Technologizer posts about Microsoft

The Windows 8 Logo Defines Microsoft’s Future

By  |  Posted at 2:55 pm on Saturday, February 18, 2012


There you have it, Microsoft’s new logo for Windows 8. It’s a dramatic departure from the logos of the past, where color and flashiness took an increasing role, and it looked less like a window and more like a flag. But why so minimalist? It accurately portrays Windows’ future.

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Since I first saw and used Windows 8 last year, I’ve been wondering if Microsoft might end up tweaking it a bit to make it less of a shock to the system of all those Windows users out there–a sizable percentage of whom haven’t even given up Windows XP yet. But nope: According to Tom Warren of the Verge, the company has decided to do away with Windows’ most famous feature, its Start button.

Posted by Harry at 8:06 am


As ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports, Microsoft has announced that it’s begun a technical preview of Office 15, the next version of its suite. That means that work is progressing on the product, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to guess that the company hopes to have it out this year. But the news doesn’t bring any official details whatsoever:

Microsoft officials are not commenting on the features in any part of Office 15; on the planned release-to-manufacturing (RTM) or general availability date; or on whether the technical preview will include a version of Office that will work on Windows 8 on ARM. (I asked about all of these.) Update: Also, for those asking, we also have no idea on platform-support specifics — such as whether this preview also encompasses the rumored Office for iPad; and whether it includes a separate non-touch-centric Office 15 update for those not using tablets/touch-enabled laptops.

I hope that Microsoft is working on an ambitious touch-centric version of Office for Windows 8. It would be odd if it wasn’t. But I’m not sure what the implications will be–is it even possible to create a touch version of Excel that will please a spreadsheet jockey?–and look forward to hearing what Microsoft has to say when it’s ready to talk.

Posted by Harry at 12:57 pm



By  |  Posted at 9:27 am on Saturday, January 28, 2012


I didn’t own an IBM PC or clone in the early days, so I missed out on the wonder of DONKEY.BAS, which came bundled with early versions of MS-DOS and was the first PC game. In fact, I don’t think I knew about it until I read Benj Edwards’ slideshow on operating-system games, which pointed out that it was cowritten by Bill Gates himself.

But now I can relive the magic for the first time, thanks to a new version of DONKEY.BAS for iOS. It’s 99 cents, is compatible with Game Center, and includes both iPhone and iPad versions. It seems to be a faithful rendition of the original, complete with blocky graphics and bloopy sound effects, and the same objective: Drive down road, avoid hitting donkeys. And it’s um, just as fun as it must have been back in 1981.

The new version is by Johnny Ixe; I’d love to think that’s a pseudonym for William H. Gates III. Probably not, though, so let’s hope that Microsoft doesn’t issue a takedown notice….

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OK, now this sounds nifty: Microsoft is experimenting with building its Kinect gesture-input system into notebook computers running Windows 8, says The Daily’s Matt Hickey:


A source at Microsoft has confirmed that the devices are indeed official prototypes of laptops featuring a Kinect sensor. In terms of functionality, there are hundreds of different ways that motion control could be leveraged in a portable. Gaming has the most obvious applications, but a Kinect-enabled laptop could also toggle between programs with the wave of a hand, or media controls could be tweaked with the wag of a finger. What’s more, motion-controlled portables could offer a new way for disabled individuals to interact with their devices.

Posted by Harry at 2:41 pm

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Microsoft May Ditch Xbox Live Points, For Real This Time

By  |  Posted at 9:08 am on Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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Inside Mobile Apps is reporting as rumor what Xbox 360 users have wanted for years: the death of Microsoft Points.

Kathleen De Vere’s “source with knowledge of the company’s decision” says Microsoft will phase out its points system by the end of the year, and that the change will affect the Xbox 360, Windows Phones and the Zune Marketplace. Mobile developers are reportedly being warned to plan their downloadable content and in-app purchases around the change in policy. Microsoft, not surprisingly, would not comment.

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Microsoft’s Building Windows 8 blog has another one of its long, geeky, interesting insider posts. This one’s about how the company is building much more ambitious support for mobile broadband right into the operating system–including a phone-like Airplane Mode.

Posted by Harry at 5:15 pm

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The Big Winner of CES 2012 Is… Microsoft?

By  |  Posted at 11:35 pm on Friday, January 13, 2012


For a company whose CES swan song is this year, and whose CEO gave a pretty boring keynote address, Microsoft seems to have had an uncommonly successful CES. Windows Phone went into the show a struggling also-ran mobile operating system, and very well may have come out of it a contender.

Why’s that? Two phones made their debut at the show, the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan II. Both have been getting glowing reviews from the press for their form and function. Finally it appears Microsoft has devices that look compelling. It couldn’t do much worse: there’s only one way and that’s up!

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Steve Ballmer CES 2012 Microsoft keynote live coverage

I’m sitting in Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport. But tonight at 6:30pm PT, I’ll be in Las Vegas at Steve Ballmer’s final Microsoft keynote at CES–and TIME’s Doug Aamoth and I will liveblog it one last time. You can join us at technologizer/ces12, and I hope you will.

Posted by Harry at 8:05 am

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Join Us for Live Coverage of Steve Ballmer’s Final Microsoft Keynote at CES

By  |  Posted at 2:50 pm on Tuesday, January 3, 2012

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Steve Ballmer CES 2012 Microsoft keynote live coverage

Next Monday at 6:30pm PT, Steve Ballmer will give what Microsoft says is the company’s final keynote at CES. I don’t know whether he’ll acknowledge that fact, in either a serious manner or a lighthearted one. But it’s a safe bet that he’ll talk about Windows 8, ultrabooks, Xbox, and Windows phone. And I’ll be in the audience, along with TIME’s Doug Aamoth. We’ll liveblog the event as it happens at Join us, won’t you? (And if you need a reminder, head there now: You can get an e-mailed notification when the event begins.)


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Windows Phone Woes: Is it the Name, Stupid?

By  |  Posted at 10:02 am on Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Lots of buzz on the Web today about a fascinating question: Why isn’t Windows Phone catching on? You can read thoughts from Robert Scoble, MG Siegler, and former Windows Phone honcho Charlie Kindel, among others. Everybody has a different set of theories.

And Daring Fireball’s John Gruber makes a parenthetical remark that I find intriguing:

(And, as I’ve said before, I think the “Windows” brand hurts them here. Windows Phone 7 doesn’t sound like a new platform. It sounds like an old one. They should have called it Metro 1.0.)

Windows Phone’s market failure to date surely stems from a confluence of obstacles rather than one overriding issue. But there’s no denying that “Windows Phone 7″ and “Windows Phone 7.5″ are willfully mundane monikers for operating systems that aren’t the least bit mundane. They suggest business as usual, when what Microsoft actually did–rather bravely–was to start from scratch.

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In case you’re keeping track, here’s some stuff I’ve written for other sites this week:
For TIME, I proposed a few new year’s resolutions for tech companies.
Also at TIME, I mused on the fact that at CES, everyone’s keynoter.
And at CNET, Microsoft’s CES departure made me think of IBM”s COMDEX departure.

Posted by Harry at 7:51 am

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A Brief History of Microsoft Vegas Keynotes (Now That They’re Going Away)

By  |  Posted at 12:31 pm on Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The Rock and Bill Gates introduce the original Xbox.

The Rock and Bill Gates introduce the original Xbox at CES in 2001.

Microsoft has announced that next month’s Steve Ballmer keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be its last, and that it won’t have its own booth at the show. The move is unquestionably reminiscent of Apple’s 2008 decision to pull out of Macworld Expo, although Microsoft will still be a part of the show in other ways. It’s just ending its traditional, high-profile presence.

And what a long tradition it’s been. It started, of course, not with Ballmer but with Bill Gates. And it didn’t begin with CES. For years, a Gates keynote kicked off the now-defunct COMDEX show: He did them in Vegas in November and sometimes at Spring COMDEX in other cities.

(I’m not sure when Gates did his first COMDEX keynote, but he was doing them as early as 1983, and they became a ritual in the 1990s.)

I’ve always wondered just how much Microsoft benefited from all these keynotes. It’s used them as an opportunity to present its perspective on the future of computing. But as I wrote back in 2008, an awful lot of the things it unveiled at COMDEX and CES never amounted to much, including the Tablet PC, Windows Smart Displays, the Smart Watch, and the amazingly short-lived Urge music service. Unlike Apple, Microsoft rarely if ever saved up a big announcement until a keynote, so the PR bump wasn’t remotely in the same league as Apple’s Macworld events. And the copious use of uncomfortable-looking celebrity guest stars usually didn’t help matters.

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Don’t Pine for Bill Gates, Microsoft Fans

By  |  Posted at 11:00 am on Thursday, December 15, 2011


Putting the kibosh on one of 2011′s biggest non-stories, Bill Gates has said he isn’t going to return to full-time work at Microsoft. Thank heavens. His current gig as a philanthropist matters far more than anything he might do to nudge Windows Phone in the right direction or get Windows 8 off to a good start. (I’m convinced that when the world remembers Gates in a century or two, his philanthropy will be the first thing that comes to mind; Microsoft will be the second career that also deserves a mention.)

The notion that Gates might have staged a Microsoft comeback seems to have been wishful thinking more than possible reality. Microsoft faces lots of challenges. Some people think that its current CEO, Steve Ballmer, is doing a lousy job of tackling them. Who better than its co-founder to rise to the challenge? Wouldn’t it be pretty much like Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, which worked out OK?

If Bill Gates had come back to Microsoft and had staged a dramatic turnaround, it would have been a great story. But if he had strolled into the CEO’s office, asked Ballmer to give up his chair, and sat down, I don’t think it would have had a dramatic impact on the company’s fortunes.

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Boy, Microsoft is taking Apple’s iOS seriously these days. Today, it announced SkyDrive for the iPhone and Kinectimals for iPhone and iPad. Yesterday, it unveiled OneNote for the iPad and said it would soon bring its Lync integrated-messaging app to Apple devices.
All this activity doesn’t prove that Microsoft Office for iOS is on its way. But it does suggest it’s not a pipe dream, doesn’t it?

Posted by Harry at 5:04 pm


Kinect Made Whole in Xbox 360 Overhaul

By  |  Posted at 3:32 pm on Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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I bought a Kinect for Xbox 360 a few months ago, but not so I could flail my arms and legs around looking like a fool in Dance Central (although that, too, is happening). Mostly, I was curious to see how Kinect would fit into Microsoft’s Xbox 360 dashboard update, which went live late Tuesday night.

To my delight, Kinect now plays a significant role in the dashboard. It’s no longer penned into special menus with limited functionality. Instead, Kinect now allows you to control almost any part of the Xbox 360 with voice commands and motion controls. And it works really well.

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