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Year in review: Windows takes beating, '7' steps into view

Microsoft struggled most of the year over negative perceptions about Vista but broke its silence on the operating system's successor--Windows 7.

4 min read
Microsoft

Windows takes beating, '7' steps into view

By Ina Fried
Staff Writer, CNET News
Published: December 19, 2008, 4:00 AM PST

Probably the biggest deal of 2008 for Microsoft was the deal that didn't happen--its multibillion-dollar offer for Yahoo. But, since there was so much drama there, we did a separate "year in review" story on that topic.

Even setting Microhoo aside, it was a big year for the world's largest software maker. The most visible change at the company came at the end of June, when Bill Gates completed his planned transition from full-time software chief to part-time employee and full-time philanthropist. Although he didn't do a full-on farewell tour, he did acknowledge the impending shift, most memorably in a speech at January's Consumer Electronics Show.

Windows XP reached the end of its life in June, but some consumers--and therefore computer makers--weren't ready to see it go. Eager to fill demand for the soon-to-be retired operating system, PC makers got creative and started selling Vista machines that were pre-downgraded to XP.

Gates Seinfeld ad

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft made a number of attempts to shore up
its image, including commercials with Jerry Seinfeld
and Bill Gates trying to live like average guys.
Click here for related photos.

The company struggled all year with continuing negative perceptions of Vista. After letting Apple lead a chorus of Vista-bashing for some time, Microsoft decided to take to the airwaves itself. Its first effort was a series of dubiously funny ads with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, which quickly gave way to the "I'm a PC" campaign.

Microsoft, meanwhile, was hard at work on Vista's successor, Windows 7. The company broke the silence in May with Windows chief Steven Sinofsky offering a few details in an interview and Microsoft showing the operating system's multitouch interface at the D: All Things Digital conference.

At its Professional Developers Conference in October, Microsoft gave a more detailed look at Windows 7 and also took the wraps off Windows Azure, the OS-in-the-cloud that Ray Ozzie and team have been cooking up for the past two years.

On the Office side of the business, the biggest news was the fact that Microsoft plans to finally offer Web-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote.

Microsoft wasn't immune to the slowdown, acknowledging in November that it was rethinking its hiring plans. CEO Steve Ballmer later said that hiring would slow down significantly from the company's original plans.

The company did make a couple of key hires, including the December announcement that Qi Lu, a former top Yahoo search executive, will become the new online chief. He fills the hole created when Kevin Johnson left the company in June to become CEO of Juniper Networks. With Lu getting the top spot, however, former Aquantive CEO Brian McAndrews will be leaving Microsoft.

Also departing this year was longtime executive Jeff Raikes, who left to become CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Earlier in the year, three other executives left the company, including former Ask.com CEO Steve Berkowitz.

As usual, Microsoft made some acquisitions, scooping up natural-language search firm Powerset, consumer smartphone maker Danger, and Norway's Fast Search & Transfer.

2008 Highlights

Microsoft pledges not to sue over open source

As part of a new interoperability strategy, software maker says it won't take legal action against those who develop open-source products, CNET News has learned.

February 21, 2008

With Mesh, Microsoft rethinks its place in the world

Redmond unveils its new Live Mesh service--and acknowledges that computing no longer revolves around the PC.

April 23, 2008

Windows chief talks '7'

In an exclusive interview, Steven Sinofsky offers up a few details on the new operating system and the rationale for why he is not saying more publicly.

May 27, 2008

Bill Gates' Big Sendoff

As he steps down from full-time work, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates reflects on almost three decades at the software company he started.

June 24, 2008

Microsoft looks to 'Mojave' to revive Vista's image

CNET News gets an exclusive look at what's likely to become a piece of a new Vista marketing push.

July 24, 2008

2008 Olympics: The digital games

For the first time, fans will be able to watch thousands of hours of events, live and on-demand. It'll be a huge test for the nascent Web video market and Microsoft.

July 31, 2008

Microsoft's data centers growing by the truckload

Redmond is going beyond the traditional racks, instead having its servers delivered and run from a sealed container, a move that should cut costs and power demands.

August 20, 2008

Microsoft tries to reclaim Windows' image

After years of letting Apple's attack ads go unanswered, software maker sets out on difficult, costly journey of trying to take back control of what Windows stands for.

September 5, 2008

Windows Mobile 7 release delayed

Microsoft's new cell phone operating system, aimed at helping the software maker better compete with Apple's iPhone, is now not expected until the second half of 2009.

September 23, 2008

Microsoft launches Windows Azure

The software maker hopes an operating system in the cloud, unveiled at its Professional Developers Conference, will add up to blue skies.

October 27, 2008

Additional headlines

Gates: Curtain call for crystal ball

What it takes to bring the Olympics to the PC

Students in Brazil get a new Classmate

What Ray Ozzie sees in Azure's cloud

Windows Live tries to show its social side

More dirt in 'Vista Capable' lawsuit

Judge orders Ballmer to testify in Vista suit

Windows 7: Moving Beyond Vista

 
Microsoft

Windows takes beating, '7' steps into view

By Ina Fried
Staff Writer, CNET News
Published: December 19, 2008, 4:00 AM PST

Probably the biggest deal of 2008 for Microsoft was the deal that didn't happen--its multibillion-dollar offer for Yahoo. But, since there was so much drama there, we did a separate "year in review" story on that topic.

Even setting Microhoo aside, it was a big year for the world's largest software maker. The most visible change at the company came at the end of June, when Bill Gates completed his planned transition from full-time software chief to part-time employee and full-time philanthropist. Although he didn't do a full-on farewell tour, he did acknowledge the impending shift, most memorably in a speech at January's Consumer Electronics Show.

Windows XP reached the end of its life in June, but some consumers--and therefore computer makers--weren't ready to see it go. Eager to fill demand for the soon-to-be retired operating system, PC makers got creative and started selling Vista machines that were pre-downgraded to XP.

Gates Seinfeld ad

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft made a number of attempts to shore up
its image, including commercials with Jerry Seinfeld
and Bill Gates trying to live like average guys.
Click here for related photos.

The company struggled all year with continuing negative perceptions of Vista. After letting Apple lead a chorus of Vista-bashing for some time, Microsoft decided to take to the airwaves itself. Its first effort was a series of dubiously funny ads with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, which quickly gave way to the "I'm a PC" campaign.

Microsoft, meanwhile, was hard at work on Vista's successor, Windows 7. The company broke the silence in May with Windows chief Steven Sinofsky offering a few details in an interview and Microsoft showing the operating system's multitouch interface at the D: All Things Digital conference.

At its Professional Developers Conference in October, Microsoft gave a more detailed look at Windows 7 and also took the wraps off Windows Azure, the OS-in-the-cloud that Ray Ozzie and team have been cooking up for the past two years.

On the Office side of the business, the biggest news was the fact that Microsoft plans to finally offer Web-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote.

Microsoft wasn't immune to the slowdown, acknowledging in November that it was rethinking its hiring plans. CEO Steve Ballmer later said that hiring would slow down significantly from the company's original plans.

The company did make a couple of key hires, including the December announcement that Qi Lu, a former top Yahoo search executive, will become the new online chief. He fills the hole created when Kevin Johnson left the company in June to become CEO of Juniper Networks. With Lu getting the top spot, however, former Aquantive CEO Brian McAndrews will be leaving Microsoft.

Also departing this year was longtime executive Jeff Raikes, who left to become CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Earlier in the year, three other executives left the company, including former Ask.com CEO Steve Berkowitz.

As usual, Microsoft made some acquisitions, scooping up natural-language search firm Powerset, consumer smartphone maker Danger, and Norway's Fast Search & Transfer.

2008 Highlights

Microsoft pledges not to sue over open source

As part of a new interoperability strategy, software maker says it won't take legal action against those who develop open-source products, CNET News has learned.

February 21, 2008

With Mesh, Microsoft rethinks its place in the world

Redmond unveils its new Live Mesh service--and acknowledges that computing no longer revolves around the PC.

April 23, 2008

Windows chief talks '7'

In an exclusive interview, Steven Sinofsky offers up a few details on the new operating system and the rationale for why he is not saying more publicly.

May 27, 2008

Bill Gates' Big Sendoff

As he steps down from full-time work, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates reflects on almost three decades at the software company he started.

June 24, 2008

Microsoft looks to 'Mojave' to revive Vista's image

CNET News gets an exclusive look at what's likely to become a piece of a new Vista marketing push.

July 24, 2008

2008 Olympics: The digital games

For the first time, fans will be able to watch thousands of hours of events, live and on-demand. It'll be a huge test for the nascent Web video market and Microsoft.

July 31, 2008

Microsoft's data centers growing by the truckload

Redmond is going beyond the traditional racks, instead having its servers delivered and run from a sealed container, a move that should cut costs and power demands.

August 20, 2008

Microsoft tries to reclaim Windows' image

After years of letting Apple's attack ads go unanswered, software maker sets out on difficult, costly journey of trying to take back control of what Windows stands for.

September 5, 2008

Windows Mobile 7 release delayed

Microsoft's new cell phone operating system, aimed at helping the software maker better compete with Apple's iPhone, is now not expected until the second half of 2009.

September 23, 2008

Microsoft launches Windows Azure

The software maker hopes an operating system in the cloud, unveiled at its Professional Developers Conference, will add up to blue skies.

October 27, 2008

Additional headlines

Gates: Curtain call for crystal ball

What it takes to bring the Olympics to the PC

Students in Brazil get a new Classmate

What Ray Ozzie sees in Azure's cloud

Windows Live tries to show its social side

More dirt in 'Vista Capable' lawsuit

Judge orders Ballmer to testify in Vista suit

Windows 7: Moving Beyond Vista