Microsoft has released the last preview of its latest build of Office – the first release of one of Redmond's biggest cash cows.
"This is the first round of Office designed from the get-go for Office to be a service," said CEO Steve Ballmer at a press conference in San Francisco. "We've transformed Office to embrace design concepts shown in Windows 8 and Phone 8 and in Metro. This wave of Office is the biggest and most ambitious we've ever done."
The application suite has been rewritten from the ground up, he said, and while Redmond will still support those who want to install their own copy, Microsoft hopes that the bulk of users will use its code in a cloudy fashion. Developers can also build third-party web applications and embed them in Office.
By default, Office applications will store preferences, custom dictionaries, and – most importantly – documents, in the cloud via SkyDrive. This all fits in the "Metro everywhere" philosophy that Microsodt is pushing, but some companies will have to look at whether this cloudy control is really what they want.
This is also a very touchy-feely build, with pinch controls in all the Office applications. There are the usual expansion/contraction pinch controls, plus swiping between functions within Office and doing things such as selecting fonts and type styles using rotary controls. A stylus can be integrated as well, either to annotate documents or act as a pointer during presentations. Read more...
The covers were lifted off the shiny slate weeks ago, but it was dismissed by several hardware vendors, including long-time partner Acer, which said Microsoft should concentrate its efforts on software development.
Ballmer told a 16,000-strong audience at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto that Microsoft needs "leading edge hardware that really shows off Windows 8".
Clearly Microsoft didn't trust the OEM giants to get the most out of the next gen OS and wants to get more hands-on to loosen Apple's stranglehold on the fondleslab sector.
But Ballmer, Microsoft's very own bald eagle, branded Surface as "just a design point". Read more...
Reports earlier this week that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicted unprecedented sales of Windows 8 were wrong on multiple counts, Microsoft and independent analysts agreed.
But while Microsoft said Ballmer was misquoted or misunderstood, the analysts argued that even if the CEO's number of 500 million had been accurate, it meant little about the upgrade's success.
The kerfuffle started when the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service, reporting from a South Korean technology event, said Ballmer claimed up to 500 million users would "have" Windows 8 "next year." A slew of blogs and news websites piled on, most of them questioning Ballmer's number, or even his sanity. Read more...
Steve Ballmer has failed to dazzle the Microsoft board in the last year, and his pay cheque seems to reflect that fact.
The Redmond firm's CEO bagged just a $685,500 bonus, which on top of his $682,500 salary and other compensation brought his total package up to June 2011 to just $1.38m, a figure that pales in comparison to many of his peers.
While the conference-stage-leaping Windows supremo insists on taking a modest payout, compared to other tech chief execs, the remuneration signals that the compensation committee, and the board, want to see a little more from the once-dominant firm.
The committee based its decision both on Ballmer's self-assessment, and on feedback from peers, as well as the company's performance. Read more...
Steve Ballmer wants to rally business partners around Microsoft's flagship internet and mobile initiatives, but in the process, he reveals just how far Microsoft has to go and how much the company relies on decision-makers outside of its control.
Opening Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles on Monday, Ballmer enthused about the growing market share of Microsoft's Bing search engine, about Boeing and American Airlines using Windows Azure, and about Nokia embracing Windows Phone.
Ballmer insisted that Microsoft has also stitched together a "much more" coherent and complete public- and private-cloud strategy during the last year, one that combines existing enterprise products such as System Center, Visual Studio, and Active Directory, and lets you take private apps to the public Azure cloud. Read more...
Particularly after the "Hell no, Steve must go!" chants from big-time investors, insiders, and employees, nobody expects CEO Steve Ballmer to stay at the helm of Microsoft until they pry his SideWinder keyboard from his cold, dead fingers. But no one has reliable deets on when he may depart, either, or how it might all go down, despite titillating rumors that surface regularly.
The latest scuttlebutt appeared on Windows8update.com, which passed along a tip from "someone who shall remain nameless" that SteveB "is set to resign as CEO of Microsoft sometime after the launch of Windows 8." Give the site credit for saying -- twice -- that this was a rumor and not intended to be taken as truth. Read more...
"His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft's stock," Einhorn said in reference to Ballmer.
The comments by outspoken Einhorn, who made his name warning about Lehman Brothers' financial health before the investment bank's collapse, are the most pointed yet from a high-profile investor against Microsoft's leadership.
Microsoft shares, which have been static for over a decade, gained 0.87 percent in after-hours trading after Einhorn's comments, the most of any Dow Jones industrial average component. Read more...