Short Takes: July 11, 2014

Short Takes: July 11, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including Satya Nadella's lengthy mantra on the new Microsoft, whether mobile is the future of Xbox, why Nadella's letter is far from shocking, possible Microsoft layoffs loom, a voice of reason in the din of silliness, Windows 7 is (not) ending, US has the most Windows Phone users, and China hates the iPhone now too.

Microsoft CEO says a whole lot ... or a whole lot of nothing

Yesterday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled an open letter to all employees of the company, outlining ... something. Strategy, maybe. Ideas. It's kind of hard to say since the letter was so short on specifics. Like many who do what I do, I've written up my own analysis of this letter, Looking for Strategy as Microsoft Enters FY15. But today, I find myself a little more impressed with how others are reacting to the letter. You'd almost think Mr. Nadella had written something of substance.

Nadella: "Future of Xbox Could Be Mobile"

That's one TIME take-away from Nadella's letter, in which two coincidentally positioned Xbox and mobile-first paragraphs clearly mean that the firm is somehow moving Xbox to mobile devices. Head's up: Xbox is already on mobile devices. It is and has always been an integrated part of Windows Phone, and of Windows since version 8, with apps for games, music and video. If Nadella was serious about commingling Xbox and mobile going forward, here's what he should have said: We're going to make Xbox not suck on mobile. Because here's another news flash: Aside from the Xbox games on Windows Phone—which are often excellent—Xbox sucks on mobile. Period.

"Microsoft's New Manifesto Is Shocking"

No it isn't. But TIME, again, doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good story. Or at least a good headline. According to TIME, Nadella's "manifesto" is shocking when you compare it to something a previous Microsoft CEO said years ago but ignore all the "devices and services" stuff that guy said since. Remember, folks: "Mobile first, cloud first" is just a new way to say "devices and services." In fact, they're identical. So it's shocking that Windows is no longer the center of the company, even though we already knew that. It's shocking that Microsoft should focus on productivity. It's shocking that the shift from "devices and services" is, in the author's words, "subtle." Or. It's not. Because, really, it's not shocking at all. But seriously, great headline.

"Layoffs Are Possibly Coming For Microsoft Employees"

Odd that I just wrote about this last week. But Business Insider cuts right to the juice of the matter in its own exploration of Nadella's "manifesto"—love that word—and maps Nadella's love of data to his secret desire to layoff the human beings who currently work at Microsoft. "Nadella is creating something he calls 'Data and Applied Science' for every product team. The purpose is 'measurable outcomes for our products and predictive analysis of market trends' ...It sounds as if he's working on a new employee review processes." And since "fewer people" will be involved in decision making (Nadella's words) and organizational changes are coming over the course of July ... bam! Layoffs. To be fair, I think this is perhaps overdue. And that while the recent Nokia purchase muddied those waters, that shouldn't stop Microsoft from doing the right thing and shedding some deadwood.

The Register gets it

Of all the blathering I've read about the Nadella memo, and there's been a ton of it, I've seen sanity from the most curious of places. The controversial UK-based tech rag The Register nailed it when it noted that "Nadella's memo reads less like a vital or strategic missive to staff and more like the end result of a period of intense marketing huddling." Exactly so, and before any Nadella fans complain that I'm slagging their favorite cricket fan, relax. That's not a negative: As The Register implies, deciding who you are and then communicating that to customers, partners and competitors is marketing Job One. So, mission accomplished. Just don't pretend that this missive/manifesto is shocking or hugely new or revealing. It's none of those things. It's pragmatic and purposefully vague for the most part, and a hint of further changes to come. That's all.

Windows 7 support is ending! The sky is falling! And other click-bait headlines!

You've seen the headlines, I suspect: Windows 7 users are heading into the same tailspin that recently dogged those with Windows XP, since Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 and forcing—literally forcing—people to move to Windows 8. There's just one problem with this doomsday scenario: It's not even remotely true. Instead, Windows 7 is entering year 6 of its 10 year lifecycle, meaning that its moving from its mainstream support phase to its extended support phase on January 13, 2015 ... And that is just 5 months away!!! (Cue ominous music.) So what's going to change? According to Microsoft, extended support means that it will no longer release new services packs. So absolutely nothing will change, since Windows 7 hasn't seen a service pack since SP1 shipped in early 2011. And as for the end of support for Windows 7, you have until January 2020 before that happen. Heck, half of you will be retired by then.

Which country has the most Windows Phone users? That's right, the United States

USA! USA! One of the things we're always hearing about Windows Phone is how badly it fares in the two biggest smart phone markets in the world, China and the United States. But one thing we rarely hear is how the sizes of those markets help outweigh percentage usage statistics. For example, the single biggest percentage of overall Windows Phone users in the world, 11 percent, is in the United States. And when you look at the numbers this way—thanks to new AdDuplex data—you see that China is in fact the 6th biggest nation of Windows Phone users, with 3.7 percent of the overall user base.

China hates iPhone as much as its hates Windows 8

So if I'm understanding the propaganda properly, stating that some US-based technology is a "national security concern" is the new method that China uses to halt the spread of the foreign devils in its own country. Citing the iPhone's not-exactly-unique location capabilities, the China-run CCTV television network claimed that the device could be used to spy on China and steal state secrets. Best of all, should any such theft occur, CCTV says that Apple should be held financially responsible. Since fully 25 percent of Apple's annual revenues come from China, I suspect the company could foot that bill.

But Wait, There's More

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