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Microsoft Partners Not Crazy About Ford’s Mulally As Next Likely CEO

Ford CEO Alan Mulally, credited with reversing the automaker’s fortunes during his seven years at the helm, has emerged as the leading candidate to replace outgoing Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer, AllThingsD reported last week.

Microsoft would have a tough time finding a stronger executive than Mulally, whose work at Ford is going to be featured in business school case studies for generations. Ford racked up a $12.6 billion net loss in 2006, the year he joined as CEO. Four years later, it reported $6.6 billion in profit.

But despite all that, several partners told CRN on Monday they don’t believe Mulally is the right choice to lead Microsoft out of its current doldrums.

Andrew Brust, CEO of Microsoft analyst firm Blue Badge Insights, New York, believes Microsoft is facing a different set of challenges than the ones Mulally tackled at Ford, particularly as they relate to culture and strategy.

“Mulally is not from the software technology world, and he’s not young, whereas Microsoft arguably needs someone with both of those qualities,” Brust said in an email.

Given Microsoft’s intense focus on the consumer market, it’s unclear how Mulally’s background would help it compete more effectively with the likes of Google and Apple, partners told CRN.

Greg Frankenfield, CEO of Magenic, a Minneapolis-based Microsoft partner, would like to see Microsoft appoint a CEO with “technical vision and a deep understanding of the consumer marketplace.”

“Microsoft needs to rebuild its culture before it can retool and rebuild its various businesses,” Frankenfield told CRN. “It is increasingly bureaucratic and inward focused, and that change has to come from the top.”

Jeff Middleton, a Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) partner based in Metairie, La., said Microsoft needs to bring in a CEO with the ability to connect with consumers.  Read More

Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer dances at tearful send-off

Steve Ballmer

The 57-year-old danced to Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, and declared that the company would “change the world again”.

More than 13,000 Microsoft employees had queued to be a part of the annual company-wide event.

The firm has not yet announced a replacement chief executive.

Mr Ballmer will retire within the next year and will leave the company in a strategically precarious position as it looks to claw back lost ground in the mobile sector.

While at the helm, he became known for his vigorous and enthusiastic presentations in which he would routinely declare his love for Microsoft and its products.  Read More

Microsoft hit with class action suit over Surface RT

The law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd has filed a class action suit against Microsoftover what it claims was misleading information on the company’s Surface RT sales.

Neowin.net posted about the suit on August 13, noting that it names as defendants Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein, corporate Vice President Frank Brod and Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of purchasers of Microsoft stock between April 18 and July 18 (the “Class Period”). The firm is seeking a lead plaintiff for the case. A PDF copy of the complaint is here.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd has been busy filing similar types of class action suits, as a quick check on its Web site makes clear. (Or, as the August 12 press release more delicately puts it: “Robbins Geller … has expertise in prosecuting investor class actions and extensive experience in actions involving financial fraud.”)

The firm is claiming that Microsoft “issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s financial performance and its tablet computer, the Surface RT.” It is claiming that the company’s financial statements for the quarter ending March 31, 2013, were ‘materially false and misleading’ and that Microsoft officials made misleading positive statements about the Surface RT during the “class period.”  Read More

Microsoft engages cybergang that stole $500 million

Microsoft has orchestrated the bust-up of another top-tier botnet operation.

These bad guys – operators of the sprawling Citadel botnet — make the fictional band of sophisticated thieves from the movie Ocean’s 11 look like amateurs. Authorities estimate they’ve scored more than $500 million from banks in the United States and abroad by accessing online accounts and rerouting funds.

The software giant and the FBI, working with law enforcement and tech officials from some 80 countries, knocked out 1,000 of 1,400 of the Citadel botnets.

A botnet is a collection of hundreds to thousands of infected PCs that respond to commands routed through a command-and-control server, which is also an infected PC.

The bad guys running Citadel commanded as many as 5 million infected PCs, making Citadel one of the biggest botnet operations. Botnets are the engins that drive cybercrime. They fuel spam, denial of service attacks and cyberespionage. And they are used in big operations, like Citadel, to systematically hijack online financial accounts.  Read More

Microsoft apologizes for violating EU antitrust order

SEATTLE – The $731 million fine European regulators slapped on Microsoft Wednesday for failing to abide by an antitrust sanction reinforces the European Union’s longstanding insistence on fair competition.

What’s more, the huge penalty also signaled that Europe won’t easily be swayed by Google and Facebook to back down from expanding online privacy rights for individuals, a policy that the U.S. tech and media companies contend would crimp the global growth of online advertising.

“This puts a spotlight on how important it is for global companies to take into account the laws and customs of the places they do business,” says Charles King, principal analyst at tech industry research firm Pund-IT. “If they can’t do that, they’re almost begging for the sort of spankings the EU has administered to Microsoft.”

Citing a technical error, Microsoft took full responsibility for failing to give European consumers a choice of Web browsers in shipping some 15 million copies of the Windows 7 operating system. The company had agreed to do that as part of a 2009 sanction closing out a protracted antitrust investigation conducted by the EU’s competition commission.

That antitrust case began in 2004, and Microsoft paid fines of $357 million in 2006 and $1.3 billion in 2008 for being slow to comply with regulations.

The company’s board last year reduced CEO Steve Ballmer’s bonus in anticipation of some sort of embarrassing sanction. “Microsoft cut a deal with the EU and failed to live up to it,” says Randal Picker, law professor at the University of Chicago. “That will get you in trouble in the EU or the U.S.”

The company didn’t say whether it would challenge this latest fine, but it is not expected to do so. “We have apologized for it,” Microsoft said in a statement. “We have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake — or anything similar — in the future.”  Read More

Microsoft better than Facebook, Twitter; Android cooler than Apple, according to TECH survey.

Microsoft Inc. has a reason to smile. A Reuters/Ipsos poll has just revealed that under half of 853 respondents age (18- 29) thought that Microsoft is much better now than it was 1 or 2 years ago. Microsoft garnered 50 Percent votes. Only 42% of the youth thought that Facebook is better than it was in the past. On the same criteria Twitter scored 47%.  Microsoft has recently focused on its marketing and product images. Its Windows interface in Surface tablets has found its share of admirers. Most of the users were happy with the consumer oriented push of Microsoft.

Most of the users also reaffirmed the view that if Microsoft will continue to move up with the same pace, then it will challenge the hegemony of Apple. Microsoft Still dominates the personal Computing Industry but has lagged behind in almost all the other technological races with its rivals. If we exclude Xbox and Kinect then it has failed in other tech competitions. Windows smartphones now have 3%of the world market share but it still lags behind Android (70%) and Apple (21%).  Read More

Microsoft Surface Pro versus the competition

How does the Surface Pro measure up against other top tablets and laptop alternatives?

By some standards, the Microsoft Surface Pro is the best-ever hybrid of tablet and laptop, combining a full windows 8 OS with an Intel Core i5 CPU, and a best-in-class detachable keyboard cover.

But, at over $1,100 if you include a 128GB SSD and the keyboard, it’s also very expensive, especially if a slim Windows 8 touch-screen ultrabook, Atom-powered tablet, or something non-Windows-based would work for your needs.

The following is a quick survey of the major alternatives to the Surface Pro, from other Core i5 tablets to Apple’s new 128GB iPad.

Windows 8/Core i5 tablets (Example: Acer Iconia W700)

The closest competitors to the Surface Pro are other tablets and hybrids with Intel Core i5 processors — essentially full-featured ultrabooks squeezed down to tablet form. Acer’s Iconia W700 fits the bill, and includes a space-age-looking dock, as does Samsung’s new Smart PC Pro 700T.

Strengths: Mainstream power and performance

Weaknesses: High prices, shorter battery life

Windows 8/Atom tablets (Example: HP Envy X2)
Trading out the Core i5 for an Intel Atom processor gives you much-improved battery life (more than 10 hours in some cases), but also drops down the performance significantly. Prices for Atom tablets and hybrids are lower, but probably not low enough considering the difference between an Atom-powered system and one with a Core i5. Other current examples include theAcer W510, the Dell Latitude 10, and Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2. Prices generally run $500 to $800, with keyboards and docks included at the higher end of that range.

Strengths: Excellent battery life, lower prices

Weaknesses: Weak performance

 

Read More

Brace yourself: Microsoft Surface ad barrage may start tonight

It sounds like it’s time for Microsoft to finally start sharing more information, beginning with TV ads and a new official Surface blog, about its coming tablets and PCs.

Microsoft is expected to begin airing the first of its TV ads for Microsoft Surface on October 15, possibly during Monday Night Football and “Dancing with the Stars.”

Windows Supersite Editor Paul Thurrott tweeted about the alleged timing of the ads, based on information from unnamed sources, on October 15. Thurrott also tweeted that he’s been told that Microsoft is spending $400 million on its Surface ad campaign — plus whatever it’s spending on its Windows 8 ad campaign. Microsoft kicked off its U.S. TV commercials for Windows 8 on October 14 in the U.S.

While Crispin Porter + Bogusky is the ad agency behind the Windows 8 ads, they are not believed to be the ones behind the Surface campaign. Microsoft used a Seattle-based duo to create the initial promotional short film about the Surface.

I asked Microsoft for comment and didn’t hear back. Update: I received a no comment from a spokesperson about anything and everything to do with any alleged Surface ads.

Whatever happens on the ad front, it looks as if a new official Surface blog is set to launch soon. The Microsoft Surface Twitter account posted its first tweet this past weekend.

Microsoft has yet to advertise its coming Surface PC/tablet devices other than via some display ads in various cities in the U.S. and elsewhere. Here’s a picture I snapped this weekend of the Surface ad in Times Square that is right above the Microsoft Times Square holiday pop-up store that is under construction:

moretimessqstore

The ARM-based Surface RT devices are due to go on sale starting on October 26, which is the same day that Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets from Microsoft OEMs also will go on sale at retail. The Intel-based Surface Pro device will go on sale approximately three months later, Microsoft execs have said.  Read More

Both Nintendo and Microsoft Drop Console Prices Ahead of Holiday Season

The holidays are undoubtedly one of the most aggressive times of the year for game retailers, with multiple consoles competing for a place in your living room. This year is perhaps going to be one of the most aggressive, especially with the Nintendo Wii U hitting the market in November and rumors surrounding Microsoft and Sony’s next consoles circulating. Along with the anticipated holiday bundles, both Nintendo and Microsoft have announced price cuts for their respective consoles. While the Wii andXbox 360 are pushing 6 and 7 years respectively, the price cuts are an effort to ship more units of the ageing hardware. Any sort of a price reduction is welcome, but you’ll still notice a huge contrast in prices between the two systems.

For Nintendo’s part, they are bundling together a black Wii system and two games, Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, which will be packaged on one disc. The price reduction is  $129.99 US, which is $20 less than most retailers are currently selling the system for. The value of this new bundle will depend on how much you enjoy the Wii Sports titles, as this will now be the default pack-in game for the console. The previous bundle retailed for $149.99 and included New Super Mario Bros Wii, which on its own still retails for $60.  In that respect, the price drop is not as grand as it might initially seem. Having said that, you would be hard pressed to argue that the Wii is still the more affordable system when compared to its competition.  Read More

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