In Microsoft’s pop-up store in Times Square store today, there was a little confusion, a little curiosity, and a lot of resemblance to another big tech company.
Microsoft opened a pop-up store in New York’s Times Square to promote and sell its new Windows operating system and its Surface tablet.
But the reaction to all three has been a little mixed. It’s uncertain what sort of demand Windows 8 will see, and reviewers say the company’s Surface is innovative but lacks apps.
In the stores, meanwhile, there’s a little confusion, a little curiosity, and a lot of resemblance to Apple.
The software giant officially unveiled Windows 8 yesterday during a New York event. To bring more attention — and garner more sales — it opened two temporary Windows Stores in New York, one in Times Square and the other in the Time Warner Center near Central Park.
Visiting the Times Square store felt a little like deja vu. Everything from the floors to the employees looked a lot like the fixtures in Apple’s iconic stores. Windows Store workers were wearing brightly colored shirts that say “Click in and do more,” and all had badges around their necks with their name.
The Windows Store itself featured large signs on the walls showing close-ups of Surface and minimal amounts of text, and demo stations were set up neatly around the room for customers to actually try out the tablet and its keyboard options. The Surface tables were pretty busy, though the Windows 8 table looked pretty lonely.
Both Manhattan locations are in heavily trafficked areas, which means the store clientele is a sort of hodgepodge of tourists, businesspeople, and Microsoft fans. In the Times Square location this morning, all of the visitors really wanted to see the Surface, but there also was some confusion about what it’s capable of doing.
One of Microsoft’s pop-up stores is in the Manhattan’s busy Times Square.
Microsoft employees patiently walked customers through demos and tried to explain the benefits of the Windows RT system. But no, they admitted, it doesn’t do some things consumers are used to doing on Windows, like playing certain games.
For some people, that didn’t matter. Melinda George, manager of the store, wouldn’t provide CNET with sales details, but she did say the store is running low on certain Surface products.
“We’re selling out fast,” she said.
One such buyer, Mark (who declined to give his last name because his boss thought he was on a bathroom break), said he owns Apple products and likes them, but he wanted something with broader functionality than the iPad — namely, access to more traditional PC applications.
He shrugged off concerns about legacy compatability and a shortage of apps, saying that happens with every new platform. And he noted that people always seem to find something to criticize about Microsoft.
“Microsoft could come out with immortality and people wouldn’t be a fan,” he said.
And Carlos Vargas and Federico Comes, lawyers from Puerto Rico in town on business, each bought a Surface after first considering the Barnes & Noble Nook.
“The Nook is fine is you really just want an e-reader,” Vargas said. But he wanted to access Office and other programs through his device.
Federico Comes and Carlos Vargas get a demo from a Windows Store employee.
Most people seemed pretty absorbed by the Surface, with one couple from out of the country saying they didn’t have time to talk because they wanted to focus on checking out the device.
And some of Microsoft’s own execs were checking out the store and new device, as were employees from partners like B&N.
The Times Square store opened at 10 p.m. ET yesterday, welcoming about 600 waiting customers, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman. At 10:30, Microsoft had a steady flow of visitors, and a security guard told CNET that about 1,000 people had entered the store between 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
How many of those became Surface buyers is unclear. But if Microsoft’s main goal was getting attention for its new OS and device, it appears to have succeeded.
My family’s new Microsoft Surface — the one that I convinced my wife to buy instead of an iPad — arrived this morning via FedEx. I haven’t had much time to spend setting it up and using it as I’d like, but I made sure to document the ceremonial unboxing and first bootup in the office.
In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be posting about our efforts to incorporate this new device into our lives, and also sharing my family’s reaction. My first goal this weekend is to get the new Xbox SmartGlass app working with our Xbox 360 in the living room, because that was one of the selling points of Windows 8 for me. But the big test, over time, will be whether the Surface makes my wife forget about the fact that she had wanted an iPad.
In the meantime, here are pictures showing the unboxing, plus quick video highlights of the first bootup.
Microsoft announces a bold new plan to remove all windows and replace them with a new product it is calling Live Tiles, which bear little resemblance to the transparent windows you’ve been using to peer out at the world beyond.
In a shocking move today, Microsoft has begun a drive to remove all windows from homes around the world and replace them with what the company is dubbing “Live Tiles.” Though they are completely different than their glass predecessors, CEO Steve Ballmer claims that the Live Tiles can replace windows with “no compromises.”
Live Tiles do not open, allow for airflow, or let light in, but do come in a number of neon colors. Though they have none of the benefits of an actual window, the Tiles can display a fraction of a weather report, rotating pictures of friends, or a static picture of the outdoors. Once you’ve paid the $40 upgrade fee and your windows have been switched, the change is irreversible without a rebuild.
“What the hell?! I want my old windows back,” said disgruntled rural homeowner Andrew Couts who shelled out $40 for what Microsoft told him was an upgrade to his windows. “My home looks like a goddamn Fischer Price set. I can’t get anything done.”
Those living in older homes will not be able to directly interact with the Live Tiles, but starting today, Microsoft began selling a new line of homes specifically designed with Live Tiles in mind. Office buildings and businesses with windows will also be forced to upgrade to Live Tiles, though it took them so long to install their last set of windows that Microsoft plans to give them several years to catch up.
As part of the Live Tile rollout, stores that previously sold windows, crews trained to install windows, and companies selling window accessories will be forced to convert their operations to support the millions of Live Tiles attempting to fill the gaps where windows once stood.
Though Microsoft is attempting to eliminate windows around the world, Ballmer repeatedly referred to windows as Microsoft’s future.
“Microsoft is dedicated to windows. Windows is our past, present, and future. We’ll always make windows,” said the CEO before chanting the word “developers” several dozen times to a crowd of aging programmers and journalists. Though homes will be full of Live Tiles, Ballmer claims that Microsoft is, in fact, selling windows.
The world-wide plan to replace all windows comes after several years of testing in mobile homes. Though few mobile home owners have converted to the Tiles, the lack of voluntary adoption has only emboldened Microsoft.
Microsoft’s promised Windows 8 support for its existing Touch Mouse has finally arrived. After being unveiled back in February, the software maker has now released Mouse and Keyboard Center 2.0 — an update designed to improve keyboard and mouse support in Windows 8. Existing Touch Mouse users can now take advantage of a variety of multitouch gestures in Windows 8, including two finger movements to manage apps and display the Windows 8 charms.
STILL NO GESTURE SUPPORT FOR WEDGE TOUCH MOUSE
We noted in our Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse review that the company made the odd decision to not include Windows 8 gesture support for that particular product. Unfortunately, the Mouse and Keyboard Center 2.0 update does not change this. If you’re a Wedge Touch Mouse user then you’re still going to be limited to scrolling gestures only.
The Verge got a chance to test out Microsoft’s Touch Mouse with the updated support for Windows 8 and can report that it makes navigating the interface a lot easier. You no longer need to navigate to the hot corners to activate Charms, or use keyboard shortcuts. We’d like to see Microsoft extend this support to other Touch mice in its range, but its initial release is enough to improve navigation with a Touch Mouse on Windows 8
For the first time, Google has eclipsed Microsoft to become the second largest technology company in the world. Google’s market value is fluctuating near $248.6 billion, millions of dollars larger than Microsoft.
The new rank comes two years after investors drove Apple’s value past Microsoft for the first time since 1989. Microsoft’s growth has stagnated since the 1999 US antitrust judgement against it.
For Google, however, the climb to the top spot among tech companies would be a steeper one. Apple’s market value is over $100 billion greater than the combined value of Microsoft and Google.
Growing Its Influence, Klout Gets Strategic Investment From Microsoft — And Serious Bing Integration
Klout hasn’t just defied influential tech pundits, its social reputation scorecard has won them over. Now the sometimes-controversial startup is aiming at search. The startup has just signed a strategic investment and partnership with Microsoft that, on top of new funding, will create a product and business relationship with the Bing team.
You’ll begin seeing Klout scores — the combined measure of a person’s influence across Twitter, Facebook and other social networks — show up in the search engine today. The initial implementation will show Klout scores for friends in the “People Who Know” section of the right-hand column, alongside other third parties already in there, including Twitter and Quora. Search for a hot topic like “Facebook advertising”, you’ll see people with socially-proven expertise showing up. Mouse over an expert’s name, and their Klout score will appear, along with their Klout-determined areas of expertise.
Meanwhile, search data in Bing will now begin contributing to Klout rankings.
For now, experts will get a boost in Klout whenever they show up in “People Who Know” for queries. But raw search data will also become part of the mix. ”Let’s say you write an article,” Klout chief executive Joe Fernandez explains, “and that article appears when somebody does a search, then the user clicks through. We’ll associate that click with your [Klout] name.”
Klout users who have Wikipedia entries associated with their accounts will also get Klout boosts for the number of times that those entries show up and get clicked on in search results.
For Microsoft, this is another move to define itself as the “open search platform” — a term that Bing corporate vice president Derrick Connell used repeatedly during my briefing call today. As with the Facebook, Twitter, Quora and even Google+ integrations, Klout helps position Microsoft as the more open and socially-attuned alternative to Google’s still-dominant search product.
The deal today isn’t exclusive for either party, both sides confirmed with me, so maybe we’ll see Klout start becoming a factor in Google rankings. But so far the search giant has appeared more focused on using Google+ data to power social relevance in rankings.
Klout, meanwhile, gets traffic and brand marketing from yet another big name, and money (both funding and revenue). I don’t have the exact terms, but this type of relationship reminds me of Microsoft’s now-legendary strategic investment/partnership with Facebook back in 2007.
Speaking of Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg has recently started talking about expanding his company’s own efforts in search. But both Bing and Klout use Facebook as a core way for determining relevancy in their services (you’ll even have to sign in with Facebook to get access to the Klout integration). I have to wonder if there’s any friction emerging here between the companies? Anyway, for now, this looks like a mutually beneficial win for all parties versus their shared enemy.
Klout measures influence based on the ability to drive action across the social web. Any person can connect their social network accounts and Klout will generate a score on a scale of 1-100 that represents their ability to engage other people and inspire social actions. Klout enables everyone to gain insights that help them better understand how they influence others. Klout also provides people with opportunities to shape and be recognized for their influence.
Microsoft’s Bing search engine today rolled out the latest in a series of Facebook-related features, launching a tool for quickly searching photos uploaded to the social network by your friends. It’s a simple but effective feature that might be Bing’s best Facebook integration yet.
The Friends’ Photos search feature requires logging into Facebook from Bing to be able to access data from the social network.
It can be accessed on this search page or by clicking on a friend’s photo in Bing’s “Social Sidebar,” the strip of related information from friends and experts in the right-hand column on Bing search results pages.
You can search by keyword, to find particular types of photos from all of your friends, or by a particular friend’s name.
Microsoft says the Friends’ Photos feature adheres to Facebook’s privacy guidelines and will only show photos that a particular friend has made viewable on Facebook to the searcher. The company says private photos won’t be shared with the public.
After 25 years, Microsoft has ditched the Italics and unveiled a brand new logo.
Microsoft general manager, Jeff Hansen, told The Seattle Times that it “signal[s] the heritage but also signal[s] the future — a newness and freshness.”
In honor of the unveiling, we put together a history of Microsoft’s evolving logo: The good, the bad, and the bizarrely “groovy.” (Hey, it was the ’70s).
1975: Microsoft appeared to be inspired by the disco era.
According to Neatorama, Bill Gates and Paul Allen made this logo themselves using BASIC, a computer language program, in less than a day.
1975-87: In the words of Kermit the frog, “It’s not easy being green.”
The special “O” was dubbed blibbet.
Upon finding out that the blibbet would be no more come 1987, Microsoft employee Larry Osterman launched a “Save the Blibbet” campaign.
Osterman (right) even made buttons for the occasion.
Unfortunately his effort didn’t convince the bigwigs to keep the blibbet.
“I miss the blibbet 🙂 Somehow, it reminds me of Herbie (or any other VW bug)—cute and friendly :),” Osterman wrote on his blog.
Although the blog Papergreat notes spotting this Metallica-like logo in ads during the early ’80s.
1987-2012: The “Pacman” logo by Scott Baker was introduced.
According to March 1987’s edition of Consumer Reseller News Magazine, “The new logo, in Helvetica italic typeface, has a slash between the o and s to emphasize the “soft” part of the name and convey motion and speed.”
Some say the slash made it look like a Pacman.
1994-2002: As a part of a $100 million marketing campaign, Microsoft briefly added the tagline: “Where do you want to go today?”
Microsoft experimented with many different taglines.
2012: After 25 years, Microsoft has finally updated its look.
Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela even cut a red ribbon in the new logo’s honor at a Microsoft Store in Boston.
Here’s how Microsoft explains it:
According to Microsoft’s blog, “The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion. The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.”
By 1997 E.piphany was a fast growing startup with customers, revenue and something approaching a repeatable business model. Somewhere that year we decided to professionalize our logo (you should have seen the first one.) With a massive leap of creativity we decided that it should it should have our company name and the letter “E” with a swoop over it.
The patent wars are coming to a head this week, but let’s not forget that tech has always been a lawsuit sideshow. Like this flareup from 1997 that entrepreneur and author Steve Blank shares from his days at E.piphany.
1997 was also that year that Microsoft was in the middle of the browser wars with Netscape. Microsoft had just released Internet Explorer 3 which for the first time was a credible contender. With the browser came a Microsoft logo. And with that same massive leap of creativity Microsoft decided that their logo would have their product name and the letter “E’ with a swoop over it.
One of E.piphany’s product innovations was that we used this new fangled invention called the browser and we ran on both Netscape and Microsoft’s. We didn’t think twice about.
That is until the day we got a letter from Microsoft’s legal department claiming similarity and potential confusion between our two logos.
They demanded we change ours.
I wish I still had their letter. I’m sure it was both impressive and amusing.
I had forgotten all about incident this until this week when Doug Camplejohn, E.piphany’s then VP of Marketing somehow had saved what he claims was my response to Microsoft’s legal threat and sent it me. It read:
Response Letter to Bill Gates
We are in receipt of your lawyer’s letter claiming Microsoft’s
ownership of the look and feel of the letter “e”. While I understand
Microsoft’s proprietary interest in protecting its software, I did not
realize (until the receipt of your ominous legal missive) that one of
the 26 letters in the English language was now the trademarked
property of Microsoft.
Given the name of your company, claiming the letter “e” is an unusual
place to start. I can understand Microsoft wanting exclusive rights to
the letter “M” or “W”, but “e”? I can even imagine a close family
member starting your alphabet collection by buying you the letters “B”
or “G” as a birthday present. Even the letters “F” “T” or “C” must be
more appealing right now then starting with “e”.
In fact, considering Microsoft’s financial health and legal prowess
you may want to consider buying a symbol rather than a letter.
Imagine the value of charging royalties on the use of the dollar “$”
I understand the legal complaint refers to the similarities of our use
of “e” in the Epiphany corporate logo to the “e” in the Internet
Explorer logo. Given that the name of my company and the name of your
product both start with the same letter, it doesn’t take much
imagination to figure out why we both used the letter in our logos,
but I guess it has escaped your lawyers.
As to confusion between the two products, it is hard for me to
understand why someone would confuse a $250,000 enterprise software
package (with which we require a customer to buy $50,000 of Microsoft
software; NT, SQL Server and IIS), with the free and ever present
Given that Microsoft sets the standard for most things in the computer
industry, I hope we don’t open the mail next week and find Netscape
suing us for using the letter “N”, quickly followed by Sun’s claim on
“J“. Perhaps we can submit all 26 letters to some sort of standards
committee for arbitration.
Come to think of it, starting with “e” is another brilliant Microsoft
strategy. It is the most common letter in the English language.
Given later that year Microsoft ended up being a large multi-million dollar E.piphany customer all I can assume is that cooler heads prevailed (more than likely our new CEO,) and this letter was never sent and the threatened lawsuit never materialized.
Ironically, since the turn of the century Microsoft has done great things for entrepreneurs. Their BizSpark and DreamSpark programs have become the best corporate model of how a large company can successfully partner with startups and students worldwide.
But I am glad we helped keep the letter E in the public domain.
Video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) is collaborating with Microsoft to bring EA’s popular mobile games, including Medal of Honor, The Sims Free-to-Play, and World Series of Poker, to Windows 8 (scheduled to come out October 26), Bloomberg reports.
This potential partnership comes after shares in EA dropped 37 percent this year.
EA hopes to target not only Microsoft’s PC platform but its phone and tablet platforms as well. In exchange, Microsoft hopes to boost its mobile operating system. Windows Phone currently has approximately 100,000 apps for their products, while Apple and Android each have over 600,000 apps, Bloomberg reports.