Microsoft's week centered on its Worldwide Partner Conference, with glimpses of new and upcoming products, such as Windows 8.
Microsoft's week focused on its Worldwide
Partner Conference, in Los Angeles, as well as offering some new insight into
the company's upcoming Windows 8 operating system.
As with past WPCs, the multiday event
opened July 11 with a wide-ranging keynote speech from Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer, who gave a comprehensive view of the company's strategy moving
forward. He also hinted at current and future projects, such as Kinect and
Windows 8, while remaining short on actual details.
"We're moving forward to the cloud, public
and private," he told the audience assembled in the Staples Center. "We're all
in and we want partners who are all in with us."
As in previous speeches, Ballmer emphasized
what he termed successes, including Bing's growth in overall market share and
number of user queries served. Microsoft has been leveraging its minority stake
in Facebook to make Bing more "social," integrating data from the social
network (such as suggesting which Web sites your friends liked) into the search
engine's results. He also called out the 100 million Office 2010 licenses
shipped since last year, and Xbox Kinect's sales run.
He defended Microsoft's recent acquisition
of Skype for $8.5 billion, suggesting the communications company's assets will
act as a force multiplier for existing Microsoft products, such as Lync. "One
of the great motivations in acquiring Skype is to allow the enterprise all the
control it wants," he said. "Skype [is] a strategy that will allow the
consumerization of IT to proceed with full...vigor."
Yet Ballmer seemed somewhat reluctant to
delve too deeply into some of Microsoft's trouble areas. He glossed over
Windows Phone's sales and market share. "We know we've got a lot to do," he
said. "We're all in when it comes to mobile devices."
He referred to Microsoft's deal with Nokia,
which will see Windows Phone ported onto the latter's devices. "Nokia could
have bet on themselves, bet on Android or bet on Windows Phone," he said,
suggesting that the Finnish manufacturer went with Microsoft after "they saw
our roadmaps and saw what we did."
Over the course of WPC, Microsoft unveiled
upcoming Windows Phones from the likes of Acer, Fujitsu, ZTE, and Samsung-all
of which embrace a thin-and-light design style, and all of which will
presumably run the wide-ranging "Mango" update due in the fall. If that wasn't
enough, the company is also leveraging the rest of its technology stack to
build out the capabilities of Windows Phone: the version of Internet Explorer 9
running on Microsoft's smartphones, for example, has the same software
underpinnings as the browser that runs on PCs.
It remains to be seen, though, whether such
moves can help Microsoft regain momentum in smartphones. For the three-month
period between the end of February and the end of May, research firm comScore
estimated that Microsoft's U.S. share dipped from 7.7 percent to 5.8 percent.
During the same period, adoption of Google's Android platform rose from 33
percent to 38.1 percent, while Apple enjoyed a slight uptick, from 25.2 percent
to 26.6 percent. Research In Motion continued its market slide, declining from
28.9 percent to 24.7 percent.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.