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November 9, 2006

Microsoft draws an Xbox 360 line in the sand

Posted by David Hunter at 3:07 PM ET.

In advance of the imminent console releases by Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft this week launched new high profile Xbox 360 games for the holidays: Viva Pinata (supposedly the “most important Xbox 360 release of the year“) and Gears of War, a much more likely candidate for being the Xbox 360 franchise game. Meanwhile, Microsoft is sticking by their Xbox 360 forecast:

Peter Moore, vice president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division which oversees Xbox, confirmed the company’s expectation that Xbox 360 shipments would reach 10 million by the end of 2006, and 13 million to 15 million by the end of its 2007 fiscal year.

The software company’s fiscal year ends June 30, 2007.

In October, the company said it had shipped 6 million consoles worldwide.

That’s 4 million additional this holiday quarter as Sony launches the PS3 and Nintendo launches the Wii. Sony, at least, will have product shortages, but bear in mind that the old PS2 still outsells the “new generation” Xbox 360 and that only 900,000 Xbox 360s were sold last quarter. Time will tell, but as I have said before, this one is Sony’s game to lose and Nintendo may yet be the spoiler for both of the high priced big guns.

Filed under Coopetition, Executives, Microsoft, Nintendo, Peter Moore, Sony, Xbox

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September 25, 2006

Good news and bad news overseas for Microsoft

Posted by David Hunter at 1:15 PM ET.

Some of the good news is that Microsoft’s business is booming in Russia:

Microsoft says sales in Russia have surged 72 per cent in the year to July as piracy declined and incomes rose, boosting demand for licensed products.

The national piracy rate fell four percentage points last year, to 83 per cent from 87 per cent of the market, Microsoft says.

Looks like there is plenty of upside potential left.

Also good news is that Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 in India:

Peter Moore, Corporate Vice President, Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division formally launched of Xbox 360 in India yesterday. Microsoft has chosen Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar and cricketer Yuvraj Singh as the Brand Ambassadors for Xbox 360 in India.

The company also announced ‘Yuvraj Singh International Cricket 2007′, a new gaming title around cricket, which has been created specifically to cater to the tastes of the Indian gaming market. The game, which features Yuvraj Singh, encapsulates the spirit of cricket, and provides gamers a real-life experience of playing for and against the teams of their choice.

The Xbox 360 will be now available across Microsoft’s 1200 strong retail network across top 7 cities in the country including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune.

I presume the Indian market isn’t expected to be too large, thus the belated announcement.

Now for the bad news – China is readying an antitrust law that seems to be pointed right at Microsoft:

China is drafting an anti-monopoly law that might force companies such as Microsoft to give up leading market shares in the world’s fastest-growing economy.

Under the law, local or overseas companies with more than 50 percent of China’s market share for any product will be investigated.

Those using dominant market positions to set unfair prices will be fined as much as 10 percent of annual sales, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News.

Microsoft’s Windows operating system has more than a 50 percent share of the desktop-computer market in China, according to Edward Yu, chief executive of Beijing-based technology market research firm Analysys International.

The draft law defines abuse as when products are sold at “unfairly high” prices or bought at “unfairly low” prices, without specifying what constitutes unfair.

Sounds like a license to extort.

And finally, the city government of Munich, Germany started the long promised conversion to Linux:

Munich has begun its migration to Linux on the desktop, a year later than planned and nearly three years since the city announced its move to open source software.

“There have been some delays along the way but we’re now moving steadily ahead,” Florian Schiessl, manager of the Limux project for the city of Munich, said Thursday by telephone.

Since Tuesday, the first 100 of the city’s 14,000 PCs have been switched from Microsoft’s Windows operating system and Office applications to Linux and OpenOffice.

“Today, we’re still working in both the Windows and Linux worlds,” Schiessl said. “But over the next two years, the Linux world will get bigger, while the Windows world will get smaller.”

Filed under Antitrust, Coopetition, Executives, Financial, General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source,, Peter Moore, Piracy, Xbox

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June 6, 2006

Microsoft Names Jeff Bell Corporate VP of Global Marketing for Interactive Entertainment

Posted by David Hunter at 10:01 AM ET.

Press release:

Microsoft Corp. today announced the appointment of Jeff Bell as the new corporate vice president of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business, reporting directly to Peter Moore, corporate vice president for the overall Interactive Entertainment Business, effective June 12, 2006. The Interactive Entertainment Business includes the Xbox® and Games for Windows® businesses and is part of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division. Bell joins Microsoft from DaimlerChrysler, where most recently he served as vice president of product strategy for the Chrysler Group.

It’s not as big a stretch as it seems:

Bell is largely credited with helping to turn around the Jeep and Chrysler brands during his tenure at DaimlerChrysler, and for pioneering Chrysler’s video game and online marketing strategies. Bell’s aggressive use of games as marketing tools resulted in the creation of more than 40 online games with a registered user base of more than 3 million. His work in games led to Chrysler being named Interactive Marketer of the Year in 2005 by Advertising Age.

Filed under Executives, Microsoft, PC Games, Peter Moore, Xbox

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June 2, 2006

Microsoft exec dismisses Xbox compatibility

Posted by David Hunter at 7:30 AM ET.

I guess Sony executives have no monopoly on putting their foot in it over console gaming ([1], [2]). Peter Moore, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Interactive Entertainment Business, Entertainment and Devices Division, riled the fans yesterday in a video interview with game site Kikizo:

One thing that Xbox 360 users with hard drives benefit from is backwards compatibility with Xbox 1 titles, but some gamers have been underwhelmed by the volume and quality of games that are compatible on the new system. It doesn’t look like much is going to change either, based on Moore’s latest comments in the interview. “Nobody is concerned anymore about backwards compatibility. We under promised and over delivered on that. It’s a very complicated thing… very complex work. I’m just stunned that we have hundreds of games that are backwards compatible.”

He added: “more are coming, but at some point, you just go, there’s enough, let’s move on, or people aren’t as worried about a game being backwards compatible – and I like to think we’ve upheld our end of the bargain in making at least two or maybe three hundred games backwards compat.”

Bzzzzzt, Game Over. Thanks for playing. He’s generally correct, but it’s not the thing to say given Microsoft’s promises and spotty delivery so far on backward compatibility, and it didn’t take long for some negative feedback:

“Our goal is to have every Xbox game work on Xbox 360,” Xbox PR manager Michael Wolf told at the time – a goal from which Microsoft now appears to have retreated significantly.

Paul Thurrott:

I want to be clear here. Microsoft has, in fact, completely underdelivered on backwards compatibility for the 360. In fact, it’s a joke, given that they were going to do monthly compatibility updates and have only released two since last November (a record of 2 for 6, by my count). Microsoft promised it would eventually make every original Xbox game play on the 360.

Meanwhile, over at Microsoft’s Gamerscore blog, they’re doing damage control:

Lots of talk about backwards compatibility online today. We wanted to get to the bottom of it all, so we went right to the team working on the next back compat update. We hear directly from them that they’re in the testing phase of another update, and it should be out in the next few weeks. We saw the list they’re testing, and it looks like they’re hoping to add at least a dozen titles.

But rest assured, we’re not done yet.

We know for a fact that there are lots of people who continue to care about backwards compatibility, including the “Emulation Ninjas” who are working full time on the updates. And those of us posting on this blog. And, of course, many of you.

And even the BBC noticed.

Filed under Executives, Microsoft, Peter Moore, Xbox

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