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Ballmer: ‘Windows 8 is coming!’ Microsoft: ‘Eek!’

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week let slip what was already a poorly kept secret: Windows 8 will go on sale next year.

But that’s not a message Microsoft wants to let out so soon, apparently: The company issued a retraction shortly after Ballmer’s speech.

Windows 7 had been the fastest-selling version of Windows ever, but sales started to slump last quarter. Knowledge that a new product is on its way may soften demand even further, analysts say.

At a developers conference in Tokyo earlier this week, Ballmer spoke about Microsoft’s current product successes as a launching point to talk about what he believes will be an even brighter future. When he came to Windows 7, he noted that the next version of Windows will be even better.

“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows,” said Ballmer said, according to a transcript. “As we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) declined to comment to CNNMoney about Ballmer’s remarks, but many news organizations received an amusing backtracking statement from the company’s PR team earlier in the week.

“It appears there was a misstatement,” Microsoft’s representatives told CNET, PC Magazine and others. “We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year. To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.”

Until this week, Microsoft’s top brass have been unusually secretive about Windows 8. The company is typically is unafraid to discuss or even release beta versions to the public, but this time it’s working quietly.

Ballmer’s speech was even the first time a Microsoft executive publicly called the product “Windows 8.” Microsoft hadn’t officially confirmed the name of its next Windows iteration — internally, Microsoft refers to it as “Windows.Next,” though many Microsoft employees on LinkedIn refer to the new OS as Windows 8.

It’s understandable if Microsoft is hesitant to give consumers and businesses any reason to put off their purchases of Windows. But it’s more than a little unusual that the company is going to such lengths as to call the CEO’s long, articulate comment about Windows 8 a “misstatement.” To top of page

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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GOOGLE ANDROID VS GOOGLE CHROME

Mike Cleron, a Google software engineer for the Android operating system, made an ambitious pronouncement onstage at the company’s annual conference last week.

“We want one OS that runs everywhere,” Cleron said, referring to the popular system for smartphones and tablets.

The next day at the conference, Sundar Pichai took the very same stage to stake a very similar claim. Except Pichai was referring to a completely different Google operating system.

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“Chrome OS can be applied to a variety of form factors,” said Pichai, who is a senior vice-president for the division that makes Google’s brand-new operating system, which will be deployed in a line of laptop computers (sometimes referred to as notebooks). “We have chosen initially to focus on notebooks because that’s where most of the Web usage is today.”

Can Google support both operating systems?

“Chrome OS is a thought experiment rather than a viable product on any form factor,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, a consumer-electronics analyst for Forrester Research, in an e-mail to CNN. “Google should invest its resources to improve an imperfect Android before supporting a second fledgling OS.”

The first laptops running the Chrome software, called Chromebooks, are scheduled to hit stores June 15. An Android laptop already exists. Motorola Mobility‘s Atrix 4G smartphone can transform into a laptop using a peripheral and built-in software. There are also tablet-laptop hybrids that rely on Android.

On Android, the Web browser is just one application. Chrome OS is, put simply, a browser.

These are two competing methodologies for Google, a company that made 96% of its revenues from advertising last year. Only a sliver of that comes from ads shown on phones (or to let Google tell it: “Mobile advertising is still in relative infancy”). Google doesn’t derive any income directly from Android.

As Google often says, the company benefits from people using the Internet more. And that’s what Chrome OS facilitates.

“We wanted to rethink the entire (computing) experience and distill it down to nothing but the Web, and that’s what Chrome OS is,” Pichai said. “The software experience is very unique,” unlike Windows computers, which he said are “really, really complicated.”

Since throwing a coming out party for Chrome OS at Google I/O last year, the company has sent out thousands of prototype laptops to testers around the world. So far, the effort hasn’t been a resounding success.

But Pichai said his team has fixed various bugs with the hardware and software, and so Google will test next month whether a Chromebook is something people will be willing to pay for. If it strikes a chord, Pichai is apparently poised to wedge Chrome into “a variety of form factors,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Android team is boasting about the flexibility of its operating system. Cleron said: “We have phones in every size and shape, phones with keyboards that slide, phones with keyboards that flip, phones with built-in game controllers, tablets in every size from 7 inches to 10 inches, even tablets that transform into laptops, and who knows what else is coming.”

Google is welcoming one more electronics category to the greater Android family this summer. The Google TV software will be based on the same version of Android that’s used on tablets and will include the Market for downloading apps.

“If I had to pick one word to explain Android’s phenomenal growth over the past year, that word would be ‘choice,'” Cleron said. “Consumers really like choices.”

Pichai said the two Google divisions don’t currently compete but instead appeal to different audiences. Separately, they’ve found success. The Chrome browser has 160 million active users, and Android has activated 100 million devices.

“We share common code, common infrastructure, but the final expressions are two different visions. And we provide choices to users,” Pichai said. “The potential of competition or collision that you’re talking about in the future — we don’t think about it that way internally at all.”

Microsoft makes a distinction between Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7. So, too, does Apple between Mac and iOS.

For Google, the line between Chrome OS and Android may be only temporary.

Google says it is in the early stages of building a version of Chrome OS for tablets but has no formal product to announce. In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Pichai downplayed that project, saying, “Chrome OS on a tablet, that’s not what we’re working on.”

“All of these systems are designed to scale and run across a set of devices over time,” Pichai said. “You want to design a computing experience, an operating computing experience, to run everywhere.”

For the launch of Chrome OS, Google has signed on two manufacturers: Acer and Samsung Electronics. Three dozen electronics makers already use Android.

But asking these partners to support an unproven system with their development and financial resources will be a tough sell, said Rotman Epps, the Forrester analyst.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Big Deall? Microsoft Buys Skype For $8.5 Billion In Cash

The deal is done. Microsoft is buying Skype for $8.5 billion in cash in its first sizeable acquisition since August 2008, when the Redmond software giant spent $486 million on Greenfield Online.

In fact, this is Microsoft’s biggest financial bet to date in terms of M&A, trumping its $6 billion+ purchase of aQuantive, which dates back to May 2007, in size.

The purchase price includes the assumption of Skype’s debt.

The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype.

Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft, and its current chief executive Tony Bates will assume the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The deal was first reported by GigaOM‘s Om Malik (he does that sometimes) and later confirmed by the Wall Street Journal, who cited people familiar with the matter.

The $8.5 billion question: did Microsoft overpay for Skype?

Perhaps, perhaps not. Only time will tell. As always with these things, the many tech industry pundits and analysts will look at this deal from all possible angles and then some, and still only a handful will end up being somewhat accurate when we look back in a couple of years.

From a non-financial point of view, the acquisition makes a ton of sense today, though.

Skype digitally connects dozens of millions of people on a daily basis, enabling them to communicate with each other through voice calls, chat messages and video conferencing.

There’s no doubt it’s a big brand on the Web (with both consumer and enterprise appeal, worldwide at that), and is poised to keep mattering in the next decade and beyond.

In August 2010, Skype filed to go public, expecting to raise $1 billion, but not long after appointing a new CEO, former Cisco SVP Tony Bates, the company put its IPO plans in the freezer while it looked for ways to generate more revenue from the popular service.

Skype’s 2010 revenue was $860 million, adjusted EBITDA was $264 million, and – as many are tripping over each others to point out – the company actually lost $7 million last year.

But looking ahead, chances for the business to keep growing, perhaps even acceleratingly so, are fairly big. In that sense, it’s a valuable asset to own (and to keep out of others’ hands).

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Microsoft and Skype said they “hope to obtain all required regulatory clearances during the course of this calendar year”.

Microsoft also pledged that it would “continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms”.

Since its former owner eBay sold the company to a consortium of investors formed by Silver Lake Partners, Joltid (the company founded by Skype’s original founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis), the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Andreessen Horowitz in November 2009, the company has been pursuing an aggressive strategy to be available everywhere, anytime, both in enterprises, the living room, even classrooms and, very importantly, on smartphones.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Microsoft’s talking paper clip returns

Bill Gates retired "Clippy" as a default feature of Microsoft Office in 2001. The company is bringing the character back in a game.
Bill Gates retired “Clippy” as a default feature of Microsoft Office in 2001. The company is bringing the character back in a game.

 — If you remember “Clippy” — that googly-eyed paper clip that once hopped out of the corner of the computer screen to “help” with Microsoft Office tasks — chances are you don’t remember him fondly.

Many Office users cringed when the Microsoft cartoon delivered cheerily obvious messages like: “It looks like you’re writing a letter.”

“I know I’m writing a f-ing letter, you stupid paperclip,” one hater wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to Clippy’s demise.

Well, like it or not, Clippy is back.

But there’s good news: You don’t have to deal with him if you don’t want to.

After killing off the cartoon paper clip, Microsoft decided to revive him (I guess it’s a him?) in limited fashion as part of a learn-how-to-use-Office game called “Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy’s Second Chance.”

The game is just something you download to get better at using Office, if you want to. Clippy takes people through challenges in this game, but he doesn’t show up automatically in Word, PowerPoint or Microsoft’s other Office apps.

Part of the reason Office users got so annoyed at the paper clip in the past was that he would appear unexpectedly when they were trying to work. (And, really, who can work when a paper clip with eyes is staring at them?)

Microsoft’s description of “Ribbon Hero 2” is stirring chatter online:

“Yes, we turned Office into a game! If you’re going to spend time immersed in the inner workings of Office, by golly it should be fun.

“In Ribbon Hero 2, you’ll hop on board Clippy’s stolen time machine and explore different time periods. With each time period, you get to explore a new game board with challenges you must complete to get to the next level.”

Clippy was a default part of early versions of Microsoft Office, starting with Office 97. In 2001, the company stopped having the cartoon show up by default in its software. Microsoft even created an ad campaign making fun of the paper clip, saying they were putting him out of work.

By 2007, the company had eliminated Clippy entirely.

What do you think of his return?

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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SCREENSHOTS OF UPCOMING WINDOWS 8

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Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Microsoft vs Google ,Furious over copying

Microsoft is now accusingGoogle of using a form of click fraud to set up its Bing Sting, a stunt unveiled by the search giant at the Farsight 2011 tech conference in Silicon Valley.

 

Google on Tuesday grabbed headlines in the tech press by disclosing an FBI-like sting operation purporting to produce evidence that Bing is intentially and systematically copying Google search results.

Today, Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president for Microsoft’s Online Services Division, fired back. Mehdi says Google’s sting, in fact, was “rigged to manipulate Bing search results” through the use of click fraud — the elaborate trickery scammers use to fake clicks on Web ads in order to get paid by advertisers.

. Not only that, Microsoft has also accused Google of copying its moves of partnering with social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.

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“What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove?” asks Mehdi. “Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know.”

 

 

Google senior engineer Amit Singhal told Technology Live that the search giant stands by its original allegations that Bing is a copy cat.

“At Google we strongly believe in innovation,” says Singhal. “We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithm built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results copied from a competitor.”

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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