If Microsoft buys a stake in Dell

A friend asked me what i thought of Microsoft buying a piece of Dell. Here is what I wrote to him on Facebook.

Microsoft taking 10-15% of Dell is a natural move, now that they are edging more in to the hardware market with Surface, Surface Pro, and whatever this year’s Surface 2 is bound to be. Apple doesn’t want Dell, they’re ALREADY a hardware manufacturer with ties to Intel, which they will break when OS11 launches. I expect them to go back to their non Intel ways. Higher profit margins. Right now I think every company is trying to innovate ways to increase revenue streams, not being innovative in ways that are making people flock to them. This goes for everyone. Did apple think a 5th row of icons was gonna sell iPhone 5? Does Intel think we can stay at their 3Ghz barrier forever and just keep adding cores? Microsoft stepping in to more hardware is exciting. It’s not just a mouse with their logo on it, or the next Xbox, it’s a real Microsoft product stepping up and showing companies like HP and ASUS how to do it. With a stake in Dell, it makes that a lot easier.

My friend mentioned that he didn’t think it would stop at 15%, and that Michael Dell wanted to bring the company back to a privately held company. I continued…

Michael Dell only owns I think 15 or 16% himself. Private, maybe, but I don’t think he wants to give up the goat to Microsoft entirely, and let them call the shots. And I don’t think Microsoft is interested in being seen as a threat to their licensing partners; all the other OEMs who sell Windows on their machines (Acer, ASUS, Toshiba, Sony, HP, etc…). If they see Microsoft as a direct threat to their business, they won’t support it by licensing Windows. MS must know that. If Microsoft buys a huge chunk of Dell, the others will flock to Linux or another alternative, just so they aren’t giving their competition a dime. It would be the end of Microsoft as anyone has known it for 25 years. I think Microsoft is smart enough to know a small investment in Dell would pay for itself while working on “a tablet” and maybe “a desktop” or two, but they don’t want to be seen as a threat to their OEMs.

GrooVe IP: Google Voice on your phone, without using minutes

GrooVe IP is an app that Google Voice should be. A free download from the Play Store, GrooVe IP Lite lets you make VOIP calls from your handheld Android device. I know a few of you are thinking that’s the point of Google voice, but there is a difference. The official Google Voice app for Android makes a “call back” call. Basically, you dial a number, and via your data connection, a signal gets sent to the Google Voice servers. Then the server calls you. Once a call to you is established, it rings the person you called, connecting the two of you. Microsoft’s Lync app works the same way. But this uses your normal cell phone minutes – the only real benefit is that the call looks like it is coming from your Google voice number instead of your personal cell phone.

GoorVe IP Lite allows you to make calls truly using WiFi. You could make a call with a tablet, provided it has a Microphone. A $4.99 Pro Version can make calls over your phone’s 3G/4G mobile data connection – no WiFi required!

As I said above, I really feel like this is what the Google Voice app should’ve been. You could discontinue your phone service, carry your Android phone with you, and use it to make calls, get messages, and surf the web, wherever you have WiFi! Seriously, ditch your cell phone plan and just use this! Alright, that might be a bit drastic, but this really is a great app, so go check out the free version and get the Pro if you end up liking it!

In Office 2010, how do I change my product key? It's easy!

Some business users may have put in the wrong key when the first installed Office 2010. Some software pirates may have been caught. Whatever your reason, changing your Office 2010 Product Key is easy, here’s how you do it:

I consider Microsoft Word to be the father of all Office products, so I advise opening Word. But if you didn’t install Word, any Office product ought to do, such as Excel, or even Outlook. Click on the File menu in the upper left. Then select Help. To the right, you should see that your product is already activated – if it isn’t, this is where you can activate a new install, or change your key of an existing install. In order to avoid the need to reinstall your Office product, your product key should match the current version of Office installed (Home and Student, Professional Plus, etc…).

Similar steps can be followed in Office 2013 to activate or change your product key, should you need to.

Mythbusting: Can an Xbox 360 play BluRay Movies?

Back in 2008, the questions abounded – would the Xbox 360 ever support BluRay? Rumors flew in all directions, but nobody knew for sure. We knew the Xbox console couldn’t read the discs the the way it was, but maybe a replacement drive, or an external device? When word broke that Microsoft, as a company, were trying to stay compatible with BluRay, people seemed to forget Windows was a bigger part of Microsoft than Xbox, at the time. I quashed that rumor myself, and helped to clarify the confusion. Xbox 360 owners ended up getting the external HD DVD add-on drive, which still works to this day. But that was it. BluRay support was never added.

Now, it seemed to me that this was an open and shut case, but I’ve seen the question asked in the past, and I’ve seen it answered and a really untruthful way. A person said YES, but then linked (referral links, no less) to paid software to convert the BluRay movie. It enabled person to put a BluRay disc into their computer (provided it had a BluRay drive), then convert the software, then you had your option of transferring it to a thumb drive or streaming it to the Xbox 360. This doesn’t mean the Xbox 360 can play a BluRay movie, this means the Xbox 360 supports several digital video formats – but it cannot read BluRay discs no matter what you connect up to the Xbox 360.

I just wanted to re-hash this – hopefully there was no more question, but I think people are still looking for the answer, and I wanted to provide it for them. Unfortunately for movie buffs, the final answer is NO – the Xbox 360 does not and will not support BluRay movies. The next console from Microsoft (what I’m dubbing the Xbox “365”) might, but we’ll probably need to wait until E3 2013 to find out.

For Amusement Only: a fantastic article on The Verge

On Fridays I generally write some sort of post about gaming. But nothing I wrote this week could’ve held a candle to this amazing article over on The Verge. The article is called: For Amusement Only: the life and death of the American arcade. It’s lengthy, but it is a fantastic read. And for the average American attention span, there is an 8 minute video (embedded above, though not very reliable – go to The Verge and watch it) that is part of the article. A fantastic look back at the arcade industry, and a few theories as to why it’s so hard to find a good arcade these days. Enjoy the article.