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, 2014 at 3:44 PM0 comments
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.
Posted by Lee Pender on September 04, 2013 at 11:04 AM0 comments
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?
Posted by Lee Pender on August 27, 2013 at 6:27 PM0 comments
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.
Posted by Lee Pender on August 21, 2013 at 10:07 AM0 comments
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, 2012 at 11:56 AM1 comments
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, 2012 at 11:56 AM1 comments
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, 2012 at 11:56 AM6 comments
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.
What's next? Finding out that Commerce One is still alive? Nah, that's what we thought. At least something in the tech world makes sense right now.
Posted by Lee Pender on April 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM0 comments
"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. More
Posted by Lee Pender on April 09, 2012 at 11:56 AM9 comments
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, 2012 at 11:56 AM12 comments
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. More
Posted by Lee Pender on April 02, 2012 at 11:56 AM0 comments
We literally love anything that's literal, so we couldn't let this little story pass by this week without some sort of comment. That nasty little torrent site, The Pirate Bay, has a brilliant idea for avoiding the intrusive copyright laws of planet Earth.
Put the servers in the sky, somewhere up there where Norman Greenbaum says he has reservations. That's actually what The Pirate Bay folks (apparently, "The" is part of the name) say they're going to do. They seem to be entirely serious when they say that they're going to locate servers in unmanned drone aircraft that will hover above Sweden. That way, their ostensibly illegal stuff will escape the jurisdiction of everybody but a few birds. Yes, this is literal cloud computing. More
Posted by Lee Pender on March 22, 2012 at 11:56 AM6 comments