Windows 7, Bing top busy year for Microsoft
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Given its recent track record, the fact that Microsoft released a new version of Windows on time tops this year's look back at the goings-on from Redmond.
Microsoft said early in the year that Windows would come out in time for the holidays and, sure enough, it did. Not only that, but people actually liked the darn thing. In less than a month, Windows 7 grabbed 4 percent of the market, a share it took Vista nearly seven months to reach.
Perhaps just as important was the launch of Bing in May. Although not an immediate Google-killer for sure, Microsoft did manage to pick up a little bit of market share. More importantly, now when Bing goes down, people actually notice.
Microsoft knows it still needs more market share. Hence, 2009 saw the company continue its pursuit of a deal with Yahoo, eventually inking a pact in July.
Microsoft also started testing a new version of Office, first code-named Office 14 and eventually dubbed Office 2010. The new version, due out next year, is most notable for the browser-based Office Web Apps that will accompany the release of the standard PC-based versions. By year's end, Microsoft had
Things were far less rosy in the mobile arena, where Microsoft continued to remain largely an afterthought to the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Microsoft did release the first crop of "Windows Phones" based on Windows Mobile 6.5, though that release was seen as a largely minor interim step. Microsoft has been working on a broader revamp of its Mobile OS for years, with hints coming at a fall developer conference that it would finally reveal Windows Mobile 7 at next year's Mix event in Las Vegas.
The biggest news in Xbox land was a product that won't come out until next year. Making its debut at the E3 trade show, Project Natal uses a depth-sensing camera and other technology to allow a gamer to maneuver the Xbox without a controller. We got a chance to play with it--and it's some cool stuff.
In a surprise move, Microsoft announced it was following Apple into the retail business, saying it would open stores in the fall, that aim to match Cupertino's glitz. The final product did borrow a lot from Apple's approach.
On the regulatory front, Microsoft continued to squabble with regulators in Europe during 2009. After the European Union issued a surprising preliminary finding that Microsoft couldn't bundle a browser with Windows, Microsoft threatened to do just that and ship Windows 7 without any sort of browser.
Eventually, Microsoft relented and went with Brussels' preferred option--offering a "ballot screen" whereby users in Europe can select whether they want to install a competing browser along with, or instead of, Internet Explorer. That was enough to satisfy the regulators; in December, they put an exclamation point on the year, and on the long-running antitrust saga, by formally declaring a formal resolution to the IE case.
--by Ina Fried
The notion of bundling a browser into an operating system isn't new. But that hasn't stopped European regulators from delivering fresh objections.
The company said Thursday that it will open its own line of retail stores and has hired a Wal-Mart veteran to lead the effort.
Redmond pulled out all the stops for its latest search revamp, even bringing the creator of Outlook out of retirement to rework the user interface.
Aiming to appease regulators, Microsoft plans to ship Windows 7 in Europe without Internet Explorer, though computer makers will have the option to add it back in, CNET News has learned.
Under the pact, Microsoft's technology will power Yahoo's search results, while Yahoo will handle ad-selling duties for both companies' search sites.
After earlier suggesting it would wait for a ruling from Europe before fully shelving Windows 7 "E," Microsoft now says it will ship the same version of the operating system globally on October 22.
Microsoft hasn't said much about its motion-sensing technology since E3, but CNET News' Ina Fried got a chance to check in on the development of Redmond's hottest technology.
As it gets ready to launch its retail effort, CNET News has the skinny on what to expect inside Redmond's first shops.
With Thursday arriving in places around the globe, Microsoft's latest operating system has now hit the market in most of the globe, though its formal New York launch is still hours away.
Although Redmond's foray into retail bears a big resemblance to Apple's approach, Microsoft has added some distinctive features to draw casual PC buyers and techies alike.
High-res imagery and a slick user interface make the Bing Maps Beta one of the best new Bing features, but it still has a long way to go to match Google's breadth.
European Commission settles antitrust case against Microsoft over Internet Explorer "monopoly." New Choice Screen will allow users to pick other default browsers.