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July 31, 2009

Windows Mobile, another Microsoft problem child

Posted by David Hunter at 2:50 PM ET.

Of late there has been a litany of bad news for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile smart phone operating system:

So what’s to be done? Robbie Bach (same link as above) says, "You’ll see our execution rhythm pick up and the quality of our execution improve." There is always room for a turnaround, but it won’t happen soon apparently. In the meantime, mobile is yet another of Steve Ballmer’s big bets that is sucking cash and not paying off.



Filed under Coopetition, Google, Microsoft, Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile 6.5, Windows Phone 7

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July 29, 2009

Yahoo gives up on Web search – hires Microsoft

Posted by David Hunter at 4:54 PM ET.

After more false starts than I really care to recall, Microsoft and Yahoo today announced that they had reached an agreement to combine their Web search businesses to better compete with Google. The gist of the deal is that Yahoo is giving up on Web search and hiring Microsoft to handle it for them:

Not called out explicitly is what will happen to the Yahoo Publishers Network and Microsoft PubCenter which are rivals to Google’s AdSense in serving contextual ads to 3rd party publisher Web sites. Presumably, YPN is toast and the fledgling Microsoft PubCenter will assume their publisher relationships.

So where’s the pony? For Yahoo it is pretty clear – they dump the expense of running and monetizing a search engine while Microsoft pays them 88% of search revenue generated on Yahoo’s owned and operated (O&O) sites during the first 5 years of the agreement. (Also "Microsoft will guarantee Yahoo!’s O&O revenue per search (RPS) in each country for the first 18 months following initial implementation in that country.") Yahoo used Google for search from 2000-2004 before they tried to do it themselves – now they have shuttered the in-house effort as a failed project and gone back to a "content site" strategy.

For Microsoft. however, the pony is all in the future. They have irretrievably made Steve Ballmer’s "big bet" on search and purchased a whopping chunk of search market share – approximately 28% compared with Bing’s current 8%. Now they will have to deliver on it. The press release does not explicitly state the conditions under which either partner can ditch this deal, but the chances of it in the next few years have to be exceedingly slim.

Finally, the partners apparently suspect a length regulatory review and the agreement is not hoped to close until early 2010.



Filed under Alliances, Bing, Coopetition, Google, MSN, Microsoft, Windows Live, Yahoo, adCenter

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July 28, 2009

Microsoft accepting apps for Windows Marketplace for Mobile

Posted by David Hunter at 7:48 PM ET.

Microsoft has opened the gates for application developers to start submitting apps to their Windows Marketplace for Mobile Store:

Today represents another significant milestone for Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and more importantly, the first big opportunity for developers. We are now accepting application submissions from all 29 supported countries and have launched a Race to Market Challenge to kick things off. It’s time to show us what you’ve got!

Registered developers and ISVs can now upload their application, game or widget to the Windows Marketplace platform and we’ll begin certifying those apps according to the process, policies and guidelines we’ve published. We certify apps on a First In, First Out (FIFO) basis. Certification should normally take about 10 business days initially and you can always check on your application during the process through our Developer Dashboard. To better market your app, you can provide us with all the product information and promotional materials you’d like us to use to describe and showcase your application for the more than 30 million Windows Mobile devices out there

There’s more fine print by following the links, but Microsoft clearly hopes to spark a land rush as developers stake out space in the Windows Mobile app market that will hopefully be as lucrative as Apple’s iPhone store. We’ll see.



Filed under Marketplace for Mobile, Microsoft, Windows Mobile

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July 26, 2009

Microsoft offers the EU a browser and interoperability deal

Posted by David Hunter at 2:07 PM ET.

Late last Friday, the European Competition Commission revealed that they are assessing a new Microsoft offer to resolve their browser competition complaint. Instead of Microsoft’s earlier plan to ship no Web browser at all with Windows 7 in the EU, Microsoft has offered to provide EU users of Windows XP and Vista as well as Windows 7 with a "ballot screen" with download links for the 5 most popular alternative browsers.

There are more details in the attachments to the Microsoft press release describing the proposal, but the basic idea is to provide current and easy download and installation links for the Web illiterate who can’t manage to find them on their own. Congratulations to Microsoft for trying to sidestep the black hole of actually shipping third party code. The EU seems to have a much more positive view of this proposal than the "no browser" plan, so Microsoft may actually get away with it.

In case you wondering, Microsoft’s "no browser in EU versions of Windows 7" plan is still the plan of record until the European Commission accepts this new offer.

Getting far less press, but also significant was that Microsoft is also offering more interoperability information for its software including Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange, and SharePoint. That is spelled out in the attachments to the press release too and takes two forms:

The latter is apparently intended to address the second part of Opera’s original EU browser complaint that Internet Explorer was noncompliant with Web standards. It will be interesting to see whether this part of Microsoft’s offer will satisfy the Eurocrats, but I would bet that documentation of noncompliance will not be enough.

I also wonder whether "trustbusters" in the USA and elsewhere outside Europe might not also want to jump on the bandwagon and ask for the same terms as whatever settlement is reached in Europe.



Filed under Antitrust, General Business, Governmental Relations, IE7, IE8, Internet Explorer, Legal, Microsoft, Standards

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