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Microsoft: 5 smart and 5 dumb moves the company made in 2011

Julie Bort | Dec. 13, 2011
Love it or hate it, Microsoft is a company that brings out strong emotions in just about every IT professional. With 2011 about to end, it is time for our picks of some of smartest moves this powerful software company made this year - and some of the moves we'd say were not so bright.

4. Everything to do with Kinect. 

Altough Kinect technically launched in 2010 (November), Microsoft did everything right with it in 2011 including encouraging Kinect hacks by releasing an SDK for non-commercial uses, and supporting 10 Kinect startups. Kinect has made Microsoft cool again to a whole new generation of gamers and young technology users. 

5. Championing HTML5. 

2011 was the year that Microsoft finally recognized that the "built it here" attitude was a poor choice for everyone - particularly its developers -- when it comes to Internet applications. Microsoft's backing of HTML5 started as a whisper and grew to full-throated cry by the time Microsoft demonstrated Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 at its BUILD conference. Silverlight isn't completely dead although it is sickly. Silverlight/.Net are now being re-labeled as enterprise Web development tools. Meanwhile, Microsoft has even released its first HTML5 app for Bing, an app that brings Bing's search functions to Android and iPhone.

Dumb moves

OK now that we've looked at the smart moves, here are five dumb ones:

1. Android protection racket. 

Running a Mafia-like Android patent protection scheme never creates goodwill in the market place, and often invites government oversight and giant fines. Now it's true that at least some of Microsoft's patent licenses involving Android were also broad cross-patent license agreements with long-time hardware partners (like Samsung). But by suing Barnes & Noble, Microsoft's plans are being exposed. Those plans indicate that Microsoft is trying to force all makers of Android devices to pay it relatively exorbitant fees. Interestingly, this year, Microsoft was finally released from eight and a half years of government oversight after losing its epic antitrust case to the Department of Justice. As the Barnes and Noble lawsuit escalates, the bookseller is calling for another round of government oversight over Microsoft.

2. Windows 8 secure boot controversy. 

Microsoft again inflamed open source advocates when it told Windows 8 hardware makers that they would be required to implement the next-generation boot specification in its "secure" mode. That spec is known as the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. When UEFI is in secure mode, it uses PKI to prevent users from loading operating systems and drivers onto a device. In other words, it could prevent device owners from installing Linux. While the spec allows UEFI secure boot to be turned off, Microsoft wasn't requiring hardware makers to implement the off button. The open source community grew inflamed - to the verge of petitions and threatened lawsuits. Microsoft should know by now that angering open source developers is not the best way to get developers interested in writing for Windows.


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