2011 Year in Review - Microsoft's year

A tour of the highs and lows of Microsoft’s year.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look at the year that’s been. In this post I’m going to take a tour of the highs and lows of Microsoft’s year.

All in all, it's been a very good year for Microsoft. The hits of 2011 include:

  • Windows 7 - Microsoft's desktop OS goes from strength to strength, with millions of licenses sold so far. Windows XP continues to be the dominant OS worldwide, but there's been a gradual erosion of this incumbent OS during 2011.
  • Windows 8 - Microsoft unveiled the Developer Preview, and while there have been some concerns related to the Metro UI, the new OS has been well received.
  • Windows Phone - While sales haven't been stellar, Microsoft is entering into a highly competitive market with Windows Phone. Microsoft has entered into a partnership with Nokia and while handsets have already started to emerge, the real fruits of this partnership won't appear until next year.
  • Xbox 360 and Kinect - The aging console is still selling well, its popularity boosted by the Kinect motion controller. Over the Black Friday weekend alone some 750,000 Xbox units were sold.
  • Android cash - 2011 has been the year where Microsoft has figured out how to pull in more than $440 million a year from Google's mobile OS.

But it wasn't all plain sailing for Microsoft. The company had problems with Windows Phone updates bricking Samsung handsets. The company was also hit by a mobile tracking lawsuit (the lawsuit was later dismissed). There was also controversy over how the new Secure Boot feature that Microsoft was mandating for Windows 8 PC could prevent users from installing alternative operating systems onto their PC. There's also increased concerns that the late arrival of Windows 8 might limit its appeal.

Microsoft - 2011 timeline


6th - Who here has had their Xbox 360 'RRoD' after using a Kinect?

The year kicked off with some readers claiming that the Kinect hands-free controller was causing older Xbox 360 consoles to die and display the infamous Red Ring of Death (RRoD) error message.

14th - LG: Windows Phone 7 "visibility is less than we expected"

Electronics giant LG went public with a statement saying that Windows Phone 7 didn’t spark the sort of demand that it expected.

18th - Intel to put Windows 8 on phones ... Wait ... whaaaaat?!?!

During a financial conference call, Intel CEO Paul Otellini discussed plans to put Windows 8 onto phones. Wait … did he say Windows 8? Where does that leave the Windows Phone ecosystem?

25th - Microsoft's secret weapon against the iPad is very, very familiar

Microsoft’s secret weapon against the iPad was familiar. Very, very familiar.

Microsoft was talking about Tablet PCs … again.

26th - Microsoft ships 2 million Windows Phone 7 handsets, no word on how many sold

Microsoft said that it has shipped 2 million handsets to carriers, but there was no word on how many were sold to customers.

31st - 900 million Internet Explorer users hit by bug - You're probably one of them!

All 900 million affected by a serious IE vulnerability.


1st - Yahoo! issues statement on Windows Phone 7 phantom data bug

A phantom data bug affecting Windows Phone 7 users turned out to be down to Yahoo! Mail.

11th - Nokia and Microsoft announce Windows Phone partnership

Nokia and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance to build a new ecosystem - around Windows Phone.

22nd - Windows Phone 7 update 'bricking' some Samsung Omnia handsets

Reports began to circulate that Microsoft’s first update for Windows Phone handsets was causing problems for some owners of Samsung Omnia handsets.

23rd - Microsoft halts distribution of WP7 update to Samsung

Microsoft halted distribution of the first Windows Phone 7 update to Samsung devices following complaints that the update left some handsets in a ‘bricked’ state.


3rd - Microsoft resumes WP7 update for Samsung handsets, but some users still having problems

Microsoft re-released its Windows Phone 7 update for Samsung handsets following an issue which caused handsets to be bricked. However, some users continued to report that they are still having problems installing the update.

3rd - How much did Microsoft pay Nokia NOT to choose Android? How about a cool $1 billion!

How badly did Microsoft want to avoid Nokia making Android handsets?

21st - Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

Microsoft took legal action against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over five patent infringements involving Android.


6th - Linux Foundation chief says battle with Microsoft over ... and that Linux is victorious!

Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin claims that the war with Microsoft is over, and that while Linux is ready to admit defeat in the desktop market, it has managed to outpace Microsoft in the server and mobile sectors.


1st - Windows Phone 7 update foul-ups continue

Windows Phone 7 users continue to have problems getting updates.

27th - Microsoft's next cash cow - Android!

Microsoft rakes in $5 for every Android handset HTC sells thanks to a lucrative patent settlement.


16th - Microsoft releases Kinect SDK for Windows 7 PCs

Microsoft announced the release of the first beta version of the Kinect SDK (Software Development Kit).


6th - Report: Microsoft wants $15 from Samsung for every Android handset made

A report claimed that Microsoft demanded that Samsung pay $15 for each Android handset it made.

11th - Microsoft: In a year, Windows Phone has gone from very small to ... very small

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used the keynote speech at the 2011 Worldwide Partner Conference to admit that Windows Phone 7 was still “very small.”

12th - Windows 8 will run on all Windows 7 PCs (and Vista PCs too)

Windows 8 will also run on systems that currently have Windows 7 or Vista installed on them.


1st - Windows Phone worth $600 million to Microsoft

Microsoft’s financials for 2011 showed that Windows Phone (and Windows Mobile) was worth some $600 million.

4th - Google and Microsoft trade blows in public over patents

Google claims that Android rivals are using ‘bogus patents’ to attack the mobile OS, but Microsoft offered up evidence to suggest that Google dealt itself out of patent discussions.

30th - By 2014, less than 20% of devices connected to the Internet will powered by Windows

Is the PC on the way out? VMware’s CEO Paul Maritz believes so.


1st - Microsoft hit with mobile tracking lawsuit

Microsoft was been hit with a lawsuit which claims that the Windows Phone 7 operating system tracks its users without their permission.

8th - Microsoft ropes two more OEMs into Android patent deal

Two more OEMs sign deals with Microsoft in order to be able to use Android without fear of being sued.

13th - Get the Windows 8 Developer Preview

Microsoft makes the the Windows 8 developer preview available to all.


19th - Windows 8: App Store will be the only source of Metro apps

Microsoft confirms that its App Store will be the only place to get Metro apps for Windows 8.

23rd - Microsoft confirms that UEFI 'secure boot' might lock out Linux and older versions of Windows from new PCs

If you’ll be wanting to install Linux or an older version of Windows on that Windows 8 PC, you’d better do your research before you buy.

27th - Windows Phone 7.5 'Mango' goes live!

Mango update headed to a Windows Phone near you!



1st - Do you STILL trust Microsoft to build antivirus support into Windows 8?

Is building an antivirus package into Windows a bad idea?

11th - Zune is dead ...again!

Zune was dead. Then it came back to life. Now it’s dead again.

18th - Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" update causes freezing and keyboard issues

Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 7.5 caused problems for some of its users.

19th - Ballmer: Android users need to be 'computer scientists'

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that people need to be ‘computer scientists‘ to be able to use Android smartphones.

25th - Windows 8 to increase PC production costs

ODMs and brand vendors squabble over who will cover the additional costs.

27th - 'Firefox with Bing' - You asked for it!

Automatically set Bing as your search default AND homepage!

30th - Microsoft: Android is standing 'on the shoulder of companies like Microsoft'

Microsoft: ‘Licensing is not some nefarious thing that people should be worried about.’


15th - Gartner: Windows Phone market share crashes

Market share for Windows Phone collapse from 2.7% in Q3 ‘10 to 1.5% in Q3 ‘11.

17th - Security researcher creates Windows 8 'bootkit'

Windows 8 bootloader security features bypassed.

18th - Barnes & Noble challenges Microsoft's infringement claims with 43-pages of prior art

Who would have thought it would be Barnes & Noble rising up to defend the Android OS from Microsoft.

21st - Microsoft puts Windows 8 on a diet ready for web delivery

2.32GB compressed down to 1.51GB.


5th - Can Microsoft beat Apple and Google and successfully 'appify' the TV?

According to Microsoft, this new Xbox 360 dashboard is where ‘a new era in entertainment begins.’

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