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August 17, 2009

MSNBC.com acquires local news site, EveryBlock

Posted by David Hunter at 5:05 PM ET.

MSNBC.com (the 50/50 Web partnership of Microsoft and NBC) has acquired "hyperlocal" news aggregation site EveryBlock:

Msnbc.com has acquired EveryBlock, a Chicago-based Web site that offers news and information down to the neighborhood level in 15 cities, the two companies announced Monday.

EveryBlock, which will continue as an independent brand, allows users to type in their address, neighborhood name or ZIP code to view nearby news coverage, blog entries, civic data, photos and dozens of other types of information — all updated throughout the day.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Note that EveryBlock aggregates news from other sources for the 15 major cities that it covers. EveryBlock has only 5 employees and not much traffic so presumably this is a technology and talent acquisition.



Filed under Acquisitions, Alliances, Coopetition, MSNBC.com, Microsoft, NBC

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August 13, 2009

Zune HD now available for pre-order

Posted by David Hunter at 11:51 AM ET.

Microsoft today formally unveiled the Zune HD, their latest attempt to compete with the Apple iPod in the personal media player market:

Zune HD, the next generation of Microsoft Corp.’s portable digital media player, is available now for pre-order and is set to hit store shelves on Sept. 15. The player, available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, is the first touch-screen Zune and includes powerful playback technology to give you a different way to experience media on the go.

The online brochure is at http://www.zune.net/zunehd and you can preorder at Amazon, BestBuy, Walmart, or the Microsoft Store with the 16GB version retailing for US$220 and the 32GB version going for US$290. Full retail availability is scheduled for September 15.

So what’s new about the Zune HD?

  • Built-in HD Radio™ receiver. Allows you to listen to higher-quality sound than is available from traditional radio channels, as well as access additional programming through HD2 and HD3 multicast channels from many of your favorite local FM radio stations at no extra cost.
  • HD video output capabilities. Supports HD video playback from the device through a premium HDMI A/V docking station (sold separately) directly to an HDTV in 720p, making it easy to enjoy better-than-DVD-quality video on your own big screen at home.
  • OLED touch screen. Allows you to easily flip through music, movies and other content. The 3.3-inch glass screen and 16:9 widescreen format display (480×272 resolution) offer a premium viewing experience.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi. Allows for browsing, streaming or downloading new music from Zune Marketplace.
  • Internet browser. Full-screen Web browsing, optimized for the multitouch screen with zoom-in and zoom-out gestures.
  • Accessories, at home and on the road. Zune HD and AV Dock charges and syncs players while playing supported 720p HD videos on HDTVs. Play HD Radio, music and podcasts from your Zune HD device through your car stereo using the Zune Premium Car Pack.

The target is clearly Apple’s iPod Touch which is roughly comparable but about US$100 more expensive and lacks the radio. However, the Zune HD lacks the equivalent of Apple’s very popular App Store, at least so far. Still there may be room for Microsoft to gain some share at the high end of the personal media player market although there are many skeptics.



Filed under Apple, Argo, Coopetition, Zune

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August 12, 2009

Microsoft slapped with patent injunction on US sales of Word

Posted by David Hunter at 6:17 PM ET.

Microsoft yesterday was ordered by a federal judge to within 60 days stop shipping versions of Microsoft Word in the USA that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML, according to a statement released by attorneys for the plaintiff, i4i Inc. The plaintiff had won a judgment in May that Word’s XML features infringed on their patent No. 5,787,449 and ordered Microsoft to pay $200 million. Yesterday’s ruling added an additional $77 million in penalties and interest.

Microsoft’s response is that that they will appeal the verdict and that i4i’s patent is invalid. i4i is a small developer of a variety of XML related software.



Filed under Microsoft, Patent Lawsuits, Patents

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Microsoft and Nokia ally to put Microsoft business products on Nokia phones

Posted by David Hunter at 5:50 PM ET.

Microsoft and Nokia announced today "an alliance that is set to deliver a groundbreaking, enterprise-grade solution for mobile productivity" on Nokia phones.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will begin collaborating immediately on the design, development and marketing of productivity solutions for the mobile professional, bringing Microsoft Office Mobile and Microsoft business communications, collaboration and device management software to Nokia’s Symbian devices. These solutions will be available for a broad range of Nokia smartphones starting with the company’s business-optimized range, Nokia Eseries. The two companies will also market these solutions to businesses, carriers and individuals.

This announcement builds on the existing work Nokia is doing by optimizing access to e-mail and other personal information with Exchange ActiveSync. Next year, Nokia intends to start shipping Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile on its smartphones, followed by other Office applications and related software and services in the future. These will include:

  • The ability to view, edit, create and share Office documents on more devices in more places with mobile-optimized versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft OneNote
  • Enterprise instant messaging and presence, and optimized conferencing and collaboration experience with Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile
  • Mobile access to intranet and extranet portals built on Microsoft SharePoint Server
  • Enterprise device management with Microsoft System Center

Nokia is the leading worldwide provider of smartphones and Microsoft’s own smartphone efforts with Windows Mobile are not sufficient for them to want to shut out Nokia business users in order to maintain an exclusive for their own products.



Filed under Alliances, Coopetition, Microsoft, Nokia, Office, Office Communications Server, Office Mobile, SharePoint Server, System Center, Windows Mobile

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