Microsoft Realigns Itself

Microsoft LogoThis past week, Microsoft released a sweeping email and memo about its intention to “realign” to the new realities of the industry. This difficult-to-read corporate speak addresses Microsoft employees asking them to refocus efforts towards consumerization and an interesting “One Microsoft” idea. Much of it is just Microsoft patting itself on the back and a weird attempt to appear forward thinking and efficient that is anything but.

But, there were a few interesting things that piqued my interest in these messages.

Update Windows 8, Get Outlook 2013 RT

Outlook 2013If you update Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, Microsoft is also going to give you Outlook 2013 RT. In the post they also say:

Outlook 2013 RT will be available on Windows RT tablets as part of the free Windows 8.1 update coming later this year.

Incredible news for users; but even more, Microsoft has to be the only company with the balls to offer a full productivity application in an Operating System update. I see that process backfiring when the time comes for support calls. Users today are unnecessarily hooked on Outlook’s interface (which is why a Metro version of it would never work).

Tumblr From The Inside

I thought I’d highlight Marco Arment’s incredibly candid post regarding the Tumblr acquisition by Yahoo!. If you haven’t yet seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll get a good idea of what it was like to start a company that would go on to sell for more than a Billion dollars.  At the end of the blog, he appears most candid:

I won’t make yacht-and-helicopter money from the acquisition, and I won’t be switching to dedicated day and night iPhones. But as long as I manage investments properly and don’t spend recklessly, Tumblr has given my family a strong safety net and given me the freedom to work on whatever I want. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.


The iPhone Good Enough for the Chicago Sun Times

In a bizarre move for any organization, let alone a “traditional” journalism outfit, the Chicago Sun Times today laid off the entirety of its 28-person photography staff. This news includes word that the Sun Times is training its reporting staff to take pictures with iPhone (or smartphone?) cameras. The newspaper’s statement reads like a confession:

The Chicago Sun-Times continues to evolve with our digitally savvy customers, and as a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network.

While this news is clearly taken as bad by anyone who rages over photographic quality (they do have a point), the business realities in news seem to be outweighing the ability for them to pay for quality. I would expect more bold moves by large newspapers in the coming months.

Stick A Fork In It, Windows

ZDnet LogoIn a serious dose of bullshit, I point you to a blog post on Zdnet by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. The title of this post tells you exactly where this one is going: Windows: It’s over. So, Windows is dead? Windows 8 is Dead? Windows and the PC is dead? Certainly, Steven gets much of his fuel from recent reports of a huge decline in PC sales. But, wait; read a little further along and Steven essentially negates the stupid title:

Yes, we are entering a post-PC world. Tablets and smartphones are becoming more important… to sales. PCs are no more going to go away than mainframes did. We’re still going to be using them in offices and homes for the foreseeable future.

Well, clearly he knows PCs are still useful. Windows is still, err, enjoying a more than 90% market share on the desktop – not to mention Windows on the server side. So, what part of Windows is “over”? Is it possible that “not growing” does not equal “death”? It doesn’t seem like Steven got that memo. But, whatever. He likes the Aero interface. Claim Chowder, indeed Mr. Gruber

Commenting is for sale?

An interesting article on the beautifully laid out Upstreamist talks about the influx of advertising into a part of the web that has classically been untouched by ads: the comment section. Located at the bottom of most blog pages (including ours), it affords the reader a chance to offer ideas, opinions, corrections and really anything else he or she wishes.  Here on Blogging Calwell we use Facebook comments with moderation. L. Rhodes talks about this idea:

Most major sites already moderate their comment sections, and closer ties between comments and paid advertising will present publishers with a financial incentive for further restricting self-expression.

The world Rhodes talks about here is a very negative one; where comments are created and the content of discussion is controlled by corporate entities. It’s clear advertising has a place, but if it sits masquerading as something other than obvious promotion, that’s a failure of the site and the advertisers. It’s a flat out lie. I tend to think people get better at spotting lies in front of, or away from the keyboard.

Rather than daring advertisers and content creators to get better at lying, shouldn’t we  just accept that promoting something is ok? And,  if done well and respectfully, support it.

Let’s Explain Windows 8’s Failure To Sell, Shall We?

10Tech-3In a far too tasty article written by the king of Microsoft hyperbole, Paul Thurrott we get an insane rationalization of why Windows 8 sucked over the holidays? Do we blame it on a bad product? Do we blame it on a poorly positioned product? Do we blame it on alienating OEMs from the market they should have been more excited about? No! That would just make sense!

He starts off by telling us the apparent success of Windows 7 was a lie. Because why? Because of netbooks!

Netbooks didn’t just rejuvenate the market just as Windows 7 appeared, they also destroyed it from within: Now consumers expect to pay next to nothing for a Windows PC.

Wow, that explains it.

Everyone Knows Microsoft Is Stodgy?

PCWorldIn an article on PC World, Matt Smith sings the praises of Microsoft’s Research and Development department – but not before making a bold (and dodgy) statement:

As far as 99.9 percent of the world population is concerned, Microsoft is a stodgy, old-guard technology company. Its bottom line is fully leveraged against PC operating systems and business software—hardly the building blocks of a future-thinking portfolio, right?

99.9 percent? Do these 99.9 percent think software is made by accident too? What then plays out is a chance for him to list recent projects, many of which we already know about, in an effort to win the prestigious “Best Microsoft Shill” award. I think the TV show Hawaii-Five-O is still winning in this one, though.

The “Why You Need Windows 8” Template

Take heed all, I have found the template for the many, many blog posts and articles that you’ll read leading up to, and after, the October 26th launch of Windows 8. This template, found here, simply states that all of the “Windows XP/Vista/7” components have been done better in Windows 8 –  and – for that reason,  you should install Windows 8, adding:

“If you’re truly happy with Windows 7, stick with it. But if you’re willing to try something new for some seriously awesome desktop-side improvements, I suggest giving Windows 8 a shot.”

That may be simply what Windows 8 was meant to be, a better, faster, cooler, awesome-r version of Windows 7. If you pretend the formerly-named-Metro apps don’t exist, do you really have a worthy Windows upgrade?

The Mobile Payment Gold “Rush”

If you’ve been watching the news, no doubt the trickle of mobile payment details has been percolating in your mind. NFC (Near Field Communications) is NOT in the iPhone 5 and Starbucks appears to be doing just fine without it. The idea of paying for stuff with your phone is not a new concept, but the race to marry a technology with controlling interest in a lucrative payment system appears at it’s height.

So many options appear to be just ready to hit mass adoption, they include the Canadian government’s MintChip, Pay with Square, and Mobile Credit card payment systems such as Paypass. There is even a standard in the works called NSDT (Near Sound Data Technology) that will process payments by way of sound. Rogers appears to be trying to lock-in users to a SIM-based payment wallet. Since not all of these standards is both supported by the merchant AND the buyer, mass adoption won’t happen quickly.