Microsoft’s MO

Ten years on, Kinect’s legacy goes beyond Xbox:

After Kinect had faded from the spotlight, PrimeSense’s technology found a new home for itself, after being bought by Apple at the end of 2013. PrimeSense’s sensors were shrunk down and used to build FaceID. From the iPhone 10 onwards, each device essentially packed a tiny Kinect into the notch above their displays. Facial recognition isn’t limited to iOS devices, and is available on plenty of other smartphones, tablets and even PCs thanks to Windows Hello.

This is Microsoft’s modus operandi: poorly implement an amazing technology with bad taste. Repeat.

See also: Zune, Surface (no, not the portable Surface, the original, bigass table Surface from 2008)


Product, Technology


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Surface Earbuds

Of course Microsoft would release the least sexy earbuds of all time:

Surface Earbuds via Engadget

You could say Microsoft has evolved over the last 40 years. Partilcularly within the last 8 years with the introduction of their Surface tablet, yet underlying all their facelifts and capped teeth, they’re still the company Steve Jobs accurately described as having absolutely no taste.



Microsoft zigs, while Apple zags

Microsoft Has Stopped Manufacturing The Kinect:

Manufacturing of the Kinect has shut down. Originally created for the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s watershed depth camera and voice recognition microphone sold ~35 million units since its debut in 2010, but Microsoft will no longer produce it when retailers sell off their existing stock. The company will continue to support Kinect for customers on Xbox, but ongoing developer tools remain unclear. Microsoft shared the news with Co.Design in exclusive interviews with Alex Kipman, creator of the Kinect, and Matthew Lapsen, GM of Xbox Devices Marketing.

I find it a funny coincidence that Microsoft shuts down Kinect right when Apple is releasing an iPhone which has what is essentially a minaturized Kinect in it for 3D facial recognition.

Microsoft has a tendency to zig in the wrong direction while Apple zags in the right direction.

The other big zig-zag example that comes to mind is multitouch. When Apple got it’s hands on multitouch, it made the iPhone and iPad. When Microsoft got their hands on multitouch, they made the Surface.

No, not the tablet we know today, I’m talking about the big-ass table.


Product, Technology

Windows Phone is Dead

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore says Windows 10 Mobile features and hardware are no longer a focus:

Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Windows, Joe Belfiore, has today clarified the company’s stance with Windows 10 Mobile and what it’s currently doing in the mobile space. In a series of tweets on Twitter, Belfiore states that as an individual end-user, he has switched to Android, and that Windows 10 Mobile is no longer a focus for Microsoft.

Belfiore confirms what we have been reporting in the past; that from here on out, Microsoft will continue to service Windows 10 Mobile with bug fixes and security patches, mainly for the enterprise market who adopted Windows 10 Mobile for work. Microsoft is not planning to bring any new consumer-facing features to Windows 10 Mobile, nor is it planning to release any new hardware.

I’ve been saying Microsoft is a day late and a dollar short with Windows Phone since they came late to the party 7 years ago. Back in 2011 I explained how Microsoft was swimming in a red ocean.

By the the time they got rolling with Windows Phone the iPhone was already a smash hit and Android had entrenched itself as the new “Windows for smartphones”. This left Microsoft with very little to convince people to switch to their platform.

The NYPD Drops Their Windows Phones for iPhones

The NYPD has reached the end of the line with their Windows Phones and are switching to iPhones:

The NYPD has to scrap the 36,000 smartphones it gave cops over the past two years because they’re already obsolete and can’t be upgraded, The Post has learned.

The city bought Microsoft-based Nokia smartphones as part of a $160 million NYPD Mobility Initiative that Mayor Bill de Blasio touted as “a huge step into the 21st century.”

But just months after the last phone was handed out, officials plan to begin replacing them all with brand-new iPhones by the end of the year, sources said.

The move follows Microsoft’s recent decision to stop supporting the operating system that runs the NYPD’s devices and nearly a dozen custom-engineered apps.

I find Microsoft’s constant rebooting of their smartphone efforts ironic. Remember, this is the company famous for their legacy support, particularly for their Office applications.

The blame for this tech decision falls on Jessica Tisch:

Law enforcement sources blamed the boondoggle on NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology Jessica Tisch, with one saying, “She drove the whole process.”

“Nobody purchases 36,000 phones based on the judgment of one person,” a source said.

“I don’t care if you’re Jesus f- -king Christ, you get a panel of experts.”

Fuggitaboutit. Yo, call in the mahf#ckin’ experts.

I’d love to know Tisch’s rationale in picking Windows Phone. It makes me wonder if deals were made behind-the-scenes.



Everyone Except Microsoft

Leaked Microsoft memo reveals high Surface Book return rates:

Microsoft dismissed Consumer Reports’ Surface reliability ratings last week, but a new internal memo sheds some light on the issues that the software maker has faced. Consumer Reports surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found roughly 25 percent of Surface users have encountered issues by the end of the second year of ownership. Paul Thurrott has obtained an internal memo about Microsoft’s response to Consumer Reports, and it appears to suggest that high Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book return rates could have impacted Consumer Reports’ findings.

Computer scientist Alan Kay said, “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” Steve Jobs famously brought it up when he unveiled the iPhone in 2007.

I’m thinking this quote applies to everyone except Microsoft.


Product, Technology

Microsoft Surface Studio

Microsoft Surface Studio review: a beautiful invader of Apple’s base:

It’s an engineering marvel of a monitor, but I really wish Microsoft sold it separately. I want to dock my Surface Book to it, or transform any laptop into a full Surface Studio. If I’m investing in a desktop PC at this kind of price then I also really want to be able to upgrade it and use it for gaming and more powerful work. I can’t do either of those things with the Surface Studio. If this was a monitor with a powerful GPU in it designed to complement Microsoft’s existing Surface devices and “upgrade” them, I’d probably be throwing my wallet at my screen right now. It’s hard to do so knowing that I’m not getting the latest and greatest specs for that $2,999, and that’s before you even consider the top model I’ve been testing is $4,199.

I’m both amused and happy about Microsoft’s newfound — and seemingly geniune — love for integrating software and hardware themselves. Up until they introduced Surface tablets in 2012, ‘controlling the whole widget’ was something only Apple did.

So what’s Microsoft’s endgame here? They’re going to market with a very niche product that uses last year’s hardware. Are they going to move back down the market with what they learned and develop more affordable desktops that can complete with iMacs?

I almost get the sense that they don’t care if it sells. The goal was to create a beautiful and very functional desktop computer. Even if the Surface Studio ends up being a dud, I still think what Microsoft did is impressive.


Materials, Product

Slacky Skype

It looks like Microsoft has some updates coming to Skype:

It was recently reported that Microsoft wanted to buy Slack for $8 billion. Slack, for those unfamiliar, is a messaging app for teams that’s been getting quite popular recently. Now, Microsoft is working on a direct Slack competitor under the Skype brand, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meet Skype Teams.

Skype Teams is going to be Microsoft’s take on messaging apps for teams. Skype Teams will include a lot of similar features which you’ll find on Slack. For example, Skype Teams will allow you to chat in different groups within a team, also known as “channels”. Additionally, users will be able to talk to each other via Direct Messages on Skype Teams.

Now this is the Microsoft of old that I know and love: reacting to what other companies are doing, rather than innovating on their own.

As a longtime user of Skype, it’s hard for me to see how Microsoft has improved it since they bought it in 2011.


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Microsoft Is Kicking Ass with Their Phones

It looks like Microsoft is kicking ass with their mobile phone division:

Microsoft is cutting 2,850 more jobs beyond the 1,850 that the company announced would be eliminated earlier this year. The new cuts will hit phone hardware and sales.

The entire computer world has moved to mobile, with everyone on either iOS or Android, while Microsoft is at the gate after the flight has taken off. They began efforts to reboot Windows Phone a few years after the iPhone came out (2008-ish), but as we can see by their job cuts in mobile, it has not been successful. If you look at any chart of mobile market share they rarely come up.

This failure in Microsoft’s mobile hardware efforts is interesting in light of the 300 million active devices that are (supposedly) running Windows 10 as of this past May.

Meanwhile, today is your last chance to get Windows 10 for free, because, you know, it’s that great that people will want to buy it tomorrow.


Business, Product

Hell Yes to Getting Lit on a Monday Night

Regular readers of Daily Exhaust know I’m not a fan of Microsoft. I feel this way for a lot of reasons. I think they’re always a day late and a dollar short with new products (see Windows Phone, Nokia, Microsoft Stores, etc), they historically have not valued design, and every attempt at being cool ends up being very, very, very uncool.

The latest example is a recruitment email aimed at interns (via Twitter):

You’re not cool, Microsoft, you’re fuckin’ chilly, and chilly ain’t never been cool.


Business, Words


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Microsoft: “Our stuff is so valuable, we’re giving it away!”

Microsoft is giving students a free Xbox One with Surface Pro 4 purchases:

Microsoft is tempting students to buy a Surface Pro 4 this week with a new promotion running at its retail stores in the US. The software maker is taking $300 off when students buy a Surface Pro 4 and Xbox One. “So basically a free Xbox One with the purchase of a Surface Pro 4,” says Terry Myerson, head of Windows and devices at Microsoft, in an interview with The Verge. The deal goes live today and will run until August 14th.

Has Apple ever had to give away hundreds of dollars worth of tech to get kids to use it?


Product, Technology


Last week news broke that Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.1 billion:

For Microsoft, a big part of the deal is about being at the center of the business worker’s world.

While it has ceded the personal social graph to Facebook and others, it sees being at the center of the worker’s world as too important to miss. Microsoft had hoped its SharePoint would be the social hub for business, but has seen a lot of momentum in that area shift to Slack. Microsoft also bought Yammer, an enterprise social collaboration company, for $1.2 billion in 2012, but that acquisition has essentially gone nowhere.

LinkedIn’s know-how is also important for Cortana and its broader artificial intelligence aspirations. With this purchase, Microsoft is basically buying the company org chart for the whole world, which on its face seems a pretty good layer of data to build into any business-focused cloud product, from email to enhancing a customer relationship software to recruiting new employees.

“Microsoft wanted to get into human resources without having to get into payrolls,” said Ray Wang, an analyst with Constellation Research.

As I’ve mentioned many times on this site, Microsoft does not understand—nor do I think they will ever understand—consumers, so it’s good to see them refocusing on the business side of software and computing.

L2 Founder Scott Galloway keenly points out in this YouTube video “there’s only one B2B game in town and that’s LinkedIn.” Great point. So why don’t we have any other competitors in B2B social media space? Seems a great area to disrupt.

A software giant buying a B2B social network is like a cable company buying content producers. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

It’s be interesting to see how long I keep my LinkedIn account open before Microsoft does something to make me want to close it.



Any Platform (Just Not Ours)

I came across a new Microsoft ad campaign aimed at developers. The main copy is “Any Developer. Any App. Any Platform.”

Here’s their campaign homepage:

What I don’t like about this campaign is it’s misleading. When you tell a developer they can build an app for “any platform”, the assumption is they can build for iOS, Android, or Windows Phone. If you scroll down the page you’ll see they’re referring to the various Microsoft platforms ‘any’ developer can build for.

The problem is, there’s no point developing an app for Windows. In 2015, Windows Phone had a minuscule marketshare of 2.5%. This year they dropped to 0.7%. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have left no room for Windows Phone as a third option.

Some might look at this campaign as Microsoft changing with the times, adapting to the world of mobile computing. I don’t see this. I see a company trying anything, any app, any platform, anything at all as they struggle to stay relevant.

Side note: I find Microsoft’s page interesting is in light of Apple’s new version of macOS ‘Sierra‘, they announced this past week at WWDC 2016: