While every armchair tech pundit and analyst pontificates on Steve Ballmer’s retirement bombshell and speculates on who Microsoft’s next CEO might be and what the future holds for the tech giant, I’d like to take a moment to just enjoy this video of Steve selling Windows 1.0.
Sure, there are many amusing videos of the departing CEO on the web -- including his famous monkey boy dance, this one where he disses the iPhone, and of course developers, developers, developers etc. But it’s Steve in full used car salesman mode that I really like.
Looking at the the biggest stories on BetaNews from August, 18 - 24, 2013. Perhaps the biggest news from the last seven days -- at least in part because it came as such a surprise to most people -- was the announcement that Steve Ballmer intends to resign from Microsoft within the year. The CEO is planning to step down as soon as a suitable replacement is found, but there has been speculation that Ballmer may have been pushed rather than opting to jump.
Getting my hands on a Surface Pro for the first time gave me an opportunity to try out Windows 8 as a touchscreen operating system. Despite loving the Surface in general, I pondered whether the use of the same version of Windows 8 as on desktop machine may have been what's stopping Microsoft’s convertible devices from becoming more popular. At the same time, Brian fell in love with the Lenovo Yoga, citing Windows 8 as one of the computer’s strengths.
Almost every time I have written about Microsoft in the past, I have been accused of being on the company's payroll when I write something positive, or being a hater out to bash the firm when I write something negative. Fair warning to anyone inclined to make such accusations (and a slight spoiler); this is one article in which I am going to sit firmly on the fence.
Let’s get one thing out of the way to start with. I quite like Windows 8. It’s not perfect and I have my complaints, but it is my primary operating system on three computers, and has been for some time. Until now, my only experience of Windows 8 has been on a traditional desktop and a laptop -- this means I have only interacted with the OS using a combination of a keyboard, mouse and trackpad.
Microsoft has announced the launch of new channels to sell Surface RT and Surface Pro to business, education and public sector customers. In addition to the US commercial channel which launched in July, today's announcement sees 17 countries including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK added to the list.
Writing in a blog post Cyril Belikoff, Director -- Microsoft Surface says, "This availability in international markets, along with the updates coming to Surface RT with Windows 8.1 are all important milestones for our customers. We know that people who use Surface love it! We’re looking forward to introducing even more customers in more places to the powerful productivity that Surface uniquely makes possible".
Microsoft is facing a class action suit brought by law firm Robbins Geller on behalf of purchasers of Microsoft Corporation common stock during the period between April 18, 2013 and July 18, 2013 (the "Class Period").
According to the suit, during the stated period, Microsoft "issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s financial performance and its tablet computer, the Surface RT" -- or to put it in laymen's terms, the company lied about the poor demand and sales of Surface RT, and about the earnings related to the tablet.
This week Microsoft rolled out two new video adverts -- one pitting Surface RT against the iPad, and the other putting the Acer Iconia W3 next to the iPad mini. The adverts follow the same format as previously with a side by side look at the features on offer.
Of course the comparisons aren’t fair. Microsoft picks areas where its tablet/operating system is strongest, and avoids the areas where it’s weakest -- apps and popularity, for example. It’s a lot like comparing apples with oranges (or, yes, lemons in the case of poorly selling Windows devices) and then pointing out that it’s easy to peel an orange, but you need to buy a separate peeler to accomplish the same task on an apple.
It feels like repeatedly kicking someone when they’re down, but there’s really no other way to describe Windows tablet sales -- both RT and Windows 8 Pro -- other than pathetic and embarrassing for Microsoft. Which is a shame. Surface is a great tablet, Windows 8 on Surface is a good operating system, but people just aren’t buying the device in any great numbers. Well, pre-fire sale at least.
According to a new report from IDC, just 200,000 Windows RT tablets shipped in Q2 2013 (even the ailing BlackBerry PlayBook managed 100,000), and there’s no good news for other Windows tablets either as IDC reports just 1.8 million devices shipped with that OS onboard. Apple, by comparison, shipped 14.6 million iPads in the same quarter.
Microsoft's Surface tablet lineup is a flop. The entry-level Surface RT has failed to become an iPad killer, with most consumers choosing to buy Android-based or Apple-branded slates instead. The software giant even revealed a related $0.9 billion write off, triggered by unsold stock (up to six million units). Meanwhile, the high-end Surface Pro has also failed to attract tablet buyers, contributing to the unimpressive $853 million in revenue, that was generated by Microsoft's two-slate lineup in the company's fiscal year 2013.
Microsoft tried to turn things around for the Surface RT, by slashing $150 off its price in an attempt to lure prospective buyers. And, for a limited period of time, the software giant applies the same treatment to its Surface Pro as well, by reducing $100 off of the slate's price.
Yesterday a striking fact regarding Surface was revealed in a SEC filing from Microsoft. The software giant's tablet lineup brought in revenue of $853 million in the company's fiscal year 2013 -- just under the embarrassing $900 million Surface-related write off Microsoft declared two weeks ago.
$853 million might sound like quite a lot of money, but what it actually means is the tablet line is a flop, with Microsoft selling just slightly more Surface PCs in a year than Apple shifts iPads in a week.
The release of Windows 8.1, complete with the more tightly interwoven SkyDrive, brings Microsoft's cloud storage service to the fore. In a new blog post, Mona Akmal from the SkyDrive team explains how the service is able to make files available on all of your devices without eating up too much bandwidth. How is this done? It's largely down to "placeholder" files.
The obvious solution to making all SkyDrive files available on all of your devices would be to simply sync everything. But when it comes to tablets and phones, it is entirely possible that the amount of available local storage is far lower than the amount of cloud storage space that has been used. Placeholders are essentially "ghost" files that take up a fraction of the space of the original.
Late-yesterday, Microsoft released its latest financial results, for Q4 fiscal year 2013, revealing a whopping $0.9 billion charge that is "related to Surface RT inventory adjustments". The $900 million that the software corporation just wrote off is a telltale sign that its Windows RT-based tablet is not selling as well as the company expected, leaving considerable stock unmoved.
Here are the highlights of the Q4 FY13 financial results: $19.89 billion in revenue, operating income of $6.07 billion and $4.97 billion as net income (or, 59 cents per share). The numbers are below analyst expectations, which placed revenue at $20.73 billion and net income at 75 cents per share. According to Microsoft CFO Amy Hood, Surface RT can be partially blamed for the less-than-stellar financial results.
The Microsoft Reliability Lab is where the tech giant tests its hardware to the limits, dropping devices, soaking, smashing and bending them, in a quest to find out where the weaknesses lie.
In the latest episode of Microsoft’s regular "On the Whiteboard" series, presenter Pamela Woon takes a look inside the Reliability Lab as Microsoft does its best to try and destroy a whole bunch of Surface PCs.
Microsoft has slashed the price of Surface RT, making the device pretty affordable. Anyone hoping that Surface Pro would see a similar reduction will be disappointed. Microsoft shows no signs of cutting the price of its premium tablet, suggesting the company is happy enough with sales and margins at the moment.
The problem with RT is it looks like Windows 8, and behaves like Windows 8, but isn't Windows 8. If you buy Surface RT, or any other tablet running the OS, you might reasonably expect to be able to run traditional software on it. But you can't.
Rumors that Microsoft was planning to cut the price of Surface RT have been swirling for a couple of days, and yesterday they came true. Staples in the US is currently advertising the 32 GB base model of the device for $349.99, a drop of $150. Although the price reduction hasn’t been seen elsewhere yet, it should start appearing at other retailers next week. No word on whether the reduction will be offered in other territories.
The price cut is interesting as it’s yet another example of Microsoft offering aggressive discounts on Surface RT. The 32 GB version was made available to schools and universities for $199, and attendees at the Worldwide Partner Conference and TechEd gatherings were offered Surface RT 64 GB with touch cover for $99 (although admittedly they had to pay a fortune for a ticket in the first place).
Microsoft released the 256 GB Surface Pro in Japan almost a month ago and, since then, it left potential buyers puzzled as to when the new model arrives outside of the land of the rising sun. Well, the date is today, as Microsoft just expanded the availability of the latest Surface Pro version to include new major markets. There's a catch though.
Microsoft tells me that "there will be limited availability of a 256GB version of Surface Pro in the U.S. exclusively through the commercial channel and the authorized Surface resellers". This model runs for $1,199, making it $200 more expensive than the 128 GB Surface Pro which goes for $999. And, at least at the moment, the former cannot be purchased from Microsoft Store or any retail shop.