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’ve been hearing for months about Microsoft’s plans to bring exclusive original programming to the Xbox. Nearly two years ago Microsoft hired former CBS executive Nancy Tellum to lead Xbox Entertainment Studios (XES). Tellum has at least 12 projects she is working on, six are in production, while the other six are still in the earlier stages on the process. The first, premiering on June 13th, will be a  multi-camera, multi-stage interactive live broadcast of the Bonnaroo music festival on the Xbox. Xbox Entertainment Studios has attracted a slew of top Hollywood talent to develop its original programming slate, with names like Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott attached to two separate scripted projects based on the “Halo” franchise – but that’s only the beginning. Other shows in production include an unscripted series about international street soccer, an original drama about robotic servants in a dystopian world, and a documentary about the search ...

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For some good weekend reading, Mary Branscombe has a good story on the history of Internet Explorer. Branscombe got access to many former Microsoft executives who worked on Internet Explorer. While a few years back IE hit a low of under 50% it is beginning to gain marketshare again and is now nearing near 60%. IE11 remains highly competitive especially on touchscreen PCs. Joe Belfiore is now in charge of IE, but since IE7 the public face of the browser had been Dean Hachamovich. Steven Sinofsky and Hachamovich were good friends and Dean reported directly to Sinofsky for many years. They both played an important role in IE’s rehabilitation. Hachamovich went to work for Microsoft Research after Terry Myerson took over Windows. It is interesting to note that IE is also moving a lot faster; IE 10 arrived 18 months after IE 9, IE 11 came along after just a year and ...

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Microsoft has confirmed former HP senior vice president Tony Prophet will be joining Microsoft as the new Windows Marketing Chief: “We can confirm Tony Prophet will be joining Microsoft as corporate vice president, Windows Marketing, reporting to Chris Capossela. Tony will focus on growing the Windows ecosystem and enabling our partners to be more successful building on Windows.” Prophet will join the company in May and is replacing Thom Gruhler, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Windows. Gruhler took over Tami Reller’s old position after she announced she would be leaving the company. Gruhler is going into hiding under Qi Lu in the Applications and Services group in an unspecified role.  Prophet will report to Chris Capossela who Nadella named as Chief Marketing Officer. Source: ZDNet ...

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Microsoft released its third quarter (Q3) earnings earlier today for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). This is the first quarter under new CEO Satya Nadella. The earnings report contained a number of interesting pieces of information including the fact that Microsoft has paid its $733 million fine from the European Commission. For some brief background on the issue (via etwashoo): The Commission’s preliminary view was that competition was distorted by Microsoft tying Internet Explorer to Windows. This was because it offered Microsoft an artificial distribution advantage not related to the merits of its product on more than 90 per cent of personal computers. Furthermore, the Commission’s preliminary view was that this tying hindered innovation in the market and created artificial incentives for software developers and content providers to design their products or web sites primarily for Internet Explorer. The approved commitments address these concerns. PC users, by means of the Choice ...

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Microsoft released its third quarter (Q3) earnings earlier today for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). This is the first quarter under new CEO Satya Nadella. The earnings report contained a number of interesting pieces of the enterprise side of Microsoft is doing. Windows Azure grew over 150% in the third quarter. Windows volume licensing was up 11% with business customers. Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange, our productivity server offerings, collectively grew double-digits and office commercial revenue was up 6%. Server product revenue up 10%. Total commercial licensing revenue grew 3% to 10.32 billion. SQL server revenue grew 15%. Other commercial revenue was up 31% to $1.90 billion. Commercial cloud revenue grew 101% with Office 365 growing 100% and Windows Azure revenue growing 150%. Gross margins were up 6% to 80% gross margins! All this contributed to commercial revenue of $12.23 billion, up 7%. Compare this to Devices and Consumer with revenue of ...

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Microsoft released its third quarter (Q3) earnings earlier today for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). This is the first quarter under new CEO Satya Nadella. The earnings report contained a number of interesting pieces of information including how Bing is doing. Bing search marketshare grew to 18.6 up 1.7% compared to this quarter last year. Bing continues to gain at the expense of Yahoo now at 10.1% of search marketshare. Bing does power Yahoo and the combined search marketshare equals a total of 28.7%. Google continues to dominate at 67.5%. The rest of search marketshare is split between Ask and AOL. Bing search revenue was up 38%. Microsoft continues to invest in Bing and product is now built into Windows 8 and powers search assistant Cortana on Windows Phone. Source: Microsoft ...

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Microsoft released its third quarter (Q3) earnings earlier today for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). This is the first quarter under new CEO Satya Nadella. The earnings report contained a number of interesting pieces of information including OEM revenue for the quarter. Windows OEM revenue is up 4%. Windows OEM Pro revenue is up 19% driven by businesses moving off Windows XP. However, the non-Pro OEM revenue was down 15%, and 9% excluding China. Windows volume licensing was up 11% with business customers. Source: Microsoft ...

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Microsoft released its third quarter (Q3) earnings earlier today for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). This is the first quarter under new CEO Satya Nadella. The earnings report contained a number of interesting pieces of information including growth for Office 365. Microsoft has added nearly a million customers since January and now has 4.4 million subscribers. The addition of Office on the iPad probably helped boost these numbers. Revenue for the business versions of Office 365 grew over 100% for the quarter and commercials seats doubled over this period of time. Office 365 annual revenue run-rate is now $2.5 billion. Office consumer revenue is up 15%. Microsoft recently announced Office 365 personal, priced at $6.99 a month or $69.99 annually. Subscriber numbers for this service will not be seen until next quarter. It seems transitioning Office to a service appears to be working. Source: Microsoft ...

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Microsoft released its third quarter (Q3) earnings earlier today for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). This is the first quarter under new CEO Satya Nadella. The earnings report contained a number of interesting pieces of information including how the Surface business is doing. Microsoft has been relatively quiet about the Surface business since it had to do a $900 million write-off last year. Compared to last year Surface revenue is up 50% to $494 million. Microsoft also stated they are seeing an increasing mix of second generation (Surface 2) and Surface Pro 2 devices. It appears Microsoft’s investment into tablet hardware is starting to pay off and the Surface may be another multi-billion dollar business for Microsoft next year. Source: Microsoft ...

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Microsoft released its third quarter (Q3) earnings earlier today for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). This is the first quarter under new CEO Satya Nadella. The earnings report contained a number of interesting pieces of information including how many Xbox consoles have been sold. For the quarter, Microsoft sold 2.0 million Xbox consoles. Of the 2 million, 1.2 million were Xbox Ones, and we assume the remaining 800,000 are Xbox 360 units. Transactional revenue on the Xbox was up 17%. Sony is currently leading in the number of consoles sold. Sony recently reported they had sold over 7 million PS4s to consumers, 2 million more consoles than the Xbox One. Sony’s PS4 is currently available in over 57 markets, while the Xbox One is only available in 13. Microsoft will expand the availability of the Xbox One this fall to an additional 26 markets. Source: Microsoft ...

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Microsoft today announced revenue of $20.40 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2014. Gross margin, operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $14.46 billion, $6.97 billion, $5.66 billion, and $0.68 per share, respectively.     Three Months Ended March 31, ($ in millions, except per share amounts) 2013 As Reported (GAAP) Net revenue recognition for Windows Upgrade Offer, Office Deferral, and Video Game Deferral European Commission Fine 2013 As Adjusted (Non-GAAP) 2014 As Reported (GAAP) %Y/Y (GAAP) %Y/Y (Non-GAAP) Revenue $20,489 ($1,658)       $18,831 $20,403 (0)% 8% Gross Margin $15,702 ($1,658) $14,044 $14,462 (8)% 3% Operating Income $7,612 ($1,658) $733 $6,687 $6,974 (8)% 4% Diluted EPS $0.72 ($0.16) $0.09 $0.65 $0.68 (6)% 5%   “This quarter’s results demonstrate the strength of our business, as well as the opportunities we see in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We are making good progress in our consumer ...

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The Xbox One is currently only available in 13 markets, primarily in North America and Europe. Sony on the other hand has launched the PS4 in over 54 markets and this has helped the company sell 2 million more consoles than the Xbox One. However in the coming months this will soon be changing. Microsoft is expected to launch the Xbox One in 26 new markets this fall. Today the Redmond software giant officially announced that its gaming console will launch in Japan on September 4. Historically, Japan has been a challenging market for Microsoft and continues to be so. Sony’s is headquarted in Japan and remains an extremely popular corporation within the company. However, Microsoft continues to try to push into the market due to the number of game developers in the country. Source: Microsoft Japan ...

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Two days back we reported Bing would make predictions of the events based on their ability to process trillions of signals to reflect what is happening in the real world. Popular reality tv show “The Voice,” was among the tv shows Bing is making predictions for: How do we make the predictions for The Voice? The central idea behind the direct approach is that winners and losers correspond to popularity. In broad strokes, we define popularity as the frequency and sentiment of searches combined with social signals and keywords. Placing these signals into our model, we can predict the outcome an event with high confidence. For The Voice, our model is tuned to account for biases, such asregional preferences, and other measurable and observable trends. We have also learned how to combine the prior popularity of a contestant with the contribution due to his or her performance. Although we might believe that the outcome of ...

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The Chinese government has made the decision to stick with Windows even though the operating system has reached end-of-life. Senior official Yan Xiaohong commented that upgrading to Windows 8 would be “fairly expensive.” Windows 8 costs 888 yuan (£84 or $142) in China. However in some cases the government would have to buy new hardware to upgrade to Windows 8. China is not paying Microsoft for extended Windows XP support. Instead, Chinese security providers have released special protection products to patch up the system, which the government is now “appraising” for use. It is estimated that nearly 70% of computers in China are still using Windows XP. IE6 usage in China remains well over 20%, while the rest of the world remains under 1%. It is believed that 90% of Windows XP usage in China comes from pirated copies of the operating system. However, since  a crackdown in 2010 most government agencies ...

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Microsoft wants to make finding environmental data as simple as clicking on a map. To make this a reality Microsoft has introduced FetchClimate, a tool that makes locating environmental information easy. By drawing a box around a geographic area you’re and selecting the environmental information wanted, you can view the data on Bing Maps within seconds. FetchClimate calculates data uncertainty, so you know how reliable the information is, and the tool allows you to specify precisely the size of the area and the period of time for your query. FetchClimate runs in the cloud, on Microsoft Azure, meaning there is no physical limit on how much information can be added. You can not only look at historical climate data but also peer into the future, as Microsoft has included forecast data from the latest climate simulation experiments. For example, you can see what the predicted temperature or precipitation in your area will be in 2050. The Computational ...

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Yesterday we reported on new rumors regarding Windows 8.2 (or Windows 8.1 Update 2 or Autumn Update) and Windows 9. Russian leaker WZOR has asserted that Windows 8.2 is likely to be released this fall. Mary Jo Foley says she has independently heard it may be released as early as August (2014). Previous to Windows 8.1, Microsoft typically took three years to release the next version of Windows. The exception to this was Windows Vista. It took nearly 5 years after the initial release of Windows XP until Windows Vista came out. Of course the issue is slightly more nuanced, Windows XP SP2 could have considered a new version of Windows and Project Longhorn was scrapped and Windows Vista was written in about 2.5 years. Between Windows Vista to Windows 7 to Windows 8 about three years passed between each OS. Windows 8.1 was released about one year after Windows ...

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