HP sees positive netbook effect

Stripped down, low-cost netbooks may be the hottest thing going in personal computers these days, but there continues to be debate about their ultimate impact on the income statement. Almost all of the world’s major PC companies have by now dived into the netbook market, including Hewlett-Packard, the world’s No. 1 PC maker.

HP CFO Cathie Lesjak was asked at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference whether the company expects to see a netbook impact on average selling prices (ASPs) and margins.

“I think you really need to separate ASP pressures from margins. Because first off we actually believe that netbooks in the long term are going to… generate incremental revenue and ultimately incremental profits … The netbook also has a lower bill of materials… If you’ve got good cost structure … long term we actually think this is positive for PC revenue and profit.”

Lesjak was also quizzed about the impact of Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system – which the software company says will be out by January 2010 – on consumer and corporate demand.

We didn’t think there was going to be a Vista moment. We don’t think there’s going to be a Windows 7 moment either… We are not expecting that there’s going to be this huge hockey stick effect when Windows 7 comes out. The good news is we’re hearing positive things about Windows 7.

Ballmer upstaged at first-ever CES keynote?

After watching Bill Gates deliver Microsoft’s keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show for 12 years, CEO Steve Ballmer finally got his moment in the sun on Wednesday.

We were rooting for you Steve, but next time, tell your friends not to steal your thunder.

First, it was Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg leaking the news that the U.S. phone company has picked Microsoft as its default mobile search provider. It’s a big win for Microsoft, which has been lagging behind Google and Yahoo on the Web, but Ballmer didn’t get to be the first to tell the world. Seidenberg stole the spotlight, announcing the deal at a Citi investor conference earlier on Wednesday. We were hoping Microsoft would take back the limelight by giving us more details when it was Ballmer’s turn at CES, but alas, all the CEO said was, “I’m also thrilled to announce a new long term partnership with Verizon to offer our live services on all Verizon phones.”

CES: Microsoft’s Robbie Bach speaks

Robbie Bach, President of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, sat down to talk to Reuters at CES in Las Vegas, ahead of the big keynote address by CEO Steve Ballmer. Topics discussed ranged from the Windows 7 beta and eventual launch, Microsoft’s mobile search deal with Verizon, and how the tough economic environment is affecting the company.

What is the status of Windows 7? Is it still on track for its launch debut?
It’s absolutely on track for the debut that we won’t tell you the date of. Three years from the last one. (Vista shipped in the fall of 2006 to businesses, and early 2007 to consumers). The date has some range in it for that reason. It’s a very good product.

What have you learned from the ups and downs of the Vista launch?
We learned that people’s early experience with the product when it ships is important. Initially when it shipped, we didn’t have as much compatibility as we would like. And that frustrated some people early on. That’s all gone now. But certainly with Windows 7 we want to get that right from the start.

Microsoft looks past Vista at Windows 7

Microsoft finally lifted the curtain on Windows 7 to an enthusiastic audience of developers at the company’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

Here are some details that didn’t make it into our story.

    Touch – It’s probably the most eye-catching new feature. You can use your finger to click on different programs, scroll through documents, flick to and from various Web pages and sift through photos. It’s also multi-touch — so feel free to use both hands. HomeGroup – Who likes setting up home networks? This feature finds and connects all Windows 7 computers on your home network. If you have one computer that holds all your music but want to play songs on a separate PC, HomeGroup lets you play music on any computer in your network regardless of whether the music is actually on that machine’s hard drive. It also lets all the computers on the network easily share printers without having to install drivers on each machine. New Taskbar – Any open window on the taskbar presents a quick snapshot of what is open. If you hover over those snapshots, it will provide a full screen preview. Also, anything on the taskbar can be moved and “pinned” to specific locations.

(Photo: Reuters/Fred Prouser)