Kara Swisher

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Liveblogging Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting (Morning Session): It's a Beautiful Day?

BoomTown took the corporate All Things Digital jet–aka Virgin America, seat 10A–up to Redmond, Wash., today to attend Microsoft’s annual Financial Analyst Meeting, which also includes a passel of media drones like me.

I will be liveblogging the event all day, which is essentially a cavalcade of top execs from the software giant taking the stage and showing off their wares.

There should be a little bit of swanning, since Microsoft (MSFT) turned in very good financial results last week, posting a huge increase in earnings and revenue due to the uptick in PC sales and the intro of the Windows 7 operating system. Losses at its Online Services division remained high, so thank goodness for servers and tools!

Here we go:

8:15 am PT: I was late due to the completely confusing streets of suburban Redmond, all of which look exactly alike, as does every building on Microsoft’s sprawling campus. I am a streets of San Francisco girl, obvi.

In the Conference Center, though, things had not started well past the 8 am start time, as we await the entry of investor dude Bill Koefoed.

U2′s “Beautiful Day” was playing over the sound system, which it was not up here in the Pacific Northwest this morning–it was kind of cold and gloomy, a la “Twilight”–but hopefully will be for sparkly Microsoft execs. We’ll see!

Finally, Koefoed came out and started in on feedback, touting the newly renovated investor relations site, which he is “pretty proud of.” It is nice looking, as are most of Microsoft’s hand-out materials.

In fact, he sent me an excited note last week, because I posted Microsoft’s pretty fourth-quarter slides.

Dear Bill: You need much better things to get excited about! Like the new Magic Trackpad from Apple (AAPL)! Wait, I mean Windows Phone 7!

Koefoed moved quickly to point out last week’s strong results, which is no surprise. When you’ve got lemonade, make more lemonade!

Then he outlined the various Microsoft’s eight “core” businesses, such as Xbox, Bing, Microsoft Office, Windows Azure and, of course, Windows, that the company will be going over.

That’s a lot of core, isn’t it?

Some questions to be answered: Business PC refresh and share momentum? Impact of iPad/slates? Windows 7 phone? Expense control?

Beautiful or not, it was going to be a looooong day.

8:42 am: A jaunty Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s COO, bounded out. He tried to get the crowd more lively, but this was not to be unless there was a lot more coffee.

I had great hopes for a goofy quote this morning from Turner, who declared at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month about Apple’s antenna controversy: “It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I’m okay with that.”

I don’t know about you, but insulting a competitor by shooting off your own foot is a gift that keeps on giving to me.

In any case, Turner said Microsoft was now “leading with the cloud,” a move that the company had been resisting in the past. Now: All in!

He outlined all the various services for business customers. “We are the market leader in cloud services for business,” said Turner, noting Microsoft had been too quiet about the inevitable move of data and software services to big services in the digital sky.

(Actually, in its secret heart, Microsoft was hoping this whole Internet thing would go away and it would be back to a PC on every desktop, but that horse has left the barn, so it’s cloud time!)

Next up for Turner: The much deserved popularity of Windows 7. Of course, since Vista was Microsoft’s Antennagate–except much, much, much worse–it was not hard to be better.

Turner then moved on to bashing Google (GOOG) and other competitors. Turner put up some quotes from Jaguar employees, after the car company switched to Google for email and other services.

One said Google was like vinyl seats. Ziiiiing!

Next Turner victim: VMware (VMW)! He claimed its products were pricier and not cloudy enough.

As for Linux: Meh!

Oracle (ORCL): Customers don’t want to be locked into the land of Larry Ellison!

Cisco (CSCO): Just you wait, John Chambers!

9:19 am: Turner headed off and Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie started in on his speech, titled “Reimagining Microsoft’s Future.”

That would be the client plus the cloud, natural user interface and something he called “working on your behalf.”

Mundie launched into his future-dude schtick, but he’s not exactly Alvin Toffler, so I started desperately mainlining the caffeine.

He talked about movable data centers, the “Internet of Things” and other cloud innovations, but there is no new idea here to blow your mind.

Is it too much to wish Mundie would talk about an invisibility cloak? Instead, it was the orchestration of data authority.

That will apparently be a new data marketplace product, codenamed Dallas, to shop for giant data sets and more.

Mundie than showed off some personalization-driven features in the Bing search service, which are also not new concepts.

For example, he showed a menu, embedded in a table, that might know what you like to eat at a particular restaurant you frequent.

This is what would be on my table and there is no need of a fancy computer table to know this: Donuts, donuts, donuts.

Speaking of which, FAM minions: Where the heck were my donuts?

Mundie then moved onto Kinect, once called Project Natal, the actually cool gesture interface for gaming that will be available for Xbox soon.

Finally, he finished up with a video clip of a medical triage assistant. Great, even less customer service from hospitals. The demo was flatly freaky.

The morning session wrapped up with a visit to the technology showcase to “expect the unexpected,” although I was not expecting that in any way, and then it was off to lunch.

Next up in the afternoon session: CEO Steve Ballmer at 1 pm PT.


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”