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Microsoft Deals For $700 Million Chinese Investment

Microsoft has made a deal to buy $700 million worth of electronics hardware from China over the next five years. They also agreed to invest an additional $200 million in Chinese software firms. It appears that this might the be the opposite half of a recently announced deal where China-based Lenovo would buy $1.2 billion worth of the Windows OS in the next year, and the Chinese goverment would step up antipiracy efforts.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows | no comments

UNO To Support Xbox 360 Camera

PlayFeed has video taken off their Xbox 360 debug kit showing that UNO, the Xbox Live Arcade game that is expected soon, has a menu section for “Camera Settings”, making it the first game that is known to support the camera. While the menu does not show how the camera would be used, it does seem likely that you will be able to see the other people you are playing against.

Which just seems great.

Unless they’re ugly.
(via Xbox 360 Fanboy)

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live | no comments

Multi-User Mode For Remote Desktop

Download Squad shows how you can enable up to 3 users in Remote Desktop in Windows XP. Basically, by using a beta DLL, you can have up to three people logged in on the same computer through remote desktop simultaneously.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, XP | no comments

Microsoft Earnings Report Coming

Todd Bishop points out that Microsoft will be releasing its third quarter earnigns report in just over a day. What’s more important, he says, is that MS will also be releasing its fiscal forecast for the coming year, including expected revenues and sales of Windows Vista and Office 2007. They will also likely explain how much the delays of Vista and Office will affect the bottom line.

For the third quarter itself, analysts polled by Thomson Financial expect Microsoft to post quarterly revenue of slightly more than $11 billion, an increase of 15 percent over the company’s revenue in the same quarter last year. For earnings per share, the consensus is 33 cents. That’s at the high end of the guidance issued by Microsoft in January. At the time, the company said it expected third-quarter revenue between $10.9 billion and $11.2 billion.

I’m also interested in hearing how well (or not) the Xbox division did in the last few months. To get the news as it happens, come back here, or visit this page at 5:30 Eastern tomorrow.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Corporate | no comments

Microsoft Patent: TV Chat

Microsoft has been issued a patent for “Multimode interactive television chat”. Involved: displaying a combination of television content and internet chat room in a single interface.

The abstract:

A user interface device has a graphical user interface that can simultaneously display a combination of television and Internet content in various display modes. The display modes may have different proportions, positioning or other features of the Internet and television content. A viewer of the user interface device may change display modes, such as by selecting a link available in each of the display modes. The television content being displayed may be a broadcast show and the Internet content may be chat from a chat room corresponding to the television show. Various display modes are provided for displaying the television show and corresponding chat, ranging from maximal television display and minimal chat display to minimal television display and maximal chat display. Changing television channels may initiate a corresponding change in the chat room being participated in and the content being displayed.

Techdirt, where I got the link, seems to like patent-bashing a little too much. Its not a bad idea, but like most Microsoft patents, don’t be so sure we’ll ever see it. Still, who knows? It could be a future feature in Media Center.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Media Center, Vista | 4 comments

Microsoft Buys Massive

Microsoft is acquiring Massive, a company that does in-game advertising. Massive sells a lot of those billboards, vending machines and other types of ads you see in games more and more these days. Cnet’s Daniel Terdiman says:

But by buying Massive, Microsoft is putting itself in a position to cash in both from the sale of games, and from the revenue generated by the inserted ads. This will also allow Microsoft to maintain more control over how the ads are placed and to consider new business models in which it could potentially allow the ads to subsidize lower prices on its game titles.

Joystiq pretty much says the same thing, that Microsoft is creating multiple revenue streams. They have a list of seventeen (17!) revenue streams the Xbox 360 already has, everything from music video distribution to Xbox Live sponsored weekends.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live | no comments

Who’s Microsoft’s “Great Actor”?

Michael Swanson posts that he’s been working on some sort of project with Microsoft Studios, and that they had a rehearsal Friday with some sort of “well known actor”. He won’t spoil the surprise, but does post a photo with the actor whited out. Check out his blog, then come back here and we’ll try to speculate on who the person is.

The person, judging by height, is either a man, or Geena Davis (:-)). The hair is not neat, which knocks out a lot of people. The text of the post seems to indicate someone both well known and talented. I’m going to guess… Harrison Ford.

What? I got nothing. You try better.

Although, by shape, it looks like Bono. He’s just not an “actor”.

Michael promises an answer in a few weeks, which may or may not have anything to do with E3.

By the way, Michael is the person who got his resume noticed at Microsoft by sending it along with a lifesize cardboard cutout of himself.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | one comment

Microsoft Spins Off Wallop

Microsoft has taken Wallop, its social networking experiment site, and spun it off as a seperate, venture capital funded startup. The new Wallop is led by CEO Karl Jacob, a veteran of both Microsoft and startups, according to Michael Arrington. The startup begins having already received a first round of funding, with Microsoft retaining a minority stake.

The new Wallop, located at (till now, the site has been at is expected to launch this summer.

I think it is great that something Microsoft Research created is being spun off into a new company, but what confuses the hell out of me is why Microsoft has a minority stake. Shouldn’t MS have been considered the first round of funding, given that they built the company? Maybe I’m not understanding the financials involved, but all I want to know is: If Wallop is successful down the road and has an IPO, how much does Microsoft benefit?

It could be a whole new strategy for Microsoft: Let small teams create interesting and risky small websites within the company. If they create something with promise, but of no use to Microsoft as a company, then MS gives them a first round of funding and spins them off as a new company, with the employees who built it running the new firm. If the company goes public, Microsoft cashes in, big time, making the whole thing a very successful venture.

Microsoft’s stock isn’t going anywhere. Maybe it could have a lot of success (with minimal investment) as the next Idealabs? Consider this: In due time, an IPO of could be worth twenty billion dollars.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Corporate, Live | no comments

Microsoft Deals For Phone-To-PC Music Transfers

Microsoft has cut a deal with CoreMedia, which provides DRM for songs purchased by mobile phones, that would allow the songs to be transferred to Windows PCs.

The deal may also lock down content further. According to one carrier, music purchased from its music store may already be shared between a PC and the phone, although the purchase allows two copies of the song to be downloaded, one each to the phone and the PC.

The deal would allow OMA DRM 2.0 protected content to be exported from mobile handsets to the PC and played using Windows Media Player. CoreMedia said it had integrated the Windows Media DRM SDK into its own content protection technology and rights-management technology, enabling the secure handoff of content.

Presumably, Microsoft would rather deal with the company already doing the mobile phone DRM than try to compete with it and convince carriers to support PlaysForSure. Of course, Windows Mobile 5.0 smart phones, for the most part, already accept Microsoft’s DRM to sync songs from a PC.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows Media, Windows Mobile | no comments

Like Sony, Nintendo Targeting Xbox Live

A little while back, Sony sent around a survey that seemed to ask questions about setting up an Xbox Live-like service. Not long after, they announced they were building one. Now, Nintendo is doing the same damn thing.

Features in the questionaire, according to Joystiq, include:

  • Comparing game stats with your friends and others
  • Uploading screenshots
  • Posting user-made content (art and videos) and rating the content
  • See what your friends are currently playing
  • “Create and/or read blogs linked to the site”
  • Scheduling “play dates” (dates/times to play against friends) … tournaments?
  • Submitting “strategy, tips and tricks to a game-specific forum”
  • Personalizing the homepage

Its pretty obvious that everyone is scared, knowing that Microsoft has created one of the most powerful assets in the next-gen console war. They’re both hoping Xbox Live doesn’t have an insurmountable lead, both in users, polish, features, and customer loyalty.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox Live | no comments

Monad Command Line Shell Becomes “Power Rangers”… Uh, I Mean “PowerShell”

Microsoft has given its command line interface/scripting language product Monad a brand name. Rather than go the boring, typical Microsoft route and call it “Microsoft Windows .NET Command Management Shell”, they went in the other direction, and didn’t do much better, because they reached that “good brand name area” and kept driving. Monad is now “PowerShell”.

Uh, okay. It doesn’t suck, like most names, but it seems kind of weird. Of course, I don’t know jack about what PowerShell actually does besides being something like DOS, but not as old-fashioned, so maybe the name works. Could have been worse; they could have called it DOS Vista.

The RC1 version of PowerShell is a free download for Windows XP, 2003, Vista and Longhorn Server. Get it for:

Someone already wants bloggers to unite against the PowerShell name.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications | no comments

The Xbox Rides Away

Xbox sunset.jpg

The end has come.

According to GamePro, Walmart, Target and Best Buy have removed the original Xbox from their online stores, marking an end to mainstream availability of new, packaged, first generation Xbox consoles. Microsoft reportedly stopped manufacturing them when the XBox 360 was released, and supplies have apparently dwindled to the point where the big retailers just don’t have any. GameStop and Amazon still have refurbished consoles, and most stores still sell games and accessories, but it is time to put the Xbox 1 to bed and welcome generation 2.

Ironically (well, not for him; he’s pissed), my brother’s original Xbox broke a few weeks ago, victim of an out of warranty hard drive failure. But we know now what it really was: consolar suicide.
(via Digg)

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox | no comments