First a quick summary. Microsoft is considering using signed UEFI. They’re argument is that signing provides better security from root kit malware. That is agreed. The problem is once in place it locks out any other OS from installation. The court would then be in the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo to provide them. Will they? This could be a threat to Linux. A longer summary is here.
The real problem as the article mentions is that this is not Microsoft’s problem. Its the MFR’s. We are just helping them out by providing keys. Well yes, but couple that with their near monopoly on the desktop space and it becomes a deadly combination for other OS’s.
But there is a factor that few have considered. Salvage value. In the corporate space this is a salient factor in product selection. For the corporate space the average cost of a PC is about $400-500 per seat sans embedded labor costs. Corps refresh about every 4-5 years. CFO/CIO types consider that at the end of that life the PC has a 10% salvage value on sale to the secondary resale market. $50 bucks, so what? Numbers. A 100k+ desktop environment that most of the fortune 5000 have that translates to $5m.
So? Well the savvy CIO is going to take that $5m right off the top of the next refresh against the vendors margins which are tight enough already. That won’t happen you say! Wrong. That will and has occurred in the thin-client server market. Every project I have every been involved with the CFO types attribute $0 value to the terminals as they are useless in the marketplace without the server software and network.
Well that same consideration will be made by the CFO types when they realize they can’t offset the disposal costs with the salvage value. So they will discount the value of the deal right up front. Now on a $250m dollar refresh sale there may only be $5-10m gross out of the deal to begin with. So you could see why a company like Dell or HP might balk at seeing a exclusive signing deal for Windows 8 as a problem. Its in the fiscal numbers not the security.
Expect either the MFR’s will develop a common UEFI signing system or they will tell Microsoft no dice.
At the Office 365 launch, Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, gave the first admission that cloud data — regardless of where it is in the world — is not protected against the USA PATRIOT Act. . . . Frazer explained that, as Microsoft is a U.S.-headquartered company, it has to comply with local laws (the United States, as well as any other location where one of its subsidiary companies is based).
Though he said that “customers would be informed wherever possible”, he could not provide a guarantee that they would be informed — if a gagging order, injunction or U.S. National Security Letter permits it.
He said: “Microsoft cannot provide those guarantees. Neither can any other company“.
While it has been suspected for some time, this is the first time Microsoft, or any other company, has given this answer.
Or if not death, it will certainly move offshore. When the full impact is understood by companies of the exposure one may have to the Patriot Act in using third parties, cloud or otherwise, it will impact the overall situation. If its sensitive, no cloud. If the transaction is sensitive, no cloud. HIPPA for example has had some of the same impacts for not using the cloud. The law is so broad that one could not be sure that in using the cloud one is not infringing on the law itself. So caution has inhibited cloud use of medical data. Its the primary reason Google shut down their medical data efforts.
Consider this, right now there is a rush by many corps to move email to the cloud. Cloud based Exchange is a very popular item and is popping up all over the place. The reasons are simple, its a low value, high risk endeavor. Only bigger companies are willing to invest in the internal maintenance needed to keep it running. But, this just makes YOUR corporate email ripe for the taking by the FBI. Fact it makes it a cherry pick situation, and with the Patriot Act you will never know. The Act itself has gag provisions that would prevent a Microsoft from informing you under penalty of law.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.
Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning.
The purchase–which has been spearheaded in closely held negotiations by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, with an assist from top dealmaker Charles Songhurst–is a bold move for the software giant and its biggest acquisition in more than three decades.
The big price will give Microsoft–which has struggled in its online efforts and has lost billions of dollars for its work–a big brand name on the Web.
With Skype, which has been aggressively expanding, Microsoft will continue to lose money in its Internet efforts. Skype lost $7 million on revenue of $860 million. Operating profits, which Skype preferred to highlight, were $264 million.
And–let us not forget–Skype’s debt is $686 million. Silver lining: That’s slightly less than Microsoft’s Online Services division losses in its most recent quarter!
But, sources said, the concept is bigger than just money, including getting access to Skype’s 663 million registered users.
Which will probably explains why this was in development —
It’s nice to know that AIM and Gmail Chat (Google Talk) will finally become interoperable and the Gmail integration will no longer be necessary. Back in 2005, Google and AOL announced that “Google Talk users and AIM users will be able to communicate with one another” and two years later Gmail Chat integrated with AIM, but they didn’t become interoperable.
Now this is an interesting development. Not for the usual reasons either. Yes we will now see a minor telephony war in the alt carrier space. Good. But this is probably going to spill over into what is remaining of the old line telephony business.
A brutal features war will ensue. Followed by sub penny rates at some point as each camp attempts to steal market share. For Microsoft this compliments their Win7 phone platform by trying to build a community around the platform. Google is probably going to put renewed interests in their Gizmo5 acquisition. Google I am sure expected to utilize mobile as their new ad space genre. Well now they have the emphasis to do so.
Bill making moves it appears.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is continuing to sell shares in the company at a rate that might set off alarm bells for some investors. Regulatory documents filed Monday show that Gates sold 5 million shares on Feb. 3, and documents filed last Friday reveal that he sold an additional 5 million on Feb. 2.
The moves follow a year in which Gates aggressively pared back his Microsoft holdings. SEC records reviewed by InformationWeek show that, in the past 12 months, Gates has sold off a whopping 90 million shares—reducing his holdings of Microsoft common stock by 13%. Over the past two years, Gates has cut his interest in the company he co-founded by about 22% through more than a dozen separate transactions.
Many have predicted the demise of Microsoft several times over the decades. The last big assessment being during Netscape’s glory years of the early 90′s and MS’s being caught flat footed by the Internet. But Bill pulled it out. But now? –
Even disregarding Microsoft’s bubble valuation when Mr. Ballmer took over in 2000, the stock has been the proverbial dead money for a decade … At bottom, this is a corporate governance problem. Manifestly, the solution is not to let management keep stepping up to the plate with shareholder money and promising home runs that never materialize…
What the company should … do now is sharply lift its regular dividend and then promise to keep lifting it, so management will have to strain and push to reinvest in its core business while still meeting its dividend commitment to shareholders. Mr. Ballmer or whoever succeeds him needs to be placed under relentless daily pressure to distinguish between necessary spending on the business and pursuit of me-too products that don’t serve shareholder interests.
One big bet Microsoft should make is on open source, the tool of the underdog, a label that is coming to fit the Redmond giant.
Yes, Microsoft is increasingly dabbling in open source, but the company needs to get more than its feet wet. It needs to dive into open source head first.
Open source would pave the way for Microsoft to be more relevant on the web, as Mitch Kapor has argued. If Microsoft wants to compete with Google – and it must – then it’s going to have to significantly sharpen its web arsenal.
Forget loose distribution agreements for Drupal and better interoperability with PHP. Microsoft should consider acquiring Acquia and thereby bringing Drupal (and Acquia) founder Dries Buytaert into the fold. It should be looking for ways to aggressively woo the Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python crowd to Windows plus AMP and, frankly, to embrace LAMP developers for everything but Windows.
But let’s not stop there. Microsoft also needs to go deep on Linux. Yes, this is anathema to the Microsoft faithful. But I’m not talking about porting its applications to run on Linux, nor am I suggesting that Microsoft replace Windows with Linux as its desktop and server operating system. That would be madness.
In the former observation, this maybe true under Ballmer. Ballmer is less of a risk taker than Gates ever was. The Internet adaption being a case in point. Bill bet the farm with little realization if the switch would pay off. It did.
But this time around its a little different as the latter quote points out. This time in order to make a switch, Microsoft will be the underdog in any move to intelligent consumer devices. The high ground right now is held by Apple of all people. To get there Microsoft will have to leave Windows in all its flavors behind. That poses a huge undertaking and I doubt Ballmer has the insight to pull it off.
As to a switch to Linux? Heh. We suggested that two years ago. From a technical standpoint it makes sense. Tie in with all the IP work that has been done on the kernel and concentrate your uniqueness in coming up with a X11 based desktop that is for all the world a Microsoft product. The savings would be huge.
But there is a problem. In going there MS would most likely have to cut costs. I mean, anybody with any IT experience will tell their TAM that MSLinux is not worth the current going price if all it is a desktop layer. I can free from 20 other distros. So MS would have to figure out how to survive on 50% of its current income stream while porting all their apps to the platform.
Question is will they, can they?
We have been here before, many guises, many different firms. I don’t want it to sound like Microsoft is the only who has been tarred with this, there have been others. Its a matter of get a good price, sign the contract and wait for the deliveries to roll in. Never a thought to how it is achieved –
Showing Chinese sweatshop workers slumped over their desks with exhaustion, it is an image that Microsoft won’t want the world to see.
Employed for gruelling 15-hour shifts, in appalling conditions and 86f heat, many fall asleep on their stations during their meagre ten-minute breaks.
For as little as 34p an hour, the men and women work six or seven days a week, making computer mice and web cams for the American multinational computer company.
What to do? Well several things. Don’t buy MS accessories. Send Steve Ballmer a letter that you are aware of this and find it contemptable of their stature. Do the same to Best Buy and Office Depot two of the largest retailers of MS accessory products.
Steve Ballmer —
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Steve Odland –
Office Depot Inc
2200 Old Germantown Road
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Brian J. Dunn –
Best Buy Corporate
P.O. Box 9312
Minneapolis , MN 55440
Sometimes corporate policy forces these companies. Other times it is just the shame that becomes attached. Let your conscience be your guide.