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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 5, 2012

Microsoft updates built-in apps for Windows 8

Posted by David Hunter at 1:47 PM ET.

It’s should be no surprise that Microsoft is updating their built-in apps for Windows 8:

With Windows 8, we also introduced a new Store for Windows 8 apps, as well as a number of new apps that are included with Windows. We already have thousands of apps in the Windows Store, even before GA, and we’re working with developers from around the world to bring more in every day. The Windows Store represents an unprecedented opportunity for developers to reach hundreds of millions of customers, and we’re very pleased to see the exciting things that are showing up every day.

Gotta love that Apple iTunes App Store model. The question is how much traction it will get in the anarchic Windows world.

Of course, we are also taking advantage of the integrated way that we can deliver updates to apps through the Windows Store. Leading up to GA for Windows 8, we will be releasing updates for many of the apps that were included with the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows 8 that was delivered to PC makers and to MSDN and TechNet subscribers in August. Naturally, these app updates will also be available to PC makers to include by default with their PCs shipping in the future, but for those of you who have already installed Windows 8 RTM, it is super easy to get the updates from the Store app. The Store tile will notify you when updates are available, and you can open it and click the updates link in the top right corner to see the list and install the ones you want.

The Bing app will be the first one out, available tomorrow, and more updates will roll out up until Oct 26th. You will be notified of Windows Store updates just as you have come to expect, with a count of available updates on the Store tile. You can easily choose to install the updates at a convenient time.

Hit the link for the list of improvements for built-in applications. There’s more than just blocky monochromatic icons.

Filed under Microsoft, OS - Client, Windows 8

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September 17, 2012

Windows 8, Surface RT ship October 26

Posted by David Hunter at 3:51 PM ET.

Preceded by a Launch Event in New York City on October 25.

Filed under Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, OS - Client, Surface, Windows 8

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June 19, 2012

Microsoft seems intent on shooting its cash cow in the hoof with Windows 8

Posted by David Hunter at 2:27 PM ET.

Microsoft recently made available a Windows 8 Release Preview and you really have to wonder whether they have a corporate death wish. It’s not so much that that they have a fixation about every PC form factor running Windows 8; it’s that they apparently believe that every PC should have a tablet/smartphone interface that you can’t get remove. Cue John Dvorak:

It’s not that the product out-and-out stinks. It is refreshingly slick-looking and modern, albeit without any charm whatsoever.

The real problem is that it is both unusable and annoying. It makes your teeth itch as you keep asking, “Why are they doing this!?”

First of all, the system-software product is mostly divorced from all the thought and trends developed by Windows over the years, as if to say that they were wrong the whole time, so let’s try something altogether new.

No business will tolerate this software, let me assure you. As a productivity tool, it is unusable.

And no business wants to budget for the necessary retraining for all their Windows users just because Microsoft got lost in the weeds.

Most applications cannot even be scaled down and so take up the whole screen. To even get out of these “apps,” you have to ram the cursor down into the lower left corner and click. That puts you back onto the vapid “Metro” start screen, where you can begin another miserable adventure.

Do you work on a huge 27-inch or bigger monitor? You know, so you have room to organize your programs and files? Well, imagine everything running full screen on that. It’s a joke.

There is an old-fashioned desktop you can visit, but whenever the OS gets the chance, it throws you back onto the Metro interface. For those of us who thought we could avoid Metro and live on the desktop screen, we are going to be sorely disappointed.

This is a problem for Microsoft investors. The potential for this OS to be an unrecoverable disaster for the company is at the highest possible level I’ve ever seen. It ranks up there with the potential for disaster that the Itanium chip presented for Intel Corp. It’s that bad.

For an even less phlegmatic view, see Windows 8 Consumer Preview – One word: fail:

I would like to congratulate Microsoft on corporate cretinism that is equivalent to nuking a village of blind orphans on New Year’s Day. They have given so much more hope to their competition with this move. And to think that only a week ago I praised the company for their business foresight in keeping backward compatibility as their first priority. Oh, the humanity.

Windows 8 is obviously geared toward smartphones and tablets, or as we should call them, stupidphones and craplets. Lovely. Except, Windows 8 will also be shipped to home customers running normal computers, desktop and laptops and whatnot, where battery life is of no consideration, screen size is ample, and productivity and efficiency are more important than looking cool.

Let’s see. Microsoft holds the vast majority of the desktop market. It has failed so far on the small form-factor market, mostly because their system was not optimized for low-end non-Intel architecture, regardless of the user interface. Microsoft has gained this absolute majority by offering a simple and conservative design that has not changed in almost twenty years, with long-term support and consistency as its biggest selling points.

Now, Microsoft is abandoning the most thriving computing market and rushing into the den of rabid wolves called the mobile market, where it expects to garner some extra points. It will be fighting against ARM champions, almost all exclusively running Linux.

Does this sound like a good decision? Let me elaborate a little more. Would you sacrifice your entire user base in a rich and profitable tier for the sake of a feeble chance that you might hold a small share of a new market segment that has significantly lower profit margins? Sounds like stupidity to me.

Referenced there is this video of a home user meeting Windows 8 on a desktop PC – it isn’t pretty:



So how long do you think it will be after Windows 8 ships that Microsoft releases a fix that allows the user to restore a traditional Windows UI? Probably about the time that large numbers of corporate customers decide to stick with Windows 7 and take a pass on Windows 8.

Filed under Microsoft, OS - Client, Windows 8

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