About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

After battling Carl Icahn, Michael Dell has successfully been able to buy back his company (with the help of private equity firm Silver Lake) and take it private.  Michael has bet his own fortune on Dell going private and succeeding again. Michael Dell hopes to refocus the company without the pressures of shareholders and make innovate PCs and get more into the mobile business.  Microsoft has invested $2 billion in Dell to help finance this deal. Let’s take a look at Dell’s history: 1984 Michael Dell, 19 years old, starts a computer business, at first called PC’s Limited, as a pre-med freshman at the University of Texas at Austin 1985 The company designs its first computer, the Turbo PC, featuring an Intel 8088 processor running at 8MHz with a 10MB hard drive and a 5.25-inch floppy drive. 1988 The company, now known as Dell, holds an initial public offering, raising $30 million ...

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Little information is known regarding the Surface Mini.  We reported earlier that the 8-inch Surface Mini will not be unveiled at Microsoft’s Surface event later this month.  Previously rumors had emerged that the Surface RT 2 (Surface 2) would run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, this turned out to false, and the Surface 2 will continue to run on the Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset.  However, it appears the Surface Mini will utilize a QUALCOMM processor, which makes sense given the company’s close relation with Windows Phone.  New information has emerged confirming that the Surface Mini will run Windows RT 8.1.  Winsupersite reports: It will ship this year, but a bit later than the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. It utilizes a Qualcomm processor, so it’s an ARM device and will be running Windows RT 8.1, not Windows 8.1. And it will indeed have an 8-inch screen. Source: WinSuperSite ...

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As with every second Tuesday of the month, Microsoft released its regularly scheduled Windows updates yesterday.   Update KB2817630 for Outlook 2013 caused issues for a number of people, and Microsoft has pulled the patch. Microsoft posted an explanation of what went wrong on their Office Blog today: Due to a version incompatibility between outlook.exe and mso.dll, a mismatched reference to a data structure causes the “Minimize” button in the navigation pane to render incorrectly, typically extremely large to the point that the navigation pane is “invisible” to the user.  The issue only manifests when incompatible versions of outlook.exe and mso.dll exist on the system. If both versions are earlier (lower) than 4535.1000, or both versions are later (higher) than 4535.1000, the problem does not manifest.  If one file is updated but the other is not, the problem is evident.  The incompatible state is created by installing either the September Public Update OR the August ...

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I received a significant amount of email, from our readers, on my recent editorial: Why Do Investors Want Alan Mulally? (Hint: He Sold Off Major Ford Assets) While many of you agreed with what I had to say, some accused me of over-analyzing the situation and engaging in conspiracy theories.  Well today our good buddy Paul Thurrott has published an article in which he indicated he would like to see Ford CEO Alan Mulally become CEO of Microsoft and sell or spin-off the Xbox and Online Services Division.  Thurrott writes: Microsoft, let Alan Mulally gut this company and start over. Review the strategy, shed businesses that don’t make sense. Quick sidebar. Which businesses should Microsoft shed? [...] There are two. Kind of like Oldsmobile and Pontiac and you’re a car fan who understands history. They are Online Services and Xbox. Xbox – Several billion dollars lost in R&D on Xbox and Xbox ...

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Microsoft has announced the global availability of Office 365 for Nonprofits for qualifying nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) through its software donation program. The donation is available immediately in 41 countries around the world and for up to 90 countries by July 2014. “Today we are donating to nonprofits and NGOs access to Microsoft’s best-in-class cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools, enabling them to spend fewer resources and time on IT and focus on their missions addressing global issues, such as disease eradication, education and literacy, and environmental sustainability,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president, Microsoft International. “Nonprofits operate in the same way as any other organization or business; however, many lack the resources to implement the latest technology. The donation of Office 365 allows them to be more effective and efficient in the work they do.” “In many of the countries served by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent ...

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Today HP refreshed its workstation hardware lineup including three new HP ZBook Mobile Workstations, two new HP Z Displays and enhancements to the  existing line of HP Z Desktop Workstations. Extreme Windows Blog Reports: New ZBook Notebooks HP will offer three new models: the 14” ZBook 14, the 15” ZBook 15, and the 17” ZBook 17.  HP is calling the ZBook 14 a “workstation Ultrabook” because of its unique blend of workstation capabilities and thin form-factor. Here are some features included in ZBook mobile workstations: 4th Generation Intel Haswell dual and quad-core processor options Next-generation graphics technologies from NVIDIA and AMD Tool-free chassis for easy upgrades and serviceability Touch display (optional with ZBook 14) Super-high-resolution QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 display (optional with ZBook 15) New Displays, Updated Towers The new HP Z27i 27” and HP Z30i 30” IPS Displays offer 100% coverage for both sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces. ...

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s name continues to pop up as a possible replacement for retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.  I like Mulally and there is certainly no arguing that Ford would have gone bankrupt without him.  However, I do not think he is the right person to replace Ballmer, but could be an asset to Microsoft in another capacity.  Making planes at Boeing and cars at Ford is quite different from running a premiere technology company. We recently covered a report, in which investors have been pressuring Microsoft to name Mulally as CEO.  Why would investors want Mulally as CEO? He isn’t from Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter or some other hot silicon valley startup.  He isn’t fawned upon by the Technorati (excluding the times he does large ad buys on their “respective” websites).  Mulally isn’t young or hip.  He isn’t a rich socialite or fashionista akin to Marissa Mayer.  He isn’t a bully like Steve Jobs.  He ...

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According to sources, the Surface RT 2 will simply be called the Surface 2; and Surface Pro, simply Surface Pro 2.  The Surface is expected to look identical to the current SurfaceRT.  Interestingly enough there may be an option for a white Surface.  Here is what we know of the specs so far: CPU: TEGRA 4 processor Screen: 10.6-inch, ClearType Full HD (1920 x 1080, or 1080p) Battery: Up to 8 hours RAM: 4GB Kickstand: New integrated two-position style kickstand Weight & Thickness: Identical to current SurfaceRT (1.5 lb and .37 inches respectively) Color: Black and new White color possible, VaporMg casing Office: Office Home & Student included (with Outlook RT) Storage: Micro-SD card expansion up to 64 GB Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 WiFi: 802.11 Camera: Front and rear-facing cameras Other Ports: Full sized USB 3.0 port, HD video-out port OS: Windows RT 8.1 Price at this point is unknown but it ...

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Photocopier machines continue to work overtime at Sony while Microsoft unrelentlessly unveils new features on the Xbox One every week. Phil Spencer talked about one his favorite features on the Xbox One, having the ability to create a favorite channel list that migrates with you wherever you go. Spencer told us more about how the Kinect’s IR blaster will work to help streamline integration.  “Kinect sends out the commands for your TV and your media stack,” he explains.  “Right now, we’re asking users to select their provider and box.  Our goal is to get to the point where it figures it out by asking you a few questions.  That’s something we’re on for the next two years, but we’re going to get close at launch for a lot of people.” The Xbox One profile will also enable users to create a favorite channel list.  Should you log into your profile ...

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A new report claims Microsoft is building a docking station for the Surface Pro 2. The dock will allow for easy attachment of a keyboard and mouse.  There will be three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port on the dock as well as the ability to attach to an external display via a mini DisplayPort. It will also feature a 1 Gbps Ethernet port, dedicated microphone and headphone/speaker ports. This will allow the Surface to be a complete desktop replacement for many users. It will be compatible only with Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2. Sources have not provided timing or price at this time, however speculation is that it may launch with the Surface Pro 2. Thurrott confirms many of the details: Pro only: It will be compatible with Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, but not Surface RT or Surface 2. Design: The Docking Station is ...

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Game Informer snagged an exclusive interview with Microsoft Studios vice president Phil Spencer.  He talked about managing the hardware side of the device and maintaining a good consumer experience. “We feel great about our hardware yield,” Spencer says.  “We feel great about the number of units we’re going to have at launch.  Our pre-orders are going really well; better than they did for the 360.”  Pre-orders continue to sell out each time Microsoft releases another batch to retailers. “You want people to be able to walk in the store and buy one on day one, so you’re trying to manage the inventory that isn’t pre-sold,” Spencer says.  “It’s not a yield problem; it’s us trying to manage the hardware side.  I want parents who do not think about pre-ordering electronics to be able to walk in and have a chance to find a box.  There might be a line, but ...

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Game Informer snagged an exclusive interview with Microsoft Studios vice president Phil Spencer.  He talked about their the massive interest they are seeing from Independent Game Developers for their ID@Xbox program.  Spencer has mentioned something that the indie game developer’s would not have access to on the PS4, Windows Azure & Microsoft’s 300,000 servers.  “Our relationship with the indie development community has always been strong,” Spencer says.  “It doesn’t mean everybody loves us.  But if you look at the flow of content during the 360 generation and some of the indie hits that debuted on console on 360, people were clearly investing in putting their games on our platform.” “We want to have a platform that all of the great game developers can target.  We have to be able to support that,” Spencer says.  And those creators seem to be responding.  The ID@Xbox program has already proven popular.  “In the ...

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Xbox Live General Manager Ron Pessner, who leads the engineering team developing the new SmartGlass, talked about the technology in detail on the company’s official Xbox Blog.  Xbox Wire also promised a future post explaining how SmartGlass will work with games and entertainment on Xbox One. XW: What can gamers expect from SmartGlass for Xbox One?  RP: SmartGlass is maturing with the evolution of Xbox 360 to Xbox One. Xbox One was designed from the ground up with SmartGlass in mind, and an immediately noticeable difference with Xbox One SmartGlass compared to Xbox 360 SmartGlass is the connection speed and performance. On average it only takes about four seconds for SmartGlass to recognize your Xbox One and create an instant connection. Of course, this is based on the speed of your wireless connection, but generally SmartGlass is about three-and-a-half times faster on Xbox One than its Xbox 360 predecessor. And ...

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A new requirement made by Microsoft will require all game developer publishing on the Xbox One to submit a ‘Game Help.”  This goal of Game Help will be to fundamentally change the concept of user manuals.  Microsoft will convert the help manual into a contextual in-game help or on-screen via SmartGlass.  Microsoft’s Xbox general manager told Engadget: “You can access this in a couple of different ways,” Microsoft general manager Ron Pessner told Engadget.  “In front of your console, you can say, ‘Xbox: Help!’ and then it will appear on the console.  Or in SmartGlass, you can click on the Help icon and then it will just tune into exactly what you’re doing and present the right help content for you.” This applies across the rest of the console as well, including Internet Explorer and even the system’s settings.  You can say, ‘Hey, I am in Internet Explorer, where are my ...

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Microsoft Yusuf Mehdi spoke at the Citi Global Conference last Tuesday, telling the audience: “The strategy will continue which is that we’re looking to be break even or low margin at worst on [Xbox One],” he explained, “and then make money selling additional games, the Xbox Live service and other capabilities on top. “And as we can cost-reduce our box as we’ve done with 360, we’ll do that to continue to price reduce and get even more competitive with our offering.” “You’ve seen us over the years constantly be focused on profitability and improving year over year,” Mehdi explained when asked about the profitability of the Xbox business and how it would weather the launch of the One. “There are different points in the cycle when you invest in new hardware. “If you look at 360 that platform lasted for seven to eight years and it’s going to go for ...

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s name comes up often as a possible replacement for retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.  On the surface it seems like a good idea.  Mulally has an engineering background and revamped Boeing and Ford.  Mulally and Ballmer are friends, especially given both their connections to Detroit.  In 2009 Ballmer wrote the introduction for Mulally when he was named in Time magazine’s top 100 people.  While I do not want to get into a lengthy discussion of why I do not think Mulally is right for Microsoft as CEO, consider the fact that he is 68 years and was set to retire from Ford at the end of 2014.  I do think Mulally would be able to provide great insights for Microsoft and might be a great board member. The Ford board has warmed up to Mark Fields, their current COO, as a natural successor to Mulally and are now comfortable ...

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