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 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…]

Microsoft Office 365 Subscriptions Now Available

Today, Microsoft has launched the next version of their popular productivity suite, Office 365 Home Premium.  Unlike previous versions of Office, Office 365 Home Premium allows you to install Office 365 on Windows PCs and Macs for a combined total of five installs.
Since Office 365 is a subscription service, you have to renew your subscription plan.  Microsoft is offering Office 365 for $9.99/month or $99.99/year.  I’m planning on buying the annual subscription.
Windows users will get access to the Office 2013 software that has also gone live today for business customers.  If you are installing Office on your Mac, you will get Microsoft Office: Mac 2011, the latest version of Office for Mac OS X.
Also, since this is a subscription service, any updates to Office, are available to you at no additional cost.  (Surface and iPad users should take note of that point as we know that there will be updates to Office on Surface Pro, Surface RT, and very likely, the iPad too.)
For more information, and to purchase a subscription, visit the Microsoft Office website.

Microsoft Office 365 Now Live On Staples Website

Last night I put up a post that I had found Office 365 Home Premium on Staples website.  I stumbled across it looking for prices on the Mac edition of Microsoft Office.

As you can see from the photo above, Office 365 Home Premium for Windows/Mac is now up, live, and ready for purchase.

Unlike other retail box and download versions of Microsoft Office, Office 365 is a subscription service.  That means you will be able to use the latest version of the Office software on up to 5 Macs or Windows PCs, that’s the cool part, but you have to pay an annual subscription maintenance fee of $100 annually.  That’s the not-so-cool-but-kinda-worth-it part.

I need to install Office, specifically PowerPoint, my kids Compaq laptop that they use for school.  I also need to install Office on my Windows 8 Pro box, so I’m excited about this new version of Office.  I get to install/upgrade Office on two PCs, with Outlook, for less than the price of one Office 2010 Home and Business license that I was looking at a few days ago.

Sound good?  What do you think?

[Via Staples.com…]

Microsoft’s Office 365 Subscription Service Coming Soon

I just found this on the Staples website while searching for “mac office”.  Looks like we can expect the new Office 365 subscription service to go live in the very near future.

Below are the product details taken from the Staples website.

Product Details

You’ll get more done when you can work from anywhere with Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium for Windows/Mac.

What’s Office 365?

Office 365 has the latest version of all the Office applications you know and love, plus cloud services so you can have Office when and where you need it. Just sign in and you can get to your Office files, applications, and settings from virtually anywhere.

Office 365 is an annual subscription. Microsoft and your Office retailer will let you know when it’s time to renew.
One convenient annual subscription for the whole household with automatic upgrades included so you’re always up to date with the latest features and services.
Install on up to 5 PCs, Macs, and Windows 8 tablets.*
The latest versions of: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access.**
An extra 20 GB of online storage in SkyDrive (27 GB total) for anywhere access to your documents.***
60 minutes of Skype™ calls each month to phones in 40+ countries.****

You’ll get more done when you can work from anywhere with Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium for Windows/Mac. All of your favorite Office programs are available for immediate access whenever and wherever you need them, and all of your settings stay stored in the cloud so that you don’t have to alter your preferences every time you log on. Whether you’re sharing a grocery list with family members or working on a project that needs input from coworkers across the country, convenient sharing tools will help keep everyone on the same page.

Create Documents and Presentations
Use streaming full versions of Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and Publisher to create the presentation or document you envision on up to five PCs or Macs. New templates, including wide-screen documents and new PowerPoint themes, give you more options than ever before. You can also edit PDFs, embed videos, analyze data, and add photos and links to your projects.

Get Access Anywhere
Because all your work is stored in the cloud, you can sign into your account from anywhere and get instant access to your documents and files. You can also share your files with others and easily view any changes that are made, so collaboration is simple. Use OneNote to store clips, links, and anything else you come across so you can incorporate these items into future projects.

Now your Office is there whenever you need it.

-Be more productive with a full version of Office, no matter where you are.
-Sign in to get Office on your PC and Windows 8 tablet, Mac.*
-Each user can sign in to their Microsoft account to get to their documents, applications, and settings.
-You’ll always have the latest features and services, thanks to automatic version upgrades.

Sharing and communicating is easier.

-Get all the latest email, scheduling, and task tools for the entire household.
-Use OneNote to capture and share notes, pictures, web pages, voice memos, and more.2
-Allow others to read and scroll through your Word docs in real time through a browser, even if they don’t have Word.

Your favorite applications are smarter, too.

-Incorporate content from PDFs into Word documents quickly and easily.
-Add pictures, videos, or online media to your Word documents with a simple drag and drop.
-Create more visually compelling presentations with widescreen themes in PowerPoint.
-Find meaning in numbers faster with the Quick Analysis and Chart Animations in Excel.

What it includes:

-Office for the entire household on up to 5 PCs and Windows 8 tablets, Macs.*
-The latest versions of: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access.**
-An extra 20 GB of online storage in SkyDrive (27 GB total) for anywhere access to your documents.***
-60 minutes of Skype™ calls each month to phones in 40+ countries.****
-One convenient annual subscription for the whole household with automatic upgrades included so you’re always up to date with the latest features and services.

System Requirements:
Computer and Processor

1 GHz or faster x86 or 64-bit processor with SSE2 instruction set

Memory
1 GB RAM (32 Bit) /2 GB RAM (64 Bit)

Hard Disk
3.0 GB of available disk space

Operating System
Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 2008 R2 with .NET 3.5 or greater

Graphics
Graphics hardware acceleration requires DirectX10 graphics card

Additional Requirements
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 9, or 10; Mozilla Firefox 10.x or a later version; Apple Safari 5; or Google Chrome 17.x.

Other

Internet connection. Fees may apply.
Microsoft and Skype Accounts.
A touch-enabled device is required to use any multi-touch functionality. However, all features and functionality are always available by using a keyboard, mouse, or other standard or accessible input device. New touch features are optimized for use with Windows 8.
Product functionality and graphics may vary based on your system configuration. Some features may require additional or advanced hardware or server connectivity.

*Windows 7, Windows 8 OS, Windows Phone 7.5, Mac OS X version 10.5.8 required. Additional devices will be added in the future. Internet connection required. Internet and mobile telephone usage charges may apply.
**Access and Publisher available on PC only. OneNote not available on Mac OS.
***PC running Windows 7 or 8 and Internet connection required.
****See office.com/information for details. Skype account required. Excludes special, premium, and non-geographic numbers. Calls to mobile phones are for select countries only. Skype available only in select countries.
*****Internet and/or carrier network connectivity required; charges may apply.


[Via Staples.com…]

Are Lumia Smartphone Sales Softer Than Expected?

According to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal (link, subscription required), sales of Nokia’s Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones may not be selling in the US as well as carriers had hoped.

Deals on the flagship Lumia 920 and 822 smartphones can be found at online retailers like Amazon.com for as little as $0 – $39 dollars depending on carrier and phone configuration.  For example, the high-end Lumia 920 can, with a new 2-year service agreement, can be purchased for $39 at Amazon.com.  At AT&T stores, the phone is still on sale for $99 with a new 2-year service agreement.  Amazon.com also has the Lumia 822 on Verizon Wireless is free with a new 2-year service agreement.  Without a contract, both the Lumia 920 (AT&T Wireless) and the Lumia 822 (Verizon Wireless) sell for $449.99.

Offering smartphones at a deep discount is not uncommon for phones that have been out for six months or more as a promotion to drive sales of new phones in advance of the next year’s model coming out.  It is also a tactic that manufacturers use with their carrier partners to help drive adoption of their phones and their mobile platform.  What is raising eyebrows is the timing of the discounts.  The Nokia 920 and 822 have not yet reached the six month mark.  We know US adoption of smartphones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system hasn’t been selling as well as Microsoft had hoped.

So what’s really going on here?  Are AT&T and Verizon trying to drive sales of these new phones with a limited-time, post Christmas discount program?  Is Nokia providing further incentives or marketing support to drive up their year-end sales numbers?  Is Microsoft somehow involved in an attempt to drive up market share numbers against Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms?

Without sales numbers or an official statement from one of the major players involved it’s hard to know for sure.  Deep discounts on new smartphones are not completely uncommon, however, this close to a new product launch does send up some red flags.

[Via WSJ.com…]

Upgrading Hotmail.com to Outlook.com

Earlier this year, Microsoft upgraded their Hotmail service to the new Outlook.com email service.  This upgrade was a major improvement to Microsoft’s free and paid web-based email service, so much so, that I will actually use Outlook.com.  And that’s saying a lot.

Now that I have Windows 8 Pro installed (on my Mac, using Parallels and VMware Fusion) I want to be able to login using my @outlook.com email address rather than my @hotmail email address.  Windows Phone users might also want to do something similar.

All the way back on August 3, Microsoft posted directions for either setting up an @outlook.com alias to send email to your existing @hotmail.com address or actually converting your @hotmail.com email account over to an @outlook.com address.  (After the conversion is complete, your old @hotmail.com email address is configured as an alias pointing to your new @outlook.com address.)

To get started, you will want to log into your Hotmail account, and from the Settings menu, select “More mail settings” to access the command for managing your email account.

Microsoft’s directions are pretty clear and straight forward.  If converting your mailbox is something that doesn’t sound like ‘fun’ to you, don’t worry.  Microsoft has you covered.  Simply read their blog post on switching to Outlook.com first before you get started and you will be fine.

Special Note to Windows Phone Users

If you use a Windows Phone device, you will want to pay attention to Microsoft’s warning:

“If you use a Windows Phone, you will need to reset your Windows Phone to factory settings, and then set it back up with the new account name. You will lose all personal data on the Windows Phone when you do this, so make sure you have that data backed up. You will need to re-install all your applications on your phone, although you will not need to re-purchase them.”

[Via Microsoft Outlook blog…]

Windows Phone 7.8 Confirmed for Early 2013 Release

Windows Phone 7 users have a little something exciting to look forward to in the new year.  Microsoft has posted on the Windows Phone blog that the Windows Phone 7.8 update will be coming to Windows Phone 7 devices in early 2013.

“As previously announced, with Windows Phone 7.8 we’re also bringing the feature to existing Windows Phone 7.5 devices. During the development process, I used builds of 7.8 on my Lumia 900 and it felt like a completely new phone: resizable Live Tiles totally change the way I do things, providing faster access to more of my favorite people, photos, and apps. 

Windows Phone 7.8 also includes some other cool stuff. It doubles the number of theme and accent colors—to 20—so you can make your phone even more personal. There are also new lock screen features: the option to automatically display the Bing Picture of the Day plus the ‘A1B2C3’ PIN/password challenge to prevent accidental device wipes on phones connected to Exchange accounts.”

Windows Phone 7.8 users will also get access to some popular games, including: Words with Friends, Draw Something, and Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Star Wars.

Check out the Windows Phone blog for more details.

[Via Microsoft Windows Phone blog…]

Rumor: Microsoft Working on a Smartphone

Windows 8.  Windows Phone 8.  Surface.  Radical shifts in Windows and Office.  Microsoft has been on a roll latley, and now rumors are surfacing, in the form of a Wall Street Journal article, that Microsoft is working on a new smartphone prototype.

“Officials at some of Microsoft’s parts suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Redmond, Wash.-based company is testing a smartphone design but isn’t sure if a product will go into mass production.

One person said that the screen of Microsoft’s smartphone currently being tested measures between four and five inches. Apple’s newest smartphone, the iPhone 5, has a four-inch screen, while Samsung’s Galaxy S III phone has a 4.8-inch screen. “

Microsoft is no stranger to how difficult launching a new, successful smartphone platform is.  Windows CE and Windows Mobile have been around for years.  Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 cut the ties with previous attempts at a new Microsoft mobile operating system.  Windows Phone has been well regarded, but not well adopted by customers and developers.  And the Microsoft Kin wasn’t exactly “successful.”

Only time will tell if Microsoft can rekindle the magic they had with customers back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

[Via Wall Street Journal.com…]