Posted by Patrick
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From the press release:

Microsoft Corp. today announced that Zune, the company’s all-in-one digital entertainment brand, is adding new software features and content to the Zune online store, music community and Zune Pass monthly subscription service. Zune is expanding its video store to include downloads of popular television shows from COMEDY CENTRAL, FUNimation® Entertainment, MTV, NBC Universal, Nickelodeon, Starz Media (including Manga Entertainment), Turner Broadcasting, Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC) and VH1 that consumers can sync to their device and enjoy on the go. In addition, by further integrating the Zune music community into the core experience, the new software makes it easier for people to find and listen to the music they want, share it with friends, and take it with them wherever they go — whether they choose a Zune Pass or a la carte MP3 downloads. Zune Pass subscribers can now set up automatic, real-time feeds of the music their friends are listening to and add those songs to their collection or Zune device.

Starting today, consumers can choose from more than 800 episodes of popular television series to download and watch on their computer or their Zune, including COMEDY CENTRAL’s “South Park,” FUNimation’s “Afro Samurai” and “Witchblade,” MTV’s “The Hills,” NBC’s “The Office,” “Heroes” and “30 Rock,” Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” SCI FI Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” and “Eureka,” Starz’s “Ghost in the Shell” and “Street Fighter,” Turner Broadcasting’s “Metalocalypse” and “Robot Chicken,” UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter®” and “Fight Night™,” and VH1’s “Rock of Love” with Bret Michaels. Each television show will be priced at 160 Microsoft Points per episode (approximately $1.99) at launch. With more than 3.5 million tracks, two-thirds of which are available in pure MP3 format, 800 television shows, 4,800 music videos and 3,500 audio and video podcasts, the Zune online store is a great place for consumers to find the entertainment content they want. In addition, the bright, full-color screen on every Zune portable media player delivers a high-quality video experience on the go.
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Jim Goldman of CNBC reports on the timeline of the proposed Microsoft/Yahoo! deal. According to sources, Yahoo! ignored Microsoft much of the time. And, though the Yahoo! board was willing to go to $37, Yahoo! Co-Founders Jerry Yang and David Filo both still wanted $38.

A source close to Microsoft says on Saturday, May 3, both Yahoo Co-Founders Jerry Yang and David Filo flew to Seattle to meet with Steve Ballmer and Kevin Johnson personally. They were there to deliver a message: that Yahoo's board was willing to come down to $37, but that Yang's and Filo's price was still at $38.
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Yesterday night, Microsoft announced that it has withdrawn it's offer to buy out Yahoo! Steve Ballmer sent a letter to Jerry Yang, which was posted on the Microsoft website and is quoted below.

Todd Bishop has an internal e-mail that Ballmer sent to Microsoft employees regarding the decision. Yahoo! has responded in a statement. Finally, Kara Swisher has some analysis o the recent meetings between the two companies.

» Read More

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The New York Times is reporting that, according to a source, Yahoo! and Microsoft are in serious talks regarding the merger. They say:

Microsoft, which had threatened to abandon its bid, has increased its offer “by several dollars,” this person said. The merger talks represent an enormous breakthrough following weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions without any progress. Exact terms being discussed could not be learned.
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From the press release:

Microsoft Corp. today delivered on its commitment to rapid innovation for the newest Microsoft platforms and latest Web technologies by announcing the release of Expression Studio 2.

The suite of professional design tools includes Expression Web 2, Expression Blend 2, Expression Design 2, Expression Media 2 and Expression Encoder 2 and works seamlessly with Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008, solving the age-old designer and developer workflow challenge. The innovations in Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), used by both Expression Studio and Visual Studio, allow for unprecedented designer-developer collaboration for the creation of both standards-based and Microsoft Silverlight-enhanced Web experiences as well as Windows Vista and .NET Framework 3.5 client applications.

Geotagging with Virtual Earth: Take advantage of geotagged images with Virtual Earth integration.
View more high-res screen shots.

In line with the team’s commitment to short release cycles, Expression Studio 2 is coming to market one year after the last release with major updates to each product. The products together contain more than 100 new features and introduce new Microsoft Silverlight functionality for creating stunning cross-browser, cross-platform Web experiences. Key features include the following:

• Expression Web 2 adds support for PHP and Adobe Photoshop import based on customer feedback.

• Expression Blend 2, in addition to Silverlight support, adds vertex animation and an improved user interface with a new split design/XAML view.

• Expression Design 2 adds improved exporting functionality including the ability to export slices.

• Expression Media 2 is a robust digital asset management solution for photographers and other creative professionals. It adds support for the latest file formats including RAW, provides geotagging functionality, and is supported by Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office for Mac 2008.

• Expression Encoder 2 is now a core offering of the suite. It allows creative and Web professionals to optimize almost any type of video content quickly for publishing on the Web, either in streaming video, rich-media advertising or other Web 2.0 projects.

This groundbreaking release brings creative professionals fully into the application development process, accelerating time to market, minimizing resource use and improving return on investment for new projects. A full overview of features is available at http://www.microsoft.com/expression/features.
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From Silicon Alley Insider:

"We’re interested to pay for it at some level and beyond that level we’re not willing to pay for it. I know EXACTLY what I think Yahoo is worth and I won’t go a dime above." [Ballmer said].

The real tease, though was a glimmer of hope that this will be resolved soon:

"We oughta know something – we oughta announce something in very short order."

Via Jim Kerstetter.
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From The Wall Street Journal:

Microsoft didn't reach a final decision following Wednesday's board meeting, according to people familiar with the matter. The directors gave Mr. Ballmer broad discretion to either go hostile or abandon the Yahoo pursuit, and the final outcome remained a toss-up in the wake of the meeting, the people say. One middle path that remained an option was nominating a proxy slate of directors to replace Yahoo's board, while waiting to put any acquisition offer directly to Yahoo shareholders. An announcement was expected later in the week, say the people familiar with the matter.

Via CNBC.
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The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft's directors are meeting/have met today to discuss their options in the attempted buyout of Yahoo! Sources tell them that an announcement could be made after the meeting. Price remains an important issue:

The people say that it's unclear what final approach Microsoft will take, but that discussions between the two companies have been stymied by a stark divide on price. Microsoft has said privately in recent days that it's willing to offer as much as $32 or $33 a share, well above the $29.12-a-share value of its original cash-and-stock offer as of Tuesday's market close, these people say. But major Yahoo shareholders have signaled they want in the range of $35 to $37 a share, with Yahoo's management and board similarly shooting for an offer in the upper $30s, they add.

Via Todd Bishop.
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From the press release:

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP), together with Microsoft Corp., today announced a significant milestone in its mission to help banks establish a service-oriented architecture (SOA) for their business operations. SAP and Microsoft, along with other founding members, have created the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN). The goal of BIAN is to help banks ease the transition to an SOA by gathering together a community of industry-leading players and global banks that will openly share domain and technical expertise to apply SOA principles and methodologies. In employing these principles, banks globally will be able to better respond to changing customer needs and reduce risk and cost of re-engineering legacy systems toward a more flexible operational environment.

Based on the foundation of the Industry Value Network (IVN) for Banks created by SAP, 17 founding members have launched BIAN: AXON, Callataÿ & Wouters, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Finanz IT, ifb Group, ING, Microsoft, Deutsche Postbank, SAP, Standard Bank, Steria, SunGard, S.W.I.F.T, Syskoplan, Temenos and Zürcher Kantonalbank. The announcement was made at a signing ceremony, where members gathered for the official launch of the BIAN association.
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Mary Jo Foley reports:

Microsoft has decided not to release Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 to Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center as planned on April 29. The reason? A last-minute compatibility issue with a Microsoft application — Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS).
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