Thurrott Daily: October 24

Posted on October 24, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface, Microsoft-Band, Music + Videos, Windows 10, Windows Phones, Xbox with 0 Comments

Thurrott Daily: October 24

I ordered a Mozo cover for my Lumia 640 XL so I could check out the quality, which is excellent: They’re releasing some amazing Lumia 950/950 XL covers soon.

Happy weekend. What else is happening today?

10/24/2015 11:16:40 AM

Ballmer: Microsoft is the only company that can take on Apple in devices

I’m not honestly sure I agree with him here, but former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in an interview with Bloomberg that Microsoft is the only company that has what it takes to compete with Apple in the devices space.

He says:

“Microsoft will give them a good run for their money. Nobody else has really tried to compete with them anymore really seriously in hardware. I mean who’s really going after the Mac? Who’s really going after the iPad? You could basically say Microsoft and Samsung. And Microsoft really is the only one that’s got a software and a hardware capability. So if there’s going to be any competition at all for Apple it will come from Microsoft.”

A few comments.

Google is also going after the Mac, and the iPad, with Chromebook. And they are now handily beating both (and Windows, for that matter) in the most important market imaginable, education. That said, Chromebook remains a US-only phenomenon at this time.

Google is also going after the iPad, and not just with Chromebook but with Android, which, by the way, collectively outsells iPad by a wide, wide margin. What’s interesting about this is that Google’s investment in the tablet space is minimal. All they have to do, really, is continuing developing the OS(es) and get partners to make devices.

It’s not clear to me that Google has less of a hardware capability than does Microsoft, either. After all, both firms design their own hardware (for Google, this is Nexus and Pixel) and other companies build it. Microsoft essentially does the same, though it’s reasonable to point out that Microsoft also has a hand in manufacturing processes, unlike Google.

Anyway. Samsung and Google both can/will take on Apple in devices. It’s not just Microsoft.

Maybe Halo 5 will ship on the PC

Yesterday, I commented on why Microsoft needs to port Halo 5 to the PC. But as The Verge’s Tom Warren notes, that could actually happen. Speaking on GamesRadar’s Twitch stream, Halo director Frank O’Connor said the following:

“You know, Microsoft has made a huge commitment to try and sort of, I think, normalize the Windows experience across multiple platforms. You see the elements of Windows 10 are going to appear in the Xbox and Cortana and stuff like that.There is plenty of chance that Halo 5 could appear on the PC. Nothing to announce at this point, but it’s absolutely not out of the bounds of reason. We developed the game on an Intel platform. It wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world to move it to PC and take advantage of PC stuff. But nothing I announce today on this chat.”

Pandora: Apple Music has had only a minor impact on business

One of the big questions about Apple Music is whether this new entry would disrupt the established players. Spotify denies it’s seen major defections so far. And now the world’s biggest streaming service, Pandora, has provided a similarly upbeat assessment.

In a post-earnings conference call, Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews said of Apple Music:

“As we discussed on our Q2 call, we expected some short-term impact to our audience growth as listeners tried this highly-promoted new service [Apple Music]. I am pleased to say that, given the scale of press and consumer attention on this launch, the impact on our active users and listening hours was muted and was, in fact, consistent with what we experienced during the launch of Apple’s radio service in 2013.

In fact, despite this increased attention on the on-demand category, we continued to grow both active users and listening hours during the quarter as compared to the prior year. In an evolving marketplace, consumers try new technologies and experiment with other services, and we would naturally expect ebbs and flows in active users and hours as we grow our category leadership.”

That said, the “as compared to the prior year” bit is interesting. Yes, Pandora’s subscriber base grew year over year. But as Apple Insider–which generally inserts a pro-Apple theme into any story–notes, Pandora actually lost 1.3 million subscribers across sequential quarters. Meaning that Apple Music has in fact impacted Pandora.

That said, McAndrews does expect the losses to be temporary.

Pandora controls almost 10 percent of all radio listening in the U.S., the firm claims, and the service has 78.1 million active users.

Apple iCloud for Windows adds Apple Photos and Outlook support

And speaking of Apple, the firm has released a new version of iCloud for Windows, adding support for the Apple Photos service, plus the ability to access iCloud-based email, contacts and calendar data within Microsoft Outlook.

And that’s all that needs to be said about that.