"Microsoft has good news for most Sidekick users: the company says it has recovered most of the data for T-Mobile Sidekick users who saw personal information accidentally wiped from their devices earlier this week."
This has to be good news for any sidekick owners out there. I like the way the backup is done with the iPhone, and if you aren't sure how they do it, check out the support article that details the process.
"Microsoft has decided to give its Office 2008 selection a makeover by ditching two of its three choices and replacing them with a Business Edition. Now, it's easier to decide what version you need: are you a home or student user, or are you a business user?"
Didn't they do something similar with the new version of Windows? I think the more they can scale back the better, too many choices leads to confusion, at least it did for me when I was trying to figure out what version of Windows I needed, back in the day when I had to choose.
"Either Microsoft (MSFT) plans to sell rocks at its retail stores or it expects customers to buy a few desktops, Xboxes, and store fixtures all at once."
Well, their programs are bloated aren't they? Ok, Ok, enough of the joking, but it does remind me of a requirement listed on the Assistant Medical Examiner position in our County that opened up recently. The primary requirement was the ability to lift a minimum of 75 pounds. And before you reply, I was not comparing a Microsoft product to dead weight. No, really. If you aren't interested in the associates position, they only require the manager to be able to lift 50 pounds.
"In addition to falsely advertising the wrong price for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, the ad has always been misleading in that the shot of the Apple product shown before the price tag is of a now-discontinued aluminum 13-inch MacBook, which at the time retailed for $1,299 and has since been replaced by the new 13-inch MacBook Pro starting at $1,199 or $800 less than the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro price card that Microsoft shows in their misleading ad. Not only do they lie in the visuals, but Microsoft lies in the audio, too: In the ad, while showing the 13-inch MacBook, Microsoft's actress states, "This Mac costs $2000""
Some people ask me why these ads get me so annoyed and this is a prime reason. While MacDailyNews has a habit of getting a bit inflammatory in their posts, they make an excellent point here, particularly about the dope at Microsoft, Kevin Turner, saying the call he got was the greatest ever because it proved the ads were working!
Yeah sure, Kevin. That's exactly the reason you got that call. It had nothing to do with you outwardly lying about the price of the 13" (then) MacBook. It was all Apple fear. There's an axiom in business, and Microsoft would do well to pay attention to it. When you're number one in a market, don't bring any attention to number two.
And for those of you who complain that Apple's ads are just as inaccurate... Cool... Since there were 40 or so of them, I'm sure you have plenty of examples of where Apple attacked Microsoft with something as inaccurate as a $900 difference in the price of one of its products, so share them so we all can enjoy!
"Microsoft's "Laptop Hunters" ad campaign focuses on the price difference between Windows PCs and expensive Apple Macs. The commercials have raised consumers' perception of Microsoft's "value" -- and have hurt Apple -- according to YouGov BrandIndex, a research service."
Something struck me as odd, and reading the comments on the post, I found it:
"Yeah, good point, Dan, the wild swings in the graph from one extreme to the other, would tend to make this graph somewhat questionable. Honestly, does perception of value change THAT much over such a short period of time? Can we see other comparative graphs of other companies? Can they correlate it to anything?"
That is indeed an interesting question because the run of the ads doesn't seem to correlate with the "dip" in value perception. I'd be interested to see other value perception charts as well. I'm not saying the interpretation of the data is wrong, I'm just not sure if that interpretation can be made with the amount of data given.
Posted by Vincent Ferrari in "Apple Talk" @ 09:00 AM
"Sheila browses through a few more notebooks before settling on an HP HDX 16t. The specific details of the system were not disclosed, but HP offers configurations starting at $1200. The recommended system costs $1700, directly from the manufacturer, and features a 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of DDR2 RAM, a 320GB hard drive and 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT GPU."
At least she got a good machine that might actually be suitable for the task and her requirements (unlike Giampaolo whose choice still baffles me every time I see his commercial). The only puzzling part of the ad is her requirement that the new machine be able to "cut video." Okay, I can understand that. My question comes from her strange platform hunting. After all, how many hardcore video editors aren't already married to one particular piece of software?
For example, most of my editing is done on iMovie '09 and for bigger projects that require more oomph, I use Final Cut Express, neither of which would allow me to buy a Windows PC. Ever. Wouldn't someone as hardcore as Sheila have a similar preference? And if so, why even bother looking at other platforms?
Just struck me as odd, but like I said, at least she got a good machine.
"Apple is unfazed by Microsoft's recent attempts to make Macs out to be a bad value. "A PC is no bargain when it doesn't do what you want," Apple spokesman Bill Evans recently told BusinessWeek. "The one thing that both Apple and Microsoft can agree on is that everyone thinks the Mac is cool. With its great designs and advanced software, nothing matches it at any price."
Ouch. About time they said something. These ads aren't exactly great, and the information presented in them is misleading to say the least. But that is the nature of advertising, and anything goes for the most part. Regardless, I would think that Microsoft with all it's money could pay someone to come up with at least one ad that was decent. Of course this is just my opinion, so I'll go back to my overpriced (but non-gold plated) MBP and continue surfing.
"Microsoft's Mac Business Unit this week is making available to Mac users a "fully functional, no strings attached" free trial of Office 2008 so that prospective buyers and users of previous versions can 'kick the tires' on new suite before plunking down the cash for a permanent copy."
I'm not a power user of office product software, so I haven't had much of a need to use anything but Open Office since I switched from using Microsoft Office products about a year ago. And I've been pretty happy with it so far. However if you want to give this a try, even though it is only for 30 days, you get full functionality (a first from Microsoft) of the Microsoft Office 2008 suite of products.
If you do decide to buy, they offer three editions: student for $149.95 USD, standard for $399.95 USD and Special Media Edition for $499.95 USD. Before forking out the bucks, best stop in at Amazon.com, the price differential is from roughly $40.00 USD to about $250.00 USD. Quite a difference.
Yep, they're at it again. Meet Lisa, a mom who thinks Apple computers are "popular at that age" (as she points to her whatever year old kid) and her son, Jackson, who wants a big hard drive, speed, and a computer that's good for gaming. What do they look at? Why, a Vista 64 laptop from Sony, of course! Doesn't everyone?
Unlike in the Giampaolo ad (surely you remember him? he's the "picky" and "technically savvy" guy who walked out of Fry's with an utter piece of slow heavy crap after saying he wanted speed and portability), these guys actually got a halfway decent machine. Of course, you'll never find that machine listed on the Laptop Hunters site; they don't put the machines there anymore, so you can't make fun as easily as you used to!
Either way, it has all the features of a typical "Laptop Hunters" ad. The stupid dig at Apple, the revelation that they need a PC, and the purchase of a PC at a big box store where your options are grossly limited to whatever they have in stock on the shelves. Should be interesting to find out, down the road, how well Jackson's gaming is going on a laptop (!?) running Windows Vista 64 (*sigh*), with a graphics chipset that's roughly 2 generations old (nice move). But hey, they have Blu Ray! On a 16.4" screen! With a remote!
Posted by Vincent Ferrari in "Apple Talk" @ 09:00 AM
"On a budget of just $1500, Giampaolo looks for a high-spec laptop that's up to his standards."
Portability, power, and battery life. Got it. So what does he end up with? An HP laptop with under 2.5 hours of battery life, RAM that's running at half the speed of his CPU, and a 16" screen. But don't worry; Giampaolo is very picky and he knows what he wants. Oh, and Macs are just about aesthetics, you see. There's no portability, power, or battery life there.
In fact, in every way he was searching for, the MacBook that he dismissed as "only about aesthetics" actually fit his needs better. It has a much better battery, a screen that runs at almost the same resolution (the HP he picked up runs at 1366 x 768 which I'm sure looks marvelous blown up to 15 inches), and a CPU of equal speed with RAM that's matched to it. Oh yeah, and no OS upgrade required to run 4 gigs of RAM.
At least with the "Lauren" ad, she kinda got what she was looking for. This one features a guy who set out for three things, told us how picky he was and how technologically savvy he was, then proceeded to buy something that wasn't even within the guidelines Mr. Picky set forth at the beginning of the ad. For that reason alone, this one should've ended up on the cutting room floor.
Giampaolo got just what he paid for. Not what he wanted; just what he paid for.
"Microsoft (MSFT) is talking up its App Store "Marketplace For Mobile" at the CTIA mobile powwow in Vegas today, and has announced some very big names will be writing apps for Windows Mobile phones."
Microsoft has lined up some big names for partners in the "Marketplace for Mobile" store for mobile apps, and I for one am very excited! Sling Media, CNBC, AccuWeather.com, Zagat Survey and Netflix are among the 27 companies that have partnered up with Microsoft to be a part of the planned Windows Mobile app store. This is a great start to a store that hopes to tap into the mobile app market, perhaps slowing down the growth of that other store. You know the one.
"Chances are good that almost everyone download and installing the freshly-leaked Windows 7 build 7068 ISO is installing Ultimate Edition - after all, it's the one our product keys work with and it'll run for over year with a valid key. Paul Thurrott, however, has taken the pains of installing each version- including Starter - to get a feel for what's coming. We already knew that Starter would be extremely feature-limited. How full an experience would you expect from an OS that can only run three programs at once? Regardless, one feature has been crippled that has a lot of people confused. In Windows 7 Starter Edition, the personalization option on the context menu isn't available. Worse yet, users can't even change their wallpaper."
Okay, it's not like anyone being reasonable was expecting a full-blown experience from something called "Starter Edition." Seriously. The problem is that changing wallpapers is one of the most basic things people do to customize their computer. In fact, for most people (like myself) that's all the customization that ever happens. I run stock themes on all of my computers and change wallpapers every three months or so; I'm not a huge tweaker that way. But to take even that away from consumers sounds, to me, just flat out stupid. I would say "imagine if Apple had done this," but I reckon that really is already floating through a lot of your minds already.
I have a feeling this will change before the release just based on the negative buzz it's attracting from the folks I've seen writing about it.
The linked article has a workaround for you, if you're toying with Starter Edition, because, as everyone knows, in a life without walls, you don't really need wallpaper, right?
"A series of Microsoft ads are aimed at budget consumers worried about price tags, further perpetuating the pricey Mac myth. Associated Press reports the ads were shot by recruited unwitting subjects by posing as a market research firm studying laptop purchasing decisions. It picked 10 people who answered a call for volunteers on Craigslist and other websites and sent them out with a camera crew and budgets ranging from $US700 to $US 2,000. If they found a computer that fit their criteria, they could keep it. In the first 60-second ad, a red-haired recent college grad named Lauren is on the hunt for a speedy laptop with a 17-inch screen and a “comfortable” keyboard, all for less than $1000. She strides into an Apple store; then, the scene jumps to her walking out empty-handed, telling the camera that the only laptop in her price range has a 13-inch screen. Back in the car, she sighs and says, “I’m just not cool enough to be a Mac person.”"
It isn't that you're not "cool enough," Lauren. It's that you're not smart enough.
Just because two laptops have 17 inch screens doesn't make them comparable.
"Apple gained about one point, but now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction. The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment-same piece of hardware-paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be."
Coming from a guy who heads a company that made its fortune strongarming computer manufacturers into including their OS and nothing else ever, then making customers pay a few hundred bucks extra over the price of a machine for it, the statement about a logo being slapped on something and increasing its cost is pretty laughable. After all, how much did that "Microsoft Windows" sticker on your computer cost you?
Of course, that's Ballmer's typical stupidity there. Everyone knows there more to Apple than a logo, but it'll probably be a really breezy day in Hades before he acknowledges it. Hell, even Melinda Gates acknowledges that!
"While playing up the fact that 50 phone makers around the world have licensed the company's Windows Mobile platform, Microsoft inadvertently let it slip out that a full 80% of all Windows Mobile phones ever made have actually come from a single maker: HTC."
Why did I pick to post this? Shortly after the first iPhone was released, Don Reisinger of C-Net did an interview with someone from the Windows Mobile team at Microsoft who reminded us that Apple was the only maker of devices with the iPhone OS, but Microsoft had tons of licensees that would develop a wide range of diverse devices. The only problem is that 20% of the devices are being built by 49 out of 50 of those licensees.
I bring this up because this is yet another time that the iPhone and Apple were criticized for something when out rolls another device or company with the same shortcomings. For another shining example, see the Palm Pre and its web apps compared to the iPhone and its initial web apps model.
Microsoft loves the diversity of its platform, but no matter how you look at it, one company making 80% of your handsets isn't a diverse market.
"While Apple stock is up over seven percent since its positive earnings report and conference call yesterday afternoon, both Nokia and Microsoft have released dourer reports about their financial outlook."
Not a lot of good news yesterday with Nokia reporting a 69% (yes 69%) drop in profits, Microsoft laying off 5,000 employees and Sony posting record losses of $3 Billion USD with plans to close factories and lay off workers. Investors seemed happy with the news from Apple though, as you can see from the jump in stock price. Strategic planning at Apple remains cautious, as a story later today points out regarding the scaling back on the retail side of things.
"It kinda looks like Circuit City plus a few Surface displays, Microsoft Tags and magical screen-equipped shopping carts (pictured above). Oh, and before you gather up your Zune pals for a road trip: the Experience Center is real, but the customers are fake -- the store isn't open to the public. Video is after the break."
It's a nice looking store, honestly. Maybe this is the future of Microsoft? If you think about it, once Apple started controlling their retail destiny, things picked up. Maybe Microsoft is looking to control their image a bit? Who knows. I wouldn't mind seeing one of these pop up in my neighborhood; it would be interesting to see Microsoft's approach to retail. Engadget has way more pictures and even a video of this mockup store.
"Office 2008 included many new painstakingly crafted features, more than are easy to list - a year after launch a few that I'm still commonly pointing out to people because I know they'll get hooked on them are Publishing Layout View, SmartArt, and Ledger Sheets. Since Office 2008 launched in January, we've been highly focused on developing and releasing continuous updates, with a focus on monitoring and improving the stability and performance of the product. Just in our Office 12.1.2 update for example, Word's launch time improved by as much as 30% and Excel's calculation performance by as much as 50% (some calc-heavy test cases saw even more improvement - the result of floating point math optimizations.)"
It's hard to argue that Office 2008 didn't suck less than Office 2004, but there are still things it does seriously poorly (for example, why do Pivot Tables still suck and why is there still no ODBC drivers for MS Jet (Access) and MS SQL included with the suite?). Sucking less probably wasn't their goal. In fact, I don't use Office on the Mac all that much anymore except when I need Excel. For word processing, I still use Pages, and for presentations I use Keynote and that's due in no small part to Microsoft's insistence on making an inferior version of Office for the Mac available in an effort to keep people on the Windows Platform. Here's a tip to the team: Make 2009 not only suck less, but make it better.
"The software maker plans to announce on Wednesday a price cut for its flash-based models. The 4GB version will drop to $99, the 8GB model will drop by $10 to $139, and the 16GB model will sell for $179, down from $199. Microsoft is also cutting prices for several of its Zune accessories. The cuts take effect on Wednesday in the U.S. and on Friday in Canada."
Our colleague over at Zune Thoughts, David Tucker, is excited about the price cuts that Microsoft announced yesterday, and even calls them "welcome news." You'd be hard-pressed to get me to agree with that statement. Microsoft has been playing catchup with the Zune since they rolled out the first version of it. While the iPod didn't launch as a great device (in fact, the first generation iPods were awful and expensive) it matured in a few years and took over the market. Microsoft's general attitude with the Zune has been "Hey! We have an MP3 player out on the market, too!" They underpowered the WiFi and embraced DRM in insane ways (except, of course, for their own DRM, Plays for Sure, which they abandoned) and tweaked the design a little at a time but made no major changes. The software interface is all well and good, but it's still, in the end, not an iPod which means you don't have access to the number one digital music retailer in the world.
I'm not writing this to bash the Zune, and you'll rarely see me write a post like this here, but this was one time where I just had to. The amount of desperation exhibited by Microsoft here is almost to the point of being embarassing and if they want people to think of the Zune as a first-class device, it's time they stopped acting like it was a second-class citizen.