Quickoffice Coming Bundled With KitKat, Trouble for Microsoft Office?

Yesterday I was poking around the Google Android website for an updated version of their SDK, and stumbled across the KitKat features page.  Starting with Android 4.4 KitKat, Google will begin bundling their Quickoffice software into the update.

Quickoffice is Google’s mobile productivity office suite for the Android operating system.  With the current version of Quickoffice, available from the Google Play Store, you can read and edit Microsoft Office documents from your smartphone or table.

So the question I have is: With free office productivity suites available for both Google Android and Apple iOS, why is Microsoft waiting to get the real deal Office on to people’s devices?  Sure there is an Office Mobile application for the iPhone, but you must already have a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service to use it.  And what about a version optimized for the iPad?

If anything, the automatic deployment of Quickoffice to any Android device that receives the 4.4 KitKat upgrade is putting even more pressure on Microsoft to get Office on more devices.  In the past, Microsoft’s our-platform-or-no-one-elses strategy for Office is really hurting them.  As a business customer, I rely on Microsoft’s Office suite to get my job done, but on smartphones and tablets, I hardly miss them.

And that, I feel, is Microsoft’s problem.  The inclusion of Quickoffice with KitKat alongside of the free Google Docs web application, Google isn’t just going after a mobile productivity suite for mobile, they are working to actively destroy Microsoft’s long establish revenue staple – Office.

Only time will tell if mobile Office document editing will gain any real traction with prosumers or not.

Nokia Set To Introduce New Devices Tomorrow

According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Nokia is set to unveil not one, not two, but up to six new devices tomorrow during an event to be held in Abu Dhabi.

This will be the first devices unveiling from the Nokia devices unit after having been acquired by Microsoft.  Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO, is now in change of running the devices unit as it gets absorbed by Microsoft.  Elop, a former Microsoft executive, will return to the company once the acquisition is fully completed early next year.

The article mostly goes on about the moves between Microsoft and their new Nokia devices business with just a few lines discussing tomorrow’s product unveilings of phones, “phablets,” and a new LTE-enabled tablet.  (We can only assume that the tablet offering(s) will run Windows 8.1 rather than the market flop, Windows RT 8.1.)

The interesting thing for me is the timing of this event.  It’s to be held on Oct. 22.  The same day Apple is set to hold their second fall event.  It always amazes me when tech companies hold media events on the same day.  I can kind of rationalize it during a trade show/conference, sort of, but outside of that environment it just blows my mind.

The Nokia folks have no doubt been working hard on their new products and are probably excited to show them off.  But with Apple coming in with what is rumored to be at least two new iPad announcements, the Nokia stuff is going to get drowned out in the mainstream and tech media.

Not so fast, you might be thinking. It takes months to stage and line up these kinds of events so it will be difficult to plan around Apple’s secretive schedule.  True, but if Holywood studios can move tentpole movies around the calendar to avoid colliding with another tentpole movie opening on the same day from a rival studio, then, surely, Nokia can do the same thing.  If nothing else, it would help ensure that their message gets across clearly to investors, IT technology buyers, and customers.

[Via WSJ.com…]

Microsoft to Acquire Nokia Mobile Business

Early this morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft will acquire Nokia’s mobile business in a transaction expected to cost $7 billon dollars.

“The companies said late Monday that Microsoft will pay €3.79 billion to buy “substantially all” of the Nokia business, which includes its smartphone operations. The Redmond, Wash., company will also pay €1.65 billion to license Nokia’s patents, the companies said, bringing the deal to €5.44 billion, or $7.18 billion.”

The deal ends months of rumors that Microsoft would buy Nokia.  As part of the deal, Microsoft will license Nokia’s patents and will hire the 32,000 current Nokia employees, which also includes Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive.

The deal comes at a time when Microsoft is falling behind handset rivals Samsung and Apple.  Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has stated that as part of his company’s major restructuring, he is attempting to turn Microsoft into a “devices and services” company.  Acquiring Nokia is expected to give Microsoft a much needed jump start in the mobile phone market.

Making the deal a successful will be difficult.  Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 software, which is the exclusive operating system software on all of Nokia’s smartphones, has not been the success that Microsoft or Nokia had been hoping for with a US marketshare of about 3-4%.

You can read the full press release on Microsoft’s website.

[Via WSJ.com…]

Microsoft Will Continue to Make XP Security Patches

“Just because Microsoft doesn’t plan on giving Windows XP patches to the public after April 8, 2014, doesn’t mean it’s going to stop making those patches.

In fact, Microsoft will be creating security updates for Windows XP for months — years, even — after it halts their delivery to the general public.

Those patches will come from a program called “Custom Support,” an after-retirement contract designed for very large customers who have not, for whatever reason, moved on from an older OS.”

Are you kidding?!  Windows XP is still a “thing”?

Read the full article on the ComputerWorld website.

[Via ComputerWorld.com…]

Analyst: Ballmer Forced Out Due to Surface RT Write Off

Patrick Moorhead, the principal analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy, said what we were all thinking about with Microsoft’s announcement that CEO Steve Ballmer was retiring sometime in the next 12 months.

“He was definitely pushed out by the board.  They either drove him out, or put him in a situation where he felt he had to leave to save face.”

Moorhead is clearly talking about Microsoft’s Board of Directors displeasure about the company’s recent $900 million dollar write off of Surface RT tablets collecting dust in Microsoft warehouses around the world.

I give Ballmer credit for attempting to turn Microsoft into a devices and services company.  In the long run, it’s probably the right thing to do.  But no one said it was going to be easy, or not without some serious risks, as I’m sure Steve is now well aware.

Read more at ComputerWorld.com

Steve Ballmer To Retire Within the Next 12 Months

 Big news coming out of Redmond this morning.  Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced that he will be retiring sometime in the next 12 months.

In today’s press release, Microsoft indicated that the Board of Directors has put together a special committee to search for a new CEO.  The committee is being chaired by John Thompson.

REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 23, 2013 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

The Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process. This committee is chaired by John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director, and includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo. The special committee is working with Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., a leading executive recruiting firm, and will consider both external and internal candidates.

“The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company,” Thompson said. “As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company’s senior leadership team to chart the company’s course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry.”

“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” said Gates. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”

The full Microsoft press release can be found on the Microsoft website.

Microsoft Surface RT with Touch Cover Now $379

I can’t say that I’m a “fan” of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet, but I am intrigued by it.  But, even at $349 for the entry level 32GB version, it still is a bit expensive to buy at a toy.

But if you are in the market for a Microsoft Surface RT, you might want to also consider that the Redmond company is now selling referbrished 32GB Surface RT tablets, with the $100-ish Touch Cover, for $379.

Check it out now in the Microsoft Online Store.

Microsoft Wants Windows Phone to Get “Moody”

This sounds perfect!  It would go wonderfully with my moody eleven year old daughter.  (Except it’s not an iPhone.)

From BGR.com…

“Now we know why Windows Phones come in so many different colors. Techworld Australia reports that Microsoft Research Asia has been working on technology that gives your smartphone the ability to detect your mood and post it on your social networks in real-time.”

[Via BGR.com…]

Gamers Force Microsoft To Reverse Course on Xbox One Policies

Microsoft just learned the hard way that they shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them.  The mega popular Xbox is due for an upgrade later this year and with it, Microsoft saw the new upgrade cycle as a way to lock down the new gaming console; a move that turned out to be very unpopular with the people they want to sell the new system too.

The Xbox One, the follow on produce to the current generation console known as the Xbox 360, was to have a “call home” feature that would check in with Microsoft’s servers daily.  While a version of this feature has been in recent versions of their Windows desktop and server operating systems, this was the first time the “feature” was to be included in the Xbox operating system.  Similarly, Microsoft was hoping to tamp down game piracy, and customers ability to lend, share, trade, and re-sell their games, by seriously limiting or removing the ability to use a previously registered game, depending on who’s version of the truth you subscribe to.

But that’s to the gumption of gamers around the world, Microsoft has decided to reverse the controversial components of the Xbox One system software.

On their website, the Wall Street Journal wrote:

“The Redmond, Wash., software company said it would no longer require its Xbox to connect to the Internet each day, nor would it restrict how its video game discs are traded, resold or rented.

“We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds,” Don Mattrick, head of Microsoft’s entertainment division that houses the Xbox, said in a statement.”

Nice job, Internet!

[Via WSJ.com…]

Outlook RT Will Arrive Later This Year

 The well connected Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley has an update on how the software company is trying to sweeten the appeal of the Windows RT operating system – releasing Outlook RT.  Outlook RT will ship with Windows “Blue” (aka Windows 8.1) which is rumored to ship late this summer (read: September).

“Microsoft will make available as part of its upcoming Windows 8.1 “Blue” release of Windows client the rumored Outlook 2013 RT mail client, company officials confirmed on June 5.”

This information was confirmed by Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer of Windows according to Foley’s ZDNet report.

But here’s the interesting thing about Outlook RT, if the report is accurate, it won’t replace Windows Mail client.  Sounds a bit nuts, no?  Given the opportunity to use Outlook or the basic featured bundled email client, I’d pick Outlook all day long.  But then again, I can’t seem to pick an email client for personal use (web-based or native code on my Mac or PC) that I like and use consistently.

Via ZDNet.com