Microsoft Corporation Posts

Rumor: Dell and Microsoft Signs Deal To Push Live Toolbar


Rumor has it that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) have made a deal that involves having the Live Search toolbar pre-installed on new computers.  ZDNet attempted to contact officials at Microsoft and Dell, but they said that they do not comment on rumors and speculation.

Two years ago, Dell and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) had a similar deal.  Dell and Google had a co-branded homepage and the computers came preinstalled with a Google toolbar.

Google has been known to be making large-scale transactions in order to push their brand as the default search.  Google finances about 85% of Mozilla.  In exchange, Google is the default search engine for Mozilla Firefox.  Google also bought 5% of AOL for $1 billion in order to co-brand search on AOL.com and partner on messaging services.  Google also has a deal with Adobe and Apple to push their search engine on customers.

Seeing how much Google has benefitted from the aforementioned deals, it would not be surprising to see Microsoft become aggressive in working with other software and hardware companies to strike similar deals.

Microsoft Strategically Places “I’m A PC” Kiosk In Front Of Apple Stores

I’m A PC and I’ve Been Placed Outside of an Apple Store

Those of you who walk into the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) store in Birmingham, England will notice that there is a massive kiosk in the front covered with I’m A PC ads.  The kiosk recommends people to record their voice saying, “I’m a PC” in a recording device.  This is one of the many marketing tactics that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is taking against as part of their $300 million campaign.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky is the advertising company helping Microsoft plan the “I’m a PC” ads.  You may also have remembered that Microsoft created the advertisement with a Mac though.  AppleInsider revealed the details of the story.

Yahoo and Google Ad Partnership May Be Dropped

The chances of the Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) advertising partnership happening is getting slimmer.  The two search engine companies have not be able to reach any sort of agreement with the Justice Department.  The two companies are rumored to just walk away from the deal altogether.  If companies and the Justice Department are able to come up with a solution, then it will probably take place sometime in the middle of next week.

The partnership was officially announced in June.  The partnership was originally devised as a way to downplay the acquisition offer made by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).

If the deal did take place, then Google would have been able to help Yahoo! generate millions of dollars by providing them with advertising inventory.  But if the deal doesn’t happen, Yahoo! shareholders will be upset and the pressure to have Jerry Yang removed from the CEO spot may increase.  His role as CEO has been highly questioned during the August 1st shareholder meeting.

AOL and Yahoo! are currently rumored to be in talks of a merger.

Mark Cuban Believes Yang Is Too Nice And Should Have Sold To Microsoft


Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is currently worth about $16 billion.  Around April 1999, when Yahoo! was first rumored to be acquiring broadcast.com, they were worth about $34 billion.  And as you remember, earlier this year, Microsoft made an offer to buy-out Yahoo! for about $47.5 billion.

Today Mark Cuban, founder of broadcast.com has more of a net worth than the founders of the company that bought his company out.  The world works in funny ways. Whether it was a compliment or not, Cuban also pointed out that Jerry Yang, the current CEO of Yahoo! is “too nice a guy.  He cares too much.”

Yahoo! also slashed 10% of their workforce recently as they were advised by Bain & Co.  In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Cuban said that Yang should have taken the acquisition offer from Microsoft.  That would have been a more competitive stance against Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and jobs may have been preserved.  After Yang turned down the acquisition offer, many executives left the company on their own.

Today Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, co-owner of 2929 Entertainment, and Chairman of HDNet.  Cuban is currently the #161 richest American according to Forbes.  Yahoo! founders, David Filo and Jerry Yang are tied at rank 281.

Microsoft Plans On Launching An Avatar Store For New Xbox Experience


Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) plans to launch an “Avatar Store” sometime next spring.  This will allow XBox users to purchase brand name clothing and jewelry for their avatars.  The New XBox Experience will be launching on November 19.

Robin Burrowes, a product manager for XBox Live reported this news to VideoGamer.com.  Robin believes that there is potential for fashion brands to launch new clothes through the Avatar Store.  Some of the goods in the Avatar Store will be available as part of in-game achievements such as a Guitar Hero guitar for the avatar.

The pricing model for avatar goods are being discussed as of right now.

“There’s a whole creative canvas for these things,” stated Burrowes.  “Due to tight time lines there’s nothing at launch as such but our vision for these in the future is well and truly tied to game releases and us working with publishers very closely to encourage rewards from those games to be tied to your Avatar.”

Microsoft and Aetna Partner On HealthVault Service


Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is partnering with Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) for HealthVault.  HealthVault is Microsoft service that gives medical recommendations to users that input their medical profiles.  Aetna is the first medical insurance company that has signed with Microsoft for HealthVault.

Aetna will give their customers the option to transfer their personal health records to HealthVault.  Mark Bertolini, President of Aetna stated that customers will be able to add and clinical data and past medical records to their profile.  Aetna believes that this initiative will help improve communication with their health insurance providers.

“We can avoid duplicate testing, we can avoid mistakes that occur as a result of not understanding the member’s complete condition,” stated Bertolini. “Because we don’t have a national health information technology network, this will stand as a first-generation of that kind of capability.”

The partnership marks a competitive step that Microsoft made against Google Health.

Users of HealthVault are allowed to control how much data and information is public.  Doctors, health insurance providers, and Microsoft officials are blocked unless given permission.  Aetna has health records for about 6 million customers.  That is 6 million potential HealthVault users assuming that they aren’t already signed up.

“Right now, we spend tens of millions of dollars answering the phone telling providers if a person is eligible or what their benefits are,” added Bertolini. “With the availability of this information, those calls go away.”

What The @#*$? Microsoft Patents Audio Speech Censorship.


Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has patented something interesting.  They have patented automatic censorship of audio data.  Below is the abstract of the patent:

An input audio data stream comprising speech is processed by an automatic censoring filter in either a real-time mode, or a batch mode, producing censored speech that has been altered so that undesired words or phrases are either unintelligible or inaudible. The automatic censoring filter employs a lattice comprising either phonemes and/or words derived from phonemes for comparison against corresponding phonemes or words included in undesired speech data. If the probability that a phoneme or word in the input audio data stream matches a corresponding phoneme or word in the undesired speech data is greater than a probability threshold, the input audio data stream is altered so that the undesired word or a phrase comprising a plurality of such words is unintelligible or inaudible. The censored speech can either be stored or made available to an audience in real-time.

The patent uses methods for muting offensive words and replacing them with bleeping or using alternative words.  For example when playing Halo, people can swear at each other over wireless headsets.  I’m sure that those with kids don’t want their young ones to be sworn at.  This is possibly one of Microsoft’s ways of preventing this from happening.

Below is a process model of how the patent would work in action (pulled from the patent documentation):

Windows 7 To Tone Down Useless User Account Control


I have not switched away from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows quite yet.  I actually think Windows Vista is an amazing operating system with the exception of the User Account Control.  The UAC is one of the reasons why Windows Vista received so much negative press.  The operating system constantly questions whether you want to do a certain action.

Want to install a program?  Are you sure?  Want to uninstall a program?  Are you sure?  I don’t know what was worse, the paper clip Office assistant or the User Account Control.  Ben Fathi, VP for core OS development at Microsoft has officially announced that for the next operating system, Microsoft has decided to scale back on the User Account Control feature. 

“We’ve heard loud and clear that you are frustrated,” stated Fathi on the Engineering Windows 7 blog. “You find the prompts too frequent, annoying, and confusing. We still want to provide you control over what changes can happen to your system, but we want to provide you a better overall experience.”

You know what Windows should do?  Eliminate the User Account Control and improve upon their Restore Point feature.  And also make Restore Point a lot more noticeable.  Most Joe Sixpacks don’t even know what the Restore Point is and how it can fix security problems.