Oct. 23, 2014, 4:05 PM
Oct. 22, 2014, 5:35 PM
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Oct. 20, 2014, 7:25 PM
- "I think that if you’re not already spending a lot of capital in the order of four or five billion dollars each year to just grow your cloud, probably it’s a little too late to enter the market," Satya Nadella (NASDAQ:MSFT) asserted during a CNBC interview (video). Rackspace and VMware would probably beg to differ; Amazon and Google, maybe not so much.
- The CNBC talk was followed by a webcast in which Nadella unveiled the Cloud Platform System, an on-premise appliance (to be sold by Dell) that enables Azure private cloud and (by linking with Microsoft's public cloud) hybrid cloud services. Microsoft has long argued Azure's strong hybrid cloud support (aided by the company's on-premise software) acts as a differentiator relative to Amazon/Google).
- Also unveiled: 1) An Azure Marketplace that allows clients to quickly add apps and services from third parties; Amazon has something similar. 2) New high-performance Azure virtual machine and storage options. 3) Azure support for CoreOS, a Linux variant that's popular among companies deploying app containers (a lightweight alternative to virtualization software from the likes of Microsoft and VMware).
- Driving home his multi-platform push, Nadella made the CoreOS announcement in front of a sign that (amusingly enough) read "Microsoft [hearts] Linux." Last week, the company announced support for Docker's app containers (already big on Linux) would be included in the next version of Windows Server, which is expected in mid-2015.
- Prior Azure announcements: I, II
Oct. 20, 2014, 9:19 AM
- IBM missed Q3 estimates, pulled its $20 2015 EPS forecast, and respectively reported 15% and 7% Y/Y drops in hardware revenue and services backlog.
- Big Blue also stated it "saw a marked slowdown in September in client buying behavior," and declared its numbers "also point to the unprecedented pace of change in our industry" (at least partially a reference to cloud services adoption).
- SAP missed Q3 revenue estimates (while posting in-line EPS), reported a 3% Y/Y drop in traditional software license revenue, and (citing the cloud transition) cut its full-year op. profit outlook.
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) -0.8% premarket. H-P (NYSE:HPQ) -2% premarket. Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) -1.8%. EMC -0.8%. There's a good chance other enterprise IT names will trade lower as well.
Oct. 20, 2014, 2:51 AM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is readying the launch of a smartwatch, which will hit stores before the holiday season, Forbes reports.
- The wearable device can passively track a wearer’s heart rate and will work across different mobile platforms.
- A major advantage of the gadget includes its robust battery life, which can last more than two days of regular use.
Oct. 12, 2014, 2:16 PM
- In a test involving thousands of queries on various subjects, Stone Temple Consulting found Google Now (NASDAQ:GOOG) managed to "completely answer" a question 88% of the time, a rate well above the 53% posted by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri and the 40% delivered by Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Cortana.
- In addition, Now showed "enhanced results" (results featuring some kind of knowledge box/panel or structured data) 58% of the time; Siri did so 29% of the time, and Cortana 20%.
- Stone Temple was also impressed with Now's ability to return complementary data and detailed results: A query of "Burj Khalifa height" returned (in addition to the skyscraper's height) the heights of various other buildings, and a query of "becoming a firefighter" returned step-by-step instructions from FireScience.org.
- Now, which comes built into Google's version of Android and is available on iOS through the (well-downloaded) Google search app, both strengthens Google's mobile search position, and (to the extent the search app is used instead of Mobile Safari on iOS) lowers the company's search traffic acquisition payments to Apple.
- It also could be a key differentiator for Google in the realm of wearables, where time and location-sensitive push notifications are viewed as a killer app. The recently-launched Android Wear platform features tight Google Now integration.
Oct. 8, 2014, 5:09 PM
- IDC estimates global PC shipments were down 1.7% Y/Y in Q3 to 78.5M, better than an expected 4.1%. The decline is even with Q2's rate, and better than Q1's 4.4% and Q4 2013's 5.6%. Gartner estimates shipments fell only 0.5%.
- Developed markets continue faring better than emerging markets still getting hit by tablet cannibalization. IDC thinks U.S. shipments rose 4.3%, a bit slower than Q2's 6.9% growth. EMEA grew, while Asia-Pac (exc. Japan) declined. Japanese growth remained "deeply negative."
- The corporate migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 (following MSFT's ending of XP support) is still providing a lift, as is a soft tablet market. However, IDC cautions demand for "large commercial refreshes" remains low.
- Notably, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally managed to crack IDC's list of the top-5 global vendors: With the help of a strong U.S. market and Mac price cuts, Apple's unit share rose an estimated 60 bps to 6.3%. Revenue share is likely above 10%, given Apple's calendar Q2 Mac ASP was $1,255. U.S. unit share was at 13%.
- The four companies ahead of Apple all grew their shares as well, gaining ground against vendors with less scale: Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) was at 20% (+230 bps), H-P (NYSE:HPQ) at 18.8% (+130 bps), Dell at 13.3% (+140 bps), and Acer (OTC:ACEIY) at 8.4% (+100 bps).
- Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Oct. 14 Q3 report should provide additional color on PC demand going into the holiday season.
- Related tickers: AMD, NVDA, MU, STX, WDC, HTCH
Oct. 7, 2014, 5:38 PM
- Bloomberg and the WSJ report Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has signed a letter of intent to buy Equivio, an Israeli developer of text-analysis software used for corporate/legal e-discovery and information governance applications. The WSJ reports the price is around $200M.
- Equivio's software relies on machine learning algorithms to analyze and group together documents. Potential use cases include grouping near-duplicates, reconstructing e-mail threads, and data mining. Clients include the DOJ, the FTC, KPMG, Deloitte, and many law firms.
- Like Google and Facebook, Microsoft has already shown a keen interest in machine learning; an Azure machine learning service that provides predictive analytics is currently in beta. In addition to enterprise apps/services, the technology is leveraged by consumer-facing Microsoft products such as Bing, Cortana, and the Xbox/Kinect.
Oct. 2, 2014, 7:07 PM
- While investor attention has recently been focused on Windows 10, the potential late-2015 launch of Office 2016 could act as a fresh catalyst for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), thinks FBN's Shelby Seyrafi, who has launched coverage with an Outperform and $55 target.
- Seyrafi also sees Microsoft's decision to end Windows Server 2003 support in July 2015 acting as a smaller catalyst. IDC has argued Microsoft's move could provide a lift to 2015 server sale, much as ending Win. XP support boosted enterprise PC sales this year.
- Office, in the midst of a huge transition to subscription sales, accounted for 28% of Microsoft FY14 (ended June '14) revenue, and a much larger share of op. profit. Seyrafi expects Windows Server (also a high-margin product) to make up 7% of FY15 revenue.
- The FBN analyst is also a fan of the healthy growth seen in Microsoft's unearned (deferred) revenue and contracted but not billed balances: The former rose 12% Y/Y in the June quarter, and the latter 14%. He sees the company returning ~50% of free cash flow to shareholders going forward, after returning 57% in FY14 and 49% in FY13.
Sep. 30, 2014, 1:50 PM
- "It wouldn't be right to call it Windows 9," says OS division chief Terry Myerson as he unveils the next version of Windows. As expected, Microsoft (MSFT -0.6%) is bringing back the Start menu, albeit a revamped version that supports resizable live tiles, and will allow touch-friendly Metro apps to launch in desktop mode. (live blog)
- Myerson has tried hard to stress Windows 10 is meant to be enterprise-friendly; most businesses have ignored Windows 8 and stuck with Windows 7. He promises Windows 10 will be "compatible with all the traditional management systems used today," and also provide "a very novel approach of separating corporate and personal data across all devices."
- The OS is also meant to provide an integrated developer environment for PCs, tablets, and phones. However, the UI will vary considerably based on device type; phones naturally won't have a desktop mode.
- Other new features include: 1) An improved universal search experience (integrated Bing/local results). 2) Improved multitasking features - a tool called Snap Assist allows apps to be quickly pulled from multiple desktops. 3) The ability for 2-in-1 devices to automatically switch between the desktop and Metro UIs based on their input mode.
- Developers will get their hands on a Technical Preview shortly, but a commercial launch won't happen until mid-2015. After Windows 10, Microsoft is expected to shift to faster, more incremental Windows updates.
Sep. 30, 2014, 2:46 AM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is unveiling its next version of Windows in San Francisco today. New features are expected to be specifically catered to corporate buyers, who shifted away from Windows 8's less work-friendly features.
- Separately, the Chinese regulator investigating Microsoft in China for alleged antitrust violations has announced that it will conduct an open and fair investigation, after Chief Executive Satya Nadella promised full cooperation in the case yesterday.
- The tone sharply contrasts the way Chinese investigators have carried out the case so far, conducting surprise inspections and seizing material.
Sep. 23, 2014, 7:07 AM
- Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) says its Xbox One videogame console will launch in China on Sept. 29, but still has not given a reason for its previous launch date (Sept 23) delay.
- The Xbox One will be the first foreign game console to launch in China, following the lifting of a 14-year-old ban on foreign consoles earlier this year.
Sep. 21, 2014, 10:38 AM
- Without stating a reason, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has delayed the launch of its Xbox One in China, which had been set for release on Tuesday. The company now says the game console will be released by the end of the year.
- Microsoft announced it would start selling the Xbox One in China last spring, after the Chinese government ended its longstanding ban on foreign videogame consoles and games.
- The delay is the latest setback for Microsoft in China, where it is under investigation for anti-monopoly violations related to its Windows operating system and Microsoft Office.
Sep. 18, 2014, 6:26 PM
- As part of its announced plans to cut 18K jobs (14% of its workforce), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) laid off 2.1K people today. The company also announced it's shutting down a Silicon Valley research lab focused on distributed computing R&D.
- A Microsoft spokesperson calls the move a consolidation of the company's West Coast labs. Microsoft currently has a dozen labs worldwide.
- While the Nokia phone unit is set to see the brunt of Microsoft's job cuts (~12.5K cuts), some other units are also expected to be hard-hit. Microsoft has already confirmed the closure of its Xbox content studio ops, and is reportedly planning to lay off Windows test engineers as it moves to a faster release cycle.
Sep. 17, 2014, 9:02 AM
- The 10.7% boost in the quarterly payout to $0.31 per share (an annualized yield of 2.65% based on last night's close) is below expectations, says Goldman, maintaining its Sell rating and $36 price target.
- The increase, however, was roughly inline with a Bloomberg survey which estimated the dividend being lifted to $0.30.
- Among those positing a more aggressive move was Citi's Walter Pritchard, who saw a boost of maybe 25% along with targeting a payout ratio of around 70% for the fiscal year ending next June.
- MSFT -1% premarket
- Previously: Microsoft hikes dividend 11%, adds two new directors
Sep. 16, 2014, 7:11 PM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) says it is raising its quarterly dividend by 11% to $0.31/share and appoints two new directors to replace two board members who decided not to seek re-election.
- CEO Satya Nadella continues to remake MSFT's board; the latest changes bring in Kraft Foods CFO Teri List-Stoll and Visa CEO Charles Scharf, effective Oct. 1.
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Microsoft Corp is engaged in designing, manufacturing, selling devices, and online advertising to a global customer audience. Its products include operating systems for computing devices, servers, phones, and other intelligent devices.
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