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October 1, 2007

XP To Stick Around Longer, Office Goes To The Web, Sort Of, And The New Zune

Lots of news coming out of Microsoft these days.  The company announced at the end of last week that XP will be around 5 months longer than originally stated.  The cutoff date for OEMs was January 31, 2008.  Now it's June 30, with the bare bones starter edition for overseas markets going a full two years beyond than to June 2010.  The stated reason is to give customers more time to transition to Vista.  Commentary suggests that Vista is not selling as well as expected and this move keeps the money flowing into MS until they can figure out a way to gain more Vista acceptance.

The reaction from pundits on this move can be summarized as a) Vista's horrible, get a Mac; b) XP works fine, why do I need to upgrade; c) you're all wrong, Vista is fine; and d) everybody's crazy if they don't make the switch to Linux. 

In reality, Microsoft runs about 90% or so of the world's desktops.  The company is not going to dump Vista for fear that number will drop.  Rather, expect a marketing push and maybe some incentives to get balky customers on board.

The next bit of significant news is that a version of Office is coming to Windows Live Services.  It will be called Office Live Workspace.  What it amounts to, however, is essentially what its name implies, an Internet based storage system for web documents.  One can view or share documents but no editing is possible without an installed copy of Office.  Microsoft suggests that editing capabilities are possible for a later implementation.  This sounds more like a value-added approach to existing Office customers rather than an attempt to match Google Apps.  The later, of course, does allow edits along with shared storage (and no ads, yet).  Whether Office Live Workspace without editing garners an audience remains to be seen.  The opinion here is that it won't.  Shared space is no big deal, as plenty of sites offer it.  The view and share is not enough for most people to care about even with client editing.  Can we just please skip to version 2 of this service?

And finally, there's the Zune, or in this case Zune 2.0.  Microsoft's challenge to the iPod managed a 10% share of hard drive based music players and a 3% over all market share for all players.  Most of that came from Microsoft partners in the Plays For Sure program rather than from Apple.  Microsoft said they were in this game for the long haul and they are proving it by updating the product.  Word is a thinner design and some flash models will make it to the product line.  A more useful implementation of Wi-Fi access is also part of the feature mix.  Considering that the iPod Touch has a browser with Wi-Fi capability and access to the iTunes store, Microsoft certainly has to at least meet these features if not one-up Apple.  That hasn't exactly been their history.  The announcement is rumored for Tuesday.

October 1, 2007 | Permalink

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