Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

Summary: Here's a quick compendium of the latest on break-ups, HPC in the cloud and more Microsoft news from around the Web.

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A quick compendium of Microsoft-related news from around the Web that I haven't had time to blog in full:

CEO Steve Ballmer is still not buying the idea that Microsoft should break itself up voluntarily to become more agile. Ballmer didn't like the idea when Goldman Sachs suggested it recently, and he still doesn't, he told folks attending the Microsoft shareholders meeting on November 16. Ballmer made the case that Microsoft's primary competitors all offer plays that span PCs, TVs and phones, and Microsoft needs to maintain its current structure to continue to provide cross-group synergies. Ballmer also noted that some of Microsoft's products, like Office, are neither consumer-only nor enterprise-only (making it tough to do a split along consumer/business lines). Ballmer did note that whenever the break-up suggestion comes up, he gives the idea  a "proper, disciplined look."

Microsoft is adding Windows Azure support to its Windows Server High Performance Computing (HPC) platform. Service pack (SP) 1 for Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, due out before the end of calendar 2010, will add the capability to "burst" workloads to the Azure cloud. This seems to be Microsoft's HPC cloud play. I'm thinking there will be more coming along those lines once Microsoft announces officially its plan to make its Dryad distributed-computing stack available on top of Windows HPC Server. (A first test build of that capability was/is slated for November, last we heard.)

Here are more details on how HPC Server users can connect with Windows Azure, courtesy of Microsoft developer division chief Soma Somasegar.

Microsoft is still advising Windows Phone 7 customers not to use microSD cards that aren't supplied with their phones (even though some users have been trying like heck to do so). Here's the latest official statement on the matter from a Microsoft spokesperson:

“Windows Phone 7 does not support swapping microSD cards in and out. SD cards inserted into a Windows Phone 7 device are integrated into the device’s file system and are intended to be a permanent modification to the device. Once an SD card has been integrated into a Windows Phone 7 device’s file system, it will no longer be readable or writable on any other device. This behavior is by design and is intended to ensure a consistently high-quality and secure end-user experience.”

There's still no official word on which microSD cards can be swapped (as it seems some can be). Update: Sandisk is now listing Windows Phone 7 compatible microSD cards.

Microsoft has sold 1 million Kinects in the first 10 days it was available via retail. (Only four million to go before December 31, 2010, if Microsoft's predictions of 5 million by year-end hold true.) While the Kinect is a sensor for the Xbox, it's a lot more (to Microsoft, at least). It's one of the first examples of a natural user interface (NUI) from the company that seems to resonate with the public. It's also Microsoft's latest favorite example of company innovation.

The Kinect also is going to be key to Microsoft's Live and advertising strategies, going forward, as company execs told Wall Street recently. I also tend to agree with Forbes' Oliver Chiang that Microsoft's ultimate goal with Kinect is to cement the position of Xbox as an entertainment hub. I'm wondering whether we'll see Microsoft offer different hubs (PC vs. Xbox) to different customer segments in the future... or whether it'll be a contest between Windows Client and Entertainment & Devices as to which business unit becomes the primary focus for Microsoft's three-screens-and-a-cloud vision.

Topics: Operating Systems, Browser, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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21 comments
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  • Don't swap out Micro SD cards?

    Really? I thought the point of *removable* storage was to give flexibility by *allowing* the use of more than one card! For years I've been told how inferior my iPhone is because it doesn't have removable card storage. I thought WinPhone7 might provide me an option (Personally I don't care for the Android phones I've seen) but swappable storage is really the only big failing point of the iPhone for me, personally (I'm lucky enough to get good coverage where I live). If I can't swap out the SD cards, then they really don't help. Disappointed.
    use_what_works_4_U
    • It's all about Microsoft's Walled-Garden

      If Microsoft let you swap your SD card, then you may load apps that you choose (that's called 'side-loading' apps).

      By banning SD card swaps, they can ensure you can only get your apps from Microsoft's own app store.

      Welcome to the Windows Phone 7 walled-garden. Once you're in you can't get out.
      Vbitrate
    • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

      @macadam : WP7's strengths (if any) and limitations are slowly coming into focus.<br><br>We can split this problem in two.<br><br>1) Windows CE driver suite is very limited and hot swapping microSD will require a mayor driver overhaul which could allow the loading and unloading of file system features. Also, it appears that it uses a different file system from that common to microSD, so the contents will be unreadable by others.<br><br>2) Since WP7 was a 18 month development they had to do several tradeoffs on the road. Using SD as removable media will indeed mean that the media contents could change without notices which would need a complex filesystem monitor system, which CE hasn't and also the UI has no API for it. This wouldn't have been possible in that time frame.<br><br>Ironically, this tiny bug is just the tip of the bigger WP7 conundrum. While Android is based on a modified Linux kernel, which at this moment has several thousands of available drivers and mass media schemas, Windows CE is Windows just in name and the driver count is rather limited as the kernel is completely different. That's the reason there's no "HotSpot" WP7 phone like the HTC 4G. These things come natural to the Linux kernel, but are almost impossible on the CE side without a mayor kernel overhaul.<br><br>So remember. Windows Vista was to Windows XP what Windows Phone 7 is to Windows Mobile 6.5: an immature OS kernel, lacking almost all driver support with a fancy UI. The seven number was just a marketing decision and has nothing to do with technology.
      cosuna
    • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

      @macadam - there's a huge difference between switchable auxilliary storage and expandable storage - both of which are forms of removable storage.

      In Windows Phone 7, microSD cards are used for expandable storage - much like when you add an internal HDD to your PC/laptop's RAID setup.

      Why this setup? Because most SD cards are designed for large block transfer operations optimized for storing large-ish photo and movie files. Most are NOT optimized for high-speed, frequent re-write random access of many small files.

      This is a well-known issue that has yet to be remedied. Now that smartphones are vastly outstripping the IO performance of cameras, we'll start to see SD cards that support the kinds of IO operations required by computers as opposed to "write once in large blocks" camera-style IO.

      There's also a general assumption that most users won't want to remove their WP7 phone's back cover (and possibly the battery too) to frequently remove and replace their SD card since most of the phone's content is replicated to the user's online store and/or the user will gain access to content on the phone by connecting-to/communicating-with the user's PC/laptop/Mac.

      Again, this is deliberate, by design and a fair design decision considering the phone, the issues with SD storage at present and the phone's capabilities.
      bitcrazed
  • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

    I don't see it making sense to break up Microsoft either. As much as people complain about one Microsoft, imagine what they would do if there was three Microsofts. They would just want that much more to complain about.

    And the 1million Kinects, that is an awesome number. Remember people saying this was going to fail? LOL! You can't help but laugh at them.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

      @Loverock Davidson <br>Really? I've got to go and review Microsoft's Mission Statement or business plan as exposed in public filings because I sure don't remember "Minimize number of complaints." as being a bullet point.<br><br>Now I am not one to bow at the Entrepreneur Altar, but I can see an argument that with its strategy of technical advancement, some through development and some through acquisition, motivated, bright, independent and adventurous minds are absorbed into a bureaucratic blob that ensures nothing that really shakes thing up gets free. Because changing the status quo, when one dominates the status quo, is very, very scary. Break things up and give people the opportunity to dare to be bold.<br><br>Is living risk?<br><br>Of course, there are good arguments against that, including the riposte "Yeah, buddy, we'll be boring all the way to the bank, and, incidentally, danger and romance are way overrated."<br><br>The Kinects sold is a good number. I speculated that Microsoft was more invested in its success this quarter than in Windows Phone 7. No comments about that partnered product, but Microsoft collects on shipping, not sales.
      DannyO_0x98
      • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

        @DannyO_0x98 Yes, and 40,000 Windows Phones sold on launch...remember when I said it was going to be a flop?

        LOL I WAS RIGHT!!
        cyberslammer2
      • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

        @DannyO_0x98
        You are right, minimizing complaints isn't a Microsoft goal. No matter what they did the anti-MS people would complain anyway. So if you took Microsoft, broke it into 3, then you'd hear 3 times the complaints from them. Although I'm not entirely against the idea, because 3 Microsofts might be better than 1 Microsoft, but right now just the 1 is working like a well oiled machine. Plus its easier to standardize business practices that way. As for WP7, it sold out. That's a pretty telling about just how popular it is and how many people out there want it. And that is only on 2 carriers! Wait until the others get it. Any way you look at it Microsoft is doing very well.
        Loverock Davidson
      • cyberslammer2 is more like cybertroller

        @cyberslammer2 : your post again is laughable. 40,000 devices in one country on a single day. Do you know if that includes pre-orders ? Dont think so...happy trolling
        ricecube
    • Well...

      They should break Microsoft into three. After all, it'd give you three times as much to love! That must surely be your "happy space."
      zkiwi
    • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

      @Loverock Davidson : just remember that they *REALLY* didn't invent Kinect and nobody has ever questioned Microsoft excellent gaming area. It's at the par with Office. It's the other thousands of areas which add no value and cost a lot that are dragging Microsoft feet including Windows Phone.<br><br>Ironically, this is the <b>real</b> split Goldman Sachs is hoping for. Three Microsofts: OSs (Windows 7 and Windows Server), Apps (Office and Dynamics) and Consumer Electronics (XBox, Zune and--unfortunately--WP7 which is neither an OS nor a product)<br><br>BTW. Although Consumer and XBox are winners, am not sure the same can be said of the OS camp in strategic rather than financial ways, as I see them competing (quite unsuccessfully, if I might say) with their own creations in the past. Witness the huge installed base that is resisting the Windows 7 push. And the Server side is even worse with companies still using SQL Server 2005 and Windows Server 2003 with no hint of upgrade.
      cosuna
      • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

        @cosuna - FWIW, there is no <i>"huge installed base that is resisting the Windows 7 push"</i>.<br><br>In case you missed it, 2011 is the year that the majority of enterprises begin the exodus from XP and Vista to Win7:<br><br><a href="http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1427413">Gartner Says Demand for Highly Qualified Windows 7 Migration IT Personnel Will Exceed Supply in 2011 and 2012, Leading to Higher Service Rates<a><br><br><a href="http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/10/11-of-companies-have-started.ars?comments=1">11% of companies have started migrating to Windows 7, and 50% will do so in 2011, according to a new survey.</a><br><br>Enterprise upgrade cycles tend to experience greater latency and longer duration than consumer upgrade cycles. Most enterprises are extremely reluctant to upgrade their corporate database servers unless there's a really compelling reason to do so. Most businesses skip a cycle when upgrading DB's - so SQL2003 users will likely upgrade to SQL2008/R2 whereas SQL2005 users will wait until SQL2012. <br><br>That's just the nature of the beast.
        bitcrazed
  • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

    Quote:<i>"?Windows Phone 7 does not support swapping microSD cards in and out. SD cards inserted into a Windows Phone 7 device are integrated into the device?s file system and are intended to be a permanent modification to the device. Once an SD card has been integrated into a Windows Phone 7 device?s file system, it will no longer be readable or writable on any other device. This behavior is by design and is intended to ensure a consistently high-quality and secure end-user experience.?</i>

    If you can't take the SD card out, then what is the point? I mean if this is the feature that so many iPhone haters want, then this is even a step backwards from Apple. Users would be better off with a phone with larger capacity, than having a SD card that they cannot remove...

    Someone in the Windows Phone 7 department needs to be slapped up long side the head.
    Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
    • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

      @Snooki_smoosh_smoosh What he meant was once the SD card has been integrated into the WP7's filesystem, the card will be extended to be a part of the system. If you swap it out then the system will be corrupted. Another way to think of this situation is initializing a RAID disk array.

      And yes, of course you can initialized the phone again or format the SD card to use it somewhere again.

      The point is that you can use extend the capacity of the storage system by using a larger compatible SD card. But by doing so you also need to initialize the system and start over.
      Samic
      • Erm...

        So, a removable device now isn't. Ah well...

        That and some of the folk who had this happen to them have found that they can't just reformat the sd card. In fact nothing seems to bring it back to a usable state. Fun times
        zkiwi
      • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

        @zkiwi Yup, the SD card probably need to low level format to put it back to use:

        http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=840524

        That's why they've been warning people about this issue. So yeah fun time indeed.
        Samic
    • Agreed

      @Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
      sackbut
  • well that counts windows phone 7 out for me

    "once an SD card has been integrated into a Windows Phone 7 device?s file system, it will no longer be readable or writable on any other device. This behavior is by design and is intended to ensure a consistently high-quality and secure end-user experience.?

    ...really?

    so my SD card I've carried through a few phones over the years, I will no longer be able to carry on to the next phone, I'll just be locked into WinMo7.
    Er no... Fail.
    stevey_d
  • RE: Ballmer on why breaking up is hard to do (and more Microsoft news from around the Web)

    Oddly enough, if you look at some of the comments posted by employees at glass door, or vocal ex-employee's such as Scott Barnes, one would easily come to the conclusion that the company is already divided internally.
    PolymorphicNinja
  • W7 does not support swapping microSD cards

    How many ways you spell sucks?
    MS just invented a new one...
    theo_durcan