Microsoft's Bleak Black Friday

Black Friday does not appear to have been kind to Microsoft, which is banking on robust sales of its new Surface RT, the hybrid tablet-PC launched last month, as well as devices offered by its OEM partners running Windows 8.

Well-respected Piper Jaffray senior research analyst Gene Munster and his team took to their annual ritual of hitting the Mall of America in Minneapolis, where they analyzed traffic at the Apple Store for eight hours for the fifth consecutive Black Friday. This year, the team also spent two hours observing traffic and buying patterns at the new Microsoft Store, which just happened to be across from the Apple Store. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on November 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM11 comments

Revisiting the Microsoft Store To Spend Time with Surface

Living in suburban New York City, I decided not to hang out in town until midnight on the day of the launch of Windows 8 and the Windows RT-based Surface.

Instead, I stopped by the Microsoft Store 30 miles away at Long Island's Walt Whitman Mall, in Huntington Station, N.Y., which opened last month. I was there a few days earlier, as well, so I have an idea of how much floor-space was reallocated to the Surface. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Microsoft Partner Goes All-In on Windows 8

Much of the attention from last week's launch of Windows 8 and hybrid PC devices based on Windows RT -- including the new Surface from Microsoft -- has focused on trying to stop consumers from defecting from Microsoft's OS platform to the rapidly growing iPad and devices based on Google Android.

But just as important to Microsoft, if not more, is keeping business users plugged into Windows. It appears interest among business users in Windows 8/RT is lukewarm right now. At last week's launch, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave a brief plug to business users, but that was about it: "Our enterprise customers will love the new Windows," he said. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Windows 8 Looms Large on Eve of Microsoft Earnings Release

As Microsoft braces to disclose earnings tomorrow for its fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, analysts this week have lowered expectations with some fearing the software giant could miss consensus estimates that have already dropped.

Analysts are forecasting a year-over-year revenue decline of 5.3 percent totaling $16.45 billion, Forbes reported Monday (citing Zacks Investment Research), while earnings are expected to drop 16.2 percent or 57 cents per share, down from 68 cents per share last year. Prior to lowering expectations, analysts were forecasting 60 cents a share. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 17, 2012 at 11:59 AM3 comments

Facing an Audience of Windows 8/RT Skeptics

Just three weeks from today, Microsoft will launch Windows 8 and its Windows RT-based Surface RT tablets at an event set to take place in New York. While this will kick off a new era for Windows and its partner ecosystem, plenty in the IT community are cynical about Microsoft's prospects.

I stepped into a lion's den of them Thursday when I sat on a panel called Advances in Mobile Devices: Technologies, Products and Strategies at the Interop 2012 show in New York. I asked the audience of about 50 enterprise IT pros how many have iPads in their organizations; about three-quarters raised their hands. I then asked how many plan to buy tablets running Windows 8 or Windows RT and, alas, only two or three people raised their hands. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 05, 2012 at 11:59 AM2 comments

What Can the Microsoft Store Do for You?

I've never attended the grand opening of a store and I was intent to keep it that way until I was invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Microsoft Store in Huntington Station, N.Y. Given that I live 15 minutes from the site of the new store at the Walt Whitman Mall, I wanted to take a look at how Microsoft's retail push might boost its profile among consumers and what impact it will have on partners.

First of all, the store I visited was quite slick. Huge video monitors encircle the wall that encompasses the entire internal perimeter of the store with panoramic, highly polished videos promoting various Microsoft offerings including Xbox and Office. Not surprisingly, every type of PC form factor was on display, from desktops to low-cost notebooks (most in the $699 range), to Ultrabooks and, of course, touch-based tablets (though only a handful at the moment). More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 01, 2012 at 11:59 AM1 comments

I Failed the Bing Challenge

When I attended the grand opening of the Microsoft Store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, N.Y., I asked for one of the T-shirts that were being given to attendees. The man guarding the shirts told me I could have one only if I took the Bing Challenge.

It was just like the Pepsi Challenge back in the 1980s, in which people would drink from two different cups of cola, one Pepsi and the other Coke, while blindfolded. After drinking from both cups, the tester would say which tasted better. While I wasn't blindfolded for the Bing Challenge, I was instructed to put in five different searches and say which sets of results I thought were more useful. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 01, 2012 at 11:59 AM6 comments

IBM's New CEO Pegs Future on Intelligent Systems Using Big Data

IBM's new CEO Ginni Rometty is charting the company's future on the delivery of integrated systems that have cognitive capabilities. The goal is to enable businesses and government agencies to extract intelligence using existing data and new forms of information emanating from the growing proliferation of social media and devices ranging from embedded components to smartphones.

In her first major public address to partners as president and CEO, Rometty defined the coming of a new era in computing so significant that it was presaged only by the invention of computers in the early 1900s that were able to perform tabulation, followed by programmable systems ushered in the 1960s with the introduction of the System 360 mainframe. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on March 01, 2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments

IBM Steers Partners Toward Integrated Hardware and Software

IBM is taking new steps to motivate its partners to sell more solutions bundled with hardware and software. Big Blue hopes to make that happen through newly engineered systems and added incentives to bring those who sell hardware and software together. It's certainly not the first time we've heard that refrain from IBM or other large players, most notably Oracle.

At its annual PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in New Orleans this week, IBM is talking up the need for partners to take a more holistic approach to solutions selling. It underpins IBM's emphasis on business analytics, big data, the move toward cloud computing and providing intelligent systems that are the basis of its Smarter Planet initiative. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on February 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments

Dell Adds AppAssure to New Software Business

Dell's new software chief John Swainson is wasting no time in adding to Dell's newly formed software business. The company last week said it is acquiring AppAssure, a provider of backup and recovery software.

The acquisition is the first since Dell tapped Swainson, the former CEO of CA Technologies and a longtime head of IBM's software business, as president of its new software business, earlier this month. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on February 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments

HP Extends Cloud Enablement for Partners

A lot has changed at Hewlett-Packard over the past year but one thing that hasn't is the company's desire to be a major player in cloud computing. And HP is looking for help from its partners.

As thousands of partners converge in Las Vegas this week for the HP Global Partner Conference (GPC) 2012, they will see a very different company than they did at last year's HP Americas Partner Conference. The company has a new CEO, Meg Whitman (actually it had a new CEO last year, too, but we know how that worked out), and will likely give little attention to last year's conference star, webOS, which the previous chief, Leo Apotheker, positioned as a pillar of its cloud strategy. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on February 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM1 comments

Microsoft To Bring Dynamics CRM to iPads and Other Mobile Devices

Looking to fill a key hole in its customer relationship management software, Microsoft said today it will bring its Dynamics CRM suite to the iPad and other popular mobile device platforms next quarter.

The move should be a welcome addition to partners who implement Dynamics CRM and its customers as rival has talked up its iPad and mobile device support for some time. And it comes as there is no slowing down enterprise adoption of iPads. Microsoft's Q2 Service Update of Dynamics CRM will also offer native mobile client support for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry mobile devices and of course its own Windows Phone 7.5 platform. More

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on February 07, 2012 at 11:59 AM1 comments

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