Only time and sales figures will ultimately determine if Windows 8 is a success or not, and in the meantime, all we can do on the consumer side is speculate. Microsoft, however, is in a position to do more. The Redmond software giant could, for example, come up with a Plan B in case Windows 8 and its radically redesigned interface doesn't catch on with consumers. Interestingly, it doesn't appear Microsoft is too worried about that scenario playing out.
In a recent interview with Wired UK, Microsoft VP Frank Shaw admitted that CEO Steve Baller has an 80-inch Windows 8 tablet hanging on the wall in his office. What did you think I was going to say? “It’s his whiteboard, his e-mail machine,” Shaw said, “and it’s a device we’re going to sell.” Windows 8 was shown off at last years CES on an 80-inch Sharp Aquos touch display, however the model Shaw is referencing here is something new.
As outlined in Microsoft's 2011 Proxy Statement, company CEO Steve Ballmer will collect $682,500 in bonus pay, the same as his annual salary and equal to half of the maximum bonus pay he could have received. A variety of factors played a role in Ballmer not receiving the full bonus amount, including lower than expected sales of Windows Phone 7, a 2 percent dip in Windows and Windows Live Division, and the need for further progress in new form factors.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, has always been one to speak his mind – just check out his classic "Developers! Developers!" rant. Microsoft's PR department must have done a collective facepalm when Steve addressed a legion of developers! in Japan on Monday. "As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors," Steve said enthusiastically, presumably with sweat stains underneath his armpits. Windows 8 in 2012? That's big news!
It’s the end of Wintel. At least, that’s what you’re likely to read this morning after Microsoft dropped the bomb shell that the next version of Windows will run not just on x86, but also on select ARM chips.
Microsoft CEO made the revelation Wednesday night at the pre-CES keynote and immediately set the industry abuzz over the ramifications of Windows running on ARM. The company then promptly demonstrated an early pre-alpha version of Windows running on ARM hardware from Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and an Nvidia.
Among the demos: The next-gen Windows on ARM running an ARM-version of Microsoft Word and printing to an Epson printer as well as the Nvidia Tegra 2 part running HD video and running a browser.
Ballmer said Microsoft isn’t turning its back on x86, but it wants to have the ability to provide Windows on everything from big screens to small screen. “Whatever device you use, now or in the future, Windows will be there,” Ballmer said.
The version demonstrated was “real Windows” running on ARM and not something emulated officials said. Still, hard details were missing such as when the OS would be available or just what features of Windows would be available on ARM. Would it be a super stripped down? What API’s would be supported? Will vendors really recompile or rewire x86 applications for ARM? None of that is known yet.
We love this time of the year, not just because of the holidays, but also for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). From January 6-9, 2011, companies will gather in Las Vegas to show off new and upcoming products, some of which will be in the concept stage and may never become an actual shipping product.
Windows 8 isn't one of those concept products, but according to a report in The New York Times, Steve Ballmer may show off Redmond's next generation operating system at CES, at least that's what they're hearing from a "person with knowledge of Microsoft's plans."
According to NYT's various sources, Ballmer and Co. also plan to unveil a slew of tablets built by Samsung, Dell, and several other manufacturing partners. One of the more promising slates is a Samsung device that will include a slide-out keyboard and most likely run Windows 7.
During Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting, one of the company's investors asked, "Is it time to consider breaking this company up?" This wasn't a rogue question, but a sentiment shared by some nervous shareholders who wonder if it's time for Microsoft to spin off its consumer business, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
"I obviously don't think it is time," Steve Ballmer said. Ballmer went on to point out that Windows and Microsoft Office are sold to both home consumers and enterprise clients.
The problem for investors, however, is that Microsoft's share price has fallen 15 percent since the beginning of the year, a tough pill to swallow considering Windows 7 has been enjoying record sales. And for the past eight years, Microsoft shares have mostly stayed around $25.
"I do understand the frustration," Ballmer said. But what investors might not understand is where this confidence is coming from, particularly as Ballmer recently confirmed plans to sell off up to 75 million shares of Microsoft by the end of the year.
Steve Ballmer might look like Joe Everyman on the outside, but under that sweat stained exterior is a billionaire in disguise, and according to Reuters he’s cashing out. The CEO has apparently confirmed reports that he has sold 49.3 million shares of Microsoft stock worth an estimated $1.3 billion, a move that some feel might be motivated by the end of Bush-era tax cuts on capital gains.
According to Ballmer investors shouldn’t read too heavily into the decision to sell off shares, and it was done purely for personal financial reasons. At current prices Ballmer is sitting on about $10 billion in company stock, so despite the poor optics of a CEO selling off a large pool of shares, we suspect the temptation of all that non-liquid cash simply became too much. When you consider that his 2009 bonus was a mere $670,000 as a result of poor performance in the mobile and tablet market, it would make sense that he would want to supplement his income somehow.
Despite the sale Ballmer will remain one of the top shareholders in the company with a 4 percent stake, second only to Bill Gates who holds 7 percent. I guess with Windows Phone 7 and Kinect now on the market Ballmer just needed a bit of extra pocket change before he heads over to his local Best Buy.
The expression “kids say the darndest things” gets just about anyone under the age of 10 off the hook for bizarre remarks, but Microsoft PR is likely looking for someway to spin Steve Ballmer’s latest comments into this category as well following a recent interview at the Gartner Symposium. During the one-on-one with ZDnet’s Larry Dignan, Ballmer claimed that “the next version of Windows” was Microsoft’s “riskiest bet”. Given that such a large percentage of Microsoft’s revenue comes from Windows, this probably wasn’t the best thing to admit in a public forum, but his honesty certainly does give us lots to write about!
This begs the question, why is Steve so worried about Windows 8? ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley speculated that it could be because Microsoft’s next operating system is rumored to be a radical departure from Windows 7, but since nothing has been officially confirmed by the company, we still have very little to go on. Leaked feature slides claim Windows 8 is going to be faster booting, have more advanced biometric security support, and maybe even an app store. Sure these are interesting features to a select few, but not exactly what most people would consider “risky”.
The more likely explanation is simply the natural fear built into Microsoft after the launch of Windows Vista. In many ways Vista failed because they tried to change core aspects of the operating system too quickly, and the compatibility problems caused a backlash that they are only now starting to recover from.
So should they make radical changes and risk another Vista? Or should they simply continue tweaking the UI and risk not making a compelling case to upgrade in two years time?
Steve Ballmer, the usually candid CEO of Microsoft, answered a variety of questions in a recent interview with CNet, though was mostly reserved on the topics that really matter. For example, when asked if Microsoft can slim down Windows enough to make a viable tablet that works as well as the iPad, Ballmer was vague and dodgy.
"I think probably the things of tomorrow are best left for tomorrow and the things of today are best discussed today. So today, I will focus on Windows Phone," Ballmer said.
He was equally esoteric when discussing whether or not Windows tablets and Windows Phone-based tablets can co-exist.
"I think when there is something to say we'll say it," Ballmer said.
On the topic of PCs, Ballmer was a bit more forthcoming. According to Ballmer, "Most forecasters have PCs up double digits and that's on a base that's 350 million," adding that "PCs have been healthy; they are growing."