Microsoft 2013 year in review: It was (almost) all about 'Blue'

Microsoft 2013 year in review: It was (almost) all about 'Blue'

Summary: Predictably, stories about Microsoft's 'Blue' wave were the most popular on my blog in 2013. But the No. 1 trafficked story might surprise some.


As the clock ticks down on 2013, it's a good time to take a look back at what readers of this blog clicked on most.


Before I saw the actual stats provided to me by the editors here at ZDNet, I was predicting that pieces about the Windows Blue wave would likely be among my most popular. I also expected one or more pieces about CEO Steve Ballmer's pending retirement might figure prominently in my top ten.

I wasn't too far off. But my most highly trafficked story surprised me, though it really shouldn't have, given how much e-mail I received on the topic.

A frequently-asked question post I did about Microsoft's phase-out of Hotmail and replacement of it with was my most popular post in 2013. While Microsoft did warn users that this was the plan, many non-tech-savvy users were bewildered by the change. They couldn't find their contacts, calendars and old e-mail messages. They weren't clear as to how and if they should try to merge their e-mail accounts and whether or not they could keep their Hotmail addresses. I felt like I was running a Hotmail help-desk -- complete with angry users railing at me (not Microsoft) for taking away their familiar interface.

Though this cut-over happened months ago, just this past weekend, I received yet another e-mail message from a Hotmail user who was worried that Microsoft was poised to try to "convert" her from Hotmail. The not-so-surprising takeaway here -- and this applies to Windows 8.1, too -- is most users don't like change. Especially change that they don't perceive as improving their computing experience.

Without further ado, here's a list of my top 10 posts (traffic-wise, not comment-wise) for 2013:

1. Microsoft's Hotmail phase-out: What's a user to do

2. Microsoft's Windows 8 Plan B(lue): Bring back the Start button, boot to desktop

3. Microsoft's Ballmer on his biggest regret, the next CEO and more

4. With Windows Blue, Microsoft may (finally) do the right thing

5. Microsoft's Surface 2 launch: What to expect

6. Microsoft goes public with Windows 8.1 upgrade policies

7. Bill Gates' biggest Microsoft product regret: WinFS

8. Here's how the new Windows Blue Start Button may work

9. Microsoft does away with stack ranking

10. Microsoft's 'Blue' wave is coming to more than just Windows

The next ten on my list included posts about Threshold (Blue's successor), Cortana (Microsoft's Siri alternative), the short list of Microsoft CEO candidates, and still more about Windows Blue.

The past year has been one of many surprises and unpredictability on the Microsoft beat. Here's to hoping 2014 is equally interesting. And as always, thanks for reading!

Topics: Cloud, Collaboration, Microsoft, IT Policies


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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  • Microsoft 2013 year in review: It was (almost) all about 'Blue'

    That seems kind of odd about the Microsoft Hotmail to Outlook switch. When I did it I had no problems. All emails, contacts, and calendars carried over. The biggest problem I had was updating mailing lists with the new email address. The next two concerning Blue and Steve Ballmer's retirement are both dramatic changes so its no surprise to see them listed.
    • I agree - barely noticed.

      I had to remember to sign in with a different login - full extent of pain.
      • Didn't even change for me.

        I had the same login, through and out.
    • I have a new alias

      but I still log on with my Hotmail ID from 1995, before MS bought Hotmail...
  • How About the Bigest gaft of ZDnet

    All those Window Blue(s) story that were pure speculation and mostly untrue; after the third pathetic prognostication post on ZDNet, I just want ZDNet to give it a rest until release.
    • Windows Blue stories

      Hi. Actually, I think the Windows Blue stories all turned out to be true. The timing, the return of the Start Button, etc. -- all panned out as sources indicated. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Ignore unsubstantiated statements

        Scatcatpdx might not be a troll but making overly broad assertions with zero facts/links to back up those statements is rather troll like. You have better things to do with your time then beat the trolls, that's our job :)

        You (and ZNet) have done a great job this year Mary Jo. Also enjoy you and Paul with Leo on Windows Weekly on Twit. Looking forward to a great (news) year in 2014!
        Rann Xeroxx
        • You ant to talk about unsubstantiated

          You may want to s search for argumentum ad hominem, because that the sum total of you argument. Show me a person call calls another person a troll without proof and I show a person who can make a logical argument in their comments.

          Now you as where is my proof: look at the dates.
          Microsoft's Windows 8 Plan B(lue): Bring back the Start button, boot to desktop-- April 2013
          With Windows Blue, Microsoft may (finally) do the right thing -- May 2013
          Here's how the new Windows Blue Start Button may work -- May 29, 2013
          This story was a real piece I quote
          “I know there are still doubters out there, but from everything I've heard, the rumored Start Button is going to be part of Windows Blue, a k a Windows 8.1.”
          “I asked Microsoft officials if they wanted to comment on my source's information. No word back so far, but I'm not holding my breath.
          Update: A Microsoft official said the company had no comment on this post.”
          Microsoft officials have said they plan to make a public preview of Windows Blue available on the first day of the Microsoft Build 2013 show, on June 26.”
          Now all these stories above and others on Windows Blue were made before Jun 26, meaning nobody had a copy and they were reporting on rumors and leaks, i.e. unreliable sources like a high tech tabloid a la National Enquirer. ZDNet should have the professional graces to get a copy at release time before churning out stories .
          ZDNet should had waited, that my issue.
          • On the other hand...

            reports like Mary Jo and Ed do a lot of checking on rumours, before they print anything. They might have been a few months ahead of the curve, but most of what they printed was based on fact from inside sources, who cannot be named.

            I'd agree with you, if they'd just printed a load of tosh that had no basis in fact, but unlike a lot of bloggers today, Mary Jo and Ed, among others, are 'real' journalists.
    • Could you point out which were untrue?

      • He Made His Case

        Not that I have to agree with him totally, but he quoted Articles and Date, etc. I think he has made a decent enough itemized effort to support that he can make a case for his viewpoint. Seems you just didn't read before you posted.
        • Given

          that Ndiaz posted 4 hours before Scatcatpdx posted his rebuttal, I think that is a little unfair.

          As to the listed posts, they were all based on information from reliable sources. That is what journalism is about, as opposed to pure blogging, which doesn't seem to have to rely on facts or verifiable sources.

          I agree, that a lot of bloggers spit out complete piffle these days, but Mary Jo isn't one of them.
  • Thanks !

    First, your job, standing between Microsoft and users is often difficult (i.e. don't shoot the messenger). Let's hope that Microsoft has received loud and clear the message of "The not-so-surprising takeaway here -- and this applies to Windows 8.1, too -- is most users don't like change. Especially change that they don't perceive as improving their computing experience."
    Finally, you should definitely ask Microsoft what their plans are for differentiating the WinTel experience from the Anroid/iOS tablet experience. Seems to me that providing more CPU and OS/Application horsepower (and keeping the prices and the energy consumption low) is the way for Microsoft to stem the tide of people leaving the PC platform for the tablet platform. Windows on Baytrail and Haswell are a start , but seems to me that more is necessary.
  • Keep doing what you're doing Mary Jo because... do it as well as anyone in the industry.

    Happy Holidays!
    • happy holidays

      No offense, but I tkink Mary Jo does it best in the industry. Cheers.
  • Good Stuff

    I'm not a Microsoft user, but I like to read news about Microsoft to keep up to date. You do a great job at that. Your reporting is fair even though I'm sure you need to be very careful in order to keep your sources intact within Microsoft (always a tricky balance). I wish you the very best for 2014.
  • Lets just hope...

    ...that the biggest takeaway from Microsoft in 2013 (and a bit in 12) is to actually listen to your user base and stop trying to ram things through that you want/need. Its understandable that MS needs to move away from the desktop legacy apps, its a 20th century way of doing things on a computing device. But MS knew, THEY KNEW that users did not like W8, Metro was confusion, the lack of start button made them lost, etc. Its the same with the XBox stuff they tried to pull this year. They has W8 preview out for months and had a mountain of data of what users thought but they totally ignored it.

    Heck, I went to TechEd this year in NOLA and have been to previous ones and personally I thought it was half-a$%, it was OK but there is no burning desire to go back. Now they have discontinued MMS and are shutting down TechNet. My company has looked into doing a SA agreement with MS and I am one of the pivotal people in that decision but frankly I'm not sure if I can support it.

    MS, above everything, needs to earn our trust back in 2014. Hopefully a new CEO will come in and he will help shave off a few degrees of arrogance from the company that has been on full display for the past few years.
    Rann Xeroxx
  • Reality check!

    It appears that commenter "jkohut" is substantially less than knowledgeable about the real differences between the MS/intel and Android/Apple iOS worlds, that actually account for the great disparity in sales and Apps support between the two.

    His comment "providing more CPU and OS/Application horsepower (and keeping the prices and the energy consumption low)" is exactly why Android/iOS are substantially outselling Microsoft, and probably why Microsoft cannot bridge this difference. The Arm based hardware was specifically designed for and has always been substantially more energy and software resource efficient than Intel PC concept mobile hardware designs, and both Android/iOS Apps repositories are growing exponentially, more than four times the size of Microsoft's even as it also expands. , but with little possibility of ever reaching parity.

    In regard to "price", how can Microsoft/Intel ever compete with the behemoths of Huawei and ZTE of China, who by their massive economies of scale and customer base - over 1 BILLION in Asia alone can and have announced plans for $35.00 features/reasonable quality Android tablets. An Indian company has already produced a $38.00 Android tablet for 500 MILLION school children there, and will sell it in USA soon. The recent China Mobile and Apple agreement is targeting more than 600 MILLION of their current customers for the Apple Tablets and iPhone 5C and even lower priced models for that market.

    These pending realities alone, much less other strong competitive (to Microsoft) ventures not discussed - Samsung/Intel Tizen-Linux tablets, Mozilla FirefoxOS smartphones and tablets, etc, should give pause to unreasonable speculation and false hopes of Microsoft fans of any illogical great gains in market share or dominance by Microsoft in the future.
    • A significant part of the point I was trying to make is that WinTel

      needs to make the extra CPU and OS horsepower DO SOMETHING for the user that the tablets cannot do AND that they need to charge less for the privilege of allowing people to use Windows OS and Intel Chips (especially the Haswell chips which perform better with lower CPU energy requirements, but are overpriced. Microsoft and Intel can charge less for starters to keep more market share (and in fact, I think they have already started to do so).
      Now, whether Microsoft and Intel chose to do that is another story. Sorry you felt I wasn't knowledgeable enough. Your statements seems to imply that there is no hope, my comments are meant to convey that if Microsoft continues on it's current track, without change, there eventually may be no hope. We may end up in the same place, but my viewpoint was an attempt at being constructive. Yours, not so much.
  • There was another context in which "Blue" was at the top of the news

    There was another context in which "Blue" was at the top of the news...

    "Blue Tejas"

    Greetings from Houston, the latest large US city to become minority majority.