|From: Glenn Petersen||6/7/2020 2:33:20 PM|
|Microsoft Takes On Zoom and Slack in a Battle for Your Work Computer |
The tech giant sees Teams, its group conferencing and collaboration software, as critical to its future
By Aaron Tilley
Wall Street Journal
June 2, 2020 10:39 am ET
When New York City’s education department ordered teachers to stop using Zoom videoconferencing for classes in April, because of security concerns, Microsoft Corp. MSFT 2.34% seized the moment.
A team of 50 Microsoft staffers worked around the clock with administrators and teachers across New York’s school district, the nation’s largest, to convert them to Microsoft Teams, the company’s rival conferencing and collaboration software. Microsoft also gave the district expedited access to features that made Zoom so instantly popular, such as the ability to show more people on the screen at once and a raise-your-hand button.
Microsoft counted more than 110,000 Teams users inside the district a month later, when the department allowed Zoom access again.
The pandemic has supercharged a battle over the future of business computing, pitting Microsoft against a growing list of rivals. More is at stake than chatting over video calls. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has hailed Teams as critical to Microsoft’s future, in essence, a new operating system that would serve as a hub for the company’s more famous products such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Years of market-share jockeying have been compressed into months with so many white-collar workers operating from home. Tens of millions of additional people are now using Teams and other products from companies including Zoom Video Communications Inc., Slack Technologies Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
Some rivals say Microsoft has deployed sharp-elbowed business tactics reminiscent of an earlier era, when its Windows operating system dominated the software market—putting pressure on startups by copying product features, seeding doubt about competitors to potential customers and bundling its software to gain an edge.
“They want to kill us, as opposed to have a great product and make customers happy,” Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said.
Microsoft said it was focused on working with rather than inhibiting competitors, including thousands of partners who integrate with Microsoft services.
That said, since the pandemic, “the world has changed,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, which encompasses Teams. “We intend to compete and win.”
Global weekly downloads of business apps like Teams on smartphones surged from around 33.7 million in early October to 80 million in mid-April, according to data tracker App Annie. Videoconferencing app downloads have reached 50 million a week, from five million, during roughly the same period.
In April, Microsoft reported that Teams had grown to 75 million daily users, more than double its early March figure. On one day, it logged 4.1 billion meeting minutes.
“As Covid-19 impacts every aspect of our work and life, we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” Mr. Nadella said in April, when Microsoft reported stronger-than-expected earnings.
Among Microsoft’s rivals, Zoom said in April it had 300 million daily participants across its paid and free services—a broader measure than Microsoft’s unique 75 million daily users—up from 10 million at the end of last year. In March, halfway through its quarter, Slack said it saw a 40% increase in customer growth compared with the prior two quarters.
More deep-pocketed rivals are also in the fray. Facebook Inc. launched a group videochat feature in April called Messenger Rooms. On April 29 Google said it was making its videoconferencing tool, Google Meet, free to all. Peak daily use of Google Meet is up 30 times from the start of the year, the company said, now surpassing 100 million daily meeting participants.
Microsoft’s Teams software gives it a hook to lure and keep customers for its broader portfolio of services based in the cloud, where companies increasingly store their data and run applications.
Business from its cloud services has helped propel the company to a market cap of more than $1 trillion in April 2019—becoming the third company to do so, after Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. In recent months, Microsoft has been trading places with Apple as the highest valued company in the world.
Annual revenue grew from more than $86 billion in 2014, when Mr. Nadella took over, to more than $125 billion in 2019, largely driven by its commercial cloud business.
Videoconferencing quickly became the killer app of the coronavirus era, which put Zoom, a nine-year-old company run by former Cisco executive Eric Yuan, more directly in the crosshairs for Teams.
Microsoft accelerated development of new videoconferencing features to better compete, Microsoft Teams head Jeff Teper said.
It announced real-time noise suppression in its conference-call function to reduce background sounds from keyboards or home vacuum cleaners. It introduced custom backgrounds, a feature popular among Zoom users. And it deployed special support for prominent customers, including the National Football League, which used the software to run the 2020 draft.
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, center, at the opening bell during the company's IPO in April 2019. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg News
One of the appeals of Zoom is that it showcases as many as 49 people at once on a screen—and Microsoft has also scaled up how many people can be visible during Teams meetings at the same time. Teams currently shows up to nine participants on a single screen, even when meetings involve as many as 250 members. That is being increased to 49 on screen at once, Mr. Spataro said.
Zoom declined to comment.
Microsoft has had an especially intense feud with Slack, which operates a group messaging platform that it has also tried to position as a hub for cloud apps.
Slack, launched in 2014, grew out of efforts to build a videogame company. The game wasn’t a hit, but the code the San Francisco-based company wrote to help employees communicate proved useful.
Within a couple of years, Slack had become one of Silicon Valley’s buzziest startups. Its potential to replace email with online chat was its main selling point, but Mr. Butterfield also has said Slack can serve as a portal to other software systems, with links to Twitter Inc.’s social-media messaging tool or business software from Salesforce.com Inc.
In 2015, Microsoft approached Slack about a takeover, but Slack said no, according to a person familiar with the talks. Microsoft declined to comment on the matter.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield at the opening bell during the company's IPO in June 2019. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg News
When Microsoft launched Teams in November 2016, Mr. Butterfield responded with a sarcastic, open-letter newspaper ad. “Dear Microsoft, Wow. Big News!” it read. “We’re genuinely excited to have some competition.”
Ben Canning, a former product manager for Microsoft Teams who is now vice president at Bellevue, Wash.-based collaboration software company Smartsheet Inc., said that in designing Teams, Microsoft essentially matched some popular Slack features to make shifting to its software intuitive. Slack “threatened to become the place where people spent the bulk of their time,” he said. “We recognized that team collaboration was something that Microsoft had not done a great job with.”
Microsoft approached potential customers, telling them Slack lacked security and compliance features companies would need, said Mr. Canning, who was in product development and worked closely with the sales team. The Microsoft pitch was that customers could integrate those functions on their own or simply adopt Teams, where they were included, he said.
Last July, a few weeks after Slack’s stock-market debut, Microsoft issued a press release saying Teams had reached more than 13 million daily active users, topping Slack’s roughly 10 million figure. The numbers Microsoft issued, Mr. Butterfield said, didn’t accurately compare with Slack’s active user counts. He also said Microsoft issued the release to undermine investor and customer confidence in his company. But Slack was stuck in a quiet period, unable to respond.
Microsoft released an updated set of user numbers, similarly showing Teams ahead, a few months later in November, ahead of Slack earnings. Slack’s stock dropped 10% that day.
Microsoft said it provides accurate metrics on active Teams usage, and disputed the notion that it released usage figures to undermine the competition. “Our disclosure decisions are driven by hitting key metrics, alignment to our earnings cycle, or proximity to key events like Inspire, one of our biggest events of the year, not in response to competitors,” Mr. Spataro said in an emailed statement.
Todd McKinnon, chief executive of Okta Inc., the workplace tool that helps companies provide secure access to cloud-based software for employees, said Microsoft sales representatives have offered to cover the engineering costs for customers to migrate from Okta to its version. That engineering bill, he said, could reach $1 million for some users.
Microsoft declined to comment on the issue.
Microsoft was perhaps the biggest winner in the personal-computer revolution with the 1985 launch of Windows, which became the most successful piece of software ever sold.
Bill and Melinda Gates enter a federal courthouse in April 2002 during the Microsoft antitrust case. Photo: The Washington Times/ZUMA PRESS
In the 1990s, the U.S. government sued Microsoft on antitrust grounds for allegedly using the dominance of Windows to stifle competition in the burgeoning browser market. The two sides ultimately settled, but Microsoft was slow to take advantage of the internet’s arrival and largely fumbled the shift to mobile devices a decade or so later.
Since becoming CEO in 2014, Mr. Nadella has sought more partnerships than Microsoft has in the past, including with rivals like Oracle Corp. and Google. Although Washington has targeted the competitive practices of other big tech companies, Microsoft has largely escaped scrutiny.
However, officials working for House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, have started asking Microsoft competitors about the software giant’s business practices. A spokesman for Mr. Cicilline’s office declined to comment.
Microsoft includes Teams for companies that pay for Office 365, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. While Slack and Zoom have free versions, paid versions with the features most businesses want start at $6.67 per person a month on Slack, and $14.99 per host a month on Zoom. Mr. Teper said when he was appointed to run Teams in January, the job came with orders from Mr. Nadella to integrate more Microsoft products.
Microsoft says bundling serves customers’ needs. “The thing we heard customers value the most is the ability to chat, meet, call and collaborate all in a single experience,” Mr. Spataro said. “You don’t have to pull together Slack, Zoom, Dropbox or perhaps Google apps.”
Mr. Nadella spoke during the company’s annual Build developers conference, held online, last month. Photo: Kyodo News/Getty Images
Cosmetics giant L’Oréal SA abandoned more stand-alone tools and adopted Teams in part because of the bundled features, said its Americas division chief information officer, Michael Kingston. “Microsoft has been smart about how they integrate Teams into rest of their productivity platform,” Mr. Kingston said.
Microsoft raced to add users attending virtual classes in schools during the pandemic. The 125,000 students in Duval County, Fla., almost overnight became Teams users, as did students at Italy’s historic University of Bologna.
The New York school district was already a Microsoft customer for Office 365 applications, but it wasn’t widely using the free features of Teams. Instead, many teachers were using Zoom.
Zoom’s surging popularity triggered a spate of security problems, including a phenomenon called Zoombombing, in which people gain unauthorized access to a meeting and hijack the event, prompting Mr. Yuan to apologize in early April.
In a Microsoft blog post days later, Mr. Spataro declared: “We safeguard your privacy by design.”
Write to Aaron Tilley at email@example.com
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|From: Don Green||6/17/2020 2:21:22 PM|
|Yesterday I downloaded and installed a new version of EDGE from Microsoft. So far I like it and have made it my default browser for evaluation I had been using Firefox and Chrome, but decided it was time for a change|
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|From: Don Green||6/25/2020 9:38:54 PM|
|Watched Bill Gates on CNN tonight and noticed there was no longer A Skype logo in the corner of his screen. So either they were using teams or zoom. So I guess Skype is basically dead.|
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|From: Don Green||6/26/2020 11:22:06 AM|
|Microsoft Edge ( New Version )|
I have been using Edge as my default browser for about 2 weeks and today after importing all of the bookmarks etc into Edge from other browsers, I have totally deleted both Firefox and Chrome.
No looking back!
I have seen nothing negative so far and highly recommend it,
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|From: Glenn Petersen||7/22/2020 6:19:14 PM|
|Microsoft reports $38 billion in Q4 2020 revenue: Azure up 47%, Surface up 28%, and LinkedIn up 10%|
Emil Protalinski @EPro
July 22, 2020 1:07 PM
Microsoft today reported earnings for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2020, including revenue of $38.0 billion, net income of $11.2 billion, and earnings per share of $1.46 (compared to revenue of $33.7 billion, net income of $13.2 billion, and earnings per share of $1.71 in Q4 2019). All three of the company’s operating groups saw year-over-year growth.
Microsoft is the first of the tech giants to report results for a full quarter during the coronavirus pandemic. In the previous quarter, Microsoft said that “COVID-19 had minimal net impact on the total company revenue.” In Q4 2020, “similar business trends to the previous quarter continued,” Microsoft said. Given its prominent role in the software and cloud industries, the company is worth watching. Unlike tech giants Google and Facebook, Microsoft does not generate the majority of its revenue from advertising and thus may weather the pandemic better. Those two, along with Apple and Amazon, report their respective quarterly earnings next week.
Analysts had expected Microsoft to earn $36.5 billion in revenue and report earnings per share of $1.37. The company thus easily beat expectations, suggesting some (but not all) units are benefiting from the effects of the pandemic. The company’s stock was up 1% in regular trading but down 2% in after-hours trading. Microsoft returned $8.9 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends during the quarter.
COVID-19 impact on the quarter
“The last five months have made it clear that tech intensity is the key to business resilience. Organizations that build their own digital capability will recover faster and emerge from this crisis stronger,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “We are the only company with an integrated, modern technology stack — powered by cloud and AI and underpinned by security and compliance — to help every organization transform and reimagine how they meet customer needs.”
A 47% revenue increase for Azure is bad news even though cloud growth was already slowing for the company. The figure has been falling steadily: 76% in Q2 2019, 73% in Q3 2019, 64% in Q4 2019, and 59% in Q1 2020. It rebounded slightly to 62% in Q2 2020 but returned to 59% in Q3 2020. Slowing growth is normal at Azure size, but the pandemic appears to be accelerating the trend.
Microsoft’s release noted that “cloud usage and demand increased as customers continued to work and learn from home. Transactional license purchasing continued to slow, particularly in small and medium businesses, and LinkedIn was negatively impacted by the weak job market and reductions in advertising spend.” More cloud usage but slower revenue growth means signing on new customers isn’t so easy during the pandemic. It may also suggest Microsoft is willing to delay or waive bills and fees for Azure customers in hopes of keeping them in the long run. Microsoft does not break out exact Azure revenue numbers, likely to avoid comparisons with industry leader AWS.
Cloud was not the only area that suffered. Yesterday, LinkedIn announced it would cut about 960 jobs, or 6% of its global workforce. Microsoft also noted in its release that “Search was negatively impacted by reductions in advertising spend.”
On the flipside, Microsoft said that Windows OEM, Surface, and Gaming “benefited from increased demand to support work-, play-, and learn-from-home scenarios.” This is in line with PC shipments spiking for the quarter as supply chain issues in China (the world’s largest supplier of PCs) were resolved.
Operating group highlights
Here are the highlights across Microsoft’s three operating groups:
-- Productivity and Business Processes: Up 6% to $11.8 billion. Office commercial revenue grew 5%, Office consumer and cloud revenue was up 6%, and Dynamics revenue increased 13%. LinkedIn revenue increased 10%, and Office 365 consumer subscribers hit 42.7 million.
-- Intelligent Cloud: Up 17% to $13.4 billion. Server products and cloud services revenue grew 19%, while Enterprise Services revenue was flat. The number to watch as always was Azure revenue, which was up 47%.
--More Personal Computing: Up 14% to $12.9 billion. Windows OEM revenue was up 7% while Windows commercial revenue increased 9%. Search advertising revenue minus traffic acquisition costs fell 18%. Surface revenue increased 28%, and Xbox content and services revenue increased 65%.
Microsoft Office continues to be a cash cow for the company thanks to its Office 365 subscription. Having over 40 million consumer subscribers of Office 365 is significant, but it still pales in comparison to the enterprise side. In Q3 2020, Microsoft passed 258 million paid Office 365 business seats (up from 200 million) and 75 million daily active users for Teams. On the Q4 2020 earnings call, Nadella said 69 organizations now have more than 100,000 users on Teams and over 1,800 organizations have over 10,000 users on Teams.
Meanwhile, on the Windows side, things are looking up. In Q3 2020, Microsoft warned that “the effects of COVID-19 may not be fully reflected in the financial results until future periods.” But thanks to remote work and remote learning trends, Windows OEM and Windows Commercial revenue were both up in Q4 2020. It’s unclear which is most likely to continue seeing gains: the former as consumers keep buying computers or the latter as businesses invest in new devices.
LinkedIn, Surface, and Gaming
Microsoft’s LinkedIn was doing well right up until the pandemic. Ever since the December 2016 close of the acquisition, Microsoft had seen double-digit revenue growth from LinkedIn. But in Q3, Microsoft issued a warning: “In the final weeks of the quarter, there was a slowdown in transactional licensing, particularly in small and medium businesses, and a reduction in advertising spend in LinkedIn.” And now we’re seeing the results of that slowdown: gone are the quarters of 20%+ growth.
Surface continues to bring in $1 billion each quarter. Q1 2020 ($1.35 billion) and Q2 2020 ($1.98 billion) followed the usual pattern, in that the former is the company’s worst quarter for Surface, while the latter is the best. Q3 2020 ($1.34 billion) was flat, which was good news for Microsoft, given that PC shipments were down overall. Q4 2020 ($1.72 billion) was excellent as Microsoft rode the wave of increased PC demand. In May, Microsoft started shipping the Surface Book 3, Surface Go 2, Surface Headphones 2, and Surface Earbuds. We’ll have to wait for a full quarter of sales to gauge how they fared, though Microsoft doesn’t break out individual devices.
For gaming, Q1 2020 and Q2 2020 were disappointments for Microsoft. Q3 2020 was a little better, and Q4 2020 was a home run. Xbox content and services revenue increased 65%, and gaming revenue as a whole increased 64%. Microsoft stopped breaking out Xbox Live monthly active users a few quarters ago. But given that games are performing well during the pandemic, the company has plenty to be happy about ahead of the Xbox Series X debut this holiday season.
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|To: Ron who wrote (19533)||7/23/2020 6:49:46 PM|
|From: Don Green|
|Like with Zoom vs Skype Microsoft dropped the ball with TEAMS and is trying to overwhelm anyone who might be more innovative with a product. |
Honestly, the only thing Microsoft has done correctly was Azure, which btw was the present CEO department when he took over.
Microsoft recent success much like Amazon's is Cloud related.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||7/31/2020 4:02:39 PM|
|Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy social app TikTok|
PUBLISHED FRI, JUL 31 20203:49 PM EDT
UPDATED 2 MIN AGO
Jordan Novet @JORDANNOVET
-- TikTok would compliment Microsoft’s existing social media asset, LinkedIn.
-- President Trump indicated that the U.S. could ban TikTok on Friday.
Microsoft has held talks to buy the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, according to multiple media reports on Friday, citing unnamed sources.
A TikTok acquisition could make Microsoft, a major provider of business software, more concentrated on consumer technology, which Microsoft has moved away from somewhat in recent years, by exiting the smartphone hardware, fitness hardware and e-book markets. Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $27 billion in 2016. In 2014, the company paid $2.5 billion to buy game developer Mojang, whose Minecraft game is popular among younger users who also make up TikTok’s core audience in the U.S.
Chinese company Bytedance launched TikTok in 2017. The app has grown more popular during the pandemic, with 2 billion downloads in April, according to Sensor Tower. Competitors include Facebook and Snap.
Bytedance investors seeking to take over TikTok have valued it at $50 billion, Reuters reported earlier this week.
The rise of TikTok in the U.S. has brought the Trump Administration to scrutinize the app. Earlier this week Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it was being reviewed by department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.
“We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok, we may be doing some other things, there’s a couple of options but a lot of things are happening, we’ll see what happens,” President Trump said on the White House’s South Lawn on Friday. “We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”
Microsoft declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported by Fox Business Network.
“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok,” TikTok said in a statement on Friday. Hundreds of millions of people come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, including our community of creators and artists who are building livelihoods from the platform. We’re motivated by their passion and creativity, and committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
-- CNBC’s Alex Sherman, Jessica Bursztynsky and Steve Kopack contributed to this report.
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