Will You Buy a Surface 2?

Surface

Microsoft unveiled the Surface 2 at a press conference in New York City yesterday, and both tablets are now available for pre-order online. The all-new model is equipped with a super-fast NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, 1080p widescreen HD display, two-tier kickstand and ten hours battery life.

The second-generation Surface retains virtually the same design as its predecessor, asides from being available in a new silver trim. The tablet packs a full-sized USB 3.0 port and comes with a complimentary 200 GB of cloud storage through Microsoft’s SkyDrive service. Pricing starts at $449.

These changes feel more incremental than innovative, so it is debatable if these new features will be enough to boost Surface sales during the upcoming holiday shopping season. Microsoft had better hope so, as Surface sales thus far have been extremely dismal: just 1.8 million units shipped in the first six months of availability.

[The Verge]

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Microsoft Offering At Least $200 For Your Used iPad

microsoft_surface_tabletMicrosoft has launched a new limited time promotion that allows customers to trade in their iPad for a minimum $200 gift card towards the purchase of a Surface tablet or other products from the Microsoft Store.

The offer applies to the iPad 2 or later — so long as the device is in “gently used” condition — and is available at brick-and-mortar Microsoft Stores in the United States and Canada, not online. The power cord must be included with the iPad.

This promotion is intended to boost sales of the Surface tablet, which has failed to gain traction in the market alongside the industry-leading iPad. Microsoft was forced to make a $900 million write down on unsold Surface inventory, and has been using Siri as part of an aggressive marketing campaign against the iPad.

With the new Surface starting price of $349, coupled with a minimum $200 gift card, customers could potentially purchase the tablet for $149 or less. Prospective buyers may wish to wait a few weeks, however, as Microsoft is expected to unveil the second-generation Surface at a press event on September 23rd.

[The Verge]

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Microsoft Releases Xbox Music for iOS

xbox music

Microsoft released a new app entitled Xbox Music for iOS yesterday afternoon, featuring ad-free streaming and custom stations built around your favorite music. The app will sync these stations across any Xbox Music compatible device, as well as allow you to enjoy a “rich visual experience for searching, viewing , and playing back music.”

As with other platforms offering Xbox Music, you must have an Xbox Music Pass for the service to work. Luckily, however, these passes do come in a free variety – you’ll just be limited to 10 hours of listening per month after 6 months of using the service. You can grab Xbox Music for iOS right now on the App Store.

[9to5Mac]

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Microsoft Acquires Nokia’s Smartphone Division

Nokia LumiaMicrosoft announced on Tuesday that it has entered into a $7.2 billion transaction with Nokia to acquire all of its devices and services business, including the Lumia smartphone lineup and mid-range Asha brand. Microsoft has also agreed to a ten-year license of Nokia’s patent portfolio, and a four-year license of Nokia’s mapping services.

This is a substantial move for Microsoft, which gains the consolidated hardware and software experience that competitors like Apple have long benefitted from. Moreover, it means that we’ll no longer be seeing a Nokia-branded smartphone on store shelves for at least the next three years, as the Finnish handset maker is restricted to using the moniker on feature phones only.  (more…)

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5 Disastrous Product Launches Under Steve Ballmer

Ballmer Funny

Following the news that Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer will be resigning within the next twelve months, it is interesting to look back and evaluate the thirteen-year tenure since Bill Gates handed him the reigns. While profits and revenues have doubled and even tripled in some areas under Ballmer, he has also overseen a number of disastrous product and service launches over the years. We’ve handpicked five favorites ahead.  (more…)

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If Steve Ballmer Ran Apple

If Steve Ballmer Ran Apple

Steve Ballmer Head ShotBen Thompson imagines what Apple would be like if Steve Baller, who recently announced his impending retirement, ran Apple.

Bear with me, I know my premise is ridiculous.

Imagine Steve Ballmer was right now the CEO of Apple, with the same set of products and opportunities. Suspend disbelief about cultural clashes, or organization structure. Presume Ballmer could set the strategy, and that Apple would execute it accordingly.

In this scenario Apple would make more money in the next five years than they will under Tim Cook.

Thompson believes that Apple could be more successful under Ballmer than Cook.

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Retire Within 12 Months

Steve Ballmer Head ShotMicrosoft has announced that CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within the next twelve months, retaining his position until a successor is named. Ballmer, 57, has served as chief executive since Bill Gates stepped down in January 2000.

“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 Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

(more…)

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Two Days with a Windows Phone

Lumia 920 Windows Phone

In my quest to get the next iPhone (I’ve been a user of Android since the 2.1 days), I have sold my beloved Nexus 4 ahead of the rumored September 10 Keynote. I am not going without a phone, though — I was able to pick up a Nokia Lumia 521 for T-Mobile for only $120.

Having no experience with Windows Phone after years of using both iOS and Android regularly, I figured I would write about my experiences of Microsoft’s smartphone platform.

(more…)

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Microsoft Takes on the iPad Mini with New Ad

Continuing Microsoft’s recent trend of attacking the iPad in its advertisements, the latest commercial pits the iPad mini against the Acer Iconia W3. Who wins? Well, the fact that this is a Microsoft ad should give you a hint, though the Iconia W3 has not been well-received. Microsoft pundit Paul Thurrott wrote the following about the small tablet:

As the world’s first Windows mini-tablet, the Acer Iconia W3 is interesting, and a peek at the future. But its infuriatingly poor screen and surprising heft relegate this device to also-ran status.

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Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Revenues Are Less Than it Spent on Advertising

Blue Microsoft Surface

As if anyone needed further proof that the Surface has flopped, Microsoft’s annual Form 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that the company’s revenue from the tablet lineup was a paltry $853 million.

That number reflects an eight month period from when Microsoft launched the Surface tablet last October to the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The revenue accounts for sales of both the Surface RT and Surface Pro, although total units sold were not disclosed.  (more…)

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