Tech Ticker: Ballmer says he broke up with Gates over hardware; Russia says 'nyet' to Microsoft

This week's headlines: Steve Ballmer opens up on why he split with Bill Gates and Microsoft, Russia cuts ties with Microsoft, and another giant of the early PC press passes away. Also, what happens to the @POTUS Twitter account when a new President takes the oath of office in 2017.

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Short takes and quick hits for the week of October 30 - November 5, 2016.


Ballmer says he and Bill Gates broke up over hardware

Posted November 4, 2016 7:30 PDT

In an interview with Bloomberg Technology, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says his push into the hardware business was the final straw that undid his relationship with longtime friend and business partner Bill Gates:

Ballmer, who was chief executive officer of Microsoft for 14 years, told Bloomberg Television that if he could do it all again, he would have entered the mobile device market years earlier. When he finally did, Gates and other members of the board disagreed, he said.

Ballmer, now owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, told Bloomberg Television's Emily Chang, that he and Gates have "drifted apart" partly due to a disagreement over whether Microsoft should make its own handsets and tablets.

[...]

"There was a fundamental disagreement about how important it was to be in the hardware business," Ballmer said. "I had pushed Surface. The board had been a little -- little reluctant in supporting it. And then things came to a climax around what to do about the phone business."

There's a bit of revisionist history in Ballmer's remarks. "I would have moved into the hardware business faster," Ballmer says, and he also notes that his infamous quote predicting that the iPhone would "never sell" missed the fact that carrier subsidies would hasten its success.

"I wish I'd thought about the model of subsidizing phones through the operators," he said.

- EB

Putin wants to push Microsoft out of Russia

Posted November 1, 2016 19:45 PDT

In an exclusive report, NBC news says the Vladimir Putin administration is determined to kick Microsoft out of Russia:

The Kremlin is backing a plan to rid government offices and state-controlled companies of all foreign software, starting with Moscow city government replacing Microsoft products with Russian ones, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official.

This week, Russia also blocked LinkedIn, the U.S.-based networking site that Microsoft is in the process of buying.

Russia has always been a nexus of software piracy, so it's hard to see Microsoft being tremendously bothered by this.

- EB

A "peaceful transition" of Presidential social media accounts

Posted October 31, 2016, 13:40 PDT

What happens to the social media accounts when a new President takes office on January 20, 2017? Here's the official word:

The President has made clear that a smooth transition between administrations is one of his top priorities, and digital is a key component of that effort. While much of the digital transition is unprecedented in the United States, the peaceful transition of power is not.

[...]

On Twitter, for example, the handle @POTUS will be made available to the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. The account will retain its more than 11 million followers, but start with no tweets on the timeline. @POTUS44, a newly created handle maintained by NARA, will contain all of President Obama's tweets and will be accessible to the public on Twitter as an archive of President Obama's use of the account.

In addition, the code for the We The People website is being open-sourced.

This is admirable transparency in response to communication channels that barely existed when Barack Obama took office nearly eight years ago..

- EB

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Bill Machrone, via PCMag.com

Bill Machrone, longtime PC Magazine editor, passes away

Posted October 31, 2016 12:10 PDT

Sad news from Michael J. Miller at PCMag.com:

Bill Machrone, who was Editor-in-Chief of PC Magazine from 1983-1991 and continued to write a column for the magazine until a few years ago, passed away this weekend.

Bill and I worked for Ziff-Davis, albeit for different publications on different coasts, throughout the 1990s. I had an opportunity to meet with him many times. He was knowledgeable, thoughtful, kind, and widely respected by everyone he worked with.

Ironically, his death comes only a few weeks after that of David Bunnell, who founded PC Magazine and then left to found PC World when the magazine was sold out from under him. Under Bill's editorial guidance, PC Magazine turned into a truly phenomenal business and the definitive source of information for technologists of the time.

R.I.P., Bill.

- EB

The new Windows developer virtual machines are here!

Posted October 31, 2016 8:55 PDT

Microsoft has released its October 2016 update of virtual machines for developers. These installs contain:

As with previous releases, you can run these VMs in Hyper-V, Parallels, VirtualBox, or VMWare. The evaluation versions expire in 90 days; fully licensed packages are also available but require a Windows 10 Pro key.

What's most encouraging about these releases is that updates are arriving steadily. And the broad support for virtualization platforms is also commendable.

(Apologies to Navin R. Johnson for the headline.)

- EB

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