Archive for the 'Microsoft' Category

Microsoft shows solid first quarter with Nadella in the driver’s seat

Thursday 24 April 2014 @ 12:10 pm

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Looks like everything is just fine at Microsoft, with Satya Nadella leading things up.

The tech giant brought in $20.4 billion in revenue last quarter, just above analysts’ predictions of $20.39 billion and slightly down from $20.48 billion year over year.

It registered $5.66 billion in net income last quarter, down from $6.05 billion for that quarter one year earlier.

That means 68 cents per share in earnings, beating analysts’ estimates of 63 cents per share.

Generally speaking, Microsoft took huge leaps forward last quarter.

The advancement began with Satya Nadella’s appointment as chief executive.

“This business of ours is exciting because it doesn’t respect tradition, what we’ve done in the past,” he said in the first remarks he made after the announcement. In effect, from the beginning he was playing the I’m-going-to-do-this-differently card.

Actually, for years Nadella has been inclined to do things his own way; it’s just that now the longtime Microsoft employee is chief executive, so his approach could make a wider impact — if he can stick to it.

He wants Microsoft to assume that this is a world that depends on the cloud first and supports mobile devices first, where it’s easy to port desktop applications to mobile devices and have clear visibility into all your cloud infrastructure.

And in this cloud-first, mobile-first world Nadella talks about, you’ve got to have freakin’ Microsoft Office software running on Apple’s iPad devices. iPad sales might be declining, but the devices are still popular. So finally, last quarter Nadella announced the release of Office for iPad, which almost immediately saw rapid adoption.

In the public cloud game, too, Microsoft came on strong, cutting prices not once but twice and staying on pace with public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services. That’s important in the competitive, rapidly evolving cloud market.

Microsoft even played clever open-source cards. Instead of coveting the designs for the servers that power Microsoft’s public cloud, the company decided to contribute those designs to the Open Compute Project, allowing others to pore over the specifications. Indeed, that doesn’t seem like something Microsoft would do. And yet it happened.

With Nadella at the Helm, it’s probably sensible to expect other gutsy moves from Microsoft in the coming years.

But at least in this quarter, he didn’t blow it. People haven’t given up hope that he’ll be able to steer the company in a better direction, and the rise of Microsoft stock last quarter appears to reflect that.

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Microsoft’s Nokia deal to close on April 25 — new division may be called Microsoft Mobile

Monday 21 April 2014 @ 7:01 am
Microsoft’s Nokia deal to close on April 25 — new division may be called Microsoft Mobile

Above: Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop at the Windows Phone 8 launch

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Nokia’s phone division will officially be a part of Microsoft by the end of the week.

Over six months since the deal with initially announced, Microsoft said today that its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business will close on Friday, April 25.

While Microsoft hasn’t stated officially what it will call its new unit, a leaked memo unearthed by Nokia Power User this weekend points to an obvious moniker: Microsoft Mobile. That doesn’t quite have the hip ring of “Xbox,” but it brings to mind the old “Windows Mobile” brand from a decade ago.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president of legal affairs, notes that the final terms of the Microsoft/Nokia have changed since it was first announced. Microsoft will now manage the domain and social sites for the next year; it’s hiring 21 employees who were developing mobile phones at Nokia’s Chief Technology Office in China; and Microsoft is no longer acquiring Nokia’s Korean factory.

The real question now is if owning Nokia will actually help Microsoft solidify its mobile presence. Windows Phone has taken a while to mature over the past few years, while iOS and Android have evolved tremendously in the same time. And even though Nokia has steadily crafted the best Windows Phone devices over the past few years, it’s been limited by the platform’s slow growth.

Microsoft drops $1.1B to grow its data center footprint in Iowa

Friday 18 April 2014 @ 5:02 pm
Microsoft drops $1.1B to grow its data center footprint in Iowa
Image Credit: Robert Scoble/Flickr

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Microsoft will soon harvest a lot more corn — err, servers — in Iowa.

The tech giant is investing in data center infrastructure in West Des Moines, miles away from an existing company data center, Iowa public officials announced today.

The company has been gradually improving the feature set and lowering prices of its Azure public cloud service. Such moves could attract more customers.

And with the long-awaited release of Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant for mobile devices, more consumers could start pinging Microsoft data center infrastructure more frequently in the near future.

Meanwhile other cloud providers like Amazon, Google, and IBM have announced infrastructure build-outs in recent months.

Incidentally, Microsoft isn’t the only company that likes Des Moines for data centers. Facebook has one there, too.

Microsoft’s new data center campus will go up on a 154-acre lot over the next four or five years, costing roughly $1.126 billion, according to a report from the Quad-City Times.

Indeed, Microsoft fully intends to keep erecting new data centers.

“Additions to property and equipment will continue, including new facilities, data centers, and computer systems for research and development, sales and marketing, support, and administrative staff,” the company wrote in its most recent quarterly report. “We expect capital expenditures to increase in coming years in support of our cloud and devices strategy.”

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The Xbox One Still Lags Behind The PS4

Friday 18 April 2014 @ 2:52 am
Xbox Controller Titanfall was supposed to change it all, but it didn’t work. So far, Microsoft announced that it has shipped 5 million Xbox One units to retailers. In comparison, Sony has sold 7 million PS4 units to customers. It doesn’t look good for Microsoft as the company doesn’t even say how many people actually bought an Xbox One. Microsoft’s announcement fits well with NPD’s… Read More

March 2014 NPD: PlayStation 4 outsells Xbox One again despite Titanfall

Thursday 17 April 2014 @ 2:29 pm
March 2014 NPD: PlayStation 4 outsells Xbox One again despite Titanfall

Above: Titanfall was March's biggest release. Did that translate into sales?

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

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The PlayStation 4 was the best-selling piece of hardware in a huge month for console sales.

U.S. consumers spent $1.025 billion on new physical games, hardware, and game-related accessories in March, according to industry-intelligence firm The NPD Group. That’s up 3 percent from the same period in 2013. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One once again did their part in lifting these numbers. Gamers spent $395 million on new machines, and this is up a massive 78 percent year-over-year. The PS4 outsold the Xbox One and all other machines, according to NPD.

“As seen in the past few months, hardware sales for March 2014 saw strong growth over March 2013,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement. “Sales increases were driven completely by consoles sales due mainly to continued success from the PS4 and Xbox One.”

Software sales once again underperformed as gamers only spent $406 million, which is down 27 percent from $555 million in 2013. This is likely due to slow spending on games for older systems. Releases on PS4 and Xbox One have little issue performing well despite the much smaller owner base compared to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

As always, it’s important to keep in mind that the NPD only includes new physical goods sold at brick-and-mortar stores. That means used and digital sales don’t affect these figures. It’s best to look at this information as a snapshot of a much larger and more dynamic market.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the top-selling game chart.


1. Titanfall (Xbox One, PC)
2. Infamous: Second Son (PS4)
3. South Park: The Stick of Truth (360, PS3, PC)
4. Call of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Wii U, PC)
5. Dark Souls II (PS3, 360)
6. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360)
7. NBA 2K14 (360, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, PC)
8. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (PS3, Vita)
9. The Lego Movie Videogame (360, PS3, 3DS, Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, Vita)
10. Minecraft (360)

Titanfall did as well as industry watchers expected. It was the top-selling game of the month. The Electronic Arts sci-fi shooter, which was only available on Xbox One and PC in March, was highly anticipated among core gamers. That translated into it topping the chart.

“Titanfall was the top-selling game for March 2014, with a solid attach rate to the Xbox One,” said Callahan. “After one month of sales, it is currently the second-highest selling game for the Xbox One.”

Developer Sucker Punch’s PS4 exclusive Infamous: Second Son also performed well. It landed at No. 2.

March wasn’t all about Xbox One and PS4 blockbusters. Titanfall and Infamous were just two of a number of new game launches for the month. That list includes South Park: The Stick of Truth at No. 3, Dark Souls II at No. 5, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes at No. 6. Those three were all multiplatform, but each failed to perform as well as the PS4-only Infamous. This illustrates the thirst that consumers have for content on the new systems.

Monthly regulars like Call of Duty, NBA 2K14, and Minecraft all returned to top 10. Minecraft has made this list seven out of its last 10 months. That’s especially impressive because the disc version didn’t debut until a year after the Xbox Live Arcade release, which didn’t launch until a year after the PC game’s official release.

Finally, Yoshi’s New Island was the 10th best-selling game of the month on an individual platform, but it was also one of the first 3DS new releases not to debut on the overall top-10 list.


This is the month that matters. Well, they all matter, but both Microsoft and Sony had big exclusives for their systems in March. We might now finally get an idea how much Titanfall and Infamous: Second Son helped out their respective boxes.

“In March 2014, Sony’s PS4 led hardware sales for the third month in a row,” said Callahan.

As part of these NPD results, Microsoft confirmed that it sold 311,000 Xbox Ones. Estimates put PS4 at around 370,000.

“Today’s NPD report confirmed that PlayStation 4 was No. 1 in sales for March and extended its cumulative lead for next generation game consoles, despite continued supply constraints,” PlayStation brand-marketing boss Guy Longworth said. “NPD also highlighted that PlayStation sold the most total consoles and demand for Infamous: Second Son was extremely strong.”

It’s clear that both boxes are selling very well.

“PS4 and Xbox One continue to see success with cumulative sales of the two consoles through the first five months currently totaling more than double that of their predecessors, the PS3 and Xbox 360,” said Callahan.

That matches up with the worldwide sales for PS4. Sony revealed earlier this week that it has sold 7 million PS4s worldwide as of early April. That’s twice what PS3 sold through that same period of its lifecycle.

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After taking the iPad by storm, Microsoft Office fizzles on Chromebooks

Wednesday 16 April 2014 @ 7:31 pm
After taking the iPad by storm, Microsoft Office fizzles on Chromebooks
Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

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Remember that time Word, Excel, and PowerPoint landed on the iPad? It topped the charts on Apple’s App Store in 12 hours. 20 days later, Microsoft Word remains the #1 free iPad app, according to app tracking service App Annie.

Then, two days ago, Microsoft announced another platform launch for Office: the service debuted in the Chrome Web Store.

Many were shocked to see the news; after all, Microsoft and Google have been at each other’s throats, fighting for enterprise customers. Google fed on XP’s demise in recent Chromebook promos, and Microsoft has consistently attacked Chromebooks for their inability to run apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Seriously, Microsoft has a chart here listing that as a disadvantage. So we’re now confused by Microsoft’s decision to launch Chrome apps in the first place.

In any event, Microsoft’s move to launch Office Online apps in the Chrome Web Store created zero ripples. Chrome users appear hopelessly disinterested. Despite the launch-time press, the Web Store’s public stats show that Word Online has 22,000 users, while PowerPoint and Excel have only 11,000 and 13,000 users respectively.

Compare that to Microsoft OneDrive’s 796,574 users and you can come to one of two conclusions: Either Microsoft Office users don’t care about Chrome, or Chromebook users don’t think much of Office.

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Inside Microsoft’s New Platform And Services Strategy

Sunday 13 April 2014 @ 4:54 pm
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 4.07.27 PM During the week before Microsoft's Build developer conference, I spoke to the company's Steve Guggenheimer (Guggs), corporate vice president in charge of evangelism, and Kevin Gallo, director of the company's developer ecosystem. We discussed Microsoft's changing views on the technology market, and specifically its place in it -- topics that are quite interesting from a post-Build perspective. Read More

Microsoft’s latest innovation: An Indian hotline for startup advice

Friday 11 April 2014 @ 6:14 am
Microsoft’s latest innovation: An Indian hotline for startup advice

Above: Ravi Gururaj, Dr. Rathan Kelkar, Joseph Landes, and Rajinish Menon officially launch JumpStart, a hotline that answers business and technical questions for startups and entrepreneurs.

Image Credit: Microsoft Ventures in India / Facebook

Startups face all sorts of vexing questions. Now they have a place to turn for advice: a toll-free hotline established by Microsoft.


The initiative, called JumpStart, comes from the Indian branch of global accelerator program Microsoft Ventures. It may seem baffling to folks outside the country, but Microsoft India’s Joseph Landes argues that “a major pain point for startups across the ecosystem in India, irrespective of their stage of maturity, is the lack of real-time support for various critical queries they face.”

Microsoft says it’ll apply what it learns from the hotline calls to improve the Microsoft Ventures program.

JumpStart answers calls during business hours Monday through Friday (9 AM to 5 PM IST). This VentureBeat reporter called the number (1-800-200-2114), only to discover that he’d won a free cruise. Hurrah!

In other words, the number is not accessible from the U.S. — but if you do manage to dial in, JumpStart will take questions in both English and Hindi. Then you can finally get an answer to that age-old question: to use Amazon Web Services or not to use Amazon Web Services?

The answer, by the way, is Microsoft Azure.

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VB's working with marketing expert Scott Brinker to understand the new digital marketing organization. Help us out by answering a few questions, and we'll help you out with the data.

Microsoft’s $7.2BN Deal To Buy Nokia’s Devices Business Gets The Nod In China

Monday 7 April 2014 @ 11:59 pm
Chinese regulators have approved Nokia’s planned sale of its devices business to Microsoft, taking the $7.2 billion deal one step closer to closing. Nokia said today it has received regulatory approval from the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. “Nokia and Microsoft have now received regulatory approvals from the People’s Republic of China, the… Read More

Xbox One finally lets you share game clips on YouTube

Monday 7 April 2014 @ 8:31 am
Xbox One finally lets you share game clips on YouTube

Above: Microsoft's latest console, the Xbox One.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Sharing epic Titanfall moments is about to get a lot easier for Xbox One owners.

A new YouTube app headed to the console tomorrow will finally enable gamers to upload recorded gameplay clips directly to their YouTube accounts, Microsoft announced today.

Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 record game sessions and share them with the world. But until now, Xbox One owners could only share videos to Microsoft’s OneDrive or stream their sessions live via Twitch.

The addition of easy YouTube sharing likely won’t win over many new customers for Microsoft, but it’s yet another feature that Sony doesn’t offer in the PlayStation 4 (which can only share videos on Facebook).

The new Xbox One YouTube app also shows videos split-screen in Snap Mode as well as adds YouTube channels to your console’s OneGuide (which also lists TV channels and content from other apps).

YouTube Xbox One app

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