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Monday, August 14, 2006

Microsoft Gives Away Some Code

Stocks: (MSFT)(SNE)(AAPL)

Maybe the cries of discouraged investor are beginning to make their way to the management floor at Microsoft headquarters.

Over the weekend Microsoft announced that it will give away code that will allow independent game makers and even consumers to create their own games for XBox. According to the Wall Street Journal, the programmers can then sell or share the games on the XBox Live Network. Usually development kits for game platforms are very expensive.

Microsoft believes that this ability to allow develpers to create code will make the XBox "sticky", encouraging gamers to use the platform over the Playstation from Sony and the Nintendo's offering. It will probably work. Self creation has become a part of the internet culture, especially for those under 30 who populate You Tube and MySpace. One can imagine gamers creating new games and sharing their specs at their MySpace pages.

The move is part of Microsoft's move to get their software to the web and is also an indication that what Ballmer and company said was necessary to revive the sleeping giant is actually beginning to become part of the company's culture. It also marks Microsoft's move more deeply into hardware. The new Zune multimedia player, meant to compete with Apple's iPod, will be out later this year. Investors can wonder what Microsoft may make available in terms of code to add interest to the Zune. Perhaps Zune buyers will be able to create their own content via free software for the Zune and distributre it across the internet like bands do on MySpace. With Apple failing to release a hot new iPod, Microsoft may be picking a good time to strike.

With its stock lanquishing around $25 for the last several years, it would appear that Microsoft has decided that a change from the old rules of proprietary software, often not availabel to customers, is necessary to drive adoption of new Microsoft products.

It's about time.

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