#Microsoft

Tom Simonite on recent moves in the race to quantum computing:

It’s as if qubit technology is in a superposition between changing the world and decohering into nothing more than a series of obscure research papers. That’s the kind of imponderable that people working on quantum technology have to handle every day. But with a payoff so big, who can blame them for taking a whack at it?

So who is taking the latest whack?:

It would be more than just awkward if Willett beat Microsoft to proving that the idea it has championed can work. For Microsoft to open up a practical route to quantum computing would be surprising. For the withered Bell Labs, owned by a company not even in the computing business, it would be astounding.

It’s 2014 and it’s Microsoft and Bell Labs leading the way towards quantum computing. Crazy.

The worst work I did was from 2001 to 2004. And the company paid a price for bad work. I put the A-team resources on Longhorn, not on phones or browsers. All our resources were tied up on the wrong thing.

Steve Ballmer, speaking to Vanity Fair about his tenure atop Microsoft.

It’s a telling quote. A big part of Microsoft’s current predicament isn’t that they lacked the talent to do what their rivals did — it’s that the talent was directed to focus on the wrong things (or just as bad: the right things at the wrong time). 

Dawn Chmielewski:

Bose secured a league sponsorship deal that effectively allows it to elbow Beats — and any other rival headphone manufacturer — off the playing field.

Under terms of its agreement with the league, the NFL confirmed, Bose received a broad set of rights that entitle it to prevent players (or coaches) from wearing any other manufacturer’s headphones during televised interviews.

There should be a term for this nonsense. An “on-the-clock-block”? Just thinking out loud here.

This is a classic example of a company paying up so they can appear to be “winning” (or maybe more apt: “not losing”) rather than actually innovating and winning legitimate market share. See also: the NFL’s deal with Microsoft to use Surface tablets to block the actual and natural use of iPads.

David Pierce on Windows 9 10:

With most or all of those ideas undone or at least de-emphasized — when you use the touch screen you get Continuum, which adds some of the Metro shell on top of the desktop and turns on a back button – Windows 10 feels like a platform that hasn’t seen serious or meaningful change in eight years. Apps have gotten much more powerful and there’s a handy way to search everything, but when you pick up a Windows PC it may not be immediately clear which decade it comes from. It’s the best Windows 7 ever, but it’s still Windows 7.

Such a strange, yet predictable response to Windows 8 by Microsoft. Windows 7 was the de-Vista-ing of Windows. A return to Windows XP. Windows 10 is the de-8-ing of Windows. A return to WIndows 7. 

How many development years has Microsoft collectively wasted on these OS boondoggles? It’s the epitome of a company that wants to change, but can’t. 

Nick Wingfield:

With Windows 10, Microsoft wants to give business customers the opportunity to provide input on the software before it is finished, said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s operating system group. The product will not be released in final form until the latter half of next year.

What could go wrong with that approach?

While the removal of Steve Ballmer and the ascension of Satya Nadella has gotten all the headlines, the changes to Microsoft’s board in recent months also seems extremely important.

The board is now quite different from just a year ago when I wrote this post — they have five new board members and a new Chairman (John W. Thompson, who had been a board member, but replaced Bill Gates as Chairman last February). And that strikes me as a very good thing. 

I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.
Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, explaining why he sold his company and why he won’t be involved going forward — which, perhaps, shouldn’t be surprising at all.

As expected, Microsoft has announced the massive $2.5B acquisition. And good for them for saying they’ll continue to support all the platforms the game currently supports, including PlayStation, Android, and iOS (though, notably, Mojang itself seems to do quite a bit more hedging in their statement — saying, basically, everything is always subject to change). 

What I don’t understand is why people think this deal doesn’t make sense. It makes a ton of sense. Microsoft already has a history of doing this type of deal with Bungie amongst others. That deal made the Xbox. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that without Halo, the Xbox would have failed. 

But more importantly, I fully agree with John Lily’s take the other day: this is about access to the next generation of makers (developers, tinkerers, etc). More than once, I’ve been in a random place in a random part of the world and seen a kid glued to their phone playing Minecraft. 

That phone, of course, was not a Windows Phone. And it’s probably too much to hope that now it will be — that battle has long been fought and lost, even if Microsoft won’t admit it yet. But if Microsoft is thinking about this the right way, this should be about more than phones.

I’m just shocked they beat Lego, now the largest toy maker in the world, to this deal.

Ashley Burns:

Hell, the Microsoft Xbox even showed up as the sponsor of last Thursday’s NFL Kickoff Concert in Seattle, as Pharrell and Chris Cornell put on shows for the fans, who were undoubtedly hypnotized by the endless barrage of product placements. So you’d think that with all of that money spent on getting the Surface in front of our faces that the NFL would have sent out at least one memo to the networks to make sure that this specific sponsor was mentioned by name. If anything, someone might have written “Please don’t call it an iPad!” and emailed it to the announce teams.

If that did happen, Fox’s John Lynch didn’t get the memo, because he went ahead and called the Surface tablets “iPad-like tools” during yesterday’s Saints-Falcons game. Whoops.

$400 million well spent by Microsoft. It just goes to show you: you can buy placement, but you can’t buy mindshare.