Tag Archives: Microsoft

Here come the Mint.com “me-too” companies

Bloomberg has reported that Citi and Microsoft are working together to build an online money management site like Mint.com, which recently agreed to be acquired by Intuit.

Mint.com lets users monitor their accounts at banks and brokerages and keep track of their budget, spending and investing. The Citi/Microsoft version would do the same and is tentatively called Bundle, according to Bloomberg.

Citi recently shelved its myFi project, which was going to provide online investing for moderately wealthy brokerage clients. Microsoft ditched its Money personal finance website in June.

The Bloomberg article is posted on Microsoft’s website and it has generated several comments from apparent former Microsoft Money users there.

Dominick said, “If Quicken gets my MSMoney file converted successfully I am onto Quicken and never looking back. MS lost me as a customer on the MSMoney cancellation.”

RichT wrote: “What a crazy strategy — first they abandon a large customer base of existing Money users, then they try to set up some new online system. Why would anybody trust Microsoft with their data? How do we know that after a few years, once they realize that they can’t make money out of an online system, that they won’t just abandon that too?”

Even a poster whose title suggested he works for Microsoft had a negative comment: “There is no way I’d consider signing up for another financial package of any sort with Microsoft, not after I’ve been using Money for 14 years and they just pull the plug to try something new.”


Microsoft Pays Users to Search with Bing

Starting today, Microsoft plans to actually pay users to search via Bing. Yes, you read that correctly – they will PAY you, in cash, to use Bing rather than some other search engine such as Yahoo, or more likely Google. How will they do this? When you shop online through the Bing search engine, Microsoft will refund you a portion of your purchase price at its own expense. Okay, they have actually been doing this for a while, but starting today they will double that amount to up to 50% of your purchase price. That’s worth taking notice.

In practice, this concept isn’t entirely new. Many e-commerce sites have affiliate programs which will pay a third party site (like Bing) for referring customers to them. Microsoft’s search engine has taken advantage of this by combining its search engine capabilities with various affiliate programs. When a buyer searches for an item on Bing and then purchases it, Microsoft gets paid a commission for the referral. There are many sites that do this, but Microsoft is the only one that refunds 100% of this commission back to its users.  Previously, they have offered similar promotional discounts to specific stores like eBay. In that instance, users received up to 30-35% cashback for making their eBay purchases through Bing. But with this promotion, they will double the cashback on ALL affiliate stores, up to 50%!

Google Announces Chrome Operating System

In its most direct assault on Microsoft yet, Google on Tuesday evening announced the forthcoming release of the Google Chrome Operating System, a new open source operating system designed primarily for netbooks but also for desktop computers.Chrome OS is Google’s second operating system, after Android, the mobile device operating system that the company introduced in late 2008. That’s also about the time when Google introduced its Chrome Web browser. Chrome OS is an extension of Google’s browser code.

Though there’s some overlap between the two operating systems, Google says that choice drives innovation and benefits everyone. An apparent distinction between Chrome OS and Android is that the latter operating system is designed to work on devices like mobile phones and set-top boxes that deny users access to certain resources. Further distinctions between the two Google operating systems may emerge once the Chrome OS license is published.Chrome OS will introduce a new windowing system, presumably along the lines of GNOME or KDE, atop the Linux kernel. In a blog post, Sundar Pichai, VP of product management and engineering director Linus Upson explained, “All Web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite Web technologies.”

Chrome OS will run on x86 and ARM chips. Google says that it is working with several hardware manufacturers to deliver netbooks running Chrome OS in the second half of 2010.

Along with the mobile phone market, the netbook market is growing rapidly, in contrast to the desktop PC market. Last month, iSuppli reported that PC shipments in the first quarter of 2009 fell 23% compared with the same period in 2008, while netbook shipments grew 10% during the same time frame. Last November, IDC predicted that 42.2 million netbooks would be sold in 2012, almost four times as many as in 2008.

Microsoft expects to ship some version of Windows on most of these devices; the desktop versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 tend to demand more computing power than most netbooks can provide. Brad Brooks, the company’s corporate VP for Windows consumer product marketing, said in February that since February 2008, the share of Windows OS on netbooks had risen from 10% to 80% a year later. The gain represents the result of a concerted effort by Microsoft to counter the spread of Linux-based netbooks.Google’s Chrome OS announcement can be seen as a response to Microsoft’s netbook campaign. And its justification for introducing Chrome OS highlights a longtime sore point for Windows users, namely long startup times. “We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better,” said Pichai and Upson. “People want to get to their e-mail instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them.”

Pichai and Upson also indicated that Chrome OS will include a variety of cloud-based services to make life easier for users, like automatic backups and software updates. The days of shrink-wrapped software sold on store shelves are numbered.In April, Vic Gundotra, VP of engineering at Google, declared, “the Web has won.” Now the fight has moved to the desktop.

Ray Ozzie’s 2005 Memo & Agile

Shortly after Ray Ozzie arrived at Microsoft back in 2005, he wrote a memo (not unlike Gates’ Paul Revere-ish 1995 memo about embracing the internet) which was recently accounced, but not yet released. It outlined a few things, namely the company (Microsoft) had to start thinking and operting like an internet company, and as much as possible, liek a web startup!

Ray pitched ad-supported or subscription businss models, viral distribution and experiences that “just work.” Focus on being seemless, bottom line: Change big-time, or else.  Microsoft at the time was trying to ship Vista and Office so Ozzie project began.  Ray then gathered a team to begin delivering results, in short time frames (sound familiar)?  Ray began code name “Red Dog”, now referred to as Azure, with the help of Amitabh Srivastava & Dave Cutler, out from semi-retirement.

An interesting aspect of the new operating system is that is was produced with a fraction of the manpower the company typically directs to critical projects.  “There are literally thousands of people on windows, but Ray emphasized small groups with very focused people is a better way of doing things,” Cutler says. The goal it seems, was to produce working software faster.  Hmm, thats interesting, without spelling it out, it sure spells alot like Agile to me.  So what exactly does the Ozzie project entail?

  1. Windows Azure – Microsoft’s long awaited “operating system for the cloud” doesn’t run on a laptop – it runs on the companies thousands of servers.  Customers develop their web-based businesses to operate on Microsoft’s data centers, and Windows Azure allocates resources as needed. (expected late 2009)
  2. “Zurich” – codename for Azure services platform, a set of sophisticated tools to help developers manage their own cloud-based services and web apps. (available now in preview)
  3. Live Mesh – a service built on Red Dog that allows people (PC & Mac) to synchronize all their files, photos, and music with all their devices. (expected in 2009, now in public beta, see mesh.com)
  4. Office Web Apps – the next major Office release will include relatively complete Web version of Microsoft’s crown jewels.  Users can subscribe or access free versions supported by ads. (expected in 2010, but some versions may appear sooner.)

If you’re interested in keeping up with all the latest Microsoft developments, I strongly encourage you to check out the sessions from Microsoft’s recent Professional Developers Conference, now available online (for free) at: https://sessions.microsoftpdc.com/public/timeline.aspx

Life at Microsoft

Stumbled upon this recently, thought it was pretty funny. Check it out:

Microsoft’s Makeover

Pity Microsoft.  its Xbox 360 gets trumped by the Wii, its Zune can’t hold a candle to the iPod, and all the top tech geeks want to work at Google’s cushy campus.  Can a major overhaul of its drab headquarters do anything to help?  Influenced in part by fandy digs like those at Nike and DreamWorks, m$ft just cut the ribbon on a $2 billion campus renovation – the biggest in teh company’s history – that includes 35 new buildings, 5.5 million square feet of additional space, more natural light, and plenty of whiteboards for everyone.  Microsoft says a 5% lift in productivity would return its investment.  It’s a far cry from Google’s free gourmet meals, but in the war for talent, everly little bit helps.

Bill Gates last day..

This has been out for a few days now, but finally tracked down a decent quality.  http://on10.net/blogs/larry/Bills-Last-Day-CES-2008-Keynote-Video/Default.aspx – check out all the cameos..