robbie Bach, Stephen Elop, and Ray Ozzie.
UnknowingFool writes: At D8, Steve Ballmer and Ray Ozzie talked about tablets, mobile, and the cloud. Ballmer challenged the notion presented by Steve Jobs days earlier that the PC was in decline but agreed that tablets were becoming more popular. However Ballmer merely redefined tablets as PCs whereas Jobs considered them a new category. Also Ballmer admitted that they had slipped on updating their Windows Mobile product and allowed competitors to leap frog them. "We missed the whole cycle." On Google's decision to release both Chrome and Android, Ballmer didn't think having 2 different OS was a good idea.
UnknowingFool writes: In releasing the Zune HD, Microsoft decided not to open up software development on the new Zune to 3rd parties yet. Today Microsoft released a handful of free games for the Zune HD: Texas hold 'em, Sudoku, Space Battle 3, Shell Game,...Of the Future, Hexic, Goo Splat, and Chess as well as calculator and weather apps. Users, however, are required to view an ad (up to 30 seconds) while the game starts up. While ad-supported free games are also on other platforms like the iPhone, the difference here is that those iPhone games are from 3rd parties and not from Apple.