Microsoft today reported results for the second fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2009. It managed to churn out strong results during the quarter thanks mainly to Windows 7. Both its profit and revenue soared to record levels in this period. During fiscal 2Q, the company reported earnings of $6.66 billion, or 74 cents per share, on revenue of $19.02 billion. This is way better than what financial pundits had predicted.
Microsoft claims it has sold 60 million Windows 7 licenses. While the phenomenal consumer interest in Windows 7 is clearly propelling Microsoft's growth, the lingering parsimony among enterprises is a cause for concern.
The division that makes its popular Office productivity suite was particularly hit by lack of corporate spending, with its revenue dropping 3 percent. The entertainment division did not fare too well, either. It only sold 5.2 million Xbox 360 consoles, 13 percent less compared to the previous year.
Microsoft isn't yet finished fighting what it considers the good fight and has filed a second appeal in its patent case against i4i. According to Microsoft, the original judgment could set a dangerous precedent for future patent cases, TGDaily reports.
The dispute stems from August of last year, in which Microsoft was found guilty of violating an XML patent held by Toronto-based i4i. Microsoft was then banned from selling or importing into the U.S. any Word products capable of opening .xml, .docx, or .docm files containing custom XML. Microsoft would appeal, but lost its case in December.
In this second appeal, Microsoft contends that "the December 22 decision creates [significant conflicts] with established precedents governing trial procedure and the determination of damages, and we are concerned that the decision weakens judges' authority to apply appropriate safeguards in future patent trials."
i4i wasn't caught off guard by the latest appeal, saying "this next step of seeking a rehearing was anticipated."
Microsoft has been toying with ideas on how to increase revenue streams from its software offerings, both operating system and business productivity software. It’s suggested that Microsoft’s objective is a strategic response to pirating: if pirates act because software costs are too high, then find a way to lower those costs without giving it away. But Microsoft’s newly announced rental program seems more a modification of licensing to meet real world usage of Microsoft’s software, in a way that can generate a few more dollars.
From the description offered on the Microsoft Partner Network, it seems that rental only applies to owners of such software (i.e., you aren’t renting from Microsoft, but are renting from the legal software licensee.) According to the site: “Windows desktop operating system and Microsoft Office system licenses do not permit renting, leasing, or outsourcing the software to a third party...Rental Rights are a simple way for organizations to get a waiver of these licensing restrictions through a one-time license transaction valid for the term of the underlying software license or life of the PC.” Under Microsoft’s old licensing system this was technically ‘illegal' (but people were still doing it). Now, with the right payment, it is ‘legal.’
For example, the steps in rental, according to the Partner Network, consists of (1) obtain from Microsoft valid licenses for all machines to be rented; (2) acquiring rental rights for those PCs from Microsoft; and (3) finding customers to rent them. Same process holds true for renting Office, except, naturally, a license for Office must also be held. Rental rights are “perpetual”, but are permanently assigned to a PC and cannot be transferred.
What benefit there is to this isn’t all that clear. Microsoft analyst Paul DeGroot says it is a big deal, that it “could give a boost to Internet cafes, companies renting rather than buying computers.” Further, because renting only applies to current versions, it could “reduce the drag from ‘good enough,’ particularly for Office.” But put an end to piracy? DeGroot isn’t as certain--the price differential between legitimate and pirated, whether rented or not, is still to great to think there’ll be an impact.
It happens to everybody. You're in charge of a big project at work (or school, if you're a younger Maximum PC fan). A group of people all email you their changes to a specific document at once, and it's your job to merge everyone's thoughts into one coherent final project. That sounds like an arduous task even if you're equipped with a program like Microsoft Word. If you're just relying on your eyeballs and good ol' Wordpad, however, you're in for quite a battle.
So stop. Don't try to go through these many, many documents and the many, many headaches that they'll deliver over the course of hours. There's a handy site that will make your editing life much easier, and it's as easy to operate as your standard word processor. In fact, I dare say it's even easier than a standard Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org interface. The site's called CompareMyDocs and, as its name implies, it's an awesome tool for quickly tracking the changes between up to seven documents at once.
Hear that? Seven documents. How many can you you compare in Word? Two. If that's still not enticing enough to get you to check out this Web App, just wait until you see how it works! ...after the jump, of course.
The litigation gods don't seem to be favoring Microsoft at the moment. A U.S court of appeals dashed all its hopes of a turnaround in its legal battle with Canadian firm i4i when it upheld a previous ruling against the Redmond-based company on Tuesday. In August, a U.S District Judge had ruled that certain versions of Microsoft Word encroach upon i4i's patents and consequently slapped the software giant with a $290 million fine, besides placing an injunction on the sale of all infringing versions of Word in the U.S.
The appeals court had stayed the injunction in September until the matter was in consideration. But now that it has affirmed the previous ruling against Microsoft, there is very little the company can do apart from purging Word 2007 and Office 2007 of the features that violate i4i's patents. According to a Reuters report, the company is already taking the necessary corrective measures.
However, the company is also exploring other legal options, including a rehearing by a full panel of judges or a Supreme Court review, according to its spokesperson Kevin Kutz. A spokesperson for i4i said it is “pleased with the court's decision to uphold the injunction, an important step in protecting the property rights of small inventors.” This small inventor with a vindictive name certainly has every reason to be pleased.
Are you stuck using Outlook at work? We feel your pain. Compared to the alternatives, like Mozilla's light-weight and customizable Thunderbird client, Outlook is slow, bloaty, and downright unwieldy. Add to the fact that it isn't free and Outlook doesn't appear to have much going for it.
But whether you use Outlook because you have to or have grown accustomed to its interface and are reluctant to switch (or maybe you just want to justify the cost of Microsoft Office), we have some tricks to help you manage your email and contacts like a pro. After all, if you're going to use Outlook, no matter what the reason, you might as well get the most out of it, and we're here to help you do just that.
Google is launching an all-out offensive against Microsoft and its Microsoft Office software suite with a new ad campaign called "Going Google." In addition to being spattered all over the web, the new ads will also appear on billboards on four major U.S. highways that will give a new message about Google Apps everyday for a month. Said highways include the 101 in San Francisco, the West Side Hwy in New York, the Ike in Chicago, and Mass Pike in Boston.
The strategically placed ads, which will target IT managers stuck in traffic jams, will focus on how and why some 3,000 organizations are signing up to use Google Apps each day. According to Google, more than 1.75 million businesses, schools, and organizations have joined to use the various combinations of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and other Google Apps.
Google's new ad campaign represents the latest in an ongoing war between the search giant and Microsoft. Google recently announced the development of its Chrome OS, while Microsoft recently announced a deal to take over Yahoo's search business.
$11.8 million, to be exact! Microsoft’s shenanigans have gotten them into a legal squeeze with Bundeskartellamt, an independent federal authority assigned to the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in Germany.
According to a report filed by Bundeskartellamt, “The product in question was heavily advertised in the autumn of 2008 in stationary retail outlets. Amongst others, a nationwide active retailer advertised the product with financial support from Microsoft. Even before the launch of the advertising campaign in mid-October 2008, employees of Microsoft and the retailer in question had agreed on at least two occasions on the resale price of the software package 'Office Home & Student 2007’.”
Sadly, price fixing has become common amongst larger companies as a way for them to show off their financial prowess (most notably amongst memory companies, who have been known to set industry-wide price points).
According to Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans, “We will use this case as an opportunity to review our internal commercial processes and ensure that we are in full compliance with German law.”
Microsoft recently announced that they’d be merging their Office Live and Windows Live services into a single destination, all in the name of “simplifying the customer experience around our Live services.”
According to information from Microsoft, about a four million people have signed up for the Office Live program, which remains in beta since it was made public about ten months ago. According to Kirk Gregerson, they’re making this move in the wake of customer feedback.
One can’t help but wonder what this has to deal with the pending layoffs that Microsoft has to endure. With the recent loss of their Flight Sim studio, there’s no question that this merge will cause some layoffs.
Earlier this year, Microsoft said it would add native support for the Open Document Format (ODF) due in part to increasing pressure from customers "and because we want to get involved in the maintenance of ODF." The decision might seem a curious one given the effort Microsoft spent on pushing its OOXML through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), but the company said the changes OOXML had gone through in the ratification process ended up making it more difficult to support than ODF.
Holding true to its word, Microsoft has published documentation detailing its implementation of ODF version 1.1 In Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 scheduled for release in 2009. Microsoft also said similar notes about its implementation of Open XML are forthcoming.
“By publishing notes on how we are implementing file format standards in Microsoft Office, we are providing detail that others can use as a reference point for their own applications,” said Doug Mahugh, senior project manager for Office interoperability. “We encourage other companies to take similar steps to help achieve greater interoperability across the industry.”
But before Microsoft and the Open Standards community gathers around the virtual campfire and sings Kumbaya, TGDaily warns that a small number of caveats leaves the door open for Microsoft to introduce Microsoft-specific variations to the ODF standard.