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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 20, 2009 at 5:32 AM

Microsoft news roundup: H1-B debate continues; Windows Mobile 6.5 phone pilfered; Windows 7 update testing; Snow Leopard spotted on Live Search

Another story on the frustrations among lawmakers and labor groups at the H1-B visa program in light of layoffs at high-tech companies. Microsoft spokeswoman Ginny Terzano says in the story that some of Microsoft’s planned 2,000 to 3,000 hires in the coming year and a half will be H1-Bs — foreign guest workers — and that laid off workers aren’t always a good fit for the new positions. Another Microsoft exec acknowledged that tech companies will likely tone-down their lobbying for increases in the H1-B program. “People probably will be a lot more cautious about how public they are, but it’s not going to go away as an issue,” said Dan’l Lewin, a vice president in charge of Microsoft’s relationships with startups and venture capitalists. “You need the people.” Also see this Seattle Times story from earlier in the week on what happens to people working on H1-B visas who get laid off.

More news from the world of Mobile…

A cellphone loaded with Windows Mobile 6.5 was picked from the pocket of a Telstar executive in Barcelona, where Mobile World Congress is wrapping up, the Telegraph reported. The story raised concerns about industrial espionage. Microsoft’s London office had no comment.

Microsoft described its own efforts to “understand the way that Chinese culture shapes the ability to effectively market mobile devices” in China, the world’s biggest mobile market, dominated by China Mobile. According to this press release, the biggest insight so far is that mobile phones are one of the most important possessions for many people in China. “People would rather lose their wallet than their cell phone,” Sin Lew, general manager of the Microsoft China R&D group. “Their cell phone is a physical presence of who they are.”

empire-strikes-back.jpgWindows Update update…

Microsoft is preparing to test its software update service in Windows 7 Beta. Beginning Feb. 24, the company will release 5 test updates for the Windows 7 Beta that people downloaded in January and February over Windows Update. The updates will need to be installed manually, according to the Windows 7 Team Blog. The updates don’t add features or fix bugs. They’re just meant to test the update service.

Joe Wilcox over at Microsoft Watch has a lengthy Star Wars-themed report on PC and Mac sales. “Since Vista’s launch … Mac sales growth blew away Windows PCs, while Apple computers rapidly gained market share. But economic crisis has people coming back to the safety of the empire, rather than supporting the rebellion. Perhaps some computer users dream of a different way of life, but they’re not willing, or able, to pay for it. In the battle of price versus value, price is winning, and that’s turning into gains for the empire and losses for the rebellion.”

Coincidence or collaboration?

Speaking of the empire and the rebels, the background image on Microsoft’s Live Search page had a Snow Leopard yesterday. You know, Snow Leopard, the code name of Apple’s next operating system? It’s gone now, replaced by a space image. Todd Bishop at TechFlash noted that hovering the mouse over a square screen tile near the leopard’s tail produced this text, “Snow leopards can’t roar, but there are groups in the world who will speak up for them.” He called the coincidence clever or clueless. Ina Fried at CNET wondered if Microsoft may have landed a distribution deal for Live Search on the next Mac OS — similar to ones it has done with H-P and Dell. She acknowledged it was “a crazy thought.” MG Siegler at Venture Beat called that an understatement: “Sure, money can do funny things, but Apple believes in giving its users the best experience. Integrating Live Search into Snow Leopard in no way matches that description.”

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