Summary: Project Milo (KINect) has been killed by Microsoft’s Lionhead Studios, according to unconfirmed reports
Dead products at Microsoft are a couple a month, on average. Microsoft has been cutting down expenses by ending many products and closing down divisions for a few years now, leaving the profitable ones in tact and giving more time to losing products, hoping for some reversal or cross-product leverage (e.g. Zune being used as a tool/means to lift Xbox). The latest dead product from Microsoft is poor Milo, which is said to be canceled although Microsoft cannot confirm this just yet. To quote one report among many:
Kotaku’s reporting that the plug’s been pulled on Lionhead Studios’ ambitious Project Milo for Kinect. The undertaking–also referred to as Milo & Kate–was the jewel of Microsoft’s 2009 E3 presentation, containing the most forward-looking of the motion-gaming ideas during the press conference.
I hope OIN is good for Mozilla, but what about Oracle? #swpats
The troubling thing is that despite Oracle and Google both being inside the OIN shield zone, Oracle decided to sue Google using software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and interestingly enough, as Groklaw points out, they are assigned the same judge as in the Apple vs. Psystar case.
Google has appeared in the Oracle v. Google litigation and they have extra time to file an answer to Oracle’s complaint. Meanwhile, they’ve added some more lawyers to the team and informed the court they decline to have the case handled by a magistrate judge, so it’s been assigned to the Hon. William Alsup. What are the odds? That’s the same judge who presided over the Apple v. Psystar case.
ARM Holdings Plc, the U.K. designer of chips that power Apple Inc.’s iPhone, rose the most in two weeks in London trading after Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison said his company may buy a chipmaker.
ARM rose as much as 6.8 percent to 417.5 pence, and traded up 6 percent to 414.4 pence as of 12:19 p.m., valuing the company at about 5.47 billion pounds ($8.6 billion).
“We primarily think this is about Ellison,” said Lee Simpson, an analyst at Jefferies Intl Ltd. in London, adding that the “Oracle speculation is unwarranted” and that the company would more likely target an enterprise-focused chipmaker such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Has Oracle not gotten enough from Sun’s SPARC? Back when it was rumoured that Apple would buy ARM people said that it can be seen as an attack on Android. Could the strong friendship between Ellison and Jobs play a role here? As pointed out some hours ago, collusion of this kind if a lot more common than people dare to imagine. █
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, 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).
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. █
Microsoft has credited security partners at Kaspersky Lab and Symantec for helping to close a critical Windows vulnerability that was being exploited by a sophisticated worm that has attacked industrial plant
Earlier this month Symantec created a tie-up with Microsoft’s Fog Computing [1, 2]. Then came speculations that Microsoft was looking to buy Symantec. It was just a rumour (likely false), but investors took it seriously and Symantec surged [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The stock being driven up like this may always lead to suspicion that someone spread the rumour just to make money in a short-term period. That’s illegal of course and the SEC should keep an eye open.
Speaking of acquisitions by Microsoft, “PopCap Rejected $5 Million Microsoft Buyout” says this one report among many more [1, 2, 3]. This one says that “Microsoft tried to convince PopCap it was only worth $5 million, but the studio didn’t believe it.” To quote another item, ‘During an interview with Develop, Jason Kapalka, creative director at PopCap, explained how even Microsoft tried to buy them, but the offer price was a joke: “We had a couple of funny instances in the early years of PopCap where we were talking to Microsoft about a possible acquisition – I think it was in 2002 – and they sat us down and gave us this long speech about why our company was worth 5 million dollars, at a time when we had four million in the bank.”‘
Back to insecurity, an older rogue antivirus attack gave trouble to Windows users this month [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s a form of malware. In an operating system where antivirus software is not necessary, this would hardly be an issue.
Attackers have begun exploiting a recently disclosed vulnerability in Microsoft web-development applications that opens password files and other sensitive data to interception and tampering.
The vulnerability in the way ASP.Net apps encrypt data was disclosed last week at the Ekoparty Conference in Argentina. Microsoft on Friday issued a temporary fix for the so-called “cryptographic padding attack,” which allows attackers to decrypt protected files by sending vulnerable systems large numbers of corrupted requests.
Now, Microsoft security pros say they are seeing “limited attacks” in the wild and warned that they can be used to read and tamper with a system’s most sensitive configuration files.
There are many new stories about malware, such as:
Web anti malware firm Dasient has published data claiming that more than 1 million Web sites were compromised in the second quarter, 2010 – a sharp increase.
More than one million Web domains were infected with malicious code in the second quarter of 2010 – around one percent of all active Web domains, according to data released by Web security firm Dasient, Inc.
The tainted ads exposed visiting surfers to Windows Trojans via drive-by download attacks. Pirate Bay has experienced similar problems in the past, and it’s unclear how long it will take to clear up the latest issues.
About one-third of small and medium-sized businesses have been infected with malware from social networks like Facebook and Twitter, according to a recent study released by Panda Security, a company specializing in cloud security.
The vast majority of malware – more than 99 per cent – targets Windows PCs, according to a new survey by German anti-virus firm G-Data.
G-Data reckons 99.4 per cent of all new malware of the first half of 2010 targeted Microsoft’s operating system. Just 0.6 per cent of the 1,017,208 new malware programs discovered in 1H2010 targeted other systems, such as Apple Mac boxes and servers running Unix.
When one in two Windows computers is said to be a zombie PC, there is clearly a problem, especially when it goes on for years, still unresolved. Some of the latest Windows botnets stories are:
Insecurity outfit Damballa revealed that the creatively named IMDDOS (I’m DDoS) botnet can be hired out as “pressure test software” by those who are willing to cough up some cash and download an application. The application is little more than dialogue box allowing the user to point the botnet to a particular IP address and port number and start hitting it with spurious requests.
Late last week, a security flaw in Internet Explorer 8 was publicly disclosed to the Full Disclosure mailing list. The flaw allows attackers to steal private information from online services such as web mail and Twitter, allowing attackers to, for example, delete e-mails or send tweets from their victims’ accounts.
FIRMS RUNNING Microsoft’s Exchange mail server could find that users of its Outlook Web Access (OWA) software have their sessions hijacked.
A security vulnerability in Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and Exchange Server 2007 SP1 and SP2 means that attackers can take control of a user’s OWA session and issue commands up to the level permitted by security controls without the user knowing. OWA is a rich ‘web mail’ client that is offered by Exchange Server and has the look and feel of Microsoft’s standalone Outlook software.
According to this, a well-selling Linux phone (not Ballnux) suffers from its reliance on Exchange.
There are rumors that the possible technical problem with the Microsoft Exchange is causing the delay of Android 2.2 Froyo push to Motorola Droid X devices. Multiple news outlets including Droid Life has confirmed the news.
Who needs Exchange anyway? It’s just a brand. Android can do better than that and also avert the security problems. █
Summary: Several former Microsoft chiefs (now running VMware) may soon own the second-largest server distribution/product built with GNU/Linux, which is also a source of revenue to Microsoft
NOVELL’S market position has been weakening for years and its market cap falling to dangerous levels. News sources say that Novell is about to be acquired and it’s primarily one source that all the reports rely on. “Why would Novell announce sale in 6 weeks,” gnufreex asked. “You announce deal when it is done… And when it is definitive… They are just trying to pump stock… They have nothing.” Agent Smith” wrote: “Novell being sold in parts. What will become of OpenSuse ???” (more details in the IRC logs we’ll publish later).
“They are just trying to pump stock… They have nothing.” –gnufreexgnufreex said that “maybe Novell is pumping it [the stock] to buy time. Their Market Cap was 1.9b yesterday. If it slides more, they can’t get same offer as they got from Elliot… Shareholder would sue for refusing Elliot offer… If market cap goes under 1.9B…
“What I meant is that Novell is getting panicky because their market cap is sliding below the level it was when Eliot made them an offer. If it falls bellow that level, then buyers are going to offer less than Elliot offered. And shareholders might sue because they got the worse deal because Hovsepian turned down Elliot offer without letting shareholders vote (there was no vote about Elliot)”
“Agent Smith” wrote: “Received tweets hinting VMware’s the mystery buyer of Novell Novell Sold to VMware”
We’ll come to this in just a moment.
First of all, here are some more reports about Novell closing its sale (following a split). The following is everything we’ve found on the Web so far, without exception:
Commercial operating system maker Novell is close to selling itself off after breaking it into two bits, according to the is New York Post.
Citing unnamed sources, the Post says a “strategic buyer” will shell out cash to acquire the SUSE Linux business that Novell paid $210m for in November 2003. That Linux business has just finally made it to break-even, according to Novell, and will by our estimates generate maybe $145m in revenues in fiscal 2010. (Novell brought in $108.2m in Linux platform sales in the first nine months of fiscal 2010 ended in July).
The New York Post, citing unnamed sources, said the struggling business software maker plans to sell the company to a “strategic buyer” and a private equity firm.
To say more about the stock: “Shares of Novell Inc. (NASDAQ: NOVL) rallied more than 6% in pre-market tradng after the New York Post reported that the business software maker has reached a deal in principle to sell itself in two parts, and is three to four weeks away from signing a deal.”
Also: “Novell Inc (NASDAQ: NOVL) soared 5.03% to $5.85 in the pre-market trading. NOVL’s trailing-twelve-month gross margin is 78.54%.”
One financial report summarised it as follows: “Novell Inc. (NOVL US): The maker of Linux operating-system software has reached an agreement in principle to sell itself in two parts, the New York Post reported, citing people close to the process.”
Financial news from prior days indicated problems for Novell [1, 2, 3], but not everything was pessimistic [1, 2].
Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer wrote: “Big things are coming up. Nuff said. And no, it is not Red Hat being bought.”
People still send us messages asking something along the lines of, “what about OpenSUSE?” The project should take a lesson from OpenSolaris and take action before Novell (or its acquiror) does. We urged OpenSUSE people to fork and escape the relationship with Novell, which may no longer exist very soon.
What happens to Mono and Moonlight? Maybe Microsoft can have them (no, it’s not a joke).
The LWN discussion had just one comment at the time of writing and it said: “The WallStreet Journal has the rumour that the buyer of the GNU/Linux part might be VMware Inc.
“I don’t know much about VMWare Inc., but at first glance they seem ok. Not too likely to pull an Oracle.
“Anyone got more info?”
Here is the article which suggested that VMware is afoot (Maritz and fellow executives from Microsoft). Rather than Microsoft buying SUSE as some people speculated very long ago it may be Microsoft executives who take control of SUSE and harm it or sell it at Red Hat’s expense (with Microsoft tax). Only a couple of weeks ago we found articles like this one:
Some people might be surprised to hear that that vCD is based on RHEL v5 U4 and not on Novell SUSE. You might know that VMware recently decided to standardize on Novell SUSE for all its virtual appliances, and an OEM deal was struck between the two companies. The operative word here is “recently.” Sadly, the deal was struck at such a time that VMware could not use Novell SUSE for vCD. Merely from a standardization perspective, I would like to see that change at the next release of the product, but I think we will have to wait for the vCD 2.0 offering before that transpires.
VMware and Novell have already partnered to bring SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) to VMware vSphere virtual machines. During Novell’s earnings call, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian said that VMware sales staff has incentives to sell SUSE support and services to their customers. Hovsepian added that VMware and Novell would expand on what’s going on with their partnership at this coming week’s VMworld trade show.
Could the two companies announce a merger? There have been rumors for some time that VMware might buy Novell. I don’t know much about those rumors, but I do know that it’s a deal that makes a lot of sense for both companies.
The title of the above post is “VMware should buy Novell” and I asked the author: “should? You want lots of Microsoft execs to own Novell and UNIX??”
“…VMware has been no friend to MSFT, or vice-versa, for the last year or so.” –Steven J. Vaughan-NicholsHe replies by saying “”Should” as in it makes biz sense. Also VMware has been no friend to MSFT, or vice-versa, for the last year or so. Check it out”
There has been some chatter in blogs recently about VMware as Novell’s escape route from Microsoft dependency, but it ought to be known that VMware is now run by former Microsoft executives, so the relationship with Microsoft would not evaporate completely.
Novell and Microsoft are more than happy to help you bridge the gap between Linux and Windows.
Once upon a time, bridging the gap between Windows and Linux in the server room or the office was… difficult. Today, while no one’s going to call it easy, Novell and Microsoft have worked hard on ensuring interoperability doesn’t require either a Linux wizard or a Windows expert.
The two technology giants have been at this since they formed their unlikely partnership in November, 2006. Almost five years later, besides the business benefits the two companies have found in working together, Novell and Microsoft have made considerable progress in getting Linux and Windows to get along both on the server and the desktop level.
It’s all just intended to sell more Windows and less GNU/Linux. We covered this before. █
Summary: The mystery company which still bids to buy Novell might actually be the Microsoft executives-dominated VMware
ONE OF our readers from Brazil asks, “VMWare to buy Novell?”
He links to this new opinion piece and adds: “Too bad for Open Suse. I guess VMWare will be worst to Open Suse than Oracle is/was to Open Solaris.” From the ending:
Piper Jaffray analyst Mark Murphy said in a research note that “we continue to believe that the emerging VMware relationship is the most interesting recent development to help offset the decay of the Microsoft partnership.”
Add it up and VMware may be Novell’s savior in many respects. Novell’s quarter was light on revenue as customers held back purchases. Novell is exploring strategic alternatives and IT buyers don’t want to deal with the uncertainty. Novell reported third quarter non-GAAP earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $199 million, which fell short of Wall Street estimates. Novell also declined to give an outlook for the fourth quarter.