Posts Tagged: Microsoft

Microsoft OfficeTalk – can it crack microblogging?

Plenty of reports kicking today about Microsoft’s plans to launch a microblogging service called OfficeTalk that looks very similar to Twitter, which is it aiming at the enterprise market.

ReadWriteWeb reports that Microsoft is testing OfficeTalk for the enterprise market and apparently it will offer it as an “on-premise service”.

It says that OfficeTalk is being developed by Microsoft’s OfficeLabs, which test internally developed ideas, and quotes the software giant saying “the OfficeTalk microblogging experience itself looks very similar to other well-known services”.

Microsoft is already opening the test up to firms that want to join the pilot programme. There are a few screen shots up on the Microsoft site where you can see user profiles and how people post… in 140 characters or less. Very much like Twitter in how you read messages of those you follow and find people.

It will be interesting to see if it can find a slice of the microblogging market in the enterprise market.

While media and tech companies have widely adopted Twitter internally (like Sky News and its use of Tweetdeck), I’m not sure many businesses, some of which have banned staff from social networking sites like Facebook at work, will immediately feel they want to jump onboard unless someone spells out the immediate benefit. Twitter has succeeded as it is great at building internal communities and I could for instance see internal groups organising projects around something like OfficeTalk, but is that enough? I’m not sure it is.

Microsoft says it has employed internally and has had over 10,000 visitors and hundreds of messages posted daily.

“We’re now making OfficeTalk available to a few customers in a small pilot test. Because this is an early-stage concept, the OfficeTalk microblogging experience itself looks very similar to other well-known services. The key difference is that the enterprise owns the data since the OfficeTalk server is hosted in the customer’s organization. We will be releasing updates periodically to test more of the ideas we’re thinking about. Stay tuned.”

Read more on Microsoft OfficeTalk – can it crack microblogging?…

Bill Gates joins Twitter as it releases old user names

Hurrah! Bill Gates has joined Twitter and is immediately on the case exchanging tweets with Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) and Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk).

First tweet: “Hello World. Hard at work on my foundation letter – publishing on 1/25.”

A couple of retweets later and then it was Haiti related tweets to @RyanSeacrest and @aplusk and then he stopped. Maybe he went to bed, had more Foundation work was calling that or he had to rebuild his PC after as he did manage to rack up 167,720 followers in 16 hours and that is a lot of email. It probably killed Microsoft Outlook about 100 times over.

Read more on Bill Gates joins Twitter as it releases old user names…

Two consider following News Corp – does Google have a problem?

Google insists it is not worried about News Corporation pulling its content, but as two more news groups start talking about doing the same the move towards paid content or pay walls means for certain that others will follow suit. And that could change things

Media News Group and A.H. Belo have added their names to that of News Corp which revealed earlier this week it was talking to Microsoft about an exclusive search deal with Bing.

It is probably important to stress here that MediaNews and A.H. Belo aren’t necessarily going to do exactly what News Corp is. The Dallas Morning News publisher Belo says it is looking at introducing subscriptions on its newspaper websites and would remove that content, but look to keep other news available to Google.

Neither are talking about a unilateral pullout, but it is a strong indication of what will happen next. More publishers will follow. For those that implement pay walls it makes sense to hide some content.

Google will tell you that it is not concerned at publishers removing their content. Well it has billions of dollars and its business is about more than search (although that is the cornerstone of it).

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said Google News consistently sends news sites about 100,000 clicks a minute, but that no one’s forced to be indexed. “Publishers put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose not to include their material in Google News and web search,” the statement said. “But if they tell us not to include it, we don’t.”

Google has so much more going on these days, but this could clearly give rivals an upper hand and make search the battle ground it should be.

If say the New York Times and Tribune Inc, to name two in the US, follow suit and say they are talking to Microsoft as well what does Google do then? Surely it makes sense for the search giant to offer up some cash? Frankly, it seems rude not to.

Google as much as we all love it (go Gmail) is when it comes to content like the guest who turns up at your party and hoovers all the food and booze and brings nothing. Obviously Google was invited, but some quid pro quo wouldn’t go a miss.

Read more on Two consider following News Corp – does Google have a problem?…

Murdoch serious about split from Google as talks held with Microsoft

Looks like Rupert Murdoch wasn’t simple sabre ratting (as fun as that is) about splitting from Google. It is being reported this morning that News Corporation is in talks with Microsoft about a possible split with the search giant.

According to a report in the Financial Times the plan would involve News Corp being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google.

Getting in bed with Microsoft makes perfect sense. Microsoft hates Google (and its plans for applications and an operating system) as much as it hates Apple and it would set up a real search engine battle between Google and Bing. Until now it doesn’t feel like we have much of a fight although ComScore says Bing is gaining ground. In October it accounted for 9.9% per cent of searches in the US in October up from 8.4% per cent at its launch.

Still it feels more like a one party state – if more fun than your average Stalinist party get together.

The paper says that although talks are at an early stage Microsoft has approached other big online publishers, but mentions no names.

Newspaper publishers would like nothing more to stop Google acting like a parasite on their businesses. As well as News Corp, which owns The Times, The Sun and The Wall Street Journal, other publishers including Guardian News & Media have also raised concerns over Google.

The FT says that one publisher said Microsoft’s plan “puts enormous value on content if search engines are prepared to pay us to index with them” and added that the move was “all about Microsoft hurting Google’s margins”.

The talks with Microsoft come as News Corp delays plans until early next year to erect a pay wall around its content.

Although we do know as of last week from James Harding, the editor of The Times, that the paper would launch a subscription service for online access early next year making it likely that the paper would be the first News Corp title to implement a system of paid content.

Rupert Murdoch, of course, recently hit out at Google in an interview he gave to Sky News Australia where he questioned the value it brings to newspapers.

“No[ it’s not a two way street with Google sending traffic] What’s the point of someone coming occasionally who likes a headline they see on Google? Sure we go out and say we have so many millions of visitors. The fact is that there is not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable. We’d rather have fewer people coming to our websites but paying. They don’t suddenly become loyal readers of our websites.”

Read more on Murdoch serious about split from Google as talks held with Microsoft…

Huh… turns out Google actually IS your friend

Google is officially on Facebook, and the people approve.

But no, not in a way that actually makes sense, Microsoft
already has that covered.

Google has quietly rolled out its own Facebook page, and the
search giant’s presence on the world’s most popular social network is just
another example of Google’s masterly online marketing strategy.

Read more on Huh… turns out Google actually IS your friend…

Saving AOL with the help of P&G

The analysts say the situation is dire, but Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, tells the New York Times how he is going to save the company with the help of Procter & Gamble.

Former Google boy Armstrong tells the paper that: “If you tried to recreate AOL’s assets, it would be incredibly expensive.”

This is true and so is the fact that no one would. For Armstrong it is a case of working with what you’ve got and building on it. He has to, but let’s face it AOL is a funny company. A real hotch potch. Here’s a for instance. AOL still has 6.2m dial-up internet customers. Pretty amazing, right? So is the fact that 200,000 of them cancel every month.

Its main business is (internet access being an increasing side show) advertising and content. It makes a lot of content and Armstrong is pinning his hopes on that being AOL’s salvation.

Read more on Saving AOL with the help of P&G…

No bounce back for traditional media says Ballmer

Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft chief executive, was sounding pessimistic in Cannes yesterday and warned publishers that there was going to be no bounce back and that the global advertising economy had reset for good.

Ballmer argued that traditional print media will have to plan business models around a smaller share of the advertising market.

To be honest not exactly a news flash. Nor is the fact that publishers are failing to generate serious digital revenues.

Ballmer said: “Once you get past the Google search site, you say, ‘Is there a publisher making a lot of money with an advertising- or fee-based model?’ The answer is no. We have to ask who will be creating the content.”

It could be me, but he’s sounding a tad pessimistic. I think one of the issues that people often forget when they predict doom and gloom is that this is all pretty new.

And in some senses the recession has been a benefit as it has forced publishers to maybe face up to questions about paid content faster than they might have done. It’s the thing about adversity driving innovation and development.

Ballmer talked about all content being digital in two, five or ten years, but it has only been ten years since we really got on this road and maybe only four or five since the levels of investment publishers were pouring in started to rise dramatically.

So far these are investments that have not been recouped. It’s been a period of experimentation: it began with charging; then it became free and now we’re back again with the realisation that it is probably a mixture of the two.

It is too soon to make sweeping judgements about making or not making money online. The challenge is to make money and to experiment.

Some paid content will come back as publishers also realise they can charge for mobile phone access and e-readers like the Amazon Kindle. Not all these experiments will work, but some will.

What underscores all of them is continuing to build strong communities online and building loyalty. That’s the only way to ensure future growth and profitability.

Read more on No bounce back for traditional media says Ballmer…

The joy(lessness) of random sex ads

Microsoft appears to have a few issues with the ads its serving in Hotmail. Readers we’re hearing from at Brand Republic are getting random ads for various articles of racy clothing and sex toys. Nice.

We’re as open minded as the next (as long as the next is not a dedicated Daily Mail reader), but we don’t want this in our email. We would complain about it, but apparently this would do us a fat lot of good. Readers who have complained to Hotmail are getting no joy.

Read more on The joy(lessness) of random sex ads…

Microsoft taking new look social media strategy

PR Week is reporting today that Microsoft is taking a fresh look at its social media strategy and aims to beef up its consumer engagement.

It is looking at social media on a global scale as part of an effort to improve its consumer communications.

Let’s face Microsoft needs all the help it can get these day.

The mag says that the software giant has called in Weber Shandwick, Edelman and Waggener Edstrom to present ideas to offer it anew direction and set strategy

A source told PR Week: “It is basically figuring out how it can tap into the power of social media and make specific impact for product groups.”

Another source said the move was part of Microsoft’s aim of “boosting consumer engagement” to better compete with Google and Apple.

“The digital aspiration is heavily consumer-oriented. Microsoft is pretty obsessed with developing a consumer franchise for the brand. Historically, it has had great b2b and government ­relations.”

No comment from Microsoft, but what does it need to do? How can it use social media?

I’m not sure about you, but on the web it is not a brand I engage with in any way.

I don’t use Microsoft Explorer, Hotmail, Windows Live or MSN. And as a consequence don’t have any clear picture of Microsoft online, but one thing that occurs is that it feels very disparate with (to me) disconnected digital brands.

Other than the Xbox (don’t have one) is there a digital brand that people would go all out for?

Read more on Microsoft taking new look social media strategy…

Yahoo! plays its safe with CEO appointment

Yahoo! has continued to do exactly what got it in this mess in the first place. It has played it boring and hired a CEO, in Carol Bartz, who is a safe pair of hands for a publicly quoted company, but has little or no Web 2.0 or advertising experience – apparently these are important to Yahoo!.

Please someone get me a rocket scientist. No seriously, as apparently while it isn’t rocket science you DO actually need a rocket scientist to make these decisions (I’m guessing he can just walk around the building shouting “MAXIMUM THRUST” like a lot).

I’m clearly not the only one thinking this as investor reaction caused the stock to drop as low as $11.78 before climbing back to $12.1. Needless to remind everyone last year it was trading at around $22 before a year of losing ground.

Prior to Yahoo! Bartz spent 14 years at Autodesk (and was on the boards of Intel and Cisco) and clearly has lots of executive and technology experience running a publicly quoted company. What do you mean you are not familiar with the computer-aided design software firm? To be fair she did increase revenues from $300m to $1.5bn and the company’s share price increased nearly ten-fold. Good luck with that at Yahoo!.

Her appointment looks like a total compromise as headhunter firm Heidrick & Struggles, which led the CEO search, has said that Yahoo! would also be looking for a strong No. 2 with more internet and product experience. Why not put someone like that in charge of the company in the first place? Just a thought.

There were a number of candidates out there who could have taken the Yahoo! job, but in the end the once grand search firm seems to have had trouble attracting people to the job – because it is really a tough sell.

One of those people in minor contention, but who really wanted the job was Yahoo! president Sue Decker who has resigned. She was very closely associated with Jerry Yang and look how that worked out. It was probably a smart choice not to give her the job.

Reports have suggested that the Yahoo! board got a lot more knock backs from outside execs than expected for the CEO job because of the challenges and sinking moral. Runners and riders are thought to have included former Yahoo! chief operating officer Dan Rosenweig, who currently runs media private equity firm Quadrangle; Meg Whitman, long-time Ebay CEO; Tim Armstrong, Google’s North American head of sales; News Corp’s COO Peter Chernin; and current Juniper Networks executive Kevin Johnson. Former AOL chief Jonathan Miller was also linked.

All that seems clear is that Yahoo! will not remain in its current form for much longer. Totally convinced of that. It has lost all initiative and is falling further behind as we type.

I know this because no one talks about it or uses it. The only time it is talked about is that time that Microsoft tried to buy it? Oh and there was that Google deal. Those were the days. That could have been a transformational deal, but now that Window has been firmly shut and it is not a door opening. It looks more like a whole. Hole.

Bartz will no doubt safely steer Yahoo! as a highly competent executive, but it is a firm that desperately needed to be more than safely steered.

Read more on Yahoo! plays its safe with CEO appointment…