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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 2, 2009 11:52 AM

Windows 7 on sale Oct. 22

Posted by Sharon Chan

Windows 7, the next version of Microsoft's operating system, will go on sale Oct. 22, the company said.

The latest version will replace Windows Vista. Microsoft says it plans to offer a tech guarantee program that would offer a free upgrade to Windows 7 for people who purchase computers that come installed with Vista before Oct. 22.

The company did not have details on the time frame the guarantee will cover.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 4, 2009 8:09 PM

Ballmer explains how investors are reacting to cost cuts; says WinMobile 6.5 'not the full release we wanted this year'; talks Windows 7 marketing

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed a packed auditorium of public sector technology executives gathered at the company's Redmond headquarters for its seventh U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit this week. He touched on some of the economic themes that have come up in several of his speeches recently, giving his take on funding for innovative ideas in a down economy and investors' reactions to Microsoft's cost-cutting measures. Ballmer also expressed some disappointment in the progress of Windows Mobile and gave his thoughts on marketing Windows 7. Read on for highlights.

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Comments | Category: Mobile , Steve Ballmer , Tech Economy , Windows 7 , Windows Mobile , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 26, 2009 12:32 PM

Filling in more details on the Windows Vista, Windows 7 maps

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Two more pieces of the Windows puzzle fell into place yesterday and today. Microsoft announced it's nearing completion of Windows Vista Service Pack 2, which went out in near-final form to technical testers yesterday. And this morning, the company described some of the changes it's making in Windows 7 as a result of feedback from people who have tested an early version of that program -- all of which made a presentation today by Mike Cherry, a Windows expert at Directions on Microsoft, particularly relevant. Cherry, like many analysts, thinks Microsoft is on track to release Windows 7 ahead of schedule.

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Comments | Category: Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 13, 2009 6:51 AM

Microsoft sued over charge to downgrade Vista to XP

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

With one major case challenging Microsoft's Windows marketing practices nearing a make-or-break juncture, another one was filed. A woman sued Microsoft in federal court in Seattle this week claiming that the company abused its monopoly power to force her to pay extra for a downgrade from Windows Vista to its predecessor, Windows XP.

Emma Alvarado bought a laptop from Lenovo on June 20, 2008, with Windows Vista Business preinstalled. She paid Lenovo "an additional $59.25 in order to 'downgrade' her operating system to Windows XP Professional." Alvarado is seeking class-action status. Here's a copy of her complaint, filed Wednesday: 13-page PDF.

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Comments | Category: Legal issues , Windows , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 11, 2009 2:12 PM

Microsoft pushing businesses to dump XP now, not wait for Windows 7

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft today urged its business customers currently using Windows XP -- and there are a lot of them -- to consider "the risk of skipping Windows Vista." Deploying Vista now "will make the future transition to Windows 7 easier," Gavriella Schuster, a Microsoft senior director, wrote on a new Windows for your Business Blog.

Of course, with Windows sales in the tank last quarter, Microsoft has every incentive to push Vista, the operating system it has in the market now, rather than Windows 7, due out sometime in the next 12 months.

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Comments | Category: Windows , Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 29, 2009 10:24 AM

Windows 7 officially no more than a year away

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

According to Microsoft's official schedule, Windows 7 is due out no later than a year from now. Many expect it sooner, but the company has stuck with the same schedule: The next version will be out no later than three years from Windows Vista's general availability, which was Jan. 29, 2007 -- two years ago today. And what a two years it's been for Microsoft's flagship product. ...

No doubt, Microsoft and many Windows users are eager for what's coming next.

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Comments | Category: Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 12, 2008 2:38 PM

Steam Hardware Survey: More than 68 percent of PC gamers running Windows XP

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

What do hard-core PC gamers have under the hood? Bellevue game maker Valve collects lots of data to answer that question through Steam, the game company's online PC games distribution platform, which boasts 15 million+ accounts globally. Today, the company relaunched a public results report from the Steam Hardware Survey and the top operating system is Windows XP 32 bit, which was running 68.7 percent of the computers surveyed in November.

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Comments | Category: Games & entertainment , Hardware , Windows , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 2, 2008 5:18 PM

Public test of Vista Service Pack 2 due from Microsoft on Thursday

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft released beta versions of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 to subscribers of MSDN and TechNet today. Public beta versions are due Thursday. Details on Microsoft's Windows and Server blogs.

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Comments | Category: Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 26, 2008 10:45 AM

Plaintiffs refine argument in 'Vista Capable' suit, arguing dropped graphics requirement created 'third tier' of Vista

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

In a document unsealed today, plaintiffs challenging Microsoft's marketing practices refined their argument that "Vista Capable"-labeled PCs sold in 2006 and early 2007 allowed an upgrade to an edition of the operating system that "cannot fairly be called Vista".

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Comments | Category: Branding , Vista Capable , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 20, 2008 2:23 PM

Plaintiffs argue why Ballmer should be deposed in Vista Capable suit

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Another set of documents unsealed in the Windows Vista Capable class action lawsuit lays out the plaintiffs' arguments in favor of deposing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, something the company has opposed on the grounds that he "has no unique personal knowledge of any facts at issue."

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Comments | Category: Legal issues , Vista Capable , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 18, 2008 7:08 AM

Vista Capable: E-mails tell story of tense Monday at Microsoft

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

There are several interesting narratives to be found in the 252 pages of e-mail released last night in the Windows Vista Capable class action lawsuit unfolding in Seattle. Microsoft is accused of deceiving consumers who bought PCs in 2006 labeled "Vista Capable," but which could only run a basic version of the operating system.

The e-mails are interesting because they give an unvarnished look at how Microsoft worked with its most important partners on marketing for its most important product: Windows. Here is an excerpt from our story in today's paper:

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Comments | Category: Hardware , Intel , Legal issues , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 17, 2008 5:41 PM

Latest batch of documents in Vista Capable class action unsealed

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Plaintiffs in the ongoing Vista Capable class action suit today filed another large batch of unsealed internal Microsoft communications and documents in the case. We're going through them now.

These e-mails and other documents are, in part, the source material the plaintiffs are drawing on in their motion for partial summary judgment in the case. If they're anything like the earlier batches of unsealed documents in the case, there's sure to be interesting exchanges between Microsoft executives -- showing disagreement internally around the Vista Capable marketing program in late 2005 and early 2006 -- as well as communications with Microsoft's computer-maker partners.

Update, Tuesday morning: See this story for details from the e-mails of how executives debated whether to lower the standards for the Vista Capable marketing program to appease one of the company's most important partners, chip maker Intel, and once the decision was made, how the company scrambled to contain the fallout with other partners.

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Comments | Category: Legal issues , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 13, 2008 4:00 PM

Unsealed docs from Vista Capable class-action suit detail exchanges between Microsoft, Intel

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman unsealed several documents containing internal Microsoft and Intel e-mails, in the ongoing class action lawsuit against Microsoft over marketing of Windows Vista.

Update, Friday morning: For a more concise telling of what's in the documents, check out this story from today's paper.

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Comments | Category: Intel , Legal issues , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 5, 2008 1:13 PM

WinHEC: 64-bit operating system reaching "tipping point" in U.S.

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

64bit slide.JPG

Jon DeVaan, Microsoft's senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System Division, said today that the PC industry is rapidly adopting 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, in the U.S. at least.

"We believe that we have accomplished the tipping point in terms of 64-bit adoption," he said during a keynote speech to hardware makers at the company's WinHEC conference in Los Angeles. You can watch a replay of it here.

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Comments | Category: Hardware , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 5, 2008 9:00 AM

WinHEC: Sinofsky, DeVaan keynotes cover details of Windows 7

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft Windows engineering chiefs Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan are set to take the stage at WinHEC in Los Angeles right now to tell hardware makers what they can expect from Windows 7. You can access their keynote speech live via Web cast here. At least 1,500 people are expected at the conference.

I spoke yesterday with Jeff Price, senior director in the Windows Product Management Group, to get a preview of this morning's presentation.

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Comments | Category: Steven Sinofsky , Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 20, 2008 7:19 AM

Apple strikes back at Microsoft 'I'm a PC' campaign

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The ads war between Microsoft and Apple is getting a bit surreal. This weekend, new ads from Apple took aim at Microsoft's "I'm a PC" campaign.

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Apple , Branding , Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 15, 2008 3:00 PM

Microsoft, plaintiffs debate Vista graphics hardware requirements in class-action lawsuit

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft filed a flurry of motions and declarations late Tuesday in the Windows Vista Capable class action lawsuit countering the plaintiffs' request for a summary judgment on the issue of whether PCs sold in late 2006 and early 2007 with less powerful graphics drivers were actually "Windows Vista Capable," as they were labeled through a Microsoft marketing program.

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Comments | Category: Graphics and imaging , Legal issues , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 15, 2008 7:05 AM

Report: Microsoft to ship Vista SP2 before Windows 7

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Mary Jo Foley's sources say Microsoft is working on a second service pack for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 to be shipped before Windows 7, which is due in 2010.

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Comments | Category: Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 14, 2008 2:48 PM

How Microsoft counts to 7

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

After Microsoft confirmed yesterday afternoon that the next version of Windows will be called Windows 7, there was much confusion and debate over how this could be the seventh release, version or generation of the Windows operating system. Today, Microsoft is clearing that up. Mostly.

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Comments | Category: Branding , Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 2, 2008 7:20 AM

Update: 'Vista Capable' class-action suit against Microsoft moves forward

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Things in the class-action lawsuit challenging Microsoft's marketing of Vista are heating up.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment last week, backed by a sheaf of sealed exhibits. Now the ball is in Microsoft's court to prove to the judge why the documents, designated "confidential," should remain sealed. Included are documents from Microsoft, Intel and an attorney for Sony.

Previous discovery in this case has been damaging to Microsoft. E-mails that came out in the class certification process outlined an internal debate about Vista's marketing and readiness for certain types of hardware.

Some background:

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Comments | Category: Legal issues , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 11, 2008 5:15 PM

Second Windows ad airing tonight on Big Brother

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

The next installment of the Windows ad campaign, starring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, is scheduled to air tonight during the CBS show "Big Brother" (8 p.m.). This one follows the debut last week, which got mixed reviews -- at best -- but also lots of attention.

Please share your impressions of the ad in the comments.

Update, Friday morning: Finally getting around to embedding the video:

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 4, 2008 11:16 PM

Internal Microsoft memo describes initial Windows ad as 'icebreaker'; new PCs, retail effort to follow

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Bill Veghte, senior vice president of Microsoft's online services and Windows business group, sent an e-mail to Microsoft employees Thursday night, shortly after the first ad in a major new Windows marketing campaign ran on network television. Veghte described the ad, which has perplexed many viewers, as "an icebreaker to reintroduce Microsoft to viewers in a consumer context."

Meanwhile, Microsoft fleshed out other parts of its marketing effort, including "Windows-branded sales environments and store-within-a-store concepts" at Circuit City and Best Buy.

Here's the full text of Veghte's e-mail, "Telling the story of Windows," obtained by The Seattle Times:

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Branding , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

September 4, 2008 4:30 PM

Microsoft launching Windows ad campaign at 5:15 p.m. with spot on NFL season opener tonight

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Just got word from Microsoft's PR firm that the first ad in the much anticipated Windows campaign is set to air during the NFL season opener between the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The ad, which reports have said will star Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, is set to air at 5:15 p.m. The game is being broadcast locally on KING/5.

Update, 5:35 p.m.: Here's the ad, courtesy of commenter Jason. (Thanks!)

All right, what do you think?

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 21, 2008 9:45 AM

WSJ: Microsoft using Seinfeld as Vista pitchman in $300 million ad campaign

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld will headline Microsoft's upcoming $300 million Windows Vista ad campaign, along with Chairman Bill Gates, according to anonymous sources quoted in The Wall Street Journal.

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 1, 2008 1:13 PM

Microsoft news roundup

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Comments | Category: Devices , Windows Vista , Wireless & telecom |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 24, 2008 11:32 AM

FAM: How is Windows doing with businesses?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Bill Veghte, Microsoft senior vice president of Online Services and the Windows Business Group, is telling financial analysts about the success of Windows Vista and the improvements in the product and its adoption in the last year.

On security, for example, Windows Vista is 62 percent more secure than Windows XP SP2, he said.

Microsoft has sold 180 million Vista licenses since it launched in January 2007. Sales have been "very balanced" between consumer and business customers.

Enterprises are accelerating their deployments of Vista, particularly since Microsoft released Service Pack 1 in March. Veghte said deployment is consistent with what Microsoft saw with Windows XP.

Contrast Veghte's sunny presentation with this note from market researcher Forrester:

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Comments | Category: FAM 2008 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 23, 2008 4:04 PM

Microsoft President Kevin Johnson departing

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano


Steve Ringman/THE SEATTLE TIMES

Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's huge Platforms and Services Division, is leaving the company, reportedly to head Juniper Networks. Microsoft is splitting the division into two groups, both of which will report to CEO Steve Ballmer.


The Wall Street Journal just posted a story citing unnamed sources who say Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's huge Platforms and Services Division, is leaving the company to run Juniper Networks. I've asked Microsoft representatives for confirmation, but have not heard back yet.

Update, 4:25 p.m.: Microsoft just confirmed Johnson's departure and announced a major reorganization of his division.

The Platforms and Services Division, which has more than 14,000 employees and is responsible for Windows, and the company's growing suite of online services -- including Internet search -- will be divided in to two groups, both reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer.

Update, 4:33 p.m.: The groups will be Windows/Windows Live and Online Services, according to a company statement.

"Effective immediately, senior vice presidents Steven Sinofsky, Jon DeVaan and Bill Veghte will report directly to Ballmer to lead Windows/Windows Live," the statement continued.

The company will search for a leader to fill a new position atop the Online Services group.

"In the Online Services Business, Microsoft will create a new senior lead position and will conduct a search that will span internal and external candidates. In the meantime, Senior Vice President Satya Nadella will continue to lead Microsoft's search, MSN and ad platform engineering efforts," the company said.

Johnson was one of three Microsoft division presidents. He took over the division in September 2005. Johnson led Microsoft's largest acquisition to date, Seattle-based aQuantive, and would have been in charge of incorporating Yahoo into his division.

According to his Microsoft biography, Johnson has been with the company since 1992, holding positions including group vice president of worldwide sales.

Update, 6:14 p.m.: Ballmer sent an e-mail to employees this afternoon laying out his priorities for the current year and explaining Johnson's departure and the reorganization. Read it here.

Comments | Category: Corporate organization , Online services , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 22, 2008 9:22 AM

Report: Microsoft ads to equate Vista-haters with the Flat Earth Society?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Ed Bott at ZDNet has a screen shot that may be part of Microsoft's forthcoming $300 million advertising campaign to improve the image of Windows Vista. The shot shows a tall sailing ship on the open sea next to the text, "At one point, everyone thought the Earth was flat." Below that, "Get the facts about Windows Vista."

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Comments | Category: Advertising , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

July 9, 2008 8:53 AM

Vista, Office 2007 top CIOs' list of software projects to be delayed in tightened IT spending environment

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Goldman Sachs is out this morning with an extensive review of the software industry as second-quarter earnings begin rolling in next week. Broadly, the analysts see chief information officers -- CIOs -- tightening their belts.

"Our latest IT spending indicators suggest ongoing caution in 2008 spending plans on a year-over-year basis. CIO expectations of growth in budgets remains well below 1-year and 2-year ago levels," the analysts wrote.

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Comments | Category: Financial , Tech Economy , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 24, 2008 2:11 PM

Microsoft Q3: Client weak

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft's core operating system business saw year-over-year revenue and operating income declines in the latest quarter. Likewise, the Online Services Business -- where it competes most directly with Google, the impetus for the Yahoo acquisition -- also saw a slight decline.

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Comments | Category: Financial , Microsoft , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 23, 2008 1:29 PM

Microsoft begins distributing Vista SP1 via Automatic Updates

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft released the first service pack for Windows Vista in March. Today, it started pushing the update to its customers via Automatic Updates.

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Comments | Category: Microsoft , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 21, 2008 10:55 AM

Ninth Circuit declines to hear Microsoft appeal in 'Vista Capable' suit

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

That's the early word from lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the suit. Remember, Microsoft was seeking to appeal the judge's class certification in the suit. With the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declining to take up the case, it should proceed in U.S. District Court.

More to come on this as it develops.

Update, 12 p.m.: Plaintiffs' attorney Jeffrey Thomas said by phone that his side is pleased with the Ninth Circuit's decision and "we're looking forward to proceeding with discovery."

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Comments | Category: Legal issues , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 17, 2008 11:47 AM

Microsoft's Ballmer gives unvarnished take on Windows, online businesses

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke in Seattle this morning to one of the friendliest, but also most knowledgeable and critical audiences he faces: Microsoft's Most Valuable Professionals. In a jocular, hourlong speech and conversation, Ballmer gave some unguarded assessments of his company's position in online search; its bid for Yahoo; the success of Windows Vista; and its market acceptance vs its predecessor. Here are some of the highlights:

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Comments | Category: Google , Microsoft , Steve Ballmer , Windows Vista , Yahoo acquisition |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 16, 2008 1:32 PM

Microsoft sales video jeered across the Web, gives insight to enterprise sales pitch

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Someone has posted to YouTube what appears to be an internal Microsoft sales music video imploring the sales force to get out and sell Windows Vista to businesses now that Service Pack 1 is available. It's unabashedly cheesy, a bit hard to watch and quickly becoming the object of ridicule around the Web. But the message in the video sheds some light on how the company's sales arm sees its most important product.

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Comments | Category: Microsoft , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 4, 2008 10:11 AM

Judge's order halts action in 'Vista Capable' lawsuit

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Last night, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman granted Microsoft's request to halt proceedings in the "Vista Capable" class action lawsuit pending results from the company's appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. More details coming...

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Comments | Category: Legal issues , Microsoft , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 3, 2008 11:17 AM

A tea leaf about Windows 7 in Windows XP announcement: It's still on track

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Makers of ultra-low-cost PCs (ULPCs) such as ASUS and Intel can install Windows XP Home until June 30, 2010, or one year after the general availability of Windows 7, whichever is later, Microsoft said today. But isn't Windows 7 supposed to be available in 2010?

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Comments | Category: Hardware , Intel , Microsoft , Windows 7 , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 18, 2008 12:55 PM

Microsoft explains when, where and how to get Windows Vista Service Pack 1

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Microsoft today released a major update to its year-old operating system, Windows Vista, but there has been some confusion about exactly when, where and how to get the software. I asked David Zipkin, a Microsoft senior product manager in the Windows group, to explain how a person in each of the four following situations should get Vista Service Pack 1, which includes the bug fixes and patches Microsoft has issued since Vista launched.

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Comments | Category: Microsoft , Windows Vista |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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