Microsoft Gives Hardware Partners the Limelight at Computex

Microsoft's opening keynote presentation on Wednesday at the Computex show in Taipei gave a decidedly rosy picture for its hardware partners.

The keynote from Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president for Microsoft's OEM Division, was a show-and-tell presentation of the work done by Microsoft's various business divisions.

Guggenheimer noted that one big reason to partner with Microsoft is that its Windows platform enables a choice of devices. He said that Microsoft is continuing to invest across its platforms for phones, PCs, embedded devices and servers. Second, the company is building a bridge to those devices through Microsoft's cloud. Third, Microsoft is working to extend its experiences to the cloud.

Microsoft sometimes means "user interfaces" when it talks about "experiences," but Guggenheimer seemed to be referring broadly to Microsoft's Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, such as Window Live applications, Bing and the forthcoming Office 365, as well as to the Zune music player (as software), Microsoft Office and its associated Office Web Apps for both PCs and Windows phones.

While positive, the keynote didn't make mention of the alleged grumblings from Microsoft's chip designer partners and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) over the company's hands-on, domineering practices: A Bloomberg article published Tuesday quotes an Acer official who said Microsoft is telling chipmakers they must limit their computer device-maker partners.

"They're [Microsoft] really controlling the whole thing, the whole process," said Acer CEO and Chairman J.T. Wang, according to Bloomberg. "They try to set the game rules," he added, indicating that chip providers and PC makers "all feel it's very troublesome."

If there was trouble in Taipei over that matter, Guggenheimer didn't let on during the keynote talk. In keeping with the upbeat tone of his presentation, he cited some positive numbers:

  • There are more than 1.2 billion PC users, and 350 million are Windows 7 users. The new operating system hit that number 18 months after release.

  • Xbox Kinect sold nearly 8 million units over 60 days, and that figure has risen to 10 million units today.

  • Seven of 10 barcode scanners run Windows or Windows Embedded.

  • Nine of 10 digital signs use Windows or Windows Embedded.

  • Windows Phone has more than 16,000 available applications, with "tens of thousands more in development," according to Guggenheimer.

The most impressive stat for Microsoft partners is the company's estimate that "for every dollar of Windows software sold, there's about $8 of revenue made across services, software partners, hardware partners, et cetera," according to Microsoft's transcript of Guggenheimer's speech.

Product Tour
The stage at Computex was set with clusters of devices in the smartphone, PC, embedded device and server categories, although Microsoft just showed off Windows Home Server and Windows Small Business Server devices at this event. There are more than 130 devices built by about 50 Microsoft hardware partners at the Computex show, according to a Microsoft booth tour video.

While anticipation about Microsoft's tablet strategy and "Windows Next" or "Windows 8" was likely high for Computex attendees, Guggenheimer deferred such talk. He did say that Microsoft would talk about its next generation of Windows on Thursday.

Guggenheimer did note that Internet Explorer 9 will be arriving with the next update to Windows Phone 7, code-named "Mango," later this year. IE 9 uses the phone's underlying hardware to accelerate graphics using HTML 5 and JavaScript. It serves as a common platform for developers across devices, he added.

The Bing search engine for Mango-based Windows phones can generate metadata based on voice commands and photos, making the smartphone experience more useful and personal. For instance, the phone can recognize a song and point the user to a Web site to buy the music. It can do a similar search with photos of book titles, pointing to online bookstores. Microsoft also integrated Facebook with Bing to support friend recommendations with search queries. Voice commands can be turned into SMS messages as well with the Mango update, Guggenheimer said.

Mango hardware smartphone partners include Acer, Fujitsu, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia and ZTE, he said.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.