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September 18, 2012

RIM licenses Microsoft’s exFAT file system for Blackberry

Posted by David Hunter at 3:12 PM ET.

Here’s the elevator pitch:

Microsoft Corp. announced today that Microsoft and Research In Motion (RIM) have signed a patent licensing agreement that gives RIM broad access to the latest Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) for certain BlackBerry devices of RIM. exFAT is a modern file system from Microsoft that facilitates large files for audiovisual media and enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and other electronic devices.

exFAT improves on its predecessor, the FAT system, and greatly expands the size of files that flash memory devices can handle by five times over previous FAT technology. It also increases the speed with which those files can be accessed. The exFAT file system not only facilitates large files for use of audiovisual media, it enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and a variety of electronic devices.

Previous licensees include Sharp, Panasonic, SANYO, Sony and Canon.



Filed under Coopetition, Microsoft, Patents, RIM

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September 7, 2012

Waiting for Windows Phone 8

Posted by David Hunter at 11:17 AM ET.

Nokia and Samsung have announced the hardware, but Where oh where is Windows Phone 8?

Apparently aware that time is running out, Microsoft has at long last spoken. Next week, the company will release a beta SDK… to a few people. Calling it a limited “Preview” release, some number of developers with existing, published Windows Phone 7 applications will be able to use the new SDK. This is in addition to an existing private beta program already running, that’s giving OEMs and special software partners access to the software.

A full SDK will come, but not until the company properly unveils the operating system—which is currently rumored to happen on October 29th. Presuming Windows Phone 8 devices ship this year—and Microsoft is certainly talking as if they will—that leaves developers little time to update their applications and get ready for the new platform.

Needless to say, developers are unhappy. They had months of SDK access prior to Windows Phone’s initial release. The same was true of the major Mango update; Microsoft gave developers beta firmware, so that they could test it on real devices, and an updated SDK months before the software was actually delivered. iPhone developers similarly have ample access to new SDKs and firmwares; the iOS 6 SDK was first made available on June 11th. With iPhone 5 likely to materialize next week, that will be three months of SDK access to prepare for the new platform. This compares to a handful of weeks for Windows Phone 8 developers.



Filed under Coopetition, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 8

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May 10, 2011

Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion

Posted by David Hunter at 10:05 AM ET.

Microsoft today announced that it is purchasing the Skype Internet telephony service for US$8.5 billion:

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: “MSFT”) and Skype Global S.à r.l today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire Skype, the leading Internet communications company, for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype.

The acquisition will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities. The combination will extend Skype’s world-class brand and the reach of its networked platform, while enhancing Microsoft’s existing portfolio of real-time communications products and services.

Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.

Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft, and Skype CEO Tony Bates will assume the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Ballmer.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The parties hope to obtain all required regulatory clearances during the course of this calendar year.

Om Malik has some perspective on why Skype’s owners were anxious for it to be sold and suggests that if Microsoft does not botch the acquisition, the big winner could be Facebook (who already has a relationship with Microsoft) and that a joint announcement could be expected shortly. Still, the big question is how the acquisition will work out, including how much of the Skype team will stay with Microsoft and the basic economics of the Skype service which has already suffered through a failed acquisition by eBay:

Despite its popularity, the service has struggled to maintain profitability. Since most of its services are free, Skype makes much of its income from a small group of users who pay for long distance calls to telephone numbers. In 2010, Skype recorded $859.8 million in revenue but reported a net loss of $7 million, according to a filing.

Microsoft’s deal-making history is mixed. The company has often been an smart acquirer of start-ups and smaller companies, analysts say, picking off technical teams that are then folded into products likes Windows, Office and Internet Explorer. But during Mr. Ballmer’s tenure as chief executive, beginning in 2000, the company has also made far larger, riskier bids, most of which have been viewed as unsuccessful.

In 2005, eBay bought Skype for $2.6 billion with hopes of tightly integrating the service as a sales tool. But the deal never lived up to its promise and eBay took a $1.4 billion write-down on its investment.

I’m frankly a bit dubious about the success or at least profitability of this acquisition since Skype doesn’t even seem to be a side dish, but more of a garnish on Microsoft’s plate and a very expensive garnish at that.



Filed under Acquisitions, Executives, Facebook, Lync, Microsoft, Office, Office Communications Server, Outlook, Skype, Tony Bates, Xbox, eBay

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September 27, 2010

Microsoft ditches Windows Live Spaces, blog users sent to WordPress.com

Posted by David Hunter at 1:22 PM ET.

Microsoft announced today that they are ditching Windows Live Spaces, their entry in the social blogging arena, and have arranged to migrate the current Live Spaces blogs to WordPress.com.

Upgrading a Windows Live Spaces blog to WordPress.com

There are 30 million people who are actively using Windows Live Spaces and have been eagerly awaiting the next set of new blogging features. For these customers, Windows Live and WordPress.com have worked together to build a simple way to move your blog posts, comments, and integrated photos right over to WordPress.com and start taking advantage of all their new features. And we’ll also redirect all your old Spaces URLs to your new blog, so you don’t lose any visitors along the way.

Windows Live Spaces users have 6 months to make the switch. Users of Microsoft’s very capable Windows Live Writer blogging client (which supports many blog types besides Live Spaces including WordPress) don’t have to worry (yet) because Microsoft says there is no plan to phase it out and it will remain part of the Windows Live family, but one can’t help but wonder which other of the multitudinous remaining family members will be shown the door.



Filed under Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Writer, WordPress

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