Microsoft posts first-ever quarterly loss

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. File photo
APMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer. File photo

Microsoft posted a loss of 492 million dollars on Thursday, its first-ever quarterly loss since it became a public company in 1986.

The loss was attributed to a massive 6.2-billion dollar charge that the company booked earlier this month as a writedown on its 2007 purchase of online advertising firm eQuantive for 6.3 billion dollars.

For the quarter, Microsoft booked record revenues of 18.06 billion dollars, a rise of 7 per cent over the same period a year ago, and operating income of 6.93 billion dollars.

For Microsoft’s 2012 budget year, the company’s revenue was 73.72 billion dollars while operating income was 21.76 billion dollars.


Twitter offers location targeted advertisements

Twitter introduced targeted promoted tweets today, which means advertisers can send tailored messages based on where users live and what devices they’re on.

“What if you want to make an offer just to New York Twitter users? Until today, it’s been impractical to send these kinds of highly tailored Tweets, since there was no way to reach people in New York without also reaching followers in Norway, Nebraska and Nigeria who can’t take advantage of your offer,” Kevin Weil, a Twitter product manager, wrote in a blog post.

Senators soften latest cyber security measure

In a move to get cybersecurity legislation approved before the Senate recess, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and four colleagues introduced a modified version of their proposed cybersecurity legislation that adds privacy protections for consumers and removes government mandated security standards.

Republicans had opposed the initial version of the Democrat-backed bill, introduced in February, because it called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assess power companies, utilities, and other firms that operate critical infrastructure for security problems and create performance standards — provisions that were considered too regulatory and restrictive on businesses by Republicans in the Senate.

The new version also allows information sharing among private firms and the federal government on threats, incidents, and best practices, while preserving the civil liberties and privacy of users. That change came at the behest of civil libertarians who complained that the measure was too broad and could authorize wiretapping.

Zynga adds ex-Yahoo exec Ellen Siminoff to board of directors

Former Yahoo executive Ellen Siminoff has been appointed to Zynga’s board of directors, the first woman to sit on the social-game publisher’s board.

Siminoff, who is the CEO of educational publishing company Shmoop University, will also join Zynga’s audit committee, the San Francisco-based publisher said today.

“Ellen has great experience and insights operating Web businesses at scale and brings a passion for consumer Internet products,” Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said in a statement. “Ellen has also been a longtime Words With Friends player with her family and shares our mission to connect the world through games.”

A founding executive at Yahoo, Siminoff held a variety of roles at the Web pioneer, including overseeing its entertainment and small-business division. Prior to Shmoop University, she also served as the CEO of Efficient Frontier, an advertising-technology company that was acquired by Adobe Systems in January.

Amazon aims new rentable servers at app developers

How Amazon Web Services’ rentable server program works.

(Credit: Amazon Web Services)

In an effort to attract app developers to its cloud storage, Amazon has introduced SSD-backed rentable servers through Amazon Web Services.

Launched Wednesday, the High I/O Quadruple Extra Large EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute) includes 2TB of local SSD-backed storage running on eight virtual cores, 60.5GB of RAM, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. The new rentable EC2 instances will be an “exceptionally good” host for NoSQL databases such as Cassandra and MongoDB, Amazon Web services said in a blog post.

“Modern web and mobile applications are often highly I/O dependent,” Jeff Barr, a senior Amazon Web Services evangelist, wrote in a blog post. “They need to store and retrieve lots of data in order to deliver a rich, personalized experience, and they need to do it as fast as possible in order to respond to clicks and gestures in real time.”

Using PV virtualization, AWS said customers could expected 120,000 random read input/output operations per second (IOPS) and between 10,000 and 85,000 write IOPS. Using VM and Windows AMIs, customers can expect 90,000 random read IOPS and 9,000 to 75,000 random write IOPS.

Twitter appeals ruling in Occupy Wall Street lawsuit

Twitter has decided to appeal a recent ruling in the legal battle between the social network and New York State over the tweet records of an Occupy Wall Street protester. According to All Things D, Twitter announced today that it’s not giving up protecting the rights of its users.

The melee began in May when New York County Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr.subpoenaed Twitter to hand over three months of basic user information and tweets from one of its users, Malcolm Harris. Harris is currently being prosecuted for disorderly conduct at an Occupy Wall Street protest on the Brooklyn Bridge last October where more than 700 other alleged protesters were arrested.

Google Play Books starts a new chapter in France

Google Play Books starts a new chapter in France

Now that the legal dust has settled and Google’s publishing woes in ‘ol Gaul have been swept under the rug, it’s back to business as usual. Starting today, the land of Jerry Lewis lovers will have access to books on Google Play, making it the fifth European country to participate in Mountain View’s online ebook store. Initially, the available catalog of domestic titles will count in the “hundreds” — a sizable library that will surely grow as publishers grow comfortable with the Play ecosystem and more deals are struck — and is supplemented by existing arrangements with international publishers. So, if you always meant to brush up on your Flaubert or Fifty Shades of Grey, well, now’s your chance La France. Official PR after the break.