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

We previously reported that Microsoft will permanently drop the price of all Touch Covers from $119.99 to $79.99.  The SurfaceRT bundles (SurfaceRT + Black Touch Cover) will also be getting a permanent price reduction. The current price of either 32GB or 64GB and a bundled black Touch Cover for $449 and $549, respectively.  Starting on August 30th, whether you buy online or in the Microsoft Store, the bundle will cost $399 and $499, still saving you about $30. I think Microsoft should be able to sell more units at this price point. Source: WPCentral ...

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Microsoft on Friday completed the development of Windows 8.1 RTM.  The official build number will be Windows 8.1—9600.16384.130821-1623.  This build has been sent off to the OEMs and Microsoft will work closely with them over the next month to provide any Quick Fix Engineering (QFE) updates as needed. Thurrott reports: These QFEs will be delivered to PC and hardware makers so that they can add them to their PCs and devices before launch. End users will receive these QFEs automatically via Windows Update within three days of GA. This process of “finalizing” a product and then updating it before it is released to the public isn’t new; Microsoft did the same thing with Windows 8/RT last year. But it does explain the two month delta between RTM and GA, which many had questioned. RTM simply doesn’t mean what it used to mean, and in this age of constant iteration, no ...

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Mary-Jo Foley got 15 minutes with Ballmer (as well as a number of other reporters), he talked about his biggest regret: Oh, you know, I’ve actually had a chance to make a lot of mistakes, and probably because, you know, people all want to focus in on period A, period B, but I would say probably the thing I regret most is the, what shall I call it, the loopedy-loo that we did that was sort of Longhorn to Vista. I would say that’s probably the thing I regret most. And, you know, there are side effects of that when you tie up a big team to do something that doesn’t prove out to be as valuable. Source: Mary-Jo Foley ...

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Microsoft stock is surging on the announcement that CEO Steve Ballmer will be retiring.  Some of this is of course due to sentiment analysis and also due to the dive the stock took after last quarter’s earning results. I wouldn’t read too much into this, the stock can quickly go down as it has gone up.  If some investors had their way, Microsoft would sell off Bing and Xbox.  AllThingsD reports According to Microsoft’s latest proxy, Ballmer owns 333,252,990 shares of the company. At yesterday’s closing price of $32.39, they were worth approximately $10.794 billion. But this morning, after Ballmer disclosed his retirement plans, Microsoft’s share price rose some seven percent, pushing the value of Ballmer’s stake to $11.563 billion, and making him $769 million in the process. Source: AllThingsD ...

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A very personal email from Steve Ballmer to all Microsoft employees explaining he will retire within the year: I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center. This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and ...

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Sad news for us longtime Microsoft observers, Steve Ballmer has announced he will retire within the year. During the re-org it was hinted that he wanted a natural successor to emerge many times. Read the official statement, we’ll have a full analysis later today: REDMOND, Wash. — Aug.23, 2013 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most. “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing ...

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Sources close to cnBeta have confirmed that the Windows 8.1 RTM version number  6.3.9600. Typically the final build number, from Vista on up, has been evenly divisible by 16 and is artificially bumped up to ensure this happens. You may recall that the Windows 8.0 RTM build number was 9200.  Windows 95′s build number was 950, Windows 98′s build number was 1998, Windows 98 SE was 2222, and Windows XP was 2600 (reference to hacker magazine), Windows Vista 6000 and Windows 7 was 7600. Screenshots of build 9484, recently released to OEMs, have recently leaked and build 9477 leaked to the web a few days back.  Microsoft-news can confirm Microsoft is now working on the RTM branch of Windows 8.1, no new features are being added, only critical bugs are being fixed, especially those that are high priority for OEMs.  As previously reported Windows 8.1 will be released around October 18th. Source: Cnbeta.com ...

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Steven Sinofsky has found himself a new part-time job: I’m especially excited to learn by spending more time with entrepreneurs and those creating new technologies and products. Andreessen Horowitz is a VC firm that believes deeply in helping entrepreneurs and helping change the product and business landscape, which is why I am thrilled to join the firm as a board partner. Board partners are unique at a16z. In this position I will represent the firm on the boards of portfolio companies when the opportunities present themselves, but will not be a full-time member of the firm. My own experience in product development has been focused on learning and changing from within an organization as part of teams—scaling teams, building the first professional GUI dev tools for Windows, marshaling the company around the “InterNet”, bringing together disparate apps to create Office, creating the first collaboration servers, and shifting to the tablet ...

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Sony’s Entertainment boss Andrew House slammed Microsoft publically at Gamescom 2013 for not having a consistent strategy at Gamescom and doing a “180″ on a number of issues. “While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires.” In an interview with Eurogamer Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer accused “certain people” of trying to turn these policy changes into “a bad thing”, insisting the company’s ability to react to feedback was “a strength”. “The thing I love about the space we’re in is you’re always going to get feedback, whether it’s on your Twitter feed, whether it’s in NeoGAF, whether it’s in Eurogamer,” Spencer said. “People are going to tell you in comment threads how they feel about decisions. “The two-way conversation we have with our customers is a strength. Certain people have tried to turn ...

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Microsoft has been releasing a lot of information regarding the Xbox One at Gamescom 2013 in Germany. Speaking to CVG at Gamescom, Microsoft VP Phil Harrison confirmed that every Xbox One will come with Kinect and they are not going to sell cheaper Xbox One SKU by dropping Kinect from the bundle. However, Xbox One will be able to function without Kinect connected to it. Xbox One is Kinect. They are not separate systems. An Xbox One has chips, it has memory, it has Blu-ray, it has Kinect, it has a controller. These are all part of the platform ecosystem. Source ...

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When talking about energy consumption most people think about the electricity used by your PC, kitchen appliances, TV or smartphone. However, the manufacturing process of these products also comes at a cost as it requires a material and energy-intensive process to create them. To make the computer or smartphone you’re using right now, a lot of raw materials, energy and water are needed. In fact, as much as two thirds of a PC’s total environmental footprint comes from the manufacturing process alone. Everyday consumers and companies alike are faced with a myriad of choices when it comes to buying, using and disposing of PCs whether it’s for their family or hundreds of employees. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the right information to help them make the most environmentally friendly decision. Here at Microsoft we are working to change that. To help both consumers and companies better understand the environmental impact ...

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David Vespremi was one of Tesla’s early employees.  He served as the company’s Director of Public Relations. Even though he was a highly effective employee for the company, they fired him and slandered his name.  He has spent the a last six years of his life in litigation with the company and recently won a lawsuit against Tesla.  He published a book “Reboot: The (Previously) Untold Story Of Tesla’s Electric Sports Car” by author David Vespremi.  The following describes an encounter between the former CEO of Tesla and Microsoft as written in his book: I’d just taken over as Tesla’s PR guy and had been contacted by old friends at Microsoft Game Studios about including the Tesla Roadster in Project Gotham Racing 4. Darryl Siry, my boss, took me into Martin Eberhard’s (Tesla’s Co-founder/then CEO) office to broach the topic. That’s when it went very wrong. “So, Martin, you know David ...

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Patrick Wirtz, an innovation manager for The Walsh Group, spends most of his time implementing technology that will enhance Walsh’s ability to work with clients. In the construction industry, building information modeling (BIM) is a critical component of presentations to clients. BIM allows construction companies like The Walsh Group to represent the functional characteristics of a facility digitally. While this is mostly effective, Wirtz wanted something that would really “wow” his clients. He wanted a way for them to not only see the drawings, but to bring the buildings to life by allowing clients to explore the blueprints themselves Wirtz found the solution he had been seeking when he stumbled upon an article about Ubi. At Ubi Interactive, we provide the technology to transform any surface into an interactive touch screen. All the user needs is a computer running our software, a projector, and the Kinect for Windows sensor. Immediately, ...

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While it was reported that SyFy would fund a remake of 1970s British sci-fi series Blake’s 7 last year it never materialized. It commissioned 13 episodes of a new version of the space drama, but that deal seems to have been scrapped as Microsoft is now being linked with the show. The Financial Times claims that “people familiar with the situation” have revealed that the Redmond software giant is to pay for development and production of a new series as part of its push to add exclusive television programming to the Xbox Live platform. During the Xbox One announcement event earlier this year, it was revealed that Steven Spielberg would be producing a Halo TV series exclusively for Microsoft. And if this new report is true, Blake’s 7 will soon join that franchise in the line-up of original content. It will be made, says the FT, by Motion Picture Capital, ...

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