January, 2013

  • Still Seeking Resolution to Search Competition Issues

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Two years ago, Microsoft applauded the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission when they opened their antitrust investigations into Google’s business practices. We believed then, as we do now, that the future of competition in search is at stake in these investigations. This is important not just for Microsoft, but for the thousands of smaller companies whose businesses depend on a competitive search marketplace. That is why so many companies have made their concerns about Google’s misconduct known to regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The European Commission has stated publicly that Google must address four areas of concern regarding its business practices, or else it will face enforcement action. We understand that the European Commission and Google are working toward a binding, enforceable legal order that would address these competition law concerns.

    [Read more...]

  • The FTC and Google: A Missed Opportunity

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    The FTC took steps today to address some of Google’s improper business practices. We find it troubling that the agency did not adhere to its own standard procedures that call for the agency to obtain industry input on proposed relief and secure it through an enforceable consent decree. The FTC’s overall resolution of this matter is weak and—frankly—unusual. We are concerned that the FTC may not have obtained adequate relief even on the few subjects that Google has agreed to address.

    Data Portability

    For years Google has publicly championed the virtues of “data portability”—the idea that customers ought to be able to use their own data in products from various companies. But in practice, Google effectively prohibited its primary paying customers (advertisers) from using data about their own advertising campaigns on any ad platform other than Google’s. That made it much more difficult and costly for advertisers (especially small advertisers) to run their ad campaigns on Bing and other ad platforms.

    [Read more...]

  • Windows 8 Family Safety Settings Help Keep Kids Safer Online

    Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Director, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    It’s no surprise that kids today are growing up online.  They use mobile devices to do their homework, play games, connect with friends, and access the wealth of information available on the Web.  Technology gives children access to a host of positive, educational and growth experiences; yet, parents face challenges when they look to monitor what children see online, the people they meet and the information they share.

    At Microsoft, we want to help parents create a healthy computing environment for their kids. That’s why we set out to hear from parents about what matters most to them in helping young people stay safer online.

    [Read more...]

  • DOJ Patent Policy Means FTC Should Think Again about Google Patent Order

    Posted by Dave Heiner
    Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Patent and Trademark Office issued an important policy statement on standard essential patents. We welcome the statement as a significant step forward in ensuring the sound operation of the international standards system. Open standards can thrive only if firms can implement any standard free of the threat that other firms who contributed to the standard will later turn around and try to block them from shipping their products. That is why we strongly support the conclusion of the DOJ and the PTO that holders of standard essential patents should not be permitted to seek product injunctions against firms that are willing to take a reasonable license. Simply stated, firms that have promised to make their standard essential patents available on reasonable terms should do so. (Microsoft committed to this approach a year ago.)

    The FTC determined last week that Google violated U.S. competition law by suing to block shipments of products such as Xboxes, iPhones and iPads. As the FTC explained, these products implement common industry standards, like those used for video playback and Wi-Fi connectivity, and Google had promised to make its standard essential patents available to all on reasonable terms.

    [Read more...]

  • Introducing HelpBridge, a New Mobile App to Help You Stay Connected During a Natural Disaster

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Today Microsoft is announcing a new mobile app called HelpBridge that is designed to help you connect with the people that matter to you most during a large-scale natural disaster. The app also enables you to give money, time and resources to support relief and rebuilding efforts.

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft Applauds New Bipartisan Immigration and Education Bill

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft, issued the following statement on today’s introduction of the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013:

    “It’s critical that America address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. There are many high-skilled, high-paying jobs being created by American businesses across the country that are being left unfilled because of this gap. The country’s economic and technology leadership are dependent on improving STEM education and implementing broader immigration reform.

    Today’s introduction in the Senate of the bi-partisan Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 is a major step forward. This legislation addresses the country’s immigration and education needs in a thoughtful and impactful manner.

    The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 contains crucial reforms in high-skilled immigration that provide more H-1B visas and green cards in exchange for a small increase in additional fees. Equally important, the bill directly invests in America’s future by directing these fees toward the funding of education and training programs for our own citizens.

    [Read more...]

  • The View From Washington State: 3 Ways to Improve STEM Education In Our State

    Editor’s Note: This post is part of a monthly series from Microsoft called “The View from Washington State”. The View from Washington State provides insight and commentary on topics and trends of importance to technology, education, corporate citizenship and public policy in Washington State.

    Posted by Brad Smith
    General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    Several months ago, in the other Washington, I had the opportunity to discuss the country’s need for new ideas to address the current shortage of engineers and computer scientists.  Among other things, I called for coupling an increase in H1B visas and green cards with higher fees to obtain those credentials for their employees. These fees would provide billions of dollars over the next decade to invest in improving K-12 and higher education here in the U.S., to ensure that American students in U.S. schools are better prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

    The idea is gaining bipartisan support in our nation’s capital and its adoption would provide short- and long-term benefits.

    It would immediately help employers like Microsoft hire the people it needs today. We currently have more than 6,000 open job opportunities, more than half of which are for computer scientists and engineers. Giving employers who are finding it increasingly hard to fill the jobs they create access to more talent, will provide an immediate shot in the arm to the national economy. Put simply, if Felix Hernandez is available, you want to be able to sign him for your team.

    Over the longer term, the resulting investments in STEM education will help ensure that more of our nation’s young people fully benefit from the exciting career opportunities being created by the innovation economy.

    But at the same time, we here in Washington state must commit ourselves to implementing equally important efforts to address this skills shortage.

    [Read more...]

  • Paving the Path from Education to Employment

    Posted by Brad Smith
    General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    This is the second in a series of blog posts by Microsoft executives regarding the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Read the first blog post on the Citizenship blog by Lori Harnick, general manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs.

    It’s estimated that 600 million jobs worldwide will need to be created over the next decade to make up for jobs lost in the recent economic crisis. Yet, many, many jobs stand open now without skilled workers to fill them. These issues of job creation and the skills gap were top of mind for many people last week at Davos, as I learned from the number of conversations I had with delegates and the many meetings dedicated to these topics.

    [Read more...]

  • Technology and Innovation: Investing in Our Future

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Earlier today, Microsoft Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs Brad Smith gave the closing keynote address at the 41st Annual Economic Forecast Conference. Presented by the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, and attended by leaders across the public and private sectors, the conference provided insight into future economic trends and forecasts, as well as opportunities and challenges that surround the technology industry.

    Brad spoke to the urgent issue facing the technology sector not just in Washington state, but across the country – the need for more qualified talent in computer science and STEM fields. He called for a stronger focus in improving access to quality STEM curricula and faster implementation of the new national math and science standards in K-12. Brad pointed out that of 42,000 high schools in the U.S., only 2,103 offered the AP computer science course. Narrow this down to Washington and the reality is just as grim, out about 770 high schools in the state, only 35 offered the AP computer science course. He also stressed the importance for higher education to increase their STEM related capacity enabling more students to access and complete high demand degrees and credentials.

    [Read more...]

  • From The Citizenship Blog: Microsoft & GOOD Team Up on Give For Youth Challenge

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Microsoft and GOOD have teamed up to give you the opportunity to help your favorite youth-focused nonprofit. Today, we are announcing the Microsoft Give For Youth Challenge, a contest where you nominate and vote for nonprofits who support young people around the United States.

    The Corporate Citizenship Blog has the whole story.

    [Read more...]