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Microsoft News Tracker

What's more interesting than observing Microsoft?

October 31, 2006

Deals, deals, deals

Posted by David Hunter at 4:03 PM ET.

It seems to be Microsoft deal day and leading off is the news that Microsoft’s Halo video game based movie, which went on the rocks when Universal and Fox withdrew their funding, has been indefinitely postponed:

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said the company and the Oscar-winning team behind “The Lord of the Rings” films have postponed “Halo” — the movie based on Microsoft’s popular alien shoot-up video games.

“At this time Microsoft, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh have mutually agreed to postpone making a feature film based on the Halo video game,” Microsoft said in a statement.

“While it will undoubtedly take a little longer for Halo to reach the big screen, we are confident that the final feature film will be well worth the wait,” said the company, which through a spokesman declined further comment.

Leaving broken Hollywood dreams behind for the mundane technical variety, if Microsoft did a big unified communications deal with Nortel why are they demoing with Mitel?

Well, if past deals have problems, there are always new deals like Microsoft and Zend Technologies Announce Technical Collaboration to Improve Interoperability of PHP on the Windows Server Platform. No financial terms were disclosed, but I find it hard to believe that it is a great business opportunity for Zend without some reimbursement from Microsoft. Best line:

The companies believe the alternative “WIMP stack”–which substitutes Windows and the Internet Information Server (IIS) for Linux and Apache–will have some appeal.

Here’s another one that asks more questions than it answers, but in a potentially interesting way:

Autocell Laboratories Inc., a maker of automatic frequency management software for wireless networks and applications, has confirmed that it has entered into a licensing agreement with Microsoft Corp., the company said on Tuesday.

The licenseing agreement is with respect to Acton-based Autocell’s patent portfolio related to load balancing, automatic channel selection, transmit power control, fast roaming, automatic secure wireless key distribution and generation, as well as various software architecture patents.

Microsoft has also obtained non-exclusive rights to use the Autocell access point and station source code bases.

And Microsoft isn’t just buying technology, it’s also selling – in China:

Today at the Innovation Summit in Beijing, Microsoft Corp. announced the first-ever licensing of technologies to two Chinese software companies, Comtech Group Inc. and Hunan Talkweb Information System Co. Ltd. (Talkweb). The innovative mobile communications technologies were developed by scientists at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing. Comtech and Talkweb are demonstrating the potential for intellectual property created in China to be the basis for new businesses in the growing Chinese knowledge economy. Although Microsoft has successfully partnered with other companies and entrepreneurs in Europe and the U.S., this is the first time early-stage intellectual property-based technologies are being licensed under the shared-success business model of Microsoft IP Ventures in China.

The financial part of “shared-success” was not disclosed, but Microsoft says that they like the Chinese deals so much that they are working hard on more.

Filed under Autocell, Comtech, Coopetition, IP Ventures, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, Mitel, Nortel, Patents, Talkweb, Xbox, Zend

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Microsoft spiffs up Vista and Office 2007 packaging

Posted by David Hunter at 10:58 AM ET.

For the visually oriented, Nick White reveals some boxshots for Windows Vista and Office 2007 at the Vista Team blog. The packaging is really quite novel as it is a hard plastic case with a trendy rounded corner that has room for the disk and some documentation. There are shots for more Vista and Office 2007 versions in Microsoft’s product boxshot gallery, and thankfully none of the color schemes involve brown.

Update Nov. 2: Brandon LeBlanc has a photo of of how the package opens – it’s not like a book or DVD case.

Filed under General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, OS - Client, Office, Office 2007, Windows Vista

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Microsoft’s Office Live to leave beta on November 15

Posted by David Hunter at 10:17 AM ET.

We haven’t heard too much about Microsoft’s Office Live collection of online services for small businesses since the open beta started in April, but Elizabeth Montalbano reports at InfoWorld that the product launch and a new service beta are on the way:

Microsoft’s Office Live service is set to go out of beta [in the USA - ed.] Nov. 15, and will eventually offer small businesses a chance to buy ads from rival Google and others, according to a Microsoft executive.

Microsoft will also introduce a beta of a new service at that time, Office Live adManager, which lets users purchase online advertising for Microsoft’s and Windows Live Search properties, said Baris Cetinok, director of product management for Office Live. And in the next six months, the company also plans to add the ability to let users purchase ads for search engines from Google, Yahoo,, and, he said.

Office Live will be available in three versions: Office Live Basics, which is a stripped-down, free version; Office Live Essentials, which costs $19.95 a month and can support up to 10 users; and Office Live Premium, which costs $39.95 a month and can support up to 20 users.

All three versions will include adManager, as well as another new service called Office Live Business Contact Manager, a CRM service, Cetinok said.

Another change to the full version of Office Live will be a simplified Web-site design tool, Cetinok said. The new tool made it easier for users to bring custom HTML to their Web sites, something beta users requested, he said.

Beta versions will also launch in France, Germany, Japan, and the UK on Nov. 15.

Update: Microsoft today had a press release covering this and Mary Jo Foley has a rundown on what changed between announcement and launch: among other things the collaboration offering was dropped.

Filed under Advertising, Beta and CTP, General Business, Microsoft, Office Live, Online Services

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Windows Live Messenger 8.1 starts public beta

Posted by David Hunter at 9:22 AM ET.

Nicole at Microsoft’s Inside Windows Live Messenger blog has the news:

Windows Live Messenger 8.1 Beta is released. It is what we call a dot release, the changes are not as major as in a major release (go figure) they are small updates to the existing stuff in Messenger.

Important Details:

  • Get Messenger 8.1 Beta here
  • Send feedback here
  • Talk about it here
  • Get support here

Hit the link for a list of what’s new.

Filed under Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger

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