2007–2011: Microsoft Azure, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Microsoft Stores
Released in January 2007, the next version of Windows, Vista, focused on features, security and a redesigned user interface dubbed Aero. Microsoft Office 2007, released at the same time, featured a “Ribbon” user interface which was a significant departure from its predecessors. Relatively strong sales of both products helped to produce a record profit in 2007. The European Union imposed another fine of €899 million ($1.4 billion) for Microsoft’s lack of compliance with the March 2004 judgment on February 27, 2008, saying that the company charged rivals unreasonable prices for key information about its workgroup and backoffice servers. Microsoft stated that it was in compliance and that “these fines are about the past issues that have been resolved”. 2007 also saw the creation of a multi-core unit at Microsoft, following the steps of server companies such as Sun and IBM.
Gates retired from his role as Chief Software Architect on June 27, 2008, a decision announced in June 2006, while retaining other positions related to the company in addition to being an advisor for the company on key projects. Azure Services Platform, the company’s entry into the cloud computing market for Windows, launched on October 27, 2008. On February 12, 2009, Microsoft announced its intent to open a chain of Microsoft-branded retail stores, and on October 22, 2009, the first retail Microsoft Store opened in Scottsdale, Arizona; the same day Windows 7 was officially released to the public. Windows 7’s focus was on refining Vista with ease-of-use features and performance enhancements, rather than an extensive reworking of Windows.
As the smartphone industry boomed in the late 2000s, Microsoft had struggled to keep up with its rivals in providing a modern smartphone operating system, falling behind Apple and Google-sponsored Android in the United States. As a result, in 2010 Microsoft revamped their aging flagship mobile operating system, Windows Mobile, replacing it with the new Windows Phone OS that was released in October that year. It used a new user interface design language, codenamed “Metro”, which prominently used simple shapes, typography and iconography, utilizing the concept of minimalism. Microsoft implemented a new strategy for the software industry, providing a consistent user experience across all smartphones using the Windows Phone OS.
It launched an alliance with Nokia in 2011 and Microsoft worked closely with the company to co-develop Windows Phone, but remained partners with long-time Windows Mobile OEM HTC. Microsoft is a founding member of the Open Networking Foundation started on March 23, 2011. Fellow founders were Google, HP Networking, Yahoo!, Verizon Communications, Deutsche Telekom and 17 other companies. This nonprofit organization is focused on providing support for a cloud computing initiative called Software-Defined Networking. The initiative is meant to speed innovation through simple software changes in telecommunications networks, wireless networks, data centers and other networking areas.
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