An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Nokia’s Windows Tablet Leaks ... Except that It Doesn’t
A widely republished photo purporting to show Nokia’s long-expected entry into the Windows 8/Windows RT tablet market is, alas, a fake. Or, at least it's completely misunderstood. “That’s not a leak,” a Nokia statement reads. “That is a picture that simply shows the Windows Phone user interface alongside the Windows 8 tablet user interface alongside the Xbox user interface. They are not Nokia-specific products.” That said, Mobile World Congress is coming up. And if Nokia were to announce such a device, that would be the obvious time and place.
With Friends Like These …
Microsoft’s biggest PC maker partner, HP, is prepping a new line of Android-based tablets, according to a report by ReadWrite that cites anonymous sources. If true, this will be the worst betrayal since Boromir tried to steal the One Ring from Frodo at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. HP, which also recently announced plans for a Google Chromebook-based laptop, is apparently working with NVIDIA’s upcoming Tegra 4 chipset and is also exploring a potential Android-based smartphone release. I fondly remember the days when HP would follow Microsoft blindly down every technological rabbit hole it cared to dig, but those days are clearly over. Maybe Microsoft should pump a few billion more into Dell and put HP out of its misery.
Yahoo! CEO Unimpressed with Microsoft Search Performance
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer said this week that her company’s search partnership with Microsoft hasn't delivered the expected market share or revenue gains, strongly hinting that Yahoo! wants to make changes. That, of course, would be devastating to Microsoft, which derives a huge chunk of its search traffic from Yahoo! (In December, Microsoft had 16.3 percent of the search market, with Yahoo! controlling 12.2 percent.) But the Microsoft/Yahoo! search deal is for 10 years, and we’re only in year three, so Mayer might need to figure out a way to work with Microsoft, rather than against it. Which should be interesting, because Mayer is a former Google executive.
Microsoft Will Lose $2.5 Billion by Not Releasing Office on iPad, Analyst Claims
But I wonder how much the company will lose in Windows sales if it does release Office on iPad? Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt this week claimed that Microsoft is walking away from $2.5 billion by ignoring the iPad. But this figure is based on shaky math. He says that because roughly 30 percent of Mac users also use Microsoft Office, it’s reasonable to assume that 30 percent of iPad users will, too. But iPad users are mainstream consumers, so it’s not clear how they're related to Mac users. More egregiously, he says that iPad users will pay $60 for Office on iPad, which is absolutely not how Microsoft plans to sell this product. (It will instead require a $100 annual subscription to Office 365 Home Premium, which offers Office on up to five devices in a household.) As he puts it, “Assuming a similar 30 percent attach rate in 2014 on roughly 200 million iPads at an average selling price of $60 comes to more than $2.5 billion in extra revenue per year, even after Apple takes its 30 percent cut off the top.” Whatever. I think the market for Office on iPad will be compelling enough for Microsoft to bite, whatever the math. But these things have ripple effects. And Microsoft might be harming other parts of its business by doing this.
Microsoft Warns on End of Support for Windows 7 RTM
With everyone busy counting down the days until Windows XP support formally ends in April 2014, we’ve almost completely forgotten about another pending OS retirement: The RTM version of Windows 7, Microsoft says, will no longer be supported as of April 9, 2013, less than two months from now. But have no fear, Windows 7 fans: Windows 7 will still be supported for many years to come, assuming you’ve upgraded to the latest service pack, which is still curiously SP1. Windows 7 with SP1 is covered by mainstream support until January 13, 2015, and by extended support until January 14, 2020. Yes, that's seven long years from now.
Surface with Windows RT Is Now Available in 13 Additional Countries
Microsoft announced Thursday that its Surface RT tablet is now available for sale in 13 additional countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Customers interested in purchasing this device can do so online via the Microsoft Store or Surface.com. The firm claims this is part of a “phased rollout of Surface RT into new markets, which I understand. But what’s the schedule for other countries, and when will Surface Pro ship outside of the United States and Canada? Anyone?
NVIDIA CEO Is Delusional
Or he knows something the rest of us don’t. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, whose company makes the underpowered smartphone-like CPU that runs at the heart of Microsoft’s Surface with Windows RT tablet, says that Windows RT will make for “a wonderful PC.” Speaking in the wake of his firm’s Q4 2012 earnings announcement, Huang said that it was important that Windows run on “the highest volume processor in the world.” He said, “It's hard to imagine how Windows RT can't possibly, won't possibly be a wonderful PC. We know exactly what it feels like on top of a Tegra 4 [which will ship later in 2013], and it rocks. It's fantastic. And so, Windows RT I think will be successful as well. Microsoft … will do something great with it.” Well. There you go.
Xbox 360 Is Number-One Console in United States for 25 Months in a Row
Microsoft revealed this week that it sold 281,000 Xbox 360s in the United States in January, good for 44 percent market share and first place in the video games console market. Consumers spent over $338 million in January on Xbox games, consoles, and accessories, the firm said. Of course, I’ve already explained elsewhere why Microsoft’s “successes” with the Xbox 360 should come with an asterisk, thanks to several billion dollars in unpaid R&D costs and that $1.1 billion warranty-related bill that everyone likes to pretend never happened. Microsoft will unveil the successor to the Xbox 360—which I’m hearing could simply be called Xbox and is code-named Durango—in April, followed by more information at E3 in June. And … shhhh… there’s going to be a new version of the Xbox 360 shipping alongside that new device later this year. Its code name is, well, a bit fishy. More when I can.
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