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May 25, 2010

Microsoft sells Expression Media to Phase One

Posted by David Hunter at 2:46 PM ET.

Today, Microsoft announced that it has sold Expression Media (a member of its Expression Studio family of Web tools) to Phase One, a Danish company that bills themselves as "the world’s leader in open-platform based medium format camera systems and solutions."

Microsoft Corp. and Phase One A/S, a leader in digital photography, are announcing that Phase One acquired the Microsoft Expression Media product. This agreement is built on an existing strategic alliance between the companies forged in 2007 to improve digital imaging solutions for professional and enthusiast photographers.

Expression Media is a leading digital asset management application used to catalog and organize photos, video and music for effortless retrieval, presentation and sharing. Expression Media will join Phase One’s product lineup, which includes open-platform-based, medium-format camera systems able to render up to 60.5 megapixel resolution, and Capture One raw-conversion and image-editing software, which supports more than 170 different file formats and provides superior image quality with excellent color and detail. Phase One products are used by some of the world’s leading photographers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Phase One takes full ownership of the Expression Media product. To ensure a smooth transition for Expression Media customers, Microsoft will continue to provide support to retail customers for 90 days. Phase One will begin offering support for the Expression Media product after the 90-day transition period. Microsoft customers who are currently using Expression Media under an Enterprise Agreement will continue to receive support from Microsoft through the term of their agreements. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Expression Media was formerly iViewe MediaPro which Microsoft obtained when it acquired iView Multimedia in 2006. Chalk this one up as another acquisition that did not pan out for Microsoft. I expect that multimedia asset management was rather too specialized a niche for Microsoft’s developer customers – even the "creative professionals" that the Expression Studio family targets.



Filed under Acquisitions, Expression Media, Expression Studio, Microsoft, Tools

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Robbie Bach and J Allard out as Ballmer takes over Microsoft’s Entertainment Division

Posted by David Hunter at 2:16 PM ET.

Microsoft today announced a major shakeup in the continually troubled Entertainment and Devices Division via a letter from Steve Ballmer to employees:

Robbie Bach and J Allard, founding fathers of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, are leaving the company as part of a broader restructuring that will give CEO Steve Ballmer more direct oversight of consumer businesses including Microsoft’s struggling mobile unit.

The changes — a major management reorganization, even by Microsoft’s standards — will reshape the division leading the company’s battles against Google, Apple, Sony, Nintendo and other rivals in the hard-fought consumer technology market.

Bach, 48, president of the division since its inception five years ago, isn’t slated to be replaced. That will effectively dissolve the division’s current structure and leave the existing Xbox and Windows Mobile leaders to report to Ballmer starting in July.

….

Microsoft is describing Bach’s departure as a retirement. He said the decision was his own, and he wasn’t encouraged to leave. He’ll remain at Microsoft through the fall, to ensure a smooth transition.

Speaking with TechFlash, Allard said his decision was unrelated to the recent cancelation of the "Courier" dual-screen tablet project that he had championed inside the company. Allard said he doesn’t plan to work for Apple, Google or any other Microsoft rivals. After 19 years at the company, he said, he wants to devote more time to his personal interests, particularly adventure sports.

The separation of the Windows Mobile unit from the current Entertainment & Devices reporting structure also reflects the company’s efforts to connect its mobile initiatives with a wider range of products, including its online services and traditional software.

Don Mattrick, the senior vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, will report directly to Ballmer as part of the management changes, as will Andy Lees, the senior vice president who leads the Mobile Communications Business.

Mary Jo Foley also notes some other changes:

Windows Web Services is born. Antoine Leblond, who has been Senior Vice President of the Office Productivity Applications Group, is moving to a new role: Senior Vice President for the Windows Web Services team. What is Windows Web Services? Good question. CEO Steve Ballmer’s e-mail describes it as “integral Windows services that today deliver updates, solutions, community and depth information for the Windows consumer.” Leblond will be reporting directly to Windows/Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky.

Office gets a new engineering chief. Kurt DelBene, Senior Vice President of the Office Business Productivity Group, is now head of all of the engineering responsibilities for the Office business.

Former Live Platform Services head David Treadwell moves out of the Windows division and into the Interactive Entertainment Business (the part of Microsoft that oversees Xbox and video games).

Xbox has finally started making money after the billions poured into it, but the Windows Mobile story was acknowledged even by Microsoft to be a vast missed opportunity verging on a disaster. Microsoft doesn’t like to lose markets where they used to have a commanding presence. The other entertainment products are yawners (e.g. Zune), but Mac Office is still a money maker and customers still love Microsoft keyboards and mice. Unfortunately they are the smallest and least visible part of the E&D menagerie.



Filed under Argo, Executives, Financial, General Business, J Allard, Microsoft, Robbie Bach, Steve Ballmer, Windows Mobile, Xbox, Zune

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