Unlike last week, Microsoft news this week has been scattered, forcing TNW to break its tested four category roundup. We apologize for breaking tradition. Aside: this weekly post is all your fault, if you didn’t know. It started as an experiment 78 years ago, but due to its popularity has survived each and every week since.
A new Microsoft
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This Sunday an interview between a Seattle newspaper and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laid bare not only where pricing of the Surface may land – $300 to $800 – but also the fact that Microsoft is no longer a software company, or at least that it intends to transcend that status.
What will Microsoft therefore become? A device and service company, Ballmer says. This means that Microsoft will become a software firm that delivers its products on devices and over services that it controls. Yes, that’s a sea change.
Most critically, it demonstrates that the lessons of Xbox and Kinect are not lost in Redmond, and that the Surface project is no small play. A few million devices be damned.
Bing on the offensive
Two Bing stories are out this week that deserve retelling. The first is that Bing is planning on targeting English-language queries originating in China. Why? They monetize at a higher rate. Also, I suspect that Bing’s ability to parse English is a quantum scoot past its ability to deal with Mandarin or Cantonese inputs.
Up next: Bing wants Safari users to come to its corner. To accomplish this goal, the company has come out aggressively against Google in a self-described ‘small online campaign,’ hitting it for the FTC fine that it received for tracking Safari users against its own promise to not. Will this drive Safari users to Google? No. Will it leave a sour taste in the mouths of some? Perhaps. That could help Bing down the road, when folks give it a trial shake.
Quickly: The new Windows Phone 8 lock screen will support both Twitter and Facebook. Microsoft has a patent for whacking phones to silence them. A Windows Phone 7.8 ROM has leaked, but it only works on a single HTC device. PayPal has brought an app to the Windows Phone platform.
Little things, yes, but we’re in a quiet period as Microsoft works to get Windows Phone 8 out the door, to carriers, and onto the handsets that will be sold this holiday season. Windows Phone 7.8, as a reminder, has no official release date or timing quite yet, so when that will land is anyone’s guess.
Internet Explorer patch: Live
A critical security flaw that prompted Germany to warn against the use of the browser has seen a temporary fix released. Microsoft also promised a security update out today. If you are on Internet Explorer 10, you are set to go. Everyone else, you might want to use Chrome until tomorrow, just in case.
The final note on this issue is that Microsoft drew praise from a security firm for how openly it dealt with the issue, informing the public, providing an applicable fix, and then a full update. It’s how it should have worked, in other words.
Office for Mac now has Retina support
From our coverage:
The Microsoft Office team has announced that Office for Mac Retina support is now here in version 14.2.4. This means that Office 2011 will now look sharp and lovely on your Retina Macbook Pro. The update is available today and you can get it by checking Microsoft Update or simply wait until AutoUpdate alerts you.
China, less piracy please
And finally, this week Bloomberg had a report out that detailed a request from Microsoft to China, asking that several of its state-owned businesses would stop using pirated copies of its software. These are firms with revenues in the tens, and hundreds of billions, by the way.
Claimed piracy rates went from 40% to nearly blanket, depending on the firm and piece of software. Office appears to be quite popular in its free, and illicit, format. This is an embarrassing moment for China, especially as election year politics put it in the cross-hairs of some politicians.