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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.

E-mail Sharon| RSS feeds Subscribe | Blog Home| Brier Dudley's Blog

January 17, 2008 7:13 AM

Ahead of earnings, Goldman boosts MSFT; solid PC growth figures show Apple gains

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft will try to keep up with the blistering pace it set during the fiscal first quarter of 2008 when it reports earnings for the second quarter on Thursday, Jan. 24, after the markets closed.

Today, the stock started off up slightly after Goldman Sachs analyst Sara Friar added it back to the financial giant's "Americas Conviction Buy List." Friar is bullish on the upcoming earnings announcement and the late February launch of Windows Server 2008 and associated products.

Microsoft should also benefit from solid PC sales growth in the quarter, which hit 15.5 percent according data released yesterday by IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. Gartner's growth estimate was slightly lower for the quarter: 13.1 percent. A huge chunk of Microsoft's Windows revenue comes from sales of software pre-installed on new PCs, so the PC growth rate dictates a large part of the company's financial results. But at least one PC tracker sees a slowdown ahead.

Continue reading this post ...


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November 10, 2006 6:21 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week of Nov. 5

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Microsoft
Five years is an eternity in the tech world, and it does seem like an eternity since Windows Vista (once code-named Longhorn -- remember that?) has been in development. This week, it was released to manufacturing, and Ben Romano captured the moment. Earlier in the week, Office 2007 headed to manufacturing, too. In effect, that opens the gates for the next versions of the company's most lucrative products.

More Microsoft
Bam, bam, bam. Not that long ago, there was a sense that there was little new coming out of Microsoft. Not now. Continuing the onslaught of product introductions, the company this week updated its Virtual Earth mapping service, showed off its nifty Photosynth display technology and disclosed a downloadable movie service for the Xbox 360. Of those, the movie and video downloads, as Kim Peterson reported, provided interesting possibilities, bringing to market what had been a diffcult link in the emerging video download business -- viewing the download on TV.

F5 Networks
The stock options backdating case unravels in bits at the company. Kristi Heim reports that the internal investigation has been completed, the company's general counsel is leaving, and the company is taking a $22.9 million charge over seven years.

Zango
In what could have some implications down the road on the issue of adware, Bellevue-based Zango has agreed to pay the FTC a $3 million fine and to clearly notify consumers and get their agreement before installing the software that legions of computer users complain they don't want. The settlement left privacy advocates happy. Here's a bit more about the case, which dates back to when the company was known as 180Solutions.

Dendreon
The Seattle biotech says its Provenge prostate-cancer drug performed a lot better than a placebo among men with early-stage disease. That gave the stock a bit of a boost.

Quote of the week
"Competitors tried to get regulators to castrate the product. I wouldn't say antitrust played any dramatic role."
-- Bill Gates, during a European tour to promote Windows Vista

If you missed it
Its handsets and mobile devices are lot better known that it is, but Taiwan-based HTC is a powerhouse in the mobile industry as a maker of high-end products. Tricia Duryee reports how it's beefing up its American operations. Much of that is coming through a heavy focus on its U.S. headquarters in Bellevue, conveniently close to Microsoft, which provides the operating system for its products.


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November 3, 2006 3:33 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week of Oct. 29

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Tech news
The big news of the week came in our own back yard -- though it was announced in San Francisco -- when Microsoft and Novell said they had reached an agreement that crossed the divide between Windows and Linux. Ben Romano reported on the complexity of the agreement. And Brier Dudley made sense of it, including a priceless quote from the Linux man himself, Linus Torvalds.

Microsoft
Speaking of Microsoft, the cognoscenti's fixation on Vista dates has been just a little shy of a working guy's attention on the clock before the 5 o'clock whistle. Yes, we've participated in the madness, too. Well, clarity appeared this week, in a backhanded sort of way, when the company invited media to the Nov. 30 business launch of Vista in New York. Can't wait. Really.

More Microsoft
One date established, another pushed off: Kim Peterson reports that production of the much ballyhooed movie version of "Halo" has been postponed after two studios backed out. Microsoft said it still intends for the movie of the popular Xbox game to be made, with filmmaker Peter Jackson to be an executive producer.

Icos
The big news about the maker of Cialis came several weeks ago when Eli Lilly said it was taking over Icos in a $2.1 billion deal. The aftermath is turning out to be as, if not more, interesting. Luke Timmerman reported a few days later that the deal showers lucrative bonuses on top Icos execs. Now, this week, a hedge fund with a sizable stake in the company said it will fight the sale, contending the price was too low.

InfoSpace
Just four months ago, InfoSpace said it was banking on the wireless business for its future. How the loss of one major customer can change things. This week, in announcing its third quarter financial results, indicated it was reversing course. As Tricia Duryee reports, it is doing a virtual 180 on wireless that could match a move by skateboarder Tony Hawk, whom InfoSpace had signed on a couple months ago as part of that big wireless push.

Quote of the week
We liked it so much that we'll repeat what the man behind Linux had to say:

"It's not as if everybody suddenly has started trusting Microsoft, so I suspect the debate over whether this is Microsoft cozying up to people in order to more easily slit their throats in the night will go on for some time. But, hey, quite frankly, at least as far as I'm personally concerned, if we can all just sit and hold hands by the campfire and sing 'Kumbaya,' why not? No need to try to see monsters in the night if people really are trying to be friendly."
-- Linus Torvalds on the Microsoft-Novell agreement

If you missed it
Before Charles Simonyi headed for more space training, he sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with Brier Dudley in which he talked about his interest in space, his relationship with Martha Stewart and how his new company is trying to change computer programming.

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October 27, 2006 4:44 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week of Oct. 22

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Tech news, earnings edition
No blockbuster news events, but this was the big week for area tech companies to report their quarterly results. Here's a quick roundup:

Amazon.com: The company that typically draws the most emotional reaction to numbers, Amazon didn't disappoint. Profit was down, but it beat expectations. Both the reaction and the stock price shot up.

Getty Images: There's little doubt that the Internet has rocked the foundations of the advertising industry, and Getty's disappointing results are one testament to it. Kim Peterson explains how, with more dollars going toward online ads, Getty's specialty -- high quality images -- are in less demand, so it's finding it has to shift its business and institute some layoffs.

Microsoft: The numbers scored a trifecta, beating expectations in sales, profit and earnings per share, with Microsoft's server business giving a big push. But, as Ben Romano reports, the reaction was a touch muted because all eyes are on the road ahead, as the company rolls out a closet full of products over the next several months.

Amazon
Amazon has been known to fiercely protect its intellectual property, especially its One-Click patent, but it's on the other end of two suits filed by IBM , which claimed the Seattle company infringed on five IBM patents. Part of the suit deals with one technology Amazon is known for: making recommendations based on past purchases.

Microsoft
You won't find these coupons in your Sunday advertising inserts. Ben reported that Microsoft, as expected, is offering upgrade discounts to customers who buy PCs before Vista rolls out . The exact amount is up to the PC maker or retailer. Whether they help spur PC sales during the holiday sales is the 64-bit question.

T-Mobile USA
The Bellevue wireless carrier may be in its competitors' shadows when it comes to being at the cutting edge, but it consistently carves out a niche. Now it's doing it with phones designed to kick between Wi-Fi and the cellular network. Tricia Duryee wrote about how the company is attempting to push more subscribers to give up the land line.

F5 Networks
The Seattle Internet traffic management company is one of dozens nationwide being investigated over practices surrounding options-granting. In a story by Kristi Heim, the company said it found errors and may be required to record compensation expense of $30 million over a period of six or more years.

Space shot
Charles Simonyi, one of the most distinguished engineers to come out of Microsoft, is heading to space with Russian cosmonauts on March 9. Brier Dudley reported on his press conference, held in the more terrestrial setting of the Museum of flight.

Biotech
Another blow for the local biotech industry. Luke Timmerman reports that GlaxoSmithKline is shutting the vaccine-research operation in Bothell that it acquired almost a year ago from Vancouver, B.C.-based ID Biomedical.

Quote of the week
"I might be the first nerd in space."
-- Charles Simonyi in a made-for-sound-bite remark at his Thursday press conference. Not surprisingly, the Slashdot crowd disputes that.

If you missed it
If you have a sense that everything has a mobile component these days, you're probably not imagining it. In our quarterly venture report, Tricia discusses how more money appears headed to communications (read: wireless development) companies..

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October 20, 2006 5:14 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week of Oct. 15

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Tech news
First big week of heavyweight tech earnings news. Thumbs up: Google (big time), Apple Computer (though something else may be keeping Steve Jobs up at night), IBM, Intel. Thumbs down: Yahoo! This week: Microsoft, on Thursday.

Microsoft
Speaking of Redmond, Internet Explorer 7 -- the first upgrade of the software at the heart of Microsoft's landmark antitrust case since 2001 -- was launched last week. Not to be outdone, the increasingly competitive Firefox from Mozilla is expected with a new version next week. Ben Romano looked at and what's at stake.

Meanwhile, the spat between Microsoft on one hand and Symantec and McAfee on the other gets nastier by the day. And this war of the Montagues and Capulets over access to Vista's inner workings promises to keep going until Vista hits the street.

Icos
One of the poster companies of the local biotech industry has been Icos, which started 16 years ago, drew financing from high-profile investors including Bill Gates and developed a blockbuster in an impotence drug, Cialis. So it has to be a blow to Washington as a biotech center when it was announced this week that Eli Lilly, the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant, is acquiring the company for $2.1 billion. Luke Timmerman provided insightful, comprehensive coverage of the landscape-shaking event.

Biotech
Luke has had a busy week. He also reported that SonoSite, the Bothell maker of portable ultrasound machines, said it's missing sales and profit goals for the year, taking some wind out of its shares. And Trubion Phamaceuticals, which is developing drugs aimed at autoimmune diseases and cancer, gained 9 cents on the first day of trading after a $13-a-share intital public offering.

Saflink
The Eastside biometric technology company, now based in Kirkland, has seen its share of ups and downs -- mostly downs -- in previous years. Kim Peterson reported on the company's announcement Thursday that it was cutting more than half its staff and narrowing its business focus.

Philanthropy
At a time the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi pioneer of microcredit, Kristi Heim looks at how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Redmond-based Unitus are attempting make this financing for the world's poor even stronger.

Quote of the week
For people content to stay with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, "that's great because they get a better browser in IE7. For others, there's going to be a realization that maybe I should look around ... and decide what the best browser is for me on the desktop. Who knows what will happen in the market?"
-- Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering of Mozilla, in what will have to pass for fighting words in the browser, um, war

If you missed it ...
On Monday, Brier Dudley looked at the YouTube-Google deal from a different lens, raising questions and thoughts about how being ahead of your time and how business is done in Puget Sound. More than water-cooler talk.

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October 20, 2006 5:14 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week of Oct. 15

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Tech news
First big week of heavyweight tech earnings news. Thumbs up: Google (big time), Apple Computer (though something else may be keeping Steve Jobs up at night), IBM, Intel. Thumbs down: Yahoo! This week: Microsoft, on Thursday.

Microsoft
Speaking of Redmond, Internet Explorer 7 -- the first upgrade of the software at the heart of Microsoft's landmark antitrust case since 2001 -- was launched last week. Not to be outdone, the increasingly competitive Firefox from Mozilla is expected with a new version next week. Ben Romano looked at and what's at stake.

Meanwhile, the spat between Microsoft on one hand and Symantec and McAfee on the other gets nastier by the day. And this war of the Montagues and Capulets over access to Vista's inner workings promises to keep going until Vista hits the street.

Icos
One of the poster companies of the local biotech industry has been Icos, which started 16 years ago, drew financing from high-profile investors including Bill Gates and developed a blockbuster in an impotence drug, Cialis. So it has to be a blow to Washington as a biotech center when it was announced this week that Eli Lilly, the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant, is acquiring the company for $2.1 billion. Luke Timmerman provided insightful, comprehensive coverage of the landscape-shaking event.

Biotech
Luke has had a busy week. He also reported that SonoSite, the Bothell maker of portable ultrasound machines, said it's missing sales and profit goals for the year, taking some wind out of its shares. And Trubion Phamaceuticals, which is developing drugs aimed at autoimmune diseases and cancer, gained 9 cents on the first day of trading after a $13-a-share intital public offering.

Saflink
The Eastside biometric technology company, now based in Kirkland, has seen its share of ups and downs -- mostly downs -- in previous years. Kim Peterson reported on the company's announcement Thursday that it was cutting more than half its staff and narrowing its business focus.

Philanthropy
At a time the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi pioneer of microcredit, Kristi Heim looks at how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Redmond-based Unitus are attempting make this financing for the world's poor even stronger.

Quote of the week
For people content to stay with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, "that's great because they get a better browser in IE7. For others, there's going to be a realization that maybe I should look around ... and decide what the best browser is for me on the desktop. Who knows what will happen in the market?"
-- Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering of Mozilla, in what will have to pass for fighting words in the browser, um, war

If you missed it ...
On Monday, Brier Dudley looked at the YouTube-Google deal from a different lens, raising questions and thoughts about how being ahead of your time and how business is done in Puget Sound. More than water-cooler talk.

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October 13, 2006 4:24 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week of Oct. 9

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Tech news
Back in February, Kim Peterson posted a Tech Tracks item on the mysterious Origami project that Microsoft was thought to be working on. In that post, she noted how a viral-marketing video about the project had been pulled, but had reappeared on an under-the-radar site called YouTube. Hardly eight months later, Google swoops in and buys that eyeball-drawing site for $1.65 billion. And Origami? That story is still unfolding -- under the radar.

InfoSpace
The Bellevue company still hasn't officially identified the customer that decided to take a big chunk of ringtone business in-house, but the consequences were felt this week. InfoSpace said it was laying off more than a third of its workforce -- 250 out of 670. The customer in question is widely believed to be Cingular Wireless. .

Microsoft
Will it make the launch when it said it would or not? Microsoft seemed to answer that a bit more definitively today when it said it had -- from its perspective -- worked out competition concerns over Vista that were lodged by European and South Korean regulators, and that it was moving ahead with launching the new operating system in November to business customers and in January to consumers.

Wireless broadband
Any broad-based new technology is guaranteed to set off the hype machine. Such was the case in Boston this week, and the technology showered with attention was WiMax, the wireless broadband technology some have called Wi-Fi on steroids. Tricia Duryee's stories from WiMax World captured some the industry's excitement and reservations.

Financial
More fallout from stock options backdating investigations. Top executives from McAfee and Cnet resigned, and none other than Steve Jobs One could say it was a bad week for McAfee, as even the team that plays in the Oakland stadium that carries the virus fighter's name pretty much resigned the first two games of the American League Championship Series. (As this is being written, the A's just lost the third game, 3-0.)

T-Mobile USA
It's not often that T-Mobile USA CEO Robert Dotson speaks to the press, but Tricia, who had a busy week, got him to sit down long enough to for an interview -- in a car navigating the streets of Manhattan, no less.

Quote of the week
"Ray was one of the innovators of the Utah Miracle. He launched what would become Utah's technology sector. He has left behind a monumental legacy and we are all in his debt.." -- Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, speaking of Ray Noorda, the Novell founder called the "Father of Network Computing," who died this week at 82.

If you missed it ...
Few stories get as much reader interest in what we produce as those that involve working at Microsoft. In May, addressing concerns over employee recruiting and retention, the company implemented a new compensation and benefits program. Ben Romano this week wrote an engagingprofile of Lisa Brummel, the senior executive behind those changes.


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October 6, 2006 4:01 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week of Oct. 1

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Tech news
Late in the week -- namely today -- rumors heated up about the future of YouTube, that it was in talks to be acquired. Could we have a GoogleTube, or maybe a YouGoogle, in our future?

Microsoft
The annual proxy statement came out this week. For those keeping score, Bill and Steve's salaries got a little bump, a bit more than ("a bit" being a relative term here) $600K, but they each took a $50K cut in bonuses. One interesting thing to emerge is the recurrence of a vote on human rights issues, which Ben Romano nicely detailed.

Amazon.com
With some fanfare, Amazon introduced some pretty cool features on its fledgling A9.com search engine, including one that returned street-level photos related to search results. With much less fanfare, it has pulled the plug on that feature and others.

RealNetworks
With all the attention showered on the giants, RealNetworks edged its way into the digital music player business with a SanDisk Sansa that works with Real's Rhapsody service. What's more, megaretailer Best Buy is opening a Rhapsody-powered music store.

T-Mobile USA
Nearly a year and half ago Tricia Duryee wrote an insightful piece on how T-Mobile USA had fallen behind its quickly consolidating rivals not only in subscriber counts, but in leading edge technology. Just today, it broadly outlined its plan to catch up.

Quote of the week
"It's damn cheap for a company that already has a global presence, YouTube's brand identity is no less than Google's and is no less than Coke's,"
-- Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with the San Francisco-based Global Equities Research, speaking (a tad hyperbolically, no?) of YouTube and a reported asking price of $1.6 billion.

If you missed it ...
Every once in a while, some tech thing comes out of nowhere and soon can be found just about everywhere. Such is the phenomenon of user-generated video, popularized by YouTube (see above). These videos ...quot; and some of their commercial counterparts ...quot; actually have been on the Web awhile, but attention gloms on to them these days, as the giants start getting serious about them. Kim Peterson's piece from early this week surveys the landscape quite nicely.


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September 29, 2006 3:15 PM

So 10 minutes ago: A review of the week

Posted by Mark Watanabe

Top tech news
-- Aren't we all tired of Pattie Dunn yet? Or Mark Hurd, non-Magnum PIs or lawyers upon lawyers? Evidently not in D.C. The cast of characters in the Hewlett-Packard corporate spying scandal (on the likes of fellow byte-stained journalism wretches, no less) moved to the other Washington on Thursday, Dunn told her story, Hurd apologized and the Fifth Amendment rose in popularity.

Microsoft
-- Zune price set: $249.99. Market launch date: Nov. 14.
-- In another bid to be one cool, 70,000-employee company, Microsoft secured "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson to help on the content-provider end of the Xbox 360 family.
-- Happy 15th birthday, Microsoft Research.

Digital media
-- Google partners with King County on a trip planner for transit riders. Early verdict: It may have missed the bus.

Telecom
-- If you live in Bothell, Redmond, Kirkland, Everett or Mount Vernon, you may have seen Verizon folks working on bringing fiber to your door. It's part of $22.9 billion the company is spending to rewire its network for cable TV and high-speed Internet connections. If you live in Brier or Kenmore, your time is coming soon.

Funding
-- Seattle-based Twisted Pair is getting a $9 million initial round of venture capital (link) for its efforts to build software that allows walkie-talkies, phones, cellphones and computers to interact ...quot; something helpful in emergency situations. Interestingly, CoCo Communications, a neighbor of Twisted Pair, is working on similar technology.

Quote of the week
"It's a sad day for this proud company. Something has really gone wrong at this institution."
-- Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the HP scandal

Meaningless comparison of the week
The aforementioned $22.9 billion Verizon is spending on its fiber initiative. That amounts to almost five tunnels to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct -- or enough to rebuild the roadway eight times. Verizon, of course, is expecting to offset the outlay with $4.9 billion in savings from fiber's reduced maintenance cost vs. copper.

If you missed it ...
As Web 2.0 started taking hold, the idea of everyone becoming a reporter -- a citizen journalist -- seemed to be the future. Is it? Kim Peterson surveyed the landscape and found not a lot of success so far, but the influence of grass-roots journalism has been felt in spots.

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