2012 CES Keynote, the last for Microsoft

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show is just right around the corner and Microsoft is scheduled to give the keynote address on Monday, January 9, 2012 which will mark the last keynote Microsoft at CES.

Microsoft recognizes that their industry is fast moving and the manner in which they communicate with consumers must keep pace. Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President over Corporate Communications states,

"We have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing."

Microsoft will now turn to special events to share new products, services and innovations with consumers such as the Big Windows Phone event that was held in New York, through social networking resources and their retail stores. Microsoft won't disappear completely from CES with their partners likely taking the lead in making product announcements at future CES events.  While the approach makes sense, it's going to be strange not to have Ballmer take center stage at CES.

Oh and speaking of the 2012 CES Keynote, as we understand things Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will focus on Windows Phones and the XBox this year. Don't expect significant news but more of a wrap up on the past year. Microsoft may be taking a step back and let Nokia's Operation Rolling Thunder take center stage.

Source: Microsoft Blog

Steve Ballmer hits back at Android and praises the iPhone

Google's User Experience Director for Android, Matias Duarte, said about Windows Phone being too forceful everything into a constrained look and feel. While he says that he offers the web, there's no denying that Metro is a beutiful UI and effectively provides content with no pixels wasted to chrome. Even Android took some pointers from Windows Phone (as well as other platforms).

Steve Ballmer, being the legend that he is (see the above image), has lashed back at Android but praises the iPhone to keep it from being a targeted attack. Ballmer mentioned that Android is simply difficult for the user to get into from the off.

"You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone and you do to use and Android phone ... it is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones."

Android fans have taken what he said the wrong way, which is easy to do with words used. Ballmer is talking about the lack of a central design or theme across apps and the system as a whole. It looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle that is built with odd pieces. iOS has a fluid, chrome rich, interface while Windows Phone is the opposite with content, content, and more content wrapped in Metro lingerie.

This sums it up perfectly:

"Both [an iPhone and a Windows phone] are going to feel very good in your hand and both going to look very beautiful physically, but when you grab a Windows phone and use it your information is front and centre and you don’t have to scroll through seas of icons and blah blah blah."

Ballmer goes on to say that the team understands the launch of more competitively priced handsets is a must, but with the Omnia W pricing announced and Nokia coming up shortly, there might be a short wait. Good on you Ballmer, good on you sir.

Source: The Telegraph

Nokia showing a "bunch of new devices running Windows Phone" next week in London least according to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft at the recent Web 2.0 summit. Now, we suppose we can engage in a semantic debate about what constitutes a "bunch" combined with social-linguistic and pragmatic uses of the term, but up till this point, we were only really expecting maybe two devices from Nokia: SeaRay/800 and the Sabre/703/710.

But perhaps we need to re-think what Nokia may be doing. We know at the very least the SeaRay will be going on sale in various countries in November e.g. France, Italy, so for certain we'll see those devices for respective carriers. But Nokia has always talked about "shipping in volume" in 2012 in addition to bold claims like a new device every three months (remember that one?). So maybe, just maybe we'll see more than just 2011 devices but also what's in store for 2012--like perhaps that rumored Nokia Windows Phone for AT&T?

Then again, if Ballmer was just being colloquial, perhaps a "bunch" really is just two. We'll be live in London next week at Nokia World to find out, so stay tuned...

Source: Mary Jo Foley (Twitter)

Ballmer's bonus suffers because of slow WP7 sales

Microsoft's latest regulatory filing shows that Steve Ballmer received a bonus of $682,500, which is the same amount of money he draws for a salary as CEO.  While many of us would love to see a 100% bonus, the amount is actually only half of what he is capable of earning.  The filing indicates that the reasons behind the low bonus were stagnant Windows Phone sales and "the need for further progress in new form factors."

Ballmer himself admitted that sales of Windows Phone were not where he would have liked them to be, but with the recent rollout of Mango and Nokia's first WP7 handsets on the verge of making their way to the market, that could all change.  As for "new form factors," who saw their sales drop 2%, we've seen a glimpse of the future and the future is looking pretty good.  The upside to Ballmer's review is that Kinect was a huge success, Office 365 is taking off and Bing has increased its share of the search engine market to 27%.  One thing is for sure, Ballmer, who is the world's 33rd richest person in the world, can spare the the $682,500 that he missed out on this bonus period.

Source: SmartHouse

Ballmer: "Mango" phones coming this Christmas

Recently at the Imagine Cup 2011, happening right here in New York City, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave his usual keynote speech.

Towards the middle, he finally gave a nod to Windows Phone and even dropped some info regarding the 2nd generation "Mango" phones that we're all expecting late this year, including Nokia's entry:

"Windows Phone. You know, a year ago we didn't have a phone in the market. Now, we're charging forward with Nokia. We have the second generation of our phones coming out this Christmas, and people are starting to do things they had never imagined before. I love the applications that I saw for the Windows Phone from the people in this room, and the way you're pushing that device, and using that device. It was really exciting for me."

Some folks are interpreting his remarks as a sign of slippage on "Mango's" release, noting how Christmas is a few days post-Fall.

We're a bit more hesitant to make such a claim as it raises the question: Are new WP7 hardware releases tied to the software update? We're betting on "no". New hardware has a much more flexible release schedule and we see no inclination that Microsoft will hold off on the "Mango" software updates for current devices until new hardware comes out. Sure, it could happen, but we're not betting on it. Instead, we'll probably see a rolling out of new hardware over a few months ending 2011 into 2012. In other words, not much of a story here.

Source: Microsoft

New features heading to Windows Phone 7: Multi-tasking, IE9, Skydrive and more

While many didn't expect much from Microsoft's Keynote Address at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, Steve Ballmer and company did find a way to surprise us. While the first part of the presentation was a re-cap of the progress Windows Phone 7 has made, the Microsoft CEO also touched on how well the new phones are being recieved by consumers. Nine out of ten Windows Phone users would recommend the phones to other and many feel that Windows Phone 7 is the easiest and most delightful to use.

Building phones that people love and that are operator friendly is the top priority at Microsoft. Ballmer also mentioned that the first update for Windows Phone 7 is only a few weeks away, being release in March and will include the copy/paste feature and overall performance enhancements. No surprises there.

CES 2011: Steve Ballmer delivers Microsoft's Keynote Address

Steve Ballmer has just wrapped up his 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show Keynote Address. He addressed three key components for Microsoft; Xbox 360, Windows 7, and Windows Phone 7.

Discussing how productive 2010 has been for Microsoft, Ballmer described it as a year filled with new experiences for consumers. Ballmer touched on the success of the Windows Phone Marketplace that now has over 5,500 apps and 20,000+ developers on board. On average, Windows Phone users are seeing 100 apps a day introduced to the Marketplace.

The success is being reflected by consumer confidence in that 9 out of 10 AT&T customers would recommend Windows Phone 7 to a friend. It was clear that Microsoft was pleased with the two month impact Windows Phone 7 has had and Ballmer continued to voice a strong commitment to the new phones.

Here are a few points from Ballmer's keynote on what we can expect in 2011 for Windows Phone 7.

OS Updates: Ballmer phrased it: "Over the next few months we will be delivering a series of platform improvements that show we are taking feedback to heart in an effort to continue to enhance the products we release. The updates will be released automatically and will include a few changes". No time frame was set but Ballmer did mention these updates will bring Copy/Paste to Windows Phone 7 as well as "significant improvement in performance when loading or switching between applications".

Sprint and Verizon: During the first half of 2011, Sprint and Verizon will join the Windows Phone family.  While there was no mention of which phones are headed where, indications remain that the HTC Trophy is headed to Verizon and the HTC 7 Pro will be Sprint's Windows Phone device.

Games: One of the strengths of Windows Phone 7 is the Xbox Live integration. Windows Phone users will see a series of new Xbox Live games heading to the platform including a version of the popular console game, Fable.

Fable Coin Golf (we're assuming it's a golf themed game) will allow any coins earned on the Windows Phone, carry over to the Xbox Live version of the game.  You also have Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 heading to the Windows Phone as well as the much anticipated Zombies!!!.

Apps: We saw a few new apps that caught our interests. There will be an app and a Bank of America app that will allow you to take care of your shopping and banking needs.  Hopefully, this will break the ice for more online retailers and financial institutions to bring their apps to Windows Phone 7.

It looks like 2011 is shaping up to be another year filled with new experiences for Microsoft consumers.

Update: See the entire video presentation after the break (grab a coffee, you'll need it, but it's worth it)

Belfiore outs Windows Phone Tablets?

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore was interviewed today at the D: Dive into Mobile Conference by Walt Mossberg (of Mosspuppet fame) regarding Windows Phone and Microsoft’s renewed foray into the smart-phone market. There isn’t much new information to be gleaned; confirmation of the early 2011 update to include copy and paste, the Marketplace reaching 3000+ apps, Walt stating that Windows Phone 7 doesn’t compare with iOS and Android (like I said, nothing new).

What IS intriguing is Belfiore’s response to Mossberg’s questions about Microsoft’s tablet strategy, namely the fact that Microsoft is pushing Windows 7 (a desktop platform) as it’s tablet OS; whereas Apple, Google, and even RIM (Blackberry) are all using touch-based platforms for their tablets.

Walt: But why not just scale up WP7? You have a modern touch based interface. Why isn’t that your tablet platform?

Joe: We’re 4 weeks out of introducing this new thing. We’ve tried to help our partners do a great job. Forward looking, we’re going to focus on what our customers want most.

Four weeks (tomorrow) would be the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where a certain Steve Ballmer will be giving the opening keynote. Last year at CES was when Ballmer announced the "Slate" form factor, which hasn’t moved ahead much in the past year. Could Microsoft be readying a tablet based branch of the Windows Phone 7 OS? I’ve got my fingers crossed, how about you?

Source: Engadget

Did Steve Ballmer just hint at a Windows Phone 7 tablet?

Ballmer and Co. at Microsoft have been pretty coy on the matter about adapting Windows Phone 7 for tablet use. While many of us see it as a no-brainer--it's fast, smooth, elegant, powerful, etc.--Microsoft has said in the past that it won't happen.

While we still don't expect it anytime soon (WP7 is still very early), Ballmer dropped an interesting tidbit in an Ars Technica interview. On the question of tablets and when they would happen, this exchanged occurred:

AT: How long am I going to wait... I don't want to ask you lots of stupid questions about tablets because I know you've been asked them before, so what I'm going to ask you is a very specific question: how long am I gonna have to wait to get a tablet that when I'm on-the-go has a nice touch- and finger-friendly interface, and when I sit down at my desk, I can add a keyboard and mouse and get a nice, full Windows experience. When is that going to come?

SB: I won't give you an answer, because it will all depend on what you want, and we're going to have various things coming at various times coming over the next months and years, and some things, I think you will see things that you will fall [in love with]—I know I'm seeing things that I'll fall in love with, and I know there will be more things that I desire.

The truth of the matter is, look at that device [my Lenovo X300]. It doesn't weigh anything, it just sits there, pretty nice, and very powerful, works pretty well, so you have to say, OK, what is the scenario that we're trying to optimize against? And you're gonna see some things that do a very nice job over the course of the next, let's call it year—you'll see some stuff now, you'll see some stuff after Christmas, you'll see some stuff as we get new Intel chips, you'll see some things as you move Windows Phone along—and which one you'll fall in love with, I can't predict.

Yup. Just 10 words long but 10 words that technically did not need to be there if Windows Phone was wasn't being considered for tablet use.

Dear Microsoft: Wait for WP7 to mature a bit, then just do it.

Source: Ars Technica; Image: Umang Dokey

Cnet interview with Steve Ballmer on Windows Phone 7; reveals little but still interesting

In the hubbub of Monday's Open House, there was this interesting video intereview with Steve Ballmer conducted by Ina Fried of Cnet.

Though we don't get any real juicy scoops, he does briefly mention how the technology form the Xbox Kinect (motion sensors, etc.) could make its way into mobile devices someday. We've seen some early hints of this from Microsoft themselves (Flashback machine: "Sidesight"), so it's not too surprising that the tech from Kinect and even Surface may be incorporated once it can be minaturized.

Check out the full video after the break, it's worth it as Ina has some pretty sharp questions for Steve.

List of every Windows Phone 7 device launched today

It was a big day, to say the least for Microsoft. And the nine Windows Phone 7, erm, phones dropped on us here in the United States were just the start. Here's a rundown of every device released worldwide:

In North America:

  • AT&T: HTC Surround, United States; Samsung Focus, United States; LG Quantum, United States
  • T-Mobile USA: HTC HD7, United States; Dell Venue Pro, United States
  • TELUS: HTC 7 Surround, Canada; LG Optimus 7, Canada
  • América Móvil: LG Optimus 7, Mexico

In Europe:

  • O2: HTC HD7, United Kingdom, Germany
  • Orange: HTC 7 Mozart, including France, United Kingdom; Samsung OMNIA 7, including France, United Kingdom
  • SFR: HTC 7 Trophy, France; Samsung OMNIA 7, France
  • Movistar: LG Optimus 7, Spain; HTC HD7, Spain; Samsung OMNIA 7, Spain
  • Deutsche Telekom AG: HTC 7 Mozart, Germany; Samsung OMNIA 7, Germany
  • Vodafone: HTC 7 Trophy, including Germany, Spain, United Kingdom; LG Optimus 7, including Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom

In Asia Pacific:

  • SingTel: HTC HD 7, Singapore; LG Optimus 7, Singapore
  • Telstra: HTC 7 Mozart, Australia; LG Optimus 7Q, Australia
  • Vodafone: HTC 7 Trophy, including Australia

Via Microsoft

And the winner is...Arcane's Tower Defense (for Windows Phone 7)

Word on Twitter is that the winner of the French Microsoft Windows Phone 7 application contest is a nifty game called Arcane's Tower Defense by GraphicStream, which admittedly has some pretty 'wow' graphics going for it.

The contest was announced back in July and was held this morning (U.S. time) with Steve Ballmer present and serving as a juror.

Congratulations to the team!

Ballmer takes swipe at Android's software fragmentation


Oh we love it when Ballmer gets feisty, even if his company is the underdog at the moment.

At a UK Tech Days event today, Ballmer gave his spiel about Windows Phone 7 and made some remarks about his competitors, specifically Google. He brought up the whole fragmentation issue, which is sort of a thorn in the side for developers. In short, when an update for Android is made, not every phone gets it, nor does the phones that do get it, get the same version due to OEM customization. When this happens, developers have to update their apps for specific phones to get them working.

Ballmer promised this not to be the case with WP7: "Unlike Google, if you write an app for Windows Phone 7, it will work on all Windows phones" which yeah, is a good selling point to developers. Also, with some humility, on Windows Mobile Baller noted that  "We got ourselves in to a little bit of a pickle with phones, but now we're on track".

Lets hope so, as Google is playing for keeps.


Ballmer: Windows Phone 7 devices by Christmas?

We keep hearing various time-frames for the release of Windows Phone 7. Usually "holiday season" is tossed around, which here in the States stretches from mid-October (if you count Halloween) through January 2nd.

Some of us have been hearing October as the big month, but we're not even sure if that's just announcing products or actual release date. For instance, we can see Microsoft back here in NYC at their "Open House" event kicking off WP7 with a bunch of OEMs and developers, but not releasing till...well later.

Ballmer today is India, once again doing what he does best, giving speeches and pep talks, much like an impromptu Chris Farley. In response to a question about WP7, Ballmer reportedly had this to say:

We have to deliver devices with our partners this Christmas...We have got our work cut out on Windows Phone 7, but we are good competitors.

We suppose this isn't really news if they do "deliver" by Christmas, after all that is still the Holiday season.  But we can't help but wish it was more October-ish? And to throw in a zinger, he also reportedly said this

One of our competitors seems a little confused, has come out with two operating systems that I cannot tell the difference between.

Ahem, not sure if he should be throwing stones on such a day as this one, but okay.

[via @nimishdubey@cellpassion]

Ballmer: No plans for WP7 in tablets?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is in Singapore today to help promote the launch of Office 2010/Imagine Cup Awards Ceremony, nothing too surprising there.

Evidently Steve took some questions from the audience and on Windows Phone 7, he reportedly had this to say:

We're focused on putting Windows Phone 7 in phones, no plans for tablets.

With the cancellation of Courier, the uncertain future of HP's Slate and the likes of Bach and Allard leaving, what exactly is Microsoft's strategy for tablet computers going to be? We know WP7 can scale up to large resolutions and evidently has a robust enough DPI to handle a high-resolution tablet.

So was he just being cagey or legit? It's not like he would just announce a Windows Phone 7-Tablet initiative in such an offhand way. Then again, MS has made some boneheaded moves in the past, and not taking advantage of WP7 + tablets could be one of them.

Speaking of shakeups, regarding the latest to the E&D division, he also reportedly said (paraphrasing)

There will not be further changes in mobile and entertainment strategy after management shakeup

That's a relief. The whole web seems to be crackling with 'WP7 FAIL' predictions after yesterday's news.

Update: In a video interview with Fortune, Ballmer clearly states they are going with Windows 7 and not Windows Phone 7 for tablets. Can Windows 7 answer the craving for instant-on, low power, low heat and fast mobile OS that consumers demand?

[image via @hyperous]


Ballmer Hosting Press Conference at Mobile World Congress, Duh


So often in the gadget business, you know something without actually “knowing.” For example, we’ve known Windows Mobile 7 was coming for quite a while, though it is only now being confirmed. Likewise, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer making some noise at Mobile World Congress in regards to Windows Phone (potentially Windows Mobile 7) was mentioned in passing at CES (and a couple other times since then); but now it’s officially official.

According to Microsoft’s News Center, Steve Ballmer will be hosting a press conference to discuss Windows Phone at MWC. Slated for Feb. 15 -- that's next Monday -- the press conference will be streaming live and viewable from Microsoft’s Windows Phone page. After the conclusion of the press conference, an on demand version will be made available.

With as rampant as the speculation has become over WM7 and what it will or will not include, we’re not going to read much into the fact that this is only a press conference instead of a full-blown keynote. We’ll be there Monday to watch it go down.

MSDN Outs Windows Mobile 6.5.3

We’ve known (unofficially) for some time now that Microsoft has been working on various follow-ups to Windows Mobile 6.5. ROMs based off of 6.5.x builds of Windows Mobile have been floating around XDA and other similar sites for months, but we hadn’t seen anything official from Microsoft (or even semi-official) ... until now.

MSDN (the Microsoft Developer Network) Web site is where developers go for documentation on various APIs and methods for creating applications for Microsoft products. The documentation for the Widget Engine in Windows Mobile 6.5 makes reference to the changes that we’ve seen with the softkeys and menus in 6.5.x ROMs. The quote states: “Beginning with the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 release, touchable tiles replace soft keys. For developers, the change from soft keys to touchable tiles is automatic starting with Windows Mobile 6.5.3. All of the following applies to touchable tiles and to soft keys.”

This may not seem like much of a mention, but the timing of this discovery may be significant. With Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer scheduled for the opening Keynote at CES next week, might we get some details on where Windows Mobile is headed? We’ll be there to keep you posted.

Ballmer confirms Zune in next version of Windows Mobile

By now it's hardly a secret that we're expecting some sort of Zune integration in Windows Mobile 7. Microsoft has been fairly coy about it, though nobody's really been buying that.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (that's him on the right) dropped word today during The Engadget Show that Zune will be coming to the next version of Windows Mobile.

For Zune he says Windows Mobile is going to get integration in the next release -- which is a comforting thought, if perhaps a bit late.

So there you have it. Good riddance, Windows Media Player.

Execs question Ballmer on Windows Mobile 7

Some notes out of a "Breakfast with Ballmer" (in Boston no less, for you lovers of all things alliterative) showed an interesting exchange between the Microsoft CEO and a former Lotus executive.

As recounted by correspondent Scott Kirsner on

The one sparky interchange -- no surprise -- seems to have been initiated by angel investor (and former Lotus exec) John Landry, who said it seemed to him that Microsoft is still very much focused on desktop computing, and considers all other devices to be peripherals to the PC. Landry waved his iPhone and said he does 80 percent of his work on that device. Ballmer responded by saying that Microsoft was aware that it has to do much better with Windows Mobile 7, its forthcoming mobile operating system (the release of which has been pushed back into 2010). "We know we have to kill on that one," a meeting attendee recalled Ballmer saying. (I've got a call in to Landry, to get his version of the discussion about the iPhone.)

Twitter entrepreneur Laura Fitton also noted that very few people are developing Twitter apps for Windows Mobile. Ballmer responded by saying Microsoft realizes that the company is engaged in a long campaign to get more developers writing apps for the Windows Mobile OS.

Hmmmmm. Tens of thousands of apps out there, but nobody's developing for Windows Mobile? "Very few" Twitter apps? We've got a couple hundred apps in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile already, and we're expecting tons more next month in Phase II. Anybody else smell trouble here?

Ballmer and Team Got a Pay Cut This Year

Everyone is hurting this year and even the head-honchos at Microsoft have received a small cut in pay as a result. That would Ballmer & Liddell and the rock stars Bach-Elop-Turner Overdrive.

Sure the numbers are all over the place: base salary went up slightly while cash incentive payments went down and lets face it, Ballmer is far from poor as a result.

Still, as the article points out some of the base salary was set before the economic downturn and more importantly, Microsoft has a considerably low base salary for all their executives when compared to some other industries, ahem. Instead, their real income is through stock options and therefore tied directly to company performance, which we think makes sense and all.

We're just glad we guess that Microsoft seems relatively down to earth in terms of executive compensation.  There, we said something nice.  Now can someone please take care of our ridiculous college loans?  Thanks!

[Source: Seattle Times]