Email Is Ripe For A Disruption Is It Coming From HotMail & Microsoft?

Hotmail,Gmail,Microsoft,email disruption,Mailbox app,TaskBoxBack in the mid 90’s you were too cool for school if you were using a free web based email service. Hotmail  had surged to the top of the email providers that were called “web based” then, now of course it’s cloud based.  Back in 1997 Microsoft acquired Hotmail for $400 million (that’s about a billion in 2013 dollars).

Around the same time there were other providers out there like Yahoo, Rocketmail and a host of quick up and comers but none had the market dominance of Hotmail.

In 2004 the tables were turned when Google introduced their GMail platform. The attraction was it’s clean look and virtually unlimited space. We’re all too familiar with the ticker that shows just how much data those Google servers are handling.

Now as everyone turns to mobile, it’s been a pretty safe assumption that the next email disruptor would be of the mobile variety. Mailbox app came out with a lot of thunder, despite the fact that I hated it. I like an app called TaskBox but it hasn’t had the big red carpet marketing push that Mailbox had. It was actually their great marketing stunt, making people wait in line, that attracted a ton of attention, a ton of early users and then a purchase by the folks at DropBox.

There have been a few other subtle email disruptions that have come up in the past few years like Sparrow but nothing has disrupted email the way that GMail did nearly a decade ago.

Until now?

This is how Hotmail looked in the 90's (image: Business Insider)

This is how Hotmail looked in the 90’s (image: Business Insider)

Microsoft has just redone their cloud based email platforms. They’ve given a new look to all the various email brands available in the Microsoft cloud. Today, by going over to you can sign up for a brand new Hotmail email adress, a Microsoft live account or Microsoft’s new service which was the big thing Microsoft was pushing at SXSW this year.

Gone is the clunky style 1990’s interface that plagued Hotmail and made them look decades behind when it came to competing with GMail. At first glance most users to the new Hotmail may get confused and think they are looking at GMail.

The new interface is extremely clean and the ads have been moved to non-obtrusive boxes on the right side of the page.  Microsoft has also incorporated contacts, calendar and their cloud based Sky Drive as part of the new experience.

It would take a lot for me to move off the totally integrated Google cloud that I’ve been chained too for the last few years. My contacts, calendar and mail have been managed by Google for at least the last 4 years. I’ve also been using Google Docs and now Google Drive since they were first introduced. It had actually been a solid 4 years that I hadn’t’ had a Microsoft product on any of my Mac computers (I recently purchased the latest version of Office for Mac).

One thing that could be a game changer for me is how long I can tolerate the newest “compose” screen for GMail. While you can still “temporarily” go back to the original compose style, the new style is extremely hard to manage when you’re trying to get through your GMail as fast as possible.

On iOS it seems that Microsoft accounts integrate just as easily as GMail accounts, however I haven’t used a native Microsoft mail app, nor have I even looked to see if one exists.

For now I’ve got the Hotmail account set up and we will see how it goes. All of my primary mail accounts are still GMail though.

What about you? Add your comment below.

Now Read:

So Am I The Only One On Earth Who Thinks Mailbox Sucks?


Ho Ho No: NORAD Turns To Bing This Year To Track Santa

Norad, Norad Tracks Santa, Google, MicrosoftOne of the joys of having a five year old daughter is all of the things we can do together to promote the idea of Santa Claus. For the past few years, one of those things is sitting on daddy’s lap on Christmas eve and tracking Santa Claus as he makes his way around the world on Google Earth and Google Maps.  Just last year my daughter started developing an interest in geography which makes the experience a lot more fun and educational.

Two Christmases ago Google also began a service utilizing their Google Voice product that allowed users to set up a call for the child or children in their life to receive an actual phone call/voice mail message from Santa Claus.

Well we learned Wednesday by way of that Norad has decided to switch their mapping and tracking partner from Google to Microsoft and Bing. Apparently Old Saint Nick took the Bing challenge and Bing won.

NORAD is switching to Bing Maps for their 2D tracking. They are also taking on a new partner in a company called Celsium, that will provide 3D tracking, the way that Google Earth did.

Norad is providing official Santa tracking apps for Windows Phone, Windows 8, Android and iOS.

Of course this is a huge win for Microsoft having a customer like Norad to do such an important task.  Google wasn’t entirely left out though as Norad will still use YouTube.  Facebook and Twitter are also still in the mix.

Microsoft released this brief statement on Tuesday:

This year Microsoft is partnering with NORAD to make following the big red sleigh easier than ever. The Santa Tracker tool is built on the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud computing platform and Bing Maps, and anxious kids can even track Kris Kringle on Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps.

Norad provided the following statement to Search Engine Land:

Google supported NTS [NORAD Tracks Santa] from 2007-2011 and helped increase NTS program awareness across the globe; NORAD is grateful for the partnership and the resulting success.  This year, NTS and Google mutually agreed to go in new directions, and we are excited to welcome a number of new contributors, to include Microsoft, Windows Azure, Bing, and iLink-systems, among others, to help us in our mission of tracking Santa.  The ability to work with a diverse team of contributors is fundamental to the NTS mission, and we appreciate all of the continued support of all contributors.

At this point in time we’re just happy NORAD didn’t decide to go with Apple Maps, afterall the presents need to get to their children’s houses.


Norad’s page is here

Are you headed to the largest startup conference in the U.S.?


Scratch That Surface Off Your Christmas List, Microsoft Hasn’t Learned Squat About Marketing

Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, RIM, Tablet salesOne would think with the incredible loss that Research In Motion (RIM) has experienced over the last three years the other tech giants would take notice. Although Microsoft was the creme de la creme for decades, they’re losing traction faster than you can say the word Blackberry.

Then, last year, there was a glimmer of hope. After a string of failed product launches, less and less people turning to the latest version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system and a failed attempt at breathing life back into Windows CE, Microsoft had something that looked innovative.

The Microsoft Surface tablet, when launched at a press event, that felt reminiscent of numerous events hosted by Steve Jobs for Apple launches, they unveiled the Microsoft Surface tablets. These new tablets were going to signify the convergence between desktop and mobile in an operating system that is supposed to work effortlessly on both traditional computers and mobile.

The problem is, to get that effect people need to actually buy them.

For years on the mobile beat we saw RIM and Microsoft losing market share. To RIM’s benefit though, they stopped producing new smartphones in an effort to funnel all of their strategy on the upcoming Blackberry 10 release and hopefully winning back hardcore, security conscious enterprise and government accounts with highly needed features and sex appeal.

Microsoft on the other hand released a new phone operating system Windows Phone 7 and OEM’s like Samsung, HTC and Nokia, eagerly added Windows Phone’s to their portfolio to take some of the dependence off Android (except for Nokia who have never produced an Android device).

Well advertising firm Chitika has told the tale that confirms what Steve Ballmer has been fearing since the release of the Surface tablet.

Nobody is using them.

In fact, we all know that Apple’s iPad is the reigning leader in the tablet space, with Google’s Android powered Nexus tablets not even edging close. So how does it feel to have to swallow this pill, Google’s Nexus branded tablet family beats the Microsoft Surface family 91% to 13%. Yes, Nexus is kicking Microsoft’s ass.

Microsoft has already seen a drastic down turn in their application/software business. Millions have people have realized that for basic desktop business work, even free alternatives like Google Docs (Drive), are easier to use and gaining popularity. In fact we cringe here when someone sends us a word .doc attachment, how retro is that?

Microsoft continually blows it when it comes to marketing their products to the early adopters and developers that they so desperately need to rally around Windows 8. For instance they focus on marketing products like Microsoft Azure and Microsoft BizSpark, sure they are important business channels but by now the early adopters that want access to those products already have them.

There’s only two possible scenarios here. Either Microsoft is worried that developers, and early adopters will think their tablet products suck so bad that it will work in reverse and the other is of course that they’ve just become complete morons since Bill Gates has stepped down.

And have you even seen the stories about their epicly failed Twitter campaign #droidrage?



Rest assured Microsoft will not be at the largest startup conference in the country, click here

Apple’s iPhone Outsells All Microsoft Products Combined

(photo: SAI)

While Apple and Microsoft are duking it out over which company has the record as the wealthiest company of all time, SAI (by way of CultofMac) is reporting one startling fact this morning.

According to CultofMac, the iPhone, even with people holding off for the next version, has generated $22.7 billion dollars in the last quarter. This compares with Microsoft’s total revenues of $17.4 billion in revenue for the last quarter. This takes into consideration all of the Redmond company’s products across all disciplines.

While Microsoft insists they are going to have a huge push for Windows 8, a Windows 8 phone and the Windows 8 powered Surface tablets, the anticipation for the next version of the iPhone is at a buzz louder than it’s ever been.

Rumors are floating around rampantly as to what features Apple will throw into the next release of the iPhone. Some are saying the next iPhone will have a bigger screen. Others are saying it will have a 19 pin connector vs a 30 pin connector. One rumor that most everyone agrees on is that the next iPhone will have 4G/LTE a standard being adopted by all four major carriers.

This means that demand will be at an all time high. AllThingsDigital reported yesterday that FBR Capital Analyst Craig Berger said:

“We expect the iPhone 5 … has the potential to generate the most promising device upgrade cycle in Apple’s history,” in a statement to investors.

Source: SAI


Microsoft Funds Russian Startup Pirate Pay To Shut Down Bit Torrents

Microsoft has invested in Russian startup Pirate Pay. Pirate Pay was designed to shut down torrent distribution of copyright protected works. This of course has the internet freedom fighters in a tiff, especially because Pirate Pay was able to attract such a significant investor.

According to this report from Torrent Freak, in early tests, Pirate Pay was able to shut down tens of thousands of downloads. Of course in the grand scheme of things, that’s not nearly as many as they would like.

“After creating the prototype, we realized we could more generally prevent files from being downloaded, which meant that the program had great promise in combating the spread of pirated content,” Pirate Pay CEO Andrei Klimenko says.

Bit torrent files are costing the movie and recording industry billions of dollars in revenue, despite the fact that physical cd and music media sales are still topping the download business.

Microsoft invested $100,000 into the company.  With Microsoft’s investment Pirate Pay was able to continue working with Direktcya Kino to protect the film “Vysotsky. Thank God I’m Alive”. The film is distributed by Sony Pictures.  In the case of this project 44,845 transfers were stopped.
Pirate Pay isn’t the first company that is “protecting” studios from torrent files. MediaDefender was actually the first company to take on the daunting task. MediaDefender has recently re-branded itself as “Peer Media”

Also, it appears that Pirate Pays main tactics aren’t original either. They won’t reveal how their technology actually works but Torrent Freak and many other websites and forums say that Pirate Pay floods the torrent sites with fake versions of the protected media, which discourages the downloading of the actual file. While it cuts back the illegal downloads, actual versions of the films actually make it to the torrent sites and then are easily identifiable as such.

The music industry actually started employing this tactic back in Napster’s heyday. While the folks running companies like Pirate Pay think they are solving the problem, they don’t realize that in most cases if a torrent file can’t be downloaded it doesn’t translate to going out to the store to buy the same title.

Source: TorrentFreak

Revealed: Halo 4 Cover Art

  Microsoft ahead of it’s release of Halo 4 due to be released in November, gave out hints as to he new cover art for it’s upcoming release. Due out 04 November, Microsoft laid out 32 puzzles as to hints to figure out what the cover would look like. As you can see, it’s possibly the most beautiful cover they’ve ever done to the Iconic franchise.  Read More…

AT&T Store Employees Recommending iPhone And Android To Those Interested In Lumia 900

Two weeks ago Brent reported on the fact that Nokia was going to line the pockets of AT&T employees for recommending their new Lumia 900 smartphone. Well it appears that some employees either didn’t get that memo or get that check.

CNet reporter Marguerite Reardon set out on a mission Monday to see what AT&T employees at stores in New York City had to say about the new Nokia Lumia 900, a Windows Phone 7 device. She went into several area stores posing as a first time smartphone buyer and expressed interest in the latest Windows Phone 7 device.

Despite a star studded launch event in New York City over the weekend, and the fact that there is signage everywhere in AT&T stores promoting the Lumia, Reardon found that New York City AT&T Wireless employees were still quick to recommend the iPhone.

More after the break
Read More…

Latest Rumor: Mircosoft To Buy RIM?

The interwebs are a buzz today about the latest rumor involving Waterloo Canada based RIM/Blackberry. According to financial website Microsoft is allegedly about to invest $3.5 billion dollars into the company.

This comes as a surprise and out of left field so of course we take it with a grain of salt. It doesn’t make that much sense either. RIM has been steadily losing market share due to Apple and Android’s stranglehold on the smartphone OS market.

RIM did release a product earlier this month that allows Android, iPhone and RIM to play nice in the next iteration of Blackberry Enterprise Server, which they are calling “Mobile Fusion”. RIM is also expected to release their Blackberry 10 devices which will utilize the QNX platform, the same platform on the Blackberry Playbook.

Microsoft has been desperately trying to gain traction with their Windows Phone 7 products. The first of their Nokia Windows Phone 7 handsets have hit the market however they haven’t made any significant gains in market share.

Perhaps putting the two failing operating systems together would amount to one working, worthwhile system.

AT&T Hoping To Revive Windows Phone With $150 Million Ad Spend

Although T-Mobile was the first company to support Google’s Android operating system, much of the credit for the adoption of Android in the United States goes to Verizon Wireless. The nation’s largest carrier spent over $100 million dollars advertising the original Motorola Droid smartphone in 2009. The results for that campaign were phenomenal, Android quickly overtook Blackberry in Verizon Wireless stores.

AT&T is hoping to replicate that success with it’s Nokia Lumia 900 for which they are the sole US Carrier. The Lumia 900 is a great piece of hardware running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system. AT&T is hoping to sell lot’s of Lumia 900’s and they are backing it with $150 million dollars in advertising money.

Business Insider’s Jim Edward’s doesn’t think that $150 million dollars in advertising for the Lumia 900 is a wise idea. As he points out in this article, Windows Phone is doing so poorly that it wasn’t even mentioned by name in the most recent Nielsen report on smartphone sales. Couple that with the fact that Windows only commands 2% of the app space and the fact that they are “paying” developers to develop on the platform and this may be a recipe for disaster.

More after the break
Read More…

AOL Shoots Up 35% After $1 Billion Dollar Patent Announcement

AOL has inked an amazing deal with rival Microsoft to sell 800 of their patents to the Redmond based computer giant. The deal is said to be worth $1 billion dollars and includes licensing back to AOL.

AOL stock closed at $18.42 on Friday and skyrocketed to $25.16 on the news of the patent sale. While Tim Armstrong is taking much of the credit for the patent sale it was actually sparked by activist shareholder Starboard Value LP who had said earlier on that, if structured properly, AOL could stand to earn $1 billion dollars or more off it’s treasure trove of patents.

Obviously it was structured properly.

AOL is holding onto 300 of their patents which revolve around some of their current core business’ like maps, and search.

“This is a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years and analyzing in detail for several months,” Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith said in a statement.

The patent transaction is expected to close by the end of 2012 and has a sweetheart breakup clause as well. Should the sale not go through, Microsoft will be on the line to AOL for $211.2 million dollars.

Analysts are hopeful that this influx of cash from the sale of it’s patents will help AOL continue to rebuild it’s core business units.

source: Reuters

I Won The Windows Phone 7 Challenge But They Didn’t Let Me Win In The End

Microsoft might have to sweat this one out for a while as Sahas Katta walked into a Microsoft store today, took the Windows Phone 7 Challenge, WON, but was denied his prize. For those that don’t know the back story on the Challenge here we go…

 This is a skill-based Contest. The object of this Contest is for You to come into the Microsoft Store and try to beat the Microsoft Windows Phone in a series of five (5) “Smoked by Windows Phone” challenge scenarios selected by Microsoft at its sole discretion including: (1) Pocket-to-Picture-to-Post, (2) Real-Time Information with Live Tiles, (3) Using the People Hub to Stay in Touch with the People You Care About Most, (4) Updating Your Status Across Multiple Social Networks, and (5) Local Scout (“Challenge”)

Read More…

Microsoft Gives PhotoDNA Image Matching Software To Law Enforcement To Aid In Child Pornography Investigations

photodna, microsoft, thedroidguy, small crunchy bites from the tech and start up sceneLaw enforcement officials hoping to stop child pornography now have a new tool in their investigations.  Microsoft has teamed up with NetClean to give their PhotoDNA image matching technology to those investigating child pornography. They’ve decided to give this technology away free.

According to this report from Arstechnica, the software can be used to comb through large collections of digital images to identify child pornography and speed up the forensic process.

More after the break
Read More…

Microsoft Kinect is coming to Windows AND laptops?

Microsoft Kinect is coming to Windows (AND??) laptops?  During CES 2012 Microsoft announced that they would be releasing the Kinect for Windows PC’s.  They released the SDK earlier this month you can download it here.  Microsoft is following its old patterns of gouging consumers charging an additional $100 over the cost of the Xbox 360 Kinect.  If you have yet to see or test the Kinect we have included a video below.


This in itself is exciting.  I am hoping to have a review unit (two actually) coming to Nibletz for in-depth testing of the Kinect on the few PCs that we have at our disposal.  TechCrunch and The Daily are reporting that a few other options may be on the horizon.  The Daily was able to spend some time with a pair of prototype laptops with Kinect sensors built-in to the devices.  While no photos were taken they did give a brief description of what they witnessed.

“The Daily had a chance to check out a pair of prototypes incorporating Kinect sensors over the last few days. The devices, which at first glance appear to be Asus netbooks running Windows 8, feature an array of small sensors stretching over the top of the screen where the webcam would normally be. At the bottom of the display is a set of what appear to be LEDs.” Matt Hickey, The Daily

They also identified a potential to give people with disabilities more accessibility options.  This would be ideal in the kitchen while cooking, using it as a HTPC, and automotive applications.  I have already started to plan the way that I will be using this as my Infotainment system in my next car. Microsoft will be showing off the preview for Windows 8 and they will most likely take that time to showcase all of the innovation coming out of Redmond.

Kinect for launches for Windows on February 1st, 2012 in 12 countries (United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom), at a suggested retail price of US $249.  Read more from Microsoft here

TheDaily via TechCrunch

Microsoft Introducing Serial Key Locked Console Games With Xbox 720?

If you haven’t heard the internet chatter, Microsoft is working on the next generation of Xbox, believed to be called the Xbox 720. I think they should just take the plunge and go 1080 but heck that’s just me.

New reports are coming out of multiple sources suggesting that when Microsoft introduces this new gaming console it’s not only going to have a ton of bells and whistles but it’s also going to introduce serial key locked console games.  This news is coming out of gaming site Kotaku.

With mounting pressure coming over piracy concerns and the game studios losing profit share to recycled game giants like GameStop, Microsoft is said to be testing games that are serial locked like software.  According to TMCnet this serial locking could work like Microsoft software does where you must have an activation license to make the game operate on your console.

Kotaku was able to get a statement from Microsoft:

More after the break
Read More…