Report: Microsoft Interested in Buying Yahoo

A year after rumors emerged that Microsoft was in secret talks with Internet giant Yahoo! about a possible acquisition, the two companies are talking again, according to reports. The idea is to merge Yahoo!'s online services into Microsoft so that the combined company can better take on Google, which is currently running roughshod over the rest of the online world. Yahoo! is worth an estimated $35 billion, which is just about the amount of cash Microsoft currently has on-hand. So, will it happen? Right now, talks are in the early stages, but I will say this: Given Google's domination online, I can't imagine there will be any serious legal opposition to this merger, should it happen. One downside: A lot of the best people at Yahoo! might leave if it happens. I still think it's the right thing to do.

PC Makers Complain about Vista Battery Life Problems

PC makers are starting to complain publicly about the battery life offered by portable computers running Windows Vista: Apparently, the new OS isn't as battery-friendly as Windows XP. The culprit, predictably, is Vista's new hardware-accelerated Aero UI. When Aero is on, PC makers say, battery life goes down the tubes. With Aero off, Vista delivers similar battery life to XP. PC makers such as HP and Lenovo are tinkering with the power management modes on the Vista-based PCs they ship and some are even turning Aero off by default. The situation could improve soon, as Intel is set to release a new generation of mobile-friendly microprocessors next week that might help. Meanwhile, there's growing evidence that something is rotten in Redmond. Which, no, is not anywhere near Denmark.

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It's what's for dinner.

PC World Editor Resigns Over Apple Story

I've always known that PC World's Harry McCracken was a great guy. Now I know he's a credible guy too: This week, McCracken resigned as editor-in-chief at PC World because a vice president at the magazine's publisher--a former MacWorld crony, no less--wanted him to tone down an article that was critical of Apple. The problem, according to unnamed sources at PC World, is that Apple is an advertiser, and PC World Vice President Colin Crawford doesn't want to upset the people paying the bills. (Crawford denies this charge.) As someone in a position to understand this situation intimately, I can say this: You don't let advertisers mix with the content creators, ever. And while I'm unsure how I'd handle a situation like the one McCracken found himself in, kudos to him for taking the high road. And shame on PC World for letting its advertisers run the show.

Microsoft Disputes Attorneys' Fees in Iowa Antitrust Case

This one is actually pretty ludicrous, but not for the reason you might be guessing: Microsoft this week disputed attorneys' fees in the recently settled Iowa antitrust case, accusing lawyers for the plaintiffs of over charging. At issue is a $75.5 million bill for attorneys' fees, which does indeed sound like an astronomical amount of money. But check out what Microsoft is complaining about: The company had agreed that attorneys' fees amounted to just $75 million, or $.5 million less than what they eventually billed. So the overcharging represents about 6 percent of the total fee. Hey, what's $.5 million between friends? Besides, the settlement is worth $179.95 million above and beyond the fees anyway. These guys probably paid $.5 million in parking fees during the trial.

Seven Security Patches Coming Tuesday

Windows-based administrators can expect a busy day next Tuesday when Microsoft ships seven security patches as part of its regularly scheduled monthly security patch release. Three of the patches affect Microsoft Office, while one affects Windows, and some will be rated critical. Which ones? Who knows: Microsoft, as ever, is being coy about what it's fixing so that hackers can't get a weekend jumpstart on exploiting the bugs fixed by the patches it's issuing. It's all part of the fun of using Microsoft products, I guess.

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There, I've said it thrice.

Verdict Upheld in Microsoft/Alcatel-Lucent Case

A federal judge this week ruled that the $1.53 billion verdict in the Microsoft/Alcatel-Lucent case will stand, so Microsoft will need to pay up. In February, a jury found Microsoft to have infringed on an Alcatel-Lucent digital speech patent in its Windows Media Player (WMP) software and recommended the $1.53 billion verdict. Microsoft says it will challenge the ruling, naturally.

Again, Steve Jobs Is the Highest-Paid CEO

Apple and its fans like to talk up the supposed $1 annual salary that CEO/messiah Steve Jobs brings home, but the reality is somewhat less profound: Steve Jobs is, in fact, the highest-paid CEO in the world. In 2006, for example, Jobs took home almost $650 million in compensation, and he's averaged more than $122 million a year for the last six years. Despite being the world's highest-paid CEO, Jobs isn't among the best corporate leaders. According to "Forbes Magazine," Jobs is only the 36th most efficient CEO out of 189 rated CEOs. That rating is based on a performance/pay ranking. And let's not forget all that backdating silliness. This is a guy who really cares about his paycheck above all else.

Digg This: Legal Scare

And finally, let's explain all this 09-f9-11-02-9d... silliness. This week, users of a tech site called Digg.com, which publishes user-submitted links to other sites' articles and content, posted hundreds of references to a secret number that can be used to help break the copy protection in HD DVD movies. In response to a cease and desist order from the Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator, which controls HD DVD licensing, Digg.com deleted the references to the number (and many user accounts as well). The result was a user backlash that saw to it that every post on Digg.com's front page contained the number. Once that happened, Digg.com issued a statement to its users saying it would cease censoring the posting. How do you use this code? I have no idea, and I don't care. But even though the information is out there, the editors of this newsletter deemed it inappropriate to publish the number in its entirety, thus the shortened 09-f9-11-02-9d ... version here.