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Latest Microsoft Hardware Failures: Kin, Xbox, and Zune

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Why it is notable that Microsoft is not a (primarily) hardware company, given the poor performance of its hardware business

WE will soon post an analysis of Microsoft’s latest financial results, which we have already alluded to in [1, 2]. This post deals in isolation with the fact that Microsoft’s hardware products (notably phones running Microsoft software and the fiasco-rich Xbox) are not in good shape, even based on Microsoft’s results.


“Microsoft Posts Slumping WinMo Sales,” says this one report.

Microsoft said its non-gaming revenue fell $80 million in its third quarter on decreased sales of its Windows Mobile operating system and Zune devices.

Last week we wrote about Kin [1, 2], which seems like another step in the wrong direction. Reuters has this article from IDG which says: “Windows Phone? No App for That”

Looking for the niftiest new mobile app? You might find it on an iPhone or an Android device, but not on a Windows phone. Developers’ apathy and a fast-falling market share mean that Microsoft’s mobile phone business is in the doldrums. And that in turn may mean trouble for all of Microsoft several years from now.

It is amazing that Microsoft would flush compatibility down the toilet. This was probably one of the few selling points they had. There are other complaints and rants about Kin, many of which concentrate on Microsoft’s distasteful advertising rather than Microsoft’s distasteful product.

The Microsoft “sexting” story is still being brought up [1, 2, 3] and even Microsoft boosters like Alex Zaharov-Reutt are critical of such advertisements. These ads (one in particular) are apparently gone altogether [1, 2, 3], with many claims that Microsoft “pulled” the offending advert.

Microsoft has announced its decision to pull a controversial advert for its new Kin line of phones after complaints emerged that it promotes “sexting” among teens.

The advert shows a man in a club taking a photo under his T-shirt using a Kin phone and sharing it with his friends. Thereafter, a young woman is shown receiving the message with a smile on her face.

Did Microsoft pull the entire ad or was it just edited? There are somewhat contradictory reports. Either way, another point for which Kin is criticised has to do with the lack of "cut/copy and paste" functionality. Is this being done for the media industry (to please Murdoch et al [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13])? That’s just one theory, which Microsoft’s Web font DRM [1, 2] brings to mind. Here is another explanation which says that Microsoft intends to keep it that way.

Microsoft Apologetics On Why Copy/Paste Unnecessary

As anyone knows that has been following the impending release of Windows Phone 7 knows, the OS will not support copy and paste operations. Rather than just say that copy and paste is something Microsoft wants to do, they have begun a campaign to try and convince you that copy and paste is unnecessary.

We really need Free(dom) software to counter these rigid mobile platforms that do not allow “cut/copy and paste” (Apple too banned it before, at least when it was implemented by a developer other than Apple’s own iPhone programmers).

It is actually unfortunate that Linux phones too are made semi-proprietary these days. Examples include Android and WebOS, which has just shed off a former Microsoft general manager [1, 2].

Abbott, a former Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) general manager, joined Palm in 2008 to head development for webOS.

Why was he hired in the first place? Given how Microsoft ruined Danger, they ought to have known better.

One of Microsoft’s key mobile strategies is to fill the Web with Silver Lie content, which will in turn block access from many devices except Microsoft’s. Forrester, which lists Microsoft as a major client, plays along with this suppression of web standards.

[Forrester] Analyst: HTML5 far from killing off Web plug-ins

HTML5, the budding specification for multimedia in Web applications, will not displace proprietary rich Internet technologies, such as Adobe Flash/Flex or Microsoft Silverlight, anytime soon, an analyst report released this week said.

Given what Google does regarding codecs at the moment — not to mention Apple blocking Adobe and Microsoft/Novell [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] — this “analyst report” may soon be proven wrong. We shall see.

Xbox 360

Xbox reality is one of denial (Machinarium) and censorship. Microsoft wants to control the message and even fire employees who say the truth about error/defect rates that continue to be a major problem (and comically enough, Microsoft brags about “MCV Industry Excellence Award”). Servers of Xbox are slowing down after downtimes that we reported earlier this year and former Microsoft employees are part of the life blood that’s left for the product.

Xbox has already lost billions of dollars. This is not success.

Zune Hacked

There is almost not a word about Zune anymore. It sometimes seems like it’s in “clearance sale” status. Kin, which reuses some elements of Zune, is equally unappealing as it lags behind the competition (the Linux-based Android grows most impressively). Adding insult to injury, Zune HD as well as previous models of the Zune have just been hacked and instructions for hacking made available.

Neither the hack nor exploit was revealed by ZuneBoards Development Front, so let’s see how Microsoft patches the hole.

This is also covered in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

A new press release about faulty hardware recycling [1, 2] names two products that are prone to permanent failure.

More than 1,900 U.S. and Canadian Goodwill Locations to Collect Xbox, Zune and Accompanying Accessories for Free Recycling

Maybe these can be recycled into something that’s actually usable and respects the owners who bought (actually rented) them.

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