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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.

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February 9, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Microsoft, Samsung settle Android patent fee dispute

Microsoft and Samsung won’t duke it out in court after all.

The two technology giants on Monday say they settled a 6-month-old court battle concerning fees Samsung owed Microsoft for manufacturing phones running the Android  mobile operating system.

“Samsung and Microsoft are pleased to announce that they have ended their contract dispute in U.S. court” as well as related arbitration overseen by the International Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard and Samsung Executive Vice President Jaewan Chi said in a brief statement on Microsoft’s website.

They didn’t detail the terms of the agreement. Representatives of both companies declined to comment beyond the statement.

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February 3, 2015 at 1:01 PM

Yahoo gains search share as Firefox deal bears fruit

Yahoo’s share of search traffic has climbed into double-digits, gaining at Google’s expense after that search giant lost its place as the default tool for the Firefox browser.

Data that StatCounter released Monday show Google’s share of U.S. search traffic — excluding searches on mobile devices — in January dropped below 75 percent for the first time since it started recording the data in 2008. 

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January 12, 2015 at 8:58 AM

Microsoft criticizes Google for releasing Windows bug

The rivalry between Microsoft and Google has spread to the realm of software bugs.

For the second time in a few weeks, Google security researchers posted details about a Windows security flaw before Microsoft fixed the bug. Microsoft didn’t publicly reply to Google after the first case.

But after Google detailed another security vulnerability Sunday, two days before Microsoft’s release of its regular slate of software fixes, a Microsoft official accused the Mountain View, Calif., company of trying to embarrass Microsoft rather than protect customers.

Google’s “Project Zero,” its security unit dedicated to finding and exposing bugs, on Sunday revealed a Windows 8.1 security flaw that can allow low-level users of a network to gain administrator privileges and access sensitive functions.

Google says it follows a consistent formula with its security efforts. Once researchers discover a flaw, they alert the company whose software is involved, and give them 90 days to fix the error before Google makes the bug public (along with code that could allow people to exploit it).

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January 7, 2015 at 11:07 AM

iPhone 6 boosts Apple at the expense of Google, Microsoft

How successful has the iPhone 6 been? Apple’s new flagship blew past not only Microsoft’s struggling smartphone unit, but also helped push Google’s Android to its first setback in the U.S. in more than a year.

Apple’s iOS powered 47 percent of the smartphones sold in the U.S. during the three months through November, according to data researcher Kantar Worldpanel’s ComTech division, from 43 percent a year earlier.

The share of smartphones that run Google’s Android fell to 48 percent of sales from 50 perecent, the first decline since September 2013.

Windows Phone fell to 3 percent, from 4.6 percent.

Things don’t look much better for Microsoft internationally, despite the larger footprint Nokia has historically had outside the U.S.

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December 23, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Apple, Microsoft-backed patent group cashes out as legal wrangling cools

The battle over smartphone patents continues to migrate from the courtroom to whatever room licenses are negotiated in.

The Rockstar Consortium, an Apple-led group formed in 2011 to buy Nortel Networks’ patents, will sell the bulk of those to RPX, a patent clearinghouse that acquires the rights to intellectual property to license to its members. RPX plans in turn to license those patents to a group of more than 30 companies, including Cisco and Google.

Rockstar, which in addition to Apple includes Microsoft, BlackBerry and Sony, spent $4.5 billion for the 6,000 patents auctioned by bankrupt Canadian telecom giant Nortel. Rockstar transferred about 2,000 of those patents to individual consortium companies, and spent the years since then licensing the remaining set to the wider tech world and taking to court those who allegedly used the technology without properly paying for it.

That hefty price tag Rockstar originally paid kept the patents out of Google’s hands, and also beat a bid by RPX. (Google memorably offered pi and other mathematical constants in its own attempt to buy the patents)

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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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January 29, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Google keeps most patents even as it sells Motorola phone biz to Lenovo

Google today confirmed reports that it’s selling its Motorola Mobility smartphone business to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Interestingly, Google will keep the “vast majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio, including current patent applications and invention disclosures,” the company said in a joint news release with Lenovo. “As part of its ongoing relationship with…

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December 16, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Google hires away Microsoft distinguished engineer Blaise Agüera y Arcas

Google has hired Blaise Agüera y Arcas, one of Microsoft’s distinguished and engineers and one of the creators Microsoft’s Photosynth. Photosynth allows users to capture and piece together images into 3-D, immersive environments, and then share those 3-D creations. Arcas, who also helped develop Bing Maps, will work on machine learning at Google, according to a More

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December 3, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Microsoft helping NORAD track Santa

Home page of the NORAD Santa Tracker 2013 (Photo from Microsoft)

Home page of the NORAD Santa Tracker 2013 (Photo from Microsoft)

[This post has been updated with information on Microsoft’s/NORAD’s and Google’s Santa Trackers.]

NORAD is again partnering with Microsoft this year to power its popular Santa Tracker, after first switching from Google to Microsoft last year to do so.

The NORAD Santa Tracker, which is now live, is a  showcase this year for Internet Explorer.

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September 5, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Presiding juror in Microsoft-Motorola trial a renowned geneticist

Among the interesting tidbits to come out of the recently concluded Microsoft-Motorola patent trial is this fact: The presiding juror was Mary-Claire King, a University of Washington professor and a renowned geneticist who played a leading role in the identification of breast cancer genes. King, who declined to comment on the trial, led the…

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