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July 31, 2006

Microsoft’s Zune to launch November 14?

Posted by David Hunter at 7:16 PM ET.

Engadget has the rumor du jour:

The juicier bits, however, are that we can all expect to find out some hard information from Microsoft in August, and that the player is slated to launch on November 14th, right in time for the holiday buying season (what a huge surprise).

There’s more there and if you haven’t been keeping up with the Zune news, I see that the Zune News Site has an (unofficial) FAQ that collects the latest buzz.

Microsoft is going to have to stand in line for a piece of the iPod action though, since there seem to be so many others trying for the same market mojo. Today, Verizon Wireless jumped in with their “Chocolate” cell phone and music player:

With its circular scroll pad, the device looks like Apple Computer’s iPod MP3 player, adding another player to an increasingly crowded market. Microsoft announced July 21 it would soon release a digital music player called Zune.

Verizon’s Chocolate will probably differ from both products in that it uses wireless links both to download and to play music, supporting a Bluetooth-enabled headset. The device also doubles as a cell phone, with 3G (third-generation) features like games, music videos, television clips, GPS (global positioning system) navigation and a camera.

No word on a kitchen sink, but that’s the rub with these multipurpose phones – they may do everything a little bit, but they do nothing really well – except phone calls, I guess.

Though the sleek new phone is pleasing to the eye, and, at $249 with a one-year contract, not terribly expensive, analysts aren’t expecting Chocolate and other cell phone MP3 players currently on the market to make much of a dent in Apple’s dominance in the mobile music arena. In fact, some see such devices, which have far less storage capacity than iPods, as complementary devices rather than competitors, allowing people to have a few songs with them at all times — since people are rarely without their cell phones these days — even as they leave their iPods at home.

Nonetheless, this trend certainly bears watching, since cell phone makers are undoubtedly trying to provide an all-in-one mobile device that would make iPods superfluous. Both Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S – News) offer handsets that can store music as well, but Apple has also dabbled in cell phones. The company has a partnership with Motorola (NYSE: MOT – News), whose SLVR phone — available to Cingular subscribers — runs Apple’s iTunes software.

At the same time, it’s long been rumored that Apple intends to develop an iPod-branded phone of its own.

And Steve Ballmer has hinted that Microsoft would like to play in the musical phone market too.

Filed under Apple, Argo, Coopetition, Microsoft, Verizon, Zune

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Industry bigs unite on Service Modeling Language standard

Posted by David Hunter at 2:13 PM ET.

Martin LaMonica at CNET:

Computing industry heavyweights on Monday announced a plan to create a standardized way for computing resources to “talk” to each other, a move they say will lower the cost of running corporate data centers.

The initiative calls for the creation of an XML-based standard, called Service Modeling Language (SML), and its adoption in commercial products, including systems management software, hardware, and application development tools.

The companies involved–BEA Systems, BMC Software, Cisco Systems, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems–published a draft SML specification on Monday and pledged to support it in the future.

The goal of SML is to establish a lingua franca for computing resources–servers, networking gear, applications and the like–to exchange operating information, such as security requirements or performance problems.

The basis for SML is Microsoft’s own XML specification, called Systems Definition Model. The company has already built support for SDM in Visual Studio 2005; all future management software and future operating systems will use SML starting in 2007, Tatarinov said.

Kirill Tatarinov is Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows Enterprise Management Division. The formal press release has more details.

Filed under Alliances, BEA, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Executives, HP, Hardware, IBM, Intel, Kirill Tatarinov, Microsoft, Standards, Sun, Tools, VS 2005

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Microsoft hands in late homework, hopes to avoid more EU detention

Posted by David Hunter at 1:25 PM ET.

Pardon the school analogy, but it’s European Commission competition honcho Neelie Kroes’ favorite, so who am I to quibble? Anyhow, Microsoft has finally completed and handed over the server protocol interoperability documentation that the European Commission had demanded:

Microsoft Corp. has submitted documents required by the European Commission in an effort to avoid further fines for breaching an antitrust ruling, the European Union regulator said on Monday.

The Commission said it was studying the files and that it was too early to tell whether the world’s largest software company would be subject to an additional non-compliance penalty.

“We have received technical documents from Microsoft. Our people are looking at it, including the trustee, and it’s too early at this stage to give any indication of whether there will be another payment, another penalty, and if there is to be another penalty, how much it would be,” Commission spokesman Michael Mann told a news briefing.

Microsoft said that it had made a final submission of 2,600 documents which “further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to reaching full compliance with the Commission’s decision of March 2004.”

Filed under Antitrust, General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Microsoft

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More Windows Live Mobile applications on the way

Posted by David Hunter at 1:07 PM ET.

Chris at LiveSide:

Recently I got a demo of some upcoming Windows Live Mobile applications, one of which, the Live Local mobile application, has just been updated and is available for public download.

As with G2, the new mobile Messenger client for smartphones, the Live Local application is impressive, both in terms of performance and features. While Messenger helps you waste away the spare minutes you have, Local could turn out to be the must-have application of the group. Built-in position determining via GPS or Wifi, pushpins and driving directions are some of the newest feature additions.

More by following the link including screenshots.

Filed under Beta and CTP, Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live for Windows Mobile

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