The Undead OS: Why Windows Vista Still Haunts Microsoft

What's that you say? Microsoft is doing all right for itself, and as a Microsoft partner, so are you. Satya Nadella is a visionary CEO who is leading the company in the right direction. In fact, Microsoft made the Fortune 25 last year for the first time ever. (I'm sure you all have your Fortune 500 parties ready for later this spring. Can Walmart repeat? Will Apple fall? The suspense is gripping.) Is all of that right?

Actually, it is. (Well, hopefully it is in the case of partners doing all right for themselves. We're cheering for you.) Microsoft is on the up overall, and that's good for pretty much anybody who is reading these words right now. But as the former editor of this newsletter (and now a writer seeking assignments -- hit me up!), I can't help but wonder what might have been had Microsoft been able to shake a certain obsession about a decade ago. More

Posted by Lee Pender on April 11, 20170 comments

Finally, Steve Ballmer Can't Lose

Steve Ballmer is the biggest loser in America ... among tech multi-billionaires. (That's a pretty important caveat, but still.) At Microsoft, he managed -- metaphorically, of course -- to turn the 1960s Celtics into something closer to the Celtics of the 1990s, or maybe the Lakers of the 1980s into the 2014 Lakers. Whatever. Microsoft under Ballmer went from hero to, well, not zero, but certainly something less than hero.

He got violently out-Steved by his late counterpart at Apple. Among former Microsoft luminaries, Bill Gates is currently saving the world, and Paul Allen, more than 30 years gone from Redmond, is still savoring a Super Bowl triumph with his Seattle Seahawks -- and no doubt loving the fact that he left Microsoft at just the right time, before any of the really hard work had to be done. For Allen, it was all music projects and sports-franchise ownership, while everybody else who stayed behind was fighting through antitrust suits and the eventual and humiliating existence of the Zune. More

Posted by Lee Pender on May 30, 20140 comments

Nokia Acquisition Looks Like Another Sign of Microsoft Abandoning Partners

If Microsoft makes an announcement and nobody is there to hear it, does it still make a noise? Once again, as it did with the news about Steve Ballmer's impending, um, retirement, Microsoft dropped a bomb this week at a time when most Americans were off doing something else.

OK, we realize that Microsoft announced its impending acquisition of Nokia's devices and services divisions in Finland, where Nokia is headquartered, and that the world does not actually end where American beaches plunge into the sea. Still, most of the tech press, pretty much all of Wall Street and probably most folks who work for Microsoft were asleep or otherwise occupied when the company revealed its latest blockbuster move overnight Eastern Daylight Time time on Tuesday, just on the other side of the Labor Day holiday here in the United States. More

Posted by Lee Pender on September 04, 20130 comments

Steve Ballmer Got the Axe (Apparently) Because He Was Too Slow To Give It to Himself

Steve Ballmer was getting around to it. He was always getting around to it. That's the way Ballmer's Microsoft has worked for years: slowly, almost casually, and with no apparent sense of urgency. So, yeah, Steve Ballmer was going to retire...eventually. But then, according to lots of sources in stories from excellent journalists, Ballmer got retired by Microsoft's suddenly impatient board.

As we all know now, Ballmer said Friday that he'd step down as Microsoft CEO sometime in the next 12 months. Using the classic, old tactic of dumping "bad" news on a Friday (in August, no less), when supposedly nobody is paying attention, Microsoft released Ballmer's announcement only to find out that it wasn't bad news at all. The company's stock price went up -- kind of by a lot, by Microsoft's low standards. The press and pundits took a non-cursory interest in the company for the first time in quite a while. What a surprise, huh, this positive reaction to bad news? More

Posted by Lee Pender on August 27, 20130 comments

The Definitive Movie About Steve Jobs Already Exists

At some point soon, and maybe it will already have happened by the time you read this, the movie Jobs will be in theaters. Ashton Kutcher, probably best known for sort of acting in "That '70s Show," hosting a not-unfunny prank show called "Punk'd" on MTV and horsing around on Twitter (ugh), has borne the awesome responsibility of playing the iGod himself, the late Steve Jobs. You know this, of course. But stick with me here, please.

I'm sure ol' Ashton is just fine in that role, no matter how much criticism he's bound to get from Apple sycophants and snooty, ivory-tower film mavens alike. (Seriously, who's more annoying than an old-school, print-publication "film" reviewer? More annoying than the people who never call them movies, only "films"? These people are at a Ph.D.-in-English-Lit level of annoying, and other than crabby blogger, there is no level higher than that.) Seriously, though, I'm sure Ashton does OK. But it doesn't matter. It's only a movie. And it's not the movie, anyway. More

Posted by Lee Pender on August 21, 20130 comments

Microsoft Dives Into the E-Book (But Not the Tablet) Nook

The printed word made it all the way from one Gutenberg to another -- Johannes to Steve, although Steve picked up an extra "t" somewhere along the way -- before  finally giving way to the inevitability of pixels, screens and bookmarks not made of plastic and given away for free at the local bookstore. (On a side note, the local bookstore isn't around anymore, either. But we digress.)

Kindle, Nook, iPad, HP Touchpad (hey, we are out there!) -- the age of the e-reader is not only here but has been here for a while. So it's about time Microsoft jumped into it. Late, but not fashionably, to the trendy party as usual, Microsoft took a big stake in the e-reader game this week by pumping a few hundred million dollars into Barnes & Noble's Nook device and the subsidiary-type thingy that B&N will create to produce it. More

Posted by Lee Pender on April 30, 20121 comments

Microsoft's Old-School Moneymakers

Connoisseurs of great television advertising will remember the days when Smith Barney made money the old fashioned way -- they eahhhned it. And so it goes at Microsoft, which, despite being behind in every new-fangled market from tablets to smartphones (actually, pretty much just those two), continues to make money the old fashioned way -- with Windows. And, um, Office.

Last week's Microsoft earnings report was something of a throwback to the '90s, or maybe even the '80s. Entertainment stuff was weak. Nobody's buying Windows Phone. But the old stalwarts in Redmond -- Windows and Office, plus Dynamics (yes, really) and some servers and whatnot -- drove Microsoft to beat analysts' earnings expectations. OK, so Microsoft is no Apple when it comes to blockbuster numbers. So what? More

Posted by Lee Pender on April 23, 20121 comments

Microsoft, Facebook and Bing: Do This!

We at RCPU don't make a habit of telling Microsoft what to do. We usually focus on what we think Microsoft is doing wrong or could be doing better. That's what bloggers do. We magnify problems without offering any solutions. We're like politicians in that sense.

Once in a while, though -- and this might actually be the first time -- an idea comes along that's so good, so smart and so seemingly simple that we just have to jump on the bandwagon and say, "Do it, Microsoft! Give Bing to Facebook in exchange for Facebook shares and some search revenue." Oh, it's not our idea, of course. Barron's explains: More

Posted by Lee Pender on April 17, 20126 comments

Microsoft and Ariba...Wait, What?

Hmm, let's see here, press releases, news items, Microsoft and Ariba are collaborating on...wait. Hold on. Microsoft and who?

Honestly, on the list of companies we honestly had no idea still existed, Ariba was near the top of the list. But some semi-vague deal with Microsoft has confirmed Ariba's non-death.


Posted by Lee Pender on April 16, 20120 comments

How Microsoft and Facebook Are Spending $1 Billion Each

"A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."
-- Something Sen. Everett Dirksen probably never actually said, but still a good quote.

Microsoft and AOL this week cut a deal that makes both parties look like titans of the lost 1990s compared to Facebook, which just keeps charging ahead into the 21st century.


Posted by Lee Pender on April 09, 20129 comments

Windows Phone Much-Loved But Still Unpopular

Does the sliver of the smartphone market that owns Windows Phone-based devices know something we don't? Maybe, as it appears as though Windows Phone is driving a high rate of satisfaction among users -- so high that it tied with the iPhone in a recent survey of customer satisfaction. That's all great news for Microsoft, we suppose, but your editor loved his Intellivision as a kid (George Plimpton did the ads!), but that still didn't stop it from being crushed by Atari. Microsoft's market share for Windows Phone is still less than 10 percent -- but at least it's a happy less than 10 percent.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 02, 201212 comments

Dell Gets Wyse to Thin Clients

Wyse Technology started as a producer of convection ovens in the 1930s before converting itself into an aircraft manufacturer during World War II. OK, not really, but the provider of thin clients does go back to 1981, when Wang was still a major name in computing and Microsoft wasn't. It has been around a while.

But no more, at least not as an independent entity. Dell announced this week that it is snapping up Wyse but didn't mention a price. What also doesn't get mentioned all that much these days is thin client computing, what with all the hype about Software as a Service and the cloud.


Posted by Lee Pender on April 02, 20120 comments