Posts tagged Microsoft

Microsoft buys Nokia

That’s quite some news today!

But Microsoft buys only Nokia’s devices and services unit, and will thus employ 32,000 employees, on the roughly 100,000 company’s workforce.

A few questions I have, which don’t seem to be addressed in the numerous articles I’ve read about this topic today, are:

1. Is it good for Nokia shareholders? Are they going to see any of that money? The Nokia deal is to be approved by Nokia shareholders in November, and I still can’t figure out if this is good news for shareholders. This shareholders issue is of the highest importance, since many of them don’t like Steven Elop this much. And just watching him first destroy Nokia value, then walk away and become Microsoft’s CEO as a reward, might just not please them too much. Unless of course, the deal is good for them. The first hint is Nokia’s value at opening in Finland this morning: +49%! But let’s just wait to see how the stock evolved after the surprise fades a little, and what happens until US close.

2. Is this the last bid? I can’t help but feel that the price of the transaction is too low. As a reminder, the price is €3.79bn for Nokia’s hardware and services divisions, and €1.65bn to license Nokia’s portfolio of patents. Total in $US: 7.17bn. So I will make a prediction: before the deal is closed, there will be another offer from a third party. I would not be surprised to see Huawei come up with an offer for the whole Nokia. So this is far from over, if you ask me. And maybe even some unexpected players might join the party. Well, this is a wild guess, but given their recent history, a Yahoo! offer could somehow make sense.

3. Should Elop become Microsoft’s new CEO? My answer is very clear: no. This guy has thrown an iPhone on the ground. This is enough for me. No class, no inspiration, too much Microsoft’s (lack of) culture in him. This wouldn’t make any sense. Just another Ballmer, with nothing but short term vision.

 

Ballmer was all wrong

I would like to reflect a little on Ballmer’s departure. And to go agains Paul Thurrott’s argument that the Ballmer years weren’t all that bad after all. Paul, I love your blog and generally have a lot of respect for your opinions, but this time around, really, how can you say that “The results of Ballmer’s decade-plus time running Microsoft were inevitable” ???

Let me develop my point.

1. Comparing Apple’s and Microsoft’s success is a fair comparison. But justifying Ballmer’s failures by saying that he was protecting successful businesses, is wrong.
The truth is plain, simple, and inevitable: Ballmer had no vision. He was blind to his own industry, in the consumer market. I agree with the fact the was very successful in the enterprise market, no one contests that. And that is good for Microsoft. But I can’t count the number of blogs out there who list the number of failures they had in the consumer industry. It’s amazing. It’s incredible. There are so many you can’t event count them. Just to name a few: kin, zune, windows mobile 6.5 (and wp7.0 if you ask me), surface, vista, ie 6 and 7, live.com, etc… You name them. I mean, even so.cl is a complete waste of effort no one knows about. All the Bing features that were alive for like 6 months.

No that man has no vision. His reaction about the iphone is so ridiculous and so telling. The iphone was so bad that Microsoft had to copy it 3 years later, hiding behind an “innovative” interface, with “live” tiles, where actually none of them tiles actually does anything useful. To his credit on this issue, I will say that when compared to Blackberry, Microsoft actually reacted quite fast. Just the time to realize they were not selling anything anymore, and there was the new OS. 3 years later is late, but count one year of development. That means Ballmer decided to create Windows Phone 2 years after the iphone, which seems huge, but still not that awful.

But, then, why name the product “Windows Phone 7.0″? That is also extremely telling. Pretend that this is a 7th version, when it’s a brand new one. Come on! Use the Windows brand because people around the world love it? Come on! People don’t like Windows, they use Windows, and that’s it. How many people out there actually cursed Windows because their PC was taking like 10 minutes to boot? And failed? Had to restart? Blue screens? Etc… Steve, did you ever realize that people out there don’t all have super computers as you guys at Microsoft do? And that Windows can be slow?

No, they have given the product an appealing name, not that. Same goes for so many Microsoft products.

And releasing an unfinished product like that, just to get it to market, is bad for the company’s image. Just remember the no copy/paste issue. It was all around the press. And it’s a terrible habit that Microsoft has developed for almost all their products. Let me ask a question: how do you feel when you are requested to buy a product that is not finished? I’ll answer: disrespected.

And that’s my main point about Ballmer and his Microsoft: they never made consumers feel respected with their products. Compare with Apple. Everybody knows that Steve Jobs was a dictator/maniac about quality. And consumers loved to know that, because then they knew and felt that he took care of them. That he made his employees work hard for them. And that in the end, they (consumers) would get a perfectly finished product. And that is the main reason why so many people turned to Steve Jobs in an almost religious way.

And as a side point, the main thing that Jim Cook is missing: consumers aren’t sure that he’s as obsessed about quality as S. Jobs was. Cook is probably talking too much about shareholders, and not enough about consumers. And consumers don’t like that. He should understand that in consumers’ minds, shareholders are often the enemy. They’re the ones looking for short term profit, and polishing details too much often goes against short term. Of course, long term, just look at Apple’s stock price since 1997…

Anyway, so that’s what Ballmer did with consumers, he consistently sent them this message, that he was willing to sell them half baked products. He never took care of them the way Jobs did. And that is the main difference. And that has nothing to do with the Microsoft’s enterprise businesses or with Ballmer protecting those businesses. I can’t see how protecting Office actually can cause the Kin.

About his lack of vision, there’s also the Surface. I own one and love it. But the store is hopelessly empty. Why? The ads on TV weren’t good. Consumers didn’t bite. Same problem, no feeling of being taken care of. Everyone saw the Surface for what it was: Microsoft’s desperate answer to the IPad. Not for the expression of an inspired CEO’s vision. Not for the expression of his love for beauty. Because Ballmer has no such things.

I would add about Ballmer that his communication was terrible, that the whole Microsoft communication was uncontrolled, and that in the end, Microsoft’s image suffered from both himself as a person, and his lack of control of or will to control that image.

Another problem if you ask me, that is supposedly going to be solved with the reorg. I own an xbox. And Windows 8. Both Microsoft products. Now, I am always amazed at how little integration these devices show. Why is that? Lack of vision. Missed opportunity. No one to copy maybe?

Take IE. Why do nothing for IE6 during all those years? Why only react? Why only copy? No vision. No inspiration. These are the answers. Is it because when you own a market, even for a free product, then you must stop working on that product? Well it depends. But for IE, how could he not see the importance of it?

MSN search, become live.com, and finally bing.com. How much time did he finally need to understand the importance of search? The first two versions were insanely bad. Crap results all the way, results in chinese, outdated pages, you name it. Better to have no product than that. Then Bing. Ok, I like the effort. But the whole thing feels somehow… disorganized.

Many Microsoft products share that terrible common thing, which is that “me too” feeling. That had to stop. And Ballmer needed out.

And about that outing itself, to me it’s another failure. Why open the door to speculation like that? Why announce it so early? Why not announce it when the new CEO is chosen? Because I feel this announcement generates so much uncertainty, among employees in particular (which I am not). But Microsoft’s internal culture under Ballmer is also a full and interesting topic. I’ve read so many testimonies of employees unhappy about the new evaluation systems, about how things changed badly when managers became entitled to fire someone, etc.

Well, one thing is cerain: the next CEO can’t be worse for consumers.

Microsoft’s Marketing Issue

Microsoft’s marketing problems are pretty simple, if you ask me. When a company communicates, it can do so about the following:

  1. What it does: Microsoft does that, but not so well. I mean, in Europe, for example, I am willing to bet that at least 50% of the population does not that Bing exists, or that they don’t know it’s a Microsoft product. No one really knows what ‘s new in Windows 8, besides the new start screen. No one really knows what a Windows Phone can do. Etc, Etc, Etc…
  2. How it does it: I am pretty sure that it would highly benefit Microsoft’s image to communicate, even slightly, about how organized they are, about how much security is embedded in their development process, about how tested their products are, …
  3. Why they do it: This is by far the most critical point. Why does Bing exist? In most people’s mind, Bing is just Microsoft’s mee too Google pale copy. Which is certainly true to some extent, but it’s not only that. And even if it were true at the beginning, it’s certainly not anymore. Now Bing really is something big that is spreading across all Microsoft products, is really at the center of innovation and research at Microsoft, and should be known that way. But the thing is, only a few tech sites talk about these things, and there’s no official corporate communication about that. And that’s the whole point!

They should go into details, and in big international ads.Show the world how good they are. How dedicated they are. How passionate, smart and talented. And this would make them more difficult to hate or disrespect. My strategy would be to start a series of ads, all of them being designed in the same way, talking about all the different divisions of the company. Showing to the world that they are ONE company, working together, sharing one vision, going in the same direction. Something like that…

Scrollbar and Scrollviewer with Windows Phone

I just figured out a nice one concerning the interesting topic of the scrollbars with Windows Phone.

I had a hard time getting a scrollbar appear around my canvas. I then decided to change my code to replace the canvas with a grid, by replacing the SetValue (Canvas.TopProperty, y) and SetValue (Canvas.LeftProperty, x) with .Margin = new Thickness(x, y, 0, 0);

Still no result… In the end, after many tests,  I understood that somehow, the ScrollViewer computes the difference wetween its own height and its content height. And by setting its height to a smaller value than its content’s, it worked!

Like this:

<ScrollViewer Height=”800″ VerticalScrollBarVisibility=”Auto”>
<Grid x:Name=”MyGrid” Height=”1600″ />
</ScrollViewer>

And it worked!

Windows Phone App “Unspecified Error”

As nicely explained here, this somewhat scary error (the debugger will not help) must be solved using common sense and logic. As explained on the site, this error usually happens with a xaml invalid property value error. So :

  • Pay attention to when the app fails
  • On that page, review your xaml

This problem may also happen when you define multiple event methods with the same. Say you have a button and a textbox and you tell the click and tap events to be managed by the same function (though the methods signatures are actually different in code behind). You will see same behavior. Solution: rename the event handler methods!

Windows Phone 8

Finally, the keynote happened, and we know. What do we know exaclty?

  • First: nothing more than what we knew before, so it’s a small disappointment in this regard. Everything had leaked, and Microsoft did not keep any secret stuff up its sleeve. Pity really.
  • The new features are still nice and interesting:
    • Rooms: group your contacts together as you want: family, work, friends, etc
    • Kids’ corner: you can decide for about everything if it’s available to your kids or not
    • Sync: everything (Office docs, music, photos, etc) can be synced easily between your phone and your Windows 8 device
  • The Pandora app is coming

To sum it up, all in all, Windows Phone 8 looks like a terrific OS, coming loaded in terrific hardware. I am a little disappointed by the keynote, that was very nice in some aspects (it began very well, then Joe’s kids were just cute) but lacked new announcements. And, I somehow felt quite foolish when I heard Jessica Alba talking about her new business. That is so Microsoft… Some strange and misplaced stuff.

Anyway, I really liked the way Joe Belfiori was expressing some humility for the product, which was refreshing, and I think that when releasing such a great product as Windows Phone, doing it with humility just adds a human touch that people can appreciate. I guess Steve B. could have shown some more of that…

So, I can’t wait for the Lumia 920 to hit my area to get my hands on it. The only question that remains now is: what will I do when Microsoft releases its own phone next year between March and Ma? :)

CRM 2011: Are you sure you want to leave this page?

in CRM 2011, when closing by calling the Xrm.Page.ui.close() method, if one of the fields on the form is dirty for some reason (and some reasons can be strange), then you will get the following message:

Are you sure you want to leave this page? Message from webpage: Your changes have not been saved. To stay on the page so that you can save your changes, click Cancel.

Using the code below, you can get rid of this sometimes annoying message:

var attributes = Xrm.Page.data.entity.attributes.get();
for (var i in attributes)
{
if (attributes[i].getIsDirty())  {
attributes[i].setSubmitMode(“never”);
}
}

Surface tablet and phone release dates

So Microsoft is about to release both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. My thoughts on this are about Surface and the rumoured Surface phone.
The dates are really interesting: from what I am guessing, Microsoft is adopting the opposite pace from Apple’s: tablet in automn, and phone in spring.
Indeed, Apple releases its new IPhone every year in September if I am not mistaken, while the new IPad is released in Spring.

Now, Microsoft is releasing the Surface in October, while the “Surface phone” is rumoured to be announced in Spring. Coincidence? I believe not. Quite the contrary, it makes complete sense when you think of it. Completely mimicking Apple would be counter productive and a bit silly. Releasing the new devices at the same time would also be not smart since it’s obviously a better idea to split profit along the year.

I’ll just hope Microsoft will choose a smart name for their smart phone…

Microsoft 2013 Q1 Results

As usually, let’s focus on the online services division. First, the income:

2010 2011 2012 2013
Q1 490 547 641 697
Q2 581 713 784
Q3 566 667 707
Q4 565 680 735

Then the losses:

2010 2011 2012 2013
Q1 -480 -573 -513 -364
Q2 -466 -559 -458
Q3 -713 -775 -479
Q4 -696 -744 ?

Notice that losses for Q4 2012 were impacted by Mirosoft’s decision to take a non-cash, non-tax-deductible income statement charge for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012 for the impairment of goodwill in its Online Services Division segment, mostly related to its 2007 aQuantive, Inc., acquisition.

Microsoft Financial Results FY12 Q3

Microsoft’s Q3 2012 financial results are out. Focusing on the Bing part, let me include these results in my previous table:

2010 2011 2012
Q1 490 547 641
Q2 581 713 784
Q3 566 667 707
Q4 565 680 ?

Still growing year over year. Growth is slowing down though.
Now, a look at the losses:

 

2010 2011 2012
Q1 -480 -573 -513
Q2 -466 -559 -458
Q3 -713 -775 -479
Q4 -696 -744 ?

Actually, the really good news is that loss has been dramatically reduced, from 776 millions to 479 millions. And that’s really going in the right direction.