Microsoft

Open-source silver lining in Microsoft's $44.6 billion wedding vow to Yahoo?

Microsoft and Yahoo, together forever. Could open-source offspring be the result?

According to Terry Semel, former CEO of Yahoo, the last time Microsoft approached Yahoo to buy some or all of its search business, Yahoo turned the Redmond giant down. Flat. As for an offer to acquire all of Yahoo, that "conversation has never come up."

"(Yahoo and Microsoft discussed) search and Microsoft co-owning some of our search. I will not sell a piece of search--it is like selling your right arm while keeping your left; it does not make any sense."

But that was then. Now Microsoft has put down a $44.6 billion offer for Yahoo that Yahoo surely can't refuse under present circumstances. Especially since it will give customers a new choice, and Microsoft is all about offering customers choice...or so it says:

Today, the market is increasingly dominated by one player, who is consolidating its dominance through acquisition. Together, Microsoft and Yahoo can offer a credible alternative for consumers, advertisers, and publishers.

Yahoo would be foolish to decline, given its recent travails. What is most interesting to me in all this is how it could drag Microsoft into the next generation of open source.… Read more

Microsoft bids for Yahoo

Microsoft went public Friday with a $44.6 billion cash-and-stock bid to acquire Yahoo.

In its response, Yahoo called the Microsoft bid "unsolicited" but did not reject it.

Microsoft's offer, which was contained in the letter to Yahoo's board, amounts to $31 a share and represents a 62 percent premium over Yahoo's closing price on Thursday. Microsoft said it will offer shareholders the option of cash or stock.

"We have great respect for Yahoo, and together, we can offer an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers, and advertisers while becoming better positioned … Read more

A free utility uninstalls apps that Add or Remove Programs can't handle

On Tuesday I reported on Microsoft Outlook 2007's unexcused absence from my Vista PC. I thought the problem might due to Outlook 2003 being installed on the same machine. When I upgraded to Office 2007, the older versions of the apps remained on my system, even though I never used them. This didn't appear to be a problem until Outlook 2007 took a hike.

My second surprise was my inability to uninstall Office 2003. Vista's Programs and Features Control Panel applet (which XP calls Add or Remove Programs) would pop up this error message: "This patch … Read more

Google still waiting for social ad payoff

You may be friending and poking your acquaintances on social networks, but that doesn't mean you are paying attention to the ads. Or, maybe Google just made a bad deal with MySpace in which it guaranteed to pay a lot of money even if you don't click on the ads.

Google's fourth-quarter results missed expectations on Thursday, partly due to a rise in traffic acquisition costs that cut into revenue. Executives acknowledged in a conference call with analysts that they made less money serving up ads on social networks than they expected.

The news, which prompted a … Read more

Review: Microsoft Zune Car Pack

The Zune Car Pack ($79) is Microsoft's in-car FM transmitter made especially for its entire line of Zune MP3 players (including the first generation Zune). The Car Pack shares the same aesthetic as Microsoft's second-generation series of Zune players, offering design-conscious Zune users an elegant in-car listening solution.

Read the review

Others' views on Vista's first birthday

OK, I offered several of my own perspectives on Vista's one-year anniversary on Wednesday. Today, I want to share some other takes on the big milestone.

Todd Bishop at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had one of the most thorough looks at the big milestone, offering an in-depth story that looks at Vista's ups and downs. There were also blogs that looked at one user's struggle with Vista, the operating system's performance, and a computer repair shop that advertises in its window: "We remove Vista."

Windows Vista magazine had a most traditional birthday celebration, devouring a … Read more

Microsoft sees future of ads beyond search

Microsoft is hoping to get advertisers to think beyond search.

In an e-mail sent to reporters and analysts on Thursday, Microsoft's Brian McAndrews said the company is working on a new technology that will better measure the indirect role that online ads play in leading to a sale, a field known as "conversion attribution." McAndrews, who was chief executive of Aquantive when Microsoft bought it for $6 billion last year, said Microsoft has a new product that will enable advertising that is better at "giving credit where credit is due."

McAndrews, who heads Microsoft's … Read more

Vista's big upgrade! (Not so big, and not worth the wait)

Stephen Wildstrom over at Businessweek has news for Microsoft Vista hangers-on: it's not worth the wait.

Expectations for Vista SP1 may be unreasonably high because Windows XP had such a successful overhaul in a 2003 upgrade called XP Service Pack 2. In contrast, Vista SP1 is mostly a bundle of bug fixes and performance upgrades, many of which had been released previously. There's a lot of improvement under the hood in the form of better stability, security, and compatibility, but very little of it is in a form users will notice.… Read more

Microsoft open sources its Faceted Search for Sharepoint

In an interesting twist on its Sharepoint strategy, Microsoft has released its Faceted Search webparts (add-ons) under an open-source license. As Microsoft notes, Faceted Search is a "set of web parts that provide intuitive way to refine search results by category (facet)." Faceted Search is designed to overcome the limitations that traditional content categorization and search mechanisms (full-text search or category-by-category browsing) have provided:

A good solution to these problems involves exposing the facets in dynamic taxonomies so that the user can see all of the refinement options at any time. The user can easily switch between a search based approach vs. metadata browsing, using a familiar terminology while recognizing the organization and vocabulary of the data.

It's not clear how anyone could use this open-source code beyond Sharepoint, thereby limiting its utility, but I still think it's a step in the right direction for Microsoft.… Read more

Change your default Save As folder in Office

When you save a file in an Office application, the program opens the Save As dialog box with My Documents (in Office 2003) or Documents (in Office 2007) as the default folder to store it in. If you're saving an image, Windows wants to put it in My Pictures, and it wants to put audio files in My Music and videos in My Videos. (Vista uses the same folder nomenclature, minus the "My".)

You can stick with these if you wish, but I prefer to store my personal files on a USB thumb drive with folders organized … Read more