New Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood is getting about 186,000 shares of Microsoft stock as part of her compensation package, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
At today's share price, that comes to about $6.5 million. Part of the stock award will vest over three years; the remaining will vest over four.
Hood's base salary is $570,000 a year, according to a Microsoft spokesman, saying it's company practice to have the vast majority of its top executives' compensation be in the form of stock awards "so that their interests align with shareholders'."
Hood's predecessor, Peter Klein, received $580,000 in base salary, $950,000 in bonus and $3.6 million in stock awards last fiscal year, according to the company's proxy statement filed last October.
Windows Phone is slowly but definitely increasing its market share, according to figures from several research firms released this week.
Now the latest comes from IDC, which shows Windows Phone's worldwide shipment market share increasing from 2 percent in the first quarter of last year to 3.2 percent this year. That's enough of a jump to vault over BlackBerry, which IDC says had a 2.9 percent market share in the first quarter of 2013.
According to the IDC news release:
Windows Phone posted the largest year-over-year gain among the leading operating systems, more than doubling its size from a year ago. Nokia was largely responsible for driving these volumes higher, accounting for 79.0% of all Windows Phone shipments during the quarter. Since Nokia began shipping Windows Phone devices, the company has shipped a total of 20.3 million units and grown the footprint worldwide to include address multiple market segments.
Research firm Gartner released its smartphone share figures earlier this week -- though it counts sales rather than shipments. Gartner had Microsoft's smartphone platform at a 2.9 percent share in the first quarter -- not quite enough to overtake BlackBerry, which had 3 percent.
Here's IDC's chart:
Google has demanded that Microsoft remove the YouTube app that Microsoft developed for Windows Phone 8, saying the app violates YouTube's terms of service by, among other things, not displaying ads.
That's according to a report in The Verge, which says it obtained a copy of Google's cease-and-desist letter to Microsoft.
According to the letter, Google says the app allows users to download videos from YouTube, prevents the display of ads in YouTube video playbacks and plays videos that have been restricted from playback on certain platforms.
"These features directly harm our content creators and clearly violate our Terms of Service," Google said in the letter. "Content creators make money on YouTube by monetizing their content through advertising. Unfortunately, by blocking advertising and allowing downloads of videos, your application cuts off a valuable ongoing revenue source for creators, and causes harm to the thriving content ecosystem on YouTube."
Google has requested that Microsoft remove the app from the Windows Phone Store and disable existing downloads of the app by May 22.
We've asked Microsoft and Google for comment and will post any responses here.
[Update 3:54 p.m.: Microsoft sent the following statement:
YouTube is consistently one of the top apps downloaded by smartphone users on all platforms, but Google has refused to work with us to develop an app on par with the apps they have created for other platforms. Since we updated the YouTube app to ensure our mutual customers a similar YouTube experience, ratings and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive. We’d be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs. In light of Larry Page’s comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.]
This is the latest in a series of ongoing disputes between the two companies. The two tech titans have been battling over everything from patents to privacy issues to interoperability. Earlier today, Google CEO Larry Page, speaking at its Google I/O developer conference, said: "We struggle with companies like Microsoft." He was talking about how, earlier this week, Microsoft had announced it was rolling out Google chat capabilities to Outlook.com, but that it did not give Google Chat users access to Outlook.com, according to a CNET report.
Continuing its slow, steady climb in search engine share, Microsoft sites (primarily Bing) broke the 17 percent barrier in April, garnering 17.3 percent of U.S. searches in April, according to research firm comScore.
That's up from a 16.9 percent share in March and 15.4 percent share in April 2012.
Yahoo's search share also went up -- with the combined total share increase from Microsoft and Yahoo corresponding exactly to how much Google's share went down.
Here's comScore's chart:
The upcoming Windows 8 update, known up to now by the codename "Windows Blue," will officially be called "Windows 8.1," Windows marketing and financial chief Tami Reller said today.
She also said Windows 8.1 will be delivered as a free update to Windows 8 and Windows RT, adding that update will be easy to get directly from the Start screen and from the Windows app store.
A preview version of Windows 8.1 will debut June 26 at the company's annual Build conference for developers, and will be available for download.
Reller did not give a specific date for when the final version of 8.1 will be generally available but said it would be later this year and that the company is sensitive to the timing of getting hardware preloaded with Windows 8.1 out in time for the holidays.
"We understand when the holidays are," she said.
The Windows 8.1 update is, in part, a response to customer feedback. It's been rumored -- though Microsoft has not confirmed -- that the update will bring back the Start button and that it will allow users to boot directly to desktop, bypassing the tile screen that serves as the Start screen for Windows 8.
Reller made her remarks this morning at JP Morgan's Technology, Media and Telecome Conference in Boston.
She also said the Windows Store now has 70,000 apps.
The Windows Store is geared especially for users of Windows RT -- the version of Windows 8 running on ARM-based processors geared toward tablets and that can only run apps available through the Windows Store. The number of Windows Store apps has lagged behind the number available for iOS and Android tablets. Reller said Microsoft has "done so much to improve Windows RT since the Surface introduction in the fall," and said the company is committed to having devices running on ARM architecture as well as Intel processors.
Reller said there will be more form factors for Windows 8 coming later this year, and that surveys have shown that people have "a lot of interest" in convertible and detachable devices that can function as both laptops and tablets.
Surrounded by students and teachers from Rainier Beach High School, along with representatives from the high-tech industry, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today allowing Advanced Placement Computer Science course to count toward the state's high school math and science graduation requirements.
AP Computer Science has, since its inception, been an elective, said State Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge. Having it count toward graduation requirements is one step toward getting and training more students in the field -- one that industry leaders says is facing a shortage of qualified workers.
"We live in a state that is a national leader when it comes to information technology," said Brad Smith, general counsel at Microsoft, who spoke at the event. "Yet we have jobs that have been open for months…. We are not producing people with the skills needed to fill them."
Pushing for changes in education and education funding for math, science and technology jobs is one part of a push Microsoft is making in contending with what it and other high-tech leaders say is a sizeable gap between supply and demand for high-tech workers. The other part is pushing to raise the limits on H-1B visas for foreign qualified high-tech workers.
Of the 771 high schools in Washington State, Smith said, only 35 offer the AP Computer Science course. Of the 542 students in the state who took the course, only 113 of them were girls, only 13 were Latino, only 10 were African American and only 1 was Native American.
"Today that starts to change," he said. "The signing of this bill will help us reach more students, help us attract more people to this field."
One of those students who's already excited about the field is Ifrah Abshir, 15, a Rainier Beach freshman who spoke at the event. She's been taking the Intro to Computer Science course since the beginning of the school year and has already had a geometry game she developed -- called Bouncing Geometry -- published in the Windows Store.
She didn't love computer science, she admitted, until about two months into the course. After she got her game published, "that's when I realized: This is really fun," she said. "You can really go somewhere with this. I became addicted. ... The love just blossomed."
Rainier Beach High School is part of a program in which Microsoft employees volunteer at schools teaching computer science. Microsoft also donated smartphones to Rainier Beach's Introduction to Computer Science course.
Microsoft's tiny share of the worldwide smartphone market got a wee bit bigger, according to research firm Gartner, which reports that in the first quarter this year, Microsoft's share of worldwide smartphone sales was 2.9 percent. That's up from 1.9 percent last year.
The real gainer among smartphone operating systems was Android, which saw its smartphone share zoom from 56.9 percent last year to 74.4 percent first quarter this year.
Apple iOS's share declined from 22.5 percent to 18.2 percent.
Samsung and Apple were, by far, the top two vendors.
Here's Gartner's chart:
Microsoft is rolling out the ability for Outlook.com users to chat with friends on Gmail directly in the Outlook.com inbox, or via the user's Microsoft account calendar, contact list and SkyDrive.com.
"We heard that some of you who switched over from Gmail still want to chat with friends" who are using Gmail, Douglas Pearce, group program manager for connected services, said in an official company blog post today.
The capability enables Outlook.com users to, for example, start a quick chat -- text only; video chat is not supported -- while reading an email from a friend using Gmail. Or, if a user is editing a document at the same time as a colleague who's editing it via Google, they can chat or edit the document together in real time via SkyDrive.
Microsoft says it's rolling out the capabilities over the next few days and that the chat capability should appear first in users SkyDrive and then in their Outlook.com inbox and People contacts page.
Microsoft has been getting a bit of buzz for a series of online ads for Windows 8 that it released in Asia. The ads are weird and wacky (I'm kinda partial to the faceplanting makeup lady) -- unlike any Windows 8 ads we've seen in the U.S. Another weird thing about them: They're not in any language that we can recognize.
Those of us at The Seattle Times who speak Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese or Cantonese Chinese say it's not in those languages.
Microsoft declined to say what language the ads are in, issuing only the statement that: "We created these online-only social videos for the Asian market, where they were well-received."
So: Any of readers know what language is being spoken?
Here are the ads:
Nokia is launching the Lumia 928, its newest high-end Windows Phone, on Thursday. The phone, which will be carried by Verizon, will sell for $99.99, after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a two-year contract.
The phone, which will come in either black or white, has a 4.5-inch OLED screen with 1280 x 768 resolution and an aspect ratio of 15:9. It has a 1.5 GHz dual core, Qualcomm processor, a 8.7 megapixel camera, and 32GB of internal memory.
For a limited time, the phone will also come with a $25 credit for the Windows Phone store, which Microsoft says now has 145,000 apps and games.
Yammer, the corporate social networking and content collaboration company that Microsoft acquired for $1.2 billion last summer, has seen "tremendous" momentum, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft said in an official blog post today that Yammer sales grew 259 percent year-over-year in Microsoft's third quarter, which ended last month, and that Yammer gained 312 new corporations as customers.
Microsoft did not disclose the actual revenue dollar amount. With the 312 new customers, Yammer now counts more than 200,000 corporations as customers.
Overall, Yammer has 7 million individual registered users, up from 5 million at the time of its acquisition.
In February, Microsoft had said that Yammer's 2012 sales had tripled year-over-year.
Microsoft is working on integrating a number of its products and services with Yammer. It's expected that by this summer, Yammer will use SkyDrive Pro for file storage, and Office Web Apps to preview and edit files directly within Yammer feeds. Integration of Yammer and SharePoint, Microsoft's collaboration software, will likely take two years to complete, according to CITEworld.
[Read the full, updated story here.]
Amy Hood, most recently CFO of Microsoft's Business division, has been named Microsoft's new chief financial officer.
Hood, 41, becomes CFO effective immediately, according to a news release from Microsoft. Hood is the first woman to hold the position and the appointment makes her the highest-ranking woman at Microsoft.
She succeeds outgoing CFO Peter Klein, who had announced last month that he would be leaving at the end of the fiscal year in June. Klein will remain at Microsoft through then to ensure a smooth transition, the company said.
"Amy brings the right talents and experiences to the role as we continue to strengthen our focus on devices and services," CEO Steve Ballmer said in the news release. "She has been an instrumental leader in the Microsoft Business Division (MBD), helping lead the transition to services with Office 365 and delivering strong financial and operational management throughout her time on the business."
In her position, Hood, who joined Microsoft in 2002, oversaw one of the company's biggest revenue-generating divisions. The division, which includes Office, generated $24 billion in sales last fiscal year. As CFO of the division, Hood was also "deeply involved in the strategy development and overall execution of the company's successful acquisitions of Skype and Yammer," according to the release.
Before that, she had run the strategy and business development team in the Business division, and earlier served as chief of staff in the Server and Tools business. She has also worked in the investment banking and capital markets groups at Goldman Sachs and holds degrees from Duke and Harvard universities.
"I'm excited to step into this role and look forward to working closely again with our investors and shareholders," Hood said in the release. "Peter has built a world-class finance team, and I am set up well to continue the company's strong discipline around costs and focus on driving shareholder value."
Microsoft is thinking of buying the digital assets of Nook Media, the partnership between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft focusing on digital reading and digital education, according to a report in TechCrunch.
Microsoft is offering to pay $1 billion, according to the TechCrunch report, which also says "Nook Media plans to discontinue its Android-based tablet business by the end of its 2014 fiscal year as it transitions to a model where Nook content is distributed through apps on 'third-party partner' devices." TechCrunch attributed the information to internal documents that it obtained and said those documents were not clear on whether the third-party devices would be Microsoft's or not.
But given that Microsoft has confirmed it is working with manufacturers to make smaller Windows-based touch devices -- devices that would presumably be smaller, lighter and thus friendlier to e-reading -- it would make sense for the company to want to acquire digital content for such devices.
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced their Nook Media partnership in April 2012. That partnership, which created the Barnes & Noble Nook Media subsidiary, involved an investment of $300 million from Microsoft. The partnership gave Microsoft a 17.6 percent equity stake in an area where it had been lacking presence: e-books, and was seen as a way for Microsoft to battle digital content giants Amazon and Apple.
Microsoft also committed $180 million over three years in revenue-sharing guarantees and said it would also contribute $125 million over five years to help the subsidiary expand into international markets. That deal was finalized in October 2012.
And Barnes & Noble recently turned to Microsoft arch-rival Google, signing a deal to install the Google Play app store, as well as Gmail, Chrome and Google Maps on new Nook tablets, according to Bloomberg News. Nook Media posted a loss of $191 million on sales of $2.18 billion in the three quarters through Jan. 26, according to Bloomberg.
A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined to comment. A Microsoft spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Huawei W1 is joining the Nokia Lumia 521 in Wal-Mart's line of presumably lower priced, no-contract Windows Phone devices.
The Huawei W1, known overseas as the Ascend W1 and which has been described as an entry-level phone, is expected to be available at Wal-Mart later this month. While neither Huawei nor Wal-Mart disclosed the price, the phone "will use a no-contract prepaid plan and be priced 'competitively,'" the official Windows Phone blog says, citing a Huawei executive.
The Lumia 521, meanwhile, is expected to become available at Wal-Mart starting on Saturday. It is eligible for a no contract, $30 per month unlimited data and texting plan on T-Mobile. It looks like Wal-Mart is pricing it at about $130, according to the retailer's website.
Microsoft will be opening a specialty store -- one of its smaller, kiosk-type retail spaces -- at Pacific Place on June 21.
The Pacific Place store was among the four specialty stores -- the others are in California, Texas and Michigan -- that Microsoft announced would be opening later this month and in June.
Microsoft’s specialty stores are mostly kiosk-type stores located in malls. They arose out of the temporary holiday stores that Microsoft first opened last year. The company currently has 31 specialty stores, with more scheduled to open soon.
It also has 34 larger, permanent retail stores, including the ones currently at Bellevue Square and at University Village in Seattle.
A specialty store is also reportedly in the works for somewhere in Bellevue. A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to comment on that report.
Several newsy Microsoft items of interest this afternoon:
- It looks like the top contenders for the Microsoft chief financial officer job are Windows marketing and finance chief Tami Reller and Business division finance head Amy Hood -- at least according to Bloomberg News, which also says Rik van der Kooi, chief operating officer for the Online Services unit, is a contender as well. Current Microsoft CFO Peter Klein had announced last month that he would be stepping down at the end of the fiscal year in June. The company had said that it would be naming a replacement from an internal pool of candidates.
- A public preview of Windows Blue, the expected major update to Windows 8, will be released at the Build developer conference in June. That's according to Julie Larson-Green, CVP for Windows software and hardware engineering, who spoke today at the Wired Business Conference, according to the official Windows blog
- Since January, when Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University launched, a quarter of consumers buying Office have chosen the subscription model, according to Microsoft. "This exceeded our expectations, given that software subscriptions are relatively new to most consumers," according to an official Microsoft blog post. The post was written following Adobe's announcement that it would be discontinuing development of its Creative Suite and focusing on its subscription offering, Creative Cloud. Microsoft said though "we think subscription software-as-a-service is the future," that it will take time to move people over to that model and that , for the forseeable future, Microsoft will continue to offer Office as either a subscription or through software packages.
The Office team also said, in a separate blog post, that over the next year or so it will be investing more in making it easier for users to collaborate in the cloud and to edit from more devices across different platforms.
[The push to expand the limit on H-1B visas is an important topic to many high tech companies, including Microsoft. In case you missed it, here's a story on that topic that ran Sunday in the print edition of The Seattle Times.]
Last year, Mitchell Erickson earned what he believed would be his ticket to a lucrative new career: a bachelor’s degree in computer science and software engineering from the University of Washington, Bothell.
Erickson, a former community-college philosophy instructor, feared his days of making a living teaching symbolic language and logic couldn’t last. So sensing an intellectual similarity between philosophy and computer coding, Erickson decided to go back to school.
Though he was then in his late 50s, Erickson figured the drumbeat of complaints from Microsoft and other tech companies about a dearth of good applicants promised an easy career switch.
Nine months past his graduation, however, Erickson has yet to find full-time work.
“When I saw my (philosophy) career was going to be over, I retrained myself,” Erickson, now 60, said. “What good is that if I’m not actually going to get a job?”
Erickson is among hundreds of thousands of jobless or underemployed programmers and engineers nationwide who’ve had difficulty finding full-time work despite reports of a scarcity of qualified American high-tech workers.
Microsoft, for instance, says it has such trouble filling its more than 3,000 vacancies for software developers and engineers it expects to offer a third of those jobs to foreigners, the vast majority of them recruited off U.S. college campuses.
The national unemployment rate for computer and math occupations is about half that for the general population.But the plight of the struggling workers in those fields has become a flashpoint for controversy in Congress over immigration reform, specifically how many more skilled foreign workers to allow in and under what terms.
Erickson, who graduated with a 3.52 GPA, has applied for more than 150 jobs, several of them at Microsoft. In February, he finally landed a job he enjoys as project manager for a Web-development company. But it’s only part time.
That seeming paradox stems from a host of factors.
Microsoft has sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses since it launched in late October, according to Tami Reller, Windows' chief marketing officer and chief financial officer.
That number includes Windows licenses that ship on new tablets or PCs, as well as upgrades to Windows 8, Reller said in an interview posted on the offiicial Windows blog.
This is the first updated figure Microsoft has provided on Windows 8 sales since saying in January that it's sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses.
Reller also offered some hints about what might be coming in Blue, the codename of the wave of updates expected to hit many Microsoft products later this year:
Windows Blue is a codename for an update that will be available later this year, building on the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of tablets and PCs. It will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem. It will provide more options for businesses, and give consumers more options for work and play.
The Windows Blue update is also an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT. From a company-wide perspective, Windows Blue is part of a broader effort to advance our devices and services for Microsoft."
Interesting that she takes care to say that the Windows Blue update is "an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to since the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT." Sounds like that may hint at a return to a Start button/menu of some sort?
Among other figures Reller offered:
- The number of Windows Store app downloads has passed 250 million. (Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet reports that Reller said there are now more than 60,000 Windows Store apps.)
- The number of certified devices for Windows 8 and Window RT is now at 2,400 devices.
- She also reiterated some numbers disclosed by Microsoft earlier this month: That more than 250 million people are using SkyDrive and more than 400 million people have Outlook.com accounts, now that Microsoft has completed its migration of Hotmail users to Outlook.com.
It looks like Microsoft is planning to open one of its small "specialty" retail stores at an undisclosed location in Bellevue.
According to a job posting on the Microsoft Careers site, the company is looking for a store manager for a specialty store located in Bellevue.
Microsoft's specialty stores are, essentially, kiosk-type stores located in malls. They arose out of the temporary holiday stores that Microsoft first opened last year.
Microsoft currently has about 31 specialty stores, mainly in the U.S. and Canada.
It also has about 34 larger, permanent retail stores.
Microsoft already has one of its larger, permanent stores in Bellevue. Its Bellevue Square store, which opened in 2010, was the first Microsoft Store in the Northwest. The company opened its Seattle retail store, in University Village, in October 2011.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company does not "have additional details to share" at this time on the job posting for the Bellevue specialty store.
That job listing was first noticed by the Neowin site.
Research firm comScore's latest figures are out, showing Microsoft's share of the U.S. smartphone subscriber market at 3 percent for the three months ended in March.
That's up from 2.9 percent for the three months ended in December, and down sequentially from 3.2 percent for the three months ended in February.
Microsoft's latest move in its effort to boost its U.S. market share is the launch of the lower-priced Nokia Lumia 521. That handset, which launched (and subsequently sold out) on HSN last week, will be available starting May 11 at Walmart and Microsoft retail stores.
At the Microsoft Store, the phone will sell for $149. Walmart hasn’t announced its pricing yet, but the Lumia 521 will be eligible for a no contract, $30 per month unlimited data and texting plan on T-Mobile, according to an official Windows Phone blog post.
Here's comScore's chart: