EU to get Windows without Media Player
Microsoft will immediately ship a version of Windows stripped of the company's multimedia player in Europe and divulge some software blueprints, even as it continues to appeal those same European Union sanctions, reports SiliconValley.com/AP (24 Jan.)
SV.com reports that Microsoft has announced that it will not appeal an interim court ruling, reached in December, that ordered the company to immediately comply with a March EU antitrust decision. Microsoft's decision not to appeal the interim ruling was expected, though being forced to change company business practices is a short-term blow.
The publication says the antitrust order could set a lasting precedent for government intervention in deciding what features Microsoft can add to its flagship Windows operating system, with the company arguing that its freedom to decide what goes into Windows is key to its future success. Analysts expect Microsoft to vigorously fight efforts to curb that freedom.
Microsoft said the first versions of its Windows without Media Player will hit EU retailers in the coming weeks and will cost the same as the full version. The diminished version will only be available in the 25-nation bloc.
The company also said it had already launched a web site to provide competing server software makers with information on how they can license source code to enable their products to better communicate with Windows-powered desktops.
But Microsoft has said that companies can only use that information to develop and distribute software in Europe, not worldwide.
The report says Microsoft has said that rather than seeking to suspend the (European) Commission's remedies, the company would now focus on working constructively with the Commission on their full and prompt implementation.
Howwever, according to SV.com analysts have said they don't expect there to be much interest in Windows without the Media Player.
E-Loan signs financing deal with eBay
In the US, SiliconValley.com/Dow Jones report (24 Jan.) that shares of E-Loan have risen after the online lender announced it signed an agreement with online auction site eBay to provide financing for motorcycles and cars purchased on eBay's used-car network.
SV.com reported that consumers who visit the eBay Motors Financing Center will be able to secure financing options from select lenders by choosing the make, model, year and price range of the vehicle they are looking to purchase. Certain selections will take consumers to the co-branded E-Loan and eBay Motors Auto Loan Center.
"Clearly, this is a very big deal and a big step forward for E-Loan," said Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Mark Sproule. "This deal will increase brand awareness and their ability to continue to penetrate the large and continuing auto platform."
Silicon Valley investment rising, or falling?: contradictory surveys
Venture capital investments in Silicon Valley rose in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a survey to be published today, contradicting a survey published last week that showed venture investments declining.
SiliconValley.com reportsa (24 Jan.) that investments into local start-ups reached $US1.7 billion during the last quarter of 2004, up 12 percent from the $1.5 billion invested in the third quarter, according to The MoneyTree Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Venture Economics and the National Venture Capital Association.
SV.com says that's different from the 12 percent decline reported by a competing survey released Friday by Ernst & Young and Venture One -- showing investment in Silicon Valley companies at $1.4 billion last quarter. The onl;ine news serevice said the managers of the surveys have said they use different methods of reporting, which tend to skew quarterly data, but which generally converge over longer periods.
The publication says that on that measure, both surveys showed investments were up marginally in 2004, compared with 2003, locally and nationwide in the US. Moreover, local and national investment levels have hit steady ranges during the past 10 quarters or so, even if they have bumped around within that range.
SV.com said venture capital is considered the lifeblood of Silicon Valley, because it fuels the start-ups that conceive and develop high-tech products, and which create many of the region's new jobs.
The report said the MoneyTree Survey showed an increase in the levels of investments in ``late-stage'' companies, or those that are closer to launching initial public offerings of their stock. Later stage funding in 2004 jumped nearly 50 percent, to $7.2 billion, compared with 2003 -- and equaling 34 percent of all venture capital, the survey found.
Meanwhile, according to the online publication, money continues to build up in the coffers of venture capital firms, another sign that investments into start-ups are more likely to rise than fall during the next few years. The publication said a report released last week by Private Equity Intelligence, another research group, shows that 284 private equity firms -- which consist of venture capital and buyout funds -- raised $136 billion in 2004, almost twice the total $69 billion raised by 181 firms in 2003.
Survey: search engine habits of US internet users
A new study into the internet usage habits of US users has found that just a third of internet searchers said they ``couldn't live without search engines'' and 17 percent said they wouldn't care if they suddenly lost access to search tools from companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves.
SiliconValley.com reports (24 Jan.) that the study found that although internet search engines have become fixtures in daily lives, most searchers say they could revert to other ways of finding information if they had to.
The online news service of The Mercury News reports the findings of a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which surveyed 2,200 adults in late spring 2004 in the US about how they used search engines.
Overall, the vast majority of internet users surveyed -- 87 percent -- said they were happy with the results they got from search engines. But, reportedly many were also naive about how search engines worked and the difference between unpaid search results and those paid for by advertisers.
The news service says all the major search-engine companies make money by running small text ads adjacent to their unpaid search results. The unpaid results are typically ranked by popularity and relevance to what the user is looking for. The paid results also are matched closely with search queries, but placement is based on advertising fees and how often users click on the ads.
About a third of those who had used a search engine -- or 38 percent -- realised that there are two kinds of search results, paid and unpaid. And just one in six searchers said they could distinguish between the two.
The survey also unearthed mixed views about privacy and the practice of search engines tracking their users' search habits. Google, for one, uses digital cookies to collect anonymous information about its users, and according to the saurvey some 55 percent of internet searchers disapproved of such tracking.
SV.com rerporte, however, that half of those who disapproved of the tracking said they would change their minds if search engines were more forthcoming about their practices.
About 21 percent of internet searchers said they would stop using a particular search engine if they realised their searches were being tracked.
The European court swept aside Microsoft's objections yesterday and ordered it to offer a version of its Windows operating system without its software for playing digital music and movies on personal computers.
Spotty shortages abound for Apple Computer's wildly popular iPod digital music players amid Wall Street expectations for a doubling in sales of the devices in the holiday quarter, according to analysts, reports the New York Times/Reuters (23 Dec.).
A European Union court has ruled that Microsoft must immediately divulge trade secrets to competitors and produce a version of the Windows operating system stripped of the program that plays music and video, reports The New York Times/AP (22 Dec.).
ConnXion Limited (ASX: CXN) has announced that its Initial Public Offer of 18 million shares to raise $3,600,000 has closed fully subscribed. CXN is a provider of electronic document production and delivery solutions, involving the delivery of business documents across multiple delivery channels including email, fax, SMS and post.
Telstra's one-time ambitious plans to become a global carrier look to have been abandoned with the announcement yesterday that its Hong Kong based joint venture with PCCW, Reach, will not sell services to third parties other than the customers of the two joint venture partners.
McAfee antivirus technology is the casualty of a switch by Microsoft to Trend Micro's for its free internet e-mail service MSN Hotmail. As reported in The Beer Files, under the agreement announced by Trend Micro, it will provide anti-virus technology to some 187 million Hotmail accounts worldwide. McAfee's technology was used to scan Hotmail's attachments and e-mails, and no reason was given for the change.
Research In Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry e-mail pager, has announced surging sales and profits as it enlisted cellphone service providers in Europe and Asia to offer its products, according to a report from The New York Times/Bloomberg.
Worldwide semiconductor sales rose a projected 23 percent this year, less than forecast, as builders of personal computers and mobile phones faced gluts in inventory, the market research firm Gartner reported yesterday. The New York Times/Bloomberg report (22 Dec.) that Gartner has put sales at $218 billion. Gartner forecast in August that chip sales would post a 27 percent rise, to $226 billion, but said in the latest report that orders had experienced a "sudden downtown."
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