Late this afternoon, Microsoft answered a question oft-asked by investors this month: What's up with Windows 8? The new operating system, which launched October 26, was supposed to lift sagging PC sales and demonstrate the capability to successfully compete with so-called post-PC platforms like Android and iOS. Now we know more. Windows & Windows Live revenue passed Business, making the OS division most-valuable again.
For fiscal second quarter, ended December 31, Microsoft revenue was $21.46 billion, up 3 percent year over year. Operating income: $7.77 billion, a 3 percent decrease. Net income was $6.38 billion, or 76 cents a share.
Microsoft's efforts to improve the company's cloud platform, Windows Azure, most definitely do not fly under the radar. Over the past few months the software giant brought Windows Azure Services to Windows Server 2012, introduced a plethora of new features for its cloud platform, updated the Windows Azure SDK for .NET and, on Tuesday, announced the general availability of Windows Azure Media Services.
Windows Azure Media Services is basically a Media Platform as a Service or PaaS, as Microsoft likes to call it, that allows users to implement video streaming, using various formats, to Android, HTML5, iPad, iPhone, Xbox, Windows 8 or Windows Phone, among other supported clients. Developers can control Windows Azure Media Services through REST APIs or Java SDK and .NET SDK in order to build an automated media workflow which can upload, encode and stream video.
On Tuesday, even with all the CES 2013 madness, Microsoft introduced a host of new features addressed to the company's Windows Azure SDK for .NET. The latest version of the software development kit focuses on expanding support in roles, increasing productivity, making new tools available and delivering new and updated libraries.
The revised Windows Azure SDK for .NET allows users to run cloud service applications in Windows Server 2012, and provides access to more features in IIS 8 (Internet Information Services) and .NET 4.5 when the server operating system is selected. The updated software development kit also introduces support for Visual Studio tools, delivering improved tooling for Cache and Server Explorer for Storage and Service Bus, diminished context switching to portal as well as support for up to 25 management certificates per subscription.
On Friday, Microsoft unveiled a host of new features for the company's cloud platform, Windows Azure. The latest update beefs up the software corporation's offering by expanding the availability of Windows Azure Store into more regions as well as adding support for Mobile Services in Northern Europe.
Microsoft states that the company also plans to extend support for Mobile Services to "all Windows Azure regions world-wide", but did not provide any specific details as to when that will happen. The Redmond, Wash.-based corporation touts a number of other changes in the last Windows Azure update to Mobile Services, Web Sites, Media Services, SQL databases, Virtual Network improvements as well as Subscription Filtering support.
During a session at BUILD 2012 on Wednesday, Microsoft announced some new enhancements to its Azure platform that bring it onto the playing field with its latest operating system releases - Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
In short, Azure will be expanding to include support for Windows Phone 8 as well as Windows 8. Satya Nadella, President of Microsoft's server and business tools, stressed the importance of bringing all of these platforms together. It will make life much simpler for developers who want to build apps that work across platforms and are cloud friendly.
Registration for Microsoft's global Windows 8 hackathon began on Wednesday. The event, called Wowzapp 2012 despite the fact that there's never been another event called "Wowzapp" before, will take place in more than 60 cities across the globe on the weekend of November 9th to the 11th.
The event, previously listed as "Gen Appathon," invites students and aspiring app developers to bring a Windows 8 PC and their rough apps or general app ideas for one-on-one support from Microsoft and community experts, free food and entertainment, and prizes for best Win 8 app, best Windows phone app, and best use of Azure. Attendees will be given Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8 and a free Windows Store registration code, and apps will be published straight to the Windows Store.
Yesterday's Steve Ballmer "devices and services company" letter unleashes a torrent of idiot punditry. I can only laugh at the sheer stupidity of writers infatuated with the idea Microsoft wants to be Apple, or putting forth such lunacy to sack pageviews.
Read Ballmer's 1,300-word missive again. Microsoft's focus on devices and services has little to nothing to do with Apple. The cloud-connected device era is here and Microsoft embraces it to maintain computing relevance. The company has been on this course for years. Research and development takes time, and the good ship Microsoft is too large to change course in a few months -- or even a few years. The sheer number of carefully coordinated new (and largely changed) products shipping simultaneously (or soon after) clearly indicates a massive undertaking long planned.
Windows Server 2012 launched a little more than a month ago and packs quite the toolset. To further complete the package, Microsoft announced the arrival of Windows Azure Services to its cloud-oriented server operating system, though only in beta for the moment.
Microsoft's cloud computing platform services are designed for hosting service providers, which was until recently exclusive to Windows Azure but in July was showcased on Windows Server and System Center. According to the company, Windows Azure Services on Windows Server is now a feature-complete beta release that focuses on delivering a considerable number of improvements over the previous versions.
Add this one to the Smart column. Earlier today, Microsoft unveiled Windows Azure Mobile Services, initially for Windows 8 apps, with support planned for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. The concept is a natural extension of Azure as development platform. Hey, why should Microsoft let Amazon and Google build out the infrastructure enabling the cloud-connected device era to trample the PC?
For now, the new service is available in a "public preview", during which time the first 10 Windows 8 apps are free. Developers who don't have an Azure account can create a 90-day free trial one.
Customers of Microsoft's Windows Azure platform will gain disaster recovery features thanks to a partnership with Symantec announced this week. The offering is the first such service for the Azure platform, the two companies say.
While the effort was announced this week during Microsoft's annual TechEd conference in Orlando, Microsoft says the actual service itself will not be available until sometime next year, and is a move that makes sense for Symantec at this point.
Microsoft beefed up its Windows Azure cloud platform Thursday, announcing a host of features that take it out of a primarily Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) role and place it into the realm of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). The Redmond, Wash. company appears ready to take on IaaS heavyweights like Rackspace and Amazon Web Services, as well as new entrant Oracle, who announced its own cloud offering on Wednesday.
Microsoft doesn't "catch a new trend right with the first iteration but they keep at it and eventually strike the right tone and in more cases than not, get good enough", Forrester analyst James Staten says of the company's moves. "And often good enough wins".