It took Windows 7 to make Microsoft users forget about Vista, but it's taking Microsoft's mobile offerings to make Vista actually look pretty good.
This week, T-Mobile -- oh, and Microsoft, of course -- killed off the Sidekick, the forlorn phone running on Microsoft's Danger data service that suffered a famous crash a couple of years ago. Somebody at Microsoft is obviously trying to make the Sidekick's euthanasia look like some sort of mutual T-Mobile-Microsoft decision, but we're guessing that T-Mobile coldly pulled the trigger while Microsoft looked away and flinched, a tear of regret running down its ashen cheek.
Replacing the Danger Sidekick will be another phone called Sidekick -- seriously, is that name really going to survive? -- which will run on...Google's Android operating system. Reading between the lines (or just plain reading the lines in our RCPmag.com story), we get the strong impression that T-Mobile isn't exactly looking forward to working with Microsoft again in the mobile space.
Well, who would want to? After the Kin debacle and now the death of Danger (was it the next of Kin before its demise, or vice versa?), Windows Phone 7 would have to be a massive blockbuster to bowl carriers over enough for them to sink massive investment into Microsoft's mobile efforts. A decent OS WP7 seems to be; a blockbuster it is not.
Hey, at least Windows Phone 7 is alive, which is more than we can say for Microsoft's other mobile efforts. And it appears to have a bit of staying power. But it seems as though everything Microsoft does in the mobile space is one step forward and two steps back. Or, in this case, one product living and two dead.
What's your take on Microsoft's mobile strategy? Send it to email@example.com.
Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 2011 at 3:17 PM1 comments
Evidently somebody in Redmond didn't "Like" Facebook's recent poaching of a Microsoft advertising executive, Carolyn Everson. Microsoft is now considering taking legal action to keep Everson in Redmond -- or, at least, away from Mark Zuckerberg (who was born in 1984; remind me again how that's even possible).
We always wonder what the endgame is in situations like this. Obviously, Microsoft wants to protect whatever institutional knowledge Everson has about the company's advertising strategy (if there is one), but, really, what's the point of tying all of this up in court? Facebook is a Microsoft partner; Microsoft has invested in Facebook. Isn't there a friendlier way to settle all this? Then again, if this leads to Pirates of Silicon Valley meets The Social Network, maybe we should all just sit back and enjoy the show.
Posted by Lee Pender on March 03, 2011 at 1:52 PM0 comments
Finally! This is the kind of news we'd been expecting from Microsoft's forlorn mobile division. Things had been going entirely too well for Windows Phone 7, relatively speaking...until this week.
This week, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 updates turned some Samsung phones into even more useless hunks of plastic than they already were. Apparently, that's called "bricking" phones, which means that Microsoft should probably hire Troy Aikman as its next spokesperson. (If you don't get that mild scintilla of humor, check this out.)
Microsoft has pulled the update, but to be fair this whole thing might not be Microsoft's fault. Your editor's own personal experience with Samsung technologies has not always been stellar, so we're not ready to place all the blame for this problem on Redmond.
And, in the grand scheme of things, this snafu, no matter who is at fault, isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's not even serious enough to pack a comic punch, which is our main source of disappointment with this story.
We've been hoping for a while that Windows Phone 7 would finally take up Vista's mantle as Most Unintentionally Hilarious Microsoft technology, but the mobile OS will have to do better than this if it really wants to earn derision from RCPU. In fact, in a more news-packed week, we wouldn't have written about this at all. It's probably a good thing, then, that this is the last RCPU of the week. At least we avoided the obligatory Pink Floyd "The Wall" joke.
Have a take on Windows Phone 7? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 25, 2011 at 2:34 PM7 comments
Leo Apotheker, the new HP CEO whose name means "pharmacist" in German, hasn't quite come up with the right prescription for his company. HP did OK earnings-wise this week but disappointed investors big time with forecasts for slow growth, which caused HP stock to slide in midweek. Get back to mixing those potions, Leo.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 2011 at 8:48 AM0 comments
Why have just one point when you can have multi? The evaluation copy of Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 is ready for download.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 2011 at 8:44 AM0 comments
This cloud stuff is here to stay, and so is Google. As if you didn't know that already, Google reiterated its presence in IT today with the announcement of the Google Apps Certification Program.
There's something about a certification program that makes an IT alternative seem legitimate. Not that Apps (or the cloud in general) wasn't before today, but it really feels like a viable option for IT with a certification program in place.
Of course, the program isn't really for IT customers -- it's mostly for partners. Yes, Google Apps has a growing reseller program, and participants come from all sorts of practice backgrounds, including Microsoft. As is the case with the Microsoft certification system, diploma-toting Google partners will be able to separate themselves from their competitors and gain some cloud credibility in the IT landscape.
"Both our customers and our partners have been seeking opportunities to differentiate themselves," Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps Channels at Google, told RCPU in a phone chat Tuesday afternoon. "Customers want to have an assurance of the expertise and competence of partners they might engage. [For partners], it shows a depth in the technology."
From where we're sitting, certification also lends a sense of added stability to the whole notion of IT departments moving key functions into the cloud. There's still some trepidation about Software as a Service in the enterprise despite the model's fairly rapid growth, but having another major player (other than Microsoft) provide a certificate of competence to partners has to be reassuring for IT folks who might otherwise wonder what they're getting into with all this cloud stuff.
The first Google certification, Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist, is available to partners and IT professionals as of today. There are more details about it here. More elements of the program are forthcoming, Cho said. They will include sales, support, developer skills and advanced deployment skills, he said.
"As the product gets broader, our technical expertise will also get broader," Cho said. And Microsoft partners are more than welcome to check out what's going on in Google's cloud.
Have you worked with Google Apps? Does a certification program make the notion more appealing? Why or why not? Send your thoughts to email@example.com.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 23, 2011 at 2:35 PM0 comments
Those of you who aren't MSDN or TechNet subscribers can go get Windows 7 SP1 for yourselves now. The big adds are mainly centered around desktop virtualization, so give it a whirl and see where it lands. Or something.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 23, 2011 at 9:18 AM0 comments
Evidently, the Kinect game controller for the Xbox is more than just goofy fun. Microsoft seems to see it as the future of interfacing with computers, which makes us wonder how long it'll be before we'll be able to type this newsletter with interpretive dance rather than with your editor's worn little fingers. How does one take on the shape of the Windows Server operating system, anyway?
Posted by Lee Pender on February 23, 2011 at 9:14 AM0 comments
Actually, we did know ye pretty well, and ye were pretty lame. It looks as though Microsoft might be (wisely) dumping the Zune name, thereby erasing from its portfolio a brand moniker that might as well have been spelled F-A-I-L. It's not that the Zune was such a bad device, really -- it's just that it was never close to competing with the iPod on any level that mattered (read: design and coolness).
The Zune always reminded us of the kid on "Beavis and Butthead" who wore a Winger shirt while the protagonists of the series were rocking shirts from legit hard-rock bands AC/DC and Metallica. Just weak. And that's your high-culture reference for the week.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM12 comments
Finally, some clarity in the murky world of the punditsphere. With Microsoft and Nokia on the ropes before they even step into the ring with their mobile partnership, a voice of reason is emerging from Nokia's homeland of Finland.
Actually, Petri Salonen lives in your editor's old hometown of Dallas, but he's a Finn by origin and a keen observer of both Nokia and Microsoft. A former global chairman of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, Salonen is not just another blogger with a run-of-the-mill opinion. He's someone whose views carry weight, and he has a message for partners and developers regarding the Microsoft-Nokia deal: Go for it!
Salonen would like to remind everybody that there's some considerable selling power in Microsoft's channel of 600,000-plus partners. Plus, he correctly points out that most of the time, Microsoft is an excellent partner. There is opportunity here if Microsoft, Nokia and the companies in their ecosystem choose to embrace it.
For a refreshing take grounded in realism and not pessimism, check out Salonen's blog entry here. And thank you to Petri for sending this link to RCPU. Please do keep in touch.
By the way, a note on this story: This thing is out of control. Now it appears as though the shareholder revolt that ended on Wednesday was never a revolt to begin with but was a hoax all along. Whatever. Take what you read about this deal with something of a grain of salt. We're not actively reporting on this story -- just following it online, really -- and it seems to be changing more frequently than the protests in the Middle East. In any case, the greater point here is that everybody needs to calm down and wait until there's actually a product from this deal.
Any more comments on the ongoing Microsoft-Nokia saga? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 17, 2011 at 2:36 PM0 comments
The world turned upside-down some months ago when Apple became bigger than Microsoft, thereby rendering obsolete -- or, at least, purely historical -- Bill Gates' declaration to Steve Jobs in the epic film Pirates of Silicon Valley that, "I got the loot!" It's about 7:40 here if you want to see it again.
Billions of dollars in sales of iPhones, iPads and just plain ol' Macs later, Apple isn't just bigger than Microsoft -- it's way bigger. In fact, it's $100 billion in market cap larger than any other company in the technology industry. (Yes, that's billion with a "b.") That's some pwnage, as we understand the kids call it these days, right there.
But look out, Microsoft. Your grip on the No. 2 spot is slipping. Rushing up behind you is Google, which is within striking distance of taking the runner-up spot. Apple and Google are growing explosively, and Microsoft is, well, not. So, what does all of this mean for the former king of the software hill?
We at RCPU actually interpret it as mostly good news. Microsoft's slow growth is bad news for partners, but its loss of the top spot in the technology industry (by a huge margin) shouldn't really matter that much. In fact, as we've said here before, it should encourage Microsoft to stop chasing Apple in the consumer market and focus instead on holding its enterprise ground -- which is where partners derive most of their revenues, anyway.
In the Pirates of Silicon Valley clip, somebody who works for Apple tries to convince Jobs that it's Microsoft, not IBM, that is the company's mortal enemy. Microsoft could take a similar lesson here: It's Google, not Apple, that Redmond should watch out for. Sure, the iPad is cutting into PC sales. But Google's cloud-based business offerings cut to the very core of Microsoft's most profitable and stable enterprise offerings.
And we're not talking about search here, either. Bing is actually making inroads against Google, but Microsoft has to focus on protecting its enterprise market. Azure and the cloud strategy will be key to that, and so will making sure physical servers stay relevant in an era of expanding cloud infrastructure. All of that means competing against Google, not Apple.
Bill Gates, to his immense credit, is busy giving his loot away these days. Back in the rat race, it's Steve Jobs, not Steve Ballmer, who has it now. Microsoft should just let that go, as difficult as that will be at a company that is used to ruling the roost. Better to hang on to second place than to slip behind another competitor that could do some serious damage.
What's your take on Microsoft's standing in the software industry? Send it to email@example.com.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 16, 2011 at 2:37 PM4 comments
Note: Apparently, Nokia's rogue shareholders gave up trying to kill the Windows 7 deal after just one day. (We usually write RCPU about a day in advance, and this story broke after we filed yesterday.) Nevertheless, this thing remains pretty unpopular.
We're getting a bit tired of writing about this, but it just keeps dragging on. Now it's not just shareholders but also unions that are bashing Nokia for hooking up with Microsoft. Talk about trying to kill this horse before it ever leaves the gate. This all seems a little ridiculous.
However, former Microsoft honcho and new Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's presentation of his old friends' technology to the Nokia board did feel a bit like a fait accompli, and that's not cool. Check out what one Nokia exec told Bloomberg:
"We had presented three scenarios: continue with the current plan of record, a Google option and a Microsoft option but the recommendation that we made to them was the Microsoft option so that's what they approved."
We're sure that all three options got a fair presentation, though...and the Kansas City Royals have a real shot at winning the World Series this year.
Posted by Lee Pender on February 16, 2011 at 2:36 PM2 comments