Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

GM woos CFO Chris Liddell away from Microsoft

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

As you may or may not have heard, Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell announced that he was leaving the company late last month, but neither he nor Microsoft was doing much talking at the time about what he would be doing next — other than that he would be “looking at a number of opportunities that will expand his career beyond being a CFO.” Well, it looks like he will still be a CFO after all — this time at General Motors. That move was just made official today, and follows news earlier this month that GM’s current CFO, Ray Young, would be transferring to China. As you might expect given the executive situation at GM, however, there’s plenty of speculation that this hire might be more than what it seems, and folks already talking that Liddell may actually be being groomed to take over as CEO of the company once he gets a bit more experience in the automotive industry.

GM woos CFO Chris Liddell away from Microsoft originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 21 Dec 2009 16:13:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sony staying conservative with Reader device, aware of current tablet mania

December 18th, 2009 admin No comments

Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer played the tease at today’s Reader content partnership presser, stating that while Sony could make the device into a multimedia tablet, it would rather wait and see if consumers warm up to current devices. Stringer’s watching if people find the form factor “comfortable and helpful” before Sony starts “plowing on a thousand apps” or building a “Vaio Reader.” We don’t really know how much e-reader acceptance points to the demand for color multimedia tablets, but in regards to the (non-existant, ever-present) Apple Tablet, Stringer says “we’re all working on variations of the same thing.” Hopefully we’ll figure out what exactly he means by that before we grow old and start reading books or something horrible like that.

Sony staying conservative with Reader device, aware of current tablet mania originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 17 Dec 2009 18:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Microsoft updating Zune HD Twitter to stop censoring tweets

December 18th, 2009 admin No comments

Microsoft definitely copped some of Apple’s lame App Store antics with its tweet-censoring Zune HD Twitter app, so now it’s time for the infuriatingly vague PR-speak backtracking — Redmond just pinged us to say it’s “identified the issue” with the Twitter app and that a naughty words-enabling update is coming “as soon as possible.” That’s a pretty lame response, considering the “issue” is that the app is coded to actively censor tweets — not exactly an “oops” moment, you know?

Here’s the entire statement:

The recently released Twitter for Zune HD application has been abbreviating some explicit words in tweets when viewed on the device; however these explicit words do appear in their full text on the Twitter site or on any other Twitter client. We have identified the issue and are taking steps to update the application as soon as possible to ensure Twitter for Zune HD users are able to view tweets in their original state.

Flack silliness aside, it’s still the right step — let’s hope this update addresses the performance issues we noticed as well.

Microsoft updating Zune HD Twitter to stop censoring tweets originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 17 Dec 2009 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000: the perfect travel keyboard?

December 17th, 2009 admin No comments

Earlier this year, one of our dear readers wrote in asking the collective audience which wireless keyboard was the best out there for their living room. We’ve since seen all variations of that very inquiry, but the most common one was this: “what’s the best wireless keyboard for travel?” As more and more users resort to netbooks for getting things done on the go, more and more users are pulling their hair out as they attempt to bang out this month’s sales report on an 85 percent full-size keyboard. A few months back, Microsoft let loose a new Bluetooth ‘board that seemed perfect for the weary-eyed jetsetter, and we’ve been toying with it for the last little while. It’s easily one of the thinnest and lightest keyboards we’ve seen, and the carry-along-or-don’t numeric pad is certainly a nice touch. But is this slab of circuitry really what your digits need when typing on the go? Hop on past the break for a few of our impressions.

Continue reading Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000: the perfect travel keyboard?

Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000: the perfect travel keyboard? originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 16 Dec 2009 16:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Microsoft’s Money Pit. Every Dollar Of Online Revenue Is Wiped Out By A Dollar Of Loss

July 24th, 2009 admin No comments

Microsoft just announced quarterly earnings and they are not pretty. Total revenues are down 17 percent to $13 billion, and net income is down 29 percent to $3 billion. Every business got hit hard, but the worst-performing business by far was the online business. It had the biggest operating loss of $732 million, which was $1 million more than its revenues of $731 million.

That means that every dollar of online revenue was wiped out by a dollar of operating loss. And those operating losses really stack up. For its fiscal year (which ended in June), the online business showed an operating loss of $2.2 billion, nearly two times as much as the year before.

Despite the much-ballyhooed launch of Bing, search revenue was flat in the quarter was flat. You’ve got to wonder how much of the ballooning operating loss is going into Bing, and whether those investments will ever pan out.

The client business (Windows), isn’t doing so hot either. Revenues in the quarter were down 29 percent to $3.1 billion, and it made $1 billion less in operating profit. The Entertainment business (Xbox) saw quarterly revenues decline 25 percent, but managed to reduce operating loses to only $130 million. 1.2 million Xboxes were sold in the quarter, and each Xbox owner has now bought an average of 8.6 games. At least servers and Tools under Bob Muglia seems to be holding up. Its revenues of $3.5 billion were only down by $200 million and its operating profit of $1.3 billion was essentially flat. (Click on segment breakdown below to enlarge).


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The Online Payment Wars Continue: PayPal Officially Announces Flexible API

July 24th, 2009 admin No comments

While Ebay’s Q2 earnings yesterday showed that its marketplace business was slow, the company’s revenue was boosted by continued growth in its online payments business, including PayPal and BillMeLater. Both businesses saw 11 % growth in revenue in the quarter, compared to a year ago, and saw a 20% increase in registered accounts from last year, with 75.4 million accounts. On the heels of this good news, today PayPal is officially announcing the launch of its flexible payments API, called Adaptive Payments (which we scooped a few weeks ago here). The new platform will officially open up to developers in November but will be accepting beta testers until then.

Basically the new API is designed to give developers full access to PayPal’s features, allowing them a lot more freedom in building applications which include the ability to accept and distribute payments. PayPal’s President Scott Thompson says that developers will basically be able to do anything they want off of the PayPal platform, emphasizing the “global connectivity” of PayPal (transactions can be conducted in 19 currencies). He says $2000 flows through PayPal’s system every second, 365 days a year. Thompson says that what differentiates this new innovation is the ability to maintain security, while still extending the API far from PayPal.

Very similar to Amazon’s Flexible Payments Service (FPS), the Adaptive Payments API handles payments between a sender of a payment and one or more receivers of the payment. Adaptive Payments allows almost the same functionality as FPS. The new API lets developers become a payment aggregator, which we are told is something against PayPal’s current Terms of Service. Amazon’s FPS also lets developers aggregate payments. Moreover, Paypal’s Adaptive Payments has built in micropayments support, another feature of FPS. PayPal says that they think they can be a viable micropayments vehicle, but won’t reveal more information about what the support entails.

Microsoft cloud computing platform Azure is also utilizing Adaptive Payments to let developers who are building applications using PayPal seamless integrate their applications with Azure’s platform. Microsoft is working with PayPal to help developers easily embed billing and payment functionality into applications built off Azure and will offer interoperability between Azure and Adaptive Payments.

Some of the offerings of Adaptive Payments are sure to be attractive to developers. In what PayPal calls “Chained Payments,” developers can create applications that enable a sender to send a single payment to a primary receiver who may keep part of the payment and pay other, secondary receivers with the remainder of the funds. For example, an application might be an online travel agency that handles bookings for airfare, hotel reservations, and car rentals. The sender sees only the travel site as the primary receiver. But that site could allocate the payment for its commission and the actual cost of services provided by other merchants. PayPal would deduct the money from the sender’s account and deposit it in both the primary travel site’s account and the secondary receivers’ accounts.

PayPal has decoupled the approval process from the transaction, giving sellers more flexibility of how and when sender approval process can take place. PayPal says that over the next year, they plan to unveil more APIs to encourage developer to build of the platform.

Adaptive Payments will also offer “Parallel Payments,” which would let a sender send a single payment to multiple receivers. An example of this type of application might be a shopping cart that lets a buyer pay for items from several merchants with one payment. The shopping cart would allocate the payment to the merchants who actually provided the items. PayPal would then deduct money from the sender’s account and deposits it in the receivers’ accounts. Michael Ivey, founder and CEO of TwitPay, a way to send money over Twitter, is using PayPal’s Adaptive Payments API. Off of TwitPay’s payments platform, you can pay multiple recipients in one PayPal transaction.

LiveOps, an outsourcing marketplace and platform, is using the Adaptive Payments platform for several months. The platform uses PayPal to invoice; money is dynamically routed to workers from businesses. LiveWork says the advantage of using PayPal is that there is no credit card or financial information stored on LiveWork, with security being completely outsourced to PayPal.

PayPal says that pricing for Adaptive Payments will be announced in November. It’s unclear if the plan will be competitive with Amazon’s FPS pricing. The launch of the new API and services should surely heat up the competition between PayPal and Amazon (which bought Zappos yesterday). Amazon now has Amazon Payments and the beta of FPS, which allows more flexibility for developers than PayPal’s previous Direct Payments API offering. Now, PayPal has struck back with its own flexible API and is trying to engage the developer community to freely build applications off of its platform.

PI, so it should be interesting to see where developers go.

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The Mac Versus PC Debate Has Never Been Clearer

July 24th, 2009 admin No comments

mac-pcOur goal is not to build the most PCs. It’s to build the best.

That was Apple COO Tim Cook two days ago during Apple’s quarterly earnings call. Sure, it may sound like spin from an executive who doesn’t have a better answer as to why Apple isn’t competing in the low-end of the market, and thus, gaining market share. But it’s not.

You need look no further than numbers released today by NPD to understand Apple’s strategy. Its revenue share of the “premium” price market — that is, PCs over $1,000 — is a staggering 91%. This means that 9 out of every 10 retail dollars that is spent on PCs in that price range, goes to Apple, as Betanews’ Joe Wilcox points out. That, for lack of a better word, is insane.

Analysts and journalists are often quick to point out Apple’s relatively low overall market share (less than 10%). But that completely misses the point of Apple’s Mac business. If Apple wanted to make a range of low-end PCs, it absolutely could. And such machines would sell like crazy, boosting Apple’s market share. But there would have to be some trade-off in quality, and perhaps more importantly to Apple, to its high margins. And as it has proven time and time again, it has no desire to give up either.

Instead, Apple is content to keep churning out its high-quality, high-margin machines, and watch the profits roll in. If it happens to gain market share as a byproduct of that, that’s great. You can’t be so naive to think that Apple doesn’t care about that at all, of course it does, but it’s clearly a secondary goal, which most people don’t seem to understand.

It’s a metaphor that’s often used, but a way to think about it is if Windows-based PCs as a whole are thought of as a top selling car like the Toyota Camry, Apple’s Mac PCs would be more like a luxury car, like a Porsche. Porsche sales are just a fraction of Camry sales because it does not sell any models in the low-end price range. But at the same time, Porsche makes more money on each car sold and maintains a premium branding. If Porsche started selling cheap cars, it would move a lot more units, but it would no longer be the Porsche brand that we know.

That’s not to say the Camry sucks or that the Porsche is perfect. They’re just two different cars that cater to different markets. And they represent the two different goals that most Windows-based PCs have (market share) versus Apple’s Mac PCs (high-end revenue share).

And that’s why Microsoft’s recent Laptop Hunter commercials really never made a lot of sense. Sure, from a marketing perspective, I understand the idea: It’s a down economy, lets play up the fact that our PCs are cheaper. But in many of the spots, the shopper’s stated desired PC was simply not something that Apple even made. In the famous first commercial, Lauren wants a laptop with a 17-inch screen for under $1,000. Okay, Apple doesn’t make that product. So of course she’s not going to buy a Mac.

The real point is that people who are shopping for PCs where price is the key factor, were never going to buy Macs anyway. They never have. There is a reason Apple still has less than 10% market share. Did Microsoft need to spend millions of dollars on commercials to tell us that?

Instead, those commercials set up a narrative around the bifurcation of the PC-buying public. And today’s NPD numbers are the perfect ending to that story. If you’re a consumer looking for a bargain PC, you’re happy to save money buying a PC. If you’re looking for a premium PC, you’re happy to spend more money buying a Mac.

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RackSpace Opens The Cloud

July 24th, 2009 admin No comments

Rackspace is open-sourcing the specs for its Cloud Servers and Cloud Files APIs under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license, enabling third-party developers to copy, implement and rehash them as they see fit.

In addition, The Rackspace Cloud (formerly known as Mosso) has made available Cloud Files language bindings along with technical guidelines for Java, PHP, Python, C# and Ruby under the MIT license through GitHub. Rackspace aims to offer a reference implementation in Python soon and in a press release casually mentions it “is aware of Ruby, Perl, Java, and Twisted Python Cloud Servers bindings”, which are all in the process of being developed.

With the approach, the company hopes to compete better with cloud computing giant Amazon on its own turf – and also Microsoft with its upcoming Windows Azure service – by generally being more open to developers as far as their client-side tools go. In case you were not aware, Rackspace also recently released its Cloud API for Cloud Servers, which allows users to write code that detects a workload in the cloud and scales up the number of servers meeting it as needed, in public beta. The company is heavily trying to position itself as the best alternative to Amazon, which it acknowledges is bigger in size but lacking an open strategy towards the cloud and standards.

On a sidenote, we’re hearing the company is preparing the launch of a new Apple’s Iphone application that will let customers manage their Rackspace cloud accounts from their Apple’s Iphone devices. It should be arriving some time in the next few weeks.

Will Rackspace’s efforts in breaking open their cloud offering be enough of a differentiator to compete effectively in an increasingly saturated market? Time will tell, but judging by its stock performance investors are taking quite a liking into the hosting company and its growth strategy.

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Windows 7 Passes The Test, Is Ready For Manufacturing

July 23rd, 2009 admin No comments

Microsoft’s newest version of its operating system, Windows 7, is finally in the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) stage, so the OS will soon be preloaded on new PCs. Though not officially released yet, Windows 7 is expected to be a hit. For instance, after just eight hours on Amazon UK, Windows 7 pre-orders outpaced the total number of pre-orders for Vista over a period of 17 weeks.

According to Microsoft, Windows 7, which offers seven different versions of the OS, has undergone significant testing, quality assurance and validation required to get to the RTM stage. Independent software and hardware vendors will be able to download Windows 7 RTM as early as August 6th. Microsoft will be rolling out Windows 7 to other partners in mid to late August. Enterprise customers and developers will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English starting on August 7, with additional language functionality for Windows 7 released shortly after.

For the plebes/consumers, Windows 7 will be in retail stores and shipping on new PCs starting October 22nd, which we already knew. After receiving an overwhelming response from beta testers, Microsoft is also offering a “family pack” for Windows 7 that will allow installation on up to 3 PCs. The company has also officially released the new version of Expression 3, the set of tools Microsoft offers for developers to build applications off of Silverlight.

Of course, the official RTM release of Windows 7 comes at a time when Microsoft’s stranglehold of the operating system is being challenged by the recent announcement of Google’s Chrome OS. Google is scheduled to release the open source code for Chrome OS later this year, which perhaps could conveniently fall around the October launch of Windows 7. The first Chrome OS PCs won’t launch until next year. While Google says the Chrome OS is targeted towards netbooks at the moment, there is definite potential for Google’s OS to expand to the other types of PCs, giving Microsoft something to mull over.

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Post Royalty Rate Agreement, Wowza Seeing A Big Uptick In Streaming Radio Interest

July 23rd, 2009 admin No comments

picture-127After years of uncertainty and talk of shutting down, Internet streaming radio finally got the break it needed a few weeks ago. SoundExchange, the group responsible for setting the listening rates being charged to the Internet radio services, agreed to cut its proposed rate hikes in exchange for trade-offs such as a higher guaranteed rate. The most visible company affected by this Pandora, but it’s hardly the only one. One company we spoke to, Wowza Media, tells us it started seeing a jump in interest in its Flash-based streaming solution for content providers in anticipation of such a deal.

technically, Wowza is a Flash media server company. That means that it competes with the likes of Adobe and Microsoft to offer up streaming media solutions for all types on content, including streaming Internet radio. While the company has long seen success in this field outside of the U.S., where the royalty rates aren’t as imposing, it was a tough sell in the U.S. with the rates being proposed. But with the new deal in place, the company sees a whole new range of possibilities.

Wowza, which has over 25,000 licenses around the world, notes that a lot of online radio is still being served through the likes of software like WinAmp. But it sees a clear trend towards doing everything with Flash, as the installed base is something like 98% just through the web browser. And it says it can easily convert stations that were going through solutions like WinAmp to be done in Flash. The hope is obviously that there will be more successful web radio services like Pandora — which is, of course, easier said than done.

But getting Internet radio streaming companies to come aboard and use its Flash streaming solution is just the first step the company envisions. Its service has also been extended over the years to provide solutions for Quicktime, Silverlight, and a host of other formats. This means even more opportunities to reach other kinds of devices, such as the Apple’s Iphone, for example. As we all know, the Apple’s Iphone doesn’t play Flash content, but it does play Quicktime files. The way YouTube and some others get their Flash content on the Apple’s Iphone is to covert it to H.264 to play in Quicktime. That’s a solution Wowza offers as well.

Expect to see a lot more interest in Internet radio with the new royalty deal in place. And that, in turn, should lead to some other interesting opportunities for companies.

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