This article was published on October 7, 2011

This week at Microsoft: Skype, Zune, and Xbox

This week at Microsoft: Skype, Zune, and Xbox
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

It has been a simply massive week in the world of Microsoft, and so this roundup is quite long in the making. We usually joke that there is much that we can’t cover in this regular installment, but this time we really mean it.

To combat that, this specific post will be a bit more compact, and summary, and therefore more inclusive than usual. For this week’s question, let us know whether or not you are going to use the coming Xbox television services.

Now, make sure that you are following TNW Microsoft on Twitter, and Facebook, and let’s get into the news.

Microsoft and Yahoo

  • Microsoft is looking at buying Yahoo, again. The good news is that Yahoo has lost so much market value since Microsoft tried to purchase the company in 2008 that Redmond is certainly going to be able to pick up the company on the cheap if it so desires.
  • In fact, according to our calculations, when Microsoft’s highest offer price is compared to Yahoo’s market value on the day the news broke, but before it became known, Microsoft has saved $1 million an hour by not buying Yahoo. Or, put another way, Yahoo’s market valuation has declined at 7 figures an hour since Microsoft made its $33 per share offer. Ouch.

Xbox + TV

  • As we have long known, live TV is about to endure a massive expansion on the Xbox console.
  • This week Microsoft rolled out a simply massive content line up with partners around the world. Content will come from Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS, Syfy, the BBC, and Channel 4. In other words, Microsoft has done its homework.
  • It appears that to use any of the services, a subscription to Xbox LIVE as a Gold member will be required. Whether this will spur more subscriptions, or merely keep the current crop online, it certainly won’t hurt.

Zune hardware is over

  • You have certainly known this for months, but the hardware side of Zune is dead. Kaput. Finito. And so forth.
  • Microsoft made this clear, then claimed it was all a mistake, then said again that it was true, then partially retracted it again. In other words, it was a PR nightmare. Someone should get fired.
  • What then is Zune’s future? It appears to have one as the music layer inside of every Microsoft platform. The re-tailoring of the Zune Pass seems to indicate that the service has some legs to it.

Mango’s rollout is smooth

  • In a shocking development, the Mango rollout has been more than smooth. This is nothing like NoDo. In fact, it has been so free of problems, that it almost feels like a different company is running the show.
  • Of course, Microsoft could hardly have done worse than the NoDo release, but the bump-free road is certainly welcome. As is Mango. Windows Phone looks all grown up.

Hotmail upgrades coming

  • Over the next few weeks, if you are a Hotmail user, you will be delivered a truckload of upgrades. Hotmail, in a bid to combat the rise of Gmail and to keep its crown as the most popular webmail provider, has some new things on the way:

Today’s update is cosmetic, and functional. The crucial new feature released is ‘Categories,’ which is the equivalent of Gmail’s ‘Label’ feature. That Hotmail lacked this for so long shows exactly how far Microsoft has fallen behind Google in this space. Still, the direct feature rip is welcome, as Labels are an important element of Gmail, and were much needed in Hotmail.

Also included in the update is the ability to ‘pin’ emails to the top of one’s inbox. This is a rather cheap way of copying Gmail’s Priority Inbox, as it allows for emails deemed important to not be lost.

  • Hotmail is an underdog in this fight because it has stagnated for years. Perhaps Microsoft can turn it around. Perhaps not.

Ballmer and Gates dancing

For your weekly bit of smile:

Skype is a go

  • And finally, the EU has given Microsoft’s purchase of Skype the nod. That means that the deal is a go. Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail Messenger 7 Professional powered by Skype is coming soon to a smartphone near you.

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