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Microsoft News Tracker

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July 31, 2008

Live Search adds dancing baloney to home page

Posted by David Hunter at 8:01 PM ET.

Live Search logo You don’t hear the term dancing baloney much anymore, but about a decade ago it was the standard description of gratuitous Web gadgetry that designers added to Web pages for no discernable purpose other than that they could.  Microsoft yesterday announced a makeover of the formerly spartan Live Search home page and the only way I can classify it is as dancing baloney:

The new design features background images that will change frequently, augmented with what we call "hotspots." These interactive areas highlight parts of the image and help you explore search results related to the highlighted area. Users who have tested this new home page have found it both engaging and a great place to start a search.

Right now the background image seems to be from Botswana and the hidden hotspots reveal various Botswana related factoids. Apparently the "users who have tested this new home page" for Microsoft have a lot of time on their hands.

MSN logo Speaking of home page makeovers, Microsoft is apparently also rolling out one for MSN, and while I detest the MSN home page heartily for its default mixture of supermarket checkout style celebrity news and cloying shopping and "self help" articles, this change looks more useful.

The good news that the new version (check it out here) adds a sidebar with a tabbed interface for Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces. The bad news is that also adds a player for MSN video with a default selection of "fun" videos which, as I write, features a man completely covered with tattoos. I guess it is someplace for the Live Search test users to go when they get tired of Botswana.

Filed under Live Search, MSN, MSN Video, Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Spaces

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Windows Mobile misses 20M FY08 target

Posted by David Hunter at 10:39 AM ET.

Windows Mobile logo Todd Bishop at the Seattle PI has noticed some rephrasing going on in statements from Microsoft’ Windows Group: which reveals that Microsoft missed their very public 20 million unit target for Windows Mobile in fiscal year 2008 (which ended in June):

Microsoft sold more than 18 million Windows Mobile software licenses in its recently completed fiscal year — about 2 million short of its widely publicized 20 million-unit target — the senior vice president in charge of the business acknowledged this afternoon.

[Andy] Lees, a veteran Microsoft executive who moved from the Server & Tools unit in February, attributed the lower-than-projected Windows Mobile sales to some devices coming to market slightly later than previously expected. He declined to say which ones.

Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices Division, touted the 20 million-unit projection repeatedly during presentations at industry trade shows during the past year.

The first clue about the shortfall emerged in early June, when a letter from Lees to the company’s partners said the company would sell "nearly 20 million Windows Mobile smartphone licenses" for the year, as opposed to the company’s previous promise of "more than 20 million" licenses sold. Asked about the change at the time, a Microsoft product manager said any shortfall would be nothing more than "a rounding error."

Microsoft says the upside is that they were still able to increase the Windows Mobile share, the bad news is that Apple is coming on even more strongly and that Windows Mobile phones appear to be really only strong in the USA.

Filed under Microsoft, Windows Mobile

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July 30, 2008

Microsoft documents reveal Midori

Posted by David Hunter at 10:21 AM ET.

Midori David Worthington of the SD Times has gotten hold of some Microsoft documents describing Midori. an adtech operating system being developed under Eric Rudder Senior Vice President, Technical Strategy:

Microsoft is incubating a componentized non-Windows operating system known as Midori, which is being architected from the ground up to tackle challenges that Redmond has determined cannot be met by simply evolving its existing technology.

SD Times has viewed internal Microsoft documents that outline Midori’s proposed design, which is Internet-centric and predicated on the prevalence of connected systems.

Midori is an offshoot of Microsoft Research’s Singularity operating system, the tools and libraries of which are completely managed code. Midori is designed to run directly on native hardware (x86, x64 and ARM), be hosted on the Windows Hyper-V hypervisor, or even be hosted by a Windows process.

According to published reports, Eric Rudder, senior vice president for technical strategy at Microsoft and an alumnus of Bill Gates’ technical staff, is heading up the effort. Rudder served as senior vice president of Microsoft’s Servers and Tools group until 2005. A Microsoft spokesperson refused comment.

So is Midori Microsoft’s post-Windows operating system? The documents do not say and there is many a slip between adtech and product, but it is nonetheless interesting to see what Microsoft is working on.

In a nutshell, Midori is a clean break from Windows with a modular, componentized design exploiting connectivity where applications are composed of pieces that could reside on a multitude of devices in multiple locations. For the end user there would be a brand new GUI with applications "created using .NET languages that will be compiled to native code using the Bartok compiler and runtime system, which is presently a Microsoft Search project."

There’s much more there, but while all this sounds swell if you an operating system guru starting with a blank sheet of paper, what about Microsoft’s often dilatory and fractious crowd of partners in the Windows ecosystem with their host of legacy Windows applications and device drivers?  Lip service is paid to providing "options for Midori applications to co-exist with and interoperate with existing Windows applications, as well as to provide a migration path" and Worthington plans two more articles based on the documents, one of which is on this very topic.

Still, it was the relatively minor changes in Vista coupled with partner sluggishness that has led to most of Vista’s bad reputation and this promises to be many orders of magnitude worse. Ah, but it’s a grand dream.

Filed under Eric Rudder, Executives, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, Midori

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July 29, 2008

Microsoft signs up OEMs for OneCare trial preloads

Posted by David Hunter at 5:32 PM ET.

Windows-Live-OneCare-logo Microsoft is now paralleling the competition by taking the trial preload route for selling the Windows Live OneCare PC security package.

To address the growing security and management needs of today’s new PC user, Microsoft Corp. is working with 11 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Sony Corporation of America and Toshiba Asia Pacific to preinstall trial subscriptions of Windows Live OneCare on select new PCs across North America, Europe and Asia. Windows Live OneCare provides all-in-one security and anti-malware protection for consumers and small businesses along with tools that automate and simplify PC management and performance.

OneCare’s big selling point has been its low selling price, but while that may be good for retail box sales, getting to the new PC buyer’s wallet first probably has a greater effect. The other 9 OEMs besides Sony and Toshiba are small and primarily outside the USA.

Filed under Coopetition, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, Sony, Toshiba, Windows Live, Windows Live OneCare

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