On to imaginary products
“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”
–Microsoft, internal document
Summary: The sale of Dell turns out to have been initiated by Microsoft, whose leading product (common carrier) is already having obituaries written about it due to the messages which come out from Microsoft
The manager behind the product which we dubbed Vista 8 has already been fired. It is easy to see why now that we have preliminary market statistics, just over half a year after the official release. Vista 8 greatly harmed OEMs such as Dell (Dell too has complained) and this new report says that Microsoft is paying Dell [1, 2, 3] to encumber PCs with Vista 8, leaving the customers out of the loop.
The terms of Microsoft’s $2 billion loan into the war chest of Denali Holdings, the Dell private buyout entity led by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners, are now public record. Microsoft’s money was key in raising the $24.4 billion required to finalize the offer for Dell, but it’s possible Dell will benefit even beyond the loan; the loan documents make clear that after the acquisition is complete, Dell will re-negotiate its payment terms for Microsoft software licenses.
So no longer is it mere speculation that Microsoft was behind Dell going private and selling out. “Windows Blues,” as iophk calls it, is what we are seeing here. “Vista 8 is failing so they are already doing the N+1 thing,” he adds. Here is a report about it. Talk about rush; this is motivated by panic. The Guardian says “PC sales plummet”, but what it means to actually say is “Windows preinstalls plummet” (because of failure to evolve). “Biggest expectation is that update will revive start button familiar to users for 17 years before removal from Windows 8,” writes Charles Arthur. But that’s not really an apt summary. The real news is that Windows is plummeting to minority market share and Microsoft has no clue what to do about it. Here is CNET claiming “‘Wintel’ on the wane: Intel goes Google”. The summary is as follows: “Intel has been synonymous with Windows PCs seemingly forever. But it’s trying to change that in a hurry. Enter Google.”
I recently had lunch with an Intel engineer who acknowledged this trend. Moblin and Tizen were not good enough as comeback attempts. Here is a criticism of what Microsoft is essentially doing right now. The author alleges that Windows 8 marketing fiasco deemed even worse than ‘New Coke’ and he starts with the obvious pitfall: “With the Windows Blue update on the way, analysts have already started writing obituaries for Windows 8, the operating system that proved to be immensely polarizing among PC users. While history will likely look upon Windows 8 more kindly than the widely despised Vista, Envisioneering analyst Richard Doherty tells The Financial Times that it will be remembered as the biggest marketing fiasco since Coca Cola decided to rework the
formula for its famous soft drink back in the ’80s.”
Here is IDG with some numbers:
Microsoft’s own numbers show Windows 8 sales falling rapidly
Microsoft says it’s sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses to date, but its officially reported monthly sales are falling off precipitously
Based on some numbers from IDC (part of IDG), despite a lot of money spent on marketing, Windows is a non-starter outside the desktop. █
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Summary: The resemblance between Microsoft’s strategy against free Linux phones (Android) and against free GNU/Linux servers, two areas of FOSS domination
Microsoft is frantically trying to stop GNU/Linux by robbing it in the development sense. On the server side, the de facto operating system is not Windows and Microsoft would love to change that by striking deals with companies like BitNami. Here is the latest press release about it. Microsoft has been using a "man in the middle" style of attack against real FOSS (i.e. FOSS that is not tied to a proprietary stack) and the latest openwashing about it can be found here. It says: [hat tip: iophk]
Last week, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. quietly turned one year old. The birthday passed without fanfare, but next week, Microsoft plans to host a birthday party at its Silicon Valley campus.
More PR nonsense. It is not even news. All this thing should be considered to be is an attack on free systems like GNU/Linux and *BSD. Here we see, in another new press release, the Microsoft-sponsored SUSE. playing along. SUSE pays Microsoft for GNU/Linux and so does this new product from Amazon. Dell, which Microsoft is taking control of these days, favours Microsoft’s SUSE as well now.
Canonical, which has been aiding Microsoft as of late, does this too with Dell. To quote:
Dell’s (NASDAQ: DELL) not the only big-name channel partner with which Canonical, the company that develops Ubuntu Linux, has been forging closer ties lately. On Tuesday, as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced the general availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, Canonical was also playing up Ubuntu’s seamless integration into the Azure cloud platform—a move that makes much more sense than it might at first seem.
All we are seeing here is Microsoft’s attempts to tax GNU/Linux servers, making them more expensive while offering the same applications under Windows. The same strategy is being used against Android. This is not some far-fetched theory. Microsoft has been very clear about that. █
“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
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On Icahn and other moles like Elop
Summary: What lies beneath the strategy of taking control of OEMs without paying to buy them; Steve Ballmer visits Lenovo, which absorbed former Microsoft executives, trying to secure Windows lock-in
Microsoft used a proxy battle via Icahn to abduct Yahoo in pursuit of Google, the #1 rival of Microsoft (in the lucrative enterprise market in particular). In the mobile market, Microsoft abducted Nokia, killing Nokia’s Linux pursuits. The same is happening on the desktop/server. Lenovo, for example, was preinstalling Android/GNU/Linux or nothing, based on this article which shows Ballmer getting involved (after a while Lenovo started promoting Ballnux, but not before Microsoft executives had entered the company). The report says: “First, a large percentage of Lenovo’s sales are in Asia, where it’s very common to find Lenovo PCs with no operating system preinstalled. In fact, in many Asian countries, it’s hard to find Lenovo PCs with “genuine” Windows. In spite of the fact that Lenovo has promised for years to preinstall Windows on more PCs, and Steve Ballmer himself visited the Lenovo offices last December, it’s still very easy to order Windows-less Lenovo computers from Asian Lenovo sites.”
OEMs are walking away from Windows, so Microsoft wants to hijack the leadership of companies like Dell and so far it makes some progress. From the latest news:
TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell has signed a licensing deal with Microsoft to become a worldwide distributor and OEM for devices running the Windows Embedded operating system.
Dell, which is in the midst of a messy leveraged buyout that could see it become a private company, is trying to move away from its low-margin PC business. The firm announced that it has signed a worldwide licensing deal to become an OEM and distributor of Microsoft’s Windows Embedded operating system.
According to some news, Icahn steps closer into Dell. Can he help Microsoft abduct Dell without a takeover, just like Yahoo? There is already a hijacking-esque move: “Taking a huge publicly traded company, such as PC maker Dell, back to its origins as a private corporation is a huge effort and now there’s word that those plans may be getting more complicated. Billionaire Carl Icahn is rumored to be buying a six percent share of Dell and if that happens, his next move may be to organize an effort to stop Dell from going private.”
Microsoft Dell is one to boycott unless the planned deal is revoked. Dell has had some GNU/Linux projects in the pipeline (Alienware too) and Microsoft wants to stop this. Icahn is getting uglier. Icahn Threatens “Proxy Fight” as Dell Buyout Drags On, says one headline. Here is one that says Carl Icahn retaining proxy vote option, rival bid in battle for Dell. To quote:
Corporate raider Carl Icahn is refusing to give up the right to a proxy vote on a large once-off dividend from Dell and is continuing to threaten to launch a rival bid as the battle for ownership of computer giant Dell intensifies.
Now watch the report which says Dell to Reimburse Icahn if He Drops Proxy Fight, Litigation Threats (why is this even legal? It’s blackmail).
Dell Inc. (DELL) said it is willing to provide activist investor Carl Icahn with the same expense reimbursement that it has offered to its other two bidders, but only if Mr. Icahn drops his threats to pursue a proxy fight and litigation.
And here is the latest:
Carl Icahn refuses to drop proxy fight option in Dell proposal, WSJ reports
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is refusing to drop the option of a proxy fight to force Dell Inc to pay a big dividend, in spite of the board committee’s request that he drop his threats and launch a formal bid for the company, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Icahn had asked the board’s special committee to be reimbursed for the cost of his due diligence on Dell, a benefit the committee has already granted to rival bidders Silver Lake Partners and Blackstone Group LP.
Silver Lake is connected to Microsoft. Dell is just a “pawn in the battle,” as Microsoft likes to call it. █
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Vista 8 is dead, long live vapourware!
Summary: As Microsoft realises that Vista 8 is worse than Vista and there is nothing to be done to change this, focus gets shifted to a yet-inexistent, mythical operating system
Amid OEM hatred of Windows Hate, or Windows 8 (developers hate it too, with Steam and Valve giving vapourware the finger and now releasing a GNU/Linux distro) Microsoft has been trying to take over the fragile Dell (perhaps with a proxy), but it is not finalised yet. According to reports such as this, Vista 8 is already killing Dell. The thing about Mr. Dell is, he also wishes to diverge away from desktops. He should know that Microsoft fails there. There is a lot of vapourvare for Vista 9 right now, as well as PR for Vista 8. Here is a Microsoft booster citing a Microsoft partner for figures that boost Internet Explorer and Vista 8. Even those biased numbers don’t look too good for Microsoft, which is why UEFI tricks get employed, tying hardware to Microsoft. Katherine Noyes wrote about it the other day:
Linux Girl was comfortably ensconced on her favorite barstool down at the blogosphere’s Broken Windows Lounge when the news broke on Tuesday.
Let’s just say there was no more peace to be had after that.
Linux bloggers fairly tripped over themselves with excitement on PCWorld, on Slashdot and beyond, generating a din that could be heard throughout the Linux blogosphere and its surrounding territories. Linux Girl jumped to attention and began taking down as much as she could.
“‘Secure boot’ does not prevent viruses from writing to the (pre)bootloader, it just notices if it has happened,” noted Slashdot blogger jhol13, for example. “Then the ‘notification’ or ‘failure mode’ is DoS, your computer won’t boot. I’d rather boot with a virus than not boot.
Microsoft Windows is struggling. Only months after Vista 8 was released Microsoft is already talking about future versions. And we’re talking about a 3-year (or thereabouts) release cycle for Windows. These dirty tricks which are intended to buy Microsoft some time without GNU/Linux gaining ground must be tackled as an antitrust issue. Microsoft moles in the press (former staff and the likes of them) are trying very hard right now to demonise the complainers and rescue Microsoft from antitrust scrutiny. █
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Summary: Dell complains about lack of hardware sales due to Vista 8
Dell is under fire from a notorious Microsoft proxy and it may already be a Microsoft proxy itself, just like Nokia.
Vista 7 and Vista 8 represent the gradual decline of Windows (Vista 8 sped that up) — a failure which is killing Nokia. According to this report, Dell is already complaining about Windows:
Dell blames ‘uncertain adoption’ of Windows 8 for some of its financial woes
Paints a gloomy picture of the PC business, emphasizes Windows 8 troubles and a decrease in Windows 7 sales
Why, in that case, is Michael Dell selling out to Microsoft? Faster corporate suicide? █
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Summary: Microsoft’s ruthless proxy fighter seems to be doing to Michael Dell what he already did to Yang
We recently called for a Dell boycott because the company was becoming a Microsoft pawn, just like Yahoo after Icahn got involved and let Microsoft abduct it from the inside (Yahoo is no longer independent).
According to some reports, Microsoft’s pals show up on the scene again:
Blackstone Group LP (BX) and activist investor Carl Icahn submitted proposals to buy Dell Inc. (DELL) that would rival a $24.4 billion buyout offer from Silver Lake Management LLC and company founder Michael Dell, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Blackstone, the world’s biggest private-equity firm, outlined an offer valued at $13.65 to $14.50 a share, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Icahn said he’d pay $15 a share, with a cap on the amount of cash used in the deal, two people said.
As one site put it, “Carl Icahn Poses Serious Problem for Michael Dell”. This is like Jerry Yang all over again.
Short-suffering Dell (DELL) shareholder Carl Icahn is not going to take this lying down — this being what he says is a weak, unacceptable bid for the Round Rock, Texas, computer maker.
Where did he come from, you might ask? It turns out he now owns a large stake in Dell, and he’s telling founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners, who are trying to lead a buyout of the company, that it won’t be happening the way they expect if he has anything to say about it.
Here is more:
There has been another twist in the story of Dell CEO Michael Dell’s quest to take the company he founded private. Already facing a backlash from Dell’s biggest stockholders over the terms of the bid that he and private equity firm Silver Lake have made for the company, there are now two rival bids to contend with. The first comes from a group led by infamous corporate raider Carl Icahn with another led by asset management company Blackstone Group. And both, at least on the surface, appear to be better deals for Dell shareholders—-especially those who want to bet long on the company and keep their stake.
In a press release issued this morning, the “special committee” formed by Dell Inc.’s board to handle negotiations for the company’s sale acknowledged the offers from the Blackstone and Icahn groups. “Both proposals could reasonably be expected to result in superior proposals” to the Michael Dell/Silver Lake offer, the committee said in its written statement on the offers. The committee will now enter into further negotiations with both to hash out the details of each offer and weigh them against the plan to go private.
If Mr. Dell wants to save the company he should escape Microsoft and not become the next Nokia. It’s not too late; not yet. █
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Summary: Microsoft Dell will die just like Nokia under Microsoft leadership, so here’s hoping that shareholders will stop the hijacking by Microsoft
“Shareholders are being pushed aside,” says the article “The Dell Deal May Die”. We covered this before; although revocation is improbable, it is still possible. Microsoft is struggling with hardware, so it tries to occupy companies which make or distribute hardware.
Daniel Eran Dilger, who had ridiculed the now-dead Zune for a long time, wrote that “Microsoft sells out of Surface Pro, just like the Zune HD did in 2009″ and even IDG pokes fun:
Of course, Microsoft could settle the sell-out controversy by releasing sales numbers for Surface Pro.
Secrecy means they have a lot to hide. It would expose lies or deception, thereby becoming a PR disaster. Those fake shortages which we covered after Microsoft had captured Dell are not taken without a barrel of salt and Microsoft still cannot sell such tablets due to lack of apps — something which Microsoft tries to compensate for by ripping Android off. IDG had this to say:
When it comes to mobile platforms, it’s all about the apps. Got apps? Then you’ve got users. If you don’t, then you don’t–just ask BlackBerry about its failed Playbook, and both Palm and HP about the disaster that was WebOS. Overall app quality means more than numbers alone, of course, but if you don’t have many apps populating a storefront, the odds are pretty low that new entries will knock your socks off.
Dell will suffer with Microsoft if it does not stay independent or shareholders-run. Nokia phones lack apps due to Microsoft and some believe that Dell will be “Nokia 2.0″. Here are some quotes:
“When I first heard that Dell was going to go private, I had hopes that this might be an effort to get away from Microsoft’s control, but those hopes were dashed pretty quickly when I saw that Microsoft itself was investing 2 billion in the venture,” said Linux Rants blogger Mike Stone. “Now it looks like Microsoft is being even less subtle about its OEM manipulation.”
Watch where Nokia has come under Microsoft leadership:
Nokia would license its flagship phone software from Microsoft, rather than develop its own, set fire to three of its own mobile platforms, and eventually shed thousands of jobs. Nokia now has a smaller head count than at any time since 1998.
Since it’s also a year since Nokia ripped up the Symbian roadmap – as we exclusively revealed at the time – it’s a good time to ask: how’s the partnership with Microsoft going?
Nowhere. It’s another company killed by Microsoft, with many people losing their jobs.
Windows is a dead end in a world which goes mobile (I write my articles on a tablet out in nature right now), so Microsoft relies on the other cash cow, which depends on Windows monoculture. Here is a sure way to kill this cow’s momentum as well:
Microsoft, long-standing hater of piracy, appears to have decided to step up their targeting system to place their own customers directly in their crosshairs. Your immediate reaction may be to blast the previous sentence as hyperbole, but you would be wrong to do so. Nothing else can explain what they are doing with their Microsoft Office 2013 retail software, which is to make it a single install license that is forever tied to one machine.
No network effect then. Say goodbye to Microsoft with such moves, but will Dell die with Microsoft just as Nokia is? It’s up for Michael Dell to decide. Tomi T Ahonen shows Dell at #5 among computer makers (Nokia is at #8).
Its time to update the biggest computer-maker listing. I really wish the big analyst houses would take over this chore, they report on the data separately already.. but yes, I was the first to start to count smartphones into the total computer shipment numbers and have reported that statistic now for many years already. If you want to see the chart for end of 2011, its here.. Time to do the 2012 number update…
Nokia fell very sharply. Can’t Dell learn from it?
Microsoft is trying to force people to get Office just like Windows because, as iophk puts it, they are “going after data lock-in in Indonesia” (not just in Indonesia):
Microsoft Indonesia, the local arm of software giant, Microsoft Corporation, is in talks with computer manufacturers to embed Office 365, the US company’s cloud-based software service, in personal computers (PCs), executives said.
Andreas Diantoro, president director of Microsoft Indonesia, said that the company was discussing with vendors of at least seven leading PC brands the possibility of collaborating on Office 365.
The brands, he said, included Acer, Hewlett Packard and Toshiba.
“We are exploring the possibility of bundling our product with that of our partners’,” he pointed out.
“Piracy helps Microsoft,” iophk notes, quoting: “Microsoft, he said, had a 98 percent share of the software market but only 10 percent of that market used legally-purchased software.”
“Unless it is that FOSS has a larger market share there than elsewhere,” he added. █
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Summary: Upset investors can still prevent Microsoft from ‘pulling a Novell’ on Dell
Ashlee Vance, formerly a FOSS-centric writer at The Register, has an interesting hypothesis about Microsoft Dell, which VAR Guy keeps opposing whilst identifying unhappy investors:
Done deal? Hardly. Dell’s (NASDAQ: DELL) $24.4 billion deal to go private apparently faces pushback from at least fo-.ur major shareholders, Reuters reported. And don’t forget: A special Dell committee is managing a 45-day “go-shop” period, during which the committee is actively soliciting alternative bids. So who will wind up owning Dell, and how will the current variables impact partners and the PC maker?
The VAR Guy is no fan of Microsoft and he believes that the abusive monopolist uses fake shortages (as hype generation strategy) for reasons he summarised here. Walt Mossberg is still unsatisfied with the latest hardware that has a Microsoft badge (the one with fake shortages) based on his article which is not a favourable review, again.
Nokia and Dell are deep in the mud unless they dump Microsoft. Already, the monopolist alienates mobile partners and soon it will be OEMs, too. There are other implications,. As Chris Hall puts it: “Let’s say it finally happens and the big OEMs get tired of dealing with Microsoft and decide to make Windows only one choice of several on new computers. Not a world like we have now, where the likes of Dell halfheartedly offer half baked and broken installs of Ubuntu, installs that need serious tweaking before they’ll work. Not that world, but a pretend world of Linux being offered across all models, with a choice between two or three distros. You know, OEMs giving Linux exactly the same treatment as they give Windows today.” █
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