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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 15, 2009 2:34 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Bill Gates tie-less, cell phones cut, Google on Bing

Posted by Sharon Chan

Some bits and bytes on Microsoft from around the country:

New York Post says Google's co-founder Sergey Brin has a team of engineers dissecting Bing, Microsoft's newly upgraded search engine. Early data after Bing's launch at the beginning of June show that traffic numbers have improved for Microsoft's search operation.

MocoNews says Microsoft has stopped reimbursing employees for their BlackBerry and iPhone plans, unless they switch to a Windows Mobile device. We ran a New York Times story today on how even discretionary spending shrinks elsewhere, smartphone sales are projected to go up by 25 percent this year. And on the other end of the spectrum, here's another story we ran today about how the poor are using a federal government telecom subsidy for cell phones.

Seattle Examiner reports that Bill Gates shocked Cambridge when he showed up to receive an honorary degree without a tie. Which would make news only in England.

Comments | Category: Bill Gates , Bing , Employee benefits , Google , Microsoft , Mobile , News roundup , Windows Mobile |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 15, 2009 9:47 AM

Morning Microsoft news roundup: search stats, Yahoo layoffs, Zune phone

Posted by Sharon Chan

  • TechCrunch has the latest search traffic stats for the first quarter that show Microsoft losing 1.1 percent over the same period last year.
  • Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNet is speculating on plans for a Zune phone, code named Pink, to compete with iPhone.

Comments | Category: Mobile , News roundup , Search , Yahoo , Zune |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 14, 2009 9:59 AM

Morning news roundup: Twitter HQ tour, laptop hunter ad spoof, Deadliest Catch ad campaign

Posted by Sharon Chan

  • Kara Swisher at AllthingsD visited Twitter's office in SF.
  • Microsoft Advertising and Discovery Channel are launching a "Deadliest Catch" ad campaign today across MSN, Xbox Live and Microsoft Mobile. The MSN ad allows you to set up a calendar reminder, get a text alert and set your DVR.

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April 2, 2009 2:45 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Ad campaign in works for Microsoft search; Office on iPhone?; Inside Google's data centers

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Advertising Age reports that JWT, which has been getting more business from Microsoft of late, has landed an $80 million to $100 million advertising campaign for the company's Internet search service, which is expected to undergo a major rebranding later this year. The story says the campaign is expected to begin in June. Microsoft's search team had some April Fool's fun Wednesday, poking at its branding troubles with a post announcing the debut of "MSN Windows Live Search on kumo@microsoft.com."

Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, indicated an Office application that would let Apple iPhone users edit documents could be in the works. Asked at the Web 2.0 Expo today about a mobile edition of Office for the iPhone, Elop said, "Not yet -- keep watching," according to this eWeek story.

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Data centers , Google , News roundup , Office , Search |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 11, 2009 9:02 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Extension granted in EU case; Windows Mobile app store detailed; Man wants up to $1 million from airline that lost his Xbox 360

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The European Commission has given Microsoft another month to reply to the regulator's initial finding that the company violated European competition law. Specifically, the EC said the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 was in violation. The EC investigated after a complaint by rival Web browser maker Opera Software. The new deadline for Microsoft to respond to the EC's "Statement of Objections," issued in January, is April 21 after the EC granted its request for an extension, according to this Bloomberg report.

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Comments | Category: Games & entertainment , Internet Explorer , Legal issues , Mobile , News roundup |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 25, 2009 10:50 AM

Microsoft news roundup: OEM exec says Windows 7 in September, October; Google wants to join EC antitrust proceedign against Microsoft; wrapping up TechFest

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

"According to current planning, it should be late September or early October." That's what Ray Chen, president of a Tapei OEM, Compal Electronics, told Bloomberg about when Microsoft may begin shipping Windows 7. That would put it ahead of Microsoft's officially stated schedule, which has the new OS due by January 2010. But it would match some observers' expectations that Microsoft will have Windows 7 available in time for the 2009 holiday season.

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Comments | Category: Google , Internet Explorer , Legal issues , Natural user interface , News roundup , Research , Search , Windows 7 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 23, 2009 5:15 AM

Microsoft news roundup: New work force training program; Severance benefits overpaid; More than half of Xbox 360 users pay for Live subscription

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft on Sunday launched Elevate America, a multi-part work force training effort starting in partnership with three states, including Washington. The program, billed as an expansion of existing job-training efforts, "provides immediate support in response to the current economic crisis," the company said in a statement. Starting immediately, job seekers can learn what skills they need for technology jobs and how to get them at a new Web site that starts with the basics, such as sending e-mail, and moves up to specific Microsoft programs. The three-year effort also includes vouchers for access to the company's eLearning courses and selected certification exams. See this story by my Seattle Times colleague Linda Shaw for more details.

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Comments | Category: Compensation , Employee benefits , News roundup , Public policy & issues , Xbox 360 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 20, 2009 5:32 AM

Microsoft news roundup: H1-B debate continues; Windows Mobile 6.5 phone pilfered; Windows 7 update testing; Snow Leopard spotted on Live Search

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Another story on the frustrations among lawmakers and labor groups at the H1-B visa program in light of layoffs at high-tech companies. Microsoft spokeswoman Ginny Terzano says in the story that some of Microsoft's planned 2,000 to 3,000 hires in the coming year and a half will be H1-Bs -- foreign guest workers -- and that laid off workers aren't always a good fit for the new positions. Another Microsoft exec acknowledged that tech companies will likely tone-down their lobbying for increases in the H1-B program. "People probably will be a lot more cautious about how public they are, but it's not going to go away as an issue," said Dan'l Lewin, a vice president in charge of Microsoft's relationships with startups and venture capitalists. "You need the people." Also see this Seattle Times story from earlier in the week on what happens to people working on H1-B visas who get laid off.

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February 19, 2009 5:26 AM

Kenyan students visit Microsoft; more on Vista Capable class decertification

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

From today's paper:

Twenty-one students from the Moi Education Center in Nairobi, Kenya, wrapped up a visit to Microsoft on Wednesday. The exposure to the company's technology and employees -- facilitated by Microsoft's Unlimited Potential program -- helped the kids, ages 8 to 13, focus on their goals of pursuing careers in technology. Read more.

The Vista Capable lawsuit is no longer a class-action, after Wednesday's ruling by a federal judge. The class decertification will likely bring the case to a close, as only six individual plaintiffs remain. With Windows 7, Microsoft appears unlikely to repeat the kind of marketing program it unfurled ahead of the launch of Windows Vista. Read more.

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February 17, 2009 5:49 AM

News roundup: CBS picks Silverlight for March Madness on Demand; Full Flash coming on Windows Mobile; So many app stores; Maps as the metaphor for cellphone era

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Silverlight, Microsoft's competitor to Adobe Flash in online video and rich Internet applications, will power CBSsports.com's March Madness on Demand -- the men's college basketball tournament, reports the SportsBusiness Journal. CBS was already using Windows Media Player for the service, which drew 4.8 million users last year. Silverlight will power a higher-quality version, SBJ reports. Also, Microsoft's Scott Guthrie wrote in a November update on Silverlight that "CBS College Sports is now using Silverlight to stream NCAA events." In any case, It's a nice win for Microsoft, which three months ago lost another high-profile outlet for Silverlight when Major League Baseball Advanced Media switched MLB.com back to Adobe Flash.

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Comments | Category: Mobile , News roundup |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 12, 2009 5:09 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Facebook's value; Another Yahoo! search exec joins Microsoft; IBM as cloud era kingmaker?; Q4 processor shipments 'fell off a cliff'

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The Associated Press reports that Facebook's own appraisal put the company's value at $3.7 billion, about a quarter of the $15 billion imputed by Microsoft's October 2007 investment in the social networking company. The AP obtained the information from a heavily redacted June court transcript; Facebook and its lawyers had gone to great lengths to keep the company's value secret. "The Associated Press was able to read the blacked-out portions [of the transcript] by copying from an electronic version of the document and pasting the results into another document."

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February 11, 2009 11:29 AM

Obama's a PC?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Via Paul Otellini's comments touting Intel's U.S. factory investments Tuesday, we learn that President Barrack Obama uses a PC. ComputerWorld reported: "Otellini said Obama called him last night to congratulate him on company's decision. The president 'reminded me that he sees the Intel logo every morning when he opens up his laptop; I was pleased to hear that,' he noted." (Via AllThingsD.)

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February 10, 2009 2:02 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Business search strategy; 10,000 patents; cheers for stimulus; Windows 7 beta closing

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Just over a year after moving to buy Fast Search & Transfer, an Oslo, Norway,-based leader in business search, Microsoft is articulating its plans to incorporate the technology into the next version of SharePoint, Microsoft's popular business collaboration software. It also announced FAST Search for Internet Business for building search-driven online business sites. See this 2008 story for background on the enterprise search market.

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February 5, 2009 1:43 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Windows Mobile chatter; 'Fix it' button; reactions to Wonderwall; 1 million Xbox Live members using Netflix;

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

With Mobile World Congress right around the corner, what's up with Windows Mobile? The latest rumor, from a Broadpoint AmTech via CNET, has Microsoft working on its own smartphone, based on an Nvidia Tegra chip. "[I]t could turn out to be ... a reference design Microsoft has used," Broadpoint's Doug Freedman said. "... But we've also picked up that Microsoft is working on a phone themselves." [Added: WSJ runs down all the times Microsoft has said no, it's "not doing a phone," as it did in response to this latest go-round.]

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February 2, 2009 6:00 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Xbox takes a page from Tupperware's book; former Yahoo to head MSN in U.S.; Mac market share gains; Opera Software's North American plan; tech in Africa

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft took a page from Tupperware's marketing book in a bid to expand the audience of Xbox Live, its online entertainment and gaming network. According to a Gannett News Service story, the company gave women $150 worth of Xbox goods to enhance marketing parties they hosted in their homes, using their own Xbox consoles.

"We've sold 20 million consoles to date globally since we launched three years ago," Heather Snavely, Microsoft's director of interactive entertainment business global platforms, told the news service. "In order to get to the next 20 million, we need to get a new audience of women and teens. We're going after them in ways that are different than ways we've done before."

(Via Silicon Alley Insider.)

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January 12, 2009 10:44 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Bet on touch has detractors; 'Everybody's business' is new ad tagline; Windows 7 Beta arrives;

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft and several venture firms are investing in N-trig, an Israeli company working with "OEMs to create multi-touch notebooks and convertible computers for the mainstream marketplace." Microsoft is the lead investor in the $24 million financing round, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft has been touting new touch features -- which substitute fingers and stylus for some tasks done with mouse and keyboard -- in Windows 7. But not everyone is excited about this. "I'm not a fan of touch-screen PCs. I do see why some users like touch on their phones and MP3 players. But on PCs, touch just seem like a problem in search of a solution," writes Mary Jo Foley. Adds Cliff Mason, a senior writer at CNBC's Mad Money: "[F]rom my perspective in front of the monitor, it's completely obvious that touch-screen PCs will never be more than a niche market."

Read on for more Microsoft headlines.

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December 30, 2008 9:57 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Windows 7 Beta tracking, 'Tough Love' for Search, year-in-preview

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Windows 7 logo illustration by Seattle Times graphics artist Gabriel Campanario.

Several stories today are tracking the status of Windows 7, the next version of Microsoft's flagship operating system. Mary Jo Foley, who watches the OS as closely as anyone, states that a test version of 7 "is poised to make its public debut at the Consumer Electronics Show" next week in Las Vegas. She notes that Microsoft has said this test version, Beta 1, will be "feature complete."

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Comments | Category: News roundup , Philanthropy , Search , Windows 7 |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 17, 2008 11:46 AM

Recent comings and goings at Microsoft

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

There has been some turnover in several key positions at Microsoft -- particularly within the company's Online Services Group -- this month. The latest is the departure of Brad Goldberg, general manager of Live Search. Here's a roundup of other recent comings and goings in Redmond:

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Comments | Category: Coming and going , News roundup , Online services |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 15, 2008 9:51 AM

Windows Mobile: Prescriptions for what ails it and predictions from many quarters

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

With Windows Mobile now the fourth-place competitor for mobile operating systems -- a slide from second place about a year ago -- more people are asking what's going on. Here are a series of stories dissecting the business, which some are expecting to make a significant splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.

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Comments | Category: News roundup , Windows Mobile , Wireless & telecom |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 8, 2008 11:33 AM

News roundup: Softwear, malicious and comfortable, plus adult gamer demographics

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

the_misdemeanor_lg.jpg"Softwear by Microsoft." That would be the next chapter in the marketing campaign for Microsoft by hot-shot ad firm Crispin Porter & Bogusky. AdAge reported Friday on the clothing line, which debuts Dec. 15. The design at left is called "THE MISDEMEANOR EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE".

Read on for the latest on how Microsoft Silverlight allowed Netflix to cut 50 customers service jobs; malicious software, another take on in-game advertising's prospects; and new details on adult gamers.

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December 4, 2008 7:46 AM

Microsoft news roundup: IBM's 'Microsoft-free' desktop; Microsoft tightens integration with RSA; Obama's Zune?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

IBM has created a "Microsoft-free" desktop, according to The Wall Street Journal, which is "a complete suite of applications that run on a backroom server and don't require Microsoft software or costly desktop hardware." The combo of a Linux OS and IBM thin-client office software will cost from $59 to $289 per seat, a savings of $500 to $800 over a Microsoft desktop with Vista, Office and collaboration tools, according to IBM estimates.

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Comments | Category: News roundup , Open source , Security & privacy , Zune |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 1, 2008 6:51 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Five things Microsoft got right; More Kumo domains registered; Morgan Stanley cuts target; Vista SP2 in April?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The oft-quoted analysts at Kirkland-based Directions on Microsoft have come out with a concise look at five things Microsoft got right in its first 30 years, and business lessons that can be taken from each. Here they are, in brief:

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November 30, 2008 7:03 PM

Microsoft news roundup: BMW using Surface; Dutch dealer complains to EC about Microsoft pricing; Melinda Gates talks about the foundation, parenthood, Bill

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

It looks like Microsoft has won another customer for its Surface touch-sensing tabletop PCs. The BMW Blog points to a video on how BMW is implementing the Surface for product configuration. "BMW is the first car manufacturer worldwide to use this product commercially. By interacting with this multi-touch surface that runs on special hardware and software provided by Microsoft, customers can configure their BMW and instantly see their results."

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November 25, 2008 7:34 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Do you have 'Cyberchondria'? Ray Ozzie profile, more

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Cyberchondria. Microsoft researchers published a study Monday suggesting that people who self-diagnose by Web search tend to "escalate medical concerns." The New York Times put it a bit more bluntly: "If that headache plaguing you this morning led you first to a Web search and then to the conclusion that you must have a brain tumor, you may instead be suffering from cyberchondria."

More news items and links after the jump...

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November 24, 2008 4:57 PM

IT forecast: Cloudy

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Here are a handful of interesting developments/observations on the emerging cloud computing market, including new efforts by IBM, a glowing review from Microsoft's first enterprise hosting customer and a comparison of Amazon.com and Microsoft's offerings.

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Comments | Category: Cloud computing , News roundup |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 21, 2008 7:36 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Are you on the clock while Vista boots? Game console power consumption, lots more

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Catching up on some interesting items from earlier in the week: Are you on the clock while Vista boots? The latest Highway 520 cost estimates. Game console power consumption. Supercomputers spread. CES pull-back? CliffyB, Epic Games design director. Read on for summaries and links.

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November 14, 2008 8:24 AM

Microsoft news roundup: New exec in China; Microsoft Store launches online; Kirkland games startup

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

A few items to catch up on this morning:

China Executive. Microsoft has named Simon Leung corporate vice president, chairman and CEO of Microsoft Greater China Region (GCR). He replaces Tim Chen, who left in September 2007 to lead the NBA's business in the Greater China region. Leung, who comes to Microsoft from Motorola, where he was a senior exec in charge of the Asia Pacific region, will be responsible for "the development and implementation of an overall regional strategy across all businesses, addressing the needs of the markets as well as the goals and objectives of the company. He will also be responsible for creating synergy among the sales, marketing, R&D, legal, finance, services, and other operations that Microsoft has in Greater China." Leung will work with Ya-Qin Zhang, who will continue as corporate vice president and chairman of the China Research and Development Group. Zhang was also appointed vice chairman of Microsoft GCR. Check out this great profile of Zhang my colleague Kristi Heim wrote this summer.

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Comments | Category: China , Coming and going , Games & entertainment , News roundup |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 3, 2008 4:02 PM

Microsoft news roundup: Salesforce beats the cloud drum; GOOG-YHOO revamp search ad deal, while Icahn says a Microsoft search deal still makes sense; MSN vet goes to Yahoo

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Salesforce.com, the software as a service company that loves to put Microsoft's business model in its cross hairs, today announced a Web hosting service for enterprise clients called Force.com Sites. It was one of several Salesforce announcements Monday, including partnerships with Amazon.com and Facebook, all of which elevate the company's cloud computing offerings as competition for these services continues to intensify. (See Microsoft's cloud platform expansion from last week.) Here's coverage from Reuters.

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Comments | Category: Carl Icahn , Cloud computing , Coming and going , Google , Miscellaneous , News roundup , Salesforce.com , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 21, 2008 7:39 AM

Games news roundup: E3 making a comeback; Xbox Live Primetime delayed to spring; more

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Rumor has it that the Entertainment Software Association, which produces the E3 video game conference, will make an announcement today about the future of the event. Once a sprawling, raucous, free-wheeling event for fans, media and games industry insiders, E3 was dramatically scaled back each of the last two years and became less relevant. The E3 changes left an opening for shows such as the Penny Arcade Expo, held in Seattle, to fill the void for games fans. The new old E3 could have as many as 40,000 people, according to an anonymous source quoted by Newsweek's Level Up blog.

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Comments | Category: E3 2008 , Games & entertainment , News roundup |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 16, 2008 6:25 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Cramer doubts MSFT will bid for RIMM; Android a challenger to Windows Mobile; Yahoo sub-$12 pile-on

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Yesterday, Jim Cramer, CNBC's bombastic Mad Money stock picker, answered a viewer's question about rumblings that Microsoft may make a play for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion. Here's Cramer's take:

"I just think categorically it's not true. if it happens, I'm just dead wrong. ... I don't think Microsoft, after what it did with Yahoo, is going to be in there buying anybody."

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Comments | Category: Google , Mobile , News roundup , Yahoo |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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.

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