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Steve Ballmer is leaving Microsoft, Windows 8.1 RTM, and other notable news of the week

Ballmer, Windows 8.1 RTM

Steve Ballmer is leaving Microsoft after more than 30 years, some exciting and exclusive games are revealed for Xbox One, Windows 8.1 may have been released to manufacturing, and other notable news of this week in one place. If you didn’t get a chance to catch up on this past week’s news, now is your chance!

Steve Ballmer is leaving Microsoft, who is will be Microsoft next CEO?

After more than 30 years of being part of Microsoft as employee, and 10 years as the CEO, Steve Ballmer announced this week that he will retire from the company within the next 12 months. This news caught many tech analysts and observers by surprise especially after Ballmer orchestrated the biggest shift of the company from a software giant to a new device and service company.

For a quick history, Steve Ballmer was one of the early employees of the company. He joined the company as a business manager. Bill Gates, who is now of the chairman of the board, attended the same school with Ballmer. He became the second CEO that the company has ever seen after Bill Gates ceded the throne back in January of 2000. His relationship with Bill Gates has made the transition to his new role easy.

As the new CEO, Steve Ballmer inherited a company that was in the midst of an anti-trust lawsuit; nevertheless, he did a good job keeping the company afloat. Microsoft’s annual revenue rose to $70 billion from the mere $25 billion before he first became CEO. Microsoft, since Steve became the new CEO, has also undergone many changes that had mixed results.

Since he become CEO, many keys executives left the company; some under their own terms and others due to the friction that existed internally. In fact, even during the time Bill Gates was running the show at Microsoft, the company was often highly criticized for the internal politics between different divisions of the company. And for some people, Steve did not do a great job changing that culture at the company.

While products like Microsoft’s Windows operating system and its different iterations and the Office productivity suite remain part of the company core products, there were many new products and product divisions that saw the day under Ballmer’s reign. The data center division, under which most of the company’s cloud operation falls under and the Entertainment and Devices division, which was responsible for the Xbox release, became an additional focus of the company. The recently-released Surface also became part of the company line of hardware during Ballmer’s tenure as the CEO.

Many have criticized Ballmer for his energetic and sometimes comical presence, but it is undeniable that Steve really understood all the aspects of the company especially for a company as complex and such a wide variety of product portfolios as Microsoft. Whatever your opinions may be about Steve, the guy was proud to be part of such a successful company and played a major role for the rise of the new devices and services giant. It will not be easy to replace Steve but Microsoft will have the next 12 months to find a new replacement. We are not sure who can fill such big shoes yet, so tell us what you think. Did Steve Ballmer do a good or bad job running the company and who do you think should replace him?

Notable News

Windows 8.1 RTM, apps are updated, Surface Touch Cover gets cheaper

While Microsoft has not officially announced that Windows 8.1 was released to manufacturing, there are many reports that are confirming that it is indeed the case. When Microsoft made the Windows 8.1 Preview available to consumers, it made the promise that Windows 8.1, codenamed Windows Blue, would be RTM around the end of August.

For those who have installed Windows 8.1 Preview, Microsoft made many changes that seems to alleviate some of the pain and frustrations that users were having with the new operating system. Sure there is a still a lack of a start menu, but Microsoft has made available the Start button. Users can now boot directly to the desktop and can disable the hot corners as well.

There are also some major improvements with some of the core apps that are pre-installed with Windows 8.1 notably the Xbox Music, the Bing News, Bing Weather and the People app. Taking about apps, there were also some apps that were updated this week. The DropBox, Fresh PainT, The Weather Channel, and Netflix all receive updates for both Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Taking about Windows RT, Microsoft is working hard to make Windows RT and the Surface RT a success. This week, the device and service giant announced that they will be working with a new agency for their digital consumer marketing. Razorfish will be the new company in charge of the DCM for both the surface RT and the Pro. Also, it has been confirmed that Microsoft will drop the price of the Surface Touch Cover to $79 and dropped the bundle price of the Surface RT/Black cover by $50. Whether the price drop is the result of the recent $900 million write down, it is good to see Microsoft coming to its senses and pricing the Surface RT what it should have been in the first place. What do you think? Is Microsoft doing enough to sway consumers to the surface with the price drop of the Surface Touch Cover and its bundle?

Xbox One

Microsoft announces upcoming Xbox One titles, offers a glimpse of the new system

If you are still on the fence to get the new Xbox One due to the initial controversial policy, Microsoft is not staying idle on its effort to make the new system attractive. This week, the devices and services giant announced the list of games that will be available when the new system launches this November. Let’s just say that the list is impressive and these titles will be available only on the Xbox One, at least initially.

And if we look at the list of the tiles that will be available on the Xbox One, there are not many games that have focus on the Kinect sensor. Despite that, Microsoft is sticking with the previous plan to push the Kinect as an integral part of the system. This week, the devices and services giant reiterated that the Kinect sensor is part of the system, not a separate entity.

Many have hoped that Microsoft would decide to ship a Kinect-less console. A system without the Kinect sensor will essentially guarantee a cheaper system. The system, as of now, will cost $500. The absence of the Kinect would have dropped the system around $400 making price competitive to the PS4. So far, Microsoft does not seem ready to yield to the idea of a Kinect-less Xbox One. Do you think that Microsoft should release one version of the Xbox One without the Kinect sensor?

If you have already ordered your Xbox One and you want to see how your game console look likes, you can visit one of the Microsoft’s stores to see the game on display. This week, Microsoft will start publicly displaying the new console on some of it stores, except that you will not able to touch nor play with it. This is better than nothing.

Notable News

Windows Phone claims # 2 spot, Lumia getting bigger, and some upcoming cool new games

With the push of Microsoft and Nokia to make Window Phone the third mobile platform, it seems that their effort has instead captured them the second spot in the Latin mobile world. This week, Microsoft announced that Windows Phone mobile platform is already the second most used mobile platform in Latin America.

With the release of the Lumia 520 and the Lumia 610, this should not come to any surprise especially with the effort of Nokia to dominate the low-end market. Latin America is a huge market and this should be good news for both Microsoft and Nokia. If you are living in Latin America, are you one the many users of Windows Phone? What do you like about it compared to Android or iPhone?

And Nokia is not only going big on market, there are rumors that the phone maker will release a 6-inch Windows Phone as soon as next month. The phone will have a humongous 1080p resolution, with a 20MP camera and will support a quad-core processor. If you may wonder how that is possible, well the phone will come pre-installed with the GDR3 updates, which will follow the recently-released GDR2 that many people are already enjoying. This is exciting news if you are a Windows Phone user.

This week, Microsoft and Gameloft announced a deal that will bring an array of new Games on both Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone. The deal will bring 15 news game on top of the 10 cool games that are already available on the Windows platform. Learn more about the new games here.

Microsoft has also updated the official Facebook app for Windows Phone 8 and there is also the new OnStar RemoteLink app for Windows Phone 7.5 and 8. If you are using any of these services on some extent, then go grab these two apps.

Stay tuned for next week’s notable news highlights.

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