LiveSide is reporting that MSN Travel has teamed up with Farecast to bring Farecast’s airline fare predictions to MSN users. Visitors to MSN Travel will see a box with fares that are good buys (because they will be more expensive soon), and a link to an MSN-branded version of Farecast. Farecast joins other companies, like Expedia, Frommerâ€™s and Travel+Leisure, who provide their information to MSN’s userbase.
One game developer is pitching the idea of bringing Microsoft Flight Simulator to the Xbox 360. I have to ask the obvious question: Why the hell didn’t Microsoft bring Flight Simulator to consoles years ago? Flight Simulator has had 12 editions in the last 25 years, and none of them since 1989 has been on a non-DOS/Windows platform. Microsoft has its own game console, and the game is wholly produced by MS, so why don’t they just release it for the Xbox 360?
Microsoft owns a long-lasting game franchise with instant name recognition among a generation of computer users, and they haven’t even done a crappy port? Why not!? They’d make money, for sure. I don’t get it.
Peter Moore, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, has left the company to become the new head of EA Sports. Microsoft announced that Moore resigned for “personal reasons” and is moving back to the Bay Area. Don Mattrick, ironically a former head of EA, will now head the Xbox and Games For Windows businesses. Mattrick has only been with Microsoft since February after 15 years at EA.
What happened? Did EA make Moore an offer too good to refuse? Was Moore sick of working at Microsoft (he didn’t seem to be)? Did he just want a change of scenery? Was he fired for stealing too much toner from the supply closet? We need to know! It’s a tough call whether or not moving from the head of a Microsoft division to the head of an EA division is a step down or not, but I guess the salary determines that more than anything.
EA sure seems happy to have Moore, based on the press release. Being at a games company means Moore will have to apologize to Sony for some comments he’s made about them, including saying that their long-term Japanese business was crumbling. I’m sure the statement starts with “Sony is a valued partner…”
While Microsoft is definitely losing a valued executive, if Moore departed on good terms, he could be a nice boost to their relationship with EA. If Moore loves the Xbox as much as he said he did, he’d be expected to be Xbox-biased in his EA decisions.
One question: How will EA feel about Moore bearing tattoos of games made by major competitors on either arm?
UPDATE: Moore is leaving for an incredibly huge compensation package. I think its safe to say its about the money, not hard feelings. Moore gets $550,000 per year, plus a $1.5 million bonus if he stays two years (to be paid right now), plus $4.26 million in EA stock, plus a performance-based bonus that can be as high as $412,500 a year.
Mary Jo Foley is insisting a preview of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 will be coming later this week, releasing to certain testers in just a few days. The Vista SP1 preview may be announced on Thursday after the stock market closes, when Microsoft releases its quarterly earnings report. Should be an exciting night, especially if Microsoft had a great quarter.
Brian White at Blogging Stocks has a roundup of analyst expectations for Microsoft’s quarter. Currently, the average industry estimate is 33-cents earnings per share, with some analysts predicting as low as 30 and as high as 39.
Gary Price continues to find new domain name registrations by Microsoft, catching 39 more this time, including a bunch related to Media Center Extenders. I’m guessing that means Microsoft plans on pushing a new wave of version 2 Extenders, whenever the hell they finally come out. Domains include MediaCenterExtender.net, MediaCenterExtenderSandbox.com, MCExtender.net, ConnectsToMediaCenter.com and ItProMomentum.com.
Microsoft’s AdManager beta advertising service, part of Office Live, will begin selling advertising for Ask.com. Users of AdManager will be able to purchase Ask.com search ads and Live.com search ads, bringing two of the top five search engines (numbers three and four, most of the time) under the same roof for the first time in years. According to ComScore’s recent numbers, the two combine to reach 18.2% of the search engine audience, over 1.5 billion search queries performed per month.
Deo Melgaco has a fascinating set of posts looking at Wal-Mart and Microsoft and the costs associated with employees. The highlight is the chart that shows the annual net income for the two companies, plus Oracle and Costco, compared with the number of people employed. Microsoft profitted to the tune of $12.6 billion last year on 71,000 employees, earning $177,450 per employee, while Wal-Mart earned $11.3 billion on 1.9 million employees, a profit of just $5,938 per employee.
Talk about inefficiency!
After looking at those numbers, I don’t see how you could argue Wal-Mart needs to pay its employees more or give them health benefits. As is, Wal-Mart cannot afford to both issue pay raises and continue to operate as a healthy company, because their income per employee is practically a sick joke. Wal-Mart already needs to find a way to fire many of its employees and operate more efficiently, and if it paid them better or offered benefits, that would force them to find a way to mass-fire employees even faster.
With 1.9 million jobs at stake, the idea of them firing half those people (which they should, if they want to be more efficient) is a scary one for how it would effect the economy.
I tell you this, if Wal-Mart fired 900,000 people, the illegal immigration debate would end as nearly a million Americans would do whatever necessary to take those jobs from illegal immigrants that you always hear Americans aren’t willing to work. That many unemployed, both the workers and the legislative bodies will find a way to enforce illegal immigration legislation and give those low-paying jobs to legal workers. And without the jobs for the illegal workers, I’d imaging illegal immigrant amnesty legislation loses its purpose in Congress.
Anyway, how did this turn into a political discussion? The point is, Wal-Mart earns just north of nothing per employee, Microsoft makes enough to pay everyone handsomely. The numbers on Google on even better, $288,270 per employee ($3.1 billion on 10,674 employees) while Yahoo makes considerably less, just $65,911 per employee ($751 million on 11,400 employees).
Deo also calculates Wal-Mart’s costs due to a 40% turnover rate at $1.36 billion per year.
Microsoft has shipped Windows Home Server, its operating system for boxes that sit at the center of a network and manage backups, security and remote access, and has done so with no delays whatsoever. Microsoft shipped an entirely new version of Windows Server, on time and apparently in great shape, and systems running off Home Server should be available to purchase this Fall, including two new manufacturer partners in Iomega and Fujitsu.
Credit for Home Server has to go to Charlie Kindel, who has been pushing for Home Server since 1999. According to the announcement blog post, when Home Server was greenlight 2 1/2 years ago, it was Charlie’s fourth attempt to get the project moving, hence the code name “Quattro”. Two and a half years to develop and test a new server OS is just amazing work, and it shows the strength of the team that built Home Server. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Rick Hallihan has a list of four Home Server add-ons some one just has to code before systems start shipping, including the truly brilliant idea of automatic backups of any USB memory stick that is plugged in, instantly and without any setup by the user.
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