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Santa's Bag of Tech Mergers

Microsoft's Giant Step a Threat to Symantec?

The market is already being cautious in assessing the Symantec-Veritas deal: "Symantec shares slid 8%, to $25.13, Thursday. Veritas shares fell 0.4%, to $27.99. The negative reaction reflects market concerns as Symantec takes on the merger chore, while facing looming competition from Microsoft and Internet service providers in the consumer market," USA Today reported. "On Thursday, Microsoft said it would acquire anti-spyware maker Giant Company Software, and plans to release a Microsoft-branded product within a month."
USA Today: Symantec To Acquire Veritas For $13.5B

The New York Times reported that Microsoft's acquisition "is likely to put further pressure on Symantec and other companies selling security software. To many investors and industry analysts, the move signals Microsoft's interest in becoming a dominant player in the lucrative antivirus field. Shares of McAfee, a Symantec competitor in the antivirus market, fell $3.48, to $29.23, on Thursday after news of the Microsoft-Giant deal. The Microsoft acquisition, analysts said, also played some role in the decline of Symantec shares, which fell $2.25, to $25.13. Shares of Veritas dropped 12 cents, to $27.99."

_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
The Incredible Edible iPod (washingtonpost.com, Dec 20, 2004)
iPod: The Gift That Keeps on Going (washingtonpost.com, Dec 16, 2004)
Nice Day for a Wireless Wedding (washingtonpost.com, Dec 15, 2004)
Google -- 21st Century Dewey Decimal System (washingtonpost.com, Dec 14, 2004)
Oracle Softens up PeopleSoft (washingtonpost.com, Dec 13, 2004)
More Past Issues
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Microsoft's latest acquisition is "the biggest move yet into the security-software market by a company traditionally associated more with the problem than with the solution. Microsoft's popular Windows operating system and Internet Explorer browser are frequent targets of people who unleash malicious and mischievous code, taking advantage of flaws and vulnerabilities in the software," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, noting that financial terms weren't disclosed, but Giant's 10 employees would come to Redmond. "Microsoft had already acknowledged plans to release its own anti-virus product, based in part on technology acquired last year from a Romanian anti-virus vendor. Yesterday's deal fueled new speculation that the Redmond company might ultimately offer its own suite of security software."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Microsoft Enters Anti-Spyware Fray

The Seattle Times put it more bluntly, saying the deal "is an admission from Microsoft that even though it says security is its top priority, it hasn't done enough to protect customers from what has become one of the top security complaints of computer users." The Financial Times picked up on this theme too, saying the acquisition of Giant "was the latest in a series of moves by Microsoft aimed at improving the security of its Windows operating system franchise. The company has come under intense criticism over the past few years because hackers, virus writers and criminal gangs have easily and repeatedly managed to attack, infect and infiltrate Windows PCs via the internet."
The Seattle Times: Microsoft Buys Giant To Attack Spy ware
The Financial Times: Microsoft Acquires Giant Software

The Wall Street Journal wrote more about the deal's significance for Microsoft going forward: "While Giant is tiny -- with just 12 employees -- it has niche expertise, giving Microsoft a technology to help it counter the spread of spyware, which is software that computer users inadvertently download that can monitor their movements on the Internet and automatically send them advertisements. The move advances a shift in Microsoft's approach to the $13 billion market for computer and network security. Microsoft for years relied mostly on outsiders to fight the host of computer viruses, worms and other Internet-borne attacks on its software. In effect, Microsoft made the software 'buildings' and other companies installed the locks and security guards to protect them. Now, with a growing number of security attacks on the Windows operating system, Internet Explorer and other core products, Microsoft is being forced to deal more directly with the threats."
The Wall Street Journal: Microsoft, Seeking Security, Acquires Software Maker (Subscription required)

Click-n-Shop 'Til You Drop

Time's running short if you still have holiday shopping to do. But don't fear, you are not alone -- a new survey by the National Retail Federation said only 46 percent of shoppers are done buying gifts, compared to 52 percent at this time last year. USA Today picked up the study: "So far, the day after Thanksgiving has been the high point of the holiday shopping season. Much of the business that day came in response to deep discounts, promotions, extra-long hours and other gimmicks to lure shoppers. Retailers will draw on some of the same tactics this weekend, including free gifts or gift cards with purchases and sweeter discounts on key items, such as consumer electronics."
USA Today: Retailers Hope For A Busy Final Weekend

The Wall Street Journal says waiting longer to see if prices fall on tech products probably won't pay off for shoppers. The paper, countering the USA Today finding, said "consumer-electronics retailers, which already discounted many hot items such as portable DVD players for the holiday season, generally aren't offering further last-minute cuts." But there are some specials to be had -- the same as a few weeks ago, the paper said. "Consumer-electronics retailers had aggressively discounted notebook computers, portable DVD players, digital cameras, flat-screen televisions and other popular devices. But this weekend, many deals aren't better than they were a few weeks ago. Among the lures that are being offered: Through Saturday, Target Corp. is selling a Kodak 6.1-megapixel digital camera for $349.99, on sale from $399.99. But Target is sweetening the deal by throwing in a free $50 gift card with the purchase. An Olympus four-megapixel digital camera is marked down just $20, to $229.99 from $249.99, but it comes with a $30 gift card. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s December circular, which runs through Saturday and is available only online, has added some new products. The advertisement features a 27-inch HD-ready flat-panel television for $998, while the largest flat-panel TV in Wal-Mart's previous circular was a 20-inch for $647. The new circular adds a 14.1-inch laptop for $548."
The Wall Street Journal: Where the Deals Are This Weekend (Subscription required)

iPod Sightings

You won't find discounted prices for Apple's iPod models, given the news reports on shortages of the hot music devices (check out yesterday's Filter). But some Filter readers say they're seeing iPods in stores. Filter reader Wayne Luke of California wrote in with some spots near Los Angeles where there are iPods a plenty: "I was in Costco here in Southern California today and they have a large stack of the HP co-branded iPods in stock. Also saw them at Radio Shack and Target yesterday. So those are some places people can look for them."

Another SoCal reader, Alan Kuramoto, wrote to say he "was able to buy the 20 gig iPod at a local Best Buy near my house, but the other Best Buy that I usually shop, which is farther away from my house than the one I went to last night, only had the 40 gig iPod. In fact, the Best Buy that I shopped at had about 6 of the 20 gig iPod, as many 40 gig iPods, and about 18 of the mini iPods. Just my luck that I stopped at this Best Buy last night." The Best Buys were in Torrance and Inglewood, Calif, Kuramoto said. Thanks for the tips!

Shopping With Froogle

Google's comparison-shopping site -- Froogle -- is now spidering the Web to pull in product reviews. CNET, which has its own comparison site and extensive tech product reviews, reported on the souped-up Froogle: "In the weeks before Christmas, Google has quietly added third-party product reviews to its comparison shopping engine, Froogle. In a move to make its site a one-stop online shopping service, Google has started taking snippets of editorial and consumer reviews from sites such as Bizrate.com, Circuit City and CNET, and pairing them with select electronics such as Apple Computer's iPod and Canon's Powershot," CNET's News.com reported. "The service, which is similar to the company's aggregated site for news around the Web, highlights Google's ambition to bring more content to its own site with the use of its 'spidering' technology." One can't help but speculate on how CNET feels about having its product reviews featured on Froogle...
CNET's News.com: Froogle Turns To Web For Product Reviews

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com.


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