Category Archives: Microsoft

No, Microsoft’s Entry-Level Surface Will Not Cost $1000

Microsoft’s announcement last month that they’re making their own tablet hardware — and directly competing with the very OEMs and partners that they license their software to — was huge in revealing a radical step forward for the company.

However, while it certainly is an important milestone and turning point for Microsoft, the event lacked plenty of important details pertaining to the product itself. We’re still in the dark about exact pricing and availability information, among other things, leaving many intrigued and mystified about key factors that could make or break the device.

Yesterday, WPCentral spotted that Swedish online store Webhallen listed the Microsoft Surface on their website, which sported some ludicrous pricing; the entry-level ARM-based 32GB Surface is priced at 6990 NOK, or roughly $1150 USD. What fascinates me is that there are posts aggregating this “story” that don’t immediately ridicule, but rather entertain the idea, as though it’s even plausible. On top of the outlandish pricing, we already know that the Surface will only be officially available through Microsoft Stores (and their online outlet.)

I also reached out to Webhallen, and they issued a comment stating that existing prices on the site are not based on any word from Microsoft whatsoever:

Our customers are very interested in pre-ordering these products, so we have set a high preliminary pricing for the lineup so that they may be able to pre-order them.

Just to clarify, we have not recieved any pricing from Microsoft regarding MRSP or purchasing net cost, and any people who have booked the Surface at this high price will of course have their order adjusted before any product is shipped. So we’re not going to overcharge anyone for being an early adopter.

I understand that Microsoft does some pretty unusual things, but they’re not batshit crazy.

So in conclusion, here’s a recap of yesterday’s highly credible blog posts: Microsoft, the company that needs every advantage it can get to even gain a smidgen of ground in the tablet market will charge a few hundred dollars more than a 32GB WiFi+3G iPad for its entry-level model, and upwards of $2000 for an Intel-based Surface Pro which is essentially an Ultrabook/Macbook Air competitor. Riiighhttt.

[Post updated with comment from Webhallen.]

Office Web Apps Get A Metro Facelift

Last week Steve Ballmer unveiled the next version of Microsoft’s Office suite and as it turns out that wasn’t all the Office news for the week. With 50 Million users and negligible press love, we can now try out the Metro Office Web Apps version. The team has announced a preview for the upcoming changes introducing new features and the cleaner Metro UI.

The update makes Office Web Apps look like an extension of Office 15 and a part of Windows 8. The metro interface for Office Web Apps looks gorgeous; some of the new features introduced across Office Web Apps are:

  • Different UIs that are focused on mouse and touch
  • Co-authoring
  • Mobile optimized UI
  • Discussions through comments
  • Various performance enhancements
  • Picture and drawing tools

Here’s a quick look at the new Metro Office Web Apps:

OneNote

OneNote has remained the same with search being the new addition.

Word

New features include the ability to manipulate paragraphs and pages that will reduce the reliance on Office desktop. Some of these features are changing page size, indentations, Word count, and orientation.

PowerPoint

New features include adding animations, transitions and viewing embedded videos.

Excel

Excel is one of those tools that organizations cannot live without. New features have improved working with data considerably. According to Microsoft’s blog post some of the key feature additions are:

  • New slicers
  • PivotTable editing (this is awesome)
  • Better charts
  • Excel Surveys

You can try the new version by heading to SkyDrive.com and accepting the invitation or by heading here.

Windows 8 Will Be Generally Available On October 26

Following the news from Microsoft’s Partner Conference last week that Windows 8 will reach the general availability milestone in “late October”, the company has now shared a more specific date. At an annual sales meeting, Steven Sinofsky announced that the Windows 8 general availability date is set for October 26.

During Microsoft’s Partner Conference last week, we also learned that the OS will RTM in the first week of August. This means that the overall milestone/shipping schedule of Windows 8 will be very similar to that of Windows 7, which RTM’d in the third week of July and was generally available on October 22nd.

Speaking of Windows 8, we’ll also have another thing to look forward to here; while no specific launch date was disclosed, we can probably expect the much-anticipated Microsoft Surface tablet to also hit store shelves at around this time.

Office 2013: Office As A Service

 

On Monday, July 16th, Microsoft made the next version of Office available for public preview. Dubbed Office 365 Preview, it introduces new versions of the desktop apps, new subscription plans in the Office 365 stable of services and most crucially, enables technology to literally serve Office as a service.

One of the features introduced in Office 2010 was “click-to-run” which allowed a customer to click on an installer on the web and install the product on demand. Microsoft has taken that one step further, and improved it in such a way that the “on demand” version of using the software is in fact the default. Of course you can get it fully locally installed, but there are many advantages of running it on demand.

First of all, by running it on demand, you can take advantage of roaming profiles which let a user sign in to any PC and use exactly the products they care about and most importantly, have all their application settings show up automatically.

Secondly, because only the applications you care about are installed, it uses lesser space on the PC. This is a huge benefit these days where thin and light PCs (not to mention, tablets and phones) tend to have smaller SSDs than earlier PCs with large hard drives.

Finally, this feature will come in handy when we get used to changing devices more frequently than we typically do with PCs. Imagine trying to get a new PC in the state you typically want – it involves installing Office and applying various patches. This won’t be needed anymore. You refresh your PC and simply go to your Office 365 account to get the latest version of the applications you care about. A side benefit of this (and perhaps, it is a sign of things to come that the product is actually referred to as Office even though the marketing term will be Office 2013) is that customers will enjoy the latest and the greatest versions of the software any time they use the applications.

All these are user-facing benefits of an on demand Office. There is a huge benefit for Microsoft too. They can finally get hundreds of millions of customers’ credit cards on file, and ensure a steady stream of revenue for Office as opposed to getting a chunk of revenue at once. With the Office Store coming soon, where apps will be available to supplement/enhance Office usage, having those credit cards on file will help in luring developers.

Office is already a huge cash cow for Microsoft, and with all these benefits for users as well as Microsoft with the on demand features, the next version promises to continue its streak.

Office 2013 Preview Screenshot Tour

Microsoft just announced the consumer preview of Office 2013/Office 365 (Download Office 2013 Consumer Preview) which includes a new metro interface and also several other interesting new features and changes which you can read about in our Office 2013 features post.

While Office 2013 is designed keeping and the new Metro UI, that Microsoft has been using for most of its products, in mind, it will also work on and . However, if you are someone like me,  you might now like the Metro interface on Windows 7.

I was able to download the Office 2013 preview and use it for an hour or so. Office 2013 preview has Word 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Excel 2013, Outlook 2013, OneNote 2013, Access 2013 and Publisher 2013 included in the bundle. While not much has changed since the earlier announcement of Office 15, here is a screenshot tour of the new Office 2013.

New Splash Screens

All Office 2013 products sport a new splash screen which goes follows the standards of the Metro UI.

PowerPoint 2013 Splash Screen Outlook 2013 Splash Screen

OneNote 2013 Splash Screen Excel 2013 Splash Screen

Word 2013 Splash Screen

Download Office 2013 Consumer Preview

Steve Ballmer is currently announcing the Office 2013 consumer preview live, however, the links to download the consumer preview of Office 2013 links are already available online.

Office 2013 will be customized heavily to work with Windows 8 but will also work on other Windows versions. Office 2013 will also be touch screen friendly and will provide you with features like pinch and zoom among others. Office 2013 will allow users to use a stylus to create content, take notes and access other features, while also allowing you to create hand-written emails.

Office 2013 will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices including Microsoft Surface. Additionally, Office 2013 will also tightly integrate with SkyDrive and save your documents in the cloud by default. It will also have social features and integrate with Yammer, which Microsoft recently purchased.

More features of Microsoft are available on this page. We will be doing a detailed review and analysis of today’s announcement as well as a feature description of Office 2013.

Microsoft has opened up the downloads for the consumer preview of Office 2013 and can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en. Please note that you will have to sign in using your Hotmail account before you can download the consumer preview of Office 2013/Office 365 Home Preview.

Update: New Features in Office 2013

Microsoft and NBC Split Up, MSNBC.com Now NBCnews.com

MSNBC Now NBC News

As of yesterday, July 14th, 2012, Microsoft has agreed to give NBC full control of MSNBC.com. Because of this, NBC is rebranding the site to NBCnews.com. The domain switch has already taken place but MSNBC.com will redirect to NBCnews.com for the time being. For the past 16 years Microsoft owned 50% of MSNBC, however, neither of the companies have disclosed how much the shares were sold for.

As of now, about half of NBC’s staff is located on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington  and will have to be moved to New York City where NBC’s headquarters is located. Because of this, NBC has stated that one of the biggest jobs will be to merge their web staff with their NBC News staff in New York. However, some of NBC’s staff will stay in the Seattle area at NBC’s new “NBC News Innovation Center”. This center will cover the technical end of NBC and will work to develop new technologies for the network.

If you’re unaware, Microsoft and NBC formed the MSNBC joint venture in 1996. Microsoft sold their shares of MSNBC TV back in 2005 but decided to stay partial owner of the website until now. When Microsoft and NBC announced the service, MSNBC was a $600 million joint venture.

Source: NBC News

Microsoft Announcement Will Be Streamed Online

Microsoft will be making an announcement later today at 12PM Pacific/12ET about some new product(s). The announcement will be made by Steve Ballmer which would mean that Microsoft is bound to announce something major.

Microsoft Press Event Ballmer

As rumors suggest, the announcement could be related to the newer version of Office; Office 15 which Microsoft has been working on for a while. Microsoft is also set to release to consumers later this year, so it makes sense that they would also release a refresh for Office along with the new OS.

Office 15 will sport the new Metro look which has become the signature for Microsoft products of late and will more likely than not be ported to every future Microsoft product.

If you are interested in watching Steve Ballmer’s announcement live, you can do so by visiting the live webcast at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/ which will be available in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. You can start viewing the live stream at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/presskits/office/liveevent.aspx

Read More:

We’ll be posting more news about the event as it happens. So stay tuned for future updates right here.

Microsoft Announces Bing Fund, Here’s The Fineprint

Microsoft has formally unveiled their angel investment fund and incubator called Bing Fund. I wrote about its possible announcement a few days ago, back then I didn’t have a lot of information. My ZDNet colleague, Mary Jo Foley came across a job posting suggesting Microsoft’s intentions of improving their online product portfolio with new projects coming out of Bing Fund. Along with the Bing Fund announcement, Microsoft has shared some  details. The fineprint of the fund is quite interesting since surprisingly using the Microsoft dev stack is not a compulsion. While Microsoft hopes to educate and would like to see startups using Microsoft products, it is not a rejection parameter. Some key points:

  • Startups that have a working product and some momentum will be chosen
  • Microsoft’s already cash-losing Bing will be providing an undisclosed sum of money to a limited number of startups incorporated in the US
  • The exclusive club will add a new startup only after a startup graduates
  • Focus will be on startups developing mobile and Internet products
  • Microsoft does not expect anything in return, or so they claim
  • The company hopes to get into the glamorous startup ecosystem that has so far evaded Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform
  • For startups in infancy, Microsoft suggests BizSpark
  • The incubator is based in Microsoft’s Seattle backyard and for good Microsoft guidance startups are expected to be in the neighboring area

For a while I’ve been wondering why Microsoft was not doing enough to get startups develop apps for Windows Phone along with iOS/Android, the Bing Fund will most likely fix this problem and at the same time help achieve Microsoft’s tablet goals.