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August 23, 2013

Ballmer Announces Retirement, Microsoft Stock Jumps

Posted by David Hunter at 2:32 PM ET.

Microsoft announced today that CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within a year as soon as a successor is named. The stock market treated this as very good news (courtesy Zero Hedge)



As always, I expect the traders got carried away by unwarranted exuberance. Mr. Ballmer may have been unable to break Microsoft out of its large company doldrums, but it isn’t obvious that the Microsoft board will find anyone who can.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Large companies always seem to believe they need slogans to inspire the troops (and shareholders) and "devices and services" is Microsoft’s current one. It will be interesting to see how long this slogan survives a new leadership and whether Microsoft can be rejuvenated short of a near death experience. For the moment though, Microsoft still has a sturdy herd of cash cows that can fund a lot of continued floundering.


In the meantime, here’s a reminder of happier days in Redmond:


Filed under Executives, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer

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December 17, 2012

Dell Warns Microsoft of Windows RT Brand Confusion

Posted by David Hunter at 10:01 PM ET.

Microsoft urged to ditch Windows brand by Dell:

A top Dell executive warned Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer not to call its new tablet operating system “Windows RT” because the operating system wasn’t compatible with other versions of Windows and the name would only lead to widespread confusion.

Speaking to analysts at the Dell World conference in Austin last week, Dell’s vice-chairman and president of its PC business, Jeffrey Clarke, said he told Mr Ballmer the “Windows” brand was meant to signify that an operating system was compatible with Windows applications. As Windows RT couldn’t run Windows applications, it should be renamed, he said.

Mr Ballmer had replied that the Windows brand was too important a franchise to not be used with Windows RT, Mr Clarke said.

Had Microsoft listened to Dell, it could have avoided one of the major criticisms of its new operating system: that Windows RT looks so much like Windows 8 it’s too easy for a consumer to mistakenly buy a Windows RT device, not realising it’s not a regular Windows device.

Instead, Microsoft has reportedly had to offer relaxed return policies for its own “Surface with Windows RT” tablet, specifically for customers who got the tablet home only to discover their favourite Windows applications wouldn’t run on it.

They could always have called it Windows Mobile. Oops, that’s been used. Maybe just something more distinctive than "RT" would do? How about Windows Zune?

Actually, I would worry more about consumers buying a PC with Windows 8 and not realizing it isn’t a regular Windows device.

Filed under Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, Surface

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November 6, 2012

Microsoft retiring Messenger in 2013 and moving users to Skype

Posted by David Hunter at 2:16 PM ET.

While titled "Talk to your Messenger Contacts on Skype" this blog post by Tony Bates (President, Skype division, Microsoft) is more than interoperability – Messenger is being retired in 1Q2013:

We’ve got good news to share! Skype and Messenger are coming together. Millions of Messenger users will be able to reach their Messenger friends on Skype. By updating to Skype, Messenger users can instant message and video call their Messenger friends.

This effort started with the release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows a few weeks ago, which allows you to sign into Skype using a Microsoft account. Now Messenger users just need to update to the latest version of Skype, sign in using a Microsoft account, and their Messenger contacts will be there.

Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere. We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience. We will retire Messenger in all countries worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 (with the exception of mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available).

One of the perils of a large company is too many overlapping products so this seems like a wise move since Skype is bigger and has the momentum while Messenger is declining, but getting 100 million plus Messenger users to convert should be exciting.

Filed under Executives, Microsoft, Skype, Tony Bates, Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger

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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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