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Top Business Tech Stories of 2009

We’ve seen a lot of things happen in 2009, some things were expected, some were not, some were shocking, and some were simply never seen or heard of before.

From the biggest Ponzi scheme ever seen in U.S. history, to the global financial credit crisis, to historic health care reform championed by the first black President of the United States.

A lot has happened in 2009, and we’ve compiled it all up for you with the top 8 topics of the entire year.

1. The Global Financial Crisis

With the near collapse of the global credit market, and unprecedented actions being taken by global leaders to stave off a global economic meltdown, the financial crisis was plastered in the media almost every day and even became a primary presidential voting issue, thereby making it the story of 2009. With billions provided in emergency bailout loans to financial intermediaries, Wall Street was still paying millions in bonuses with outstanding government loans, while millions of Americans faced forclosurer and high unemployment rates. The Obama administration later moved to block $165-million in AIG bonuses alone and later blocked bonuses from being paid while the financial intermediaries had outstanding government debt. Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway even reported its biggest loss ever (only its second loss in its history). There were also opportunities for firms to act on, such as Disney who acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4B. Despite households losing significant amounts of money primairly from their positions in risky equity positions, some did profit (though not for too long)…Bearnie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison following a conviction for operating the biggest Ponzi scheme ever seen in U.S. history that saw $50 billion defrauded from investors.

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Microsoft changes Office Word by court ruling

We first reported on August 12, 2009 that a Texas-based court ruled in favor of i4i Corp, a Toronto-based firm, that ordered Microsoft to cease selling its popular Word program because of alleged patent infringement related to custom XML editing (U.S. Patent Number 5,787,449). The Texas-court in that ruling also fined Microsoft $240 million.

At that time, Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz said, “We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid,” and said the company would appeal.

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Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell named as new GM CFO

Current Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell to take the top finance job at GM in January
Chris Liddell, named new GM CFO, to start this January

Chris Liddell, named new GM CFO, to start this January

General Motors today just announced that Chris Liddell (Wikipedia profile), 51, would become the new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at GM starting in January.

The announcement comes as GM makes yet another important change to its top management following changes pushed by the Obama administration.

Chris Liddell is currently the CFO at Microsoft, but will be stepping down by the end of this year as he makes on the top finance job at GM in January.

Liddell has been credited with cutting about $3 billion in total costs at Microsoft to better position the company in the global economic downturn mainly by developing a massive cost cutting plan that saw up to 5,000 job cuts at the tech giant. The job cuts alone was expected to saved the company $1.5 billion.

Most recently, Microsoft announced better than expected Q3 earnings ($3.6 billion in profits) thanks to Liddell implementing new cost structure changes.

Liddell now faces the difficult task of revaluing balance sheet items post restructuring and the massive U.S. bailout with emergency loans.

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Microsoft, Sony set to launch new features to consoles

Microsoft and Sony are set to add new features to their respective gaming consoles, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.

On November 17, Microsoft will let users update their firmware via Xbox Live that will include many useful and much anticipated new features.

The most important Xbox updates include new Twitter, Facebook and Last.fm (with support for only the U.S. and the U.K. users for Last.fm) integration, on demand 1080p 5.1-channel HD video streaming via Zune Video, and a new News section that streams content from various content partners including MSNBC.

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Microsoft Q3 earnings top Wall Street, new Apple attack ads

The world’s largest computer software-maker, Microsoft Inc., today announced Q3 2009 (ending Sept 30) earnings, easily beating Wall Street expectations and sending the Microsoft stock (MSFT) surging up almost 6-percent in mid-day trading.

Microsoft recorded total sales as $12.9 billion (down 14-percent from the same period last year), but still topped analyst expectations.

Microsoft posted $3.6 billion ($0.40 per share) in profits, an 18-percent decrease compared to the same period in 2008.

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Microsoft to sell Windows 7 for $29.99 to students

In a totally unexpected move, Microsoft said it would offer Windows 7 (Home or Premium, 32-bit or 64-bit) to students for a mere, get this…only $30 (yes, the full OS).

The announcement comes from the 741 website, a site hosted by The Price Company on behalf of Microsoft.

The site reads: For a limited time, eligible college students can get the sweetest deal on Windows 7 – for only $29.99* USD. That’s less than most of your textbooks! Hurry — offer ends January 3, 2010 at 12:00 am CST.

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Microsoft launches Zune HD

Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of its new Zune HD portable media device that is aimed at competing against the very successful iPod touch from Apple.

The Zune HD is available with 16GB priced at $219.99 (black color), or with 32GB priced at $289.99 (color platinum).

Microsoft went on to say today that the company plans to add new games and applications to the Zune Marketplace in the near future.

The company said “Later this year, Zune plans to release free applications such as Twitter for Zune and Facebook for Zune, in addition to fun 3-D games such as “Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition,”

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Microsoft unveils visual search for Bing

Microsoft today just unveiled its new visual search engine feature for Bing at the TechCrunch50 technology conference.

The new visual search lets you search for items that you might not necessarily know what its name is. The search results present a grid of images to you, where you can subsequently narrow your results with criteria based on your search.

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Salesforce posts 20% rise in profits Q2 2009 $21.2M

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff

The CRM software provider Salesforce.com has just posted strong second quarter financial results.

The company had a 20-percent increase in Q2 2009 (ended July 31) total revenue of $316.1 million compared to the same period last year.

Net income was up a significantly by 112-percent to $21.2 million, despite the fact that companies are spending less to curb costs during this tuff economic time.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said that competition is intensifying between major rivals including Microsoft and Oracle, but the company is still fairing well and continues to win contracts over its major competitors.

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Windows 7 to cost half as much in UK, release candidate downloads close Thursday

If you’re looking to download the latest test build release candidate of Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system, you’ll have until this Thursday to download your free copy.

Microsoft has allowed unlimited downloads of Windows 7, but is set to entirely close downloads as we inch closer to the Windows 7 October launch.

Users will still be able to obtain registration keys and register Windows 7, but will not be able to download fresh copies.

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