This is how Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will earn his salary

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft increasing Windows Store prices as US dollar strengthens.

Tired of trying to remember a different password for each of your online accounts? We keep hearing bits and pieces of a plan inside Microsoft that could radically change how its most important customers — businesses — buy Windows in the years to come.

Now, the bad news: those with pirated copies of Windows who upgrade to Windows 10 may not be able to get other updates as their devices will still be considered non-genuine. “With Windows 10, although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license…They’re so determined to make a clean break with the past, in fact, that they’ve made an unprecedented offer of free Windows 10 upgrades for anyone running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.According to reports, prices will increase by as much as 20 per cent in some markets, with the United Kingdom, Russia, Mexico and Poland amongst the countries facing the most severe increases. Recent reports indicate that Microsoft is in the process of tweaking its Windows 8.1 with Bing program — a subsidized version of Redmond’s operating system that’s been widely credited for bringing about a flood of cheap laptops.

Meanwhile, Ars Technica said Windows 10 signals a new way of doing business for Microsoft, which charges via subscriptions instead of up-front licenses. “For this new modus operandi to be successful, it’s very important that Microsoft gets everyone onto the same common platform – Windows 10 – rather than a bunch of fractured, older operating systems. Our source told us, “The dirty little secret is that Windows and Office are about to get much, much more complex, confusing, and expensive in the coming ‘years’ when Windows and Office become ‘freemium’ with ‘added value’ bundles sold on top of the platforms. The US economy is continuing to recover, which saw Apple raise the price of several products earlier this month, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook. Last week, Yahoo and Microsoft offered up some alternatives: Yahoo says it can text temporary passwords to users’ phones each time they want to sign into their Yahoo accounts.

Windows 10 has been designed to make the so-called “Modern” touch interface less intrusive (I’m sure somebody will disagree with that depiction). On the other hand, PC World said Microsoft could be trying to get Windows 10 a healthy installed base “to build up an ecosystem of modern apps and services.” “This is a difficult line to walk, as pirates could eye Microsoft’s upgrade offer with suspicion, and may prefer to stay off the grid,” it said.

The changes we are hearing about involve how Microsoft sells Windows to businesses, not how they sell Windows through PC makers (known in industry parlance as OEMs — original equipment manufacturers.) Instead, they pay for Windows about every three years as part of a master deal they negotiate with Microsoft for all the Microsoft software they buy. Every time it looks like the company is about to do something to make Windows licensing more sensible and less onerous, someone (usually in the legal department) gets cold feet. To be eligible for the discount, manufacturers had to set Bing as the default search engine and MSN as the default home page on any included web browser. (The defaults could be changed by the consumer after purchase). But as reported by Windows Central, changes to the program now limit the discount to laptops measuring 14″ or less. (It applied to all systems before.) That means manufacturers will have to revert to paying the full fee for Windows 8.1 licenses on machines 15″ and larger. Admittedly, with the updated Windows 8.1 , it’s now pretty easy to stay in, what I would call, Windows 7 mode and keep the Modern UI out of the way (if you don’t want it).

Software engineers may want to adjust the prices of their apps, particularly if they are worried that store-wide price increases could adversely affect sales. “These price tier value changes will take place automatically, there is no action required on your part,” explained Microsoft in an email to Windows Store developers. “However, we recommend that you review the updated prices for your paid apps and in-app products in Dev Center after April 13 and make any desired changes.” There’s even a whole industry of consultants out there who help companies negotiate them, so companies don’t wind up paying for things they don’t need. Once you opt into the program, there’s no more need to create or memorize a password for Yahoo’s email or other services. “Yahoo just made it easier for attackers to compromise an account,” said Tim Erlin, risk strategist for the cybersecurity firm Tripwire. Last week, speaking at Microsoft’s Convergence conference, Microsoft marketing chief Chris Caposella talked publicly about Microsoft’s freemium plans for consumers, reported the Verge. And although many of these laptops were Celeron-based budget machines, they were still comfortably cheaper than their 16″ Core i3-based counterparts, which averaged just shy of $300.

Here’s what Frank Azor, one of the co-founders of Alienware and executive director/general manager of Dell’s XPS line, said to me in a phone interview when discussing Windows 10: “When windows 8 was launched it was very touch centric, and there was a popular opinion throughout the industry that touch would be more popular than it actually ended up being. While there were some 11″ and 12″ laptops that took advantage of the subsidized Windows OS, the overwhelming majority of systems were 16″, which means budget 16″ machines could see a price jump if Microsoft ends this program. Though it may be convenient, Erlin said, Yahoo’s on-demand option is a step backward from another alternative the company offers, known as two-factor authentication. In other words, Microsoft is already thinking about freemium + bundles options as it gives away an increasing amount of software away for free to consumers. While it’s unclear why Microsoft would make this change, it could be that it wants to focus its attention on Chromebooks, the majority of which max out at 14″.

And also some of that novelty wore off but a portion of users decided that they didn’t need it.” And a manifestation of that thinking can be seen in the new XPS 13. The “as a Service” terminology means something very specific in the business computing world: A cloud service that you pay for on a subscription basis for which you can add extra features for extra cost. As a result, channels are seeing a massive backlog of inventory, which according to a report by The Register, has forced AMD to hault shipping new gear to its channels as it waits for the existing backlog of stock to move. While this doesn’t necessarily mean a fire sale on AMD laptops, any sort of backlog could lead to better discounts, especially if AMD continues losing its customers to Intel.

They just announced a very tablet-like MacBook (2 pounds, fanless) but saw no need to add touch, despite having very touch-centric marquee products like the iPhone and iPad. Here’s our complete exchange on the subject: The first impression from Myerson’s remarks was that Microsoft was essentially offering an amnesty program, as the company “re-engages” with pirates worldwide. Instead, people too often recycle short passwords that are easier to type, especially on small phone screens, but also easy for hackers to guess, he said. Tracking the deals is a little tricky, however, as the amount of AMD laptop deals we traditionally see has been diminishing since last autumn, and this year we’ve yet to see any noteworthy AMD dual-core laptop deals. Since most online services let users reset passwords by sending a text or email to their phones, users are already vulnerable if they lose their device, Stamos argued. “The truth is that passwords are so incredibly, ridiculously broken that it is almost impossible to keep users safe as long as we have any,” Stamos wrote on his Twitter account.

For enterprise customers and partners, we will continue to deliver exclusive value and offer extensive flexibility in how Windows 10 is deployed and managed as Windows evolves to become a service. And in Dell’s case, the cheaper XPS 13 version is lighter — which is unusual because stripping away weight (a very difficult proposition when you get under 3 pounds) usually jacks up the price considerably.

Microsoft is providing related software to builders of independent apps and websites so they too can verify a user’s identity through a combination of biometrics and an encrypted code automatically generated by the user’s computer or phone, Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore wrote in a blog post. Those upgrades are available only through volume licensing programs, and only VL customers who pay for the Software Assurance benefit will get the Windows 10 upgrade. But alternatives to passwords are definitely needed, said fraud expert Al Pascual, who studies the banking and payments industry at Javelin Strategy & Research.

Should you go the AMD route, we recommend looking at 15″ dual-core machines instead, which although scarce in the deal space, have averaged $200 so far this year. Not once, but twice, it refers to “the consumer free upgrade offer.” That word consumer, which was nowhere to be found in the January announcement, has a very specific meaning when it refers to Microsoft’s desktop operating systems. But now the lawyers are busy adding exceptions, including the right to drag you into court if they think you’ve violated their licensing terms. (And make no mistake about it, Microsoft regularly drags people into court for installing Windows without paying for it.) Why do many boards leave IT security primarily to security technicians, and why can’t techies convince their boards to spend scarce cash on protecting stakeholder information? Back in January, Myerson described the brave new world of Windows 10 and beyond as a simple service: “And just like any Internet service, the idea of asking ‘What version are you on?’ will cease to make sense,” he said. If that’s the goal, then why not just say, “If you own a PC today, you can install Windows 10 for free.” Call it a one-time amnesty, if necessary, but get past it.

The introductory upgrade prices for Vista’s successor, Windows 7, were described as a “screaming deal” at $50 and $100 for the Home Premium and Pro editions, respectively. We don’t know how much Microsoft is charging for the standard edition of Windows 8.1 on more conventional PC form factors, but it’s a very good bet that that price tag is a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. If Microsoft is serious about moving to a business model where Windows versions don’t matter and the bulk of its revenue comes from services like Skype and Office 365 and Azure, why this last desperate bit of clinging to an outmoded business model?

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