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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

Category: Zune
May 11, 2009 at 4:36 PM

New Zune ad from Microsoft: Now it’s the iPod that’s too expensive

First Microsoft went after Apple with the laptop hunter ads that jabbed Apple for expensive laptops. Now it’s going after iPod. In this latest ad, “The Apprentice” contestant and financial planner Wes Moss claims that it would cost $30,000 to fill an iPod with music, but only $14.99 a month for the Zune’s subscription service. More…

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Comments | More in Advertising, Apple, Zune

February 24, 2009 at 6:15 AM

Microsoft Strategic Update: Ballmer tells Wall Street more dramatic cost cutting would be ‘imprudent’

With Microsoft’s Redmond campus largely emptied out for the winter holidays, CEO Steve Ballmer crunched the numbers on the proper level of spending for his company against the current economic climate, which he has repeatedly referred to as a “reset” rather than just a recession. Ballmer said his own estimates for the weakness and duration of the downturn tend to be more severe than those of other business leaders he meets.

With that in mind, he settled on $27.5 billion of operating expenses — a level the company aims to hold relatively steady through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and during its 2010 fiscal year. Ballmer made clear to financial analysts meeting in New York this morning for the company’s annual strategic update that cutting back even more significantly — say to $20 billion — would be “imprudent.”

“I think this is right,” Ballmer said.

That should give some comfort to those wondering if the modest layoffs Microsoft announced last month were the beginning of a more significant reduction. Wall Street analysts and investors are pressuring companies in every industry to continue cutting costs as sales and profits slow dramatically.

The strategic update call just came to an end. Ballmer gave a detailed look at seven major business areas for the company. Check back here later this morning for more details.

Update, 7:50 a.m.: As he told Congressional Democrats earlier this month, Ballmer said Microsoft’s corporate strategists have been evaluating past downturns — particularly those driven by “deleveraging.” The team read company annual reports from 1927 to 1938 to determine who did a good job managing through the Great Depression. “RCA, God rest them in peace, became our role model,” Ballmer said. The company was able to dominate the television business because it continued to invest during bad times, he said.

Then he broke down how Microsoft plans to invest.

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Comments | More in Advertising, Apple, Enterprise, Financial, Games & entertainment, Google, Microsoft layoffs, Mobile, Office, Online services, Open source, Search, Server and tools, Steve Ballmer, Strategy, Tech Economy, Windows, Windows 7, Windows Azure, Windows Mobile, Xbox 360, Yahoo acquisition, Zune

February 13, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Microsoft’s Bach won’t talk specifics on touch-screen Zune, but says touch is coming ‘across all of Microsoft’

Students visiting Microsoft for the company’s Minority Student Day pressed Robbie Bach, president of the company’s Entertainment and Devices Division, to talk about the future of some of his division’s most recognizable products. In this post, I covered what he said about the next two generations of Windows Mobile. [Update, Feb. 23: I’ve added the name of the student who asked the question highlighted in this post.]

Zune, Microsoft’s music player, was another hot topic. This morning, CNET reported on changes in the organization of the Zune team.

One student, Marian Abdullahi of Kent-Meridian High School, asked, “I was wondering if you plan on making a touch-screen Zune?”

Bach: “Ah, a question about whether we’re going to make a touch-screen Zune. I won’t talk about future product things that we’re doing explicitly, cause that will get me in trouble with a lot of people.

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Comments | More in Natural user interface, Zune

February 13, 2009 at 6:58 AM

Microsoft Zune split into hardware, software teams

CNET’s Ina Fried reports that on Jan. 22, Microsoft split its Zune digital music team in two: one focused on the software and services, which it plans to expand onto other, non-Microsoft devices, and another focused on the Zune hardware.

[Update, 12:34 p.m.: Added comments from Robbie Bach, head of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, on the rationale for the change.]

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Comments | More in Corporate organization, Devices, Mobile, Music, Zune

January 7, 2009 at 11:55 PM

CES: Q&A with Microsoft entertainment boss Robbie Bach

LAS VEGAS — Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, talked about layoffs (“you won’t hear us comment”), the great 2008 for Xbox and its impact on profitability, Microsoft’s deal with Verizon Wireless (creating a good mobile search experience is the key), where entertainment fits in Microsoft’s mobile strategy and more. Read on for a condensed transcript of my conversation with him Wednesday afternoon.

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Comments | More in Consumer Electronics Show, Games & entertainment, Mobile, Music, Personalities, Xbox 360, Zune

December 31, 2008 at 2:00 PM

Microsoft explains Zune outage: Internal clock couldn’t handle leap year

[Update, Thursday 8:33 a.m.: It appears the fix worked. Details here.] Microsoft just issued the following statement explaining the outage that has affected thousands of Zune music players today: “Early this morning we were alerted by our customers that there was a widespread issue affecting our 2006 model Zune 30GB devices (a large number of…

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December 31, 2008 at 9:15 AM

Mass outage of 30 gig Zunes; Microsoft working on response

[Update, Thursday 8:33 a.m.: It appears the fix worked. Details here.]

[Update, Wednesday 2:05 p.m.: Microsoft just announced the problem was likely caused by a bug in the internal clock related to leap year. See this post for more details.]

Reports are streaming in from around the Web of Microsoft’s 30 gigabyte Zune media players failing all at once. Here’s one man’s description, consistent with thousands of others posted on a Zune forum and in comments to blogs:

“I turned on my Zune a few hours ago, and the start-up screen appeared. The progress bar went across the bottom, and stopped at 100%

“And it just sits there.”

The Zune team is issuing the following statement:

“We are aware that customers with the Zune 30GB are experiencing issues with their Zune device. We are actively working now to isolate the issue and develop a solution to address it. We will keep customers informed on next steps via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support).”

Clearly, this is not the kind of consumer electronics news story Microsoft wanted to see one week before its chief executive and entertainment and devices president take the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Update, 10:45 a.m.: Matt Rosoff, a digital music expert and analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, checked his 30 gig Zune this morning and confirmed, “I’ve got that pink and black screen of death.” Rosoff has a theory about what’s gone wrong.

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