An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...

Facebook Spurned $15 Billion Microsoft Buyout in 2007

This week, Microsoft revealed that it tried to purchase Facebook for $15 billion in 2007 but was rebuffed by co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who worried about losing control. "Ballmer took this reply as sort of challenge," Microsoft Senior Director or Corporate Strategy and Acquisitions Fritz Lanman said during the Le Web conference this week in Paris. "He went back to Microsoft's headquarters and concocted a plan intended to acquire Facebook in stages over a period of years to enable Zuckerberg to keep calling the shots." Ballmer visited Zuckerberg twice, but the plan fell through over time and Microsoft was forced to simply invest $240 million in a company it knew would skyrocket to fame and fortune. (That money bought just 1.6 percent of Facebook.) And Microsoft wasn't alone: Google and Yahoo! both were eager to purchase Facebook that year as well, Lanman said, and both met similar resistance from Zuckerberg, for the same reason. The lesson is simple, I think. If you want to blame anyone for Facebook's inscrutable privacy settings, blame Mark Zuckerberg.

Microsoft Wins USDA Contract, Google Cries Foul

Microsoft this week won a contract to supply 120,000 employees of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) with cloud-based email and other services, beating Google, IBM, and others. The USDA says it chose Microsoft's solution because it was already using Exchange Server internally and the transition would be seamless. But Google is already complaining that it was "shut out" of the bidding process. "We were not given the opportunity to bid for USDA's business," a Google statement reads. "When there has been a full and open competition—as with the General Services Administration, Wyoming, Colorado, and Los Angeles—customers have chosen Google Apps, and taxpayers are saving millions of dollars." The USDA says it will save $6 million next year because of the move to Microsoft's cloud-based solution, by the way. I'm just sayin'.

Microsoft Plans Another Whopping Patch Tuesday

We've had a couple of major Patch Tuesdays this year, and next week we'll see another, when Microsoft issues a record 17 security updates that patch a whopping (and OS X-esque) 40 security vulnerabilities across a wide range of products. (The previous record was 16 updates, which occurred back in October.) Apparently aware that customers are concerned about the suddenly escalating number of security updates, the Microsoft Security Response Center tried to turn the blame on its corporate customers. "This is partly due to \\[the fact that\\] Microsoft \\[now\\] supports products for up to 10 years," Microsoft's Mike Reavey wrote in a corporate blog. "Older products meeting newer attack methods, coupled with overall growth in the vulnerability marketplace, result in more vulnerability reports." See? If you corporate customers would just upgrade, for crying out loud, none of this would be happening.

Microsoft Accelerates Windows Phone Developer Payments

Windows Phone 7 is an absolutely stellar product—1.0 or not—but because it arrived at a time when Microsoft can do no right, it's been blasted from every quarter imaginable. Take developer payments, for example. Months ago, Microsoft established its guidelines for developers and explained, via contract, that it would make the first payments for sold apps in February 2011. More than 18,000 developers signed on, created their apps, and then started complaining when the checks didn't arrive in November or December. "What's up, Microsoft?" the trade press asked rhetorically, sensing another avenue of attack. "Clearly, Windows Phone is a disaster!" The supposition being that since no one is buying Windows Phone, developers aren't selling any apps, and no one is ever going to get paid. So Microsoft this week announced that it would move the first payments up to January. Sigh. By the way, there are about 4,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace now.

Xbox 360 Beats Wii Again in November ... But Just Barely

It looks like the moribund Nintendo Wii is picking up steam again, thanks to the holidays: Nintendo sold a respectable 1.27 million units in the United States in November (up 1.1 percent year over year). That was enough to destroy Sony's PlayStation 3, with 530,000 units sold (down 25 percent). But it wasn't enough to defeat Microsoft's resurgent Xbox 360, which sold 1.37 million units, up a whopping 68 percent year over year. Thanks to the successful launch of the Kinect, Microsoft's console was also responsible for over 60 percent of all video game hardware accessories in November. The best-selling games? Call of Duty Black Ops, of course, was number one, with an incredible 8.4 million units sold in just three weeks. Also-rans include Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Just Dance 2, Madden NFL 10, and Fable III. And it was the best November in video game history, with overall revenues of $2.99 billion.

Google Claims 300,000 Android Activations a Day, Then Recants

Google Android czar Andy Rubin this week claimed that more than 300,000 new Android devices are activated every single day. That's a big number, and much bigger than the 230,000-per-day figure Apple CEO Steve Jobs claimed recently for his company's iOS-based devices (iPhone + iPod touch + iPad). But is it real? Some firms that track wireless activations say Android isn't anywhere close to that. For example, Frost & Sullivan says it documents about 23,000 Android activations a day in North America and figures there are, "at most," about 100,000 activations each day worldwide. So the question is how Rubin is counting and arriving at the 300,000 figure, with the leading theory being that that figure, 300,000 represents the number of Android devices shipped from warehouses each day. I guess we'll see what the quarterly mobile sales figures look like next month and find out.

This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast

Tom Merritt and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on schedule this week, with Leo away to Paris for Le Web. The new episode should become available by the weekend on the Zune Marketplace, in iTunes, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.

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