Microsoft Buys Minecraft, 3 perspectives

How much money was the company bought for?
Microsoft acquired Mojang for a smooth 2.5 BILLION dollars.
Mojang blog post

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.
Notch, on his personal website

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion. Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2014.
Microsoft Press Release

Where is the Microsoft Surface theme song?

For the launch of Windows95, Microsoft licensed Start Me Up from the Rolling Stones as a way to kick off the biggest software upgrade in the company’s history and forever brand Mick Jagger’s crooning with a key feature of Win95.

Now we have the Surface. Where’s the theme song?

All Aboard for the Cloud Wars

Marketing campaigns are gearing up for the major players offering cloud services as add-ons to their core products.

Google Docs recently launched Google Cloud Connect,  a plug-in which lets  you add your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to Google Docs and share with your colleagues. (Ars Technica reviews Cloud Connect and says it’s “not ready for primetime”)

Microsoft will be ending the beta of it’s Live Mesh service on March 31st and has announced Windows Live Mesh 2011 with the byline, “Access the stuff on your computers from almost anywhere.” It’s part of Windows Live Essentials bundle which you download and install and includes,

Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Mail, Writer, Family Safety, Bing Bar, Messenger Companion, Microsoft Silverlight, and the Outlook Connector Pack (Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector and Microsoft Outlook Social Connector Provider for Windows Live Messenger)

There is a custom install option in case you don’t want to take all of this in one go. You can learn more at explore.live.com

Finally, Apple has just changed it’s tune. I took a screenshot of me.com yesterday and got the image you see above. It’s all about the services. Mail, Address Book, Calendar, Photos, Cloud Storage, and the Find my iPhone app. I just went back today and the site has been refreshed and the message is totally different.

Today, when you visit me.com it’s all about the hardware. The cloud is front and center and behind are the familiar outlines of the Apple brand of glass tablets and phones. If you wave your mouse over the cloud, you’re greeted with a pixie-dust effect adding some magic to an otherwise plain ol’ login page.

Could this be positioning for the launch of the rumored Media Stream service or is this just a routine update now that we’ve rolled over from February to March?

Viral Video – Two Approaches

My aunt Karen is in the advertising industry and she forwards me snippets where our two industries cross paths. It’s always interesting to see something you know really well from another perspective. In this case, she sent over an article from Advertising Age, Why Microsoft Killed Kin After Just Six Weeks

While the article’s conclusion is probably correct, the pricing was too high for the limited features (no GPS?), I think they went too easy on the viral video marketing campaign which rang false from me right from the beginning. Granted, I am way out of the target segment but if I can see through a staged scene, I am sure the teenagers who ran across the YouTube clips did too.

the campaign followed 24-year-old Brooklynite Rosa Salazar as she used her Kin to connect with her friends via text messages, Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live and Twitter, with her friends’ updates rising to the top of her feed. The campaign used insights from more than 50,000 20-something consumers to appeal to the hipster, metropolitan crowd.

Take a look at the piece below and tell me if you’re convinced this wasn’t completely staged.

When you view this video on YouTube, you’ll quickly find out, from the related videos column on the right of the page that Matty, the subject in this video, is actually a professional stand-up comedian. From that point on, the bubble is burst. You notice that the shaky camera is a professionally shaken camera. You realize the ambush scene where Rosa meets Matty has two cameras that had to have been set up in advance. You realize that what’s supposed to be intimate and a cool little insight shared with just me is actually a slick ad produced by Redmond. You feel dumb for even thinking this was genuine.

The alternate approach is to just get weird. These videos by Nokia (where I work btw) are super slick too and it’s hard to tell if they are even about a phone. I am not a marketer and I have no idea how effective they were in driving sales but they sure are fun to watch!

N900 – The Journey Starts Here

Why Good Navigation is Important

Must have been fun to be on this set. I like the navigation at the end of the clip, like a mini-site embedded in YouTube. I guess, subliminally, you could think of the N8 as looking kinda like a foosball table so maybe there was a message in there somewhere.

Loosely Connected

Mike Manos has joined Nokia as VP of Service Operations and has been tasked to build the cloud infrastructure for our Ovi services. The New York Times calls him a “data-center celebrity” and reading his blog certainly shows the knowledge and experience he brings to the table. His initial post gives a hint of his methodology which I really like.

I recently spent a good part of a weekend putting together deck furniture for my home.   It was good quality stuff, it had the required parts and hardware and not unlike other do-it-yourself furniture it had directions that left a lot to be desired. In many ways its like IT Infrastructure or running any IT shop.   You have all the tools, you have all the raw components, but how you put it all together is where the real magic happens, and the directions are usually just as vague on how to do it.

One of the common themes across all steps of the deck furniture pieces was a common refrain, ‘Do Not Tighten Bolts”.   The purpose was to get all of the components together, even if a bit loose, to ensure you had the right shape, all components were in the right place, and then and only then do you tighten the bolts.

If you really want to know the secret to putting together solutions at scale, remember the “Do Not Tighten Bolts” methodology.   Assemble to raw components, ensure you have the right shape and that all components are in the right place, and then “Tighten it down.”   This can be and is an iterative process.   Keep working to get that right shape.  Keep working to find the right component configuration.  Tighten bolts.    As I built my first deck chair, there was significant amounts of trial and error.  The second deck chair however was seamless, even with the same cruddy directions.   Once you learn to ‘Not Tighten’ technique the assembly process is quick and provides you with great learnings.

- from Do Not Tighten Bolts

Welcome Mike! I look forward to working with you.

Microsoft Tablet vs. Apple Tablet

Gizmodo has the goods on the Courier Tablet while Wired’s Gadget Lab has the summary (and hilarious mockup) of something iLounge is calling an the iPad.

iPad

Either way, folks are looking for a way to innovate beyond the touch screen and netbook form factor. I’m not so sure this is the solution. If it’s going to be this big anyway, what’s the big objection to a keyboard?

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BrowseRank – Microsoft’s Answer to PageRank

Microsoft announced today that they’ve discovered a better way to rank web pages. While Google’s PageRank sorts roughly on the number of incoming links that point to a page, a vote of confidence by bloggers and website editors, Microsoft’s BrowseRank looks at browsing behavior to see which links get more clicks.

Sounds good on the surface. More democratic because it looks at the entire browsing population, right?

The more visits of the page made by the users and the longer time periods spent by the users on the page, the more likely the page is important. We can leverage hundreds of millions of users’ implicit voting on page importance

Not so fast. Andy Beal points out the obvious shortcomings:

“More visits?” – sure, spammers will have no idea how to inflate that metric.

“Longer time periods?” – couldn’t that also mean that your web site usability and navigation just sucks?

I would add a third. For this to work it requires that Microsoft know each and every link that you visit. I don’t know about you but there has to be a pretty good personal benefit for me to let Microsoft peer over my shoulder and take notes on every site I visit. Maybe they’ll just pay people. But as with Live Search cashback, that’s just going to attract the wrong audience and skew your biases.

Microsoft Max – a P2P picture sharing service or viral user acquisition service for Passport?

msftmax.jpg

Like everyone else who follows RSS readers closely, I downloaded the new Microsoft Max application and started playing around with it. The application is stunning in its presentation and really shows off what you can do with Microsoft’s .NET Framework and, kudos to Microsoft for releasing this as a prototype for future development.

As an RSS newsreader there are limitations (no OPML import/export for one) but it’s the picture sharing feature in the service that has me scratching my head. When you install Max (Windows only), it scans your hard disk for photos that you can add to “lists.” Photos are managed locally and you can do some pretty cool things like the apply a 3D Mantle view shown above. You can also share your photos with others and here’s where it gets strange. Sharing is done via. . . e-mail.

Microsoft Max sends your friend an email invitation to download and install Max which requires a Mircrosoft Passport account. According to the Microsoft Max blog, here’s what happens next (emphasis mine):

When one of your friends opens Max and clicks Other people’s lists, they’ll see an invitation to download your list. They’ll see the list’s title and message, but they won’t see any of the list’s photos.

Once they accept the list, they can use Max to connect to your computer and download the photos. If you’re signed in, they’ll be able to download the photos. If you’re signed out, your friends will see you as offline and they won’t be able to download your photos.

So two Max users then have permissioned access to each other’s Windows file system!

It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks as the early adopter crowd plays around with this. Swapping photos around is going to open up ports all over the place and I’m sure Microsoft will see a blip in new signups to their Passport service as people install the app to try it out. If the service is just a proof-of-concept, imagine what a talented developer could do to extend this service to slide other types of files into the peer-to-peer queue – videos, audio, documents, and software.

How about a version of Max to distribute software patches to Windows?