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September 24, 2008

Windows 7 drops some built-in apps in favor of Web downloads

Posted by David Hunter at 3:43 PM ET.

Windows 7 logo Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 7 is dropping the built-in Vista applications for email, photo management, and movie making in favor of applications downloaded from the Web:

The software maker included Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Mail, and Windows Movie Maker as part of Vista, but later chose to offer separate downloadable Windows Live programs that essentially replaced those components with versions that could connect to online services from Microsoft and others.

In a follow-up interview on Monday, Windows Vista general manager Brian Hall said Microsoft made the decision to remove the tools from Windows for several reasons, including a desire to issue new operating system releases more quickly than it has in the past. The move also removes the confusion of offering and supporting two different programs that perform essentially similar functions.

"It makes it much cleaner," Hall said.

Two different applications for the same purpose is certainly an unneeded luxury and one can sympathize with the difficulty in getting multiple applications with different update frequencies to a coordinated Windows 7 launch date, but I can’t help but think that this shifts the pain to the end user. The consumer with a shiny new PC already has a lot of work to do to transfer files and applications to the new system and this just adds to the burden unless it is completely automatic.

Microsoft is coy about how streamlined the acquisition process for these applications will be, but the above news report from Ina Fried suggest that Microsoft fears antitrust scrutiny of making the process too automatic and suggests that they will instead work with partners "to enable really great experiences." I assume that partners means OEMs where, frankly, great experiences are usually in short supply.

Finally, while we are talking Windows 7, Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference 2008 is coming up in late October and Microsoft’s Denise Begley reminds us that there will be plenty of Windows 7 information including a Windows 7 keynote by head Windows honcho Steven Sinofsky. A list of all of the PDC08 sessions shows 22 of them on Windows 7.

Filed under Conferences, Executives, OS - Client, PDC08, Steven Sinofsky, Windows 7, Windows Vista

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Three new Vista Ultimate Extras released

Posted by David Hunter at 12:57 PM ET.

Windows Vista Ultimate Adrian Kingsley-Hughes spots 3 new Windows Vista Ultimate Extras and says Microsoft Tinker – Best Ultimate Extra so far (although the bar is set pretty low). Tinker is a colorful game that is "a lot of fun" according to Kingsley-Hughes, while the other two:

are the usual tepid "Extras."  I don’t know that anyone really expected the Vista Ultimate Extras to be dynamite applications, but the desultory rollout has been a continuing sore point for those that have anted up the extra cash for Ultimate.

Filed under General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, OS - Client, Public Relations, Windows Vista

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Windows Mobile 7 ("Photon") delayed

Posted by David Hunter at 8:37 AM ET.

Windows Mobile logoIna Fried reports at CNET that Microsoft slipped the release of Windows Mobile 7 (codenamed "Photon") to the second half of 2009 from what had been expected to be an early first half delivery.

The delay is a significant blow for the software maker, which has been counting on the next version of Windows Mobile to enable devices that better rival Apple’s iPhone. Among the features widely expected to be part of the release is advanced gesture recognition, perhaps along the lines of the iPhone, but possibly also using the camera as a means for reading gestures. Microsoft’s Tellme unit, which focuses on speech input, has also been working on Windows Mobile 7 features.

Not to mention Google’s Android phone operating system which was debuted yesterday by partner T-Mobile who will have their Android phone available on October 22. Android targets the same smartphone market segment as Windows Mobile 7.

Filed under Apple, Coopetition, Google, Microsoft, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7

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September 22, 2008

Microsoft announces $40 billion share buyback, increases dividend

Posted by David Hunter at 5:31 PM ET.

Microsoft logoMicrosoft has decided to use the war chest it did not get to use to purchase Yahoo to sweeten up the shareholders with a share buyback and an increased dividend:

Microsoft Corp. today announced that its board of directors approved a new share repurchase program authorizing up to an additional $40 billion in share repurchases with an expiration of September 30, 2013.

The board of directors also declared a quarterly dividend of $0.13 per share, reflecting a two cent or 18 percent increase over the previous quarter’s dividend. The dividend is payable December 11, 2008 to shareholders of record on November 20, 2008. The ex-dividend date will be November 18, 2008.

In addition, the company stated that it has completed its previous $40 billion stock repurchase program. Microsoft has returned over $115 billion to shareholders through a combination of share repurchases and dividends over the last five years.

A share buyback is useful tool for mature, cash rich companies like Microsoft to reward shareholders, particularly in times of depressed stock prices, plus it directly increases earnings per share. The share price was up 5% after the announcement.

Microsoft also announced that its board of directors has authorized debt financings of up to $6 billion and has established a $2 billion commercial paper program. Not unexpectedly,"the commercial paper is rated A-1+ by Standard & Poor’s and P-1 by Moody’s, the highest ratings available from both agencies."

Filed under Financial, General Business, Investor Relations, Microsoft

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