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September 28, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials free antivirus software to ship Tuesday

Posted by David Hunter at 9:23 PM ET.

Microsoft has confirmed earlier published reports that Microsoft Security Essentials (codenamed “Morro”), the free antivirus offering that succeeds the now retired non-free Windows Live OneCare, will be released tomorrow, September 29, 2009:

Microsoft today confirmed that it will launch its free security software suite, which has been in development for almost a year, Tuesday morning.

The spokeswoman added that the program will be made available Tuesday morning, Pacific time, although she did not have a specific hour for the launch.

Earlier in the day, Network World‘s John Fontana had been told by Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft’s sever and tools division, that the company would ship the free software Tuesday.

Microsoft has pitched the software as a basic anti-virus, anti-spyware program that consumes less memory and disk space than commercial security suites, like those from vendors such as McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro.

Those companies, however, unanimously dismissed Security Essentials — once codenamed “Morro” — as proof that Microsoft couldn’t compete in the paying market.

That may well be classified as whistling past the graveyard since very little trumps free and if Windows Security Essentials is as good as the beta reviews indicated, the security vendors may have a real problem. I’m still waiting for one or more of them to drop a dime to the antitrust regulators in the US or EU.

If you want to get Windows Security Essentials on day one, keep checking the Microsoft WSE website for the download.



Filed under Coopetition, McAfee, Microsoft, Microsoft Security Essentials, Morro, Symantec, Trend Micro, Windows Live, Windows Live OneCare

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September 18, 2009

Microsoft starts limited beta of Office Web Apps

Posted by David Hunter at 12:42 PM ET.

Microsoft announced yesterday that they had started a limited beta test of an online version of Microsoft Office:

Microsoft today announced the start of the Microsoft Office Web Apps Technical Preview program for consumers. Beginning today, a limited number of invitation-only participants will receive access to lightweight versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the Web through Windows Live. The Technical Preview is available in English and Japanese, with additional languages to be added later this fall.

Microsoft is also announcing the formal names for the Web-based applications. Together, the applications are called Office Web Apps. Individually, they include Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App and OneNote Web App.

Office Web Apps are the online, lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. With Office Web Apps people can access, share and work on Office documents from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection — making it easy to bring ideas to life at home, school or work.

From what we’ve seen so far, people love that Office Web Apps offer a consistent and familiar Office experience, and that documents retain fidelity while working in the cloud or offline.

Starting today, a limited number of invitation-only participants will receive access to the Word Web App, Excel Web App and PowerPoint Web App through Windows Live Sky Drive. These Office Web Apps are part of the Office Technical Preview program, which means they aren’t feature-complete yet. The OneNote Web App and additional Office Web App features, including further integration with Microsoft Office 2010, will be available at a later date.

….

The great integration with Office gives people the ability to quickly and easily save and open documents from the Web, directly from Microsoft Office 2010. Seamless integration with Windows Live lets people access, edit and share with friends, family and co-workers anywhere.

Back in July, the beta program had been promised for August so Microsoft is a bit late. Note that Office Web Apps aren’t tied to Office 2010 (or even Windows) and Ed Bott notes that "Users will be able to upload, edit, and share files created using Office 2000 and later versions on PCs and Macs."

Also interesting is the branding and delivery:

PressPass: Why are you offering Office Web Apps through Windows Live? What does this mean for Windows Live customers?

Schultz: More than 500 million people around the world use Windows Live, giving our customers a powerful hub to organize their lives. With Windows Live, people can store and share information such as photos, contacts, calendars and documents, all in one place on Windows Live SkyDrive. With the addition of Office Web Apps, people will soon be able to go to Windows Live to create, edit, share and collaborate on Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, OneNote digital notebooks and Excel spreadsheets — online, with high fidelity.

In addition to Windows Live, businesses will be able to get Office Web Apps through volume license agreements and via subscription offering through Microsoft Online Services.

In case this isn’t clear – this means that Office Web Apps are free to any personal user just like Google Apps, the primary Web office application competitor. Sure, you can pay Microsoft for a business subscription (just like Google) and there is undoubtedly added synergy for paying Microsoft Office customers, but there must be a bit of fear and trepidation in Redmond over this self-created threat to one of their cash cows. The only question now is just how worthwhile are the applications that Microsoft is giving away for free and for that we will have to wait for user feedback to leak out.



Filed under Coopetition, Google, Microsoft, Office, Office 2010, Office Live, Office Web Apps, Windows Live, Windows Live SkyDrive

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July 29, 2009

Yahoo gives up on Web search – hires Microsoft

Posted by David Hunter at 4:54 PM ET.

After more false starts than I really care to recall, Microsoft and Yahoo today announced that they had reached an agreement to combine their Web search businesses to better compete with Google. The gist of the deal is that Yahoo is giving up on Web search and hiring Microsoft to handle it for them:

Not called out explicitly is what will happen to the Yahoo Publishers Network and Microsoft PubCenter which are rivals to Google’s AdSense in serving contextual ads to 3rd party publisher Web sites. Presumably, YPN is toast and the fledgling Microsoft PubCenter will assume their publisher relationships.

So where’s the pony? For Yahoo it is pretty clear – they dump the expense of running and monetizing a search engine while Microsoft pays them 88% of search revenue generated on Yahoo’s owned and operated (O&O) sites during the first 5 years of the agreement. (Also "Microsoft will guarantee Yahoo!’s O&O revenue per search (RPS) in each country for the first 18 months following initial implementation in that country.") Yahoo used Google for search from 2000-2004 before they tried to do it themselves – now they have shuttered the in-house effort as a failed project and gone back to a "content site" strategy.

For Microsoft. however, the pony is all in the future. They have irretrievably made Steve Ballmer’s "big bet" on search and purchased a whopping chunk of search market share – approximately 28% compared with Bing’s current 8%. Now they will have to deliver on it. The press release does not explicitly state the conditions under which either partner can ditch this deal, but the chances of it in the next few years have to be exceedingly slim.

Finally, the partners apparently suspect a length regulatory review and the agreement is not hoped to close until early 2010.



Filed under Alliances, Bing, Coopetition, Google, MSN, Microsoft, Windows Live, Yahoo, adCenter

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July 13, 2009

Microsoft unveils Office 2010 including Office Web Applications

Posted by David Hunter at 1:05 PM ET.

Today Microsoft unveiled an invited beta program for Office 2010 (codenamed Office 14):

Today, at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2009, Microsoft Corp. announced that Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010 have reached the technical preview engineering milestone. Starting today, tens of thousands of people will be invited to test Office and Visio as part of the Technical Preview program.

It’s a private beta limited to invitees, the beta code will apparently not be available until August, and the final products won’t be available until the first half of 2010. You can find out about the usual incremental Office improvements at the Office 2010 Web site, but the biggest buzz is about the Web versions tentatively named Office Web applications (although Microsoft is looking for a new name):

Office Web applications — the lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote — that provide access to documents from virtually anywhere and preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device.

The company also announced that Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where more than 400 million consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers including more than 90 million Office annuity customers; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering.

So Microsoft has bitten the bullet and will go free on the Web version of their Office cash cow and the lines are drawn with Google Apps and the other free online office software competitors. Of course, Microsoft really didn’t have much choice if they wanted anyone to pay attention. Stay tuned for a raft of side-by-side comparisons and feature wrangling among the players.



Filed under Beta and CTP, Excel, Microsoft, Office, Office 2010, Office Live, Office Web Apps, OneNote, PowerPoint, Project, SharePoint Server, Visio, Word

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