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  1. Awful Surface sales forced Microsoft to take a $900 million hit to its earnings -- and CEO Steve Ballmer got a smaller bonus check as a result. Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) revealed in a regulatory filing Friday that Ballmer received $550,000, or 79%, of the $700,000 bonus the company targeted for him over the past fiscal year. Despite growing sales across most divisions, Microsoft's board didn't max out Ballmer's bonus because profits from Windows tumbled 18% and the company woefully overestimated how many Surface tablets it would sell. If this story sounds familiar, that's because this isn't the first time Ballmer got a smaller bonus than planned for a big mishap. In fact, pretty much the same thing happened a year ago. Ballmer took home 91% of his target, or $620,000, in fiscal 2012. That's because the company failed to provide a browser choice screen on European PCs running Windows, as required by an 2009 antitrust settlement. Microsoft said it was an inadvertent mistake, but the European Commission fined the company $730 million for the error. Related story: Microsoft's Surface 2 is hardly an afterthought Ballmer announced in August that he would retire by the end of next summer. Acknowledging some of Microsoft's mistakes over the past several years, Ballmer says he wants the new CEO to oversee Microsoft's transition to a "devices and services" company. He says Microsoft needs to focus on making hardware, online services and apps that work together seamlessly across multiple screens and gadgets. The company has not announced a successor for Ballmer yet. But former Nokia (NOK) CEO Stephen Elop, who will rejoin Microsoft once Microsoft completes its purchase of Nokia's mobile device business, is widely considered to be a top contender for the job. But there have also been several reports suggesting that Microsoft's first choice is current Ford (F, Fortune 500) CEO Alan Mulally. And even though Ballmer may be retiring with slightly smaller rewards than he would have expected, $1.17 million in bonus payments over the past two years is hardly chump change. Ballmer, who will not be getting a retirement payout from the company, also owns about 333 million shares of Microsoft. That stake is worth nearly $11.3 billion. Original Article: http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/04/technology/enterprise/ballmer-bonus/index.html
  2. You may have just bought that new Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 tablet earlier this week, but the clock is already ticking to the day that Microsoft's official support for their newest hardware devices will end. According to Microsoft's Product Lifecycle page, mainstream support for both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will end on April 10th, 2018. That's nearly four and a half years from now, which is pretty much an eternity when it comes to new hardware. Microsoft had previously indicated it will end mainstream support for its Surface RT (now known just as Surface) tablet on April 11th, 2017. The original Surface Pro will find its support clock reaching its final second on July 10th, 2017. Microsoft is still not offering any information on when it will end mainstream support for Windows RT itself, which is installed in a number of tablets from OEMs that were released in 2012. The Windows RT 8.1 version will also be installed on the upcoming Nokia Lumia 2520. Microsoft will end support for Windows 8 on October 18th, 2015, while mainstream support for Windows 8.1 will stop on January 9th, 2018, with extended support continuing until January 10th, 2023. source: neowin
  3. By Brooke Crothers January 19, 2014 1:43 PM PST With Surface Pro 2, Microsoft has made a tablet-hybrid that works. It's powerful, portable, and well-made. Surface Pro 2. (Credit: Brooke Crothers) The Surface Pro 2 is an excellent laptop-tablet hybrid. I didn't think I would ever be able to write those words after using (for two months) the original Surface Pro, then selling it because, well, I didn't like it. The Surface Pro 2 changed my mind, though. A good laptop-tablet hybrid is extremely difficult to design and build; it took me a while to realize this. Build something that works well as a tablet and it probably won't be a very good laptop. Emphasize the laptop aspect too much and it's a lousy tablet. In short, the perfect hybrid will probably never exist. (I don't even think Apple can pull it off.) And many consumers will always prefer the tried-and-true clamshell laptop. But Microsoft has gotten closer than most to the ideal hybrid by unabashedly marketing it as a powerful, highly-portable laptop that can be a tablet if needs be. Here's why it works: High quality: This has become probably the single most important criterion for me in evaluating a product. A novel design can look and sound great on the product page, but if it isn't put together well, forget it. There are too many half-baked Windows PCs, hybrids -- whatever -- out there. A lot falls into the throw-it-on-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks category. The Surface Pro 2 is precisely the opposite. It is a carefully conceived design with a very-high-quality build. To some degree the above applied to the original Surface Pro but its first-gen keyboard (Type Cover) didn't always work, the battery life was short, the unit got hot, and Windows 8 had some usability challenges early on. None of those are issues for me with the Surface Pro 2, with the exception of Windows usability. I understand the design better now: The fact that the Surface Pro is relatively thick for a tablet put me off at first. But I understand the necessity now. Microsoft bypassed both the Intel Atom and Core Y series processors. Those two chips, particularly the former, are power-frugal designs that would allow a thinner chassis. Instead, Microsoft opted for the mainstream U series Core i5 processor. That powerful chip requires a (small) fan and a relatively big battery to keep it going. But it's fast. Very fast. Benchmarks bear this out. It feels just as quick as my 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina -- which uses a higher performance Core i5 (and is much heavier). And that's really important to me when doing work-related "productivity" tasks that require a lot of horsepower. More compact than an ultrabook: Let's be clear, 0.53 inches isn't exactly thick for a laptop. The thinnest ultrabooks aren't that thin. And two pounds isn't exactly heavy either. That's lighter than the minimalist 11-inch MacBook Air. Works with my Apple LED Cinema display: This is a big plus for me. And everything is snappy -- it has no problem pushing around the pixels on the 2,560x1,440 display. The first-gen Surface Pro, despite having a Mini DisplayPort, did not work with a Cinema display (which was one of the reasons I sold it). Dock: I don't have the dock but the fact that one exists is important. I used Hewlett-Packard laptops for years with port replicators and docking stations. Life is a lot easier when you can pop the computer into a dock with all the cables and connections already in place. Type Cover 2 keyboard: It's not full-sized but can be used as a full-time keyboard. I got used to it quickly and, again, could type on it all day. One complaint: Microsoft should make the buttons on the trackpad discrete with tactile (not just audible) feedback. It could really be your only compute device: The whole idea, after all, is not to haul around both a tablet and a laptop. That's entirely possible with the Surface Pro 2. The problem that less-powerful tablet hybrids have is that they can't handle processor- and keyboard-and-mouse intensive work. Windows 8.1: The OS has its detractors and it's certainly not perfect (too much switching between Metro and desktop modes, for instance). But I have fewer pull-out-your-hair, show-stopping gripes than before. In other words, I can get work done, for the most part, as efficiently as I can on my MacBook Pro. And settings in Google Chrome (where I spend a lot of my time) can be set for high-resolution displays now in Windows 8.1. That makes a difference too. Gratuitous advice for Microsoft: Though I have a better understanding of the Surface Pro's design now, Microsoft should make an effort with the third-generation Pro to reduce bulk. When used strictly as a tablet, it's not something you can easily pick up and plop in your lap. In other words, if you have an iPad Air and Surface Pro on the table in front of you, you're much more inclined to grab the 1-pound Air. Microsoft could still build a powerful Surface Pro that is, let's say, 0.45-inches thick and between 1.5 and 1.7 pounds. That would make the Surface Pro almost irresistible, in my opinion. http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-57617427-75/rethinking-microsofts-tablet-surface-pro-2-succeeds
  4. Deunan

    New Surface Pro 3 Tablet

    Microsoft has officially unveiled the Surface Pro 3, a device aimed at eliminating the "conflict" Microsoft sees between the tablet and laptop. Sexy ain't it.... The device features a 12-inch screen and kickstand, and supports a stylus. In addition, the Tablet comes with support for USB 3.0 and Microsoft's popular Type Covers in multiple colors. The Surface Pro 3 features an Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processor to boost its performance compared to the previous Microsoft slate. Microsoft has high hopes for the Surface Pro 3, saying that it's the first tablet that can replace a user's laptop. The company argues that tablets and laptops have heretofore been mutually exclusive, but its new tablet can bridge that gap. In order to achieve that goal, Microsoft says that the tablet is 9.1mm thick, compared to 10.6mm on the Surface Pro 2. The device's 12-inch screen, up from the 10.6-inch Surface Pro 2, was "critical", Microsoft says, as it tries to make it compete with laptops. The display also comes with a 2,160 x 1,440 resolution, topping traditional 1080p FHD displays on the market. Built into the thin body you'll still find a full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader, and Mini DisplayPort, 5-megapixel and 1080p HD front- and rear-facing cameras, as well as stereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound. Other hardware specs include SSD storage from 64GB to 512GB; 4GB or 8GB of memory; 802.11ac or 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi; and TPM 2.0 for enterprise security. Microsoft says this new Surface Pro design isn't exactly fanless, but it might as well be. That's because the new system internals, designed in partnership with Intel, allow the system run run not only ultra-low voltage Core i3 or i5 CPUs, but also Core i7 ones, with a slim, quiet fan moving air as needed without that telltale whirring sound, or a fan exhaust blowing on your hands. Our Surface Pro 3, a midrange model with an Intel Core i5 CPU, certainly felt cool and ran quietly during our initial hands-on testing, but the same can be said of many Windows 8 tablets, some of which are truly fan-free. 1: Can it compete with the MacBook Air or iPad? 2: Can you see it replacing your Laptop like Microsoft hopes? 3: What do you think about the Screen Size & Resolution? 4: Would you buy one? 5: What are your views on it in general? I would love to get my hands on it, and see what all the fuss is about... https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/products/surface-pro-3
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