Microsoft Will Spend $1.5 Billion on Windows 8 Marketing

Microsoft will be launching Windows 8 on October 26, which is just two weeks away. It is going to be Microsoft’s most crucial launch in years, as it will decide its future in its most important market – operating systems. It will also decide whether or not Microsoft will end up being a major player in the tablet space, which is currently dominated by Apple and Google for the most part.

According to Forbes, Microsoft is very focused on making the launch a success, and will make a massive marketing push, spending nearly $1.5 to $1.8 billion on the launch campaign. If it wins, Microsoft will continue to be a major force in the computing space with Windows 8 leading the desktop/notebook space, and becoming one of the top three in tablets, but if it loses, Microsoft risks becoming irrelevant; a victim of the Innovator’s dilemma — something it’s trying its best to avoid.

While the Surface tablet has garnered some positive reviews, Microsoft may be too late to the tablet market, with both its major competitors having a huge lead over it – more than 2 years. In any case, Microsoft seems to be giving this its best shot.

Microsoft has also made sure to distribute its eggs in multiple baskets, with its revenue coming from sources as diverse as business software, servers, gaming etc.

Training Videos Leak, Provide Glimpse At Microsoft’s Strategy To Educate Consumers On Windows 8


Given the slew of relatively major changes in Windows 8, it’s important that Microsoft makes every effort possible to help educate consumers about the OS. That being said, the company will be training sales associates at Microsoft Stores — and at the temporary holiday popup stores — to educate consumers about Windows 8.

Brad Sams over at Neowin got his hands on a slew of videos showing off the training guidelines for said associates, who will then be offering training to consumers. The three videos are rather simple walkthroughs of the primary new/changed things in the OS.

The first video showcases the Start Screen, and things like tile management, charms, using the system-wide search in the charms bar, and app commands, among other things:

The second video focuses on the Share charm, showcasing how you can use it to share content in different apps and scenarios throughout the OS:

Finally, the third video begins by telling the associate that there are new things in Windows 8, and that consumers are counting on them to demonstrate and teach said new functionality. This video focuses on touch, and how to interact with various aspects of the OS — such as tiles, the charms bar, accessing app commands, and cycling through apps — using gestures:

I think that the videos do an excellent job of briefly — and succinctly — showcasing Windows 8’s new features and paradigms. It’s also admirable that Microsoft is making the effort to help educate potentially change-resistant consumers about the OS to help ease the switch over from previous versions of Windows.

Microsoft Czech Product Manager: Office for iOS and Android Set for March 2013

While speaking to Czech site IHNED, Microsoft product manager Petr Bobek has apparently confirmed that native Office apps on iOS and Android will be released, starting in March of 2013.

The Verge has translated a press release from Microsoft’s Czech Republic team that basically states that in addition to Windows, Office 2013 will also be available on Windows Phone, Windows RT, OS X, Android, iOS, and, interestingly enough, Symbian. The press release also points out that Office 2013 will be made available to businesses in December, with a consumer launch set for the end of February. Finally, it also mentions that a new version of the Office Web Apps is on the way.

A US Microsoft spokesperson refused to verify this completely, vaguely stating that the company is yet to announce retail availability for the new Office. They also pointed out that the company previously stated that Office Mobile will work across Windows Phone, Android, and iOS.

iOS and Android present a huge opportunity to the Office team to further grow their business. I’ve witnessed many in my Twitter timeline question why these apps haven’t already been released on the two major mobile platforms.

There have been countless rumors in the past of Microsoft developing Office apps for iPhone, so it’s nice to see that it may finally be coming to fruition relatively soon.

Does Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules Prevent Filmmakers From Profiting Off Of Game Content?

Yesterday, EGM Now wrote a story pointing out a section in Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules, stating that people may not directly profit from videos that contain content from Microsoft games.

Here’s the part of the Game Content Usage Rules in question:

You may post your Item to a page or website that has advertising, but only if you do not earn any money from that advertising. For example, if you post your video on Youtube or Vimeo and there happens to be an advertisement next to it, then as long as you don’t get paid for that advertisement, the fact that there is an advertisement on the page doesn’t break these Rules. But enrolling in the Youtube partner program (or other similar programs), where you are entering into an agreement to get paid, is not allowed. On a similar note, if you create and distribute a free app, then you can’t earn any money from advertising in that app.

On top of being a source of entertainment for millions of people everywhere, games can often become major sources of revenue for popular filmmakers on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, who frequently use in-game content/footage in their videos. Of course, select big-time producers — such as Rooster Teeth, for example — are unaffected by this; they have licensing deals with Microsoft to use the in-game content. However, it does seem like people who don’t have such deals with the company are in the wrong here… right?

Frank O’ Connor — franchise development director at the Microsoft subsidiary 343 Industries — posted a comment (he goes by “Stinkles”) on the NeoGAF forums saying that this isn’t exactly the case, despite the rather intimidating legal jargon:

As I mentioned in the Halo community thread, these rules actually haven’t really changed, and even the updated and clarified text has been up there for months. I assume somebody just noticed this and posted this morning because it sort of blew up. This has always been the Legal status for the IP (and MOST IPs in fact), and as you also already know, nobody is being sued, or in jail, etc etc etc.

The language isn’t designed to stop kids streaming their games, or covering their costs, it’s designed to stop big companies from using somebody else’s IP to run a business.

We’ll put together some language that will help community people navigate this easily, and give people workarounds.

It’s also interesting how EGM Now reported that this was just recently added to the Game Content Usage Rules; according to O’ Connor, they have been there for months:

These guidelines have been out there for months. How many of you are posting from jail? We’ll get some clarifying messaging out there, but the legalese won’t change, because it’s legalese. We’ll craft a path through the semantic minefield, however.

We’re awaiting comment from Microsoft on this.

Image Source: Alfred Hermida (Flickr)

Microsoft Releases Considerable Windows 8 Update Before General Availability

With roughly two weeks to go until Windows 8 is generally available, Microsoft has pushed out a cumulative update set to make improvements to various aspects of the operating system.

As announced by Steven Sinofsky on Tuesday in a surprisingly brief blog post, the updates address performance, power management and battery efficiency, media playback, and compatibility and are now available on Windows Update for those of you who are already running the RTM bits. The update is rather sizable; Robert McLaws, an enthusiast who downloaded the update pointed out on Twitter that it is roughly 170MB in size.

That’s pretty impressive. In Sinofsky’s post, he talks a bit about how 8-12 weeks usually passes from when Microsoft ships the finalized Windows code to manufacturers, to when the operating system is generally available. This time is usually used by OEMs to ensure that everything works well; drivers are compatible, companion software (i.e bloatware) works fine, etc., but there are times when “changes and improvements” need to be made to the fundamental aspects of Windows.

He also touches on how major “bundles” of updates are traditionally delivered on Windows through service packs. Various changes are made by Microsoft for each OEM and their new PCs, and said changes are deployed during manufacturing and therefore remain unnoticed by consumers. These changes may apply to a wider range of PCs, but there’s no time to properly test and certify these updates. Therefore, they may only be pushed out on a broader scale with the first service pack of Windows.

However, the update process has been improved with Windows 8, as Sinofsky notes:

During the final months of Windows 8 we challenged ourselves to create the tools and processes to be able to deliver these “post-RTM” updates sooner than a service pack. By developing better test automation and test coverage tools we are happy to say that Windows 8 will be totally up to date for all customers starting at General Availability. If you are an MSDN or enterprise customer, these updates will be available for your Windows 8 PCs via Windows Update as of today (October 9), following our standard cadence for Windows Updates on the second Tuesday of each month at about 10:00am.

Good stuff. I wonder if Microsoft will continue this update pace beyond the interim period of RTM and GA, frequently pushing out significant updates without waiting to bundle them within a service pack.

For more on the update (KB 2756872), check out the Microsoft Support article.

Sinofsky, Ballmer Executive Pay Diminished Over Browser Ballot Issue

On Tuesday, the latest Proxy statement filed by Microsoft to the Securities and Exchange Commission for the fiscal year 2012 was released, providing us with a glimpse at how the company’s “named executive officers” were compensated and graded by the board of directors.

For one, out of the entire lineup of executives, CEO Steve Ballmer was the least compensated, receiving an “incentive plan award” of $620,000 for fiscal 2012; 91% of his eligible target award. When added to his base salary each year of $685,000 and all other compensation, he received a total of $1,318,128. By choice, Ballmer received no equity.

Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows and Windows Live Division, received an incentive award of $7.65 million, which is 90% of his possible incentive award. Sinofsky’s total compensation is $8,583,732. Sinofsky and Ballmer were praised by the board of directors for the completion of Windows 8, Windows 7 enterprise adoption, the Surface, and IE market share growth, but were reprimanded over the European browser ballot issue.

The highest paid executive was Kevin Turner, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, who received a total of $10,683,671 in compensation. Kurt DelBene, President of the Office Division received a total of $7,906,725, and Peter Klein, Chief Financial Officer, received $5,108,836 in total compensation.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Mozilla and Others Come Together to Create the Ultimate Resource for Web Development

It is very rarely that you will see competing companies like Apple, Adobe, Google, Facebook, Nokia, HP, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft join forces to make the world a better place but it really is happening. All these warring Internet companies have decided to create an ultimate resource for all things related to web-development and as a result, we have

The focus of “Web Platform” is only on open web technologies, and the aim of this website is to provide a one-stop info spot for all things related to web-technologies like HTML5, CSS3, Canvas, WebGL, IndexedDB etc. The initiative is administered by the W3C, and Tim Berners-Lee describes this initiative as,

People in the web community — including browser makers, authoring tool makers, and leading edge developers and designers — have tremendous experience and practical knowledge about the web. Web Platform Docs is an ambitious project where all of us who are passionate about the web can share knowledge and help one another.

“Web Platform” is an open community of developers, and is open for contributions. There are various sections at “Web Platform” like the blog where the website was announced with a customary first post, a Q&A style forum and a chat section. However, the most attractive part is perhaps Web Platform Docs, where one will find resources on various topics presented as a Wiki.

If it lives up to its promises, Web Platform will drive innovation on the web. However, it needs a proper launch with drum-rolls to attract more web-developers.

(Via: TNW)

The Evil in Automated DMCA Takedown Notices

Automated DMCA takedown notices is nothing new and almost all copyright holders use some sort of an automated DMCA takedown request system to do the dirty work for them. However, the fun starts when these automated systems go berserk. Recently, Microsoft started sending rogue DMCA takedown notices through its automated takedown system, which had developed a fondness for the number 45.

dmcaMicrosoft has already asked Google to censor over 5 million web pages over the last year. Stupid as it may seem, the recent failure in this automated DMCA system has raised mayhem. Google has been asked to censor reputed websites like BBC, CNN, The Washington Post, TechCrunch pages, multiple pages from Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes and the bummers — the US Government’s Environmental Protection Agency website and Science Direct volume 45!

TorrentFreak writes,

Claiming to prevent the unauthorized distribution of Windows 8 Beta the software company listed 65 “infringing” web pages. However, nearly half of the URLs that Google was asked to remove from its search results have nothing to do with Windows 8.

Google has its own control measures in place against these blatant takedown notices. It maintains a whitelist of websites like Wikipedia and BBC, which are protected from these rogue takedown notices. However, the lesser-known websites have taken a hit.

DMCA was born over a decade ago, and it has restricted illegal copying of copyright work successfully. However, it has also created an anti-competitive world where people use DMCA takedown notices as a tool to annoy competitors or in this case where an automated tool is being allowed to determine the fate of popular websites. There should be some accountability involved in DMCA takedowns, as this automated DMCA takedown ecosystem is clearly killing the Internet.

Microsoft Settles with Defendants in Nitol Botnet Case

Last month, we reported about an operation conducted by Microsoft to disrupt the Nitol botnet. The operation, titled Operation b70 was a result of a study conducted by Microsoft which discovered pirated copies of Windows embedded with malware. As a part of the operation  Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit had asked to be allowed to take control of the domain which was used to host the botnet.

Assistant General Counsel for Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit,Richard Domingues Boscovich has stated in a blog post that they have reached a settlement with Peng Yong, operators of domain. He states:

Today, I am pleased to announce that Microsoft has resolved the issues in the case and has dismissed the lawsuit pursuant to the agreement. As part of the settlement, the operator of, Peng Yong, has agreed to work in cooperation with Microsoft and the Chinese Computer Emergency Response Team (CN-CERT) to:

· Resume providing authoritative name services for, at a time and in a manner consistent with the terms and conditions of the settlement.

· Block all connections to any of the subdomains identified in a “block-list,” by directing them to a sinkhole computer which is designated and managed by CN-CERT.

· Add subdomains to the block-list, as new subdomains associated with malware are identified by Microsoft and CN-CERT.

· Cooperate, to the extent necessary, in all reasonable and appropriate steps to identify the owners of infected computers in China and assist those individuals in removing malware infection from their computers.

In accordance with the settlement, Peng Yong will work with Microsoft and Chinese Computer Emergency Response Team to remove all malware associated with the domain and bring to justice all those responsible for spreading the malware.

Richard also shared some statistics regarding the blocked domains.

Of note, in 16 days since we began collecting data on the 70,000 malicious subdomains, we have been able to block more than 609 million connections from over 7,650,000 unique IP addresses to those malicious subdomains. In addition to blocking connections to the malicious domains, we have continued to provide DNS services for the unblocked subdomains. For example, on Sept. 25, we successfully processed 34,954,795 DNS requests for subdomains that were not on our block list.

The operation is a part of Microsoft’s larger MAPS program intended to provide protection to the users of its Windows operating system.

Via: Technet 

Microsoft Holiday Pop-Up Stores Set To Open For Business On October 26

Back in September, Microsoft confirmed that, sometime this fall, it will be opening up 32 pop-up brick-and-mortar stores to better show off its products — namely the much-anticipated Surface — in places where a more permanent Microsoft store is yet to exist. At the time, Microsoft declined to officially comment on speculation that the stores will open on October 26, which is when Windows 8 and Surface RT are set to launch.

Mary-Jo Foley reports that a Twitter user spotted a mention of the New York store opening on the 26th on the official Microsoft Store website. Various other stores are showing a promotional image with the October 26th release date on the website as well.

This is definitely a good move on Microsoft’s part to better showcase Windows 8 and the Surface RT — which will only be officially distributed through Microsoft Stores — but I still think that they should do more bring their retail experience to more locations without opening brick-and-mortar stores. The best way to do this in my opinion is to follow Apple’s strategy; work with big-box retailers like Best Buy, Fry’s, and CompUSA to bring a mini Microsoft Store of sorts within select stores. That way, they can broaden their reach while continuing to build brick-and-mortar stores.

Microsoft will have 44 brick-and-mortar retail stores open by mid-2013.

Here’s a list of the planned U.S. and Canada pop-up stores (no word yet on whether the company has any plans to open up these pop-up stores in other countries):

  • Aventura Mall (Aventura, FL)
  • Beachwood Place (Beachwood, OH)
  • Cherry Creek Shopping Center (Denver, CO)
  • Dadeland Mall (Miami, FL)
  • Eaton Centre (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Fashion Mall at Keystone (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Fashion Show Mall (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Glendale Galleria (Glendale, CA)
  • Mall at Green Hills (Nashville, TN)
  • Mall in Columbia (Columbia, MD)
  • Metropolis at Metrotown (Burnaby, BC)
  • Montgomery Mall (Bethesda, MD)
  • Natick Collection (Natick, MA)
  • North Star Mall (San Antonio, TX)
  • Oakridge Centre (Vancouver, BC)
  • Penn Square Mall (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Perimeter Mall (Atlanta, GA)
  • Roosevelt Field Mall (Garden, City, NY)
  • Ross Park Mall (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Saint Louis Galleria (St. Louis, MO)
  • San Francisco Centre (San Francisco, CA)
  • South Shore Plaza (Braintree, MA)
  • Southpark Mall (Charlotte, NC)
  • Stonebriar Centre Mall (Frisco, TX)
  • Streets at Southpoint (Durham, NC
  • Time Warner Center: The Shops at Columbus Circle (New York, NY)
  • Washington Square (Portland, OR)
  • West Edmonton Mall (Edmonton, Alberta)
  • Westfarms Mall (West Hartford, CT)
  • Westfield Garden State Plaza (Paramus, NJ)
  • Woodland Hills Mall (Tulsa, OK)
  • Woodlands Mall (Woodlands, TX)