Microsoft Archive

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.

Microsoft launches redesigned Bing website

With this release we've created a modern Bing.com experience - one that is faster, cleaner and more visually appealing. We believe that search can be beautiful as well as functional and efficient. With that as our goal, we evaluated fonts, spacing, color, visual scan patterns, the search box and even the underlying code.

My problem with this and recent moves by Google: when I do a regular search, I do not want my search results to be spammed by news, picture, and video results. Bing seems to follow in Google's footsteps by adding irrelevant crap to search results for the sake of looking cool, but at the cost of usability.

I mean, check this screenshot. How much of the page is reserved for actual search results, and not pictures, info boxes, news items, and god knows what else?

Exactly: none.

Microsoft raced to deal with soul-searching Nokia

Microsoft's agreement to buy Nokia's handset business, codenamed Project Gold Medal, was more of a sprint than a marathon.

Talks between the two companies began in February after both sides agreed a two-year-old collaboration on smartphone development wasn't working, according to people familiar with the deal.

This cannot be true. Internet commenters told me in no uncertain terms that Nokia and Windows Phone were doing just fine. And internet commenters are always right.

Tide rolls in: Microsoft acquires Nokia’s devices unit

Ever since Stephen Elop became CEO of Nokia we knew this outcome was inevitable. It was his job to make it as easy as possible for Microsoft to acquire the vital parts of Nokia, and here we are: Microsoft is acquiring Nokia's devices unit for 3.79 billion euro, and another 1.65 billion euro for its patents. It's a bit of a complicated deal in that Microsoft buys the Asha feature phone brand and Lumia smartphone brand outright, but will only license the Nokia name for current Nokia products; the Nokia brand will remain under the control of Nokia the company. This means Nokia as a phone brand is effectively dead.

In addition, Stephen Elop will return to Microsoft. I'm sure entirely coincidentally, Ballmer announced recently that he's stepping down.

All this was as inevitable as the tides rolling in. Nokia has been going downhill and has stagnated ever since the announcement it would bank its future on Windows Phone. It went from being the largest smartphone manufacturer to an also-ran, which is made painfully clear by the fact that Microsoft paid more for Skype than it does for Nokia's devices unit.

A painful end for a once-great phone brand. This was the plan all along, and in essence, Nokia's board has executed it masterfully; the Finnish company has switched core markets several times in its long, long history (it started out as a paper company), and the unprofitable phone business was a huge liability for the company, despite claims by some that Nokia was doing just fine. Nokia's board has masterfully gotten rid of this money pit so it can focus on the parts that are profitable.

And, as always, the next Lumia will turn it all around.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer retires

Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

This was long overdue. Microsoft needs fresh blood at the top - not a salesman, but a visionary.

Microsoft took a $900 million hit on Surface RT this quarter

The Verge, reporting that Microsoft lost almost a billion dollars with Surface RT, in this quarter alone. "At the end of the day, though, it looks like Microsoft just made too many Surface RT tablets - we heard late last year that Microsoft was building three to five million Surface RT tablets in the fourth quarter, and we also heard that Microsoft had only sold about one million of those tablets in March." That's catastrophically bad.

Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

Documents released by Snowden show the extent to which Microsoft helped the NSA and other security agencies in the US. "Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal; The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail; The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide; Skype, which was bought by Microsoft in October 2011, worked with intelligence agencies last year to allow Prism to collect video of conversations as well as audio; Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a 'team sport'." Wow. Just wow.

Microsoft confirms major reorganisation

"In a large staff memo, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer details how the company is aiming for a 'One Microsoft', by altering its organization around the 'devices and services' vision. Terry Myerson will lead a new operating systems engineering group that will span across console, mobile device, and PC. Myerson used to lead the Windows Phone group at Microsoft. Julie Larson-Green takes over a new devices and studios engineering group."

The importance of sound in technology

"In the first episode of Microsoft's new film series 'On the Whiteboard', Editor Pamela Woon chats with two-time Oscar winner Randy Thom about the (often underestimated) importance of sound in human-technology interactions. Thom, the lead sound designer at Skywalker Ranch who worked on films such as The Incredibles, Castaway and Forrest Gump, says that people rarely consider the significance of those signature sounds that come from their trusty devices, whether it be a cell phone, a computer or a tablet."

‘Microsoft gives zero-day exploits to US government’

From Bloomberg: "Microsoft, the world's largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes." The lid has officially been blown off.