Microsoft opens some software secrets
Microsoft said it will release 30,000 pages of previously restricted software documents that provide key information about how its products, such as Windows and Office, interact with other developers’ programs. Microsoft called the move a “strategic shift” to help its flagship products integrate better into the service-oriented Internet era of computing. (The New York Times, free registration) But it is also designed to mollify European Union antitrust regulators, who have an ongoing investigation of Microsoft business practices. “It’s not in my mind something they would do without the EU pushing them a little bit,” said Cowen & Co. analyst Walter Pritchard. (Bloomberg)
Lloyds weathers credit storm, earns profit
British bank Lloyds TSB reported a 10 percent rise in profits for the second half of 2007, to $3.44 billion. Some $1.3 billion in revenue from the sale of its Abbey Life unit more than made up for $546 million in credit-related asset write-downs. The bank also upped its dividend by 5 percent. Lloyds said it would use its relative financial health to explore acquisitions in the ailing British financial services market. (Bloomberg) Profit for the whole year rose 17 percent, to $6.4 billion. “Lloyds has proved to be something of a safe harbor amid the global storm,” said analyst Richard Hunter at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers. (AP in International Herald Tribune)
With the Oscars on, advertisers heave sigh
With the writers’ strike over, the Academy Awards are going on, with full pomp, on Sunday—and blue-chip advertisers are thrilled. ABC is pretty happy, too, as it charged $1.8 million for each 30-second spot, second only to the Super Bowl. (The New York Times, free registration) Despite a slate of relatively unknown movies with dark themes vying for the top awards this year, the sponsors have elaborate and expensive ad campaigns tied to the event. And the strike could even help ratings this year. “There’s a pent-up demand among viewers who want to experience Hollywood again,” said Chris Jogisa at MasterCard Worldwide. (Los Angeles Times, free registration)
Saudi hip-hop underground
Hip-hop groups in Saudi Arabia, like trio Dark2Men, have been underground endeavors, in a culture that doesn’t look kindly on singing, dancing, or Western pop culture. But then MTV Arabia launched last November, and things changed a bit. The network, the latest addition to the MTV empire, is hosting a hip-hop competition in Dubai. Dark2Men is one of the eight finalists in the finale, which airs next month. The three 20-something men have mixed emotions, as their fathers and fiancees all disapprove. “We used to sing about scratching our way to the surface,” said lead rapper Hani Zain, 27. “We finally made it to the light.” (The Washington Post, free registration)