Category Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft to make ‘announcements’

Well here’s a useless story if ever we’ve seen one. PC Pro is reporting that Microsoft will be making some ‘quite major announcements’ when it releases the Windows 7 Release Candidate. Of course we don’t know when that will be, since Microsoft hasn’t told us that yet.

Here’s the full story:

At a briefing at Microsoft’s London headquarters today, the company’s Windows OEM manager, Laurence Painell told PC Pro that there will be a "couple of additional, quite major announcements" in the coming weeks.

Wow. Thank God we’ve got hard hitting investigative reporters to get us these juicy facts. Our lives are so much richer.

The only thing worse than a useless story like that is when a site like ours makes a whole post out of it. Yes, we see the irony.

Taking virtualization ROI for a spin

You’ve always got to be wary when a press release includes lines like this:

“Rather than decreasing their IT spend in challenging times, some companies are choosing to recalibrate their budgets and invest in technical solutions that deliver savings over the long run,” says Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. Source: Microsoft PressPass

Yes, the usual PR spin that companies bandy about when they need to drum up sales in a down economy. And don’t you love it when words like ‘recalibrate’ are used. That’s just PR shite-ese for ‘spend more’.

But, this press release is different to most of the ROI tosh that hits our inbox. In this its actually backed up with good case studies. There’s studies from Slough Borough Council and Capgemini as well as results from a two year study analyzing infrastructure costs in data-centers.

Most of the ROI is from embracing virtualisation of course, but they also manage to get in a pitch for Forefront and Visual Studio 2010 of all things. Yeah, like that’s going to be a big help right now.

But that aside, perhaps its time companies that have been holding off spending for so long showed a little renewed confidence, especially if there are longer term benefits.

Windows 7 Starter Edition limits

So someone discovered they couldn’t change the desktop using a beta build of Windows 7 Starter Edition. Someone else thought that was rediculous. And then the Twitter shitstorm started.

I guess that’s the benefit of a beta program though. Microsoft can put stuff out there and gauge the reactions it gets.

Yes, not being able to change the desktop might be a little strange, but is hardly problematic. And there are even workarounds. This is nothing compared to the straight-jacket-fitting limits many enterprises put on their employee’s machines. I’ve had situations where you can’t change resolution, can’t add anything to the Start menu, taskbar, not even shortcuts on the desktop.

So take a chill pill folks. It ‘aint that bad. And its likely the intended audience for the Starter Edition won’t even care. The people who would be annoyed will install a full version on their netbook, notebook or desktop the minute they unpack their new machine.

Microsoft DemoFest reports

Having an event (even if it is smaller and to a select audience) called DemoFest raises expectations, especially when the topics are related to Microsoft’s adCenter Labs latest ideas.

You may have read Benjamin Romano’s report (the demos ‘were not jaw-dropping’) in which he covered the main concepts demonstrated:

  • Gift Matching – really just demographic matching
  • Microsoft Gaze – Javascript enabled popup launcher
  • Display ad tool – automatically generates ad layouts
  • Location platform – tries to predict user intent

As Ben notes, these are nothing really new, and are simply catchup mechanisms on Microsoft’s part (see also Matt’s thoughts over at Search Engine Land).

Whilst admittedly it is just Microsoft showcasing what they are up to, wouldn’t it be a great confidence boost if Microsoft actually came up with something innovative that changed the game, rather than annoyed the shit out of users (eg the popup launcher is going to be very hated if it ever makes it out in the wild).

We love Eric Brill’s (General Manager of Strategic Direction) comments on the developments:

“We’re making a lot (of progress). It’s not user-visible but it means the velocity of innovation will go up a lot,” Brill said.

Source: Joe Tartakoff at PaidContent.org

Velocity of innovation my arse!

Microsoft adCenter Labs

(via Joe Tartakoff)

Microsoft share price

Obviously it’s been a while since we last checked in on the Microsoft share price.

Whilst it won’t be much surprise to see the continued decline in the price, it is interesting to note a slight upward trend over the last two weeks.

Whilst there’s lots of speculation of course around various announcements to do with partner agreements, we think the real reason is the expectation of some significant announcements at MIX09 this past week.

Now that the conference is over and there hasn’t really been much to get excited about (from an economic viewpoint) we wonder if the price will return to its usual sub $16 standing.

Microsoft share price (Jan-Mar 2009)

Internet Explorer 8 Released

It’s been a big week here at MIX09, so much so that we thought we’d get the blog going again.

We’ll cover some of the other big announcements in the coming days once the dust has settled, but couldn’t wait to cover the IE8 release. Download it here.

It’s been a long time coming, and hopefully the wait is worth it. Microsoft yesterday released IE8 to the masses, although not to Windows 7 users just yet (see below).

Performance (cheesy rock video about performance here) and safety top the list of improvements, as well as web standards compliance. But it doesn’t stop there – the new version includes some cool new features including:

  • Web slices
  • Accelerators
  • InPrivate Bowsing, as well as
  • Search Suggestions
  • Safer browsing with SmartScreen

If you are a Windows 7 Beta user you’ll have to wait a little longer, as noted on the IE8 site:

Windows 7 Beta already includes a pre-release candidate version of Internet Explorer 8 that is optimized for that release. Windows 7 enables unique features and functionality in Internet Explorer 8 including Windows Touch and Jump Lists which require additional product tests to ensure we are providing the best Windows experience for our customers. We will continue to update the version of Internet Explorer 8 running on Windows 7 as the development cycles of Windows 7 progress and plan to include the final version of Internet Explorer 8 in the release candidate version of Windows 7 later this year. For the latest information on Windows 7, visit the Windows 7 site.

This is disappointing, but perhaps understandable.

The most significant improvement in our opinion is the web standards compliance, as noted by Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager of the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft:

Internet Explorer 8 is Microsoft’s most standards-compliant browser to date, and benefits from work the company is doing with standards bodies to bring increased measurement and consistency. As part of Microsoft’s commitment to supporting standards, the company has submitted more than 7,000 cascading style sheet (CSS) 2.1 test cases to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the last year to help drive easier and more measurable standards adoption for all developers. Moreover, Internet Explorer 8 now passes more of the W3C CSS 2.1 test cases than any other shipping browser and has invested significantly in support for HTML 5.

Source: Microsoft PressPass

Web standards is a big, opinionated area, so it will be worth watching to see whether Microsoft has understood the ‘real’ needs of developers and companies correctly.

All in all this is a pretty big upgrade over IE7, and with a falling market share in the browser space Microsoft needs to lift their game. Time will tell whether IE8 has the firepower they are hoping for.

Internet Explorer 8

TomTom and Microsoft

What a shame these clowns can’t get their act together. Instead of showing initiative and growing this massive opportunity to unite location and Microsoft technology, both parties have taken the ‘road most travelled’ and pursued litigation.

We’re not sure which party is most to blame, but that’s not the point. Another opportunity wasted, and more attorney’s pockets lined.

We can only hope that the ‘committed to a solution’ part in this statement by Microsoft’s Horacio Gutierrez is actually true, and not just PR woffle:

"We are reviewing TomTom’s filing, which we have just received. As has been the case for more than a year, we remain committed to a licensing solution, although we will continue to press ahead with the complaints we initiated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the International Trade Commission."

Source: Microsoft PressPass

TomTom

(via Mary Jo Foley)

Microsoft and Security

Microsoft released its Security Intelligence Report today, giving insights into the way viruses, malware and other threats are trending.

The bad news: Malware and other unwanted shite removed from computers grew 43% (and no this didn’t include the copies of Vista that were removed and downgraded to XP <g>).

The medium news: Attacks are moving to the application layer, with only 10% of vulnerabilities being reported at the operating system level.

The good news: Microsoft vulnerabilities are down 33% this year over last year (more specifically: when comparing first half 2008 to second half 2007).

More details on the Malware Protection Center portal. Download the full 150 page report here, complete with pretty pictures like this:

Check out the fishing line - inspired!

Microsoft is clearly taking security very seriously (they’ve been telling us such for the last decade) and finally seeing some seeing some fruits of their labours.

Azure Services Platform

There’s been tons of blog posts, articles, video interviews and general opinion on Azure this week. And understandably so, since this will likely be looked back on as one of the biggest turning points for Microsoft in their entire history.

An interesting point to note in the posts has been how so many have written about their understanding of what Azure is, without taking the time to actually read up on it. So, we’ve seen videos with people being interviewed about their reactions and thoughts on what it will include, how it might be applied, and how to use it. This is very strange. Why? Because everything you need to know is clearly articulated here on the Azure site. There’s even a whitepaper covering all the minute details.

We’re going to dive into it a little in this post, but as a general community service here’s the links you need to read:

    Well, us actually. But apparently not most of the journalists and prominent commentators. But enough of our complaining.
    Digging into Azure
    If you are too lazy or time poor to read through the site (even the FAQ) then here’s the essentials you need to know.
    Here’s the pretty diagram everyone has been using (straight from the Azure site)

Windows Azure

    Obviously the first thing you notice is that there is an operating system component – called Windows Azure – and a bunch of services. The combination of the services and the operating system are collectively referred to as the Azure Services Platform or more simply just: Azure.
    Azure is all hosted in Microsoft’s data centers and is their cloud offering. It’s basically a cloud services platform. It’s reasonably open in the protocols it supports, and whilst initially targeting .NET and Microsoft developers, is designed to support other platforms in the future (eg Ruby and PHP).
    Windows Azure – the operating system part – is what was referred to last month as Microsoft’s Cloud OS (and even Windows Strata for a time). It is all the glue that manages resources in the cloud.
    The rest are the services. Live Services is a growing area, and one that will become prevalent on all devices. The .NET services and SQL services are no real surprise to watchers of the space. Even SharePoint services is an understandable offering since Microsoft is pushing SharePoint big time these days.
    The one that caught us by surprise was the inclusion of Microsoft CRM in Azure collection.
    Yes, hosted CRM is here and logical, but adding a complete service component for CRM in the Azure space is interesting. It shows that Microsoft is placing a big bet on CRM – a component that has had numerous adoption problems in the corporate space. Perhaps this will be its break out opportunity. We know many companies have changed their strategy on CRM in the last week, from having it as a minor piece of their consulting work, to now being an important strategic practice.
    Our opinion: Microsoft has changed the game completely. This is a revolution. Amazon and others have been providing excellent token offerings (eg with EC2) leading up to this point in time. But now Microsoft has come in and demonstrated they have the vision, capability and passion to completely dominate the cloud. They’ve been at it for a while, and now its time to get on board. We are in awe.

Microsoft’s Blue Monster turns 2

Apparently the Blue Monster idea has been around for 2 years.

Blue Monster

We have to admit this is a piece of marketing that we’ve never really understood. In fact we don’t even like it. But it seems to be popular. And getting more so.

Initially we thought it was a bizarre case of the Emperor’s New Clothes, but now we are happy to admit that. we just don’t get it. Steve Clayton does, it seems. And Happy Birthday Steve, we love your blog. Most of the time.