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As tensions rise, China investigates Microsoft offices

Chinese officials reportedly visited Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, though no immediate reason was given for the investigations, according to Reuters. The visits by China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce come at a time when tensions have risen between technology giants and China, sparked in part be revelations of  U.S. National Security Agency contractor… Read More

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New Microsoft ad touts Cortana, slams Apple’s Siri

Siri vs. Cortana might just be an updated version of the PC vs. Mac showdown. Microsoft just debuted a new video ad touting Cortana, its virtual assistant found on Windows Phone. The 30-second spot features Cortana accomplishing tasks like scheduling reminders and providing traffic alerts. Meanwhile, Apple’s digital assistant cannot understand the human commands. “Now that is a smart phone,” Siri… Read More

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Microsoft says it will closely monitor the impact of contractor policy changes

Microsoft is getting lots of attention for a new policy that will prevent its large contract workforce from accessing company buildings and the internal network after 18 months on the job — requiring a six-month break even for “v-dash” vendors who previously were on indefinite assignments. It’s a significant change in policy that promises to make many Microsoft teams think twice about using large numbers of… Read More

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Yammer co-founder David Sacks leaving Microsoft, two years after $1.2B acquisition

Yammer co-founder David Sacks is leaving Microsoft, and the team developing the business-oriented social network will be folded into the Office 365 and Outlook development teams. Sacks announced the news on Twitter this afternoon, and Microsoft confirmed the changes in a statement to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The company said in the statement: “As we’ve seen… Read More

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Microsoft mum on Xbox One sales; notes 1.1M ‘Xbox consoles’ shipped in past 3 months

Microsoft hasn’t reported Xbox One sales statistics for quite some time, and that didn’t change with today’s quarterly earnings report. The company noted that it sold 1.1 million Xbox consoles to retailers worldwide in the past three months — that’s counting both Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles. It’s unclear how many were actually sold to consumers…. Read More

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Microsoft’s contractor crackdown: ‘Shadow layoff’ could force big cultural changes inside company

Microsoft employed about 100,000 people directly prior to its acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business. That’s the employment number the company reports publicly — the “blue badges” who make up the core of its workforce. But in addition to those employees, more than 71,000 worked with Microsoft as “orange badges” — contractors, vendors and other contingent staff who do a ton of work… Read More

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GeekWire Radio: ‘The Amazon Way’ — former insider explains how the company works

What makes Amazon tick, and where is the company headed? This week on the GeekWire radio show, we go behind-the-scenes of the technology giant with our guest, John Rossman, author of the book, The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company. Rossman, who is now a managing director at management consulting firm Alvarez… Read More

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How’s that search alliance working out? Yahoo’s U.S. search share hits all-time low as Microsoft Bing grows

Yahoo just can’t catch a break. ComScore’s new U.S. search market share numbers for June will show that the company’s piece of the market has shrunk to what one analyst calls an all-time low, according to a report by Search Engine Land. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company had 9.8 percent of the search market last month, which puts… Read More

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Internal memo: Microsoft to cut off all ‘external staff’ after 18 months, imposing mandatory 6-month break

An internal Microsoft memo, distributed earlier today, outlines new restrictions on the company’s use of “external staff” — including a new limit on people who work on projects for Microsoft through vendors. All contingent workers will be prevented from accessing Microsoft’s buildings and network for a period of six months after every 18-month period in which they perform work for the company, according to the memo. Perhaps most notably,… Read More

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Nadella earns high marks from Microsoft employees, outpacing Ballmer, prior to this week’s job cuts

The psychological impact of Microsoft’s job cuts is still rippling through the company’s workforce, but CEO Satya Nadella has the advantage of a very high approval ratings from employees prior to the cuts. Numbers provided to GeekWire by the Glassdoor employment review and ratings site put Nadella’s cumulative approval rating at 88 percent. That’s well above the average CEO approval… Read More

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Nokia’s MixRadio streaming service hopes to spin off from Microsoft amid layoffs

Nokia’s MixRadio music streaming service is aiming to spin off from Microsoft as a part of the layoffs the company announced yesterday. The service will still be pre-loaded onto Windows Phone handsets, but a successfully spun off MixRadio would also have the ability to make apps for other platforms, including Android and iOS, according to a… Read More

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With difficult cutbacks, Satya Nadella starts to make his mark on Microsoft

When Satya Nadella was named Microsoft’s CEO earlier this year, one of the concerns among investors was that the company veteran would maintain the status quo, largely sticking to the gameplan laid out by his predecessor, Steve Ballmer. This morning Nadella made it clear that won’t be the case, cutting 18,000 jobs in the largest layoffs in Microsoft… Read More