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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

December 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Deal expired, Microsoft stops offering Europeans other browsers

Another of Microsoft’s antitrust battles is behind the company.

Microsoft put nearly two decades of major antitrust scrutiny to bed in 2009 with a deal with European regulators. The European Union had found that Microsoft used Windows’ dominance of PCs to gain users for the Internet Explorer Web browser. Microsoft was required to offer Windows users a choice of browsers to demonstrate the variety of other options available.

The agreement didn’t go entirely smoothly, with what Microsoft called a technical error that kept the browser selection option off some editions of Windows 7, resulting in a $733 million fine levied in 2013.

Now, with the five-year timeline of the deal lapsed, the Web portion of that choice portal, browserchoice.eu, went dark.

A screenshot of Microsoft's browser choice website.

A screenshot of Microsoft’s browser choice website.

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Comments | More in | Topics: antitrust, european union, internet explorer

December 17, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Bing: Seahawks won’t win the Super Bowl

Microsoft’s Bing search engine put its algorithms to work and released a bleak prediction for the company’s hometown football fans: the Seattle Seahawks won’t repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Bing says they won’t even make the final game. The search enBing Super Bowl predictiongine predicts a New England Patriots win over the Green Bay Packers.

Bing isn’t playing favorites with it’s corporate parent, either.

Its roster of the top trending wearable technology devices of 2015 is led by Apple’s watch, followed by Samsung gear. Microsoft’s own band makes an appearance lower in the leaderboards and, for some reason, is ranked as high as No. 3 in Europe.

Some of the other predictions might surprise.

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Comments | More in Bing | Topics: microsoft, seahawks

December 15, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Amazon, HP, eBay join Microsoft bandwagon in warrant case

As extensively telegraphed by Microsoft, the company’s cast of supporters in its legal fight over a warrant seeking a customer’s emails just got a whole lot bigger.

Microsoft was joined by Amazon.com as well as Silicon Valley stalwarts Hewlett-Packard and eBay. Apple, AT&T,  Cisco and Verizion, which all supported Microsoft in its lower court case, also weighed in again.

Google, a leader in the cloud-computing realm along with Microsoft and Amazon.com, was among the notable technology companies that haven’t weighed in.

Microsoft in December 2013 was ordered by a federal judge in New York to turn over a user’s emails. Microsoft, finding the emails were stored in its Irish data center, refused, setting off the court case now awaiting a hearing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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Comments | More in | Topics: amazon, google, microsoft

December 15, 2014 at 7:28 AM

Microsoft set to tout support in Ireland email warrant case

Microsoft this morning is going to broadcast the level of support it’s receiving in an email privacy court case. Literally.

The company’s general counsel, Brad Smith, is hosting a webcast event at Microsoft’s Times Square offices starting at 8 a.m. Pacific time. The panel, moderated by former ABC news anchor Charlie Gibson, is slated to feature other figures from trade and advocacy groups representing the tech industry, civil liberties and press freedoms.

The webcast will be accessible from Microsoft’s news site. Its worth keeping tabs on the site Microsoft rolled out as a sort of document depository for the case.  

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Comments | More in | Topics: brad smith, microsoft, privacy

December 9, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Microsoft officially unveils its government-ready cloud

Microsoft’s government-branded cloud is open for business.

The company has been welcoming governments that want to use Microsoft data centers for years, of course. But in releasing what it calls Azure government cloud, Microsoft aims to create an off-the-shelf type product that will convince more corners of the U.S. government that its data centers are safe and reliable.

What’s the difference between storing data for a government and regular folks? Microsoft offers to physically segregate sensitive government data storage and computer power from its other servers, and restrict access to the data to screened U.S. citizens. The company also offers support for a paper-trail roadmap that can keep government agencies in compliance with citizens’ privacy or other legal standards. (Microsoft put together a graphic of the alphabet soup of regulations the government cloud is designed to play nicely with.)

Microsoft in 2012 committed to stitching together the various arms of its cloud offerings in a way tailored for government agencies.

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Comments | More in Cloud computing | Topics: azure, dynamics, government

December 8, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Microsoft brief details company’s rebuff of U.S. search of Irish servers

If U.S. prosecutors can reach into a Microsoft server in Ireland and retrieve emails stored there, what’s to stop a German court from ordering a German bank to open a safe deposit box in its New York City branch?

That premise kicks off Microsoft’s latest salvo in its legal fight against a U.S. warrant seeking a customer’s email stored in Ireland:

Officers of the local Stadtpolizei investigating a suspected leak to the press descend on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. They serve a warrant to seize a bundle of private letters that a New York Times reporter is storing in a safe deposit box at a Deutsche Bank USA branch in Manhattan. The bank complies by ordering the New York branch manager to open the reporter’s box with a master key, rummage through it, and fax the private letters to the Stadtpolizei.

Federal authorities ordered Microsoft in December 2013 to turn over a customer’s emails and other data prosecutors were seeking as part of a narcotics investigation.

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Comments | More in | Topics: brad smith, government, microsoft

December 5, 2014 at 12:21 PM

No, Microsoft doesn’t plan to lose money on Windows 10

Microsoft seems to be giving a lot of things away for free these days.

Free versions of Microsoft Office for Android and Apple mobile devices. Free access to a more-powerful version of its developer tools. Free Windows licenses on consumer devices with screens smaller than 9 inches.

Executives from Satya Nadella on down have emphasized getting Microsoft products in front of users on whatever device they happen to be using. The embedded bet is that customers and businesses will spend money for Microsoft services once they get hooked on Redmond’s ecosystem of programs.

Take that strategy a couple steps further, and could Microsoft be planning for a future in which Windows becomes a money-losing tool to get users to pay for subscriptions to Office or data storage? That question was put to Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner at the Credit Suisse technology conference yesterday. 

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Comments | More in Windows | Topics: kevin turner, microsoft, office

December 3, 2014 at 5:58 PM

Microsoft board approves dividend, makes diversity tweak to governance language

Redmond continues to ship its dimes and pennies to the investing public. Microsoft’s board on Wednesday declared a cash dividend of 31 cents, the second straight quarterly dividend at that figure. The dividend will be paid on March 12, to shareholders as of Feb. 19. Microsoft executives at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday were asked why they, in September,…

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Comments | More in Corporate governance, Financial | Topics: board, dividend, jesse jackson

December 3, 2014 at 11:53 AM

New Microsoft on display at shareholders meeting

Microsoft’s changing of the guard held the spotlight at the company’s shareholders meeting on Wednesday. Chief Executive Satya Nadella and Chairman John Thompson oversaw a scripted affair touting the company’s progress in cloud computing, hopes for the Windows 10 operating system, and efforts to create a more inclusive company. Steve Ballmer, used to spending his time on stage during his 14 years…

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Comments | More in Microsoft | Topics: bill gates, satya nadella, shareholders meeting

December 3, 2014 at 8:32 AM

Board elected, executive pay approved by ‘majority’ at Microsoft meeting

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith conducted the brief business end of the company’s annual meeting in Bellevue. No surprises, but a lingering question about how much support the executive pay package received:

  • The slate of board nominees was approved by more than 90% of votes.
  • The symbolic vote on executive pay — which Institutional Shareholder Services recommended investors vote down — was approved by “a majority” of votes, Smith said. These votes in tech recently have been approved by 88% of shareholders, and Microsoft’s last year garnered 95% approval (including abstentions).
  • The only shareholder proposal, which would have widened the scope of investor board nominations, was voted down.
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Comments | More in Microsoft | Topics: microsoft, shareholders meeting

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