2010 a big year for new products from Microsoft, 29 '10 Subject: 2010 gudMicrosoftProducts, Viewed by: 405
As Microsoft looks back on 2010, one thing is clear: The company has more product in it than Justin Bieber's hair.
From January through December, the software company pumped out a wave of new offerings, from the early success of Kinect to the flaming failure of Kin.
Yet, for all the activity, Microsoft's stock has done little over the same period. Microsoft started the year at $30.48 a share but closed at $28.30 Thursday — down 7.2 percent.
Top leaders also exited the company: Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, Entertainment and Devices division President Robbie Bach and Business division President Stephen Elop.
As the economy continued its snail's-pace recovery, these were the bigger product launches of the year.
Azure: Microsoft began the year with the launch of Azure, its platform for cloud computing.
As Chief Executive Steve Ballmer first said at a University of Washington speech in March, "We're all in" the cloud, a platform where software and data are stored in remote Microsoft data centers instead of corporate servers and are accessed with Internet-connected devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets and televisions. Cloud computing is a bet-the-company move for Microsoft. In the next 10 years, the company believes delivering software via the cloud could make up half of the company's revenue.
The progress has been slow, however. Success of Azure depends on how many developers build software for it. It now has 20,000 customers.The company, meanwhile, continues to release new features and products for the cloud. In July, Microsoft announced plans to sell an Azure appliance that would reside on a corporate campus rather than in a data center run by Microsoft. The product is aimed at companies that don't trust their business data to an outside company.
Kin: Microsoft launched the Kin mobile phone in April, calling it the phone for the socially networked generation. The phone's software was designed for life-casters who want to update their status and upload photos to Facebook. It began selling in May with Verizon Wireless, and by the end of June, Microsoft had pulled it from the market. Sales were reportedly disappointing. CEO Ballmer said the Kin distracted attention from Windows Phone 7, which started selling in the fall.
Office 2010: The workhorse productivity software, which makes $18.6 billion a year in revenue for Microsoft, came out with its latest version in May. For the first time, Microsoft also made a free lightweight Web-based version, called Office Web Apps, to compete with Google Docs. Microsoft reports Office 2010 has sold 6 million copies.
In October, the company also launched Office 365, Office software offered as an online service hosted by Microsoft in the cloud.
SharePoint 2010: Microsoft's collaboration software, which brings together file sharing, website design and internal corporate searching, began to get more like Facebook. The latest version that came out in May added social-media features for businesses.
Bing: While Microsoft launched Bing in 2009, the search-engine development team has since continually rolled out new features. Microsoft also sewed up its massive partnership with Yahoo in October. Bing now runs all of Yahoo's searches and Microsoft's AdCenter now serves as the advertising platform for both sites. With the addition of Yahoo's search traffic, Bing now conducts 28 percent of all searches online in the U.S., according to November numbers from comScore. Google's dominant position remains strong at 66 percent.
Bing also landed a significant partnership with Facebook to bring individual profiles and information about what friends "like" to Bing's search results.
While the changes at Bing have been incremental, the innovation at Microsoft appears to have spurred Google to bring out its own new features, such as instant search. At one point this year, Google even experimented with replacing its white home page with a photo, similar to Bing's signature design.
Internet Explorer 9: In September, Microsoft released the beta version of its new Web browser, which has since been downloaded 15 million times. The software promises a new generation of richer, more animated and more applicationlike websites. The new browser supports the HTML5 Web standard, the foundation of new Web design. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer 9 works only on Windows 7 and Vista, which will limit how quickly it will be downloaded and how many developers will build HTML5 sites.
Windows Phone 7: Two years after Apple launched the iPhone, Microsoft introduced its redesigned mobile-phone operating system, dubbed Windows Phone 7, in October. The company says it will spend $100 million to market the phones, which are designed to make it faster to get contact updates and other information from your phone.
Microsoft has also declined to say how many phones customers have bought, but phone-makers have sold 1.5 million to wireless carriers.
Kinect for Xbox 360: The motion sensor for Microsoft's video-game system allows people to play games without using a handheld controller. While the sensor has only a limited array of Xbox games that take advantage of the technology, it has sold 2.5 million units since launching in November. Microsoft sees potential in motion sensors beyond riding imaginary river rafts. The company believes that voice and gesture, not the mouse and keyboard, will define the desktop and office of the future.
Microsoft store in Bellevue: While it was not a global product that will sell in 40 countries, the Microsoft store that opened at Bellevue Square in November, the first retail store Microsoft opened in its home base. Ballmer himself showed up for the ribbon cutting.
Lync: The many names of Microsoft unified messaging software — Office Communicator, Office Communications Server — got deep-sixed for a new brand, Lync, in November. Lync can replace a traditional office phone system, and it brings together phone calling, instant messaging, video conferencing and presence, software that senses whether you're at your desk, on the phone or in a meeting.
Windows 7: While the latest version of Microsoft's operating system launched last year, it continued to see strong sales in 2010, selling 240 million copies since it hit the market in October 2009.
What's missing from this long list of major product launches? A tablet. This was the year of the iPad, and Apple has sold more than 7 million of the tablets. Google has jumped into the market with Android tablets. Ballmer says the company is working on it but has declined to put a date on when shoppers will get to see tablets running Windows that can compete with the iPad. News reports recently surfaced saying that Microsoft would make news about tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show in January