Summary: How an inside trader became recognised for “charitable work” after departure from Microsoft
A LOT of very bad people received a lot of very noteworthy recognition. Reasons for this may include the need for prizes to be associated with renowned (or infamous) people in order to be internationally recognised; another obvious reason is the (mis)use of PR, as seen in the case of Bill Gates with his publicity charade. As we will show in a later post, the U.S. education chief had his job stolen by Mr. Gates and he is “‘not a fan’ of Microsoft Xbox 360″ according to the Microsoft boosters.
“Bach was not sent to jail or even put on trial for breaking the law, according to very strong allegations that would be hard to deny.”More interestingly, however, the man who is largely responsible for the Xbox 360 disaster (and quit a few months ago, maybe forced out) is now being “honored” (more here). What for? Well, Bach is being ‘honored “for his steadfast and long-term commitment to improving the lives of America’s children,” the ESA said in its release, noting Bach’s charitable work.’
Charitable work? From the same guy who was caught inside-trading, i.e. illegally taking money away from other investors?
Bach was not sent to jail or even put on trial for breaking the law, according to very strong allegations that would be hard to deny. How come? Well, laws are made by rich people to put threats to them in confinement. Those with money are assumed to have accrued it through good work and “success”, not viciousness. It’s probably like giving a peace prize to Kissinger (some would also name Obama). In the society we live in, people who do cruel things can earn a lot of money and then use this money to glorify themselves and whitewash a negative past which got them where they are. Mirosoft happens to have produced many such people, including Traul Allen. █
“There is an urban legend that Lehrer gave up political satire when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger in 1973. He did comment that awarding the prize to Kissinger made political satire obsolete, but has denied that he stopped creating satire thereafter as a form of protest, asserting that he had stopped several years prior to the award.” –Wikipedia
Send this to a friend
Summary: Microsoft’s policy when it comes to barring words and content is seen as objectionable and Microsoft is even led to apologise for a mistake
THE Xbox 360 has a censorship problem. It’s a subject that’s open for debate because there are no absolute rights and wrongs. We have had these debates here before because in mobile also, Microsoft censors sex, just like Apple. Linux is more liberal by comparison.
According to the latest news from Zombie Cows, Microsoft has had its sex education game banned.
It seems that Zombie Cows’ ‘Privates’ XBLA game was not approved due to it’s sexual nature.
This was also covered in [, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Is sex education not suitable in Microsoft’s eyes? Even when it’s all animated? Just how prudent is Microsoft really?
“Just how prudent is Microsoft really?”Microsoft is still trying to recover from the "Fort Gay" PR disaster. As one article puts it, “the real question is, why is the word Gay so offensive in the first place? Even if it hadn’t been a real town, would suspending Moore’s account have made sense? Does this demonstrate homophobia on the part of Microsoft, or just an ill-thought out policy? What do you think?”
Homophobia at Microsoft is nothing new, but as part of damage control Microsoft has no choice but to apologise:
Microsoft (NASD: MSFT) is apologizing to a town in West Virginia, after a 26-year-old gamer from a town called Fort Gay was suspended from its Xbox Live online game service because of the town’s name, the Associated Press reported.
This was also covered in [1, 2, 3, 4]. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Microsoft is outspending the competition in an effort to overhype KINect, but the competition is technically superior and Microsoft’s product is still defective, even shortly before its launch
IN reality, Xbox 360 has many technical problems (even management exodus) and today we deal with some of the very latest. No artificial hype is allowed. The consoles market is not a good market to be in right now because “U.S. game sales down 10 per cent in August” and “Nintendo DS, Wii Led 10% Decline in U.S. Game Sales in August”. Nintendo is still a worldwide leader and project Natal is all Microsoft could offer to counter Nintendo, even if Nintendo will be a lot cheaper. Natal was later named Kinect, but can “Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360
Can beat the Nintendo Wii?”
Well, we wrote about “Natal” since the very beginning and technical problems in KINect (KINect as in “KIN”) are quite routine. We — along with many others — believe that it is going to fail when it arrives (maybe not in the US) and based on this new article, the KINect prototype/test unit still has recognition problems. Is Microsoft going to release a defective product just like it delivered poorly-designed Xbox 360s? The management of this project/product has quit the company since then and who can blame them?
For those of you who are still on the fence on whether or not to pick up Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect kit, we have an article for you to read now, which suggests that the Kinect camera is still suffering from problems.
Sony “takes jab at Microsoft, says 360 is ‘reliant’ on shooters,” argues one gamers’ site amongst others. “Unlike One Of Our Competitors, We Don’t Rely On Shooters” is another angle. A “New Sony Website Jabs At Microsoft’s Kinect,” says Tom’s Guide. To quote: ‘”See what you did there? You clicked it,” the site teases when any one of the six buttons are clicked. “It turns out that buttons are pretty important. Not like ‘save the whales’ important. More like ‘not play games that suck’ important. Cuz they help you… control stuff. Controller. Control. Kinda makes sense.”‘
“In order to plug KINect into some more headlines, Microsoft has begun to associate it with unrelated products like hypePad”Gizmodo has more details about
Yaybuttons.com and it turns out that Microsoft’s primitive device did have an opportunity, but those who managed the project did not take the advice of others. Here is some more coverage [1, 2, 3, 4] and a reminder that Sony is coming. Microsoft says it expects Kinect sales to top 3 million units by the end of the year, but that’s just nonsense because they usually end up missing their optimistic targets/projections, which are intended to be self-fulfilling prophecies. It’s marketing, that’s all. The English-speaking press did give the new Japanese contender some coverage too [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Unlike Microsoft’s KINect, Sony’s Move has hardly any complaints about it or negative reviews (none that we could find).
In order to plug KINect into some more headlines, Microsoft has begun to associate it with unrelated products like hypePad [1, 2, 3]. Ridiculous claims and unrealistic projections are being made again. It’s just a lot of marketing and Sony lets it be known that Microsoft spends a huge amount of money marketing KINect, creating ‘synthetic’ coverage. To name some headlines:
- Sony would ‘never outspend’ Microsoft’s Kinect marketing
- Sony: We Won’t Outspend Microsoft
- Sony: We’ll Never Beat Microsoft on Marketing Budgets
As one article puts it, “[i]n the battle of the motion controllers, one of Sony’s top marketers said that pre-orders were encouraging, despite a smaller spend on advertising than its rival.”
Amazon recently dumped Xbox Live Arcade Games and now it’s adding Sony’s Move. It’s a bit of a slap in the face of Microsoft, which is busy filling the press with nonsense (marketing). This certainly works well in the English-speaking world, where Japanese consoles may receive less sympathy. The United States, however, is just one market among many. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: A sobering look at the iffy launch of “Halo: Reach”, which left some buyers upset; Xbox 360 hype is compared to a relatively disappointing reality outside the United States
IF HALO’S latest release is known to many people, it’s because Microsoft flooded the press with money as part of its huge marketing campaign. Lavish spendings on development may justify a lot of PR, but shouldn’t good games sell themselves to journalists? Need writers be prodded and pressured to bow to Microsoft? That’s just one of the issues we’ll explore today.
Let’s start with a reality/sanity check. The release of Halo had some true problems, even if the press was overrun by PR that masked those problems. As BNET put it, “early glitches show how difficult it is to roll out a game to millions and manage online play without problems. It has to make you wonder whether Microsoft can reliably rely on gaming as a strength for Windows Phone 7.” From the same long complaint:
My son typed in the code and he got an error message. He clicked Try Again and the prompt cleared as he was told that the code had already been used. A friend of his experienced the same thing. Eventually, he went into some system settings, found an option to download the specials again, and was able to do so.
However, you don’t want to rely on the comfort and technical prowess of consumers in online gaming, and that becomes even more of an issue as Microsoft sees games as a potential advantage in the roll-out of Windows Phone 7. Here’s a hint: It’s only an advantage if you don’t have to think to make titles work.
“It’s all just ‘synthetic’ reporting, manufactured by PR people with a huge budget at hand.”The writer predicts that Vista Phone 7 [sic] may also suffer from this type of mess. “KIN” users were sure complaining in the forums about technical problems (we covered this at the time). But will readers of major newspapers pay attention? Probably not because Vista Phone 7 also has a marketing budget of about half a billion dollars (that’s a lot to spend on a really bad platform to be merely promoted). It’s all just ‘synthetic’ reporting, manufactured by PR people with a huge budget at hand. The machinations and the process involved are a subject we wrote about before along with some examples. Here is Bloomberg helping Microsoft create some hype around “Halo: Reach” (just in time for release) and the PR blitz for Halo is also aided by free advertising from the MSBBC (well, “free” as in taxpayers-funded), which hired many people from Microsoft UK and continues to hire more, most recently for iPlayer [1, 2]. The latter article states: “The new role is part of Hugger’s restructure of the FM&T team following the departure of Anthony Rose to become chief technology officer of IPTV joint venture Project Canvas.”
“Here we have a former Microsoft employee bringing in other employees of Microsoft to the MSBBC.”Here we have a former Microsoft employee bringing in other employees of Microsoft to the MSBBC. The BBC has been corrupted by Microsoft influence at its very core. It will be hard to recover from that as it usually gets worse over time, not better. Just look at Yahoo! Unlike the BBC, the Yahoo! news portal only syndicates news, it doesn’t pretend to be an “objective” news-teller (which the BBC certainly is not, at least in the technology section).
Some weeks ago we explained that there were fake Halo leaks whose sole purpose was to create hype under the guise of “taboo”. It’s just marketing spin, served with $200,000,000 as the off-the-shelf number of choice. A lot of the press just printed this number without asking questions (how is this number calculated? What does it represent?) or using some critical thinking. Microsoft utters some big number and the ‘journalists’ just quote or type it down as fact. It was the same type of media blitz with previous Halo releases as I pointed out on the Web at the time (it was clearly not natural, just artificial hype). Watch Microsoft using celebrities like Snoop Dogg and LL Cool J to promote this thing. Bill Gates is currently using a similar strategy which we will write about tomorrow (famous black artists used to support his hijack of the school system).
Hype aside, what is it really that’s reported about Halo? Well, there are already problems, of course. Here we go, there are disc read errors [1, 2, 3]. To quote:
While Bungie and Microsoft’s Halo: Reach has seen impressive success in its opening week, some of its users have reported disc read errors on older Xbox 360 models, rendering the game unplayable.
Users on the Bungie.net forums have reported error messages, looping cinematics, and lock-ups when trying to play the game, even on brand new discs.
The disc errors are being confirmed by Microsoft and attempts are being made to get somebody to start a survey which determines what proportion of the buyers will be affected (Microsoft lies about Xbox 360 error rates in the most shameful of ways and fires employees who say the truth):
A report from Paul McDougall today over on Information Week says that Microsoft has confirmed receiving complaints of glitches with Halo: Reach. Apparently the problem seems mainly to affect users on the 20GB Xbox 360 Pro, sold between 2005 and 2008 although there have also been some problems for users of the 120GB Xbox 360 Elite.
Endemic Xbox 360 scratching issues cannot be forgotten [1, 2] because they ended up leading to formal complaints and investigations. Microsoft just cannot get hardware to be made reliably, maybe because it chooses underpaid labour.
“Microsoft just cannot get hardware to be made reliably, maybe because it chooses underpaid labour.”There are other issues with “Halo: Reach”: “According to numerous players, the 4GB of internal memory the system has is read by the game as a memory unit and not an HDD. Because of this, the game keeps popping up a “hard drive is required” message to these gamers as they try to go into online co-op.”
“Halo Reach is what’s wrong with the gaming industry today,” claims this troll from CNET and other publications including Ziff Davis’:
But all the laudatory comments and gushing over the game just don’t work for me. I’ll be the first to admit that Halo games are fun to play. But for me, Halo Reach – and all the hoopla surrounding it – is what’s wrong with the gaming industry.
So, as Halo Reach gets all the accolades that most gamers say it deserves, I’m left wanting more. The game might be fun to play. It might be a great step up over predecessors. But to me, it’s everything that’s wrong about the gaming industry. The game is part of a major franchise. It’s yet another first-person shooter. And it doesn’t push the industry forward in any measurable way.
So there we have another unexciting game without any innovation being hyped up because Microsoft is a marketing company (and lawyers’ den too). “Team Fortress 2 support for the 360 was a “train wreck,” says Valve,” according to Geek.com. So it’s not just Halo then. To quote: “A perpetual sore spot for Xbox 360 gamers is the debacle of Valve Software’s 360-port of their incredible and constantly evolving team-based multiplayer shooter, Team Fortress 2. While the PC and Mac versions of Team Fortress 2 have been privy to a constant stream of content-adding updates, all of them free, the 360 version has barely seen an update since it was launched.”
Maybe that’s because most gamers use a console like Wii and truly hardcore gamers would rather have a PS3. Xbox 360 may be doing well in the US because it’s the only American console (and accordingly, it’s heavily advertised there). Over in Asia it’s another story because there is a ban on Xbox 360 in China (and new competition that is a lot more affordable).
“Xbox 360 may be doing well in the US because it’s the only American console (and accordingly, it’s heavily advertised there).”In Japan it is the very opposite of the US in the sense that Xbox 360 is somewhat of a joke in Japan (the English-speaking press won’t touch the topic). To quote some numbers from the article “Week One Japanese Sales Of Slim 360 Fail to Perform”: “This week Japan saw the launch of the new slimmer Xbox 360, but Japan didn’t seem to get suckered in. The revised console sold about 700 units, accounting for less than 20 percent of total Xbox 360 hardware sales.”
That’s right! Just 700 units!!! Taking all 360 sales into account it’s still just a few thousands. That’s pathetic performance in a technically-advanced country with a population of over 100 million (127,420,000 is this year’s estimate). █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Microsoft makes marketing moves in Great Britain, StorageCraft adds Microsoft influence, and former Microsoft staff becomes CEO of the “Final Fantasy” maker
MICROSOFT and Samsung may soon have some more overlap. “Microsoft has hired senior European Samsung executive Mikah Martin-Cruz as chief marketing officer for its UK operation,” says The Guardian, as well as other British publications [1, 2, 3] and international ones. Who is it that must have left Microsoft then? Either way, when it comes to marketing/PR agencies at Microsoft, this often involves AstroTurfing and other unethical methods. We gave many examples before.
At Microsoft, it’s all about marketing and not execution. A lot of the time that company sells mediocre products or forces people to buy them, e.g. using bundling deals. “Glam Media Names Microsoft Exec Loring UK MD,” says another report with interesting details: “Women’s web network Glam Media is appointing Jane Loring its UK managing director.
“Loring is director of specialist sales at Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Advertising in the UK, responsible for industry, product and syndication including Facebook ads, network business, search and creative solutions, Glam says.”
“Some other companies, Juniper for example, appears to have been occupied by Microsoft veterans at many levels including CEO position.”Where it says “Facebook ads”, does it include AstroTurfing like this? Earlier today we remarked on the special relationship between Facebook and Microsoft. “GetJar Hires X-Microsoft Executive to Spearhead UK Sales,” says another news report. What is it with Microsoft marketing in the UK? Not enough brainwash already?
Microsoft is trying to get across the message that it’s a fundamental part of “computers”. Many regular guests at this show called “Let’s Talk Computers” are from Microsoft too, but we rarely point this out when this is seen by Techrights. These people are everywhere and they tend to promote the One Microsoft Way (Microsoft has a different, unique, and competition-hostile way of doing just about anything in computing).
The Australian reveals that “StorageCraft snares Microsoft expert as technical services manager” and says that the company “has lured a renowned specialist in Microsoft technology for the role of Asia-Pacific technical services general manager.” This is something to watch out for in case they become more Windows-oriented in their product.
Some other companies, Juniper for example, appear to have been occupied by Microsoft veterans at many levels including CEO position [1, 2, 3]. Entryism may be one way to explain the Windows-oriented activities at this company (whose CEO was a top Microsoft executive just a few years ago, before he surrounded himself with former Microsoft colleagues inside Juniper, just like in VM_Bware).
Juniper aside, watch who becomes the new CEO of the Final Fantasy maker. Yes, its a former Microsoft chief (marketer). Might there be Xbox 360 focus in the future and no support for other consoles/platforms in the next version? Let’s hope not. Xbox 360 will be the main subject of the next few posts. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: The old image (above) is being replaced
A reader said that we should “have a small piece of liberty enlightening the world” and he contributed the following image to Techrights.
“This might look nice as a masthead,” explained the reader. “It is a crop from a statue of liberty image I found by Google image search. It would look even classier if you could make seven spikes of light coming off it that equally divide the top of the page. The statue of liberty’s formal name is “Liberty Enlightening the World”. The seven spikes of it’s crown has seven spikes, representing the continents of the world.
“I’ve enjoyed the little flags on top of rock piles for articles talking about the corruption of various countries, but think liberty’s hand would look nicer for the site as a whole.”
Techrights thanks the reader for this contribution and it will carry the torch as part of the top banner from now on. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Analysts take a close look at Microsoft and they don’t like what they see; Microsoft is apparently trying to hide losses by merging units; alleged Microsoft employees are suggesting that more layoffs are weeks away
MICROSOFT’S financial situation is somewhat of a misunderstood subject because the company has debt and despite bragging about huge profits the company has vapourised a lot of its cash reserves. Under Ballmer’s reign or era the company lost about half its value (Microsoft would rather people evaluate it by its stock alone). Microsoft’s GNU/Linux-hostile COO Mr. Turner is dumping his Microsoft shares and despite some recovery in the stock market (see Red Hat’s performance for example) Microsoft’s performance remains rather abysmal:
Microsoft, down about 22 percent this year, is a profit powerhouse. In its last fiscal year that ended in June, it posted a 40 percent pretax profit margin and a return on stockholders’ equity of 44 percent.
That’s what Microsoft says, but there are more sceptical people out there.
“[T]he shell game of hiding loses, moving divisions around that are losing too much money (Kin)”
–Chips B. MalroyMicrosoft thinks that Microsoft is cheap and some people went along with this type of headline (we found two examples), implying that Microsoft is about to surge. Well, on what basis exactly? A current/former Microsoft shareholder suggests dumping the stock. The company’s financials are not so impressive (buybacks imminent) and Microsoft has debt (last covered last week and therefore not worth repeating).
“Jefferies & Co. said Microsoft Corp. could borrow up to $4.5 billion,” according to two separate articles from last week [1, 2]. The latter says “Jefferies Thinks Microsoft Could Borrow $4.5 Billion” (Microsoft has already borrowed several billions).
Mary Jo Microsoft has just revealed that Microsoft may be using the old trick of merging unrelated businesses so as to make all divisions look profitable. We saw Microsoft doing this several times before. This time it’s a huge stretch because Microsoft tries to merge embedded (failing) with server and tools (successful). This way, according to our reader Chips, the failure will be hidden away in a bigger bucket. It’s “the shell game of hiding loses, moving divisions around that are losing too much money (Kin),” he explains.
There’s some odd reorg-related news coming out of Microsoft today, September 20. The company is announcing that it is moving its Embedded business into the Server and Tools unit.
I had been assuming Embedded might end up as part of Windows client or maybe as part of the Mobile Communications Business (since Microsoft’s Mobilebusiness is one of the biggest — though not the only — OEM for the various Embedded division products).
This is worse than the Microsoft blog makes it seem (we have not yet identified any proper analysis of this). But it gets worse. After some recent downgrades and the like from a Standard & Poor’s analyst and from Credit Suisse Microsoft takes another couple of hits. “FBR cuts Microsoft profit view” says this report which expands as follows: “FBR Capital Markets lowered its profit estimates for software giant Microsoft Corp due to softening consumer demand for PCs.”
“[O]nly seen about 3 comments new on Mini msft about layoffs, maybe in Oct.”
–Chips B. Malroy“Morgan Stanley Cuts Estimates on Microsoft Corp.’s Slower PC Sales” says another report, just one among several. This cannot be good. It means that Microsoft’s upcoming results will not impress (even it they beat already-lowered street expectations, as usual because it’s easy to assure).
Chips B. Malroy says that he has “only seen about 3 comments new on Mini msft about layoffs, maybe in Oct.” That’s the blog where many anonymous Microsoft employees comment. Have any other readers noticed something about layoffs that are coming next month? Microsoft has had many rounds of layoffs in recent years because it's moving overseas to cut costs. This often means that the quality of products is reduced, not just working conditions and wages.
To repeat what was said at the start, Microsoft lost about half its value over the past decade (mostly under Ballmer’s management) and one item of news says: “That’s right, Microsoft is nearly $170 billion cheaper today than it was a decade ago. That’s an eye-popping discount. Of course, there are plenty of stocks that have gone backwards during the past 10 years, however, most are just a shadow of their former selves.”
Microsoft’s market cap is well behind Apple's and in terms of brand value Microsoft is not doing so well, either. Its position fell over the years [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. This is one of the more Microsoft-friendly ladders and in this specific one “third place is still occupied by Microsoft, the software giant.” In some other surveys/ladders of this kind Microsoft is doing much worse (the UK one/s being the exception).
Here is a fascinating observation that we found. It just states the obvious:
It’s to assuage worries that too much of MS’s value is held overseas, resulting in tricky taxation situations. More than anything else this confirms one thing: Despite its PR, MS isn’t in the business of serving consumers … it’s a money-making machine.
“Why Apple Beats Microsoft At Change Management” says this headline from Forbes and although we spend no time comparing Microsoft to Apple (it’s the wrong comparison to have when we really deal with software freedom versus proprietary software, not brands), Chips B. Malroy insisted on pointing out (twice even) that Apple’s hypePad (and to some extent Google Android too) is causing huge damage to Microsoft sales. █
Send this to a friend
« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »