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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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September 3, 2008 10:55 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Office Live Workspace; Digital Playgrounds; Back-to-School Bounce; Chrome EULA

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A handful of interesting items floating around out there today including a milestone for Office Live Workspace (members of the Australian National Curling Team are big fans), a proposal to make age-limited playgrounds for kids and adults on the Internet (you must be taller than this sign); PC makers looking for a back-to-school bounce as laptops become must-haves for school; and the fine print on Google Chrome. Read on for details.

Office Live Workspace, Microsoft's free online document access and sharing service, has logged 1 million customers since it became publicly available six months ago. The service, still in testing, is a partial answer to Google Apps. See this story from last October outlining the various services offerings from Microsoft's Business Division. According to a Microsoft spokeswoman, the Australian curlers have used the service to store and manage training logs, team photos and athlete biographies, and to coordinate overseas trips.

End to End Trust is Microsoft's latest effort to extend Trustworthy Computing to the Internet. One facet, which the company spelled out today, is age verification. Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing boss Scott Charney wrote a paper titled "Digital Playgrounds: Creating Safer Online Environments for Children," which outlines ways to make parts of the Web accessible only to children or only to adults. Charney proposes looking to established age and identity systems in the offline world to verify ages for online worlds. More details and links to this and other papers are here. CNET also has a solid report on the proposal.

PC makers are looking for a back-to-school bounce to bolster an already better than expected year of sales in mature markets, according to market researcher iSuppli. The July-September quarter is historically strong for PC shipments, with an average 8 percent sequential gain over the April-June quarter from 2003- to 2007, iSuppli reported. Year-over-year growth in the Western Hemisphere was 14 percent in the second quarter, according to the researcher. That bodes well for the industry, according to iSuppli:

"The strength of the PC market in 2008 shows that even when available disposable incomes are being eaten away by rising interest rates and energy and food costs, consumers still are finding the money -- and more importantly justifying the spending of that money -- on a computer. iSuppli believes that this phenomenon is a reflection of the importance placed upon the PC in Western markets, where they are no longer considered luxury items and now are regarded as 'must-have' necessities."

Google Chrome's end-user licensing agreement (EULA) is lengthy and full of stipulations you might want to be aware of before trying out the new Web browser. A commenter on this post about Chrome was scared off the browser: "Before rushing to switch to Chrome I highly recommend reading the EULA for it, completely... I did and I will NEVER run this on any machine I own or use it on any machine at work." There's much discussion about it on the Web right now. The language that seems to be getting people most agitated is present in the general terms of service for other Google services:

"11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services."

People seem a bit perturbed, however, that it would apply to a browser, too. What do you think?

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