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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.

February 12, 2009 at 5:09 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Facebook’s value; Another Yahoo! search exec joins Microsoft; IBM as cloud era kingmaker?; Q4 processor shipments ‘fell off a cliff’

The Associated Press reports that Facebook’s own appraisal put the company’s value at $3.7 billion, about a quarter of the $15 billion imputed by Microsoft’s October 2007 investment in the social networking company. The AP obtained the information from a heavily redacted June court transcript; Facebook and its lawyers had gone to great lengths to keep the company’s value secret. “The Associated Press was able to read the blacked-out portions [of the transcript] by copying from an electronic version of the document and pasting the results into another document.”

Bloomberg reported that Microsoft has hired another Yahoo search executive, Larry Heck, a vice president who was in charge of search relevancy at Yahoo Research Labs. He follows Qi Lu and Sean Suchter as recent passengers on the Sunnyvale-to-Redmond express. Lu was lauded as someone who attracts top technology talent, and, according to Mike McCue, general manager of Tellme, a Microsoft subsidiary, that’s just what he’s doing. “He’s exactly what the doctor ordered,” McCue told Bloomberg’s Dina Bass. Heck is also at least the second high-profile hire from Yahoo Labs. Before joining Microsoft in 2006, Gary Flake founded Yahoo Research Labs.

Nicholas Carr has an interesting take on the deal between IBM and Amazon Web Services that will give “software developers with pay-as-you-go access to development and production versions” several pieces of IBM’s Web platform. Carr says this may have been another case of IBM playing kingmaker for the new era of cloud computing:

“On August 12, 1981, 28 long years ago, IBM introduced its personal computer, the IBM PC. Hidden inside was an operating system called MS-DOS which the computing giant had licensed from a pipsqueak company named Microsoft. [The deal, allowing Microsoft to maintain control of the OS] turned out to be the seminal event in defining the commercial landscape for the computing business throughout the ensuing PC era. … [The Amazon Web Services agreement] doesn’t seem like such a big deal, and it probably isn’t. But you never know. The licensing of MS-DOS seemed like small potatoes when it happened. Could the accidental kingmaker have struck again?”

IDC reports that worldwide microprocessor shipments “fell off a cliff” in the fourth quarter, down 11.4 percent from the year earlier. It was the worst drop off since IDC began tracking the market in 1996. And without shipments of Intel’s Atom processor for netbooks, the decline would have been 21.6 percent. Yikes. What’s ahead?

“The decline of the PC processor market in 4Q08 was due to a precipitous drop in end system demand that quickly moved up the PC supply chain through OEMs and contract manufacturers to the processor vendors. While the fast reaction of the supply chain will help avoid significant inventories, demand remains so weak that IDC expects sequential processor unit shipment to decline in both 1Q09 and 2Q09.”

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