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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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July 31, 2008 2:47 PM

Microsoft discloses Google, Apple threat, plus Danger sale price

Posted by Brier Dudley

The language in Microsoft's new annual report filed today shows just how concerned the company is about the threat from Google and Apple.

Their different business models - ad-supported online software as a service, and vertically integrated software and hardware - now rank alongside Linux as major competitive risks that Microsoft investors should be aware of (if they aren't already ...).

Lots of other juicy tidbits. From the report:

Continue reading this post ...


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July 31, 2008 12:00 AM

One of Microsoft's first employees, "Mama" Lubow, passed away

Posted by Brier Dudley

Miriam Lubow, a dynamic woman who barely escaped the Holocaust as a child and went on to become one of Microsoft's first employees, died Tuesday night of liver cancer.


Continue reading this post ...


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July 31, 2008 12:00 AM

Ex-Microsoftie and pals launch GoTime, a social nightlife network

Posted by Brier Dudley

After a year of development under the radar in Ballard, GoTime quietly launched its new nightlife social network on Wednesday.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 30, 2008 10:58 AM

T-Mobile's new Microsoft-Danger Sidekick - the Dangsoft?

Posted by Brier Dudley

So should they call this the Sidekick Manger edition, or the Dangsoft 1.0?

Or maybe just the new Sidekick. Announced today by T-Mobile and Microsoft, it's the first product released by Sidekick developer Danger since Microsoft bought the Palo Alto company in February. Danger's now part of Microsoft's Premium Mobile Experiences group, or PMX.

The phone costs $149.99 with a two-year service agreement. Highlights include video capture and sharing features, Bluetooth media streaming, improved browsing and the ability to save content like Web pages to the included MicroSD memory card. You can also customize the shell, or stick with basic black:

danger1.jpg

danger2.jpg

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July 29, 2008 1:37 PM

Game over for 53 Vivendi employees in Issaquah

Posted by Brier Dudley

With the success of "Guitar Hero", "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty", you'd think Vivendi Games wouldn't be cutting employees in its games group.

The group reported a 17.9 percent increase in sales last Thursday.

But the company just notified the state of Washington that it's permanently laying off 53 employees at its Issaquah offices. The cuts will happen Sept. 13-27.

Maybe it has something to do with Vivendi's now-complete acquistion of Activision Blizzard, which may have created some overlap.

I called Vivendi for more details, will update when I hear anything more.

UPDATE: Vivendi still hasn't called back, but I pulled up its proxy statement today that says the Activision merger will lead to consolidations and cost cutting.

It didn't say anything about Issaquah, but mentioned that one of the challenges in making it work is "reducing the costs associated with each company's operations and, in particular, reducing historic losses in the Sierra businesses."

Vivendi set up shop in Issaquah in 2006 when Sierra Online acquired Secret Lair Studios.

Other risks of the merger, disclosed in the proxy, make it clear that job cuts are part of the deal:

"The combined company may not successfully integrate the operations of Activision and Vivendi Games in a timely manner, or at all, and the combined company may not realize the anticipated benefits or synergies of the transaction to the extent, or in the timeframe, anticipated. The anticipated benefits and synergies include cost savings associated with anticipated restructurings and other operational efficiencies, greater economies of scale and revenue enhancement opportunities."

On the positive side, job growth has been strong elsewhere in the region's game industry, so hopefully the 53 people will find something else soon.

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July 29, 2008 10:15 AM

Concur stock flying on American Express investment, partnership

Posted by Brier Dudley

Concur stock is up nearly 17 percent this morning after announcing that American Express bought 13 percent of the Redmond online expense-management company for $251 million, or 6.4 million shares at $39.27.

This could end Concur's run as a low-profile, quiet giant around here...

Continue reading this post ...


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July 29, 2008 9:04 AM

Microsoft releases Vista-loving "Mojave Experiment" video

Posted by Brier Dudley

The "Mojave Experiment" raised eyebrows last week, when it was first disclosed by Ina Fried at Cnet and then outlined during Microsoft's fiancial analyst meeting.

Microsoft basically did a blind taste test, like the old Pepsi-Coke ads, with a bunch of Vista haters and skeptics in San Francisco and recorded the results. They were shown software that was described as Microsoft's next operating system, but actually it was Vista, and they mostly loved it.

The videos are finally public today at MojaveExperiment.com, a nifty Web site where you can zoom around and choose different clips.

More details of the experiment were also posted at the Vista team blog (at 1:09 a.m.?). Excerpts:

"We did not use some geeked out or custom built PC. We used an HP Pavilion DV2500. It had 2GB of RAM and was running an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7500 @ 2.20GHz. The OS was a 32 bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate."

"Of the 120 respondents polled, on a scale of 1:10 where 10 was the highest rating, the average pre-rating for Windows Vista was 4.4. After they saw the demo, respondents rated Mojave an average of 8.5."

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July 28, 2008 5:54 PM

Yahoo, Intel and HP form cloud computing partnership, similar to UW-Google

Posted by Brier Dudley

I don't have details beyond an announcement that an announcement will happen at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

It says Intel and Yahoo will "announce a joint research initiative tomorrow morning."

Instead of Microsoft, Yahoo's dancing with the Redmond's companies old flames.

It's probably a smart move for Yahoo to hook up with strong research companies that haven't had as much attrition lately.

What could the subject be? Web services for the next generation of mobile computing devices, perhaps?

UPDATE: They announced "the creation of a global, multi-data center, open source test bed for the advancement of cloud computing research and education. The goal of the initiative is to promote open collaboration among industry, academia and governments by removing the financial and logistical barriers to research in data-intensive, Internet-scale computing."

Other partners include the University of Illinois, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

Sounds pretty similar to the Google-IBM project hatched at the UW.

Nice timing by Yahoo - just as Microsoft hosts a bunch of computer science professors to talk about its projects in academia, including new tools released yesterday.

Time for a Live Center of Mesh Computing Excellence somewhere?


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July 28, 2008 5:27 PM

Can print media survive? Discuss, over drinks

Posted by Brier Dudley

The fate of the daily print media is the first topic to be covered in a new series of free, public salon discussions in Seattle.

The discussion series, called The Pitch, is being organized by Jason Preston, editor of the Eat Sleep Publish blog. Its debut session is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at The McLeod Residence bar and gallery in Belltown.

"I think that there is a lot of demand for discussion about publishing right now,'' Preston said in the announcement. "It's clearly an industry in flux, and there's a lot of concern about how, or even if, it's going to come out at the other end of this tunnel."

More details are available at his blog.

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July 28, 2008 2:38 PM

VMware joining datacenter crowd in Central Washington

Posted by Brier Dudley

The Wenatchee World reported that VMware is leasing most of Sabey's new datacenter complex near the airport.

That adds to the expanding Washington footprint for Palo Alto-based VMware and its parent company, EMC. They also staked out territory in Seattle with the February acquisition of Pi , a move that put Pi founder and ex-Microsoft bigshot Paul Maritz on track to become VMware's chief executive earlier this month.

VMware told the World that it's going to use the computing capacity for reseach and development.

T-Mobile is the other major tenant in the 189,000-square-foot complex opening next year. Here's an earlier piece on Microsoft staking its hydropower claim down the river in Quincy.

Data Center Knowledge has more details on Sabey's Intergate.Columbia project.

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July 28, 2008 11:31 AM

Wall Street schmallstreet, full speed ahead for Microsoft

Posted by Brier Dudley

Today's column on Microsoft's growth and investments touches on differences between the Northwest and Northeast perspectives on the company's direction.

Investors may be frosty, but they can at least be happy that Steve Ballmer's being candid about his company's health, unlike the tortured messaging from that other Steve.

From the column on Microsoft's spending:

While everyone's cutting back, Microsoft keeps the spigot open, especially in its fight with Google over the rapidly evolving world of ad-supported online software and services.

A footnote: I mentioned in passing that enthusiasm for the potential of online ad businesses may cool with the economy. For more on that subject, check out this AdAge story.

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July 25, 2008 12:21 PM

Eyejot adds attachments

Posted by Brier Dudley

Seattle's Eyejot attached a nifty upgrade to its premium video mail message service Thursday, giving customers the ability to attach all sorts of files to their messages.

Attached files appear in a panel next to the video. Supported files include PDFs, Office formats, audio, video, images and Zip-compressed files.

One thing that really ups the utility is the size of the files that can be attached -- up to 25 megs.

That means you can send videos and other files that are too big to move through free e-mail services, and of course the sender can describe or annotate the files in the video e-mail...

Continue reading this post ...


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July 25, 2008 11:58 AM

The Obamica and McCippah: Political yarmulkes from Seattle techie

Posted by Brier Dudley

Check out the first products from VanityKippah.com, a Web venture just launched by local startup veteran Shmuel Tennenhaus.

The company develops and sells topical kippahs, a traditional Jewish head covering. VanityKippah's storefront says it "aims to position the Kippah/Yarmulke/Skullcap as a must have fashion accessory. Stay tuned for the Bluetooth Kippah and the the ringtone Yarmulke."

Continue reading this post ...


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July 25, 2008 11:03 AM

Casual game of the year: Seattle-produced "Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Topping the Zeeby awards given Thursday night during the Casual Connect conference was "Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile," a mystery game produced by Oberon/i-Play's Seattle studio.

Designer Jane Jensen is a lifelong Christie fan.

"We tried to take a fresh approach that appealed both to people who already knew the story, as well as new Christie fans who had not yet been introduced to her wonderful works,'' she said in the release.

Robert Adams was the game's producer.

A screenshot:

death_nile2.jpg

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July 24, 2008 3:26 PM

Microsoft CFO to Wall Street: What gives? And forget about a Yahoo deal

Posted by Brier Dudley

If Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and CFO Chris Liddell weren't already bald, they would be from scratching their heads, trying to figure out why their stock is doing so poorly. Especially given the company's recent performance, including 12 percent average growth in Microsoft's core businesses since 2005.

Not to mention Microsoft's 18 percent growth over the last fiscal year.

"Those are fabulous numbers. Those are fabulous numbers for any company of any size,'' Liddell said to analysts.

And you may as well forget about Yahoo, he said, basically. Chances of a deal are now "neglible."

"A full acquisition, certainly in the time frame and sort of economics that we'd previous thought, essentially makes no sense."

Never say never, but a search deal seems unlikely as well.

Pay attention instead to numbers like these, Liddell seemed to be saying, in a speech highlighting slides like this one:

liddelll2.JPG


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July 24, 2008 2:29 PM

Microsoft's Mundie on the Next Big Thing after search

Posted by Brier Dudley

Speaking to analysts today, Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer Craig Mundie shared a little secret: The next big thing in computing, after search.

In his words:

"An environment where space is the new frontier -- spatial environments where you interact with computers is going to be a big, big, deal," he said.

Mundie said this will "allow us to move the people who already use computers into a completely different metaphor of engaging with them."

It will also make it easier for the 5 billion people who haven't used computers yet to get engaged.

The Surface computing table is an early step in this direction. Another is the robotic receptionists coming to Microsoft's campus. They use facial and voice recognition to help employees request shuttles.

In other words, computers that operate all around you in 3-D, using projectors, microphones and sensors instead of mice and keyboards.

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July 24, 2008 1:51 PM

Microsoft's Muglia: Take that, Oracle

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft server boss Bob Muglia didn't need any more exclamation points for his presentation at today's analyst meeting. His business has been growing 18 percent a year, nearly quadruple the pace of the enterprise software market.

But he was able to punctuate his speech by casually mentioning the acquisition of data warehousing company DATAllegro.

By acquiring the California company, Microsoft can move further into massive-scale enterprise computing systems, with products that companies can use to store hundreds of terabytes of data.

Muglia said the acquisition enables Microsoft "to compete for the highest end data warehousing solutions -- we've never been able to do that before."

He added that the DATAllegro system "will scale well beyond what Oracle can do today."

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July 24, 2008 10:28 AM

Microsoft analyst meeting: The donut report

Posted by Brier Dudley

The most remarkable thing about Microsoft's analyst meeting is always the way Wall Street types cluster around top executives in the hallways and at meals, straining to hear some valuable piece of extra information like groupies seeking autographs from a rock star.

Bill Gates always drew the biggest clusters, or donuts as the 'Softies refer to them. But he's not attending this year.

The year's donut king is Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who drew a four-deep cluster of starched shirts in the hallway after his presentation in Microsoft's on-campus briefing center.

It continued at lunch. Ray Ozzie had the start of a donut at his table, but Ballmer was the main attraction witha a crowd peppering him with "off the record" questions, including comparisons with competitors such as Google and Apple. The answers were mostly colorful reiteratations of Microsoft earnings highlights.

It's inside baseball, but the best seats in the room, on each side of Ballmer during the meal of salmon and asparagus, were held by analysts Adam Holt of Morgan Stanley and Sarah Friar of Goldman Sachs.

Friar's predecessor, Rick Sherlund, always landed the spot next to Gates or Ballmer before he left for a hedge fund. He doesn't give up, though. At this year's lunch, Sherlund pulled up a chair so he was just behind Friar, still in the donut hole, an arm's length from Ballmer.

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July 24, 2008 10:00 AM

Microsoft-Yahoo deal: The Obama factor ending it?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Interesting tidbit from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's presentation at today's analyst meeting; The Yahoo deal made sense if the regulatory reviews could be done before the federal administration changed.

Ballmer didn't say that the current administration is more sympathetic to Microsoft than the next one will be, although of course it was under the Bush adminstration that Microsoft's U.S. antitrust issues were largely resolved.

It may be a different story under Obama and even McCain, if Google and Yahoo successfully recycle the 1990s Silicon Valley storyline and cast themselves as the populist characters in a regulatory showdown with Microsoft.

Ballmer's probably being practical, not political. Changes in administration mean changes in regulatory bodies and approaches, which could prolong the review process and leave a Microsoft-Yahoo merger in limbo for too long. Especially if incoming regulators hope to make their mark scrutinizing such a high-profile deal.

(This implies that there will be a change in the regulatory administration; Would McCain dramatically change things at the FTC and DOJ, or is the assumption that Obama will win and shuffle the agencies?)

A change in European Union administration was also a concern that Ballmer mentioned:

"We wanted to get regulatory review in without adminstrative shifts in Europe and the U.S.,'' he said.

Ballmer said this in context of explaining what made Yahoo attractive. His tone -- and the looming election -- suggest that Yahoo's not attractive to him anymore.

"Yahoo for us was always a tactic, not a strategy," he said (a point in this column)

"At the right price and with the right speed of operation, it was a heckuva a good tactic," Ballmer said. "At the wrong price and if it had to stretch out over two adminsitrations, regulatory review, blah blah blah, it was not a good tactic."

Note the tense -- the deal was, not is.

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July 24, 2008 9:37 AM

Microsoft ad boss: Too many ad networks, consolidation coming

Posted by Brier Dudley

Speaking at Microsoft's analyst meeting, company ad czar Brian McAndrews said he's asked all the time about the proliferation of online ad networks.

His response: Get ready for consolidations, because the big winners will end up being just a few big players.

"There's going to be a tremendous amount of consolidation," he said.

No wonder so many venture-backed startups have turned themselves into ad networks in the past year or two.

I'll bet they're all waiting for the Yahoo drama to end, so Microsoft and Google can start shopping.

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July 24, 2008 9:23 AM

Ballmer: Online losses worthwhile, it's Microsoft vs Google

Posted by Brier Dudley

Tomorrow's online market opportunities are so great, it's worth losing a relatively small amount of money today investing in the business, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at today's analyst meeting.

Ballmer said there's a $1 trillion market being transformed by the Internet and Microsoft is one of the best-positioned companies to capitalize on the digitization of content, communities and communication.

"As we go out five, 10 years from -- literally, within 10 years -- you'll have digital screens that are this light and this thin [waving a sheet of paper] and connected to the Internet. I will not bring paper. every surface we walk up to and touch will be a window to the world of digital information ... the question is what companies are really going to invest in the big opportunities around this?"

A few minutes later he answered the question:

"I think there's really only two companies on the planet that have the capability and the staying power -- Google and Microsoft."

Ballmer's not sure how long it will take for Microsoft's online business investments to pay off, but he let the Wall Street analysts know he's not going to take his foot off the accelerator.

The message: Don't fret about losses in the online business group.

"It's a relatively small percentage investment from an overall Microsoft standpoint in order to have a real opportunity at significant overall acceleration of our market value,'' he said.

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July 24, 2008 9:10 AM

Ballmer: We're the No. 1 enterprise software company, almost

Posted by Brier Dudley

At today's Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting in Redmond, Ballmer said there are still huge opportunities for the company in enterprise software. Look out IBM:

"I think palpably we are this close -- Microsoft -- to be able to claim we are the No. 1 enterprise software company in the world,'' Ballmer said.

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July 23, 2008 2:51 PM

Casual Connect: FlowPlay adds casual games to virtual world

Posted by Brier Dudley

In a twist on the distribution deals happening at the Casual Connect conference, Seattle-based FlowPlay announced that it's going to integrate games into its virtual world.

FlowPlay hooked up with Bothell's Sandlot Games and San Francisco publisher PlayFirst to incorporate games such as "Diner Dash" and "Cake Mania" into its "ourWorld" virtual world.

The release said it's the "first-ever virtual platform to integrate high profile casual games directly into a virtual setting."

From another angle, it's cutting-edge product placement.

Sandlot's "Cake Mania" will be showcased though a bakery built into the virtual world, where players can work as bakers or play as customers and buy virtual cakes.

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July 23, 2008 12:15 PM

Casual games conference: Who's playing what?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Maybe they have to rename the Casual Connect conference that began today at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, the hub of the casual games industry.

In the event's opening speech, Big Fish Games founder Paul Thelen said the term "casual" no longer works as a definition of the industry landscape.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 22, 2008 5:04 PM

Rhapsody and iLike flip switch on full-length Facebook songs

Posted by Brier Dudley

On Monday, when iLike talked up its new advertising services and 30 million members, it said full-length song samples via Rhapsody available on Facebook "soon."

I guess they meant "tomorrow," because they're now available, a spokeswoman said late this afternoon.

Users will get 25 full-length plays per month, after which they are limited to the usual 30-second song samples.

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July 22, 2008 4:25 PM

Xbox deal must look sweet, Netflix boss buying Microsoft shares

Posted by Brier Dudley

A week after a new partnership to stream Netflix content on Xbox consoles was announced, Netflix Chief Executive (and Microsoft board member) Reed Hastings has acquired a bunch of Microsoft shares.

Hastings acquired 53,300 shares today in five separate blocks, at prices ranging from $25.54 to $25.60, or about $1.36 million combined.

Hastings now has 177,000 shares of Microsoft, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

As part of their Microsoft compensation, directors annually receive stock awards worth $120,000. In Microsoft's last proxy filing. In September, Hastings received $90,000 worth since he only joined the board in March 2007.

I called Steve Swasey, vice president of communications at Netflix, to clarify whether Hastings is buying shares personally, in addition to his stock grants. He said the company won't comment on stock acquisitions of its executives, beyond what's listed in SEC filings.

Microsoft also encourages board members to own a "significant stake" in the company "to align the interests of our directors and shareholders,'' according to the proxy, so maybe Hastings is merely bringing his holdings up to par.

For appearance's sake, you wouldn't think he'd make the purchase a week after his company made a major partnership with Microsoft. But then, maybe MSFT is looking good in the $25 range.

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July 22, 2008 4:13 PM

Issaquah's McObject hooks up with Bangalore firm

Posted by Brier Dudley

Embedded database developer McObject announced today that it's partnering with Bangalore-based Waveaxis, to distrubute and provide integration services for McObject's software in India.

McObject COO Chris Mureen said in the release that there's "strong and growing demand in India" for an embedded database like his company's eXtremeDB product.

The company's already been working with Indian development organizations and India-based developers for U.S. companies.

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July 22, 2008 1:54 PM

Amazon ads on TiVo: Time to make the service free

Posted by Brier Dudley

I took the TiVo plunge awhile back, buying an HD box and a three-year service plan, but now I'm having regrets.

TiVo's is going to expand its partnership with Amazon.com to advertise products in the menus and add another layer of advertising to content I watch on the box; it's time for the company to stop charging service fees.

It's a good deal, business-wise, for both companies. But it kind of stinks for consumers.

I guess I'll have to see what shows up on the screen, but my initial feeling is that it's really obnoxious. People who pay for TiVo digital-video services pay a premium so they can better manage their TV time. If that time is going to be diluted by additional advertising -- over and above what's already on the tube -- the service shouldn't carry a premium charge.

Maybe I should have stuck with Windows Media Center. I had some hardware performance challenges and it will surely have more ads one of these days, but at least its DVR capabilities are free.

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July 22, 2008 1:25 PM

Gamefest: Games more expensive and recession proof, bigger than Batman

Posted by Brier Dudley

Video game software and hardware are getting more expensive, but the industry should keep growing despite the recession, NPD analyst Mike Klotz said during a presentation at Microsoft's Gamefest conference in Seattle today.

Last year the average retail prices grew 15 percent for game hardware and 16 percent for game software, he said.

Overall game sales at retail totaled $19 billion, closing in on retail sales of toys ($22 billion last year) and home videos ($24 billion). Left in the dust are movie tickets, which totaled $10 billion last year, and music sales, at $11 billion.

Klotz also noted that despite the huge opening weekend for the latest Batman movie -- $155 million for "Dark Knight" -- that pales next to $300 million opening day sales of "Grand Theft Auto IV."

Continue reading this post ...


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July 22, 2008 10:08 AM

Gamefest: Microsoft dangles dollars for amateur games, offers free multiplayer

Posted by Brier Dudley

The latest iteration of Microsoft's XNA community games program may be the most exciting yet for amateur game developers, including college students around the world using the software in school.

Microsoft announced this morning at its Gamefest conference in Seattle that it will now sell community developed games on Xbox Live and give developers 70 percent of the proceeds.

'We want to encourage as many people as possible to be creative, make a lot of content, put it through the system and make a lot of money," Boyd Multerer, XNA general manager, said during his opening keynote with Chris Satchell, CTO of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 21, 2008 3:03 PM

Would you buy a car from Bill Gates?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Now that he's semi-retired from Microsoft, Bill Gates is getting into the car business.

Gates bought a big stake in AutoNation, a national chain of dealers selling new and used cars, with a substantial Web presence. His investment outfit, Cascade Investment, today reported that it has acquired 9.9 million shares, or 5.5 percent of the company.

It's still pocket change for him -- about $83 million, at today's price.

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July 21, 2008 2:53 PM

Microsoft shuffles game development bosses

Posted by Brier Dudley

This isn't a huge reorganization, but sometimes these changes happen in waves.

Chris Satchell, chief architect of the XNA games development group, has been promoted to chief technical officer of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business Group.

Taking Satchell's place as XNA general manager is Boyd Multerer, who previously led work on the XNA Game Studio.

The news comes on the eve of Gamefest, a Microsoft conference for game developers in Seattle that opens Tuesday at the Washington State Trade and Convention Center.

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July 21, 2008 2:35 PM

Why Martin Tobias left Imperium? To stay home and play, perhaps

Posted by Brier Dudley

Perhaps Martin Tobias decided he'd rather play volleyball and jump in the bouncy house at his swanky new Queen Anne mansion than guide a biofuel company hitting rough waters.

Tobias abruptly stepped down as chief executive of Imperium Renewables in December, a few weeks before the biofuel venture canceled plans for a $345 million IPO.

Apparently the eco-industrialist was settling into the new house that went public on Sunday, in a Pacific NW magazine spread.

Highlights include 10-foot-tall glass doors and transparent acrylic staircase. They thought about using glass, but that would have had a green tint, the architect said.

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July 21, 2008 1:39 PM

Microsoft paying diversity bonus to lawyers

Posted by Brier Dudley

This ought to be interesting in Seattle, where practically every other lawyer has done work for Microsoft.

The company today announced a new program to encourage diversity in the legal profession by offering bonuses to its law firms that reach diversity goals.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 21, 2008 12:56 PM

Windows Home Server glitch fixed, finally

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft today released a final patch for the data corruption glitch in its Windows Home Server software.

The company said the glitch only affected a "very small" number of customers, but its existence still spooked enthusiasts who embraced the first version of the product and added a question mark to the otherwise nifty server's promise of simple, secure backup.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 21, 2008 10:04 AM

More money-saving coffee tips: Take that, Starbucks

Posted by Brier Dudley

Todays' column on startups cutting java costs has prompted a few people ot share their own tips for economizing on coffee.

It remains to be seen whether startups will retain their newfound frugality, as our A1 story today asks about consumers, but in the meantime the tips might be helpful to anyone trying to make ends meet nowadays.

Any more suggestions?

Continue reading this post ...


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July 21, 2008 9:52 AM

Startups cutting coffee costs, but maybe not toilet paper

Posted by Brier Dudley

Today's column:

I thought I was the cheapskate, until I saw how Seattle startups are trying to save money nowadays.

They're getting especially creative when it comes to coffee, the fuel that powers a lot of software development around here ...

Continue reading this post ...


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July 18, 2008 10:59 AM

Seattle lawyer guiding Wikipedia

Posted by Brier Dudley

Michael Snow is the new chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that manages Wikipedia and other collaborative online content projects.

Snow's appointment was announced today by the San Francisco-based organization. He's been on the Wikimedia board since February and an active Wikipedia volunteer since December 2003, the release said.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 17, 2008 1:40 PM

Microsoft earnings tidbits: Danger costs, plus MSFT's mortgage issue

Posted by Brier Dudley

Among the interesting nuggets in Microsoft's earnings report today: The February acquisition of Palo Alto, Calif.-based handset software maker Danger added $24 million in costs to the entertainment group.

Sounds like the group is also stepping up investments into the next Xbox (or Zune?).

The report doesn't say exactly what Microsoft paid for Danger, but it does say Microsoft experienced $24 million in expenses related to the company. Hmmm.

"Research and development expenses (in the Entertainment and Devices Division) increased $141 million or 38%, primarily reflecting increased headcount-related expenses, increased product development costs, and costs relating to Danger, including a $24 million in-process research and development expense."

In another surprise disclosure, Microsoft said its investments include mortgage-backed securities but they're mostly "prime" mortgages and the portfolio is not directly exposed to the sub-prime meltdown:

"While we own certain mortgage and asset-backed fixed-income securities, our portfolio as of June 30, 2008, does not contain direct exposure to subprime mortgages or structured vehicles that derive their value from sub-prime collateral. The majority of the mortgage-backed securities are collateralized by prime residential mortgages and carry a 100% principal and interest guarantee, primarily from Federal National Mortgage Association, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, and Government National Mortgage Association. The remainder of the mortgage position is collateralized by high quality international prime residential mortgage loans."

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July 17, 2008 1:15 PM

Google growth slows, misses EPS estimate

Posted by Brier Dudley

Apparently Google is not immune from the economic troubles. Earnings per share, diluted, were $4.63 versus Wall Street analyst expectations of $4.74. That's also down from $4.84 the previous quarter.

I wonder if this explains why it's taking so long to open the Kirkland campus?

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July 17, 2008 10:53 AM

Sampa nears 100,000 sites, eyes another funding round

Posted by Brier Dudley

Three months after Sampa launched a new version of its family Web site service, the Bellevue venture is powering nearly 100,000 sites, Chief Executive Paul Gross said.

"We are about to reach our 100,000th Web site created on Sampa, and given that Wetpaint has raised gads of money and proudly announced their 1,000,000th wiki, we figured we should do the same,'' he said in an email, noting that Sampa's reaching 100,000 sites with $1 million in funding versus Wetpaint reaching 1 million with $13 million in funding.

Sampa's now thinking about taking series B funding this fall or next spring.

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July 17, 2008 10:18 AM

AOL goes fishing in Seattle, only gets nibbles?

Posted by Brier Dudley

That's how the New York Times characterized the outcome of deal talks between Microsoft and the forlorn Time Warner Internet property.

The companies reportedly met in Seattle yesterday. I supposed we could have generated Techmeme fodder by scouring local hotels and restaurants looking for East Coast business development types in dark suits, but it's hard to get worked up about a deal that may happen eventually but doesn't seem earth shattering.

I wonder if the AOL team really just wanted an excuse to be in Seattle for this weekend's blockbuster event lineup, including the Bruce Lee memorial and the Bite of Seattle.

It was probably their last chance to visit this month, before the hotels fill up around Seafair. Microsoft's people won't want to leave Seattle (or the San Juans ...) for New York City in August, so my guess is that an AOL deal, if there is one, won't happen until the third quarter.

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July 16, 2008 4:14 PM

Microsoft opens Mesh to public: Free cloud storage, file sync and more

Posted by Brier Dudley

It's still just a tech preview, but the public can start experiencing Microsoft's new Mesh computing services platform today free.

The platform is geared to developers to create all sorts of online services using Mesh components, such as the ability to easily synchronize folders across devices and PC desktops, and receive notifications when people use the files you're sharing.

But for casual users, it could be a cheap and easy way to store and access a set of files from the home, office and remote Web terminals.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 16, 2008 3:18 PM

Gamers getting older, other new industry stats

Posted by Brier Dudley

Are video games no longer a young person's sport?

The average age of game players has risen to 35, according to a new report today from the Entertainment Software Association.

"No longer is there a stereotypical gamer. With deeper market penetration and the broadening of our audience base, video games have incorporated themselves into America's cultural and social fabric,'' Michael Gallagher, association chief executive, said in the release.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 16, 2008 11:28 AM

Another Halo game coming, Microsoft exec says; Bungie goes quiet

Posted by Brier Dudley

Apparently Microsoft wasn't ready to put its Xbox cash cow out to pasture -- a new version of the blockbuster Halo series is in the works, according to comments that Xbox boss Don Mattrick made to MTV.

Mattrick apparently was referring to a new Halo game being developed by Bungie, the studio that created the series and spun itself out of Microsoft last year.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 11, 2008 10:07 AM

iPhone quick take: The cool stuff's on the inside this time

Posted by Brier Dudley

After spending the morning playing with an iPhone 3G, I can see why Apple enthusiasts lined up again for Steve Job's latest wonderful device.

But the rest of the world's really going to wonder what the big deal is, this time around.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 10, 2008 2:11 PM

Big Fish swims across Seattle

Posted by Brier Dudley

Seattle casual gaming giant Big Fish Games has outgrown its pond at the Century Square building downtown.

Two weeks from now, it's moving into two floors of a building along Elliott Avenue where it will share space with F5 (in the newer building along the F5 corridor, the one with a light yellow masonry base).

On the west side, the new building's wall is curved so 70 percent of the space should have a view of Elliott Bay. That means Big Fishers may see real fish, in addition to those in a huge new aquarium ordered by founder Paul Thelen.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 10, 2008 10:23 AM

Windows Vista app to power Indian rail system project

Posted by Brier Dudley

A new application built on Microsoft's operating system is going to power a train notification system across India, automating a tracking system for 9,000 trains ridden by 17 million passengers a year, according to a report in the Times of India.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 10, 2008 10:12 AM

Free money: State tech research grants available, up to $300k

Posted by Brier Dudley

Looking for low-cost funding for new tech ventures? The state's going to divvy up $1 million this fall to encourage companies to research and develop new products.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 10, 2008 6:30 AM

Impinj acquires Intel RFID business

Posted by Brier Dudley

In a major deal to expand its RFID product lineup, Seattle's Impinj is acquiring an Intel subsidiary that produces chips used in RFID readers.

In return, Intel's receiving a stake in privately held Impinj.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 10, 2008 6:30 AM

Startup tidbits: Smartsheet adds tracking, Estately adds SF, Pixsy adds INSP

Posted by Brier Dudley

There's a flurry of startup momentum and deal announcements today, including:

Continue reading this post ...


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July 8, 2008 9:00 PM

Wetpaint crosses a million, announces Web award program

Posted by Brier Dudley

Wetpaint's announcing tonight that more than a million free social Web sites have been created with its service.

Users in 177 countries have created nearly 8 million pages since the Pioneer Square company launched its service two years ago, the announcement said.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 8, 2008 3:32 PM

It's tech party time in Seattle, here's the list

Posted by Brier Dudley

Is it time to party like it's 1999?

The calendar's busting with tech parties this month, coinciding with conferences and events like BizJam starting Wednesday, BarCamp's SocialMediaCampSeattle on Saturday followed by Mashable's SummerMash. Then there are two game conferences here the week of the 21st.

Here's the social calendar:

Continue reading this post ...


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July 8, 2008 3:07 PM

Monthly Seattle startup ranking released; is it becoming a shopping list?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Marcelo Calbucci released his June index of Seattle tech startups, including two that made other news today.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 8, 2008 10:30 AM

Maritz named VMWare boss

Posted by Brier Dudley

Former top Microsoft exec Paul Maritz is moving up the ladder at EMC, taking over the chief executive position at its VMWare subsidiary from founder Diane Greene.

Maritz joined EMC as head of its cloud computing effort in February after it bought Pi, his Seattle cloud computing startup.

Today EMC announced that Greene is leaving her position as VMWare president and CEO and Maritz is taking her place.

The press release quote from Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC and chairman of VMWare, praised Greene and said Maritz "is a leader in the software industry. He has decades of experience building one of the greatest franchises in software history, Windows. Paul was instrumental as part of the core executive leadership team in building much of Microsoft's success."

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.