Marc Benioff is known to be a loud-mouth, talking about the industry from a position of expertise, while saying things that can be surprising. He once called out Oracle, his former employer, after changing the schedule for an event and canceling his keynote address, for producing and pushing an outdated technology. Obviously no one at Oracle was happy about this statement, and no one at Microsoft is going to be thrilled about his statement this week.
At Cloudforce, a convention promoting the use of cloud-based technologies, Benioff went a little off-script during a press conference and made some pretty blunt statements about Microsoft and their
soon to be released Windows 8. In specific, he said Windows 8 was not going to be successful for Microsoft.
Windows 8 is the gambit - will (CIOs) upgrade, or will they do something else? It's the end of Windows... Windows is irrelevant.
What Benioff doesn't seem to realize is that Windows 8 is an operating system unlike any other out there. It is designed with touch in mind, but to be able to be used with a mouse. It will run on Intel, AMD and ARM processors, meaning desktops, laptops and tablets. The OS supports new Modern UI applications as well as existing applications. Hundreds of thousands of applications have been written to work on Windows that enterprises already use that cannot be easily replaced by an Android app. It also allows employees who are generally unfamiliar with computers to use the same software on their laptop/desktop and on-the-go.
While cloud-based software is nice and can level the playing field under some circumstances, it is a lot more difficult to use when you are without Internet access. I believe there is a place for both basic mobile devices, such as the iPad, and sophisticated mobile devices, such as the
Surface, launching with Windows 8. The idea that anyone in the technology industry could think that there is no place for a mobile-friendly version of Windows in the enterprise market should probably retire because their judgment is obviously compromised.
On Wednesday of this week, Apple pushed out an "update" to Lion and Mountain Lion, removing Java support from all browsers installed on the computer. It also uninstalls the Java preferences application, as it is not needed to set preferences for a framework that is not installed. This leaves the computer completely unable to interact with any Java-based software on the Internet in its current state. When getting to Java software, the user will be presented with a placeholder, similar to a new computer that does not yet have Flash installed, that informs the user that there is a plug-in missing. To use that website, the user will have to re-install Java.
Yes, Apple is not preventing you from using Java on the computer, they are just making it a more difficult process. This is part of Apple's war on the Internet, which started with
Mobile Flash being absent from the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Unlike Apple's dislike of Adobe, which they are almost single-handedly responsible for being successful, this move has less to do with hurting a former lover and more to do with appearing to not be responsible for MacOS X's security issues.
Earlier in the year, Apple had a lot of problems with security issues, provided almost entirely by Oracles Java framework. In fact, Java is known within the software industry as a disaster when it comes to security. It is one of the easiest ways for an outside system to access your computer and take over its operations. Oracle had to rush out a patch to the Apple version of the framework after it was learned that there was a MASSIVE security hole, and Apple did the same, patching holes in the OS that were exposed through Java.
I believe that Apple believes that, without Java pre-installed on the operating system, that people will not blame Apple for future holes in software that they are forced to download and install themselves. My guess is they will also be able to get away with not patching holes as quickly if users are led to believe it is their own fault their computer was hijacked. This does bring to light more evidence that Apple's computers are not the Fort Knox that owners are led to believe. Until now Apples were only safe because there were only 8 of them in the wild and no one was going to spend their time writing any code for them, let alone malicious. As more people purchase the computers for their perceived security, they become bigger security risks. Classic catch 22, eh?
Last week's discussions apparently paid off and Sprint has announced that SoftBank will purchase 70% of Sprint for a total of $20.1 billion. This purchase now values Sprint at $28.7 billion, far below AT&T's offer of $39 billion for T-Mobile, the next smaller network. $12.1 billion of the total will be distributed to stockholders, while the remaining $8 billion will go directly into the new company to help capitalize expenses. The new corporation will be known as New Sprint.
There has been a lot of concern over Sprint's financial health, driven primarily by the
amount of cash they have sunk into their failing WiMax partner Clearwire. This $8 billion in cash could help them finally buy Clearwire out of the partnership, as well as help finance their own LTE expansion. This could be accomplished through standard network expansion or through a buyout of MetroPCS.
Clearly SoftBank is thinking LTE when it comes to this merger. Hit the break to see what their CEO has to say about the future of Sprint.
In February, Microsoft formally informed us we'd be seeing the
end of Zune. Rumors swirled before E3 about the company launching a new streaming service, which turned out to be Xbox Music. Then in late August we saw the beginning of Zune's shutdown, starting with some social aspects and other things being removed. Now, it is sad to say, but finally we have seen the official end of Zune, at least in any future operating system. Xbox Music will take its place, however, the software is a little different than expected.
Microsoft has put Xbox Music into full effect and the software is now available on Xbox LIVE and will be expanded even further once Windows 8 launches in less than two weeks. The most important thing to note is that Microsoft has made this the one and only all-in-one music service. Free-streaming radio, music subscription services and music purchasing options are all available in what Microsoft's corporate VP Yusuf Mehdi calls "one elegant package." Here's the scenario Mehdi uses to explain what he means:
You're listening to an Internet radio station at work, say Pandora, and you hear a new song you love. You quickly stop what you're doing and bookmark the song before it stops playing. Later, in the car, you open Pandora to look up the name of the bookmarked song, then you open Spotify so you can use your subscription to listen to it again. Two weeks later, you're thoroughly in love with the song, and decide you want to buy it so you can burn it to a mix CD you're making a friend, so you purchase the MP3 on Amazon or iTunes.
Subtracting the false idea of people making CDs anymore, he's got a point. How does Microsoft accomplish all of this for only $9.99 per month? We have even more details after the break.
Ever since Microsoft Surface was
first announced, the question that remained was "How much will it cost?" There were some massively different ideas, ranging from Kindle Fire range ($200) to iPad range ($830). I always assumed that they would premiere the RT version of the tablet somewhere in the middle trying to find the balance between the glorified eReader and the overpriced.
Today Microsoft finally answered that question when the
Surface with Windows RT officially went on pre-order. As I suspected, the RT models, which are identical in look and feel to the full Windows 8 models without the ability to run standard desktop software, started at $499 and go up to $699 for the top storage model. Let's break down the 3 available models. For $499 you will receive the standard tablet with 32GB of storage, but without the sleek keyboard cover. If you are interested in the cover you can purchase it separately for $119, or you can bundle it with the 32GB model for a total of $599. That takes care of the second price-point. Finally, coming in at $699 is the 64GB model, also complete with the Touch Cover keyboard.
As for the pre-orders, there appears to be no way to purchase the 64GB model without the keyboard, or to bundle the keyboard in any color other than black. What is nice about the RT tablets is the inclusion of Office. For no extra charge, Surface RT will include Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which is a pretty nice inclusion. You know the $499 iPad model doesn't have Office on it. For full details on the device you can check out our
announcement article or head over to the pre-order page and pick yours up now.
So, are you pre-ordering the Surface RT or are you waiting for the Pro model? Let us know in the comments.
Back in August, Best Buy had to
cut almost 2,500 jobs in order to save costs. This happened on top of the company shrinking to a smaller footprint as well as bringing in Verizon to try and save the company from an inevitable collapse. Online shopping from places like Amazon and CompUSA have put pressure on Best Buy and its associates (who were selling shoes the day before they started working there) to step up and deliver better service to justify its much higher prices, but they have failed at doing so. Because of this, Best Buy will now try a different approach at battling Amazon and will quite literally stoop down to the site's level.
During this holiday season, Best Buy has announced it will match prices that Amazon is advertising in order to keep business in-house. To take it a step further, any product that is out of stock at the physical Best Buy locations will get free delivery to the customer's house. We can also be honest here and say that Best Buy knows a lot of people come into the store to try out the products and then buy them online for sometimes $300 cheaper. This is going to be the company's attempt at keeping the customer in the store to buy, however they may end up losing more money than they gain if they don't get the quantity of sales to justify the new campaign.
It is interesting to note that Best Buy VP of consumer insights, Bill Hoffman, said that the concept of looking and then buying elsewhere, at least for Best Buy, is "material" and the company should "pay attention to it" but said that the number of times that it happens in his stores are "still very low." Perhaps he does not have enough insight about his consumers, because it probably happens hundreds of times a day at my local store alone.
At any rate, this holiday season will be an interesting one for Best Buy, as they are one of the few national chains left still selling out of ridiculously oversized stores. It doesn't help that they have sales associates who know less about the product than the parents of the
guy holding a spot for them in the iPhone 5 line. We'll see if this tactic is enough to get them through the holiday season and withstand the next year, but as we've been saying for a while now, it doesn't look good for that big yellow price tag.