Posts Tagged ‘ software ’


Customer satisfaction with Microsoft’s software — primarily Windows, but also Office — climbed slightly in the last year, illustrating that whatever misgivings customers have over Windows 8 has not reached the level of frustration seen years ago with the widely-ridiculed Windows Vista, a national survey said today.

Microsoft scored 75 points, up a point from last year, in the newest poll conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a consumer survey started by the University of Michigan.

Microsoft’s score, which ACSI has tracked since 2006, was back where it was in 2012, although still three points lower than its all-time high of 78 in 2011, when Windows 7 was at the peak of popularity.

On the bright side, this year’s score was six points higher than the record low of 69 in 2008, when ACSI attributed the poor polling results to customers’ disgust with Vista, the 2007 operating system typically judged a huge flop in the marketplace.

Last year, when Microsoft’s score dropped a point, David VanAmburg, managing director of ACSI, said it was too early to blame Windows 8, the OS that came out the gate in October 2012 to a rocky reception from reviewers and pundits. Instead, VanAmburg said last year to wait: If the score flattened or fell another point or two, then it would be fair to indict Windows 8.

That didn’t happen.

“Windows 8 doesn’t seem to be anything of great concern to consumers,” said VanAmburg in an interview today. “Windows 8 is still behind the numbers during Windows 7’s time three years ago, but there’s not much evidence that it’s dragging Microsoft down.”

Many observers have disagreed, citing customer confusion over Windows 8’s dual user interfaces (UIs) and its over-emphasis on touch, then linking those criticisms to the slow-down in PC sales.

“Windows 8 doesn’t seem to be the drag that Vista was, but on the other hand, it doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor that Windows 7 had,” VanAmburg countered.

Microsoft’s latest satisfaction score lagged behind the average for all computer software, which was 76, and a separate category of “All Others.” That category represents a bucket of major vendors like Intuit, Adobe and major antivirus vendors — about the only software makers with a large enough user base to be credible subjects of ACSI’s survey — that scored 77, one point higher than 2013. Like the Microsoft score, All Others rebounded to the level of 2012, but remained several points below its high-water year of 2011.

“The stability of [the ‘Computer Software’ category, with its score of 76] clearly shows that traditional software has lost some of its luster,” said VanAmburg. “People increasingly own multiple mobile devices, phones and tablets, where there are gigantic app stores. Consumers are amazed at the high quality of those mobile apps and their low prices, and in turn that makes traditional computer software, which costs $30, $40, $50 or more, seem to pale in comparison.

“Computer software is not the future, and not where things are going to be,” VanAmburg added.

He also said that the decline in PC sales, more accurately, the reason why PC sales have slumped, contributed to the more-or-less stable scores of Microsoft and All Others over the last three years.

“Part of the lack of an improvement in the scores is a result of people spending less time on traditional devices,” VanAmburg said. “Frankly, the technology is pushing us in that direction. More people are cutting the cord by going mobile. And I don’t see that changing. It’s part of the continuing evolution in technology from bigger, bulkier machines to smaller, more mobile devices.”

It may not be a coincidence that “Peak PC,” the year when personal computer shipments crested, was 2011 — the same year that saw the highest satisfaction scores for all three software categories measured by ACSI.

The ACSI survey scores were based on polls of more than 12,000 Americans between Jan. 13 and March 11.

 


 

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The company suffers in comparison to the same period last year, but sales of tablets and Windows help it beat expectations

Microsoft’s profit dropped and its revenue was almost flat in its third fiscal quarter, during which the company replaced Steve Ballmer with Satya Nadella as CEO.

Revenue came in at US$20.40 billion, down slightly from $20.49 billion in the same quarter last year. Net income was $5.7 billion, or $0.68 per share, down from $6.1 billion, or $0.72 per share.

However, Microsoft’s revenue matched the forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters and exceeded their earnings-per-share estimate by $0.05. Sales growth for tablets and Windows helped Microsoft’s results.

On a pro forma basis, which excludes certain one-time items, revenue increased 8 percent and earnings per share rose 5 percent.

“I sum up this quarter in two words: execution and transition,” Nadella said on a conference call to discuss the results. “We delivered solid financial results and we took several steps to reorient Microsoft.”

Nadella was appointed CEO in early February, before the quarter was halfway through, and sounded upbeat on his first earnings call since taking over.

He said the results reflect Microsoft’s strengths and opportunities in a “mobile-first, cloud-first world,” a phrase he has used constantly since becoming CEO.

Keeping the staff and products focused on that idea is one of his priorities, he said on Thursday.

Asked on the call if any significant strategy changes are in the works, Nadella didn’t mention any particular area but said his philosophy is to have the company on a continuous cycle of planning and execution, and to revise plans as frequently as needed based on the market.

“We’ve picked up the pace on asking the hard questions,” he said.

Nadella said he was particularly satisfied with the adoption of Microsoft cloud services, which he considers key for the company’s long-term outlook.

He cited recent moves to boost the Office and Windows franchises, such as the launch of Office for the iPad, the update to Windows 8.1, the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade and the decision to license Windows for free to hardware vendors making smartphones and tablets with screens smaller than 9 inches.

The shift from PCs to mobile creates opportunities for Windows and Office, according to Nadella, but requires a different approach to licensing, pricing and technology.

“We are committed to ensuring that our cloud services are available across all device platforms that people use. We are delivering a cloud for everyone on every device,” he said.

The Devices and Consumer division’s revenue grew by 12 percent to $8.30 billion, while gross margin fell 1 percent to $4.71 billion. Some highlights were a 4 percent revenue increase in Windows OS sales to hardware vendors, and a 50 percent increase in Surface tablet revenue, to $500 million.

Windows sales to hardware vendors weren’t uniform. The regular consumer version of Windows saw revenue drop 15 percent, while Windows Pro, which ships with business PCs, posted a 19 percent gain. Microsoft attributed that growth to strong sales in developed markets and in enterprises, and higher penetration in small and midsized businesses.

Microsoft also highlighted that Office 365 Home, the subscription-based version of Office for consumers, ended the quarter with 4.4 million subscribers, almost 1 million more than in the previous quarter, and that Bing’s search ad revenue went up 38 percent.

Despite that spike in search ads, total online ad revenue was up only 16 percent, crimped by a 24 percent drop in display ad sales.

Revenue for the traditional Office suite, sold via perpetual licenses, rose 15 percent, thanks primarily to sales in Japan. Combined with Office 365 Home sales, revenue for those consumer-focused versions of Office increased 28 percent. Microsoft cited the April 8 end-of-support deadline for Windows XP for spurring sales of Windows and Office.

The Hardware segment of the Devices and Consumer division had revenue growth of 41 percent, reaching $1.97 billion and driven by Xbox and Surface. Microsoft sold 2 million Xboxes during the quarter, and the Xbox business had revenue growth of 45 percent.

The Commercial division’s revenue rose on a pro forma basis by 7 percent to $12.23 billion, and gross margin rose 6 percent to $9.91 billion. The division’s performance was helped by a more-than-100-percent revenue increase from Office 365, the cloud and subscription suite of server and desktop productivity applications for businesses, and by a 150 percent hike in revenue from the Azure cloud platform services. Overall, the Commercial division’s cloud revenue more than doubled.

Other highlights from the Commercial division include an 11 percent revenue increase in Windows volume licensing for business customers and “double-digit” revenue growth for on premises collaboration and communication server products Lync, SharePoint and Exchange, as well as for the SQL Server database and Windows Server OS. Taken together, on-premises server products had a revenue increase of 10 percent. Revenue from traditionally licensed Office was up 6 percent.

Microsoft estimates that about 90 percent of enterprise desktop PCs worldwide now run either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Overall gross margin rose 3 percent during the quarter to $14.5 billion, while operating expense grew 2 percent to $7.5 billion. Microsoft expects to include in its next quarterly report the impact of its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s devices business.


 

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Author of Modern Seinfeld hired to write for Fox’s ‘Us & Them’

Some of us felt within its first 24 hours that the author or authors behind a novelty Twitter account called Modern Seinfeld were funny enough to write for a real sitcom.

Turns out we were right, as The Hollywood Reporter says the Fox sitcom “Us & Them” has added former BuzzFeed writer Jack Moore to its writing staff based at least in part on Moore’s contributions to the Seinfeld Twitter account.

Moore tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Twitter account was “uniquely positioned” to help him. “I was basically pitching storylines, which is a huge part of being on a writing staff. Here’s 400 [of them] that illustrated a skill set.”

The premise of Modern Seinfeld is simple: What if the TV sitcom Seinfeld had never gone off the air? Hilarity ensues.
(Geek-Themed Meme of the Week Archive)

When I wrote about Modern Seinfeld last December it was less than a day old and had already attracted 28,000 followers. Today it has 619,000.

And has landed one writer one job.


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As I wrote last week I have been on a quest for a new laptop. I quickly realized that convertibles were not yet ready for primetime in my price range (sub $1,000), so instead I decided that I would get a touchscreen model to fully utilize the Windows 8 interface. Finding the perfect machine for me took a lot of shopping, reading and testing, but I am happy to report I have a new machine that will hopefully last me for the next 18 to 24 months. I bought a VAIO Fit 14. Why did I choose this one? Let me tell you.

My VAIO sports an i7 Intel Core CPU, it has 8GB of RAM, a 750GB (would you believe I wrote MB at first and then realized I was using 2001 specs) traditional hard drive and an 8GB SSD. It also has a DVD-RW drive and a slick 14-inch touchscreen. The screen sports a 1600×900 HD display with an Intel HD 4000 on-board graphics system. It also has USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, wireless and an SD card reader. The keyboard is the Mac-like chicklets with backlighting. The computer is housed in a slick brushed aluminum case. Taken in total, it is a really nice package.

While the size is not quite netbook or as small as some of the other Ultrabooks I looked at, it is much smaller than my previous Toshiba 15.6-inch screen model. The brushed aluminum gives it a rich, solid look. The keyboard is a pleasure to type on compared to my mushy Toshiba keyboard.

Most of all, the touchscreen is a pleasure. I have used a tablet and my Samsung Galaxy S4 has a big screen, but using Windows 8 on a screen this size is really nice. The live tiles are really live. But just scrolling web pages with your finger is a hell of a lot easier than using a mouse or touchpad. I really like the ease of touchscreen and don’t know if I will ever be able to go back to a mouse or touchpad. It is a game changer. Before you knock Windows 8, you really need to play with it on a touchscreen to appreciate it.

With the touchscreen I am using the tile interface much more than my desktop, compared to my previous Windows 8 machine. I also have downloaded several apps from the still underpopulated Windows app store.

This is the third time I have loaded a Windows 8 machine up with all of the software I use. By now I am pretty good at it. It only took me most of the first night I had the machine and it was fully loaded. Using Windows Office 365, which you can install on up to 5 machines, is great. I gave my old machine to my wife and leaving Office on there while installing it on my new machine still leaves me with three more installs. I didn’t get any extra software on my laptop. Besides Windows 8 it came with some Sony software for movies and sound, but that was about it.

I bought my new laptop in a Sony store. Yes, that is right, the Sony store in the mall. I looked at all of the computer-type stores around town, looked online, but at the end of the day the Sony store had the best selection of Sony machines and the prices were the same as online and even cheaper than what I saw in the computer stores. In many of the computer stores they were showing older models that were a little cheaper, but the Sony store had the newest models at a good price. I was able to get mine for $999.99. Right at my $1,000 dollar limit.

I have been using it now for about four or five days. I love it. I know a lot of people knock Sony for not coming up with anything groundbreaking since the first Playstation or the Walkman before that, but Sony is the original Apple. Its products are designed well, the quality is evident throughout, and they just look nice.

I was hesitant because I remember when VAIOs were plagued with problems. But the reviews that I have seen recently seem to be very positive for the most part. At this point I would give the machine a high recommendation.

For me, though, the clincher was the reaction of other geeks. When they saw the machine, I got lots of oohs and aahhs. They liked using the touchscreen and really liked the look of my new computer. Already, two of my friends have said they are going out to get the same one.

I would have liked a total SSD drive, but I need more than the 128GB that comes in this class of machine. A friend of mine recently bought a laptop with twin 512GB SSD, but it set him back a pretty penny and it was not a touchscreen. For me, this hybrid of a traditional big HD with a small SSD works just fine.

So, now that I only paid a thousand dollars for my laptop, I have $500 set aside for my tablet. My HP Touchpad is beyond repair. I think the hard drive gave out or something. Anyway, I almost bought the new Sony tablet, but chickened out when I read a review that said it was slightly slower than some of the leading players in its class. So my quest for the next tablet goes on. But my search for the perfect laptop is over for now anyway.


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Band to help Microsoft open more retail outlets, one right down the street

The radio ad caught my attention: Microsoft is opening a retail store in the nearby Natick Mall on June 8 and the ceremonies will be followed by a free concert that evening by … Weezer?

Really?

I shouldn’t have been surprised, as it turns out that Weezer has been Microsoft’s house band of sorts for going on two decades. The mall store openings appear to be a steady gig; for example, there was one Sept. 29 in Newark, Del., and shows are planned in Portland, Ore., June 21 and Schaumburg, Ill. June 22.

But a look at the band’s Wikipedia page showed me something about the Microsoft/Weezer relationship that was genuinely surprising: It dates back to Windows 95, the installation CD for which includes Weezer’s most famous music video, “Buddy Holly.” You’ll remember that video as the one where the band plays at Arnold’s Drive-in Diner from the TV show Happy Days, which ended its decade-long run in 1984. And, of course, a clip of that installation CD can be found on YouTube.

 


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Learning curve, satisfaction with Windows 7 cited by experts

Widespread Windows 8 adoption by businesses is years away, primarily because it is so different from Windows 7 that the learning curve for end users will be a nightmare, experts say.

Gartner says in a report coming out later this week that 90% of enterprises will bypass wholesale deployment of Windows 8 at least through 2014.

A desktop consultant to businesses says he doesn’t expect to recommend Windows 8 to customers for a year or two. “There’s nothing for the task worker that Windows 8 is going to improve on,” says Pete Lee, Engagement Manger of SWC Technologies, a software development and desktop consulting firm in Oak Brook, Ill., which is a Microsoft Gold Partner.

The difficulties stem from the many small ways Windows 7 differs from Windows 8, says Georges Khairallah, a network specialist at the Chino Valley Unified School District in Chino Valley, Calif., who has been using Windows 8 for weeks to administer his network. While the differences didn’t affect him adversely, he thinks they would have a crippling effect on end users.

“It’s going to be traumatic, I think,” he says, “especially if the organization doesn’t have an excellent training program for users.”

That doesn’t mean the new operating system won’t have immediate niche applications that make it worth deploying to certain segments of employees, particularly among mobile workers and in cases where navigating by touchscreen is important, Lee says.

He thinks there are good reasons for certain types of jobs to be supported by Windows 8, and he can see Windows 8 being deployed more widely in businesses with large sales and marketing staffs that are mobile.

The operating system could prove valuable to remote and traveling workers who in addition to doing work on portable Windows 8 machines would use them for personal business and entertainment as well. The Windows 8 machine could serve the purpose of a business laptop as well as a notebook for work and a personal tablet used for messaging, music, games that would otherwise call for a separate device, he says.

He could see a business deploying Windows 8 for such workers while keeping Windows 7 on traditional desktops to avoid training as well as the costs of deploying new operating systems and the hardware upgrades that it might require.

Lee says he plans to suggest Windows 8 in work environments where many workers share the same machine, such as in laboratories where many technicians need to access data or libraries where patrons search for books. The touchscreen would be convenient for such tasks and wouldn’t eat up space that would be needed for keyboards and mice, making for a less cluttered work area, he says The touchscreen aspects of the operating system are not well suited to corporate desktops, he says. Deploying Windows 8 with full functionality would require touchscreen monitors but wouldn’t improve productivity of workers who use traditional desktops, and the monitors alone represent a heavy investment, he says.

Deploying Windows 8 without touchscreen and having users work in traditional desktop mode would be an unwarranted expense that would gain minimal new functionality, he says.

Compounding the problem is that many enterprises are still deploying Windows 7 as an upgrade from Windows XP, which Microsoft stops supporting next spring. Khairallah says his organization is in the midst of that and it hasn’t been easy. “Going from XP to Windows 7 was horrible,” he says.

He says it makes more sense to wait for Windows 8 to be sold with home computers and let workers get used to it. “Let them have the learning curve on their own time and after that start deploying it slowly,” he says. “I really don’t see it going mainstream right away,” he says.


 

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The Microsoft UK team has put together Microsoft Wave, and it’s not a new release of Windows Live, nor is it a competitor to Google Wave. It’s a Web portal that showcases cool new technology that the company is involved in. The site shows off the latest developments and products and breaks them up unevenly into five categories:

Hardware
Entertainment: Xbox 360 Project Natal, Microsoft Mediaroom, Microsoft Surface, and Xbox 360 Elite
PCs & Accessories: Windows PC Selector, Arc Mouse, Natural Wireless Laser Mouse, LifeCam NX-3000, and Sidewinder X6 Keyboard
Mobile: Windows Mobile Devices, Microsoft Tag, and Windows Live for Mobile

Software
Online Services: Live Mesh, Internet Explorer 8, Office Live Workspace, and Office Live Small Business
Featured: Dreamspark, WorldWide Telescope, DeepZoom Composer, Photosynth, pptPLEX for Powerpoint, Songsmith, and AutoCollage
Gaming: Halo Wars, Ninja Blade, Gears of War 2, Banjo Kazzooie: Nuts and Bolts, Flight Simulator X Deluxe, Age of Empires III: Gold Edition, and Zoo Tycoon 2:
Learn
Office: Microsoft Office Templates, Office Clip Art, Office Live Workspace, and Office Live Small Business
Design: Expression Blend, Expression Media, Expression Web, and Expression Encoder
Developer: Silverlight, Kodu, Expression super Preview, XNA Creators Club, Dreamspark, and MSDN Developer Centers
Videos: I’m a PC, Office 2010, and Project Natal

While it’s interesting to see how Microsoft has decided to divvy up its products, tools, and resources, there is quite a lot missing. Most notably, Windows 7 is nowhere to be found. The site definitely shows some flair: Microsoft is in dire need of showcasing many of the things that it does as much of it goes unnoticed. Still, this just seems like yet another Microsoft website that will fall by the wayside as it’s just adding to the clutter. There are way too many Microsoft websites that overlap, and even though Microsoft Wave is pretty spiffy, it isn’t helping with the confusion.

Everybody is busy these days, and inevitably should we decide to advance our future prospects, taking a course alongside a job is the only option open to us. Certified training from Microsoft can be the way to do it. In addition, you may like to talk in detail on the sort of careers to be had when you’ve finished studying, and which personalities those jobs may be appropriate for. Many people like to discuss what they might be good at. Ensure your course is matched to your needs and abilities. A reputable training company will ensure that your training track is relevant to the status you wish to achieve.
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Any program that you’re going to undertake must provide a properly recognised qualification as an end-result – and not a worthless ‘in-house’ diploma – fit only for filing away and forgetting. If the accreditation doesn’t feature a big-hitter like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco or CompTIA, then chances are it will have been a waste of time – because it won’t give an employer any directly-useable skills.

Don’t get hung-up, as a lot of students can, on the accreditation program. You’re not training for the sake of training; you’re training to become commercially employable. You need to remain focused on where you want to go. It’s quite usual, for instance, to find immense satisfaction in a year of study only to end up putting 20 long years into a tiresome job role, simply because you did it without some quality research at the beginning.

Take time to understand how you feel about career development, earning potential, and whether you intend to be quite ambitious. You should understand what (if any) sacrifices you’ll need to make for a particular role, which particular certifications will be required and where you’ll pick-up experience from. We’d recommend you seek guidance and advice from an industry professional before you begin a particular training path, so you can be sure that the specific package will give the skill-set required for your career choice.

There are colossal changes washing over technology in the near future – and it becomes more and more thrilling each day. We’re barely beginning to get a handle on what this change will mean to us. How we interact with the world will be inordinately affected by computers and the web.

If earning a good living is around the top on your wish list, then you will be happy to know that the usual remuneration for most men and women in IT is much better than with most other jobs or industries. The need for appropriately qualified IT professionals is certain for a good while yet, thanks to the substantial growth in the technology industry and the huge deficiency that we still have.

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