windows phone 7

All change at Microsoft? – Or admitting defeat?

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Poor Microsoft, having to release its software on other platforms because only a few are buying theirs.....
Poor Microsoft, having to release its software on other platforms….

Three pieces of news from Microsoft today, which signal to me a change in the companies view of itself and maybe now realizes that as well as having no foothold on the popular markets of today such as smartphones, net services and search, see’s itself more providing software for others in its future.

First up is that on July the 1st there are to be big changes at Microsoft.  Now we could speculate, but I think the time has long since past where Microsoft will regain its former “glory” and now can only sit back and watch itself being ridiculed and its market share in a plethora of services, software and tech be eaten away by competition.

The changes are reportedly being overseen almost solely by Ballmer, with an end goal of changing Microsoft into a “devices and services company”

Source: Independent

And if Ballmer has a hand in these “changes” then I expect them to be out of touch and beneficial to the competition and choice.  And because its Ballmer, we’ll probably get a chuckle out of them too.  Microsoft will be a considerably smaller software only company in the not too distant future – mark my words.  I suppose Microsoft will always have the portfolio of patents in which to fleece money from others – that is until such time as the issue of software patents is handled correctly.

There’s the news that Xbox games are coming to both iPhone and “smartphones” it must really hurt Microsoft just to have to say the “Google” word – especially now that it will be relying on Google’s customer base to buy Microsoft wares.

Through a licensing deal, Klab will bring Microsoft’s Xbox and Windows-based computer games to the iPhone and smartphones using Google Inc’s Android operating system, according to the Nikkei


Bing is due to release “Bing for schools” which allegedly is an ad free and adult free search engine.  Wow…. and suggests that Microsoft really wants to try and save its future by at least indoctrinating the young with their search engine (after all the latest form factors which the younger generation are using certainly do not have the Microsoft name on them).

“We see the program as something we can build alongside teachers, parents, and visionaries to create the best possible search experience for our children….”

Source: Cnet

So really its just going to be a search engine where only approved sites (and I assume approved by humans not bots) will be listed.  Of course how Microsoft would police those approved sites in order to prevent any “accidents” as a result of a comment or link from them is anyone’s guess and the fact that a young person may find a “safe” site as a result of Bing but then link onto something unsuitable, sort of defeats the whole object of the exercise.  Talking of the whole object of the exercise, I think in Bing for Schools its more a case of trying to indoctrinate young people into at least one Microsoft product before they go into employment using Android and Apple products and saying the word “Google”.

Contact points:

Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights on

Beware a softie bearing gifts…Microsoft giveaway?

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I make no secret of my opinion that Microsoft should never be allowed the dominance on any form factor that its enjoyed over the years on the desktop.  After many years of introducing users to Linux and indeed other alternatives, it always amazed me that such simple features of Linux that I take for granted were seen as a huge benefit by those used to a Microsoft operating system.  A solid stable experience, no need to battle malware and faster operations were but a few things that users coming from Windows mentioned when they had Linux introduced to them.

Today times are changing and despite what some might say, the traditional desktop is going.  Thats great news for choice since we have Android and even Apple products offering users the experiences they want, that’s not good news for Microsoft who have, to be fair, struggled in almost every facet of new tech.  Even the Xbox One has a derogatory name and it hasn’t been released yet.

Recently Microsoft announced that it was giving away free ebooks in multiple formats for users to download.  These ebooks – surprise, surprise for Microsoft products. Good news? Well not in my opinion.  Lets look back a few years at what Bill Gates had to say:

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

That was Bill Gates talking about piracy and taking Microsoft products for “free”.  Now as we see people moving away from Microsoft is so many area’s, one has to wonder if this give-away is all about getting people “addicted” again.

I don’t think Microsoft has a belief in free.  It’s actions if hidden under a banner of “free” are to lock you into an ecosystem of theirs “One Microsoft Way” or as Bill Gates said, “to get sort of addicted”

I think Microsoft knows that the new generation of customers, the ones in school or college are getting competitors products.  Microsoft in my view can see that if left unchecked very shortly Microsoft will be an afterthought – Just look at the tablet and smartphone market now, Microsoft barely registers on the scale and has to get a living from Android “licenses” and if these form-factors are the mainstream of the future as the current market stands, Microsoft has a very small and unremarkable future.

I wouldn’t recommend people accepting anything for free from Microsoft, as in my view there’s always a price to be paid.

Contact points:

Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights on

The price of “free speech” – Why you can’t be sure who you are talking with.

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I’ve a series of articles on free speech and why the internet has anything but coming very soon.  My free time has been taken up of late with a documentary I’m participating in so I will start off by apologising for the lack of updates on OpenBytes (and indeed the TechBytes audiocast).  I’ve been quite active over on G+ and the ability to simply message, link and comment from an Android Smartphone has seen me more involved over there for the past few months.

So today I look at free speech, with consideration to those companies who seek to manage it.  Before I go any further I must mention the company I highlight here ( has not been specific in what (if any) tactics it would employ against those who’s comments conflict with their clients “vision”.  I digress.  Here’s the history:

Over the past few months there has been an advert on a local talk radio station advertising a company called “” – Offering services which would appear to monitor & safeguard your online reputation. – A bad thing? Well since its taken a considerable time to get a reply from a few points I put to them, I’d expect any further answers to be equally as slow.  Here’s what the website says and I urge you to follow the link in order for you to draw your own opinions on what exactly it is that they offer.

Protect Your Online Reputation From Negative Search Results…

Obviously there is more to the site/service than merely that statement, but it sets the tone for why I was interested in what they offered.  How do they protect you from negative search results? I put the following to them:

How exactly do you achieve your goals or campaigns…. What lengths do you go to in “online reputation” and more importantly when someone exercises free speech which doesn’t favour the contract you have been given, what do you do?

I would be very interested to hear more about “reputation management”….. to me it sounds very much like hiring a shill….maybe I’m wrong there…..maybe you could elaborate?

And approximately 4 weeks later I received a response.  Presumably monitoring their own online presence is not as much of a priority as that of their clients?

Hello and apologies for our late reply.

Online reputation management encompasses a variety of activities, all conducted within an ethical framework.  An example would be helping a company to monitor and manage its online reviews. Our cloud-based platform enables real-time alerts when new reviews are posted, analysis of trends in the reviews (is sentiment changing?), and the ability to respond directly to reviews. We counsel clients in how to respond professionally and productively to resolve issues and convey responsivenss. We also help them create a culture where they proactively ask all customers to leave accurate feedback on review sites (while never paying for reviews, incentivizing customers to leave them, or writing reviews themselves). Over time, we’ve seen that this causes the reviews to come into a balance where what’s online matches the reality of the business in real life. We also remind our clients that negative reviews can also highlight genuine issues that must be addressed by the company – and people take note of responsiveness. And, of course, we don’t (and can’t) remove negative reviews. Hope this helps you.

So there is the reply.  A very polite answer which really doesn’t answer anything at all.  “Ethical framework”? – Who’s ethics are those based on? Can we see?

A “great” example is given of helping a company monitor its online reviews….what? today’s business can’t use Google? it’s really that difficult to find out the big name sites where your product will be discussed? People pay for that?

Our cloud-based platform enables real-time alerts when new reviews are posted

What sort of company/product needs realtime alerts to consumers opinions/reviews? And what would be done when a real time alert pops up that doesn’t favour the client?  Why is that sort of information needed in realtime unless the intent of their client is to somehow silence or “damage control” it?   That does though explain what I already suspected over the years of writing articles (and seeing some very strange incoming links) that this practice is certainly not unique to Reputation and its been going on for some time.

We also help them create a culture where they pro-actively ask all customers to leave accurate feedback on review sites….

What? Send them an email? Have a one time feature within the software/product for easy review?  And if the reviewer/consumer genuinely doesn’t like the product, how are you to:

Protect Your Online Reputation From Negative Search Results…

and thats the part that concerns me about services such as this.  The answers given to me in my view are vague to say the least and to me, either is offering services which could be done by even the most non-tech savvy person on the planet, or there are other concerning questions about services such as these.  How do you incentivize or encourage a review without an incentive? – If its a good product you don’t need to and wouldn’t need to hire a company like  Which then raises another question, how would they offer this:

 removing and suppressing negative content from your search results,

that’s another part of the service taken from the site.

So lets get this straight, they will get people to leave reviews without gifts or incentives of any kind.  They will give you realtime results and will remove and suppress negative content from search results? How? What if your product/service is not liked? Will they still suppress a clients negative remarks if the fault lies with the product?  Who knows, they haven’t elaborated on that.

I am sure is not unique in the service it offers, but it came to my attention as a result of local radio advert.  Does this sound like the sort of service the average listener on a local radio would want? – Very strange. has over 1 million clients, in over 100 countries globally, all taking advantage of our market leading online reputation management services and patented technology.

Ensure you stay in control of how you or your business are perceived online today.

Again from the site and again raises the worrying question, how do they achieve these aims?  What are they prepared to do so that negatives are suppressed? I questioned the practice of incentivizing (and highlighted the free laptops to bloggers –

Maybe the ultimate test will be how they will (or will not) deal with this article.

Kindly provided another response which I quote here (paragraphing mine):

No, to clarify: you should never incentivize for reviews (even a coupon) nor should you write reviews of your business.

No, we would never employ negative tactics against posters who were critical of our clients – that’s why we counsel our clients in how to directly interact with posters in a positive, professional manner. The goal is always to resolve the issue productively. And we tell companies that reviews can showcase what you need to change – if there are consistent issues, to your point, then the reviews are accurate and highlighting problems that you need to fix. If companies show responsiveness and action, consumers tend to be more forgiving.

What we find with many of our clients is that they are small or medium businesses who are aware that they need to pay attention online but don’t have the resources, knowledge or time to do it. We can help get them started on the best approach. Frequently, these businesses have a satisfied customer base that never thinks to write reviews – so when the occasional bad review pops up, it’s not truly reflective of what the business is like in real life.

I hope my channel of communication continues with as there are still questions I have regarding some of the claims on their site, however it should be noted that is not the only company offering a service such as this and whilst this article concentrates on the rights and wrongs of monitoring and “suppressing” bad reviews/PR, there is no real indication yet as to how achieves this.  Maybe will be the company which sets an example to all others as to how these services should operate?

I’ll leave you with this quote from a previous article of mine where I reported about a blogger talking about gifts:

But if you write about Microsoft, they might even give you one for free. Is it ethical? Probably not. Is it worth something to hard-working sweat and tears bloggers? Hell yeah.

And I suggest that’s why positive reviews can often be viewed with suspicion and maybe getting any 3rd party involved in your online perception is a bad idea.  Good products and services will always shine and are not shouted down by a minority.  If many people are complaining about your product, then its you with the problem and doing anything but rectifying the product/service is not the direction you should be heading, lest you end up in the situation many Microsoft product posts are where good remarks are always labelled “shill”.

UPDATE: Thursday 4th April 2013

I received this following reply from which I’d like to share now (paragraphing mine):

Hi, Tim. We help clients manage and monitor their reviews and encourage their customers to post new, accurate reviews. We understand it can be surprising to some (like people web-sophisticated enough to know Usenet!) that companies might need help in this area – but did you know 60 percent of UK small businesses didn’t even have a website (according to this Guardian article? It’s an astonishing statistic and highlights the fact that many are still figuring out how best to wade in the water of the web (if you will). Perhaps then it’s not so surprising that even good businesses may be unsure how to address reviews appropriately.

Regarding the other product that you’ve asked about, we do not remove negative content ever (and thank you for highlighting this erroneous language on our website, which we’ve since removed). We help professionals and businesses establish their presence online through crafting factual content, setting them up on social media, etc. This establishes a foundation of accurate information so that when others encounter additional material, including out of date, misleading, or inaccurate information, during their research, they have a better basis to make an informed assessment. Thanks again for writing to us and all the best.

So there’s the response.  I’ve asked if a member of would be interested in a conversation for a piece on the TechBytes show, I hope they are as willing to engage there as they have been over the past few days.  It was also nice to see that on me highlighting potential “perception” issues of (most notably the wording “suppress”) they have removed the wording.  A company that does not engage in dubious tactics would not want to be associated with those that do, those I hasten to add which we will be looking at more closely in the weeks to come.  It’s seems that is what it says on the tin and whilst the whole issue of needing “reputation management” in the first place may seem a little wrong to people (in this age of free speech) at least has been quite upfront about what they will and won’t do – That’s to be applauded in itself.

Tim W

Microsoft begs for Windows Phone developers?

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psgDespite the usual Microsoft PR, Windows Phone (and infact) many of Microsoft’s many “new ideas”, have been met with apathy from the consumer.  Windows Phone has found itself in a catch-22 I believe where the consumer wants the apps and the devs wont come and make the apps they want until they are Windows Phone users.  That in addition to the image of Microsoft in the eyes of the mainstream consumer all leads to apathy at best.

Seemingly now very desperate to attract developer support for its ailing phone ecosystem, Microsoft is running a set of free lectures (or training weekend) where, I am sure you will hear the Microsoft buzzwords of “reaching out” quite a few times as they try to convince devs (and would-be’s) to come over to their platform.

Of course, free lecturers probably are not enough, so as is usual with Microsoft, a gift or two (or the promise of prizes), make this whole weekend seem more like a game-show rather than a training course.  Develop now! Amazing prizes to be won.

Developers go where the consumer are.  The consumers are buying Android and Apple products by the bucket-load.  The emerging form factor of the tablet and the smart-phone will hopefully not be subjected to the Microsoft domination we saw on the desktop for so many years.

Tim (Goblin)


Skype: tim.openbytes


Develop for Windows RT – big money to be made (£52)!!!

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10091709-us-penniesA game developer has reportedly made £52 on a game for the Windows RT, the “Great Big War Game” was a popular title on both Android and Apple devices, yet after being ported to Windows RT, made only £52.  Quite understandably the developer was not impressed:

Paul Johnson, a high level executive of UK games developer Rubicon, has criticised Microsoft for not supporting a Windows RT port of the successful mobile title, the Great Big War Game. Rubicon saw a return of just £52 from an estimated R&D spend of £10,000.

Source: ITPortal

Shortly after Tweeting about their displeasure, the Tweet disapeared to be presented with a message of Microsoft now working with them to “iron out problems”.  I wonder what sort of sweetener Microsoft offered in order to silence/change mind another critic of its platform?

Unfortunately the web already has hold of this tragic situation and the news is already out of the bag.  There’s several lessons to be learnt here, no matter if you are a consumer or a developer considering this platform.

Tim (Goblin)


Skype: tim.openbytes

TechBytes Audiocast – Episode 77 – 06/11/12 – “Greedy Car Thieves”

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Intro music: “I fought the troll” by Tom Smith.  You can find more of his work here.

Hosts: Tim (OpenBytes) Roy (Techrights)

Another episode from myself and Roy.  In this show we focus around an interview with the developers of the Indi game “Greedy Car Thieves”.

From Roy’s Site:

Today’s show is primarily dedicated to a video/computer game called Greedy Car Thieves (GCT), which is similar to Grand Theft Auto (GTA) 2. We talked to two of the game’s developers. Tim has played the game and Roy tried to install it but faced a dependency barrier. We spoke with the developers about the technical aspects of the game, distribution of the game through various channels including the Humble Bundle, and we also spoke about licence in the context of compiling for Linux. Later in the show there was a long discussion about dirty tricks against Linux and its proponents. This discussion was focused on Microsoft. After the interview we play “It’s Because of People Like You” by Obi Best and at the end of the show we play “Washington Heights” by Glenn White’s Sacred Machines.

You can download/stream the latest episode over on Roy’s site:

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on

Bad boy Ballmer’s bonus busted – Microsoft CEO in for a rough time?

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Hot on the heels on the “Humble Indi Bundle” where customers pay what they think an item is worth, it appears Steve Ballmer is experiencing what it is like to be a “Bumbling CEO Bundle” and having his bonus cut for the third year running.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT -1.68% board reduced the bonus awarded to Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, citing factors that include the company’s unprofitable online division and the its failure to hew to an agreement with European regulators.

Source: Wall Street Journal

The report continues to Ballmers misfortunes with the only “positive” I can see being the completion of Windows 8 which hasn’t even gone to market.  I expect Ballmer’s woes would include the apathy from consumers as a whole to Windows Phone 7, that languishes in the doldrums of the smart-phone market.

What was particularly interesting in the article over on the Wall Street Journal (and I recommend you follow the link) was some of the first few comments which appeared:

He earned a bonus? If I had an interest in the company, I’d be clawing back his base salary.


Nothing innovative has emerged from Microsoft since Gates left. Balmer is not a visionary and Microsoft needs to terminate his employment.


MSFT will jump 5 points if Ballmer resigns. This guy is a millstone around the company’s neck. If he doesn’t leave soon, MSFT will not be around in 3 years.  They’ve missed every wave since 1999: search, social media, cloud computing even email……

Again, I recommend people paying a visit to the article.

I on the other hand celebrate Steve Ballmer.   Why? Because I think his “leadership” has led to the creation of openings for competitors in the marketplace.  Windows Phone failed to stomp over everyone, online services are spread through a diverse range of providers.  I think Steve Ballmer is to thank for the loss of stranglehold on the tech market and as the mainstream consumer is shifting to new form factors, Microsoft’s Windows legacy holds little sway.  If for a minute we look at say Apple (collective boo heard in the background) they have managed to engage their customers with their products, satisfy the demand for new tech/form factors and made (to say the least) many loyal customers who quite probably would purchase a wet toilet roll if it had the Apple logo on it.

Android too is enjoying great popularity in the market and grasped the hearts and minds of the consumer.  When we look at the Smartphone market, there isn’t really a 3rd player and Microsoft is now finding itself in an almost impossible battle with Apple and Google.

Steve Ballmer was alleged to have said “I’m going to f*cking bury Google” – It now seems quite the reverse is true and it will be Google that buries him.


Skype: tim.openbytes