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June 30, 2006

Friday round up

Posted by David Hunter at 6:48 PM ET.

“Brace for impact!”: Microsoft Warns Employees of Likely Antitrust Fine

John Dvorak: Why Microsoft won’t buy Yahoo: “Sometimes you have to laugh out loud when a report comes out with analysis and suggestions that are so far out in left field that they can only be categorized as completely insane.” I felt bad that I didn’t have time to say something snarky about last week’s rumor, but I feel much better after reading Dvorak.

Microsoft Faces Class Action Suit: Lawsuit alleges that Windows Genuine Advantage antipiracy tool violates consumer protection laws. Unfortunately predictable. Also predictable is a worm pretending to be a WGA tester.

MobiTV does Windows Mobile: MobiTV Enables Consumers to Watch Live and Made-for-Mobile Television Content on Windows Mobile Powered Devices

Microsoft readies an “Ultimate” keyboard/mouse combo to ship alongside Vista which would go well with the rumored Microsoft branded Vista optimizing 22″ TFT monitor.

Microsoft launches CodePlex shared source project site: We mentioned it back in May when the beta test started.

A blast from the past: Microsoft says Go antitrust suit dismissed.

Filed under Acquisitions, Antitrust, Coopetition, General Business, Genuine Advantage, Governmental Relations, Keyboards, Legal, Licensing, Mice, Microsoft, Microsoft Hardware, Open Source, Security, Shared Source, Technologies, Viruses and Worms, Windows Mobile, Yahoo

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MSN Search and Yahoo bid farewell … in the USA at least

Posted by David Hunter at 1:25 PM ET.

Today’s June 30 and that means the end of Yahoo ads on MSN Search in the USA:

MSN’s U.S. search distribution agreement with Yahoo! Search Marketing ends this month, and Yahoo! Sponsored Search listings will no longer appear in MSN’s U.S. search results. Although we regret the loss of MSN as a distribution partner, it was not unexpected, and we do not anticipate a significant change in the total amount of traffic to our advertisers as a result.

Is that a polite way of saying MSN Search isn’t much of a traffic driver? Hopefully for MSN it’s just a reference to the fact that MSN started running their own ads exclusively on MSN Search in the USA in May.

We expect that MSN will continue to display Yahoo! Search Marketing Content Match listings in the U.S., and Sponsored Search listings in non-U.S. markets, beyond June 2006.

It looks like Microsoft’s online ad ramp still has a way to go to cover even the whole MSN world.

Filed under Advertising, Coopetition, General Business, Live Search, MSN, MSN Search, Microsoft, Windows Live, Yahoo, adCenter

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First shoe dropping? Microsoft RIFs 214 in sales

Posted by David Hunter at 11:15 AM ET.

The pixels were still hot on yesterday’s Mini-Microsoft rumors of Microsoft RIFs when Microsoft announced that 214 employees in US sales had gotten the axe. Mary Jo Foley reports at Microsoft Watch:

Microsoft is laying off 214 U.S. salespeople, a day after it announced some executive shuffling across various product groups, officials confirmed on June 29.

While this isn’t the first time Microsoft has cut employees, the move is somewhat uncharacteristic for the 70,000-employee company that has been adding staff by the thousands each year.

“Microsoft’s U.S. sales organization is reorganizing to better align a subset of its field and headquarters positions more closely with the needs of its enterprise customers and partners,” said a company spokesman.

Microsoft is reducing “select regional and operational positions,” as well as some “roles in which more specialized skills are needed,” the spokesman added.

At the same time, however, Microsoft is creating 66 new “customer-facing” positions in U.S. sales, for which employees who are cut will have an opportunity to apply, the spokesman said.

Among the positions being cut are corporate account reps and business-development reps, according to reports from individuals close to the company, who asked not to be named.. The enterprise partner and public sector units within U.S. sales are the most directly affected, sources added.

Frankly, this seems rather odd. I can’t believe that Microsoft is throwing in the towel on “enterprise partner and public sector” sales and sales departments by their very nature are the most attrition prone of any corporate organization. Generally the reps are working to a quota and and if they make quota, then they are making a positive contribution to the bottom line which should not be disturbed; if they’re not making quota, they are out the door anyhow. So why is a formal RIF (with the rumored 6 weeks of looking for another Microsoft job like the 66 new ones and then a severance package) required? It’s almost as if Microsoft decided on a token public cost reduction gesture before the end of the fiscal year (June 30) and the 214 is reportedly 5% of their sales force.

In any case, 214 out of Microsoft’s 70,000 employees isn’t the widespread RIF the rumors predicted, but Foley culls a pertinent gem from among the Mini-Microsoft comments:

“RIFs in this company do not and will not happen company wide,” said one anonymous poster on Mini-Microsoft. “They will happen on a group by group basis. For those of you in underperforming groups that are incapable of shipping a decent product, be worried. For those of you in bloated groups that actually ship, you’re probably safe. For those of you in lean, mean groups that ship products regularly and frequently, I would love to work for Google too :-).”

Humorous snarking aside, it’s just more evidence that Microsoft is now a “big” company and incapable of managing their personnel on anything other than a ham-handed basis. It’ll be interesting to see if news of any more RIFs surfaces.

Filed under Employee Retention, Financial, General Business, Microsoft

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IE7 beta arrives, Vista beta departs

Posted by David Hunter at 9:52 AM ET.

Over at Microsoft’s IEBlog, General Manager Dean Hachamovitch yesterday announced the availability of Internet Explorer Beta 3:

This morning we released IE7 Beta 3 for Windows XP. This version includes improvements in reliability, compatibility, security, and a few end user features. Give it a try at

IE7 Beta 3 runs on Windows XP SP2, Windows XP x64, and Windows Server 2003 SP1. This beta does not install on Windows Vista Beta 2; a new version of IE7+ in Windows Vista will be available with the next public Windows Vista release soon.

Today?s release is the final beta for IE7. Our next steps are the Release Candidates followed by general availability in the second half of the year.

Hit the link for some installation tips and check Max Stevens’ post in the same place for some of the changes.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Ian Moulster blogs that the availability of beta 2 of Windows Vista ends today:

Update: The program will close on Friday June 30th 2006

In case you weren’t aware, we are only providing a limited number of copies of Windows Vista Beta 2 – either download or physical copies – and we’re fast approaching the cut-off point.

What this means is – if you want to get a copy, get it now (and I mean now). Visit and either download or order. Because WE WILL BE WITHDRAWING ACCESS VERY SOON. Did I say that loudly enough?

If you’re burning to get a copy, he has some tips for getting in under the wire, but be aware that the consensus among testers is that the newer Community Technical Preview release 5456 is much improved over Beta 2, but unlike Beta 2 it isn’t available to the general public.

Filed under Beta and CTP, IE7, Internet Explorer, Microsoft, OS - Client, OS - Server, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows XP, XP x64

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