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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.

Category: Games & entertainment
May 7, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Microsoft to buy game company BigPark

Microsoft is acquiring BigPark, an interactive online gaming company based in Vancouver, B.C., according to a news release. BigPark will be folded into Microsoft Game Studios to develop a game for Xbox 360. The two have been working on the game together for the past year. The Vancouver company was founded by executives from Distinctive Software…


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March 25, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Nintendo offers Wii owners more storage, new ‘Zelda’ title at GDC

Nintendo, the runaway leader in the video game business, is priming the market for its new Internet-connected handheld gaming system and adding storage capabilities to the best-selling Nintendo Wii.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said during the Game Developers Conference today in San Francisco that the Wii has now sold more than 50 million units since launching in 2006.


Comments | More in Game Developers Conference, Games & entertainment, Nintendo, Wii

March 23, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Nintendo fitness game surpasses ‘Halo 3’ in total U.S. sales

Credit to games industry news site Kotaku for tracking this: When the NPD Group released February video game sales figures last week, Wii Fit, the fitness game for Nintendo’s market-leading console, sold 644,000 units, topping the software charts. And that was enough to surpass “Halo 3,” in lifetime sales. The blockbuster from Kirkland-based Bungie…


Comments | More in Games & entertainment, Halo, Wii

March 20, 2009 at 6:01 PM

Repaired Xbox 360 finally reaches Nome

Xbox in Nome.JPG In the end, Microsoft’s customer service reps came through, though not with out a lot of haranguing on the part of the Gallehers of Nome, Alaska.

The family’s quest to get their Xbox 360 console repaired under warranty — which I first wrote about last week — ended Thursday after a full two months of frustrating calls, e-mails and a letter to the company’s top executives. A repaired console arrived at their home in the small town where the Iditarod Sled Dog Race ends via UPS delivery man Al Burgo (pictured).


Comments | More in Games & entertainment, Miscellaneous, Xbox 360

March 20, 2009 at 12:50 PM

More people spent more time watching March Madness on the Web Thursday

More than 2.7 million people spent more than an hour each, on average, watching the first day of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship online. just released stats for its free March Madness on Demand viewer (the high-quality player is built on Microsoft’s Silverlight), which “continues to regularly exceed our most optimistic…


Comments | More in Games & entertainment, Video

March 19, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Is March Madness on Demand, powered by Microsoft Silverlight, contributing to nationwide productivity drain?

Watching the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament on the Web at work is great. The on-demand player that has built for March Madness on Demand, using Microsoft’s Silverlight, is not perfect, but it’s a great way to keep up with the tournament, live, while still “working.”

I think the people behind the player might take a bit of pleasure in facilitating this “borrowing” of work time. There’s a “Boss Button” on the player that brings up a spreadsheet. And the promo video that rolls when you launch the player exclaims something to the effect of, Forget that 2 o’clock meeting. There’s a 2 o’clock tip off.

(Microsoft announced a test version of Silverlight 3 yesterday, by the way.)

But is the tournament, which is now easier than ever to watch at work thanks to the Silverlight app, really the productivity sink it’s rumored to be? Staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas floated an estimate of $3.8 billion in lost productivity for the 2006 tournament, a figure that many people questioned (though many others did not) and Jack Shafer, writing at Slate, picked apart.


Comments | More in Games & entertainment, Tech Economy, Video

March 12, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Woman struggles to prove to Microsoft’s Xbox service agents that Nome, Alaska, exists

Kim Galleher’s nightmare may be coming to an end. The Nome, Alaska, mother has been trying since mid-February to get Microsoft to send her a shipping box so she could return her 13-year-old son’s Xbox 360, which died of the Red Ring of Death in the depths of winter when going outside to play wasn’t really an option. Microsoft extended the warranty on the Xbox 360, including shipping costs, in summer 2007, responding to what it called an “unacceptable” rate of hardware failures. But representatives at the company’s repair center could not find a way to ship an empty box to Nome for the Gallehers to send back the game console for repair. Their address wasn’t recognized, probably because the town of about 3,500 people on the remote Seward Peninsula has only post office boxes. And so began a month-long back-and-forth with Microsoft agents, nearing a dozen contacts, that starts to read like an Abbott and Costello routine, or an episode of the Twilight Zone, as Galleher put it.


Comments | More in Games & entertainment, Hardware, Miscellaneous, Xbox 360

March 11, 2009 at 9:02 AM

Microsoft news roundup: Extension granted in EU case; Windows Mobile app store detailed; Man wants up to $1 million from airline that lost his Xbox 360

The European Commission has given Microsoft another month to reply to the regulator’s initial finding that the company violated European competition law. Specifically, the EC said the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 was in violation. The EC investigated after a complaint by rival Web browser maker Opera Software. The new deadline for Microsoft to respond to the EC’s “Statement of Objections,” issued in January, is April 21 after the EC granted its request for an extension, according to this Bloomberg report.


Comments | More in Games & entertainment, Internet Explorer, Mobile, News roundup

February 24, 2009 at 6:15 AM

Microsoft Strategic Update: Ballmer tells Wall Street more dramatic cost cutting would be ‘imprudent’

With Microsoft’s Redmond campus largely emptied out for the winter holidays, CEO Steve Ballmer crunched the numbers on the proper level of spending for his company against the current economic climate, which he has repeatedly referred to as a “reset” rather than just a recession. Ballmer said his own estimates for the weakness and duration of the downturn tend to be more severe than those of other business leaders he meets.

With that in mind, he settled on $27.5 billion of operating expenses — a level the company aims to hold relatively steady through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and during its 2010 fiscal year. Ballmer made clear to financial analysts meeting in New York this morning for the company’s annual strategic update that cutting back even more significantly — say to $20 billion — would be “imprudent.”

“I think this is right,” Ballmer said.

That should give some comfort to those wondering if the modest layoffs Microsoft announced last month were the beginning of a more significant reduction. Wall Street analysts and investors are pressuring companies in every industry to continue cutting costs as sales and profits slow dramatically.

The strategic update call just came to an end. Ballmer gave a detailed look at seven major business areas for the company. Check back here later this morning for more details.

Update, 7:50 a.m.: As he told Congressional Democrats earlier this month, Ballmer said Microsoft’s corporate strategists have been evaluating past downturns — particularly those driven by “deleveraging.” The team read company annual reports from 1927 to 1938 to determine who did a good job managing through the Great Depression. “RCA, God rest them in peace, became our role model,” Ballmer said. The company was able to dominate the television business because it continued to invest during bad times, he said.

Then he broke down how Microsoft plans to invest.


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