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September 28, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials free antivirus software to ship Tuesday

Posted by David Hunter at 9:23 PM ET.

Microsoft has confirmed earlier published reports that Microsoft Security Essentials (codenamed “Morro”), the free antivirus offering that succeeds the now retired non-free Windows Live OneCare, will be released tomorrow, September 29, 2009:

Microsoft today confirmed that it will launch its free security software suite, which has been in development for almost a year, Tuesday morning.

The spokeswoman added that the program will be made available Tuesday morning, Pacific time, although she did not have a specific hour for the launch.

Earlier in the day, Network World‘s John Fontana had been told by Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft’s sever and tools division, that the company would ship the free software Tuesday.

Microsoft has pitched the software as a basic anti-virus, anti-spyware program that consumes less memory and disk space than commercial security suites, like those from vendors such as McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro.

Those companies, however, unanimously dismissed Security Essentials — once codenamed “Morro” — as proof that Microsoft couldn’t compete in the paying market.

That may well be classified as whistling past the graveyard since very little trumps free and if Windows Security Essentials is as good as the beta reviews indicated, the security vendors may have a real problem. I’m still waiting for one or more of them to drop a dime to the antitrust regulators in the US or EU.

If you want to get Windows Security Essentials on day one, keep checking the Microsoft WSE website for the download.



Filed under Coopetition, McAfee, Microsoft, Microsoft Security Essentials, Morro, Symantec, Trend Micro, Windows Live, Windows Live OneCare

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September 23, 2009

Microsoft rumored Pink phone revealed

Posted by David Hunter at 10:07 PM ET.

Microsoft Pink phone turtle

 

Microsoft Pink phone pure

Another day, another Microsoft leak reported by the folks at Gizmodo. This time it is two models (Turtle, Pure) of Microsoft’s long rumored Pink phone:

These phones are going to be made by Sharp, who’ll get to share branding with Microsoft. Sharp produced the Sidekick hardware for Danger, who was bought by Microsoft two years ago. Pink will be primarily aimed at the same market as the Sidekick, and the branding and identity for it is highly developed, pointing toward a later stage in the development cycle.

The prior relationship between Danger and Sharp is the only reason we can think of why Microsoft stuck with Sharp for the new phones, and perhaps why they look so much like remixed Sidekicks. The youth bent is somewhat surprising, if Pink is going to be their big consumer phone play, building off the expertise of Danger and members of the Zune team.

We mentioned the Danger acquisition in February 2008 at which point it looked like just a software play. The Sharp-Danger Sidekick itself was billed as a "hiptop" device that was smaller than a laptop or netbook but bigger than a cell phone, and the photos of the apparently chunky Pink phones do nothing to dispel that same impression. Moreover, the idea of a new form factor is a convenient way to avoid overtly antagonizing Microsoft’s main line cell phone partners who are dutifully licensing Windows Mobile. Still, would you want to buy your smart phone OS from a serious competitor?

So is Pink Microsoft’s answer to the iPhone or just a demo? Time will tell.



Filed under Acquisitions, Coopetition, Danger, Inc., Microsoft Hardware, Pink Phone, Sharp, Sidekick, Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile 6.5

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Microsoft dabbles with Courier dual screen tablet

Posted by David Hunter at 2:24 PM ET.

Microsoft Courier

The Web is abuzz over Gizmodo’s report that Microsoft is working on a dual screen tablet PC called the Courier:

Courier is a real device, and we’ve heard that it’s in the "late prototype" stage of development. It’s not a tablet, it’s a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They’re connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

Until recently, it was a skunkworks project deep inside Microsoft, only known to the few engineers and executives working on it—Microsoft’s brightest, like Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience wizard J. Allard, who’s spearheading the project. Currently, Courier appears to be at a stage where Microsoft is developing the user experience and showing design concepts to outside agencies.

I would be more excited if Microsoft didn’t have a long history of dabbling in PC hardware prototypes, all the better to spur on their OEM partners. It would be very surprising if Microsoft did more than show the Courier off as a "concept" PC at various trade shows and run it around to all their partners hoping to get a bite.

Moreover, pen computing has been around since the early 90′s and has never taken off because it has never been particularly usable. Putting two small displays in a binder is less interesting than some pen software that is really convenient and natural to use. That would truly be buzzworthy. As for touch sensitive screens, maybe the Courier would be a neat two person game machine.



Filed under Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, PC Prototypes

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September 18, 2009

Microsoft starts limited beta of Office Web Apps

Posted by David Hunter at 12:42 PM ET.

Microsoft announced yesterday that they had started a limited beta test of an online version of Microsoft Office:

Microsoft today announced the start of the Microsoft Office Web Apps Technical Preview program for consumers. Beginning today, a limited number of invitation-only participants will receive access to lightweight versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the Web through Windows Live. The Technical Preview is available in English and Japanese, with additional languages to be added later this fall.

Microsoft is also announcing the formal names for the Web-based applications. Together, the applications are called Office Web Apps. Individually, they include Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App and OneNote Web App.

Office Web Apps are the online, lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. With Office Web Apps people can access, share and work on Office documents from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection — making it easy to bring ideas to life at home, school or work.

From what we’ve seen so far, people love that Office Web Apps offer a consistent and familiar Office experience, and that documents retain fidelity while working in the cloud or offline.

Starting today, a limited number of invitation-only participants will receive access to the Word Web App, Excel Web App and PowerPoint Web App through Windows Live Sky Drive. These Office Web Apps are part of the Office Technical Preview program, which means they aren’t feature-complete yet. The OneNote Web App and additional Office Web App features, including further integration with Microsoft Office 2010, will be available at a later date.

….

The great integration with Office gives people the ability to quickly and easily save and open documents from the Web, directly from Microsoft Office 2010. Seamless integration with Windows Live lets people access, edit and share with friends, family and co-workers anywhere.

Back in July, the beta program had been promised for August so Microsoft is a bit late. Note that Office Web Apps aren’t tied to Office 2010 (or even Windows) and Ed Bott notes that "Users will be able to upload, edit, and share files created using Office 2000 and later versions on PCs and Macs."

Also interesting is the branding and delivery:

PressPass: Why are you offering Office Web Apps through Windows Live? What does this mean for Windows Live customers?

Schultz: More than 500 million people around the world use Windows Live, giving our customers a powerful hub to organize their lives. With Windows Live, people can store and share information such as photos, contacts, calendars and documents, all in one place on Windows Live SkyDrive. With the addition of Office Web Apps, people will soon be able to go to Windows Live to create, edit, share and collaborate on Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, OneNote digital notebooks and Excel spreadsheets — online, with high fidelity.

In addition to Windows Live, businesses will be able to get Office Web Apps through volume license agreements and via subscription offering through Microsoft Online Services.

In case this isn’t clear – this means that Office Web Apps are free to any personal user just like Google Apps, the primary Web office application competitor. Sure, you can pay Microsoft for a business subscription (just like Google) and there is undoubtedly added synergy for paying Microsoft Office customers, but there must be a bit of fear and trepidation in Redmond over this self-created threat to one of their cash cows. The only question now is just how worthwhile are the applications that Microsoft is giving away for free and for that we will have to wait for user feedback to leak out.



Filed under Coopetition, Google, Microsoft, Office, Office 2010, Office Live, Office Web Apps, Windows Live, Windows Live SkyDrive

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