So much for the summer doldrums.
Apparently someone in Redmond forgot to send the memo to Microsoft employees about taking time off in August, as they typically do, following its quarterly earnings.
Instead, there's been a steady stream of Microsoft news headlining this week, including a deal with Nokia on mobile Office, the confirmation of Zune HD details, and the release of information on the upcoming Mac Office product.
As CNET News anticipated, Microsoft and Nokia--still significant rivals in the cell phone business--announced Wednesday that they are working together to bring mobile versions of the software maker's Office programs onto Nokia phones running the Symbian operating system. That collaboration also extends to Microsoft's unified communications and System Center management tools, the companies said.
While the iPhone may be the apple of everyone's eye, Nokia says that its main goal in partnering with Microsoft is taking on BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. In an interview, Nokia executive vice president Robert Andersson said that RIM has an almost dominant position in the North American market for mobile e-mail. "That's the application where they really are strong," he said.
But the fruits of the partnership will take some time. For next year, the companies are committing only to bringing a version of the Communicator instant messaging program to Symbian.
The black 16GB version of the touch-screen media player will sell for $219.99, while a 32GB version in "platinum" color will cost $289.99. The pricing had already leaked via Best Buy and Amazon, while the September 15 launch date was noted as part of a retailer's display, reported by Gizmodo.
Microsoft will also start taking pre-orders for the device and starting September 15, it will be able to be ordered in five colors from Microsoft's Zuneoriginals.net site, with the option of adding 1 of 10 engravings by guest artists to the back of the device.
Among the device's features are its OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display, multitouch Web browser, and the ability to send video in 720p to an HDTV (using a dock, sold separately).
In another big Microsoft story this week, a federal judge in Texas ordered Microsoft to stop selling any versions of Word that use a custom XML tagging technology. The ruling, part of a patent infringement case filed by I4i that also resulted in a huge monetary judgment back in May, is set to go into effect in 60 days.
But don't expect to see Redmond allow one of its key money makers to be pulled from the market--even for a day. The company is definitely appealing the case, as it said in a statement on Tuesday. The appellate court has the option of holding off on the injunction, but is not compelled to, as Microsoft makes its appeal. The small Canadian I4i, for its part, says it's not out to destroy Microsoft Word. In fact, I4i Chairman Loudon Owen said he is one of the hundreds of millions of people who uses Word and other Office tools every day.
"We're not seeking to stop Microsoft's business and we're not seeking to interfere with all the users of Word out there," Owen said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. He added that this week's ruling orders an injunction only against Word shipping in a form that uses I4i's custom XML technology.
Another one of Microsoft's flagship products, Internet Explorer 6, was in the spotlight this week. It's been roughly eight years since Microsoft released IE 6, and the company has since released two major versions of IE. But in many ways the company is still very much tied to the aging product, in all its tabless glory.
In large part, that's because many of Internet Explorer's users are the ones who tend not to change the browser that comes with their operating system--either because that's the type of consumer they are, or because they are working on a work machine on which they are not able to upgrade to a later version of IE or switch to another browser.
And on Thursday, Microsoft said the next version of Office for Mac will arrive by the 2010 holiday buying season, and it added that the new version will include a version of Outlook.
Outlook for Mac will replace Entourage, the current e-mail and calendar program in the Mac Office suite. Although it will still differ from the Windows version of Outlook, it will add support for more Exchange features, such as public folders and rights management features.
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