The year is about to end, and that can only mean one thing. It is the time of top 10 lists! Microsoft had a whirlwind of a year in 2013, even by its lofty standards, and though a few days still remain before the sun rises on a new year, there are more than enough Redmond highlights to go by.
Below is a selection of the biggest Microsoft moments for the year — some good, a few bad, and a couple of them absolutely great. Take a look:
10. Skype’s Unflinching Ascent
The VoIP service had the most fun in 2013 as it scaled new heights. Where do we start? How about inclusion as the default communication app in Windows 8.1, a new partner in China, a move to the cloud, a promise of new and enhanced features, contests and competitions, a few great ads, Skype for Outlook.com, legal wins against Cisco, or the fact that Skype users spend 2 billion minutes a day talking?
9. Hotmail’s Retirement
Microsoft is saying goodbye to old friend left and right. The company announced a bit of a retirement spree as it brought to end some smaller services. But the biggest sendoff was reserved for the classic old Hotmail brand, as it moved all 400 million of its users to the highly impressive Outlook.com email service. Brace for more retirements next year, as Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 pass into history.
8. Windows Store’s 100,000 Apps Milestone
I am sure everyone would have wanted this sooner. Microsoft, internally at least, expected the Windows Store to hit the 100,000 apps milestone in February, but the wish was fulfilled at the very start of July. Since them there have been no looking back, with both the quality and quantity of apps for the platform steadily increasing. And that’s not even talking about the countless high-profile recent releases.
7. Windows Phone’s Success
Microsoft may have slowed down a bit on the development side of things, but the company along with its associated acts are giving Windows Phone the push it deserves. No wonder, then, that the mobile operating system now sits solidly in the third position, and not so long ago bagged a new record of 10.2 million units sold in the third quarter of 2013. Bloody marvelous, as them Brits like to say!
6. The Scroogled Assault
Apple are many that label it excessive, others extreme, and some even think of it as obnoxious. But Microsoft continued its aggressive Scroogled campaign against rival Google, and how! Words and websites, videos and ads, comments and critiques, everything was in. And it brought results — good or bad, but it brought results alright. How long it continues, however, is the $64 question.
5. EU Commission’s Fine
Redmond’s tangles with the European Union regulatory commission are legendary. Another one was added to the list when Microsoft was hit with a $732 million fine for the violation of not providing a browser ballot screen. The company acknowledged the issue graciously and made the necessary changes, but not before voices of dissent were raised inquiring whether we were still living in the 90s.
4. Second Generation Surface Tablets
Not many surprises on this front, as the rumors all led here. Microsoft refreshed its Surface lineup of tablets and made them official at a deluxe event in New York City. Along with updating the underlying hardware, Microsoft also perfected the battery life of these new devices, both the RT and Pro models. And the tablets started flying off the shelves starting October 22, four days after Windows 8.1 arrived.
3. The Nokia Acquisition
It was coming. It was coming long before Stephen Elop agreed to lead the once and future Finnish telecomm king. It was coming when Nokia became a sheer dominant force on the Windows Phone platform. And then Microsoft announced the $7.4 billion deal. Since then antitrust authorities around the world have given their go-ahead to the buyout, which should be finalized sometime early next year.
2. Release of Windows 8.1
Not much room for argument in the fact that this was the biggest product release of the year for the company. Bar far the most important. And Microsoft made the due date without a hitch, launching its latest and greatest operating system, Windows 8.1, via all available avenues, including the Windows Store, online and offline retailers, and its very own website.
1. Steve Ballmer’s Retirement
Mr. B finally made the big news official. And what followed was all manners of furor and frenzy. Stock prices went up and down, analysts started commenting on potential candidates, reports and rumors started surfacing, and the man himself gave a few interviews. And for a fair few days there seemed to be no bigger news in technology than CEO Steve Ballmer’s retirement. Rightly so, it must be said, rightly so.
So there you have it, folks. This column could easily have been scaled up to 20 highlights, this big was the year 2013 for Microsoft as it tries to transition to a complete devices and services approach. Every single week brought blockbuster news.
What were your favorite Redmond moments of the year? Have anything to add or say?
Hit the comment box below and speak up your mind.