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

Here's a quick compendium of the latest on break-ups, HPC in the cloud and more Microsoft news from around the Web.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

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.

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