An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Steven Sinofsky’s Ouster Is Just the Beginning
Just prior to Steven Sinofsky’s ouster from Microsoft—and no, he didn’t leave amicably—I had gotten hints that a major reorg was coming at the software giant. And looking back over this correspondence now, it’s pretty clear that removing Sinofsky was just the start. I think we’re going to see a major redrawing of Microsoft’s corporate structure in the days ahead, one that emphasizes cross-divisional sharing over the siloed independence that Sinofsky demanded. And yes, I do think that combining Windows with Windows Phone makes plenty of sense. Maybe Windows 8 Phone wasn’t such a bad name after all.
With Sinofsky, You Need to Read Between the Lines
With much of the tech world attempting to destroy his legacy, it’s perhaps understandable that Steven Sinofsky—no shrinking violet when it comes to proving others wrong—has taken to the interwebs to refute certain claims. But I find it instructive, as I did when he was at the company, to parse what he’s saying. For example, responding to the claim that he had lost a recent battle to control Windows Phone in addition to Windows, Sinofsky retorted in an online forum, “I never initiated any discussions to bring together the organizations/products you describe and no one ever approached me to manage them as part of Windows 7 or 8.” Interesting, as the claim wasn’t that he initiated these talks or even that anyone had approached him. I sort of assumed he sent a flunky over to Windows Phone and had them make the pronouncement. But whatever. The nice thing about Sinofsky being gone from Microsoft is that his many victims can now speak up. As one wrote in the same forum, “I was a dev IC during Win8. I ended up leaving because I thought leadership and product decisions were so screwed up.” He’s not alone.
Microsoft Sued for Surface Storage Flap
When you buy a 32GB Microsoft Surface tablet, it’s understandable that you might think this device would have something close to 32GB of storage. But since Windows RT is so humongous compared with competing tablet OSs—iOS 6 on iPad comes in at around 550MB, or a thirtieth the size of Windows RT—what you really get is about 16GB of storage. This has triggered a lot of animosity from early buyers and some mocking from those who decided to sit this round out. But it’s also resulted in a lawsuit—and not the first, I bet—from a California attorney who says that Microsoft’s storage claims for the device are misleading. "Customers understand the operating system and pre-installed applications reside on the device's internal storage, thereby reducing the total free space," Microsoft said in a prepared statement. But this suit is just the latest in a series of bad news for Surface, which has suffered from a lackluster apps collection and, most recently, reports of easily broken Touch Covers.
Experts: iPad Has a Better Display than the Surface
Speaking of Surface issues, when Microsoft launched this new device back in October, Surface engineer Steven Bathiche claimed that the technical sophistication of the Surface’s display meant that it actually outperformed the iPad screen, despite it having a much lower resolution than Apple’s entry. He said that the iPad’s screen reflection and the ClearType technologies in Surface would put the latter device over the top, despite the disparity between the Surface’s 1366 x 768 display and iPad’s 2048x1536 display. He further claimed that many people would “see more detail on Surface RT than on the iPad.” He said lots of things. But they were all incorrect. According to a DisplayMate display shoot-out, the iPad’s display significantly outperforms that of the Surface, despite having a more reflective display. The Surface display “is not as sharp as the iPad 3 or 4, nor does it have their large full Color Gamut,” DisplayMate concludes. That said, the firm was quite taken with the quality of the Surface display, and hints that the Surface Pro, which will have a 1920 x 1080, could be more competitive.
Microsoft Celebrates 10 Years of Xbox LIVE
Microsoft describes the 10th anniversary of its Xbox LIVE service as “a decade of entertainment,” but the cynic in me thinks of it more as “a decade of getting customers to pay extra for services they get for free everywhere else.” This is an indication, I think, of the popularity of the Xbox 360 and its Xbox LIVE services, and that their enthusiastic customer base is only too eager to throw money at Microsoft and would never even think about complaining about the obvious. (They’re like Apple customers in that way. Weird.) Ironically, Microsoft is offering Xbox LIVE customers a free copy of the game Wreckateer in celebration of the anniversary. Which is great, considering I’ve only paid out about $1,000 in Xbox LIVE fees over the past decade.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Earns a Stunning $500 Million in Just 1 Day
The Call of Duty franchise continues to steamroll over the competition even though the latest in the series doesn’t just leave World War II behind, it also leaves modern warfare behind and heads into the future. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 earned over $500 million in just one day, Activision reported, breaking the previous single-day game sales record set a year earlier by its predecessor, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which earned $400 million. This is the fourth year in a row that a Call of Duty title was the biggest entertainment launch of the year, and the $500 million figure makes Halo 4’s $220 million opening look pale by comparison. (That Halo 4 is an Xbox 360-only title is Microsoft’s fault, don’t blame the messenger.) “Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for Harry Potter and Star Wars, the two most successful movie franchises of all time,” Activision CEO Bobby Kotick says.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
I recorded What the Tech with Andrew Zarian on Tuesday and Windows Weekly with Iyaz Akhtar and Mary Jo Foley on Thursday. Both shows were very much about the Steven Sinofsky controversy and both included a few personal notes about why the guy won’t be missed a bit, so be sure to check them out. Both podcast episodes should be available soon, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
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