Tag Archives | Microsoft

Steve Ballmer’s CES 2012 Keynote Live Coverage

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.

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

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 technologizer.com/ces12. 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?

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

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

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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Microsoft, Maker of iOS Apps

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?

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Kinect Made Whole in Xbox 360 Overhaul

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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The Scoop on the Windows 8 Software Store

Microsoft has spilled the beans–lots and lots of them–on the Windows Store app market that will be in Windows 8. Presumably, it would never exist in this form if Apple had never introduced the iPhone App Store. But it does look good, with a slick interface and developer-friendly terms that offer more flexibility and a higher revenue share for programs once they hit $25,000 in sales.

The one thing that bugs me about the Windows Store is that it’s going to be the only way for developers to distribute Windows 8 apps with the new Metro interface to consumers. (Businesses can circumvent it for programs they provide to their own employees.) Am I being inconsistent, considering that I live reasonably happily with Apple’s identical restriction on iOS apps? Maybe. But maybe I’m just grappling with the fact that Microsoft is eliminating a PC feature that’s existed for decades: The liberty to install any program we choose. I’ll reserve further judgement until Windows 8 has shipped and the Windows Store is open–and hope that it, like Apple’s App Store, ultimately feels bountiful rather than limited.


What Price Office for the iPad? Who Knows!

The Daily story by Matt Hickey on a possible iPad version of Microsoft Office which I mentioned yesterday is continuing to make news. And one part of the story that has folks excited is the notion that the Office apps might go for $10 apiece:

The thing is, The Daily’s story doesn’t claim to have any inside information that even hints at the $10 price point, let alone confirms it. The article is a gumbo of scuttlebutt and supposition–and downright incoherent in spots–but here are the relevant paragraphs:

In addition to an iPad-ready version, a new edition of Office is expected for OS X Lion sometime next year. The current version of the desktop package, Office 2011, officially supports iOS versions up to Snow Leopard. A Lion version, likely available via the Mac App Store, is widely expected. Windows, too, is due for an update, with Office 2012 currently in beta form.

It’s assumed that both of these would work with Office 365 as well as mobile versions, such as Windows Phone’s Office Hub. Because it would be compatible with these full suites rather than as stand-alone apps, the pricing will most likely be significantly lower than existing Office products. In fact, it’s likely the cost will be around the $10 price point that Apple has established for its Pages, Numbers and Keynote products.

If you fully understand these two paragraphs, you’re a lot smarter than I am. Putting aside the fact that it says Snow Leopard is a version of iOS rather than OS X, it makes reference to the next Mac and Windows versions of Office. Then it says “it’s assumed” (by whom?) that “both of these” will “work with” Office 365 and Windows Phone.

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