News from and about Microsoft dominated this week from start to finish. But the dire situation caused by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, where the ruling junta cares more about oppression and domination than early warning systems or getting aid to people, tended to put everything else into perspective.
1. Microsoft abandons Yahoo acquisition and Microsoft and Yahoo: Now what?: We ended last week with speculation that Microsoft was about to launch a hostile takeover attempt on Yahoo, only to get word over the weekend that Microsoft was instead bailing out on the deal. Microsoft's first bid came Feb. 1 and was then valued at US$44.6 billion, an offer that was sweetened over time to no avail. At least some Yahoo shareholders are said to be disgruntled by the turn of events, especially given that the company's share price was hammered, but directors and managers say they want to remain independent. Yahoo announced a variety of ambitious future plans and initiatives since February, with analysts noting in the aftermath of the bid that the company will now be expected to deliver on those plans.
2. Microsoft to appeal $1.3 billion EU fine: Microsoft is appealing the European Union's $1.3 billion fine for the company's failure to live up to a 2004 antitrust agreement. Microsoft filed an application with the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg seeking to appeal the E.U.'s Feb. 27 decision that imposed the latest fine on the company, which has been socked by almost $2.6 billion in fines in the E.U.
3. IT didn't fail Myanmar during cyclone, people did: The incredible disaster in Myanmar could have been lessened if people who lived in the path of Cyclone Nargis had been warned that it was coming, according to the head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. An estimated 100,000 people are believed to have died so far and more than a million are homeless after the cyclone struck on May 2. However, despite warning technology, the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in late 2004 killed thousands and wreaked enormous damage. So, "in spite of the technology that we have, in spite of the power that we have, in spite of the network that we have, we still lose lives needlessly," said Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of ASEAN, in a speech this week.
4. MySpace makes data portability move: MySpace rolled out a "data availability" initiative, lining up Yahoo, eBay, Twitter and Photobucket as partners, with the aim of letting site members share public profiles beyond MySpace. "Today, MySpace no longer operates as an autonomous island on the Internet, by allowing the data that creates the engaging and collaborative experience that is MySpace to now be shared across all the sites our users visit," CEO and cofounder Chris DeWolfe said at the news conference to detail the launch.
5. Sprint, Clearwire form $14.5B WiMax venture: Sprint and Clearwire are combining WiMax businesses to form a $14.5 billion mobile broadband company with the goal of deploying a U.S. WiMax network with 4G coverage. The new company, to be called Clearwire, also will offer wireless broadband to homes, businesses and government public safety services. The new company is expected to be up and running in the fourth quarter. Sprint will have a 51 percent stake, with Clearwire owning about 27 percent and give major investors -- Google, Intel, Comcast, Time-Warner Cable and Bright House Networks -- the remaining 22 percent.