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October 25, 2012

David Pogue does Windows 8

Posted by David Hunter at 12:43 AM ET.

David Pogue at the New York Times: Windows, Revamped and Split in 2:

I mean the two different worlds within Windows 8 alone, one designed primarily for touch screens, the other for mouse and keyboard. Individually, they are excellent — but you can’t use them individually. Microsoft has combined them into a superimposed, muddled mishmash called Windows 8, which goes on sale Friday at prices ranging from $15 to $40, depending on the offer and version.

You can easily imagine how Microsoft got here. “PC sales have slowed,” some executive must have said. “This is a new age of touch screens! We need a fresh approach, a new Windows. Something bold, fluid and finger-friendly.”

“Well, hold on,” someone must have countered. “We can’t forget the 600 million regular mouse-driven PCs. We also need to update Windows 7 for them!”

And then things went terribly wrong.

“Hey, I know!” somebody piped in. “Let’s combine those two Windows versions into one. One OS for all machines. Everybody’s happy!”


Hey, what could go wrong?

Unfortunately, in Windows 8, you can’t live exclusively in one world or the other.

Even if all your programs live in TileWorld, you’ll still have to use Desktop Windows to work with files or disks, connect to networked folders or open the Control Panel. And even if all of your programs live in Desktop Windows, your PC still starts up in TileWorld, and you still have to use TileWorld to perform tasks like searching and address-book lookups.

The free program Pokki helps a lot. It restores the Start menu to the desktop, and can even take you straight there at start-up.

Even so, two worlds means insane, productivity-killing schizophrenia. The Windows 8 learning curve resembles Mount Everest.

When users have to rely on someone else’s free program to make your UI work for them, you have a problem. Pokki isn’t the only one who noticed this either. PC makers like Lenovo and Samsung have their own Start menu programs as do other 3rd party software vendors.

Filed under Microsoft, OS - Client, Windows 8

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October 24, 2012

European Union spots some spare change in Microsoft’s pocket

Posted by David Hunter at 7:32 PM ET.

Microsoft Faces Large EU Fine

Microsoft Corp. is facing the prospect of a fresh, hefty fine by the European Union after the U.S. software giant failed to meet an earlier promise to offer users a choice of different Web browsers.

The European Commission on Wednesday filed a formal complaint against Microsoft for not following through on a commitment to offer its users alternatives to its own Internet Explorer Web browser on a recent version of its Windows program.

The Redmond, Wash., company had agreed to the measure three years ago and, if proven guilty, could face a maximum fine of as much as 10% of its total annual revenue, or $7.4 billion. Analysts, however, say it would be less.

There’s less and then there’s a lot less. I would offer the suggestion that one never stand between a bureaucrat and some loot.

During a news conference in Brussels, the EU’s antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia underlined the gravity of the offense and signaled his intention to use the case as a deterrent to other firms. This is the first time a company is being investigated for breaching its commitments.

"This is a very serious message not to infringe the commitments that had been agreed," Mr. Almunia said."Companies should be deterred from any temptations to renege on their commitments or even neglect their duties," he said.

In a statement, Microsoft said it "sincerely apologized" and reiterated that the mistake was a technical glitch on its Windows 7 version, known as Service Pack 1.

It’s going to be an expensive mistake.

Filed under Antitrust, General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Microsoft, OS - Client, Windows 7

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October 18, 2012

Microsoft acquires marketing automation software vendor MarketingPilot

Posted by David Hunter at 3:23 PM ET.

Microsoft has announced the acquisition of MarketingPilot for integration with its Dynamics CRM offerings:

MarketingPilot provides Integrated Marketing Management solutions that allow organizations to better understand their customers, manage and streamline marketing operations and create automated and measurable multi-channel marketing campaigns. This acquisition is a very exciting step forward for us, and will accelerate our ability to better meet the needs of CMO’s through rich business intelligence, and better enable marketers to successfully plan, execute, monitor, and optimize customer interactions across digital, social and traditional channels, and measure ROI.

If you find that rather content-free, try the Marketing Automation Software Guide:

MarketingPilot is a marketing resource management (MRM) and marketing automation solution used by mid-sized organizations. The system’s robust offering includes tools to help marketers with marketing workflow, planning, campaign management, digital asset management, and budgeting. In Gartner’s 2009 Magic Quadrant, MarketingPilot was ranked as the dominant mid-market vendor for marketing resource management software.

MarketingPilot is focused primarily on mid-market organizations in North America. It typically is not used by enterprises above $100M in annual revenue or 500 employees. The Standard edition has features to help marketers capture and assign sales leads, track products and inventory, and execute and measure targeted campaigns. The Professional and Unlimited packages offer more robust marketing automation and resource management functionality for lead nurturing, media buying and planning, and performance measurement.

More by following the link and yes, MarketingPilot uses Microsoft server software technology exclusively and offers either hosted or on-premises server installation.

Filed under Acquisitions, Dynamics, MBS, Microsoft

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October 16, 2012

Microsoft reveals Surface tablet pricing and announces preorders

Posted by David Hunter at 8:37 PM ET.

It will not be launched until October 26, but Microsoft today lifted the curtain on their Surface tablet and announced that preorders were being taken at the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft Corp. today released new details about its highly anticipated Microsoft Surface, a tablet PC designed to be the ultimate stage for Windows. In addition to pricing and market availability, the company announced a special limited-quantity pre-order for Surface with Windows RT available 9 a.m. PDT.

Surface will be available for purchase beginning Oct. 26, 2012, at all Microsoft Store locations in the United States and Canada, including in all 34 new holiday stores. In addition, Surface will be available for sale online in eight markets across the world: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The whole enchilada is available at The pricing appears to be designed to match Apple’s iPad while adding somewhat more hardware for the buck. That’s not a bad plan, but the question will be whether it is enough to catch up with Apple’s huge lead. As for the "ultimate stage for Windows," the Microsoft marketers need to curb the hyperbole – there might be regular business Windows customers listening.

Filed under Microsoft, Surface

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