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Entries in Microsoft (49)

Friday
Jul192013

Google Ad Revenue Slide Hits Shares

KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) – Google and Microsoft are out with disappointing second-quarter results.

Google shares dropped nearly 8 percent in pre-market trading after sales and profit missed Wall Street forecasts. Google reported a decline in growth for search ad revenues.

The firm is still facing a major challenge navigating the transition driving more online activity to smartphones and tablets. Because of small screen sizes, mobile devices fetch lower ad rates than on personal computers.

Google’s average ad rate fell by 6 percent compared to the same three month period last year ending in June. It marks the seventh consecutive quarter of falling ad prices.

Poor sales of Windows 8 software and the sliding PC market were behind disappointing results at Microsoft. The company booked a $900 million write-down for slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet. Microsoft shares fell 3 percent after the report was released.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun152013

Facebook, Microsoft Release Data on Info Handed Over to Government

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When reports of the National Security Agency’s alleged program to gain “direct access” to large amounts of Internet communications (code-named PRISM) was first reported last week, the technology companies tied to the reports all denied participation in the surveillance program – but they also urged the government to allow for more transparency regarding the requests they do receive.

On Friday evening, after reaching an agreement with the FBI and Department of Justice, Facebook and Microsoft were the first companies to release transparency reports. Facebook revealed that the company received between 9,000 and 10,000 data requests from local, state and federal governments in the last six months of 2012. Within those, access to or information about 18,000 to 19,000 individual Facebook accounts were requested. During that same period, Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 requests for access to a total of 31,000 to 32,000 accounts.

“As of today, the government will only authorize us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range,” Facebook General Counsel Ted Ullyot wrote in a Facebook blog post. “This is progress, but we’re continuing to push for even more transparency, so that our users around the world can understand how infrequently we are asked to provide user data on national security grounds.

“These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat,” Ullyot wrote.

Ullyot reminded readers Facebook has more than 1 billion users, maintaining that “a tiny fraction of 1 percent of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of U.S. state, local, or federal U.S. government request (including criminal and national security-related requests) in the past six months.”

Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, John Frank, made similar points in a post of his own: “This only impacts a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base.”

Facebook and Microsoft agreed that the numbers were a step toward providing greater transparency, but because of the nature of the classified and sensitive information, the government has not allowed for more to be disclosed.

“We continue to believe that what we are permitted to publish continues to fall short of what is needed to help the community understand and debate these issues,” Frank wrote.

Earlier this week, Facebook, Google and Microsoft petitioned the government to allow them to share more about the scope and size of the user-data requests.

Google, however, doesn’t think Facebook and Microsoft’s approach is helpful and is instead looking to just reveal the numbers of the requests national security requests on its own.

“We have always believed that it’s important to differentiate between different types of government requests,” Google said in a statement on Friday night. “We already publish criminal requests separately from National Security Letters. Lumping the two categories together would be a step back for users. Our request to the government is clear: to be able to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr242013

Microsoft to Reveal Next Gen Xbox May 21

Microsoft(NEW YORK) -- The next Xbox is coming, or at least some information about it is. On May 21 at 1 p.m. ET -- exactly three months to the day after the PlayStation 4 was detailed by Sony -- Microsoft will hold a press event to reveal the “new generation” gaming system. The unveiling will be held at Microsoft’s Xbox campus in Richmond, Washington.

Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live, also penned a blog post with a countdown clock and a promise to reveal more of the game line-up at E3, a large video game conference held in June in Los Angeles. The event will also be live streamed on Xbox LIVE, Xbox.com and on Spike TV, according to Hryb’s post.

So what will the next Xbox look like? Recent reports say the console will put connectivity front and center and focus not only on games but on media content. According to The Verge, the box will look to take over the jobs of your cable box or at least integrate with it. Other rumors have said that the console will have voice recognition capabilities, or require constant Internet connection.

The Xbox 360 was launched in 2005.

The console wars are going to heat up in 2013. Nintendo released its Wii U at the end of 2012 (though sales in the United States have been disappointing so far,) and PlayStation is gearing up to launch its PS4 before the end of the year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb262013

Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 Now Available for Windows 7

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft is all about the upgrade this month.  

After announcing last week that all Hotmail users will be upgraded to Outlook.com soon, the company is now upgrading its browser for all Windows 7 users.  While Internet Explorer 10 has been shipping with Windows 8 since October 2012, it will now be available in 95 languages for the 700 million Windows 7 users around the world.

The browser, which looks very similar to the Internet Explorer 9 version, sees its biggest improvements with speed.  According to Microsoft, it is 20 percent faster than the previous version and now it supports more web standards.  

But while you might feel gypped that the interface doesn’t look all that different, Microsoft has intentionally kept the bare bones design.

“IE10 is a modern browser with a unique point of view which brings the sites into focus not the browser,” Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s General Manager of Internet Explorer, told ABC News in an interview.  “We’ve dedicated the browser completely to the site.”

With this new version, Microsoft is trying to not only highlight the website, but highlight that sites can be as compelling to use as apps.  It is encouraging website makers to create websites that function like apps -- ones that are fast, fluid and touch friendly.

“The web is now a second class citizen to the world of apps,” Gavin said.  “With this new version, developers can build experiences that are just as deep as app experiences.”

To illustrate the idea of touch-friendly web apps, Microsoft is launching a new “Explore Touch” ad, which shows a web-based music app.

While Internet Explorer still holds over 50 percent of the browser market share, other browsers like Chrome and Firefox have continued to gain traction.  In addition to speed and bringing sites into focus, Microsoft also believes its attention to privacy will continue to set its product apart.

“Privacy is something that’s increasingly reaching a tipping point in people’s minds,” Gavin says.  “IE 10 will continue to give people more choice.”

The “Do Not Track” setting, which doesn’t allow advertisers to track what sites you go to, will be turned on in Internet Explorer 10 by default.  Chrome, Firefox and Safari all have the feature, but it isn’t enabled by default.

Internet Explorer 10 will be available as a free download starting on Tuesday.  It will automatically update via Windows Update.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb152013

Google Tops List of Best Internships for Second Consecutive Year

KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- This summer, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson star in a new movie in which they play Google interns. According to a new survey of current interns by job website Glassdoor, Google was rated the best company currently hiring interns.

According to Glassdoor's Scott Dobrowski, "Interns are talking about great experiences. Really making a difference. Doing work that matters."

In fact, Google was also the top-rated company in Glassdoor's first such survey in May 2012. In both surveys, Google edged out fellow tech giant Microsoft for top honors.

According to the survey, some of Google's interns earn over $6,000 per month. Dobrowski adds that "a research Microsoft intern earns upwards of $7,000 per month," meaning interns no longer have to absorb the potential costs of an internship on their own.

In the new survey, Google received an average rating of 4.6 out of 5, up from their 4.3 in last year's survey. Microsoft's rating held steady at 4.2.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan032013

Microsoft Fuels Antitrust Battle with Google

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft is making a last-ditch effort to get government regulators to crack down on Google.  

The Windows company claims Google is abusing its dominance of online search, online video and the lucrative smartphone market. Microsoft also says Google has been unfairly squashing competition to the detriment of consumers.  

Microsoft's claims come as regulators in the U.S. and Europe wrap up several probes into Google's business practices.  Microsoft is worried Google will settle with the governments without having to make any major changes.  

Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Dave Heiner wrote Wednesday in a blog post about Google's potential deal to ward off a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission.

"You might think that Google would be on its best behavior given it’s under the bright lights of regulatory scrutiny on two continents, particularly as it seeks to assure antitrust enforcers in the U.S. and Europe that it can be trusted on the basis of non-binding assurances that it will not abuse its market position further," Heiner wrote. "However, as we enter 2013, that is not the case."

One example, Heiner highlights, is that Google still has not allowed Microsoft to offer a fully featured YouTube app for the Windows Phone.  Microsoft has taken issue with Google's refusal to allow YouTube on the company's smartphone since at least 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If Google can agree to make "'voluntary commitments' to reform its behavior," Heiner wrote, "the FTC may close its investigation," an outcome Microsoft hopes it won't see.

According to Heiner, any agreement between Google and the antitrust authorities "appears to be less demanding than the pledge the U.S. Department of Justice received from Apple and Microsoft nearly a year ago."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Tech Firms Dominate 2012 List of Best Multinational Workplaces

KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Some of the best multinational workplaces are tech companies right here in the U.S., according to a new list compiled by Great Place to Work.

The research and consulting firm, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is headquartered in San Francisco, narrowed down a list of 5,700 companies that applied to participate in its Best Workplaces contest to a final list of 25 firms.

For this list, the companies were judged from employee surveys.  They also had to appear on at least five national Best Workplaces lists, and have at least 5,000 employees worldwide with at least 40 percent of the workforce outside their home country.

This year, the tech company SAS Institute grabbed the top honors, taking the crown from Microsoft, which won last year.  Google inched its way up to the second highest spot, after placing fourth last year.

New to the 2012 top 25 list were: W.L. Gore Associates (8th), Autodesk (10th), PepsiCo (11th), Ernst & Young (12th), Monsanto (14th), General Mills (17th) and Accor (19th).

Great Place to Work said each company in its list is creating a work culture based on "trust, pride and camaraderie."

Voluntary turnover at 15 of the 25 companies was 8 percent per annum, compared to an all industry average in the U.S. of 9.1 percent, according to CompData Service.

Here is a list of the 2012 top 15 global workplaces:

1. SAS Institute - Headquarters: Cary, N.C.
2. Google - Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.
3. NetApp - Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.
4. Kimberly-Clark - Headquarters: Irving, Texas
5. Microsoft - Headquarters: Redmond, Wash.
6. Marriott - Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.
7. FedEx - Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.
8. W.L. Gore & Associates - Headquarters: Newark, Del.
9. Diageo - Headquarters: London
10. Autodesk - Headquarters: San Rafael, Calif.
11. PepsiCo - Headquarters: Purchase, N.Y.
12. Ernst & Young - Headquarters: London
13. Telefónica - Headquarters: Madrid
14. Monsanto - Headquarters: Creve Coeur, Mo.
15. Intel - Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov122012

Less Than a Month After Launch, Windows 8 Head Steve Sinofsky Departs Microsoft

Microsoft(REDMOND, Wash.) -- Less than a month after Microsoft launched its Windows 8 operating system, Steven Sinofsky, the president of Microsoft’s Windows division, is departing after 23 years with the company.

“It is impossible to count the blessings I have received over my years at Microsoft,” Sinofsky said in a statement Monday evening. “I am humbled by the professionalism and generosity of everyone I have had the good fortune to work with at this awesome company.”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer returned the gratitude in his own statement.

“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company,” Ballmer said.

From Windows 8 to Outlook.com to Windows Phone 8, Sinofsky has been credited with a lot of the recent change at Microsoft. In 2009, he joined the Windows team after the Vista operating system debuted and headed up the development of Windows 7 and then Windows 8, which marks the biggest change to Windows since Windows 95.

“We started to look back and we said, ‘Wow, the user interface, the experience, the form factors, the kinds of PCs were all developed in the mid 1990s,’” Sinofsky said last month in an exclusive interview with ABC News at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash. “We looked and we said, ‘Things are so different. We need to envision a new kind of software for those scenarios, because the world is a different place.’”

Many even anticipated that Sinofsky would be the next CEO of the company. Microsoft did not explain why Sinofsky was leaving so soon after the Windows 8 launch, but, according to technology website All Things D, Sinofsky “was viewed at the top levels as not the kind of team player that the company was looking for.”

The technology site compared the exit to the recent exit of Apple’s Scott Forstall.

Julie Larson-Green will step in for Sinofsky and lead the Windows software and hardware teams. She was responsible for Windows 8 interface and experience.

“Her unique product and innovation perspective and proven ability to effectively collaborate and drive a cross company agenda will serve us well as she takes on this new leadership role. All of the current Windows engineering teams will report into Julie, and Julie will report to me,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in a company-wide email.

Ballmer highlighted Larson-Green’s ability to work with other teams, which is becoming increasingly important as Microsoft continues to integrate its services, including Xbox, Windows, Windows Phone and more.

ABC News interviewed both Larson-Green and Sinofsky last month. The video clip is below.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct292012

Microsoft Windows Phone 8: New Features and Apps Announced

Microsoft(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Even as Hurricane Sandy pounded the Eastern Seaboard, drowning out a lot of other news, Microsoft took the stage Monday afternoon in San Francisco to show off its Windows Phone 8 operating system, which the company will release on new phones this month and next.

While Microsoft had previously detailed some of the new features in the software -- and Nokia, HTC and Samsung have announced new phones --Joe Belfiore, the manager of the Windows Phone Program, announced some unseen features, and took shots at the competition, during the hour-long presentation.

"Apple did announce a fifth row of icons, but we wanted to come at it from a different point of view. We decided not to use the tired old metaphor," Belfiore said. "We put people at the center of the experience. Not icons for apps, not focus on speeds and feeds like Android and the iPhone do, respectively."

Microsoft Windows Phone operating system has always been built on the idea of "live tiles." The tiles or apps on the home screen refresh with new information on their own; you don't have to tap the app to see if the temperature outside has changed. You can also customize it with tiles of your favorite people and contacts.

Now, with Windows Phone 8, you can see some of that information on your Lock Screen. "It will automatically surface photos and notifications and content from your favorite apps," Belfiore said.

Microsoft has worked with Facebook to create a new app for Windows Phone 8 to surface Facebook updates on the lock screen. There will also be a new Twitter app that will function similarly.

Another new feature is focused on saving you money and data. It's called Data Sense, and Microsoft says it will compress data sent over the wireless network, so that you pay for fewer megabytes. The feature provides a snapshot of your data usage and also helps you find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots so you can switch off of the mobile network. Because of the feature, Belfiore said that you can get 40 percent more web browsing than other phones.

Then there's the Kids Corner, which lets you lock down parts of the phone when you hand the device over to a young one dying to play "Angry Birds" or "Fruit Ninja." You can determine what apps you'd like your child to have access to and configure it so they can't get into your email or Twitter account. Actress and model Jessica Alba, who also has a one-year-old daughter, spoke at the event about being a recent Windows Phone convert.

"I really like the Kids Corner. I can go right to the curated apps and videos that I want my daughter to have. That's really key. Prior to this phone, if my daughter was going to go on my phone, there was a strong chance she was going to be able to go on my Facebook or Twitter and post whatever she wanted," Alba told ABC News in a phone interview. Alba says she gave up her iPhone for Windows Phone two months ago.

But all the new features won't solve the major issue that's been facing Microsoft's phone platform: application selection. Many application developers first build for iPhone and the iPad, then Android and then Windows Phone.

Belfiore spent a good amount of time talking about the new and major apps coming to the platform, including UrbanSpoon and Temple Run. There are also new Facebook, Skype, and Twitter apps.

Even industry analysts were impressed by the showing. "Microsoft made a good case about how Windows Phone is different, a case they've made for two years but today is the first time they've articulated why different might be better," Michael Gartenberg, Gartner Research Director, told ABC News. "The lack of overall applications will still remain an issue but with many of the popular apps now or soon available Windows Phone 8 will appeal to many consumers if Microsoft can effectively tell them the story."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who made an appearance at the end of the presentation, said that the momentum for the platform is at its strongest point ever.

"Our hardware partners are all in. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are all in, plus hundreds of mobile operators around the world are all in. Developers are all in, filling the Windows Phone Store with applications."

The first Windows 8 phones will go on sale as early as this coming weekend. Verizon will carry the HTC 8X, Lumia 922 and Samsung ATIV Odyssey phone. AT&T will carry the Lumia 920. T-Mobile will get the HTC 8X ($149.99) and Lumia 820 ($99.99) on Nov. 14. All the phones will be available at Microsoft's stores as well; there are 65 stores nationwide now.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Microsoft’s Surface Tablet ‘Confusing’ and ‘Compromised’

Joanna Stern/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Apple vs. Microsoft post-PC war is just getting started. Microsoft has argued why its new software and Surface tablet are better than the iPad, but Apple’s not staying quiet.

“I haven’t played with a Surface yet, but what we are reading about it is that it is a compromised and confusing product,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on the company’s earnings call late Thursday afternoon, which took place just hours after Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch event. “One of the toughest things you do is make hard tradeoffs and decide what a product should be, and we’ve done that with the iPad.”

Cook didn’t stop there.

“You could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do all those things very well,” he said. “I think when people look at the iPad versus competitive offerings, they will continue to want an iPad.”

Apple and Microsoft are taking different routes when it comes to tablet software. While Apple offers its iOS mobile software on its family of iPads, Microsoft has decided to revamp Windows by bringing in elements from its smartphone operating system. Previously, Cook had compared what Microsoft was doing to combining a refrigerator and a microwave.

Microsoft, on the other hand, claims Windows 8 doesn’t have any of the compromises that the iPad has.

“We have a different perspective, a different reason why we would want to make a tablet computer and that is really rooted in PCs being a general-purpose device that works within a broad ecosystem, that connects to a lot of peripherals, and represents an open platform,” Steve Sinofsky, head of the Windows division, told ABC News in an interview.

Apple announced the iPad Mini earlier this week.

On the Apple earnings call, Cook defended the $329 starting price, which is higher than the $199 Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7.

“We try to create a product that people will love for months and years after they’ve purchased it. That’s what iPad Mini is designed to do,” Cook said.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer also noted the premium parts in the tablet, including the aluminum build, the faster processor and the iSight camera.

Apple announced that it sold 14 million iPads in the fourth quarter.

Find a full recap of the earnings HERE.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio