Marissa Mayer to Lead Yahoo • Microsoft’s Lost Mojo • Office 13 • MS<–>NBC.com • Nexus 7 Sells Out • Xbox on Top • Just Two More
Wow: Marissa Mayer Takes Over At Yahoo
I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Google executive Marissa Mayer has been named the new CEO of Yahoo. The move has garnered praise in Silicon Valley. She has technology chops and the respect of other industry technologists. Mayer was Google’s 20th employee. If anyone deserves a “C” title it’s Marissa, but turning Yahoo around will be a real challenge.
Microsoft’s Lost Mojo
GigaOM asks if Microsoft can regain the sorts of industry-leading positions it held in the 1980’s and ‘90s. An insightful quote from the article explains why it may be difficult:
Microsoft’s tried-and-true model of chipping away at a product category over the years until it got it right … isn’t applicable in the web era of continuous updates.
This is exactly right. Some areas in Microsoft have adopted agile development methods, but other parts cannot, or will not, or have only given agile methods lip service. Here are a couple of instances I am familiar with from my time at Microsoft:
- Some Windows add-on features that are delivered online (e.g., mail client, photo editor) would have been good candidates for agile development. However, Windows head Steven Sinofsky was always insistent on a centrally planned and orchestrated waterfall development model. The problem with that approach was that in the time it took Microsoft to complete one release of a feature, Google could iterate ten or more releases of a similar feature, constantly improving it with new design ideas and A/B testing. (Sinofsky was very resistant to A/B testing).
- Bing ostensibly uses agile development, but in practice it is more waterfall in nature, with middle management putting up feature proposals for approval from upper management for each six month development cycle.
Microsoft Office 13 Announced
Microsoft is launching Office 13 with a new business model and default cloud connectivity. Users will be able to subscribe to both Office 365 online and device-based application versions of the software and some SKUs will allow users to install the software on up to five devices. Tight default Skydrive integration will allow users to keep all their files and settings in the cloud and access them from anywhere, any device.
The new user interface is simple and clean but it has the feel of a transitional design: it only runs in Window 8’s legacy desktop mode. Launching it from native Windows 8 Metro mode switches the OS to desktop mode. The software does have its own touch-optimized mode, but Ars Technica notes that it has flaws.
Multiple reviewers have mentioned the overall quality fit and finish of the product and the introduction of lots of small, useful, but unobtrusive features.
The Seattle Times and Engadget have a couple of the best overviews:
MS<-and->NBC.com go Their Separate Ways
Microsoft and NBC’s joint venture is no more as NBC and Microsoft formally end their long online partnership. MSNBC.com became NBC.com on July 15th. Microsoft’s MSN.com is ramping up a new all-Microsoft news service to be launched later this year.
Google Nexus 7 Tablet Selling Out
The Nexus 7 is selling very well. Not surprising given the glowing reviews, the Google Play content offerings and the overall value proposition of the device.
Xbox on Top of the U.S. Market for 18 Months Running
Wind-Powered Car Travels Twice the Speed of the Wind, going Up-Wind!
This bends intuition, but physics allows it.
Self Chilling Drink Can
This sounds like something out of a science fiction story, but the physics of it are very simple. As with a lot of technology, it’s the engineering and cost that represent the real challenge.