Microsoft is building a smaller Surface tablet according to multiple reports, and a new rumor on Thursday suggests it will feature a 7.9-inch display when it launches in late-June. Digitimes reports that Microsoft’s smaller Surface slate will make use of 7.9-inch display panels supplied by none other than Samsung Display, the one-time Apple supplier now in search of new clientele. The report also notes that despite the rising popularity of 8-inch tablets following the launch of Apple’s iPad mini, suppliers aren’t expecting much from the new Surface considering its predecessors’ sales performance.
Microsoft doesn’t want to hear Google CEO Larry Page get on his high horse about the need for less negativity and more cooperation in the tech world, especially since his company just sent a cease and desist letter telling Microsoft to pull its YouTube app from the Windows Phone store after Microsoft violated Google’s terms of service by removing ads from videos. Per The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson has now thrown Page’s words back in his face by saying that it would be happy to bring ads back to the Windows Phone YouTube app if only Google would be more open and cooperative. In particular, the spokesperson said “we’d be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs” while adding that “in light of Larry Page’s comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.”
College graduates would love to land a job at Google, Apple or one of the many startups in Silicon Valley. But according to a survey from Universum Global, there are quite a few students who would prefer the rainy days in Washington over working in the golden state. The American Student Survey asked students from five different fields of study — business, engineering, IT, natural sciences and liberal arts — about their ideal company to work for. Companies such as Google and Apple unsurprisingly topped the charts in almost all categories, however there were some surprising results: Microsoft consistently outranked both Facebook and Amazon. The company ranked higher than Amazon in all fields of study and even higher than Apple in IT. Students found Microsoft more appealing than Facebook in almost all categories as well, with the exception of liberal arts.
Google is not happy with Microsoft’s attempt to remove YouTube ads for Windows Phone users. The Verge reports that Google has asked Microsoft to remove YouTube from the Windows Phone app store because Microsoft has allegedly created its own version of the app “without Google’s consent” and “with features that specifically prevent ads from playing.” Since Google makes its money primarily through online advertisements, it’s not surprising that it would be upset at another company removing the ads, even if it does deliver a better user experience. In a cease and desist letter sent to Microsoft, Google says that “by blocking advertising and allowing downloads of videos, your application cuts off a valuable ongoing revenue source for creators, and causes harm to the thriving content ecosystem on YouTube.”
Google CEO isn’t very happy that Microsoft decided to integrate its Google Talk messaging service into its Outlook webmail platform without extending a similar offer to Google for the Gmail platform. Page, speaking during the Google I/O developers conference Wednesday, said that Google always pushes to have open-source platforms that other companies can use but lamented the fact that much of the tech industry doesn’t extend the same courtesies for many of its own innovations. Page went onto say that he was “sad” that companies such as Microsoft were “milking off” Google’s innovations by not being as open with their own software.
With Microsoft planning to release an overhauled version of Windows 8 over the summer, some may be wondering when the company will give a similar treatment to its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system. The answer, says ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, is likely not until 2014. Instead, Foley’s sources say that Windows Phone users can expect three smaller updates to roll out throughout the rest of 2013 in preparation for a more substantial update sometime next year. These updates will include “support for CalDAV and CardDAV, so that it will continue to work with Google contact and calendar syncing services” and will “reintroduce support for FM radio… a feature which was part of the Windows Phone 7 operating system platform, but which was cut for Windows Phone 8.”
It may be time for Steve Ballmer to crank up his famous “Developers, developers, developers!” chant again if it will get software developers more excited about Windows Phone 8. Sameer Singh at Tech-Thoughts has charted the growth history of the three major mobile app stores and has found that Windows Phone’s app store is lagging behind where iOS and Android were 30 months after their initial launches. What’s more, he’s found that the additions of new apps to the Windows Phone 8 app market have markedly slowed over the past six months, whereas iOS and Android both saw significant rises in app additions over the same periods after their initial launches. Singh speculates that the slowdown in interest from developers is due to “limited install base, low user engagement, monetization challenges and regional developer restrictions,” among other factors.
The Windows Phone platform is in serious need of high-quality applications. Microsoft recently announced that its Windows Phone app store is home to nearly 150,000 applications, however the operating system is still lacking fan favorites such as Instagram, Dropbox and HBO GO. Windows Phone devices released by Nokia and HTC have been well received by critics, but most reviews share one common complaint — not enough good apps. Vesa Jutila, Nokia’s global head of smartphone marketing, admitted in an interview with Engadget that “the biggest complaint is that customers are missing the apps they want.” The executive noted that there were some significant gaps in the marketplace, although he claims Nokia is “addressing this very strongly” with help from Microsoft.
As someone who admires the innovations that Microsoft made with Windows 8 while at the same time recognizing the platform’s glaring flaws, I’ve found it encouraging that the company has decided to own up to some of its mistakes and dial back some of the big changes it made to its operating system with the release of Windows 8.1. The new update, which Microsoft announced Tuesday would be available as a public preview starting on June 26th, will reportedly bring back the Start button as an option and give users the choice of booting up their computers in desktop mode. But the feature that really has me excited about Windows 8.1 and that makes me think Microsoft is serious about listening to its customers is that it’s providing the update free of charge for all Windows 8 users. More →
Microsoft’s admission last week that it would need to make changes to its Windows 8 operating system to address a steeper-than-expected user learning curve has sparked two very different reactions from media and analysts. On the one side, Microsoft’s backtracking on Windows 8 is seen as a sign of humiliating defeat that could even point the way toward CEO Steve Ballmer’s exit from the company. The Telegraph takes this particular angle with a report that focusses on the “hostile reception” to Windows 8 and that quotes an analyst who says that “investors think Ballmer’s the wrong guy” to run Microsoft because “he missed tablets and he missed smartphones, and that these are the two areas of technology that really count.” More →
Although Microsoft recently touted having sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses this week, careful observers noted that selling all those licenses doesn’t mean vendors have actually sold 100 million Windows 8 devices over the past half-year. ComputerWorld this week talked with Patrick Moorhead, a principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, who estimates that the actual number of Windows 8 devices being used out in the wild is closer to 59 million, since the most recent data from Net Applications shows that Windows 8 is being used on around 4.2% of all Windows PCs. More →
The lack of applications on the Windows Phone platform is a serious problem Microsoft must fix if it wants to be a viable alternative to Android and the iPhone. The company on Friday revealed that the Windows Phone Store is now home to 145,000 apps and games, significantly less than Google and Apple’s offerings, and only slightly more than BlackBerry. It appears that developer interest for Microsoft’s mobile platform has slowed as well. Last June, the Windows Phone Store saw tremendous growth, doubling the number of apps in a six-month period to total 100,000. In the past 11 months, however, less than 45,000 new applications were added to the marketplace.
Microsoft executive Frank Shaw is not happy with everyone who compared Windows 8 to New Coke this week. Shaw, who serves as Microsoft’s vice president of corporate communications, has written a blog post swiping back at media outlets who bashed the company’s latest operating system and said that comparing it to Coca Cola’s ill-fated attempt to rework its soft drink formula was completely ridiculous. More →