Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Microsoft Comms Head Smacks Back by the Numbers (Plus a "Rocky"-Inspired Internal Email!)

After what he considered weeks of unfair press coverage and running down of Microsoft (MSFT), the software giant’s Corporate VP of Corporate Communications, Frank Shaw, posted a pugnacious corporate blog entry today that trotted out some impressive numbers about Microsoft’s business.

Of course, he also took the opportunity to put up some not-so-much figures about competitors such as Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), Salesforce.com (CRM) and, of course, Google (GOOG).

My favorite dig is the stat on the “percent chance that Salesforce.com CEO [Marc Benioff] will mention Microsoft in a speech, panel, interview, or blog post.” The answer, natch: 100!

As it turns out, that was a follow-up to a very sharply worded letter Shaw sent out to communications teams across Microsoft (MSFT) earlier this month, obtained by BoomTown, in which he noted at the start:

“It has been a rough couple of weeks for us from a coverage standpoint. It seems like every time I turn on the computer, or talk to a reporter, or pick up a publication at home, or do a scan of my RSS feeds or Twitter client that I see more stories and opinions about the challenges we have, and how great some of our competitors are doing. iPad this, Droid that, sheesh.”

Sheesh? Who says that anymore?

Still, I like his gumption in using it! Thus, Shaw–who is an active blogger and Twitter poster–is apparently mad as heck and not going to take it anymore!

Here’s the blog post below, followed by the internal email Shaw sent (apparently inspired by the landscape at our eighth D: All Things Digital conference earlier this month):

Microsoft by the numbers

25 Jun 2010 12:30 PM

You probably saw the news this week that we’ve sold 150 million Windows 7 licenses in 8 months. That’s more than 600,000 per day. And, perhaps fittingly for a product called Windows 7, it adds up to 7 copies every second of every day since launch.

As a communications guy, I’m generally most comfortable with words. But since Microsoft is a pretty numbers-driven company, the Windows 7 milestone got me thinking about some *other* numbers, too.

Of course, numbers are only one dimension of a story. And we live in a hyper-competitive industry, with loads of challenges to go along with loads of opportunity. All the same, with Windows 7, Office 2010, Bing, Xbox 360, Kinect, Windows Phone 7, our cloud platform, and many other products, services and happy customers, 2010 is shaping up as a huge year for us.

So, without further ado, a few of my favorite numbers:


Number of Windows 7 licenses sold, making Windows 7 by far the fastest growing operating system in history.[source]


7.1 million
Projected iPad sales for 2010. [source]

58 million
Projected netbook sales in 2010. [source]

355 million
Projected PC sales in 2010. [source]


Percentage of US netbooks running Windows in 2008. [source]

Percentage of US netbooks running Windows in 2009. [source]


Number of paying customers running on Windows Azure in November 2009.

Number of paying customers running on Windows Azure in June 2010. [source]

Number of students, teachers and staff using Microsoft’s cloud productivity tools in Kentucky public schools, the largest cloud deployment in the US. [source]


16 million
Total subscribers to largest 25 US daily newspapers. [source]

14 Million
Total number of Netflix subscribers. [source]

23 million
Total number of Xbox Live subscribers. [source]


Number of customer downloads of the Office 2010 beta prior to launch, the largest Microsoft beta program in history. [source]


21.4 million
Number of new Bing search users in one year. [Comscore report–requires subscription]


Linux Server market share in 2005. [source]

Predicted Linux Server market share for 2007 (made in 2005). [source]

Actual Linux Server market share, Q4 2009. [source]


8.8 million
Global iPhone sales in Q1 2010. [source]

21.5 million
Nokia smartphone sales in Q1 2010. [source]

55 million
Total smartphone sales globally in Q1 2010. [source]

439 million
Projected global smartphone sales in 2014. [source]


Number of years it took Salesforce.com to reach 1 million paid user milestone. [source]

Number of years it took Microsoft Dynamics to reach 1 million paid user milestone. [source]

Percent chance that Salesforce.com CEO will mention Microsoft in a speech, panel, interview, or blog post.


173 million
Global Gmail users. [source]

284 million
Global Yahoo! Mail users.[source]

360 million
Global Windows Live Mail users.[source]

299 million
Active Windows Live Messenger Accounts worldwide. [Comscore MyMetrix, WW, March 2010–requires subscription]

Rank of Windows Live Messenger globally compared to all other instant messaging services. [Comscore MyMetrix, WW, March 2010 – requires subscription]


$5.7 Billion
Apple Net income for fiscal year ending Sep 2009. [source]

$6.5 Billion
Google Net income for fiscal year ending Dec 2009. [source]

$14.5 Billion
Microsoft Net Income for fiscal year ending June 2009. [source]

$23.0 billion
Total Microsoft revenue, FY2000. [source]

$58.4 billion
Total Microsoft revenue, FY2009. [source]


It has been a rough couple of weeks for us from a coverage standpoint. It seems like every time I turn on the computer, or talk to a reporter, or pick up a publication at home, or do a scan of my RSS feeds or Twitter client that I see more stories and opinions about the challenges we have, and how great some of our competitors are doing. iPad this, Droid that, sheesh. Even BusinessWeek got into the act, taking some unfair shots at Natal under the guise of looking at our consumer strategy all up. Man, when someone is beating on Natal prior to E3, you can bet we’ve got momentum against us.

Sitting there at the All Things Digital conference last week and hearing from our competitors really got me thinking, though. What is our differentiation? Why do we make certain decisions? What drives the way we think about business and technology? The morning after the Steve Jobs q&a (which everyone should watch), I dragged myself out of bed to go for a run. As I’d driven into the hotel, I noticed with a sinking feeling that there were lots of hills. I asked the desk clerk if they had a jogging map. They did not. I asked if he could point me a direction that did not have a bunch of hills. He laughed and pointed “up” the driveway and said that if I turned left there would be a nice running path. “I drove in that direction,” I said. “Seems like it’s uphill.” He shrugged, and away I went. Up.

And to keep my mind off the elevation gain, I was thinking about that previous question–what drives Microsoft? Coming up the second hill, I got it. Fundamentally, we believe that we have the opportunity to make life better for billions of people around the world through our products and services. Not millions, not tens of millions, but billions. We started with the idea of a computer on every desktop, and even though the computer looks a lot different today than it did those years, and even though the developed world probably does have a computer on every desk, there are still billions more to go, and we are going to get there. And when you start thinking about serving billions, which we do, we’re playing a game that nobody else in the industry is. I don’t know about you, but I come to work thinking about what I can do to help w/ that big goal. And it’s not all altruism and unicorns, when we do a great job of creating products that make life better for billions, it makes us better as a company, we sell more, we learn more, our partners do better, we do better. And when you have big dreams and big ambitions (like we do) and when you set the bar high (which we do) then sometimes we don’t get over the bar. There are people in the world that see that and call it failure; but failing to hit the mark doesn’t mean quitting. That’s part of our culture, too.

The run back to the hotel was easier. I even scrambled up a bluff next to the path (imagining the theme to “Rocky” in my head) and stood looking out over the Pacific for a bit. And I thought about our challenges, internal and external. External is easy. Internal is harder.

There is a saying I’ve heard a bunch since I’ve been at Microsoft: “Hope is not a strategy.” Heck, I’ve used it myself, and felt pretty superior while saying it, since I was talking about something I didn’t really own. But standing on the bluff, I wondered.

In my last mail, I referenced the need for us all to be comfortable in the gap between what is and what we desire to create. If we simply live in what we have, we become cynics. And if hope is not a strategy, then neither is cynicism, and we have lots of cynics among us. It is a challenge, especially for those of us who help tell our story. I often see it used, and use it myself, to cover up the pain of not meeting a goal, or seeing a product/service be ill-received by the market. If I am able to mock and sneer, then nobody outside the company can make me feel worse at setbacks and even failures.

As the evangelists for the company, we must guard against this. Hope can’t be a strategy, but it (and its cousin belief) is a needed ingredient in any success. Think about this for a bit. Each and every one of us needs to be grounded in our challenges and our wins. Right now, we are massively over-indexed in thinking and knowing about our losses and challenges. But what of our wins?

At the conference later that day, I had a chance to engage in a spirited and mostly friendly discussion with some folks who thought we were doing a crap job all up. Stock price flat, no iPad, etc. Instead of shrugging and agreeing, I talked about our wins and our momentum. We’ve built a huge server business over the last decade, something else nobody has done. Windows 7 sales are up about 39 percent year over year, against a huge base. Office 2010 beta largest ever, Office is in the cloud. Bing is one year old, 4 points of market share–nobody has grown search market share against Google but we are doing it. They are copying our look, our home page. New Hotmail is driving them to offer something other than threaded email for Gmail. Xbox Live has 23 million users–again, only two companies in the last decade have built subscription services like this (Netflix is the other). Windows Azure has 10,000 paying customers, we just announced 700k deployment of live@edu, probably the largest cloud deployment in the world. Natal is coming, it’s cool. Yes, we want to (and will) do better in phones. Yes, we want to (and will) have more cool thin slate/tablet/other form factor devices that run Windows. I’ll tell you, while I don’t think I created any true believers, I did force people to think differently about Microsoft and what we’re doing, and I call that a win.

This is our job. We don’t just represent the products and services we work on, we represent the company all up. Be ready to tell that story. Tell it to your co-workers here at Microsoft, to your family and friends, to members of the media. They know about our challenges, they don’t know about our wins and momentum. So tell them.


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