Microsoft

The Competition: Microsoft "Courier" Tablet

While everyone is waiting on Apple to unveil their universally rumored iTablet/iPad device next year, Gizmodo has just scored the scoop on what Microsoft just might be planning to counter it -- the "Courier" tablet.

Decidedly un-Apple in it's approach, with dual booklet screens, pen and touch input, and feel that's all organized chaos, it's also strikingly different to Microsoft's previous Tablet PC efforts (which were largely tweaked versions of XP and then Vista). Here's why:

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Microsoft Office Web Apps Get Tech Preview -- iPhone Version Coming Later?

Now this is something from Microsoft that we're really excited about -- Office Web Apps that take the traditional second pillar of Microsoft's business and launch it up into the iPhone Safari browser-compatible cloud.

We'd prefer a native Microsoft Office for iPhone at this point, of course, but a free (ad supported, though hopefully not with 15-30 sec. un-skippable commercials...) version online? That's a great "good enough for now".

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CEOh-Snap! Ballmer Publicly Ridicules Microsoft Employee for Using iPhone

As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was taking the stage for a private company meeting at Seattle's Safeco Field, he saw an employee about to snap his picture with... an iPhone. So, Ballmer decided to snap instead. TechFlash (via Engadget) reports he grabbed the iPhone from the hapless employee, began making "funny comments", put the iPhone on the floor and pretended to stamp on it, and then continued on, only to remind the employee he hadn't forgotten about him later.

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iPhone App "Learn that Name" Wins at Microsoft-Sponsored Event -- Awkward!

Learn that Name for the iPhone, coming soon to the iTunes App Store for $2.99, beat out 14 other apps and walked away with top honour at the Startup Weekend's 54-hour coding marathon. Oh, and did we mention the event was sponsored by Microsoft, held on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, and was the only app NOT built on Microsoft's platform.

Said or

whispered Startup Weekend organizer Clint Nelsen into the microphone upon announcing the top voter getter.

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Act Now or Apple Will Be the Next Microsoft Monopoly?

Could Apple eventually gain monopoly status in one or more businesses, and become as "evil" (or worse) as Microsoft was when regulators went after them in the 1990s? Windows pundit Paul Thurrott thinks so, and thinks it's time to act now before it's too late.

Now, Thurrott is an interesting dichotomy, well-balanced on his Windows Weekly podcast yet Dvorak'ian in link-baiting on his blog. He's pro Microsoft all the way, but has still been unable to find anything as compelling as the iPhone or iPod in their respective spaces. So, assuming we're dealing with the more even handed podcasting and iPhone-using Thurrott, and we're not just biting his baited link, his argument here is this:

until very recently, Apple was the underdog, and they've been the underdog for almost their entire existence. This creates a certain mindset, and under Steve Jobs especially, it's created a very aggressive competitive spirit. This aggressiveness is fine when you are literally the underdog, just as was the case with Microsoft early in its career and it was trying to wrest the PC industry from IBM, Lotus, WordPerfect, and other tech dinosaurs. But once you have a dominant market position, that aggressive behavior--so important for an up-and-comer--isn't just bad, it's illegal. It's just hard to turn it off when it's been part of the corporate psyche for so long.

His answer?

With this obvious comparison of two very similarly belligerent companies--Microsoft of the mid-1990s and Apple of today--in mind, I think the time has come to rein Apple in. To examine Apple's exclusive relationships with wireless carriers. To force it to open up iTunes to competing players, and its iPhone and iPod devices to competing software and services. If we don't do this now, it will only be more difficult in the future. All you have to do is look at Microsoft's never-ending antitrust saga--which has now stretched on for 15 years, involved regulatory bodies on three continents, and gone on far longer than its actual bad behavior--to see why it's time.

The problem?

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Microsoft Offering iPhone Developers "Buckets of Money" to go Zune?

Has Microsoft been approaching successful iPhone developers, offering "a bucket of money" for them to port their popular apps over to the new Zune HD platform? That's what Daring Fireball is hearing:

I got an email from the developer of an iPhone Twitter client. He was contacted by Microsoft a few months ago, with an offer to port his app to the Zune in exchange for “a bucket of money”. He turned them down, but assumes, as I do, that Microsoft reached out to the developers of multiple popular iPhone apps.

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The Competition: Microsoft Gives Devs Guide to iCloning iPhone Apps for Windows Mobile

According to sibling site WMExperts, Microsoft has released a developers guide for porting iPhone apps to -- shock and horror -- Windows Mobile.

Can't blame them, though, 65,000 apps via a unified, on-device store, fart apps and rejected apps aside, is a huge competitive gap to make up, especially when your previous generation was stuck in a Windows 95-style user experience.

Selfishly, we hope the competition helps force out those fart apps and get those rejected apps back into Apple's iTunes App Store where they belong...

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Microsoft Bing'ing it's Way Onto iPhone? Yahoo Enters 10-Year Search Deal

Yahoo! and Microsoft have just announced a 10-year search deal where Microsoft's newly re-branded Bing service will take over web searches for the venerable Yahoo! For its part, Yahoo! will get 88% of ad-based search revenue for 5 years and the ability to sell ads to some Microsoft search sites as well and limited access to user data.

Um, okay. Is that a good deal? Even if it doesn't face any regulatory or approval problems, the deal won't close until next year and then will take up to a couple of years to get up and running.

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Microsoft Stores to Open Up "Right Next Door to Apple"?

Either Microsoft thinks it's still April 1, or they really are going to open Microsoft Stores right next door to Apple Stores. Gizmodo provides the quote:

And stay tuned, because we're going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall. Stay tuned, just stay tuned.

Tuned to what, Comedy Central? We've made fun of this before -- and rightly so -- but it seems Microsoft is again entering a business just because Apple or Google are in it. And is that really sound strategy in anything outside a Hollywood parody? (Starring Will Farrel, 'natch).

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Apple Trumpeting iPhone App Store a Gut Punch to Microsoft and Verizon?

Was Apple's just released App Store announcement -- and Steve Jobs' remark about how difficult it will be for others to catch up -- conveniently timed to preempt Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference where, according to our sibling site WMExperts, details of Windows Marketplace for Mobiles are emerging?

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