Tag: Steve Ballmer

Microsoft comes up with Windows 8 cunning plan

While many think that Microsoft has a slow burning product with its Windows 8 software, it appears that Vole has a cunning plan to make it sell faster.

Steve Ballmer believes that the reason that Windows 8 is not selling well is because the operating system is too cheap.

According to the company blog, at the end of this month Windows 8 will increase in price by more than four times.

From February, the update on Windows 8 Pro will go up to $200 from the current $40. Prices will be increasing across the entire product line at the same time.

Beneath the announcement is a string of invective which generally seems to suggest that Steve Ballmer is doing his best to kill off the Windows 8 operating system completely.

As one user pointed out, Microsoft should have learnt something from Apple which has been selling its upgrades for $15-$30 for a while now. While Windows 8 is more of a significant upgrade, it is probably not worth $50, the user reasons.

It is a fair point. There is absolutely no reason to upgrade to Windows 8 from Windows 7 at that price, as there are will be few people who are going to benefit from a $200 upgrade. 

Menacing Big Bird steals the spotlight at bizarre Qualcomm CES opening

Sadly, we’re not at CES this year. If we were, we’d have seen Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs talk through some boast-worthy figures about mobile chips before oddity after oddity swamped the show and turned the keynote into an exceedingly strange exercise in raising the bar for surreal conference openings.   

For starters, a trio of actors dressed as two CBBC presenters and one city worker enthusiastically danced around the stage and told the audience that the key to ‘pwning’ half the world, running conferences, and being popular is mobile phones. The three hopped about, bellowed cringe-worthy cliches, and effectively demonstrated the dangers of taking too much non-prescription Adderall, the whole while making the two teen texters from the London Olympics look like the finest choreography of the Royal Ballet.

Later, they, Jacobs, and surprise guest Steve Ballmer were upstaged by a familiar but somewhat off-kilter and disturbing appearance from Sesame Street’s avian nineties superstar, Big Bird.

Big Bird commanded a sinister presence, lumbering, hunched, over a half-man, half-bird subordinate, directing him with a menacing, pointed claw. The employee tried his best not to drown in his own fear-sweat as he searched for the word ‘milk’ in front of a crowd of bemused technology pundits, but Big Bird continued to pressure him and laugh sporadically as the ‘bird-keteer’ fumbled with his ‘word-o-scope’. 

Big Bird occasionally waited for applause in between giggles that sounded like the death rattle of a helium balloon. When asked how the feathered philanthropist put together the demo software, Big Bird conceded he never learned to code but instead outsourced it to ‘owls’ – a chilling nod to the emerging leitmotif of third world sweatshop-coders churning out packaged software and services for the west, paid in peanuts, so an iPad-equipped brat can learn to spell cereal on a Sesame Street branded iPad app instead of with a book.

Actress Alice Eve then made an appearance, and it looked like she didn’t know quite how to react to Jacobs. Despite her best attempts to kick start some banter, Jacobs, eyes darting around the room, instead urged her to speak more about the upcoming Star Trek movie. After it clicked for Eve that any plausibly faked on-stage chemistry was not going to happen, she read from the auto-cue like a pro until it was time to go. And a Rolls Royce rolled across the platform. 

According to The Verge, Maroon 5 closed the keynote, except for viewers watching the live stream who were instead treated to an over-dub of a Dido-lite. Jacobs stood stage left for the duration.

What is quite bizarre is Qualcomm’s organising committee putting together a Cirque du Soleil of surprise guests, violent film snippets, iconic childhood TV presenters and celeb interviews rather than focusing entirely on the position the company has found itself in. Solidly entrenched in the mobile landscape, Qualcomm is involved in all sorts of interesting projects, but sadly, the little content there was fell victim to questionably vivacious showboating. Perhaps the entire show was a self-aware exercise in irony, being as it was, the opening to the most preposterous trade show in the USA’s most preposterous location of Lost Wages. Or, it could have been a masterstroke in creating an unforgettable experience, manipulating the bemused masses into talking about a company that, except among techies, is not exactly a household name – yet.

Either way. The Verge’s ‘supercut’ needs to be seen to be believed, while the rest of the keynote can be viewed, thanks to CNET, can be viewed below as well. The Verge also has a collection of pictures and tweets which are well worth a look.

Intel, Microsoft face the Eva Glass of Destruction in 2013

Destiny deals cards but while it sometimes deals Aces in the poker game of technology, in the case of both Intel and Microsoft the year 2012 has really been a horrible year for the Great Satan of Chips and the Great Satan of Software, respectively. The Ace of Spades, it comes to mind.

At CES 2012, Intel had nothing to say to TechEye. Amidst the jingling and the jangling the best it could come up with was automotive stuff – that is to say cars.  Ultrabooks in 2012 started with a whimper and ended with a whimper and a snivel.

Microsoft had little to say at CeBIT 2012 in March – we snuck into its press conference in the Messe and it told tales of Windows 8, fantastic chimaeric tales where its famous “interface” could bridge two, three or even four dimensions. But it lacked the famous “apps”.

At Computex 2012 we gazed in awe as the dancing girls tried to ramp up the volume on both bothies (that’s Scottish for booths) to persuade the world+dog that this really was a great thing.  You chatted to the guys and guyettes at the sharp end of life – the Asusteks of this world – and you realised PDQ (pretty damn quickly) that Taiwan felt that both Microsoft and Intel had overplayed their cards.

Somehow, without meaning to, we made it to IDF 2012 – a forlorn backyard depopulated by people who didn’t want Microsoft and Intel’s money any more.  The whole world+dog had moved on to tablets and jerky attempts by the Great Trinity of the X86 world – oh yeah AMD compris – met with bellylaughs.

To lose one executive is natural. To lose two is unnatural. But to lose three is to lose.  Sean Maloney departs for pastures new at the end of January 2013 – he will be sorely missed, because actually he is quite effective.  Paul “don’t cry for me” Otellini will leave Intel in May 2013, is part of the very famous INTC succession plan.

While the internally blinkered worlds of INTC and MSFT continue, the outside world has changed radically.  Ultrabooks are way too expensive. Microsoft Tablets are risible if you’re talking hard cash. Intel and Microsoft have lost their way. Atoms are smashed by other wannabes.

IntelIntel can probably make a mint out of healthcare and Microsoft can possibly make a mint out of servers for a while. But the grand behemoths have fallen, in all certainty.  No one in their right mind would buy an Ultrabook nor would a sane person buy an overpriced tablet too.

The goliaths have been slain by the small guys, but because no-one likes change, it is hard for the giants to realise this, even though the stone has finally hit their foreheads. Giants take time to fall, like empires. The X86 is dead. Long live convergence and the small guys.

Here shown is a CD Intel gave me at an IDF in 2000. Note well the apostrophe between PC and s. It is non-grammatical. The contents are risible, too…

Steve Ballmer calls the kettle black

Steve Ballmer must have briefly forgotten his company has been peddling Windows for decades when he slammed Android for being susceptible to malware.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman quizzed the shy and retiring CEO on all things Microsoft and mobile when Ballmer accused Android of being wild, uncontrolled, and susceptible to malware. He then went on to call Apple high priced and highly controlled, the Verge reports.

Where, then, does Microsoft fit in? In homage to Apple, Windows is becoming an increasingly walled garden, and the sales figures speak for themselves with Android. The price tag of the Surface RT shocked the world when it was announced and was widely criticised for being too costly to challenge the dominant tablet players. Meanwhile, Google is doing rather well for itself.

Ballmer also said he expected the Surface would not swamp the market and that the traditional vendors were more likely to take up the majority of the PC, talet and phone space.

We’re not sure whether he was talking about technology or his trousers when he went on to say: “It is absolutely clear there is an innovation opportunity on the seam between software and hardware,” and that this seam “must not go unexploited by Microsoft”.

Ballmer also understood that Microsoft isn’t quite there yet in the “under five inches” category. We are pretty certain he was giving a nod to an upcoming flagship phone, and not his trousers.  

Microsoft claims Windows 8 doing better than Windows 7

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer claimed that demand for the company’s new Windows 8 operating system is higher than Windows 7.

According to Reuters, the shy and retiring Microsoft CEO said that he was seeing preliminary demand well above where the company was with Windows 7, which was gratifying, however unlikely it may seem on the face of it.

Windows 7 is the best selling version of Windows. Microsoft has sold more than 670 million licences in three years since its release in 2009.

He was also pleased at the early response to the Microsoft Surface which is Vole’s first own-brand tablet, designed to challenge Apple iPad.

As you might expect, Ballmer did not actually give anyone any sales figures to look at. But commentators noticed that there were moderate lines at Microsoft’s 60 or so stores across the United States for the Surface.

This was unexpected as most thought the tablet launch would be low key rather than an Apple style religious frenzy. We’re not sure how many of them, if any, were Microsoft employees.

Ballmer was trying to push stage two of his cunning plan which is to put Windows 8 into smartphones.

Redmond holds 3.5 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, compared to 68 percent for Google’s Android and 17 percent for Apple’s iPhone.

Ballmer was showing off how the new phones make use of Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud service, enabling users to sync and transfer music, documents and photos between PCs, tablets and the Xbox console.

Microsoft claims that it has 120,000 apps in its online store for phones. Ballmer and other Microsoft executives showed off slim and colourful phones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC. 

Microsoft under EC's cosh in browser blocking allegations

Microsoft has agreed to comply with antitrust rules over the ability to choose between browsers on its operating systems, according to European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

Microsoft is currently under investigation from the EC regarding concerns that Windows blocks users from choosing web browsers other than its own, Internet Explorer.

Almunia said that in personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, assurances had been made that the Redmond firm would immediately address any concerns, regardless of the outcome of an antitrust probe. This would mean ensuring that any problems are ironed out before the release of the forthcoming Windows 8 OS.

According to Reuters, Almunia said that he is taking the allegations that Microsoft blocked other browsers “very, very seriously”.   A number of companies have now alleged that the new operating system has created difficulties with interfaces of non-default browsers.

This latest complaint is in addition to the concerns raised to Microsoft in July regarding the lack of an option screen to let PC users to choose a separate, rival browser such as Firefox or Chrome.  

Microsoft claimed that a proportion of machines had not received a ‘browser choice screen’ due to a technical glitch.  

However, Microsoft was criticised for allowing millions of machines to be shipped without due vigilance after it had already made guarantees to the EC over fair access to non-default browsers.

One expert told TechEye that the firm could expect “significant” antitrust fines if it is found guilty of blocking other browsers.

Wall Street mutters against Microsoft

The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street are furious with Microsoft as Vole started its new financial year.

The problem is Microsoft’s share price, which is more stagnant than the British government’s social policy.

You can pick up a low mileage share in Microsoft for $30 and it has been more or less like this for ages.

On Monday, Microsoft announced a $6.2 billion writedown of aQuantive , which was a 2007 Internet-advertising acquisition which to Wall Street means that Vole can’t really do anything other than make Windows or Office.

Vanity Fair blamed the shy and retiring Microsoft CEO Steve “there’s a kind of hush” Ballmer’s “astonishingly foolish” leadership for a “lost decade”.

But according to Reuters, Wall Street thinks that the write off proves that Vanity Fair was right.

Highmark Capital fund manager Todd Lowenstein said that the write off was a stark reminder that Microsoft’s capital allocation policies in the past have not been ideal.

Vole is placing several several major bets over the next year. The first is Windows 8, the second is its tablets, the third is a new version of Office and finally there is its improved phone.

Lowenstein thinks Vole could still make a come back next year but there needs to be some reason to pay more than $30 for a stock that hasn’t traded above that for any extended period of time since 2000.

Rick Sherlund, an analyst at Nomura Securities International said he saw a potential for a renaissance.

But the aQuantive write down showed that Microsoft had no plan to deal with the Internet. In fact everything it touches that is net related seems to turn to something that doesn’t really glitter.

Despite deals with Yahoo, its Bing search engine has barely dented Google’s market share in the three years and has cost an arm and a leg.

But it seems that any buck in Volish failure is being placed squarely on Ballmer.

Vanity Fair quotes one former Vole as saying that Microsoft had turned itself into “technology’s answer to Sears”.

The feeling is that Ballmer cannot manage creative talent, although there are also mutterings that Redmond has been balkinised between competing management fiefdoms which are constantly at war.

It looks like 2013 will either be the turning point for Microsoft, or the year that it turns into a RIM. 

Gentle Ballmer meekly suggests the competition is doomed

Modest Microsoft CEO, the shy and retiring Steve “There’s a Kind of Hush” Ballmer has displayed his usual understated charm at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco.

Speaking about mobile, the market Microsoft re-entered successfully after making a laughing stock of itself, Ballmer took a swipe with his clumsy bear paw in an attempt to knock Android and Apple off their pedestals.

He gave a nod to a competitor which was a “sea of icons” (read: Apple) and, Information Week reports, that Android is an operating system for “computer scientists”.

Ballmer gave no mention to the computer scientist’s OS of choice landing him and MSFT a hefty royalty cheque for each device sold.

Meanwhile, Google is being trounced in the cloud, according to the unassuming CEO.  He said Microsoft is “all in, baby” in cloud storage, not sounding too dissimilar from, say, the WWF’s Ultimate Warrior.  

Not only that, but Information Week reports he believes Microsoft is “winning, winning, winning” for applications in the cloud, at least 98 percent of the time.

What isn’t quite winning, winning, winning is Ballmer’s bonus. Again.

Crucially, Ballmer also confirmed that the expensive shopping trip to Skype’s headquarters was about the social web. AKA, Facebook

Microsoft's Ballmer faces mutiny

There are yet more signs that the shy and retiring Microsoft head Steve Ballmer is on the slippery slope to CEO oblivion, not just from irritated investors but increasingly from his own employees. 

The Seattle PI has cast its magnifying glass over the comments on a Microsoft blog post. It says at a recent company meeting, Ballmer was faced with a crowd suffering from restless bum syndrome, who deseated themselves and promptly exited mid-talk. 

One comment the PI points out is particularly damning. “What a sad spectacle,” it begins. “Back in the good old days when BillG spoke, EVERYONE listened.” It goes on to suggest Ballmer has been peddling the proverbial poisoned Kool Aid to the few faithful, like HR boss Lisa Brummel and COO Kevin Turner. Thanks to the yes-men, the post suggests, Ballmer is oblivious to the fact his employees think he’s a joke.

Another calls out Ballmer’s claim that Windows “cannot lose” as defensive, while another comment says the company meeting is “the worst one I’ve ever seen by far”. Overall, the disgruntled employees who are commenting seem to agree that Microsoft solely pinning its hopes on Windows 8 and Windows 8 tablets is a quick ready-meal recipe for disaster. 

“Is Win 8 tablet all we have left to be excited about?” a commenter ponders. “Has the morale across the company slumped so much that 20,000 of us together can’t even generate a decent applause? Please someone tell me I’m wrong.”

Wall Street is equally peeved at Microsoft. The relationship between Ballmer and the shareholders has been sketchy at best, with complaints filing in about his alleged mis-management of the coffers. Still, he might have at least bought himself some time by throwing a small bone to the suits earlier this month by raising dividends 25 percent.

A survey last year from Glassdoor.com said over half of 1,000 employees, when asked, said they didn’t think Ballmer was up to scratch. Microsoft’s still in the Fortune top companies to work for list, with a decent rate of employee satisfaction.

While at the time employees were saying overdiversifying was a bad idea, now it seems the cat-calls are screeching because Ballmer plans to put all of Redmond’s eggs in a tablet-shaped basket. 

Microsoft's Office continues to churn money

Software colossus Microsoft can never rest on its laurels, if it has laurels to rest on that is, but it continues to generate vast profits because it was very clever in the 1990s.

Here are the facts and figures for Microsoft’s fourth financial quarter. It generated revenues of $69.94 billions and made a net profit of $23.15 billions. Revenues were up by 12 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Net profit was up by a rather healthy 23 percent.

Microsoft Office is bearing up under the Google strain – it has sold 100 million licences for Office 2010. Enterprises are snapping it up, which is good news for Microsoft and proves they’re well tied in to legacy systems. Enterprises also think Microsoft Windows 7 isn’t bad.

Its server products also did pretty well – sales grew by 12 percent and SQL Server is still selling like hot cakes.

Microsoft even said that its Bing search engine was doing pretty well, while its entertainment division grew 30 percent in the fourth quarter.. Microsoft predicts that it will do pretty well in its new financial year.

Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s COO, said that it is doing well in the “cloud” too. “Our move to cloud services continues with the release and momentum of Office 365 and growth in Windows Azure,” Turner said.