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Microsoft Pri0

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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June 18, 2009 5:21 PM pitches cloud computing in Microsoft territory

Posted by Sharon Chan

Marc was in Seattle on Thursday promoting its cloud-computing product ahead of Microsoft's anticipated announcements this summer about its competing product Azure. Chief Executive Mark Benioff gave a speech at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle to customers in an event called CloudForce, which is touring the globe.

While better known for its Web-based software that helps sales teams track and close deals, is moving aggressively into cloud computing and creating a platform where software developers can make applications and deploy them from servers that runs, rather than on the PC or a company's server. It has beaten Microsoft to the market and is already selling developers on the cloud product.

For instance, Starbucks approached shortly after Christmas with an idea: Create an online campaign and Web site called Pledge 5 to encourage community service, launching the same day as the presidential inauguration. Also, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was scheduled to be on Oprah to promote it, so the site had to be built tough enough to withstand hundreds of thousands of visitors. Systems integrator Apperio built the application, which allows users to seek out volunteer opportunities in their neighborhood, in three weeks.

In another example, a small Bay Area company that manufactures kitchen countertops from recycled glass, Vetrazzo, talked about how they managed their supply chain, each countertop slab and travel expenses with custom programs that one developer built on's cloud platform. is also a player in cloud computing. Microsoft is expected to make announcements about how it will charge people to use Azure, its cloud product, this summer.

(Photo of Marc Benioff:

Comments | Category: Cloud computing , Enterprise , Microsoft , Windows Azure |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 11, 2009 6:29 PM

Microsoft cloud services progress report

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

For a few years now, Microsoft's mantra has been "software plus services," the idea that customers can chose how they buy and consume the company's products. For example, a business may choose whether to buy Exchange for e-mail and run it on its own servers or have Microsoft host Exchange in its data centers and provide it as a service for a per user, per month subscription. For many products, there are also third-party partner companies that offer similar hosting models for Microsoft's business applications. Last week, I talked with three Microsoft executives about which among these options looks the best to Microsoft from a financial perspective, and how the online businesses are evolving.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Cloud computing , Enterprise , Financial , Online services , Windows Azure |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 2, 2009 5:00 AM

Microsoft Online Services expands, adds new package for 'deskless' workers

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft continues to build out its online services offering for businesses with an upcoming expansion into Europe and Asia and a new lightweight package for workers who aren't currently using corporate e-mail and collaboration systems. The company is announcing today that Microsoft Online Services, versions of the company's lucrative business software for e-mail, collaboration and online meetings, will be available for trial in 19 countries in Europe and Asia, beginning in April.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Enterprise , Online services |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 24, 2009 6:15 AM

Microsoft Strategic Update: Ballmer tells Wall Street more dramatic cost cutting would be 'imprudent'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

With Microsoft's Redmond campus largely emptied out for the winter holidays, CEO Steve Ballmer crunched the numbers on the proper level of spending for his company against the current economic climate, which he has repeatedly referred to as a "reset" rather than just a recession. Ballmer said his own estimates for the weakness and duration of the downturn tend to be more severe than those of other business leaders he meets.

With that in mind, he settled on $27.5 billion of operating expenses -- a level the company aims to hold relatively steady through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and during its 2010 fiscal year. Ballmer made clear to financial analysts meeting in New York this morning for the company's annual strategic update that cutting back even more significantly -- say to $20 billion -- would be "imprudent."

"I think this is right," Ballmer said.

That should give some comfort to those wondering if the modest layoffs Microsoft announced last month were the beginning of a more significant reduction. Wall Street analysts and investors are pressuring companies in every industry to continue cutting costs as sales and profits slow dramatically.

The strategic update call just came to an end. Ballmer gave a detailed look at seven major business areas for the company. Check back here later this morning for more details.

Update, 7:50 a.m.: As he told Congressional Democrats earlier this month, Ballmer said Microsoft's corporate strategists have been evaluating past downturns -- particularly those driven by "deleveraging." The team read company annual reports from 1927 to 1938 to determine who did a good job managing through the Great Depression. "RCA, God rest them in peace, became our role model," Ballmer said. The company was able to dominate the television business because it continued to invest during bad times, he said.

Then he broke down how Microsoft plans to invest.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Advertising , Apple , Enterprise , Financial , Games & entertainment , Google , Microsoft layoffs , Mobile , Office , Online services , Open source , Search , Server and tools , Steve Ballmer , Strategy , Tech Economy , Windows , Windows 7 , Windows Azure , Windows Mobile , Xbox 360 , Yahoo acquisition , Zune |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 3, 2008 12:51 PM

Microsoft international strategy exec talks economy, netbooks, Windows 7 (beta due early Q1) and Yahoo

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Neil Holloway, vice president of business strategy for Microsoft International and a 19-year veteran, gave investors a broad view of the company's hottest topics at a conference this morning. A Webcast can be found here. What follows is a summary of his main points.

What customers are saying. A few messages are coming through clearly, Holloway said during the Nasdaq OMX Investor Conference. "Help me save money" and "help finance me either as a partner or as an end customer," he said.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Enterprise , Search , Tech Economy , Windows 7 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 18, 2008 9:01 PM

Customers of Novell-Microsoft partnership pass 200 in second year

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft and open-source purveyor Novell are marking the second full year of their interoperability partnership, which surprised some in the software industry when it was announced Nov. 2, 2006. "This is almost like the lion and the lamb laying down together," analyst Laura DiDio told me at the time.

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Comments | Category: Enterprise , Server and tools , Strategy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 17, 2008 8:57 AM

Microsoft Online opens online Exchange, Sharepoint to businesses of all sizes

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft is continuing its services push today, opening a production version of its hosted e-mail and collaboration software, Exchange and SharePoint, to businesses of all sizes. The software, which runs on servers in Microsoft's huge data centers and is delivered to companies on the Internet, had been in testing since March.

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Comments | Category: Data centers , Enterprise , Online services |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 16, 2008 7:03 AM

AP: Microsoft unit Fast Search raided by Norwegian economic crime police

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

In May, reported on an accounting probe into Fast Search and Transfer, the enterprise search company Microsoft acquired in January. Today, a report out of Norway says authorities raided Fast's Oslo headquarters on "suspicion that it inflated revenue before it was bought up by Microsoft."

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Enterprise , Legal issues , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 3, 2008 7:32 AM

Next week: Microsoft business intelligence conference a coming out for DATAllegro

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft will tout its recent buy, DATAllegro, at a business intelligence conference beginning Monday in Seattle.

Microsoft announced the acquisition of the high-end database company in July during its Financial Analyst Meeting. The acquisition was viewed as a broadside on Oracle in the high-end database market. DATAllegro makes a data warehousing appliance, which combines multiple database servers with hardware.

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Comments | Category: Enterprise , Hardware , Office , Server and tools |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 24, 2008 1:27 PM

Microsoft buying high-end data warehousing company DATAllegro

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft said today it intends to buy Aliso Viejo, Calif.,-based DATAllegro, a data warehousing appliance company.

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Comments | Category: Enterprise , FAM 2008 , Server and tools |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 13, 2008 5:22 PM

A conversation with Stephen Elop, new president of Microsoft Business Division

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Elop, the new president of the Microsoft Business Division, said one of his biggest surprises since joining the company is "the extent of innovation."

Now that Jeff Raikes' move to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been made public, the man replacing him as president of the $16.4 billion-a-year Microsoft Business Division is making the rounds.

Stephen Elop, 44, took the job in January. Here's a brief profile of Elop we ran at the time. On Tuesday, Elop sat down to talk about how he's settling in, impressions of Microsoft and the challenges facing his part of the company.

Continue reading this post ...

Comments | Category: Corporate organization , Enterprise , Microsoft , Personalities |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 6, 2008 1:09 PM

New CEO at Microsoft's consulting joint venture, Avanade

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Beginning Sept. 1, Adam Warby, will become the second CEO of Avanade, an 8-year-old Seattle-based IT consulting company founded by Microsoft and Accenture. Warby, who has served as executive vice president of sales and marketing, and general manager of the company's European and Americas markets, will replace Mitch Hill, who has led the company since the beginning, Avanade announced today.

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March 12, 2008 1:13 PM

Microsoft buys Kidaro as virtualization shopping spree continues

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft is purchasing Kidaro, a Redwood City, Calif., desktop virtualization provider, for undisclosed terms. It comes on the heels of Microsoft's January purchase of Calista Technologies, another desktop virtualization company.

It's at least the third significant acquisition of a company in this space this year, the third being VMware's purchase of Thinstall.

So what is desktop virtualization and what is Microsoft getting with Kidaro?

Continue reading this post ...

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January 8, 2008 9:25 AM

Microsoft buying business search power for $1.2 billion

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The company's biggest news so far this week came from Norway, not Las Vegas.

It announced this morning, really early, that it's offering $1.2 billion for Fast Search & Transfer, a business search provider. That's a 42 percent premium over the company's recent share price. The deal looks like it will breeze through, with two major institutional shareholders that control more than a third of Fast Search already agreeing to the terms. The company's board of directors has also given it the nod. Microsoft expects the deal to close in the second quarter.

Microsoft Business Division Pressident Jeff Raikes sees business search as a key area for Microsoft to build on advantages it holds through other business software.

Continue reading this post ...

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February 27, 2007 1:32 PM

Dexterra's determined to grow

Posted by Tricia Duryee

VentureWire reported today that Bothell-based Dexterra has raised $36 million in a fifth round of funding.

It was only six months ago, the Bothell company, which develops enterprise software for mobile devices, closed an $18 million round.

VentureWire said new investor New Enterprise Associates led the round, joining existing investors Canaan Partners, Intel Capital, Mesirow Financial, Motorola Ventures and Sigma Partners.

According to a release, the money will be for "strategic, measured" growth in 2007, while also working to achieve profitability by the year end.

The company's customers include Motorola and Vodafone.

Since the company was founded in 2002, VentureWire said Dexterra has raised about $88 million.

In this story, co-founder and CEO Robert Loughan explains how the company is set for tremendous growth.

Loughan's essential argument is that fast wireless networks being deployed by wireless operators and highly capable handsets are allowing companies to extend valuable software used inside its walls into mobile workforces.

As if to make the point, Dexterra said today that it has achieved more than 250 percent year-over-year growth since its inception in 2002. In addition, it says analysts are predicting the mobile business software market will be more than $1
billion by 2010.

Comments | Category: Enterprise , Entrepreneurs & VCs , Wireless & telecom |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 1, 2006 3:52 PM

Isilon files to go public

Posted by Kim Peterson

Seattle-based Isilon Systems files with the SEC for a public offering that could raise as much as $86.25 million.

The company was vague on what it would do with this money. Other than repaying about $6.2 million in debt, the rest will go to "general corporate purposes."

I wrote about Isilon last November in this article. "I think we could be the next big company in Seattle," Chief Executive Steve Goldman said at the time.

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August 16, 2006 11:31 AM

Enterprise software: The long view is slow and low

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Forrester Research sent over a very interesting market overview this morning that, judging by the opening summary, could bode ill for big software:

The enterprise software industry of the next five years will feature fewer large suppliers than ever, greater technical adaptability, baby steps toward the pricing flexibility most customers want but can't get today, and only modest rates of growth with declining prices. The magnitude of growth and structural change will be determined by clashes between the four horsemen of software commoditization -- service oriented architecture (SOA), open source, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and offshore development -- and the four fortresses of market inertia -- vendor concentration, intellectual property rights, installed bases, and brand loyalty. The four horsemen are changing how enterprise applications are created, sold, implemented, and supported; the four fortresses slow and limit these changes. The outcome of these clashes will vary by software category, but overall prices will decline and the industry overall will descend to historically low growth rates (emphasis added).

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July 10, 2006 2:02 PM

Select Selling makes a buy, changes name

Posted by Kim Peterson

Kirkland-based Select Selling announced today that it has acquired the majority of the assets of OnTarget, the "sales methodology" division of Oracle, and has combined the business with its own into a new entity called The TAS Group.

Financial terms of the deal, which closed June 30, weren't announced. On its Web site, The TAS Group says it provides consulting, software and training designed to help customers grow sales. Its European headquarters are in Dublin.

TAS Group spokesman George Cohen said the company has about 50 employees overall, with about a dozen in the Seattle area.

Oracle acquired OnTarget when it bought Siebel Systems in January, according to this IDG story. Siebel purchased OnTarget for around $259 million in 1999.

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June 19, 2006 1:14 PM

Search for volunteer opportunities

Posted by Kristi Heim

A new Washington state Web site connects people willing to volunteer with non-profits who need them. The initiative, VolunteerWashington, is designed to connect people in recovery efforts after a disaster.

But an interesting feature is that it also lets local organizations register and potential voluteers search for opportunities by causes, such as environment or literacy, or by Zip code. I plugged in my Zip code and found seven volunteer openings in my neighborhood. The voluteer work ranges from building parade floats for the Fremont Arts Council to doing yard work and errands for a couple with health problems in Issaquah.

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May 3, 2006 2:39 PM

Analyst calls ADIC purchase smart

Posted by Tricia Duryee

Following the $770 million acquisition of Redmond-based ADIC by Quantum yesterday, an analyst group released a report looking at how the data storage industry is shifting.

The 451 Group said it believes enterprise data is undergoing significant structural changes because of software technologies currently under development. The change presents opportunities for young startups and vendors to maintain their marketplace position and defend against large and small competitors, the report said.

The report, written by Simon Robinson, head of Storage research at The 451 Group, was released today. Simon also said these new technologies will lead to a flurry of merger and acquisition activity.

Yesterday's announcement of Quantum's intention to acquire ADIC is a good example, he said, adding:.

Users will increasingly demand integrated platforms, not more stand-alone products. The "smart" money should be on those vendors that can combine a wide range of integrated capabilities that span the entire data protection lifecycle with a common, central point of management. For example, Quantum's proposed acquisition of ADIC is partly motivated by its desire to achieve just this. Quantum is hoping to stay relevant in the game by combining high-value data protection software such as virtual tape and data reduction with its legacy commodity disk and tape hardware platforms.

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April 24, 2006 2:18 PM

McNealy steps down

Posted by Kristi Heim

Scott McNealy at a 2003 news conference.

After 22 years as CEO, Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy abruptly resigned today, the same day the company is reporting that its quarterly losses widened to $217 million, compared with $28 million a year ago.

McNealy, who co-founded the company, will stay on as chairman. Sun promoted COO Jonathan Schwartz to take McNealy's place. The news is conspicuously absent from Schwartz's blog, which features a huge picture of himself meeting with the president of Brazil.

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