Microsoft might finally be stepping up to challenge Apple and Google on the mobile front. With the announcement of the Surface tablet, Windows Mobile 8, and their $1.2B acquisition of Yammer, it has been an awfully busy week for Steve Ballmer and company.
The Microsoft Surface tablet is easily the biggest announcement of the bunch, as it’s changing the way that Microsoft has previously done business. The most noteworthy aspect of the Surface tablet is that it is going to be made in-house from start to finish. That’s right - the software AND hardware are going to be 100% Microsoft. It’s very possible that this will be the iPad contender that so many companies have tried to create. In addition to a gaggle of impressive features and specs, what really sets it apart from previous tablets is its built in keyboard/snap case and kickstand. Not only does it have the power that you’d expect from a PC, but it’s as delicate and elegant as any ultrabook or tablet. The Surface is 9.3mm thin, has full size USB 2.0 ports, is a mere 1.5 lbs (made of the extra strong and lightweight magnesium - VaporMg), and is a perfect stage for the new Windows 8 platform. A big question mark is the Surface’s price - Microsoft has only revealed that it will be competitively priced. Although the Surface may not completely replace the iPad, it may just be Microsoft’s heavy weight challenger. Windows Phone 8 Update
Microsoft announced a few major upgrades to their mobile OS last week. The most significant being a new start screen, multi-core processors and memory card support, a brand new Internet Explorer (10), a wallet hub, new maps, and business support for Windows Phone 8. Although it’s not quite a full-fledged reveal like that of Apple’s recent iOS 6 presentation, it is not something to be taken lightly. Microsoft’s live tiles really set them apart from the competition, and they seem to only be perfecting this feature. The Windows 8 platform has gotten rave reviews by consumers, and when Microsoft throws their weight behind something, people take notice! Some mobile experts predict that by 2014 Windows phone will be up to a 20% market share which will be neck and neck with iOS.
Microsoft Acquires Yammer for $1.2 Billion
Microsoft made an ‘Instagram-sized’ acquisition this week when they acquired Yammer for $1.2 Billion (cash!). This news didn’t quite make the impact that Facebook’s acquisition of the popular photo-sharing app did, but that doesn’t mean it holds any less validity. What is Yammer you may ask? It is essentially a social network within an organization, available only to that specific organization, that is secure, and free (for users). “The acquisition of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft. “Yammer adds a best-in-class enterprise social networking service to Microsoft’s growing portfolio of complementary cloud services.” Yammer was launched in 2008 and has over 5 million corporate users (making up most of the Fortune 500). Yammer will join the Microsoft Office Division.
What Does This All Mean for Microsoft?
Although Microsoft developed one of the most lucrative and successful business plans in computer technology, they haven’t necessarily been receiving the greatest reviews the last few (ten) years. Microsoft was absolutely in their prime with the release of Windows XP, but had a bit of a dry-spell after the major flops of the Zune and Windows Vista. Their most profitable venture in recent years was the development and fine-tuning of the Xbox and Kinect gaming systems. Needless to say, they needed a big reveal to turn their lukewarm reputation around, and the future seems very bright for the software giant.