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November 30, 2008

Yet another Microsoft-Yahoo search deal rumor

Posted by David Hunter at 11:42 AM ET.

John Waples at the (UK) Sunday Times has revealed details of yet another purported search deal under negotiation between Microsoft and Yahoo that would have Microsoft financially supporting a new Yahoo management team in return for  a 10-year operating agreement to manage Yahoo’s search business as well as a two-year call option to buy the search business for $20 billion. Aside from the Byzantine complexity of the deal, it (as always) remains hard to see why Yahoo would want to turn over one of its crown jewels to someone else. Perhaps a monetization agreement, but not a complete withdrawal from the search business by Yahoo.

Filed under Acquisitions, Coopetition, Microsoft, Yahoo

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November 23, 2008

Microsoft decorates Zune for holiday shoppers

Posted by David Hunter at 7:08 PM ET.

Back in September of this year Microsoft shipped the Zune 3.0 release in their annual counter to Apple’s unveiling of new iPods. The expectation was that that was it for the holiday season, but last week Microsoft rolled out a bundle of Zune surprises for holiday shoppers.

First there were the price decreases on the flash Zunes (US $):



Old Price


Zune 4GB




Zune 8GB




Zune 16GB




Not exactly doorbuster specials, but still a nice bonus.

Then there was the new Zune Pass subscription model:

Zune, Microsoft Corp.’s digital music and entertainment service, today announced landmark agreements with major and independent music labels to bring significant new value to the subscription music model. The Zune Pass subscription service currently gives consumers on-demand access to millions of tracks for $14.99 per month. Starting today subscribers will also get to select 10 tracks per month to keep and add them to their permanent collection (an estimated $10 value).

Hit the link for the list of music publishers, large and small, that are participating, but it includes the so-called "big four" as well as number of independents. I don’t know that this is necessarily a Zune incentive, but it sure is an incentive for Zune purchasers to acquire a Zune Pass . An interesting factoid is that "About 90% of Marketplace tracks will soon be available in DRM-free MP3 format."

And finally, there was a Zune 3.1 software update which provided, "a handful of free games, a refresh to Zune Social and incremental improvements."

All of these embellishments are swell, but the real question is whether they will give the Zune team any traction in their uphill battle with the iPod. It’s too early to tell, but I hope Microsoft isn’t counting on their new Zune ad campaign from Crispin Porter + Bogusky. If viewers have to turn to Google to explain the ad, it’s too obscure.

Filed under Apple, Argo, Coopetition, General Business, Marketing, Zune

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November 20, 2008

Windows Live Sync replaces FolderShare in December

Posted by David Hunter at 7:37 PM ET.

When Windows Live Wave 3 was announced last week, it was revealed that Windows Live FolderShare was being renamed as Windows Live Sync. Yesterday the former FolderShare team blog revealed that Live Sync is coming in December 2008 and tells us what to expect:

In December, we will release a new product called Windows Live Sync. You can think of it as FolderShare 2.0. It’s going to look familiar and offer the same great features, plus:

  • More folders and files – sync up to 20 folders with 20,000 files each.
  • Integration with Windows Live ID – no more extra sign-in stuff to remember.
  • Integration with the Recyle Bin – no more separate Trash folder to fiddle with.
  • New client versions for both Windows and Mac. 
  • Unicode support – sync files in other languages.

A huge part of Sync’s success story depends on FolderShare users like you. When Sync releases, FolderShare goes into retirement. That means your FolderShare software will stop working and will ask you to upgrade to Sync. Once you do, Sync will automatically rebuild your personal folders. We expect a lot of new users when Sync is released, so if you can’t sign in right away, please give it a little time.

Here’s the part you need to pay attention to: Sync will not be able to rebuild your shared libraries. If you have a lot of shared libraries, you should hop over to the FolderShare website while it’s still available and copy all that information. You’ll need it to rebuild your shared libraries in Sync.

You should also note that the Professional option is being retired with the FolderShare name. Sync has a single offer, which provides free synchronization for up to 20 libraries and 20,000 files. We’ll be working to raise those numbers as our service grows.

Sounds swell, but you’ll notice that many of the comments on the above blog post ask the reasonable question of how Live Sync will relate to Live Mesh which performs the same sort of synchronization function. Good question and hopefully the answer is not another migration down the road.

Filed under Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live FolderShare, Windows Live Sync

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Internet Explorer 8 now due in 2009

Posted by David Hunter at 5:45 PM ET.

Back in July, Microsoft indicated that there would be one more beta of Internet Explorer 8 and that the final version would ship before the end of 2008. Beta 2 was duly released in August, but yesterday, Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch revealed that based on the results from Beta 2, the new date for IE8 is sometime in 2009:

We will release one more public update of IE8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release. Our next public release of IE (typically called a “release candidate”) indicates the end of the beta period. We want the technical community of people and organizations interested in web browsers to take this update as a strong signal that IE8 is effectively complete and done. They should expect the final product to behave as this update does. We want them to test their sites and services with IE8, make any changes they feel are necessary for the best possible customer experience using IE8, and report any critical issues (e.g., issues impacting robustness, security, backwards compatibility, or completeness with respect to planned standards work). Our plan is to deliver the final product after listening for feedback about critical issues.

Hachamovitch wants concerned developers to download Beta 2 and wring it out, because Microsoft plans to make only the most critical changes to the release candidate before it ships.

Every Web developer wants IE8 to be solid, if only in self defense, but I can’t help but think that Microsoft is ill served by this monolithic release model while nimble Firefox ships updates and new versions at a furious pace. Perhaps Microsoft can adopt that model after they get IE8 out the door.

Filed under Beta and CTP, IE8, Internet Explorer

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