Week in Microsoft: Surface vs. Nemo, Why Xbox Was Created, and Windows Blue?


Anyone on the east coast mobile? Let’s hope not too many of you are stranded due to Nemo (who comes up with these storm names anyway?). You’re not the only ones Nemo snowed in though. Microsoft cancelled their Surface Pro launch event in New York yesterday due to the blizzard.

However, despite the snowstorm, Microsoft had a rather productive week: early on, an ex-Microsoft executive revealed how Sony’s mistakes helped create the original Xbox. Codename Windows Blue might be more than just updates for Windows 8. And Microsoft Surface Pro is doing well if early sellouts are to be believed. Let’s go through the news in Microsoft for the week of February 4th – 10th.

surface pro

Is the Surface Pro, Pro Enough?

Microsoft’s Surface Pro finally went on sale yesterday and, interestingly enough, the 128GB version sold out on the Microsoft Store website and local retail stores within hours of its launch. Although, local stores like Best Buy and Staples reportedly had extremely low volume of the Surface Pro in stock. Some stores reported to have received only 2 to 3 units of the 128GB model. We probably won’t find out the exact orders Microsoft had at launch anytime soon, if ever.

Is this a case of Microsoft purposely underestimating the initial demands to exaggerate sale activities? Or is Microsoft’s marketing department really that impotent? But, let’s also assume the opposite, since there are many that waited out the RT for the Pro. It is after all a very compelling device that interweaves the touch centric Metro UI with legacy desktop applications (something that the Surface RT failed to do.)

Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

pieAs I suspected last week, the final usable storage space on the Surface Pro is actually more than what was originally reported. In a Reddit AMA session this week, the man behind the Surface, Panos Panay, confirmed that both Surface Pro versions will have 6-7GB more than what was reported earlier.

Users can further increase the usable space by backing up the recovery partition to an external memory device. Panay also said the reason Microsoft did not ship the Surface Pro with a separate recovery microSD is because they are afraid that people might lose it. For a summary of the Reddit AMA, check out this article over at ZDNet.

Death to the RT

58d301f0-cf16-4ece-9c1d-dc0e3813d75eMicrosoft Windows CFO, Tami Reller, told Bloomberg that no new Windows RT-based devices will be on sale this Spring. They need to clear out the current inventory from last year’s holidays.

This explains why Samsung and other OEMs pulled back their Windows RT devices. This news could have something to do with the announcement that the Surface RT will be sold in more countries this quarter, presumably with the leftover inventory.

Sony Carelessness Lead to Microsoft Xbox

Microsoft execs sure were busy this week in the media. Joachim Kempin, former VP of Windows Sales, told IGN that the reason Microsoft created the Xbox was because of Sony’s lack of cooperation. Microsoft thought they could partner with Sony to work on media technology, since the latter was in the entertainment industry. Sony declined the partnership, however, and Microsoft decided to make their own console to beat Sony at their own game. dreamcastEventually they did with the Xbox 360.

Another interesting tidbit. Microsoft almost bought SEGA to combat Sony, but in the end realized SEGA’s head wasn’t in the game. Remember that the SEGA Dreamcast was powered by Microsoft’s Windows CE platform. Microsoft decided to copy Sony’s business model and manufacture their own console.

Less Games, More Media

A new report this week claims that the next-generation Xbox might include an online system to prevent people from playing used games. The news caused an uproar in the gaming community, even though this rumor was in the leaked PDF report last summer.

In other Xbox news, Redbox Instant by Verizon is coming to Xbox Live exclusively to compete with Netflix and Amazon Instant. No word yet on when this will arrive on Xbox Live.

windows blue

What is Windows Blue?

The Windows Blue codename has been flying around the web for a while, and it’s rumored to be a substantial update to Windows 8. But now, according to ZDNet, Blue is more than just Windows 8 updates, it’ll be platform-wide updates. This means that Windows Blue will deliver updates to Windows Phone, Microsoft’s Online Services, and Windows Server according to a source for ZDNet.

Tami Reller, in her interviews this week, also mentioned that Microsoft changed to a yearly update schedule for their products instead of the traditional 3-year refresh cycle. Consumers will see more frequent updates to Windows, Office, Windows Phone, and online services. This dramatic change to Microsoft’s corporate culture will hopefully force Microsoft to innovate faster to compete in the new world order.

That’s all folk! Oh and Happy New Year of the snake!

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