Morgan Stanley Analysts Reiterate $245 Price Target, See Promising Future in Microsoft’s Gaming Business

On Thursday, Morgan Stanley analysts reiterated their Overweight rating on Microsoft (MSFT) with a $245 price target. The analysts see great upside for Microsoft ahead of new Xbox console launches and following the $7.5B acquisition of game developer and publisher Bethesda Softworks.

The long-awaited release of the Xbox Series X/S console is approaching quickly. As expected, Microsoft should experience an uptick in hardware sales driven by the increase of “work/stay/play at home” activities from consumers. “The increase in gaming hardware revenue in FY21 vs.FY20 of $779 million in our model is already pressuring our existing FY21 gross margin estimates by ~35bps”, stated by Morgan Stanley analysts.

The analysts further noted: “Microsoft’s revenue base has grown meaningfully since (MSe $156 billion revenue in FY21 vs $110 billion in FY18), thus making the margin dilutive effect less meaningful now, in our view. Despite this modest gross margin headwind, we look for FY21

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Microsoft’s 150,000 employees can work from home permanently: report

Even when stay-at-home measures for the coronavirus pandemic are lifted, Microsoft employees won’t be required to come back to the office.

According to an internal Microsoft memo obtained by The Verge, Microsoft employees will be allowed to work from home for less than half of their work week. Pending manager approval, some employees will be allowed to work from home full time.

Given the nature of Microsoft’s business as a software and hardware creator, some employees with roles that require a physical presence won’t be able to take advantage of the new “hybrid workplace” policy, according to the report. Employees involved in hardware research and development, for instance, or employees involved with in-person training, won’t be able to do that work remotely.

For others, whose work can be done entirely remote, there are options to relocate — even internationally — if approved. The Verge reported that “most” of Microsoft’s 150,000

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Microsoft’s new ‘hybrid workplace’ policy will make working from home a permanent part of the mix

Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Microsoft has released new “hybrid workplace” guidance that lays out how employees can have a more flexible remote work schedule and even relocate elsewhere in the country as the tech giant continues to adjust to changing needs during the ongoing pandemic.

The Verge first reported on the internal messaging Friday, saying that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft will allow employees to work from home freely for less than 50 percent of their working week, and managers will be able to approve permanent remote work.

RELATED: Death of the HQ? Pandemic hits commercial real estate, but long-term trends still open to debate

Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, said in a note to employees that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged everyone to “think, live, and work in new ways.”

“We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while

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20 years after Microsoft’s antitrust fight, Steve Ballmer betting that Big Tech won’t be broken up

Steve Ballmer. (GeekWire File Photo / Dan DeLong)

Twenty years after Microsoft waged its own antitrust battle with the U.S. government, former CEO Steve Ballmer is betting that Congress won’t break up Big Tech this time around.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday (below), Ballmer was reacting to a U.S. House antitrust subcommittee report released this week that found challenges presented by the dominance and business practices of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

RELATED: House antitrust probe says Amazon has ‘monopoly power’ over sellers, company slams ‘fringe’ findings

“I’ll bet money that they will not be broken up,” Ballmer told CNBC.

The 450-page report from the subcommittee’s Democratic leaders concludes a 16-month investigation into the four companies as the operators of major online markets. It finds that the market power of the tech giants “has diminished consumer choice, eroded innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy, weakened the vibrancy

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U.S. government scrutinizes Microsoft’s hiring practices as tech giant looks to boost diversity

Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Microsoft in June announced a sweeping racial justice plan, including an initiative to spend $150 million on diversity and inclusion programs, and double its number of Black and African American managers and senior employees by 2025 in the U.S.

Now the United States Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is taking a closer look at the company’s hiring and whether it constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of race.

“We have every confidence that Microsoft’s diversity initiative complies fully with all U.S. employment laws,” Dev Stahlkopf, corporate vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post published Tuesday. “We look forward to providing the OFCCP with this information and, if necessary, defending our approach.”

The OFCCP asks Microsoft to “prove that the actions we are taking to improve opportunities are not illegal race-based

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How Microsoft’s customer data tools are competing with Salesforce

  • Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 tools for customer service and financial planning, are becoming an increasingly important part of its business, particularly its customer data platform.
  • Microsoft’s customer data platform is meant to help companies collect customer information in one central place, so that they can use it to improve customer service. 
  • Dynamics 365 as a whole has the potential to become a much bigger and stronger competitor to Salesforce in the customer data space, Futurum Research analyst Dan Newman told Business Insider. 
  • Microsoft’s product is designed to connect to any data collection tool, whether Microsoft owns it or not, which gives customers more flexibility than Salesforce does, he said. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 tools for customer service and financial planning, are becoming an increasingly important part of its business and seeing healthy growth, too: Last quarter the product’s revenue jumped 38% year-over-year.

The centerpiece of

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Windows 10: Microsoft’s new 2004 update fixes bug that stopped WSL 2 working

Microsoft has released an optional preview update for Windows 10 version 2004 that addresses Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 issues that emerged after September’s Patch Tuesday update. 

The preview update KB4577063 for Windows 10 version 2004, aka the May 2020 Update, bumps up this version to build number 19041.546.

This preview update brings many of the same fixes Microsoft released in last week’s 20H2 Beta preview for Insiders on the Release Preview Channels. Microsoft is expected to release 20H2, or the Windows 10 October 2020 Update, either this month or in November.

SEE: Windows 10 Start menu hacks (TechRepublic Premium)

Two key issues addressed in this optional update for Windows 10 2004 are the WSL 2 bugs and a lingering connectivity issue with WWAN LTE modems.

The update addresses an issue in WSL that generates an ‘Element not found’ error when users try to start WSL. 

The other is a

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GeekWire Summit: Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, to join our signature tech event

Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer.

Panos Panay rose to prominence in the tech industry as the leader of Microsoft’s Surface hardware business, most recently overseeing the development and launch of the dual-screen Surface Duo, and engineering the company’s unlikely partnership with Google on the device.

But in his larger role as the tech giant’s chief product officer, Panay is now leading the company’s unified Windows software and hardware teams just as the pandemic renews the relevance of desktop and laptop computers in our lives. How will Microsoft seize this new opportunity to reshape the tech landscape and navigate the challenges that lie ahead?

Those are some of the questions we’ll explore with Panay at the upcoming GeekWire Summit, in a session exclusive to event attendees.

The Microsoft executive is one of dozens of top tech, science, health and business leaders who will be joining us as featured speakers

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Samsung’s Note20 Ultra And Microsoft’s xCloud Are Ushering In A Whole New Era Of Mobile Gaming

I think we can all remember a time, not all that long ago, when mobile games were nothing more than silly little diversions. Time wasters, mostly. Popular downloads like Flappy Bird, Cut the Rope and Angry Birds were admittedly fun—though ultimately shallow—experiences designed to be digested in small, bite-sized chunks.

Well, as simple and arguably charming as those initial forays into mobile gaming were, they’re a far cry from where the industry currently resides. And boy, have we come a long way.

Earlier this summer, AR sensation Pokemon Go surpassed $3.6 billion in lifetime revenue, while battle royale pioneer PUBG Mobile has pulled in over $3 billion since its launch back in 2018. Just as impressive, the mobile edition of Fortnite blew past $1 billion in earnings in only two years.

It’s the massive popularity of console-style mobile titles, like

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Microsoft’s Office 365 Back From Outage Lasting Several Hours

(Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp.‘s Office 365, Teams and some of its other online services experienced service interruptions lasting several hours before being resolved on Monday.



Customers stand near the Microsoft Corp. logo during the Microsoft Corp. Xbox One X game console global launch event in New York, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. As Microsoft Corp. begins selling a new Xbox console, the focus of its video-game unit is shifting toward software and services. The company plans to increase investment in developing in-house video games.


© Bloomberg
Customers stand near the Microsoft Corp. logo during the Microsoft Corp. Xbox One X game console global launch event in New York, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. As Microsoft Corp. begins selling a new Xbox console, the focus of its video-game unit is shifting toward software and services. The company plans to increase investment in developing in-house video games.

A company spokesman confirmed the outages, which also impacted Exchange Online and OneDrive. He didn’t have any information on the causes.

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Problems with some of the services were reported earlier on Monday by Downdetector, which aggregates user reports of issues. That suggests the outages had lasted a number of hours before being taken up by Microsoft’s recovery team, though they have

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