Microsoft Archive

Chinese gov’t reveals Microsoft’s secret list of Android-killer patents

A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website.

The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy.

These are the secret patents Microsoft's patent mafia uses as a club to beat other companies into paying protection money.

Microsoft unveils Surface Pro 3

Microsoft has unveiled a new Surface Pro 3 device at a press event in New York City today. Like the previous Surface tablets it still includes a kickstand, but Surface chief Panos Panay says it's designed to remove the conflict of buying a laptop or a tablet. The kickstand on the device is multi-stage, and the device is just 9.1mm thick. "This is the tablet than can replace your laptop," claims Panay. Microsoft has moved to a 12-inch screen on the Surface Pro 3 with a 3:2 aspect ratio and HD display, but the new tablet also has thin bezels with a silver and black design. Microsoft will start accepting pre-orders on the Surface Pro 3 tomorrow starting at $799.

It's an amazing piece of hardware, and Microsoft really deserves praise for the amount of power it has managed to pack in such a slim and light package, but the same could be said of the previous Surface Pro - and that one hasn't exactly taken the market by storm either. The problem, is software - something Microsoft was remarkably hush-hush about during the unveiling.

Something else Microsoft was hush-hush about: Windows RT and ARM. No new RT/ARM-based Surface device, and I have a feeling that particular experiment has met its end today.

Microsoft officially closes Nokia deal

Microsoft announced it has completed its acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business. The acquisition has been approved by Nokia shareholders and by governmental regulatory agencies around the world. The completion of the acquisition marks the first step in bringing these two organizations together as one team.

Nokia's mobile era has now officially come to an end. One day, books will be written about the rise and fall of one of the greatest mobile technology companies of all time - one that played an instrumental role in the development and spread of the mobile phone, and the one company that put a phone in every corner of the world, in every person's hands - whether they were rich or poor. This is a sad day.

On a positive (?) note, Stephen Elop has stated that Microsoft will continue to support Asha and Nokia X, but only time will tell what "support" exactly means.

And we are committed to continuing our support for feature phones, the Asha family, and the Nokia X family of devices, announced at the Mobile World Congress in February.

Microsoft is finally catching up to the future

It looks like the Internet of Things could be the next big computing battleground, and Microsoft seems willing to sacrifice a few battles in order to win that war. Facebook is chasing virtual reality; Google wants home automation, smartwatches, and internet-connected glasses. More than 200 billion devices are likely to be connected to the internet by 2020, a huge example of the way the technology industry will shift and new battles will emerge. Satya Nadella believes the future isn't Windows desktops, Windows tablets, and Windows Phones. It's not Windows everywhere, it's Microsoft everywhere, offering software and services for every device - including an entire world of interconnected devices that have yet to be built.

The speed with which is doing this u-turn makes it quite clear that people within the company wanted to do this for a long, long time (otherwise it could not have been done this quickly), which implies that Ballmer may have simply held these changes back.

The elephant in the room here is that while people talk about Microsoft as if the company is down and out, it's still hugely profitable and has consistently been posting great financial results. It's just that Microsoft's money isn't coming from sexy products like smartphones and tablets, but from enterprise and backend stuff - stuff the technology press either can't write about, doesn't understand, or both. It's very similar to all those articles claiming Apple no longer innovates and disrupts, even though the company sent shockwaves through the microprocessor world.

In any case, it seems like Microsoft finally found the right direction in this new world.

‘Announcing the Office you love, now on the iPad’

We know you've been wanting it, and starting today, you can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad from the App Store. The apps have the robust capabilities and familiar look and feel that is unmistakably Office, while offering a fantastic touch experience built from the ground up for iPad. With the free versions of the apps, you can read your Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. Your documents will look as good as they do on your PC and Mac®, and better than ever on your iPad. With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents with the iPad.

It looks pretty good, and as a heavy Office users, I can't wait until this hits Android tablets. On a related note: Office for phones (both iOS and Android) has gone completely free.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that iOS got touch Office before Windows. I feel like I'm in the twilight zone.

Source code for MS-DOS 1.1, 2.0 and Word 1.1a released

The Computer History Museum announced today that it has, with permission from Microsoft Corporation, made available original source code for two historic programs: MS-DOS, the 1982 "Disk Operating System" for IBM-compatible personal computers, and Word for Windows, the 1990 Windows-based version of their word processor.

Great move by Microsoft - this ensures these programs remain available for eternity.

Don’t use Microsoft’s web mail to receive Microsoft leaks

One of the revelations in this week's case of a Microsoft worker who leaked pre-release Windows 8 software was that Microsoft accessed the Hotmail account of the blogger to whom the data was leaked. And it did so without a court order.

Well, it turns out Microsoft was apparently within its rights to do so, having explicitly carved out the right to access communications to protect its own intellectual property.

Yahoo and Google have similar clauses.

Microsoft Office for iPad will be unveiled this month

Satya Nadella is planning to host his first press event as Microsoft CEO next week. The software maker has been inviting members of the media to a special cloud- and mobile-focused event in San Francisco on March 27th. Nadella is expected to discuss Microsoft’s "mobile first, cloud first" strategy, and there will be some major news ahead of the company’s Build conference in early April. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the event will mark the introduction of Office for iPad.

Meanwhile, Office for Metro is nowhere in sight.

What ever happened to MSX computers

Not too many people will recall the short-lived era of the "MSX" initiative which was slated to pretty much take over the non-existent middle world where consumer electronics met personal computers. It was always believed, back then, that this is where the sweet spot of profits would emerge. What emerged was instead laughable MSX. It was one of Microsoft's greatest flops.

The MSX was one of the first computers I ever used. I did basic BASIC stuff on it when I was a kid.

Microsoft is using your data to target political ads on Xbox Live

Microsoft is trying to convince politicians to take out targeted ads on Xbox Live, Skype, MSN and other company platforms as midterm elections begin heating up around the country. To plug the idea, Microsoft officials handed out promotional materials Thursday at CPAC, the annual conference for conservatives.

It's the latest move by tech companies to seize a piece of the lucrative political ad market. The ads, which would appear on the Xbox Live dashboard and other Microsoft products, combine Microsoft user IDs and other public data to build a profile of Xbox users. Campaigns can then blast ads to selected demographic categories, or to specific congressional districts. And if the campaign brings its own list of voter e-mail addresses, Microsoft can match the additional data with individual customer accounts for even more accurate voter targeting.

This from the company behind "Scroogled".

On a more general note, hypocrite company behaviour like this should be illegal. A company should not be able to say "leave company Abc behind because they do xyz, and come join us!", only to then turn around and do xyz as well. This is lying, and should be punishable in some way.

Microsoft’s Nadella manages legacy of Ballmer-board split

Nadella, who succeeded Ballmer one month ago, took a step this week by unraveling part of a restructuring his predecessor put in place in one of his last acts as chief executive officer. Nadella appointed onetime Democratic political operative Mark Penn to the just-invented post of strategy chief and shuffled other executives to resolve an unwieldy setup Ballmer had established in the marketing department.

Interesting look at the goings-on surround Ballmer's end.

Satya Nadella is Microsoft’s new CEO

As Satya Nadella becomes the third CEO of Microsoft, he brings a relentless drive for innovation and a spirit of collaboration to his new role. He joined Microsoft 22 years ago because he saw how clearly Microsoft empowers people to do magical things and ultimately make the world a better place. Many companies, he says, "aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance."

Say what you will - I won't say anything, I know nothing about this stuff - but I love this webpage introducing the new CEO. Very well done.

MS reveals its server designs, releases open source code

Microsoft has joined the Open Compute Project, a consortium that Facebook created to share the designs of servers and other equipment that power the internet's largest data centers.

Like other internet giants, Microsoft designs its own servers to be more efficient than standard boxes sold by the likes of HP and Dell. While Google has mostly kept its designs secret, Facebook has made its server and rack specifications public and has urged others to do the same. In theory, companies can swap best practices, and any vendor can sell servers identical to the ones that power Facebook's data centers.

Microsoft joining Open Compute boosts the chances that the project might have some impact on the server industry.

Good move.

Why Microsoft might not kill Nokia’s Android phone

Ina Fried has just confirmed the Nokia Android phone - and even argues that Microsoft might go ahead with actually releasing it.

According to a Nokia source, the software has a look more similar to Windows Phone than to the "squircle" icons used on the Asha. Normandy would also serve as a way to deliver Microsoft services such as Bing and Skype.

That is seen by some at Microsoft as a more palatable alternative than seeing more of those first-time smartphone buyers sign up not just for Android but also for Google's array of services.

Makes sense. It does raise another question, though: wouldn't this be yet another operating system Microsoft would need to develop and support?

Microsoft CEO search: stalemate

The Microsoft CEO succession process appears to be stalled. This is a company with immense human, technical, and financial resources; the tech industry is filled with intelligent, energetic, dedicated candidates. What's wrong with the matchmaking process?

The gist: Microsoft needs someone strong enough to stand up to the old guard still looking over everyone's shoulder (Gates and Ballmer) - and essentially dismiss them - since the company needs to look to the future, not the past.

Good luck with that.

Why is Microsoft scared of Chromebooks?

"It's pretty much a brick," says Pawn Stars' Rick Harrison as he rejects a Samsung Chromebook brought in by an actor playing a customer. Microsoft really doesn't want you buying this thing.

But why? Just how big of a threat are Chromebooks, Google's oft-ridiculed web-only laptops, to Microsoft's core business?

I'm puzzled too. It doesn't seem like Chromebooks are that big of a threat - why create terrible advertisements that only provide Google with free publicity?

Microsoft hires ‘Pawn Stars’ to bash Google Chromebooks

Microsoft has enlisted the reality-television series "Pawn Stars" in its ongoing campaign to bash rival Google.

An online video ad released Tuesday mimics the plot set up of "Pawn Stars," which features people toting precious or odd objects for appraisal at a Las Vegas pawn shop. In Microsoft's fictional telling, a woman is trying to trade in a Chromebook, a no-frills laptop powered by Google software.

"The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste."

Microsoft makes $2B a year on Android patents

Microsoft is generating $2 billion per year in revenue from Android patent royalties, says Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund in a new note on the company.

He estimates that the Android revenue has a 95% margin, so it's pretty much all profit.

This money, says Sherlund, helps Microsoft hide the fact that its mobile and Xbox groups are burning serious cash.

Microsoft has not written a single line of Android code, yet rakes in the profits through scummy software patents. Crime does pay.