Today, after the closing bell, Microsoft disclosed results for fiscal third quarter, during most of which freshly-minted CEO Satya Nadella captained the ship. Of course, he carries a course set for him by predecessor Steve Ballmer, and his real impact is really quarters away. But there's a fresh presence behind the wheel and a new hat hanging in the captain's cabin. That's reason enough for Wall Street to forgive any storms the good ship Microsoft sales -- eh, sails.
For the three months ended March 31, Microsoft reports $20.4 billion revenue, flat year over year. Operating income: $6.97 billion. Net income: $5.66 billion, or 68 cents a share. All figures are GAAP.
When you think of tablets, the iPad and Android variants seem very hip and sexy. While I love the Surface 2, it conjures images of nerds editing spreadsheets. As an owner of a Surface 2 (and spreadsheet-loving nerd) I know there is much more to Microsoft's tablet -- it is great for games and media too.
However, it seems Microsoft is intent on changing the public's perception of its awesome Surface 2. In a new video, the company features a hip, young, bakery owner named Loren Brill. Microsoft's tablet helps her bake yummy treats. Does she change the way you think about Surface?
Following in the footsteps of most developers, in mid-October of last year Microsoft chose to release Remote Desktop apps on Android and iOS only, leaving its loyal Windows Phone users waiting. Considering the software giant is behind the tiled smartphone operating system, that was a strange call. After all, why would Microsoft not want Windows Phone to be a first-class citizen in the case of its own software?
Today that changes as Microsoft finally launches Remote Desktop in Windows Phone Store. The first publicly available build sees the app labeled as a "Preview", which means there is still work to be done until the client can be considered ready for prime time. Casting more doubt over Microsoft's Windows Phone strategy, Remote Desktop is solely compatible with Windows Phone 8.1, which was barely announced and has yet to officially make its way to compatible smartphones.
Windows Phone 8.1 signals that Microsoft is now finally committed to turning its smartphone operating system into a powerful rival, and viable alternative, to Android and iOS. Gone are the days when essential features were demanded yet completely ignored in the next major update. No more apologies are needed. Users are now finally getting what they have long asked for, and then some. Yes, finally.
Coming from Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1 feels like a huge improvement. When the software upgrade officially rolls out, I suspect many users will have a "wow" moment upon experiencing the new features, and the benefits they bring to the table, for the first time. I know I did. You can blame its unimpressive predecessor for that.
Microsoft announces fiscal third quarter earnings on Thursday -- reason for me to visit the site today in preparation. I saw what you see in the photo. Tagline: "Honestly, my new PC is exactly what I need at half the price I thought I'd pay". I find the company's months-old "Honestly" campaign to be refreshing in overall presentation and emphasized benefits. Value is big among them. (Colleague Wayne Williams disagrees, by the way.)
Honestly, what's missing: More promotion how great a value Surface is. The Windows RT model doesn't get loads of respect, but I increasingly think that it should. Surface 2 offers HD display, like the Pro model, setting the tablet apart from comparably-sized Androids or iPads selling for about the same price: $449, with 32GB of storage. Microsoft Store offers the refurbished original, granted with lower screen resolution, for $199. Bump memory to 64GB and pay $219. Keyboard cover is another $74.01. Honestly, wow.
It was said to be happening in April, but as the month drags on it was starting to seem less and less likely. Now, however, we have a solid date for the finalization of Microsoft's acquisition of the Devices and Services arm of Nokia -- Friday, April 25, in case you missed it in the headline. In a post on the Official Microsoft Blog, Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Brad Smith is "excited" to announce the date of the deal closure.
As Smith says, the "completion of this acquisition follows several months of planning" but for those outside of the companies it feels as though machinations have been rumbling away forever -- in reality it is only seven months. Back in September, it was announced that Microsoft wanted to purchase Nokia's Devices and Services business for $7.2 billion, taking on thousands of Nokia employees and providing the handset manufacturer with some patents.
It's nearly a week since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, but there are still around a quarter of Avast customers who plan on sticking with the old dog a little longer. What is perhaps more shocking is the revelation that over one fifth of those surveyed had no idea that support was coming to an end! For those living more on the cutting edge, good news came for Chrome users who found that their browser of choice gained support for Office Online. Microsoft may be leaving users of Windows XP out in the cold, but this is to be expected after so long. Users of Windows 8.1 who have opted to forego the pleasures of installing the recently released Update will find that their operating system is also not supported, as no further security updates will be made available until the confusingly named Update is used to update Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Update. Got it? Good! Some business users who had trouble grabbing the download have been granted slightly longer.
Post Build, following Microsoft's announcements about universal apps for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone, app prices are changing -- but consistency seems to be an issue. The hotly anticipated Windows Phone 8.1 was released to developers, but Mihaita was on hand with a guide that allows anyone to grab themselves a copy of the latest update. If you're on the lookout for a new Android handset, Joe puts forward a compelling argument in favor of the HTC One M8.
Nokia is warning owners of the Lumia 2520 tablet that they should stop using the European and UK versions of the AC-300 charger. The warning affects customers in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and UK, with tablets owners being warned to "suspend use of the charger until further notice". At the moment there is no word on whether or not a full recall will be made, but the problem also affects the Lumia 2520 travel charger that was available in those countries and the US.
Unlike other charger problems that have emerged in recent times, Nokia's warning does not relate to an overheating issue, but the risk of electric shock. This time it has been determined that in "certain conditions" -- which Nokia does not specify -- the charger's plastic cover could work loose and come off, exposing internal components that "pose a hazard of an electric shock if touched while the plug remains in a live socket".
Microsoft has had a rather lax policy when it comes to providing Windows updates, allowing users to receive patches, for a long period of time, even without having the latest service pack applied. That changes with Windows 8.1, as the software giant has revealed installing Update becomes mandatory to apply future updates that will be rolled out starting this May's Patch Tuesday.
This move gives Microsoft more leverage than ever before, as the software giant now has a real chance of convincing Windows 8.1 users to more quickly apply Update. But, businesses, which have had trouble getting Update through WSUS (Windows Server Update Services), are getting a reprieve.
Over the years, many hardware companies have had varying levels of quality. However, there are two companies that you can almost always depend on for solid input devices -- Logitech and Microsoft. Both of these companies make phenomenal mice and keyboards. Sure, there are missteps every once in a while, but for the most part, their hardware can be trusted to work well and last long.
Last week, Logitech announced the brilliant Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 -- a combination keyboard and trackpad. It is an elegant solution (BetaNews will be reviewing it soon), but is a bit pricey at $99. Today, Microsoft announces similar hardware, called the All-in-One Media Keyboard. The price? A very low $39. Is this the perfect low-cost solution for HTPC and Raspberry Pi?
Microsoft’s tiled operating system is best viewed as a work in progress. The tech giant made major changes from Windows 8 to 8.1, and has just released the mandatory Update, which adds tweaks and new features aimed primarily at keyboard and mouse users.
The downside of these changes is that if you ever have to reinstall Windows you’ll need to update your computer with the Update and other security patches and so on afterwards. Fortunately, you can create a new, more up to date installer by slipstreaming (integrating) the Update with the original disc files.
I’ve been asked by a couple of people in the past week how to download the Windows 8.1 ISO file from Microsoft. Downloading the ISO file necessary to install the OS at a later date, or on another system, is very straightforward, although it’s far from obvious. I covered this six months ago, but things have changed and less trickery is involved now.
At the moment the provided ISO file doesn’t contain the recently released Update, so you’ll need to update Windows straight after installation has finished to guarantee you have the latest version.
Microsoft has trouble convincing Windows users to upgrade to newer versions of the operating system, even when the update is free of charge. Windows 8 still has a larger market share than Windows 8.1, according to the latest NetMarketShare data, even though the latter is better and can be installed without paying a dime.
So that Windows 8.1 Update does not follow the same path, Microsoft has announced it will no longer make security patches compatible with Windows 8.1 installations which do not have Update applied. It is the new Microsoft, everyone.
Last week was the much talked about XPocalypse, meaning support came to an official end for XP, despite a large number of users, both home and business, still running the operating system. It seems that this setback isn't doing much to daunt those users, either.
Security firm Avast has released a survey it conducted just before April 8th, and results will be disappointing to Microsoft. Many customers plan to stick it out with the aging platform.
After almost a year and a half of waiting, Microsoft has unveiled a new major update for its smartphone operating system. Windows Phone 8.1 is finally here, with myriad new features in tow. Noteworthy additions include support for a wider range of hardware configurations, a much-awaited notifications center, improvements to the browser, calendar, camera and email apps, enterprise-friendly enhancements, and a new personal assistant, to name a few.
And, just like Windows Phone 8 Update 3 which came before it, Windows Phone 8.1 is available through the Preview for Developers program. It was introduced by Microsoft, last year, in order to give developers and early adopters the opportunity to experience the latest iteration of the OS ahead of the public roll-out. Here is how you can leverage it to install Windows Phone 8.1.