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Steve Ballmer cashes $1.3B in Microsoft shares, Apple was given first

post #1 of 250
Thread Starter 
Microsoft confirmed Friday that CEO Steve Ballmer intends to sell almost one-fifth of his stake in the software giant, starting with sales this week that total $1.3 billion, while a new report claims Apple tried to license the technology used in Microsoft's new motion-tracking Kinect peripheral.

Ballmer stock

The Redmond, Wash., company issued a press release Friday detailing Ballmer's plan to sell up to 75 million shares of Microsoft by the end of the year "to gain financial diversification and to assist in tax planning." An SEC filing Friday revealed that Ballmer, in three separate transactions, sold off over 49 million shares of stock for over $1.3 billion.

According to Microsoft's annual proxy filing, Ballmer owned over 408 million shares in the company, which comes to 4.75 percent of the company's available common stock, before this week's sales. By comparison, Bill Gates, who sold off 3 million of his own shares this week, owned 620 million shares at the time of the SEC filing.

CNET reports that Ballmer's may have sold the shares to avoid savings and investment tax hikes that will go into effect in January. With capital gains tax rates increasing to as much as 20 percent, Ballmer may have saved as much as $67 million by selling off stock before January.

In Friday's press release, Ballmer took the time to reaffirm his confidence in Microsoft and its products, in hopes of reassuring investors. "Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion," Ballmer said. "I am excited about our new products and the potential for our technology to change people's lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success."

Microsoft stock has dropped over 13 percent since Jan. 1. Apple stock, on the other hand, has soared almost 50 percent since the beginning of the year, passing Microsoft in terms of market capitalization to become the world's largest tech company on May 26.

Last week, AppleInsider reported that Apple executives cashed in on $55 million worth of stock options in the month of October.

Microsoft Kinect

Leander Kahney of Cult of Mac reports that Apple was the first place that PrimeSense, the company behind Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect camera, thought of.

"It was the most natural place for the technology," said PrimeSense CEO Inon Beracha. PrimeSense's camera and infrared sensor setup was developed by engineers in the Israeli military, who apparently hired Beracha to "shop it around Silicon Valley and find partners to commercialize it," the report notes.

Beracha, who called the technology "multitouch that you didn't even have to touch," approached Apple, but initial meetings were rocky. According to the report, Apple was obsessed with secrecy, burdening Beracha with "a stack of crippling legal agreements and NDAs." Eventually, Beracha decided not to deal with Apple, calling the company "a pain in the ass."

Beracha eventually went with Microsoft, who wanted to implement the technology for its Xbox 360 gaming console. The Kinect, which launched in the U.S. on Thursday, has received a mostly positive reception, though some reviewers are waiting for a "killer app" or game for the accessory.

In September, Microsoft Game Studios manager Kudo Tsunoda made the odd comparison that holiday sales of the Kinect would "blow away" sales of the iPad.
post #2 of 250
It would have been nice to not have to touch the screen all the time.
post #3 of 250
Not sure why anyone would compare Kinect to the iPad, they're quite different products.
post #4 of 250
Goodness. If Ballmer can make 1.3B selling 20% of his stock, why wouldn't he do Microsoft a favor and let a real CEO run that dying company?
post #5 of 250
I think Kinect will be a huge hit for MSFT. It really is an impressive bit of tech.

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post #6 of 250
OMG.... this is one of the few decisions I would agree with Ballmer on.... hell... if I were in his position I'd sell half. Don't blame anyone who would rather pay 18% Capital Gains tax on $1.3B over 39.5%.... Thank you butthead BO.

As for the Kinect tech.... while kind of cool I guess. It doesn't seem like something useful to Apple at this point in time. They don't have a game console... so Xbox or any of the others makes much more sense... or a more logical fit. Those dissing Apple in several articles I read (not here) are really kind of missing the point. I suppose you could use it on a desktop.... but you can't do it with just one camera like the iSight... or whatever we're calling it now.
post #7 of 250
I'm very amazed. I can't believe Microsoft bought that. What a waste. I guess I'll have to see how it's implemented.

Then again, they seem to be buying into anything that will keep their strings out there lately.

This is coming from a "PC" person.
post #8 of 250
"Pain in the Ass"

well, for enough money???
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post #9 of 250
That's OK. Steve Ballmer is a cool guy.
post #10 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I think Kinect will be a huge hit for MSFT. It really is an impressive bit of tech.

Yeah but you'd only only buy it once.
post #11 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post

Goodness. If Ballmer can make 1.3B selling 20% of his stock, why wouldn't he do Microsoft a favor and let a real CEO run that dying company?

Microsoft is not a dying company.

And it's not unusual at all for corporate executives to regularly buy and sell their corporation's stock. This is nothing new and shouldn't even be an article.
post #12 of 250
I don't care even if you're SJ himself, the system that allows those kinds of payouts is sickening.
post #13 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphodsplanet View Post

OMG.... this is one of the few decisions I would agree with Ballmer on.... hell... if I were in his position I'd sell half. Don't blame anyone who would rather pay 18% Capital Gains tax on $1.3B over 39.5%.... Thank you butthead BO.

Unless, of course, you have enough confidence in your company's future stock value to believe it will gain enough to make up the difference. In the Microsoft of yesterday, with its value continuing to climb, that wouldn't have even been a question. In today's Microsoft, holding on to the stock would be a pretty big gamble. At least Balmer believes that to be true, and that isn't a particularly strong vote of confidence coming from the man at the top.
post #14 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The Kinect, which launched in the U.S. on Thursday, has received a mostly positive reception,

I read a couple of reviews, and they're overall negative. Sluggish response, doesn't work sitting down, sofa table must go since it's interfering with the image, need pretty long distance to work, and wide clear space (since it's tracking full body). I saw a review video and thought it was way too slow to be associated with gaming that needs to be snappy. And also if you do an idle move such as scratching your nose you could potentially mess everything up.
I love the z-depth camera potential for tracking objects though. Much smarter than image tracking. Camera tracking in general though seems too sluggish to commercialize.
post #15 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsydaus View Post

I don't care even if you're SJ himself, the system that allows those kinds of payouts is sickening.

A bit of jealousy? Are you are saying that If you were lucky or bright enough to start or join a company that becomes extremely successful that you shouldn't be able to get the appropriate financial reward even though you worked there from day one and for decades? If so, I am glad you have no say or control of squat!
Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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post #16 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillz View Post

Microsoft is not a dying company.

And it's not unusual at all for corporate executives to regularly buy and sell their corporation's stock. This is nothing new and shouldn't even be an article.

Microsoft IS indeed a dying company, they are down 13% and competition is Up 50%. Plus they have an idiot who thinks he's a visionary running the company.
post #17 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realistic View Post

A bit of jealousy? Are you are saying that If you were lucky or bright enough to start or join a company that becomes extremely successful that you shouldn't be able to get the appropriate financial reward even though you worked there from day one and for decades? If so, I am glad you have no say or control of squat!

Well said. We do live in a capitalistic society last I checked.
post #18 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillz View Post

Not sure why anyone would compare Kinect to the iPad, they're quite different products.

They weren’t comparing functionality, they were comparing sales. The iPad has been a big hit this year and recently announced as the fast selling CE of all time. This not only states that MS thinks Kinetic will be a hit, it also gets them free press by mentioning this popular device. It was a good move, even if they don’t think it will come close to iPad sales this holiday season.


Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsydaus View Post

I don't care even if you're SJ himself, the system that allows those kinds of payouts is sickening.

So how would you change the system? Give us some hard rules you think people investing their time and money into a company should be limited to. Should people not be allowed to be rewarded for being smarter than other people, even if that intelligence is about knowing when an opportunity arises? Should Bill Gates be capped at $100k a year, for example, simply because you don’t think that value is “sickening”? How do you think this would change how people and companies innovate if the chance to truly succeed in a free market is taken away?
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #19 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realistic View Post

A bit of jealousy? Are you are saying that If you were lucky or bright enough to start or join a company that becomes extremely successful that you shouldn't be able to get the appropriate financial reward even though you worked there from day one and for decades? If so, I am glad you have no say or control of squat!

Precisely.
post #20 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So how would you change the system? Give us some hard rules you think people investing their time and money into a company should be limited to. Should people not be allowed to be rewarded for being smarter than other people, even if that intelligence is about knowing when an opportunity arises? Should Bill Gates be capped at $100k a year, for example, simply because you dont think that value is sickening? How do you think this would change how people and companies innovate if the chance to truly succeed in a free market is taken away?

You don't earn your intelligence; in that respect you are blessed. Capitalism works, but there is also such a thing as proportionality. There is not a one-to-one correspondence between innovation and reward. There is nothing wrong in making that observation.

Nullis in verba -- "on the word of no one"

 

 

 

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post #21 of 250
I'd sell my stock too if it was invested in Microsoft.
post #22 of 250
Balmer is just responding to the fact that
Taxes ARE GOING UP Jan 1
Huge numbers of people are pushing income to this year
As well as deductions to save mega dollars

AND
he probably won't survive as CEO though 2011

AND

HE WANTS TO BUY APPLE STOCK
I APPLE THEREFORE I AM
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I APPLE THEREFORE I AM
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post #23 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphodsplanet View Post

As for the Kinect tech.... while kind of cool I guess. It doesn't seem like something useful to Apple at this point in time. They don't have a game console... so Xbox or any of the others makes much more sense... or a more logical fit. Those dissing Apple in several articles I read (not here) are really kind of missing the point. I suppose you could use it on a desktop.... but you can't do it with just one camera like the iSight... or whatever we're calling it now.

Would have been cool tech in the iPad. You could have a hover effect when your finger was over a button (or other active area in games for example), and with the distances being much shorter it would be able to pick out the position of individual fingers (multihover!) which could give you a minority report style interactions.
post #24 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerARSgm View Post

Goodness. If Ballmer can make 1.3B selling 20% of his stock, why wouldn't he do Microsoft a favor and let a real CEO run that dying company?

No kidding! My thoughts exactly. I don't know a whole lot about the guy but he seems like a douche that is killing the company. But that's just my opinion. He could have some good things about him though.
post #25 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by iancass79 View Post

No kidding! My thoughts exactly. I don't know a whole lot about the guy but he seems like a douche that is killing the company. But that's just my opinion. He could have some good things about him though.

MS is doing a lot better than many think. MS might not have have mindshare and their stock has certainly been stagnant since they started giving dividends, but MS has been increasing their revenue and profits steadily.

Heck, even on mobile OSes WinMO had over 10% (as I recall) despite having no new updates and an impending Windows Phone 7 on the horizon, all in the face of BB OS, iOS and Android. Unlike Android, each of those licenses were for paid*. In this fast growing smartphone market doesnt that mean that MS could still be selling about the same or even more licenses than pre-2007?

It was only this past quarter that Apple was able to best their revenue (and by a large margin), but MS still outpaces Apple (by a large margin) on net profits, the most important value to any for-profit company.


* I didnt want to end that sentence with a preposition.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #26 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphodsplanet View Post

OMG.... this is one of the few decisions I would agree with Ballmer on.... hell... if I were in his position I'd sell half. Don't blame anyone who would rather pay 18% Capital Gains tax on $1.3B over 39.5%.... Thank you butthead BO.

Political statements are best left for Political Outsider but the reason for capital gains tax rises was described quite plainly years ago where it was noted that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29b between them and yet paid less tax than their employees on those earnings. Most assets of the working class will be exempt from taxation so it's a tax on people who gain obscene amounts of wealth through stock manipulation and Ballmer is a prime example here.

Here is someone who is already wealthy beyond his needs yet cashes in to save paying tax to a country in dire financial straights and yet you condemn the person who implemented the tax rather than Ballmer for his greed. The only reason why revenues drop when capital gains tax goes up is greed - individuals holding back wealth in their business from the working class so they benefit themselves.

No individual in the world needs nor deserves personal wealth in excess of $1b. That's enough to house and feed at least 250,000 homeless people for an entire year.

The solution has to involve capping personal wealth and forcing wealth to stay in businesses to benefit the working class or be used by independent bodies to benefit the country as a whole while still acknowledging the wealth attributed to the individual should they ever need more than the capped amount. The problem is that the government system is generally as corrupt as the financial system so whoever gets the money it will be abused.

Quote:
Originally Posted by palogolas

I saw a review video and thought it was way too slow to be associated with gaming that needs to be snappy.

Kinect is a device that looks made for fun party games. The problem with consoles like the Wii is they try to make every game work with the same system. Microsoft have rightly determined that some games work best with full body tracking and others with a standard controller. For the games it targets with some exclusions e.g driving, I think it's a great device.
post #27 of 250
In terms of Kinect, has it ever occurred to anyone here that Apple simply didn't want or care enough about it to make an effort to get it? There's nothing preventing Apple from negotiating with anyone if they feel it's worth it. You don't need to be a Silicon Valley insider to know that when Apple sees something they think is great, that they can develop and implement in just the right manner, they're all over it. As we know, Apple is quite conservative with their spending and they're much more apt to say no than yes to a lot of things.

It's nonsensical to believe that the Apple of 2010, with $50 billion+ in cash can't acquire technology they're dying to get. It might be a good idea to ask Apple about it, rather than assume what this guy is saying (especially *after* MS made him wealthy) is accurate. It makes for interesting PR to say (after the fact) that the people who turned him down did so out of ignorance or blindness/lack of vision or because they "didn't believe in [me] him." If any company today has vision and forward-thinking in abundance, it's Apple.

I'd be interested to hear Apple's reasons.



Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

MS is doing a lot better than many think. MS might not have have mindshare and their stock has certainly been stagnant since they started giving dividends, but MS has been increasing their revenue and profits steadily.

Heck, even on mobile OSes WinMO had over 10% (as I recall) despite having no new updates and an impending Windows Phone 7 on the horizon, all in the face of BB OS, iOS and Android. Unlike Android, each of those licenses were for paid*. In this fast growing smartphone market doesn’t that mean that MS could still be selling about the same or even more licenses than pre-2007?

It was only this past quarter that Apple was able to best their revenue (and by a large margin), but MS still outpaces Apple (by a large margin) on net profits, the most important value to any for-profit company.


* I didn’t want to end that sentence with a preposition.


Gotta disagree somewhat, Sol.

Windows + Office sales is NOT a long-term strategy.

Glad to see everyone upgraded from the Vista nightmare and that Enterprise sales were very profitable - which is really where MS belongs. In the office.

The fact that MS' old stand-bys were once again their main source of revenue is probably the most discouraging piece of news about MS in months. It's pretty sad. It's the good old upgrade cycle. Windows and Office. It's been Windows and Office for years now. Which is why they're so easily embarrassed in key forward-looking markets by a smaller, faster (MUCH faster) and more innovative competitor.

Apple has beaten MS in market cap. Apple has just beaten MS in revenue, first time ever (in one of Apple's traditionally weak quarters... Christmas is bigger.)

The above targets were somethings critics said COULD NEVER happen.

But it DID happen. Because the aging Office-Windows-Windows Server applications stack is declining in relevance before cloud-connected mobile devices.

Microsoft's major revenue streams today are pretty much what they were a decade ago: Office and Windows. If you compare this to Apple, in 2000 the Mac was Apple's major (and pretty much only) revenue stream. They then came to dominate several markets - mp3 players, digital music sales, mobile applications stores, succeeding wildly with smartphones and now media tablets. Microsoft's challenge moving into the next year is to expand into mobile in meaningful way (already late and offering nothing very special), mobile gaming, cloud services, etc.

The traditional PC is dying and MS has no answer to it. Cheap netbooks running a crippled version of Windows is not an answer. Trying to shove full Windows onto Microsoft's bad slate experiments is also not an answer.

In short, Apple has reinvented its business (successively) and profited, Microsoft has not.

MS has made little to no money from the consumer markets that matter the most today and which are the ones ready for explosive growth - the one's which Apple is already near-dominant in. In short, aside from what little they made from the Xbox, MS made all its money from the wrong things.

Apple is the one ushering in a New Age of computing. MS is not. OS X Lion brings iOS to the Mac as well as an entirely new software distribution channel for "computers." Apple is blurring the lines between the "computer" and the touch-enabled mobile device. OS X Lion will redefine the "operating system" as we know it (iOS already has, actually.) Think Macbook Air/iPad + OS X Lion + App Store is the future of "computing." MS is so far behind on this one it isn't even funny.

It's a sign of what's to come. MS can easily have a record quarter with Windows upgrades and Office sales - often sales by default, a nice chunk of that comes from the enterprise. This is what has always happened. And MS has in recent years *always* ended up paying dearly for it when it came to competing in markets that mattered (the one's Apple is in.) And it's caught up with them: it's a different ballgame when Apple outdoes them in revenue and leaves them in the dust in market cap.

The best news for MS would have been a decline due to lagging Windows sales. This might have awakened them to the reality that Apple is eating their lunch - not just today's, but tomorrow's as well. Instead the Licensing Cash Cow gives a little more milk (more like one last, big spurt before keeling over) and Ballmer proclaims publicly "The PC isn't dead!"

Yes Steve, it is. In two years you'll be gone, Windows Phone 7 (more like '07) having failed, and MS will be that much further in Apple's rear-view mirror. The sad part is you and your investors have (as usual) been lulled into thinking all is well after all. But it 'aint.
post #28 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphodsplanet View Post

OMG.... this is one of the few decisions I would agree with Ballmer on.... hell... if I were in his position I'd sell half. Don't blame anyone who would rather pay 18% Capital Gains tax on $1.3B over 39.5%.... Thank you butthead BO.



Every single share he sells will be bought by another investor. How did Obama screw up?

And Ballmer will invest the proceeds into other capital assets. How did Obama screw up?
post #29 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillz View Post

Microsoft is not a dying company.

And it's not unusual at all for corporate executives to regularly buy and sell their corporation's stock. This is nothing new and shouldn't even be an article.

There are only two reasons why insiders sell stock:

1. They know the company is about to crater; or
2. A zillion other unrelated reasons.
post #30 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsydaus View Post

I don't care even if you're SJ himself, the system that allows those kinds of payouts is sickening.

Uneven distribution of wealth is one of the worst aspects of capitalism. That is the reason for graduated income taxes.
post #31 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

Unless, of course, you have enough confidence in your company's future stock value to believe it will gain enough to make up the difference. In the Microsoft of yesterday, with its value continuing to climb, that wouldn't have even been a question. In today's Microsoft, holding on to the stock would be a pretty big gamble. At least Balmer believes that to be true, and that isn't a particularly strong vote of confidence coming from the man at the top.


Diversification is always a good idea, no matter whether he is bullish on Microsoft or bearish.
post #32 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realistic View Post

Are you are saying that If you were lucky or bright enough to start or join a company that becomes extremely successful that you shouldn't be able to get the appropriate financial reward

No. He's saying that Ballmer's financial reward is NOT appropriate. That much was clear.
post #33 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So how would you change the system? Give us some hard rules you think people investing their time and money into a company should be limited to. Should people not be allowed to be rewarded for being smarter than other people, even if that intelligence is about knowing when an opportunity arises? Should Bill Gates be capped at $100k a year, for example, simply because you dont think that value is sickening? How do you think this would change how people and companies innovate if the chance to truly succeed in a free market is taken away?

No caps. No limits. Just a graduated income tax.
post #34 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraBuggy View Post

Well said. We do live in a capitalistic society last I checked.

Yeah, but if the big earners paid some more tax, we might have a decent education system. Then people like you might know that it's "capitalist" and not "capitalistic".

Do you think Balmer will "drive the economy forward" with the taxes he saves. Maybe ... in the Bahamas, or southern France. I don't see him buying lots of Fords.
post #35 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphodsplanet View Post

but you can't do it with just one camera like the iSight... or whatever we're calling it now.

Probably not as patents would get in the way.
post #36 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraBuggy View Post

Microsoft IS indeed a dying company, they are down 13% and competition is Up 50%. Plus they have an idiot who thinks he's a visionary running the company.

If Apple is going to be your yard stick then just about every tech company in the world is dying.
post #37 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve-J View Post

Uneven distribution of wealth is one of the worst aspects of capitalism. That is the reason for graduated income taxes.

Right on Mr. Liberal!! That's unfair. The government ought to steal all Microsoft profits and give them to you from FREE Healthcare, Housing, and food stamps!!!

My advice to you - if you want what Jobs, Gates, and Ballmer has get off of your lazy ass and do something. It's NOT unfair. Under capitalism profit goes to achievers,

You're a bum!
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post #38 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

CNET reports that Ballmer's may have sold the shares to avoid savings and investment tax hikes that will go into effect in January.

Heh even a world-class bonehead like Ballmer is trying to avoid the tax hikes.

Expect (much) more of this to happen across the market.
post #39 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

They werent comparing functionality, they were comparing sales. The iPad has been a big hit this year and recently announced as the fast selling CE of all time. This not only states that MS thinks Kinetic will be a hit, it also gets them free press by mentioning this popular device. It was a good move, even if they dont think it will come close to iPad sales this holiday season.



So how would you change the system? Give us some hard rules you think people investing their time and money into a company should be limited to. Should people not be allowed to be rewarded for being smarter than other people, even if that intelligence is about knowing when an opportunity arises? Should Bill Gates be capped at $100k a year, for example, simply because you dont think that value is sickening? How do you think this would change how people and companies innovate if the chance to truly succeed in a free market is taken away?

Lol you think this is a free market? Lol holy crap. I had no idea you were this naive.
post #40 of 250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Apple is the one ushering in a New Age of computing. MS is not. OS X Lion brings iOS to the Mac as well as an entirely new software distribution channel for "computers." Apple is blurring the lines between the "computer" and the touch-enabled mobile device. OS X Lion will redefine the "operating system" as we know it (iOS already has, actually.) Think Macbook Air/iPad + OS X Lion + App Store is the future of "computing." MS is so far behind on this one it isn't even funny.

OS X Lion totally missed the mark for me. The "New Age of computing" has always been about having your digital life accessible across all form factors.

To achieve this Apple need some competitive cloud features, tight integration between applications on iOS and OS X, and tight integration between OS, Apple's cloud services and 3rd party services.

I can't argue with extra multi-touch features (IMO Apple's OSX touch pads are class leading) and an application store for OS X is welcome (although nowhere near as revolutionary as when the application store was released for iOS).

But that's where it ends. App state and auto save, whilst critical for mobile are almost pointless on the desktop and the "wall of icons" approach is probably the most criticised aspect of iOS.

I hope that all of the true killer features of OS X Lion have been kept secret. If not, and what we have seen is all there is, it may be that Apple are putting everything into iOS and leaving OS X behind.
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