back to article 'Burning platform' Elop: I'd SLASH and BURN stuff at Microsoft, TOO

What kind of company would Microsoft be under Stephen Elop, we asked. We have an answer... of sorts. Elop would kill Bing and Xbox as a Microsoft chief executive and go "all business" by developing Office for as many non-Windows devices as possible. Nokia’s CEO is reported by Bloomberg be considering the strategy should he …

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Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

I can't see Microsoft giving up on Bing. It's the reason why Msoft bought all of the Nokia phone business and not just smartphones.

For all the "failure" of Nokia they still sell north of 20m phones a month, and there are plenty of parts of the world where the Nokia lead in distribution makes them the strongest brand. This is many people's first touch with technology. They may have access to internet cafes but putting Bing in their pocket is the way to get them using the Microsoft service before they get sucked into Google.

If Microsoft didn't have designs on this they would have left the Asha/S40 range in Finland.

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Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

Is it still worth a loss of $ 1 bn a year? And Nokia's marketshare was down in some of the emerging markets like Mexico in the most recent figures, IIRC.

While it is important to stick with some things (technology, market) in the face of advice to ditch them, you also need to define criteria for success and cut your losses if you can't meet them. Both Lou Gerstner and Steve Jobs were able to do this. Microsoft's biggest mistake has been to lose focus and try and take both Google and Apple on at their own game, at the same time. It is the business market which has been the most loyal to MS and which has the best margins. Yes, there are threats from the competition but also the opportunity for Microsoft to grab the largest slice of the new markets: what price would businesses be prepared for Office on IOS or Android? And ancillary services to make it play nicely with existing infrastructure.

If Microsoft ditch Bing then regulating Google becomes a matter of paramount importance for anti-trust regulators around the world, a situation which is likely to provide more opportunities than continuing to pour money into it.

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Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

There's a downside to selling Office on iOS and Android. MS would have to sell through the app stores. That's 30% of the revenue going to Google and Apple. If they really went big on it, and sold Office suites for £50 a pop (aiming at the business market) - that could mean handing loadsamoney to their rivals.

Your point about dumping Bing and Google-opoply could be interesting. There are big rewards for controlling search. Not only advertising cash, but user-tracking and the fact that you have a lot of control of how people access information - and what information they see. So it's a big thing to give up, there's a good reason that they've splurged so much cash on Bing. Google could become unpopular quite quickly, and then Bing would be well placed to pick up the goodies. But there's a lot of 'if' in that plan...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 30% of sales

The good thing about Android is that you don't have to sell through an app store at all.

In fact Microsoft is well known enough that it could easily sell direct, especially to business. In fact it could roll out a secure Office, VPN, Exchange client, systems monitoring system all controlled by Group Policies and take on the sort of business that Blackberry was aiming for.

Microsoft could move to Android, without actually moving their phone division to Android.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

"I can't see Microsoft giving up on Bing. It's the reason why Msoft bought all of the Nokia phone business and not just smartphones."

Just LOL. No it isn't. You think the Asha non smartphone range is going to drive major Bing traffic? Those type of handsets are just not high data volume. They might gain a small amount of market share, but it's peanuts relatively.

They bought Asha too because they wanted to make sure that Nokia would not compete in the mobile space for a few years - and to grab all the skilled mobile engineering resources that they could....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

"Is it still worth a loss of $ 1 bn a year"

Actually Nokia make a profit last quarter, lost peanuts on it's rapidly growing Windows Phone business, and is likely to turn that into a profit on the mobile business alone in Q4 this year...

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Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

Why there's still Yahoo. and Ask.com Duckduckgo and to many others to bother thinking about.

Google may be the best known and most used Search Engine ...in the, World!!, but I hardly see why that should be their [Googles'] problem.

As for Microsoft batting a blind eye towards the Business Sector yeah I find them guilty I love to know how they plan, or if they ever planed on trying to sell Windows 8 to the Corporates?

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Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

Google could become unpopular quite quickly, and then Bing would be well placed to pick up the goodies. But there's a lot of 'if' in that plan...

I think that's more to do with YouTube and Google+ at the moment then their creepy Search Engine.

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Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

Bing is finally starting to work like a real search engine - and now MS is all full of talk of jettisoning it.

Brilliant. And typical MS strategy.

Bing is finally good enough that I use it more than once a day for various tasks. Up until recently, it was so poor that I was going months without using it.

Will he want to kill off IE also? IE 10 and 11 are finally fast enough and have a small enough memory footprint that I've begun using it for limited tasks.

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Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

"Actually Nokia make a profit last quarter, lost peanuts on it's rapidly growing Windows Phone business, and is likely to turn that into a profit on the mobile business alone in Q4 this year..."

You seem to have forgotten that Microsoft has been giving Nokia $1B/year.

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Why is 30% to Apple and Google a problem?

You don't think Microsoft gets anyone near 100% of the sales price when a home user buys a copy from Best Buy, or a small business buys a few from a VAR, do you?

The advantage for them would be that it reduces the opportunity for alternative Office suites to gain any more traction than they already are. That should be worth giving up a small cut. Not that there is really a need for an Office suite on a phone or tablet beyond a reader, or perhaps a simple editor on a tablet. People aren't going to be writing term papers on a tablet, even if it has a keyboard cover.

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Re: Bing is the reason for buying the entry level phone business

If it took them 11 years to come up to speed with competing browsers, then I will consider using IE again by 2024.

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Well, lets hope he doesn't get chosen. The fact that Microsoft are willing to spaff billions on these projects is what makes them a great software house. I'd love to see Office properly supported on iOS but not if it's done to please shareholders and ends with driving Microsoft into the ground.

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Anonymous Coward

"The fact that Microsoft are willing to spaff billions on these projects is what makes them a great software house"

?!? it is ? they are ?

WTF

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MS have taken some big chances in the past, and had dinner successes and some failures. The exploitation of the successes pays for the failures, not unlike Roxio, or Dyson for that matter. What MS don't do well is out of market stuff, Xbox excepted. They were late to the internet party, late to the search party, and despite making excellent browsers and search engines they have been on a back foot.

What Google are doing well now is what ms used to do well, integration. Gmail into docs into drive on all devices on own browser with cloud printing etc. MS lost that feeling, so maybe taking it for a haircut and getting back to it's roots is the right thing?

They'll never be fashionable though.

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Unhappy

Now's a good time to stop spending on Bing...

We seemed to have forgotten that Yahoo! search programs were setup when "the web" got too big for Jerry Yang to do it manually himself; and AltaVista continued to be a useful search engine long after HP got rid of all the staff (though mainly for babel fish). Web-crawling, indexing and search query has not moved on exponentially in fifteen years and would continue to work with minimal staff and electricity. They’d lose the edge in profiling people for targeted ads and maybe the SEO stuff sites use to avoid paying for ads, but now is a good time to say “Search has been cracked; we prefer privacy to profiling”.

Same pretty much goes for Xbox: amortise the costs and focus on synergies with other PC platforms & wait for Sony to go bust under the weight. Provided we don’t get obsessed by NSA/Facebook monitoring, Kinetic will be a big part of how we use computers in the 2020’s, properly amortised the Kinetic experiment with Xbox will save the desktop franchise.

One area ripe for change though is horizontal integration: Office on Android/Linux; Android-Java/Obj-C apps on WinPhone; .NET on other platforms; desktop apps on WinRT

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Anonymous Coward

"?!? it is ? they are ?"

The billions MS spend on R&D has kept them at the top of numerous business piles for years:

They have over 90% of the desktop / laptop OS market share.

They make the most money on games consoles

They have overwhelming market share in Office software

They have over 70% market share in servers and growing.

They have massive market share in numerous other segments like email, database, cloud, UC, etc. etc. etc...all growing....

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Windows

Effect on WP

If Bing is binned, I wonder what happens on existing Windows Phones, where the search button is hardwired to launch Bing? But that probably does not worry too much the man who managed to Osborne Nokia's entire smartphone lineup...

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Re: Effect on WP

It's not about the past, it's about the future. You may not like it, I may not like it, that's business.

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Re: Effect on WP

Osborne as verb = LOL.

Bing might still exist, just be operated by somebody else with a different cost structure such that it could make some money out of it. Even if they renamed it, bing.com could still direct you to their pages. So probably small impact on WP owners.

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Re: Effect on WP

If bing was binned a simple DNS entry would redirect bing.com to google. Simples!

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Re: Effect on WP

"a simple DNS entry would redirect bing.com to ....the US Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission"

There, fixed it for you.

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Trollface

Re: Effect on WP

MacroRodent,

Well if I was feeling all troll-like, I could counter-troll your troll by pointing out that MS could just release an update to Windows Phone, which would re-use the button for something else. Or just point it at Google, or make it user-changeable.

Google may have a broken update model on Android, but MS don't on Windows Phone.

They learnt from the security fun-and-games that really kicked off with XP, and the internet getting all popular. Surprisingly Google don't seem to have. With half the Android phones in use still being on 2.x, and phone manufacturers not even bothering to push out patches, there could be some big security screw-ups to come. Given how badly Microsoft's reputation was damaged by the saga of security - I'm amazed that Google have allowed this situation to continue. If it wasn't for all the pain it'll cause users, I'd want something to go spectacularly wrong, as a warning to numbskulls.

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Re: Effect on WP

Maybe the button would be disabled then... which would be probably the first good thing about WP devices.

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Re: Effect on WP

@ I ain't Spartacus: Wasn't really trolling. In fact, I am an avid WP user (see the icon!). But it annoys me I cannot re-assign the search button now. There are good reasons Bing hasn't overtaken Google search that have nothing to do with imagined monopolies in on-line advertising.

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Re: Effect on WP

"If Bing is binned, I wonder what happens on existing Windows Phones, where the search button is hardwired to launch Bing"

I don't know of any like that. All the Windows Phones I have used let you select Google as the search provider if you wanted...

"But it annoys me I cannot re-assign the search button now"

But you can....

http://snippets.pocketprimer.com/2013/05/24/change-the-default-search-engine-for-your-windows-phone-8.aspx

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Re: Effect on WP

All the Windows Phones I have used let you select Google as the search provider if you wanted...

It seems on WP 7.x you cannot. At least the instructions you linked to don't apply to my Lumia 710 that has been upgraded to WP 7.8.

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Re: Effect on WP

Sorry to say you cannot, as that very article states:

"The Search button on the phone will still bring up and use Bing and you can’t reassign that button to use Google."

Happy to be proved wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Effect on WP

Oh! Windows Phone!

I thought it stood for Word Processing.

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Re: Effect on WP

I thought it stood for Word Perfect

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Re: Effect on WP

Gotta love it how people keep flat out lying about the bloody search button. No, you can not change it on any Windows Phone device. All you can change is default browser search engine, but that has nothing to do with the button itself.

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I can see that ditching Xbox might make sense, strategically. A company like Amazon might be better placed to exploit the Xbox product as a channel to sell you stuff in your home.

Any future strategy for office must still involve a hosted version on the interweb, as well as native code for those that want it, regardless of host operating system. So I assume that runs on Azure (does it?).

So if Bing is somehow core to Azure then they would need to keep it - otherwise I cannot see it as worthwhile; how much better does it have to get before people would start to use it? Probably it is good enough as it is - the reason it doesn't get used is because so much traffic is forced to google, not because Bing is somehow worse at searching than Google. It's just never going to be cost effective to promote Bing to the point of profitability.

I wonder whether MS operating system group could go RedHat - allow the operating system to be installed for nothing and then charge for support; the enterprises are hooked either way and I am sure MS could work pricing out such that it's more or less the same to the average enterprise - it would remove the "MS-tax" from PC (in whatever form factor) sales which might breathe a little life into that dying market. What they lose in one-off O/S sales they might get back in support subscriptions from the enterprise at least. As the PC market declines, this must surely be a diminishing revenue stream anyway?

Of course if you want Exchange or SQL Server, those would still be licensed somehow - i.e. no free version - but again they could be licensed. Then the route is open to hosting SQL Server and Exchange on other operating systems. Net result could easily be a win (regardless of what you think of those products vs competitors).

Just thinking out aloud.

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Anonymous Coward

> What they lose in one-off O/S sales they might get back in support subscriptions from the enterprise at least.

Even home users would be tempted by an offer of continued support for £10-£15 per year (which is what a system builder OEM license for a Home edition costs over 5 years) because very few people enjoy the process of changing machines especially when there is a new UI to learn.

The biggest problem with this approach is that it would nuke what remains of the relationship between Microsoft and its OEMs. The OEMs would no longer be able to rely on software-upgrade driven sales (arguably this is already the case) & thus lose any incentive to cooperate with Microsoft.

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"Even home users would be tempted by an offer of continued support for £10-£15 per year (which is what a system builder OEM license for a Home edition costs over 5 years) because very few people enjoy the process of changing machines especially when there is a new UI to learn."

Microsoft do have training people, but that would require them to completely redevelop their business. They'd basically have to merge with an IT consultancy (maybe even a big one like Accenture or Capgemini, or buying out a division of someone like Serco or Capita) to get the manpower. The regulatory issues would be a nightmare. And even then, consumers would probably reject it. Is paying the money worth it if all you get is phone support from some guy in Bangalore reading a script at you?

I'm sure Microsoft could basically fire all their developers, ice Windows 8.1 as it is and sell it for years to come as a legacy, EOL'd project for a nominal sum for years to come. But that's not how they see themselves. They want to stay the biggest company in the world.

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Add windows into the office 365 package maybe?

Although supporting home users is way costlier than supporting corporate ones who have their own tier 1/change the batteries in your mouse/anti conspiracy theorists... any business model that would support my dad for £15/year is doomed. And he'd complain about the price.

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Depends on the actual level of support home users would get, wouldn't it?

There would doubtless be a market for 'We continue to provide patches, you have to deal with them' for XP at £10-£15.

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Hopefully this would usher in some decent Linux Machines into the OEM Market. Of course you'd have to find a way to educate the plebeians that Linux =/= Windows, and that they probably shouldn't expect their old Software to work with it. But, damned I'd love to see this happen.

Then again, it almost did with Netbook's till MicroSoft threw a spanner into those works.

Office on a Netbook = GOD-Tier Office on a Phablet = SH---Tier!

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The odds of Microsoft ever bothering to develop Office for non-Android Linux are zero.

I mean, why bother? Most people who switched to Linux did so because they hate Microsoft.

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Meh

Metro-ised version of Office

That should keep Office 2003 popular for a bit longer.

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If Elop were CEO...

...he'd stop doing things that lose money, and focus on things that make money.

Radical!

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Re: If Elop were CEO...

For some reason I read that as "he'd do things that lose money and focus on things that make money" which seems to be more like they typical CEO.

This whole debacle has come about by some self prompting analyst spouting off and morphed into an "Elop is doing this" via crap news articles and blogs. If its did turn out this way, xbox would be boned as a stand alone product as it I would end up needing a feck load of corporate licensing for the buyers in the future let alone how they would deal with the servers. The PS4 and Steam box would kill it in a year sadly.

makes some sense to ditch bing which I suspect gets most queries from people who don't know how to change their default search engine.

of course it depends on if they think brand and market share are important and have a value.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If Elop were CEO...

makes some sense to ditch bing which I suspect gets most queries from people who don't know how to change their default search engine.

That's a bit harsh ain't it? I mean if Bing only has One redeeming feature its to quickly find Pr0n Videos.

Not really something cut out for Google in my experience. I'm not saying that it can't be done with - [minus] this and + [plus] that. Oh wait you can't use "+" as search aggregate anymore since Google hijacked it for use with Google+. In any case finding Pr0nz is easier with Bing.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

Damn. I can't figure out if that is a massively ironic way of saying 'like I'd tell you lot what I have in mind' or whether he is, in fact, incapable of creative thought.

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Elop seems to be a slash and burn sort of manager. Gets the shareholder a nice dividend in the short term, himself a nice bonus and tomorrow he can move on to pastures a new.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, a lot of high level managers do this. In manufacturing, they often come to a company for 2 to 5 years and throw the "hot potato" on to the next. This often includes NOT spending money on critical infrastructure, hence the toss the hot potato and pray it doesn't, literally, blow up on your watch.

Thank dog for governmental deregulation of industry.

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Why not...

..end the war with the customer and make a word processor that is able to structure text?

Zane.

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Re: Why not...

Or a spreadsheet that has decent charting capabilities, and decent syntax...

But I really, really did like that idea of "ending the war with the customer". Sadly it ain't going to happen as the promise of a metro-ised Office shows. Take all of the very mixed blessings of Office, ignore the infamous ribbon fiasco, and one again stick an unrequested and unwanted new UI on the front end of the ageing and unimproved code. There's a winner.

MS are the world's most arrogant company, They know best, and you'll take what they deign to toss your way. As Elop is Microsoft through and through, even setting light to Bing and throwing Xbox out the window won't change that culture.

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Re: Why not...

I use sigil for most of my word processing now. Makes structuring text pretty simple (as long as you've got a working knowledge of html and css).

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Re: Why not...

"MS are the world's most arrogant company, They know best, and you'll take what they deign to toss your way."

Exactly how the iPhone, iPad and the UX in IOS and OS X were designed. Except that it was only Steve's opinion that mattered. One guy. That was all. If he liked it, it was forced on everyone else. If he didn't like it, you reworked it until he did or you were canned.

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Re: Why not...

"Exactly how the iPhone, iPad and the UX in IOS and OS X were designed. Except that it was only Steve's opinion that mattered. One guy. That was all. If he liked it, it was forced on everyone else. If he didn't like it, you reworked it until he did or you were canned."

Quite so, but then the original statement wasn't a judgement of Apple's ethics.

Generally speaking (and lest ye forget, generalisms always have exceptions), pragmatism and American Corporates don't usually mix.

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