Microsoft apologises for Winehouse tweet

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winehouse thumb Microsoft apologises for Winehouse tweetMicrosoft has apologised for a ‘tweet’ that has been blasted for seeming like a blatant effort to cash in on the death of 27-year-old British singer Amy Winehouse.

‘Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse ‘download’ tweet seemed purely commercially motivated,’ Microsoft UK PR said at a ‘tweetbox360′ account at microblogging service Twitter.

‘Far from the case, we assure you,’ the message continued.

Microsoft became a target of online ire over the weekend after the same Twitter account posted an update inviting people to remember Winehouse by buying digital versions of her Back to Black album at social.zune.net.

The Zune website is Microsoft’s shop on the internet for downloading music, films and other entertainment content to computers, smartphones, and Xbox 360 videogame consoles.

Replies on Twitter criticised the Microsoft message as ‘crass’ and ‘vile.’

Winehouse’s latest album topped the sales chart at Apple’s online iTunes music store on Monday while her defiant Rehab song was the tenth best selling single track download.

Winehouse’s parents on Monday visited the growing shrine of tributes left outside her London home as a post-mortem on her body failed to establish a formal cause of death.

Winehouse was found dead at her house on Saturday and the police are not treating it as suspicious. The cause of death remains unknown.

With her sultry vocals and trademark beehive hairstyle, Winehouse was considered one of the finest British female singers in years, but she had struggled with drink and drug addictions.

‘With Amy W’s passing, the world has lost a huge talent,’ Microsoft UK PR said in its most recent tweeted message.

‘Our thoughts are with Amy’s family and friends at this very sad time.’


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Microsoft Kinect has record sales

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Kinect thumb Microsoft Kinect has record salesMicrosoft is racking up the records with its motion sensing gaming device – the ‘Kinect’

Released late last year, it has already entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest-selling consumer device of all time.

Kinect is a controller-free gaming system that competes with the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 Move.

It has been selling at an impressive rate since it launched in November.

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Microsoft buying Skype for $US8.5bn

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skype thumb Microsoft buying Skype for $US8.5bnMicrosoft has announced plans to buy internet phone service company Skype for $US8.5 billion ($A7.9 billion) in a move aimed at carving out a bigger presence in an online arena dominated by Google and Facebook.

The acquisition of Skype, which had reportedly also attracted interest from Cisco, Facebook and Google, is the largest ever by the US software giant.

‘Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,’ Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the purchase.

‘Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.’

Microsoft said Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft with Skype CEO Tony Bates assuming the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Ballmer.

Tens of millions of people use Skype to make low-cost or free phone calls over the internet using their computers or smartphones. Skype bypasses the standard telephone network by channelling voice and video calls over the web.

Buying Skype could be a way for Microsoft to shed some of its business software image and gain momentum in a hot smartphone market at a time when internet lifestyles are going mobile.

Microsoft’s Windows is the dominant computer operating system but its Bing search engine lags far behind Google and its Windows Phone mobile platform has been losing market share to Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Research In Motion’s Blackberry.

The companies said Skype will support Microsoft products like the Xbox game console and Kinect motion controller, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices. Microsoft will also support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.

‘Mobile is clearly moving to be a rich communications capability above and beyond just voice,’ Bates said at a joint press conference with Ballmer in San Francisco. ‘We also focus very, very heavily on video. Video is in our DNA.’

‘At Microsoft we see tremendous opportunity to bring together what people want all on a single screen,’ Ballmer said. ‘We are committed to optimise Skype for TV with Xbox and Kinect for the phone and for the PC.’

Microsoft’s biggest acquisition until now had been its 2007 buy of digital marketing firm aQuantive for $US6.3 billion ($A5.85 billion). Microsoft unsuccessfully tried to buy Yahoo! in 2008 for $US47.5 billion ($A44.13 billion).

Microsoft and Skype said the deal has been approved by the boards of both the Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and the Luxembourg-based Skype, which is owned by investor group Silver Lake.

Magnus Rehle, managing director of Greenwich Consulting, said Microsoft is ‘buying a brand and a big chunk of customers.’

‘It could (also) be a defensive strategy from them… to block Facebook and Google from doing it instead,’ Rehle added.

Analyst Douglas McIntyre of 247WallSt.com said Microsoft’s ‘real motive for a Skype buyout is likely to be to increase its mobile search engine share, something it has been unable to do so far.

‘Skype may be a cheap ticket to the next huge search market,’ he said.

Gartner research vice president Leif-Olof Wallin said Microsoft had been forced to pay a high price for Skype but the deal has potential.

‘The acquisition price sort of indicates that there has been some kind of bidding process that drove up the price,’ Wallin said.

‘We see a lot of fit between the Microsoft strategy to increase consumer focus and Skype,’ Wallin added. ‘If this is integrated in the right way, it has a lot of potential to leverage platforms like Xbox and Windows Phone to new heights.’

Skype was founded in 2003 and acquired by online auction giant eBay in September 2005. It was sold to the investment group led by Silver Lake in November 2009 in a deal that valued the company at $US2.75 billion ($A2.56 billion).

Skype has 170 million users and logged more than 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010.

Skype last year announced plans for an initial public offering of stock and appeared on its way to profitability, but investors are evidently eager for a payoff.

Other members of the investor group led by Silver Lake include eBay, CPP Investment Board, Joltid Limited, Europlay Capital Advisors and Andreessen Horowitz.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals which the companies said they expect to obtain this year.

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Microsoft Core Search Query Volume Rebounds

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Overall, Americans conducted about 18.2 billion total core search queries in December 2010, up 3% from about 17.7 billion the previous month. Top core search query provider Google experienced 3% month-over-month growth, from about 11.4 billion to 11.7 billion queries, while number two Yahoo stayed essentially flat with 3.43 billion queries. Number four Ask Network (-1%) and number five AOL LLC (-5%) both had fewer total core search queries in December 2010 than November 2010.

comscore us search engine total core dec 10.thumbnail Microsoft Core Search Query Volume ReboundsThe top five rankings for total core search queries and total core search share were identical in December 2010, but Microsoft was the only search provider that saw its share grow, rising 6% from 11.3% to 12%. Google stayed flat with 64.3% share, while Yahoo lost 2.6%, dropping from 19.3% to 18.5%.

comscore us search engine by number of queries dec 10.thumbnail Microsoft Core Search Query Volume ReboundsMicrosoft had the highest percentage growth of explicit core search queries among any of the top five explicit core search providers, rising 4% from 1.88 billion to 1.97 billion. Google retained its number one spot with 3% growth, rising from 10.62 billion to 10.95 billion. Yahoo’s explicit core search query total remained essentially flat at 2.63 billion.

Overall, Americans conducted about 16.44 billion explicit core search queries in December 2010, up 3% from about 16.04 billion the prior month.

comscore us search engine dec 10.thumbnail Microsoft Core Search Query Volume ReboundsExplicit core search market share results did not change dramatically between November and December 2010. The top five ranking stayed the same, with Google having the largest growth, increasing its share 0.6% from 66.2% to 66.6%. Microsoft also incrementally grew its share from 11.8% to 12%, while Yahoo lost about 2%, dropping from 16.4% to 16% but remaining in second place.

comScore is also providing data on the share of algorithmic explicit searches that are powered by Google and Bing, and branded as such to the consumer. Google’s “powered by” share is composed of searches conducted at Google entities, as well as branded searches at AOL and Ask. Bing’s “powered by” share is composed of searches conducted at Microsoft entities as well as branded Yahoo entities.

In December, 69.4% of searches carried organic search results from Google, while 24.4% of searches were powered by Bing organic results.

The query volume for Bing-powered search engines (which includes Microsoft Bing as well as Yahoo) grew 4.3% from October to November 2010, increasing from about 4.38 million to 4.57 million, according to recent data from Compete. As opposed to October 2010, when dramatic 16.2% growth in month-over-month Microsoft query volume (almost 1.9 million to 2.2 million) drove most of the Bing-powered query volume increase, Yahoo was the catalyst in November.

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Microsoft Loses Some Search Gains

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Microsoft sites, which have recently shown impressive month-over-month growth in core and explicit search queries, backslid a bit in November 2010, according to new comScore qSearch data. In particular, total core searches conducted on Microsoft sites (primarily representing the Bing search engine introduced earlier this year) dropped 10% between October and November 2010, from 2.3 billion to a little more than 2 billion.

comscore us search engine total core nov 10.thumbnail Microsoft Loses Some Search GainsAmericans conducted nearly 17.8 billion total core search queries in November 2010, down 4% month-over-month from 18.4 billion in October 2010. Google sites ranked first with 11.4 billion searches (-4% from October 2010) followed by Yahoo sites with 3.4 billion. By remaining virtually flat, Yahoo was the only one of the top five total core search query providers to avoid losing core search queries from the prior month.

In terms of core search market share, little changed from October 2010. Google remained on top with flat performance of 64.8%. Yahoo grew its share about 4%, from 18.5% to 19.3%. Number three Microsoft lost more than 6% of its share, dropping from 12.1% to 11.3%.
comScore also tracks market share in terms of “powered by” search. Google’s “powered by” share is composed of searches conducted at Google entities, as well as branded searches at AOL and Ask. Bing’s “powered by” share is composed of searches conducted at Microsoft entities as well as branded Yahoo! entities.

In November 2010, 69.2% of searches carried organic search results from Google, while 24% of searches were powered by Bing organic results.

comscore us search engine nov 10.thumbnail Microsoft Loses Some Search GainsAlthough Microsoft saw its total number of explicit core searches drop 2% month-over-month, from 1.9 billion to 1.88 billion, Microsoft’s explicit core search market share improved more than 2%, from 11.5% to 11.8%.

Otherwise, Google sites led the US explicit core search market in November 2010 with 66.2% market share, followed by Yahoo sites with 16.4% and Microsoft sites. Ask Network accounted for 3.6% of explicit core searches, followed by AOL LLC Network with 2%. Fluctuations were minimal.

comscore us search engine by number of queries nov 10.thumbnail Microsoft Loses Some Search GainsMore than 16 billion explicit core searches were conducted in November 2010, down 4% from October 2010. Google Sites ranked first with 10.6 billion searches (down 4%), followed by Yahoo sites in second with 2.6 billion (also down 4%) and Microsoft sites in third. Ask Network accounted for 580 million explicit core searches (down 3%), followed by AOL LLC Network with 327 million (down 5%).

Wealthy Americans are more likely than middle- and lower-economic class Americans to conduct web searches for a variety of data, according a recent study by Pew Internet & American Life Project. On a given day, 40% of wealthy Americans research a product compared to 19% of other Americans, and 20% of wealthy Americans will search for a map, compared to 12% of other Americans.

When it comes to seeking health information online, once again the highest income bracket has the highest levels of engagement in areas including medical issues, treatment and facilities, doctors and test results; while the lowest income bracket has the lowest levels of engagement.

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