2014 has been a year of major changes at Microsoft, not the least of which was the naming of Satya Nadella to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO.
But the company also registered plenty of changes across its product lines, making way for new offerings by scuttling or renaming old ones.
Here's a look back at 2014 (and here's the 2013 graveyard):
Windows XP support
Microsoft warned and warned and warned, and then finally did pull the plug on Windows XP support in April, leaving the machines of millions and millions of foot-draggers vulnerable.
As of November, XP still owned better than 13% of the worldwide operating system market, trailing only Windows 7, even though Microsoft had ceased distributing XP to OEMs in 2008 and for netbooks in 2010.
Glowing IE reviews
Microsoft in June ditched a marketing program involving a partner that essentially offered bloggers incentives to write nice things about the Internet Explorer browser following the company’s release of an IE Developer Channel. Things unraveled after the social strategist hit up TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who promptly published the unsolicited blog-for-pay letter, as recounted by Network World blogger Ms. Smith.
Microsoft replied to Arrington that: “This action by a vendor is not representative of the way Microsoft works with bloggers or other members of the media. The program has been suspended.”
But damage had already been done, as hashtags used in the marketing scheme then started being used to bash IE instead.
No more SkyDrive, but wait…
Microsoft early in 2014 killed off the name SkyDrive for its storage service, renaming it OneDrive and adding incentives such as more space. This wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill marketing tweak: TV/broadband service provider British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB) had taken Microsoft to trademark court over the SkyDrive name, prompting the change. But naturally, Microsoft spun the name change to sync up with its marketing goals: “When we announced the new name OneDrive, we noted how it is much more aligned with our vision for the future. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to get all of your favorite stuff in one place -- one place that is accessible via all of the devices you use every day, at home and at work," wrote Windows Services group’s Chris Jones in a corporate blog.
Nokia smartphone brand
In the wake of buying out Nokia’s handset division for $7.2 billion, Microsoft has begun dumping the Nokia brand for smartphones, including for the mid-tier Nokia X line.
The first such non-Nokia phone is the Lumia 535, a Windows 8.1 device with a 5-inch screen and an entry-level price.
Microsoft is also readying to ax the Nokia store for feature phones next year.
Letting go of Lync
Microsoft said this year that it will wave good-bye to the Lync brand for its unified communications offerings in 2015 and exploit its more mainstream Skype brand, acquired in an $8.5 billion deal back in 2011.
So Lync products will be upgraded to look and feel more like consumer Skype offerings, and will be called Skype for Business.
Microsoft introduced the Lync brand back in 2010 (offerings taking this name were previously called Office Communicator). Microsoft has made decent headway with its Lync products: Only Cisco and Avaya sell more IP PBXes in the United States for example, than Microsoft with its Lync offerings.
Barnes & Noble Nook partnership
Microsoft plunked down $300 million in 2012 for an almost 18% stake in Nook Media, but Barnes & Noble's e-reader business has failed to strike it big and now Microsoft has sold back its share for about $120 million.
The companies' original plan envisioned a combination of Windows 8 and the e-reader expanding the Nook's reach to colleges and beyond. But the Nook hasn't been able to compete well enough vs. the Amazon Kindle.
B&N, which struck a deal with Samsung over the summer for an Android-based Nook device, is now plotting to spin off its Nook business.
Clip Art snipped
Microsoft will do anything to get people to try Bing.
The company is offing its longtime Office.com Clip Art page for adding not-always-very-sophisticated art to documents, and directing customers instead to Bing to search for images under the Creative Commons license.
According to Microsoft: “The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop. Customers can still add images to their documents, presentations, and other files that they have saved to their devices (phones, tablets, and PCs), OneDrive, and SharePoint. Customers also still have the ability to add images to their documents using Bing Image Search.”
Email security alerts – almost
Microsoft in late June warned subscribers to its more-than-10-year-old email notification service for security alerts that it would be shuttering the service on July 1 “due to changing governmental policies…” and suggested users sign up via RSS feeds instead.
But the company, after reviewing its processes, had a change of heart shortly thereafter and restored the email service, though didn’t make it very easy to find the sign-up page.