Tag Archive: Windows


When Microsoft co-founder and CEO Bill Gates handed the reins of the tech giant to his longtime comrade and right-hand man Steve Ballmer in January 2000, the path was fairly clear.

ResistanceIsFutile

After some bumps, the company was finally transitioning into an Internet era, but the PC was assured of a prominent place, and its flagship Windows was still the king of the computing world.

Things are quite different 13 years later, as Ballmer announced his plan to step down in 12 months.

In fact, Ballmer is leaving whoever will eventually take over for him with a substantially weaker and less influential company, which has just made yet another organizational change to head down an uncertain path toward something Microsoft calls being a “devices and services” company.

It’s clearly not a very pretty legacy, mostly due to larger external trends that were impossible to resist, and stubborn management by Ballmer who tried too hard to resist them.

In fact, Ballmer was famous for discounting pretty much all of the products that have defined the recent computing age.

His comments about the iPhone in 2007 to USA Today distill it perfectly: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”

The result of such thinking? The PC industry is tanking, and Microsoft’s longtime partners are struggling in an era where mobile devices – mostly made by others – are flourishing.

Windows 8 was a stab at redefining the company’s operating system for a world sure to be dominated by mobile devices. But, as shown by the tepid response to the software – and to the initial Surface tablet device the company makes itself – Microsoft has a long way to go in that effort.

It’s like that across the Microsoft empire, which too often feels like it is in its sunset.

In phones, Microsoft has thus far decided not to make its own products, casting its lot largely with Nokia, although the company is said to have some phone designs of its own in the back pocket, if not the front. But so far those efforts lag well behind mobile rulers Apple and Google.

In search, Bing has established itself as the only real rival to Google, but Microsoft remains a distant runner-up, without a clear path to significant profits.

Microsoft retains a key spot in core business software, but the dual trends of cloud services and the consumerization of corporate technology mean that many of today’s young companies are forsaking traditional software in favor of options from Google, Salesforce.com and others.

The continued strength in the business sector played to Ballmer’s own abilities and interests, of course. But in an era of fast-moving apps, mobile-first mentalities, and the need for nimbleness and speed over brute force, he had become the wrong leader for Microsoft.

Perhaps that’s why Ballmer recently tried to redefine the company as being “One Microsoft.”

In a memo to employees, Ballmer had written, “we are rallying behind a single strategy as one company – not a collection of divisional strategies,” and that the changes “will enable us to execute even better on our strategy to deliver a family of devices and services that best empower people for the activities they value most and the enterprise extensions and services that are most valuable to business.”

Later, in another memo, titled “Transforming Our Company,” Ballmer added, “as the times change, so must our company.”

Indeed, and just now the other shoe in that sentiment just dropped, perhaps as it had to and as it should have.

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With just over a month left until the Xbox One launch, the rumors about as-yet-unannounced details continue to fly.

Two weeks ago, the word was that the Xbox One’s bundled Kinect camera could be used to harvest lucrative data about console owners and their homes – a claim that Microsoft vehemently denied – while leaving the door ever so slightly ajar in case its policies change.

There appears to be a larger morsel of truth to the latest rumor, sparked by the Dell website and noticed by Engadget yesterday. “With all your favorite Windows 8 apps able to be run on and synced to your Xbox One, now your phone, desktop, tablet and TV can all give you a unified web and entertainment experience,” the page still reads.

A Microsoft spokesperson said that’s not quite true: “The suggestion that all Windows 8 apps run on Xbox One is not accurate,” they wrote in an email.

That’s not a confirmation that any specific apps will work across both devices without additional fiddling on the developer’s part, of course. And the company has said in the past that the similarity between the Windows and Xbox operating systems should make it possible to write Xbox apps that strongly resemble their Windows counterparts. But it leaves open the possibility of universal apps that could help prop up the Windows 8 ecosystem with Redmond’s robust gaming brand.

pokki

Lenovo has agreed to preload onto all of its new PCs the full range of SweetLabs’ Pokki software, which tweaks the Windows operating system, the companies announced today.

The deal is the second major OEM partnership this summer for Pokki, which runs a platform for installing and using Windows apps, making the desktop experience feel more like a mobile one. Back in June, Acer began preloading a Pokki-powered game “arcade” onto all of its new PCs.

Today’s announcement is broader than that, though. Under the Pokki brand, SweetLabs makes the games launcher, a custom Start menu that launches apps via a mobile-esque interface, and an app store for discovering new apps. All of those products will be bundled together in the Lenovo deal.

That’s potentially a big deal for Windows developers who are having a hard time gaining traction. Baked into the Pokki suite is a recommendation engine, which surfaces new apps for users to download in visible places like the bottom of the start menu. Some of those recommendations are populated Netflix-style, targeted to users based on what they already use, which the software “learns” over time.

But other recommendations are sponsored, said Chester Ng, co-founder and chief marketing officer of SweetLabs. He pitches sponsored and targeted apps as a better alternative to the “outdated and irrelevant” crapware preloads that have historically padded the profits of OEMs like Lenovo. For example, a computer sold during tax season might have TurboTax automatically preloaded through the Pokki store, while one sold in the summer or fall would have no need for it.

In the past, the Pokki store has hosted desktop-optimized versions of Web apps like Facebook, Gmail and Hulu. SweetLabs is also announcing today that it will soon be possible to distribute native Windows and Windows 8 Store apps alongside Pokki-specific apps in the same store.

Rumors of Windows Blue—Microsoft’s push for a routine, yearly upgrade cycle—have been lurking in the shadows for a while now, and have been all but officially confirmed by some recent job postings. As we’re getting closer to its inevitable roll-out, even more is coming to light. According to The Verge, it’s coming as early as this summer, complete with Internet Explorer 11.

Initial reports from win8china have suggested a public preview for the new operating system upgrade could show as early as the next few months, and now sources are confirming to The Verge that Microsoft is “aggressively” shooting for a full release this summer with a preview in the works.

Feature-wise, Blue is expected to include the next Internet Explorer browser, as well as significant updates from the Bing team intended to make devices and their associated apps more easily searchable. It’s also said to include support for new 7 and 8-inch mobile form factors. And, of course, all this should come hand-in-hand with Blue for Windows 8 phones as well, in an attempt to pull the whole Windows ecosystem a little closer together, increasingly so with future updates. Looks like the brave, new, incremental world of Windows could be right around the corner. [win8china, The Verge]

Apple seems to be on a roll. Hot on the heels of releasing iOS 6.1.2 to fix the Exchange Calendar bug and Java update to fix vulnerabilities along with the malware removal tool, they have released an update for iTunes.

Here’s what’s new in iTunes 11.0.2:

This update adds a new Composers view for music, improves responsiveness when syncing playlists with a large number of songs, and fixes an issue where purchases may not show up in your iTunes library. This update also includes other stability and performance improvements.

itunes_11_0_2_update

The update is available via Software Update (54.2 MB). You can also download it from Apple’s support website.

Via: 9to5Mac, MacRumors

Over at TheNextWeb, it’s been reported that Mozilla has “quietly killed” the 64-bit build of Firefox for Windows. There has never been a stable release, however. The 64-bit build has been limited to Mozilla’s Nightly and branch builds — like the Firefox UX build where the new Australis theme first appeared. TNW’s Emil Protalinski noted in his post that Firefox engineering manager Benjamin Smedberg ”had declared that the 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows would never see the light of day,” but that’s not actually the case.

Indeed, the title of the related Bugzilla item tells a different story: “Disable windows 64 builds for now” (emphasis added). Mozilla hasn’t come out this week and said that there is no future for 64-bit Firefox on Windows. Instead, it’s a question of whether or not there’s enough return on the investment to continue offering the x64 Nightly builds to testers.

According to some in the community, as much as 50% of Mozilla’s testing base was browsing with the Windows x64 build. Those folks can, of course, move safely back to the 32-bit build as long as they don’t need a browser that can address more than 4GB of memory. That should only pose a problem if you keep a massive number of tabs open in any given browsing session, say 50 to 100. Those with more mundane needs that just want early access to bleeding-edge features in Firefox should be able to run the 32-bit nightly builds without noticing any real difference.

Smedberg notes several reasons that the decision was made. Plug-ins are currently a major headache — some common ones lack a stable 64-bit build, and some of those that do aren’t working correctly because Firefox lacks certain required features. That’s leading to additional freezing and crashing. Mozilla’s crash stats system also can’t easily tell which reports are from 32-bit users and which are from 64-bit users, which causes additional grief for coders who are trying to correct issues.

“The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few or the one,” said a wise, pointed-eared man. Mozilla needs to focus on 32-bit builds of Firefox for Windows because that’s the biggest, most critical piece of its user base.

Firefox x64 isn’t dead, it’s just going to disappear from the nightlies at some point in the near future. It will be back some time later in 2013, but in the meantime Windows users should know that there’s an alternative which doesn’t require leaving Mozilla in the lurch. Check out WaterFox or Palemoon: both are 64-bit custom builds of Firefox for Windows.

More at TNW, Bugzilla, and Google Groups

“Hewlett-Packard Co. took an $8.8 billion charge citing ‘a willful effort to mislead investors and potential buyers’ at Autonomy Corp., the software company it agreed to purchase last year for $10.3 billion,” Aaron Ricadela reports for Bloomberg.

“More than $5 billion of the total charge is due to accounting practices, which were disclosed by a senior executive at Autonomy after founder Mike Lynch departed, Hewlett-Packard said. Autonomy’s U.K. spokesman George Lockett didn’t have an immediate comment,” Ricadela reports. “Former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker agreed to buy Autonomy, the second-largest U.K. software maker, to expand in cloud-computing and add software that searches a broad range of data, including e-mails, music, videos and posts on social networks such as Facebook Inc.”

Ricadela reports, “The shares of Hewlett-Packard fell as much as 12 percent in early trading… [HP] is down 48 percent this year. Also today, Hewlett-Packard forecast fiscal first-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates amid a continuing slump in personal computer sales. Earnings excluding some items will be 68 cents to 71 cents a share for the period, which ends in January, Hewlett-Packard said in a separate statement. Analysts on average had estimated profit of 85 cents a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg… The earnings report came less than a week after Dell Inc. reported fiscal third-quarter revenue fell 11 percent and PC sales dropped 19 percent, amid competition from Apple Inc.’s iPad…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s like a Laurel & Hardy movie: Meg keeps trying to “turnaround,” but the steering wheel keeps coming off in her hands. Meanwhile, Apple long ago moved to flight, so Meg’s road is a dead end.

Related article:
Apple is killing Dell and Hewlett-Packard – August 6, 2012

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