An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Microsoft Employee Meeting: Told You So
I reported earlier this week on the supposed employee walkouts during Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's speech at the company's annual employee meeting. And I questioned the ethics of reporters and bloggers who used the anonymous comments in a single blog as their sole source of information for this supposed event. Since then, I've heard from three Microsoft employees, all of whom completely contradicted the anonymous comments, noting that people come and go regularly in these meetings every year, and that because Ballmer comes on last, many are simply trying to beat traffic. But now, the author of the Mini-Microsoft blog in question has updated his own post. And he also denies those spurious reports. "[It was] a very competent Microsoft Company Meeting," he noted in the update. "Love for Ballmer? People stood up and cheered and clapped for him ... As for people leaving: Yeah, people were streaming out. In small numbers. Nowhere near as bad as Bill [Gates]'s last company meeting where Ballmer started screaming at people to sit down."
With Windows Phone 7.5 Here, All Eyes Are Now on Nokia
With Windows Phone 7.5 now broadly available (check out my multi-part review and a TON of other content on the SuperSite for Windows), there are only a few Windows Phone-oriented questions remaining for the year. But none are bigger than those that concern Nokia's first Windows Phone handset(s), which will be announced at Nokia World in late 2011. Those few who have seen the device(s)—I got a very quick flash earlier this month at BUILD—describe the hardware as "spectacular" and "in charge," and act so genuinely excited that it's actually starting to rub off on me as well. But there is one other tidbit about the first Windows Phone handsets from Nokia: Apparently, they're named Sea Ray and Sabre, the second of which was leaked this week by Microsoft Canada. Note, however, that those names are likely code names and not the final product brands.
Nokia Sacks Another 3,500 Employees
Speaking of Nokia, the struggling electronics giant this week announced a second round of layoffs in its buildup to the Windows Phone transition. The jobs this time are in a Romanian manufacturing plant whose work will be moved to more efficient plants in China and Korea, and they join a previous set of 3,500 layoffs that were announced in April. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop described the job cuts as "planned" and said that the company would emerge as "more dynamic, nimble, and efficient challenger." Oh, and smaller.
Windows Phone 7.5 Developer Tools Are Ready
I'm not sure how I missed blogging about this previously this week, but Microsoft released the final version of its developer tools for Windows Phone 7.5 this week. Dubbed Windows Phone Software Development Kit (SDK) 7.1, these free tools allow developers to target apps and games for both versions of Windows Phone devices with Silverlight and/or XNA environments and using languages like C# and Visual Basic. Bundled tools include Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows Phone Emulator, Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Assemblies, Silverlight 4 SDK and DRT, Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Extensions for XNA Game Studio 4.0, Microsoft Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone OS 7.1, WCF Data Services Client for Window Phone, and the Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone. You can find out more about this release on the Windows Phone Developer Blog.
Antitrust Watchdogs Apparently Very, Very Interested in Google's Motorola Bid
Antitrust regulators from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) this week formally asked Google and Motorola Mobility for a second round of information regarding the former's attempted purchase of the latter. No word yet on what they're looking for, but I like to see the DOJ actually doing something useful these days, what with the Microsoft stuff being long over and Google being all dominant and belligerent and whatnot.
You Can Find Anything on Google, Except for Celebrities' Sexual Leanings
Google apparently used to offer a service called "Best Guess," which would allow curious users to—among other things—discover whether celebrities were gay or straight. I say "apparently" because I had never heard of this use until this week, when Google turned off this capability. Google doesn't directly explain why it has stopped providing this information—I guess that's yet another thing you can't find on Google—but the company did offer a vague statement. "Our algorithms analyze the top-ranked results for a search and extract best guesses for an answer to fact-seeking queries," the Google statement reads. "We're always experimenting with ways to algorithmically provide answers to different queries, and in cases where we’re not confident that the way the answer is presented to our users is helpful, we may change how those results are displayed." Um, right.
IBM Surpasses Microsoft's Market Cap, Becomes Second Biggest Tech Company
Even supposedly somnolent IBM has surpassed Microsoft's market cap, leaving the software giant as the second-biggest technology company using that very narrow definition. IBM is now worth $214 billion, compared with a paltry $213 billion for Microsoft—the first time IBM has been worth more than its one-time partner since ... 1996. Market cap is sort of a baloney way of measuring the value of a company, but whatever: IBM's stock has risen 22 percent this year, while Microsoft's has fallen 8 percent.
Microsoft One of the Most Sought-After Employers
At least it's not all bad for Microsoft: According to branding consultant Universum Global, Microsoft is the third most sought-after employer, well ahead of Intel (#5), Sony (#6), and Apple (#7), but behind Google (#1) and ... IBM?? What the heck is up with IBM?
One Prediction About Next Week's Apple Event
Apple will announce at least one new iPhone next week (there could be a revamped iPhone 4, as well), and although the rumors are all over the map, I have one prediction of my own. And that is that Apple will completely revamp the very much broken external antenna design that it saddled iPhone 4 users with. And that redesign will be present on the iPhone 5 and—if there is one—the "new" version of the iPhone 4 (which I believe the company will release at a lower price point). Beyond that ... whatever. The iPhone is yesterday's smartphone, and though it was fascinating when it came out, Apple has been surpassed by faster-moving and/or more innovative smartphone firms. Including, yes, Microsoft with Windows Phone. Deal with it.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Despite the fact that both of us were on separate trips, Mary Jo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast with Leo on Thursday, as usual, and it should be available for download by the end of the weekend on iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats. We were joined by Microsoft Senior Director Brandon Watson, who discussed this week's release of Windows Phone 7.5.
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