Microsoft: King of All Media

Redmond magazine's executive editor of features, Lafe Low, will now be writing Wednesday's Redmond Reports. Send all your comments and questions about today's topics to llow@redmondmag.com.

Look out, Howard Stern -- Bill Gates is right on your tail. Seemingly vying for Stern's self-proclaimed title as "King of All Media," Microsoft is venturing further into the realm of advertiser-supported content.

The Redmondites just inked deals with Volvo Car Corp. and Chivas Regal to develop two new series of videos. One is a comedy about a driving instructor, and the other is an adventure travel show. Just to be perfectly clear, Volvo is sponsoring the driving show and Chivas Regal is behind the travel show. You won't see the results on your TV though, as both series are Web-based.

Microsoft is working on the two series with Reveille, the production company responsible for TV shows like "Ugly Betty" and "The Office." The two companies have worked together before on similar sponsored videos that have run on MSN. Capitalizing on the national obsession with cooking shows, the pair produced "Chef to the Rescue," with the essential ingredient of sponsorship coming from Kraft Foods.

Speaking at a national conference for advertising and media executives this week, Gates also presented new technology that makes online video more interactive and lets search engine users preview search results. Both technologies open new doors for advertisers, he said, and will "revolutionize not only advertising but the whole way people consume media, they way they communicate and the way they create."

Ay, caramba! As technology, media and market forces merge, will there be no escape from advertising?

Keep an eye on MSN and you'll see the videos running some time over the next six months. So what's next? A reality show based in Redmond? "Pimp My Code"? "Development Idol"?

What do you think about the slow and steady joining of technology and media -- including sponsored content? How much do you think the spread of sponsored content will influence what you're able to see and what's produced? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

Do Red and Blue Go Together?
Renowned, often revered and occasionally reviled Linux developer Red Hat has partnered with IBM to create and distribute versions of Red Hat's OS configured specifically to run on IBM mainframe systems. The companies announced the news at a Red Hat users' conference that kicked off today.

This has to put a bit of a crimp in Novell's plans. IBM has historically worked mostly with Novell's SuSE Linux on the IBM System z mainframe line, which will be the target for the new Red Hat-IBM collaboration.

Up until now, it has been mostly Red Hat on the smaller systems and mostly Novell on the enterprise class systems. Well, more competition and more choices are good, right?

What's your take on this? Who's your preferred Linux/Unix vendor? Where are you using open source in your organization? Open up to me at llow@redmondmag.com.

Swedish Fish
More on the open source front: Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson will be working with Sun Microsystems on a new multimedia application server. The new server platform will be powered by open source Java technology as part of the GlassFish community.

Sun and Ericsson both also plan to start a supporting program to provide the development community with resources, technical background, testing platforms and tools from both companies.

Making the announcement at the JavaOne Conference in San Francisco, the Sun folks explained that this open source contribution means Java developers, system integrators and any other interested developers will have access to the technology and resources they need to develop multimedia, VOIP, IM and next-generation communication applications.

What do you see coming on the communications horizon? What sort of communications technology are you using or deploying in your organization? Check in at llow@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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