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September 22, 2006

Microsoft plans single Vista DVD to snag upgrades

Posted by David Hunter at 11:47 AM ET.

As had been expected (see also [1]), Microsoft confirmed plans to ship all consumer versions of Vista on a single DVD all the better to enable “Windows Anytime Upgrades” to premium versions:

“The edition of Windows Vista that the customer chooses will then be activated by the product key,” Mike Burk, public relations manager for Windows Marketing Communications, said in an emailed statement.

“For instance, if a customer buys Windows Vista Home Premium from a retail store, the full version of Windows Vista will be included on the DVD.

“But because the customer chose and paid for Home Premium, the product key he or she receives will activate the Home Premium edition and its features and functionality.”

Windows Anytime Update lets users purchase updates online. After downloading a digital key, the user inserts the original DVD to install additional software components. Microsoft declined to comment on pricing for the upgrades.

Of course, retail sales are the smallest part of the pie and the question really is how this will work for Vista preinstalled on PC hardware since some vendors don’t provide easily mislaid disks, but instead put all the bits on the hard drive. These days a few GB here or there aren’t such a big deal and if cleverly done, only version differences would be stored, not full separate copies.

Then there’s the always pesky question of dividing the loot:

Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told that Microsoft is expected to share the upgrade revenues with system manufacturers. He based his comments on conversations with OEMs.

The upgrade feature will be especially beneficial to small and medium-sized firms which often purchase systems with the consumer version of Windows XP and later realise that they require the additional features in XP Pro, Enderle said.

I expect the OEMs get to handle support calls as part of the deal too. I’ll also be interested to see how many vendors lowball prices by including Vista Home Basic in the system price and letting the user ante up separately for the fancy Aero user experience.

Finally, there’s one other party to be heard from: hackers. I wonder what their share will be?

Filed under Aero, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, OS - Client, Technologies, Windows Vista

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September 7, 2006

Vista coupon rumors redux

Posted by David Hunter at 11:46 AM ET.

Vista discount coupon rumors seem to keep popping up, and on Monday, Digitimes had the latest provided by the Chinese-language Apple Daily:

Microsoft has informed PC makers that free upgrades to Vista will only be available for MCE (Media Center Edition – ed.) users, the paper said. For Windows XP users, upgrading to the entry-level version of Vista will cost US$116, while upgrading to the premium version will cost US$269, noted the paper. The cost may affect PC demand through the first quarter of next year, PC makers were quoted by the paper as saying.

Aside from the uncertain provenance, one wonders if there is a localization disconnect since the upgrade prices for XP Home users are more than standard retail and there’s another line in the article about MCE being only 10% of new PC Sales in the 4th quarter which seems unlikely in the USA. However, there’s a germ of a good idea here – Microsoft providing “like to like” free Vista upgrades for the various versions of XP before Vista is available. Nathan Weinberg provides a modest proposal in that regard and mentions some cons associated with it too. The biggest one I see is that sticking XP Home users with Vista Home Basic which lacks the fancy Aero “user experience” would seem to be an unpopular move.

I’m still wondering though, how much of an attraction the free coupons really are. For the OEMs, attaching any such coupons to a machine means making very sure that they have their ducks in a row on Vista driver availability and Vista compatibility of their preloaded software to avoid unpleasantness later. For non-technically minded buyers, performing an upgrade to a new operating system would seem to be an unlikely endeavor in any case, and perhaps the only real value of the coupon is the comfort of its presence as Marc Orchant observes:

Most folks – the great masses of people who in aggregate make a difference to big companies like Microsoft and Wal-Mart and Best Buy – are not waiting with bated breath to get their hands on Vista. They either don’t know about it, don’t care about it, or are content to wait for it. Which goes to show that the general public, maligned though they may often be by techies, has their collective heads screwed on pretty straight (at least as far as new versions of long-delayed and far overdue operating system upgrades go).

Yup… good idea not to antagonize prospective Q4 PC purchasers by making them agonize over whether to buy now or wait. Silly notion to expect it to create any additional demand. Not going to happen.

One final purchasing tip, though: if Microsoft sticks to its guns, the day Vista comes out starts the countdown ticking on the paltry two more years of security fix support that Windows XP Home and Windows XP Media Center Edition will receive since they are “home” and not “business” software.

Filed under Aero, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, OS - Client, Technologies, Windows Vista, Windows XP, XP Media Center

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August 10, 2006

Microsoft to expand reach of Windows Genuine Advantage?

Posted by David Hunter at 11:00 AM ET.

Despite all the bad publicity for Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage antipiracy program, they are apparently forging ahead to expand the coverage according to Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch:

To date, with its Genuine Advantage anti-piracy programs, Microsoft has targeted consumers. Windows and Office users have been required to validate their products as “genuine” before being able to obtain many downloads and add-ons.

Come this fall, however, the Redmond software maker is planning to turn up the Genuine Advantage heat in two ways: By baking more Genuine Advantage checks directly into Windows Vista, and by taking aim at PC makers, system builders, Internet cafes and other sources of potentially pirated software.

As far as Windows Vista goes, the details aren’t clear but the article speculates that certain premium Vista features will only be available to users who pass the WGA test. In April there had been reports that Vista’s fancy new Aero Class Vista GUI would not be available unless a user passed a genuine licence check.

And while it may be the stick for users, it seems to be the carrot for resellers who will get access to discount offers on Office if they sell genuine Windows while Internet cafes get little stickers if all their machines are loaded with genuine software. Not to be skeptical or anything, but these don’t seem like very powerful incentives.

Filed under Aero, General Business, Genuine Advantage, Legal, Licensing, Microsoft, OS - Client, Office, Piracy, Technologies, Windows Vista

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July 7, 2006

Friday round-up of miscellaneous Microsoft items

Posted by David Hunter at 8:54 PM ET.

Betanews says that digital music sales are soaring and “may finally have enough impetus to boost the industry.”

The Windows Vista Team Blog has screenshots of the latest iteration on the Windows Basic Theme that Vista users will get if they can’t run or don’t want the Aero user experience.

Chris Morris at CNN reports that Nintendo’s Wii game console may ship earlier (October) than expected. Coincidentally, Reuters reports that Nintendo rules Japan H1 videogame sales. Maybe Microsoft and Sony should worry less about each other? Speaking of which, Sony is talking up its E-distribution competitor to Xbox Live.

Microsoft released the ASP.NET “Atlas” June 2006 Community Technology Preview (CTP) of their ASP.NET support for spiffy Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) Web applications.

Carlos Bergfeld at BusinessWeek online has the latest alarming report on online advertising click fraud although Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft deny it’s a problem. What’s even more chilling:

Outsell’s study may only add to the concern. According to the Burlingame (Calif.)-based firm, 27% of advertisers reported they had already decreased their online ad spending, by an average of 33%. An additional 10% said they plan to reduce online spending until search-ad publishers come up with a plan to protect their investment. “I think it’s a piece of the drip, drip, drip—the Chinese water torture effect,” Outsell Vice-President and lead analyst Chuck Richard says of the study and the increased scrutiny of search engine companies

Nancy Gohring at PCWorld reports that Microsoft and and Yahoo Instant Messaging interoperability still isn’t there although promised for the second quarter. And speaking of IM, the::unwired has a preview of the Windows Live Messenger client for Windows Mobile.

Speaking of Windows Mobile, Microsoft just released Microsoft ActiveSync 4.2, the latest iteration in their utility for synching your Windows Mobile and regular Windows systems.

Microsoft announced a deal with France’s Bouygues Telecom:

Bouygues Telecom and Microsoft Corp. today announced collaboration to incorporate Microsoft® Windows Media® technologies progressively in Bouygues Telecom’s next-generation mobile music offering set to launch in the first half of 2007. In addition to the service, various Bouygues Telecom handsets will be tailored for the service and include support for core Windows Media technologies including Windows Media Audio, Windows Media Digital Rights Management and Microsoft’s Media Transfer Protocol as handset platforms’ capabilities evolve. Bouygues Telecom will also evaluate the use of other Windows Media platform components including Windows Media Video, Microsoft’s implementation of the SMPTE VC-1 standard, for use in future mobile media initiatives.

Gregg Keizer at CRN reports that:

Microsoft has released an add-on to Windows XP that creates a password-protected “My Private Folder” for storing private documents and files. Some enterprise administrators immediately objected.

John Pocaro at Gamerscoreblog lists some of the humorous reactions to the news that Microsoft received an exclusive contract to provide electronic control units for Formula 1 race cars. Follow the link to Pitpass for more.

Filed under AJAX, ASP.NET 2.0, ASP.NET AJAX, Aero, Beta and CTP, Coopetition, DRM, Digital Media, Embedded, Google, MSN, MSN Messenger, Media Player, Microsoft, Nintendo, OS - Client, Sony, Technologies, Tools, Windows Automotive, Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live for Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Xbox, Yahoo

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