Up front: Microsoft no longer needs Money

What's Now | What's Next main bannerMicrosoft Money was the package that proved Redmond could be beat. The package's failure to best Intuit's Quicken family of personal-finance software may not have directly inspired the likes of Netscape or Google, but the simple fact that one niche eluded Bill Gates' grasp made it evident that it was possible to do so.

Money, Money: Why Microsoft's personal-finance package mattered

Afternoon of June 10, 2009 &bull Microsoft announced it will stop distributing its Money personal finance package at the end of the month, in a quiet acknowledgment that online services may best be suited to such tasks as budgeting, personal accounting, and tax planning. Conceivably, the brand itself could live on, but there will be one less box of packaged software on the shelf with Microsoft's name on it.

Microsoft says that the demise of Money, and the demises of Encarta, Flight Simulator and OneCare, are all cost-cutting measures. Fair enough; everybody's doing it. But this is a company known for tenacity, and (despite recent rough seas) still hale and hearty. Like many large firms, Microsoft has been taking advantage of the economic upheaval to trim away products that they consider deadwood. It leads one to wonder what a leaner, meaner Microsoft might take on as its next niche battle.

One case against Microsoft bundling unravels

June 11, 2009, 5:00 am EDT • The Associated Press is reporting that a South Korean District Court has thrown out claims from two software companies that produce messaging programs, that Microsoft's bundling of Windows Messenger with Windows disrupted their business. The reasons for Digito.com's and Sanview's claims getting tossed were apparently pretty plain, boiling down to this: They didn't make good enough IM products. If they were more competitive with Windows Messenger to begin with, maybe they might have had a leg to stand on.

Barry Diller says you're going to pay for Web content

Afternoon of June 10, 2009 • At this week's Advertising 2.0 conference, IAC chairman and CEO told the audience during an onstage interview by BusinessWeek's Jon Fine that he "absolutely believe[s] that the Internet is passing from its free phase into a paid system.... Inevitably, I promise you, it will be paid. Not every single thing, but everything of any value." Mr. Diller hedged his bets by also saying that he's terrible at predicting things.

CNET's Caroline McCarthy played up Diller's reluctance to make predictions while citing the evidence he used to arrive at his conclusion: the success of Apple's iPhone Apps Store. The Hollywood Reporter placed Diller in a line of other media executives lately making the pay-is-the-way assertion. And Jon Fine himself disagrees with Diller's assertion, writing on his blog, "There's a very big difference between putting a tollbooth up and stopping motorists from flocking to the other free roads available to them."

Unwanted automatic renewals will cost Symantec, McAfee

Afternoon of June 10, 2009 • Auto-renew for security software is in theory a useful way of keeping one's computer protections up to date, but automatically charging credit cards has raised the ire of many customers. On Wednesday, the New York attorney general announced that McAfee and Symantec will pay a combined $750,000 penalty for doing so, and have agreed to be clearer in their subscription agreements about recurring charges.

Legal Newsline has a good overview of the settlement. Our Tim Conneally has an update of what went down.

Say what? "Web 2.0" is anointed 1,000,000th English word

June 10, 10:22 am GMT • Back in December, Paul JJ Payack announced that English was approaching the addition of its millionth word or phrase at about the rate of one every 98 minutes. The professional "word analyst" calculated that the big day would be Wednesday, and on schedule he announced that the millionth word had been logged: Web 2.0.. Near runners-up included n00b (#999,998) and cloud computing (#999,996). To qualify, the word of phrase must have at least 25,000 occurences "with the necessary breadth of geographic distribution, and depth of citations."

That sort of thing is catnip on a slow news day (or, alas, on a day when much of the news was horrific). The BBC ran a short article describing the phrase as a "technical term" and including a video clip of Mr. Payack and others debating the accuracy of his estimate; Computerworld's Sharon Gaudin had fun with the story, naming a number of words she finds far more deserving of such an honor. The blogosphere was less kind, with TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld bristling that "It's the modern Web. Period. Can we move on now?" and Mashable's Adam Ostrow noting that the term "seems to have run its course."

Rumors fly concerning MySpace layoffs

Probably no later than June 30, 2009 > Multiple news outlets are reporting that Fox Interactive Media is bracing for potentially vicious staff cuts, to the surprise of no one who reads News Corp.'s quarterly earnings reports.

TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid goes furthest out on the limb, claiming that his sources tell him that between 300 and 500 employees will be affected. (FIM employs around 2900 people, over half of them with MySpace.) Barron's Tech Trader Daily speaks with analyst Richard Greenfield, who agrees that "dramatic headcount reductions are needed." And Reuters, which also discusses a recent FIM decision not to move into a planned 500,000-square foot office space in Playa del Rey, says "the layoffs are likely to be a significant number, considering how the unit has missed its revenue targets over the last year."

Microsoft readies a free anti-virus service

October 22, 2009, or so we think > Way back last November, Microsoft said it would be replacing its OneCare suite of anti-malware services with a "no cost" anti-virus suite. But it would not say when, and it also did not specifically associate the new service with Vista. This morning, Microsoft essentially repeated the same announcement, adding only that private testers are already using the service (we knew that already), and that a public test will be available through the company Web site "soon." Did we also mention that Windows 7 would probably be entering RTM sometime in July?

DTV transition orphans to be rescued by Qualcomm

Morning of June 12, 2009 > Throughout the day tomorrow, the last of the VHF/UHF analog transmitters in the US will shut down their operations permanently. While many stations will stop transmitting right at midnight, as originally planned, the FCC is now allowing stations to make their switchovers during the day at will, perhaps in order that they may help guide viewers through the transmission.

For those three or four folks who will wake up Saturday morning to snow on their TVs (and not just in their breakfast cereal) and wonder, oh my, what ever shall we do, along comes Qualcomm to the rescue! On the day of the transition, Qualcomm will be expanding its FLO TV service (an outgrowth of its MediaFLO mobile DTV transmission standard) to Boston, Mass.; Houston, Texas; Miami, Fla.; and San Francisco, Calif. The service is already established for dozens upon dozens of viewers in Washington, DC; Chicago; Los Angeles; and New York City.

FLO TV is not an on-demand service; it's live programming delivered to Verizon Wireless and AT&T customers, featuring the types of channels you'd see on regular cable, some that actually are the cable channels (for instance, news networks) and others that feature repackaged content (e.g., NBC 2Go). And if you have a small mobile TV receiver on your cell phone, you can essentially take your TV wherever you go and watch whatever's on. Imagine, portable television! (Roaming charges may apply.) What will technology do next?

AFTER THE JUMP: Thursday's other tech headlines from around the net...

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