A possible Microsoft-Skype acquisition hurdle and other Microsoft news of the week

In this Microsoft news roundup: A potential Skype-acquisition hurdle, ZunePass changes, tethering in Windows Phone Mango and more.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Here's a quick round-up of Microsoft news bits from around the Web:

A potential hurdle to Microsoft's Skype-acquisition plan has emerged. Reuters reported earlier this week that Messagenet, an Italian Skype rival, had sought European Union antitrust regulators to block Microsoft's Skype acquisition because of potential antitrust issues around the bundling of Skype with Windows. Messagenet also is seeking guarantees that Microsoft won't block the ability of third-parties to integrate with Skype. The New York Times noted that Messagenet's actions don't mean European regulators will veto the $8.5 billion acquisition.  The final decision is due on October 7, as to whether Microsoft's planned purchase will need amending or sail through the regulatory process in Europe. U.S. regulators already approved the Microsoft-Skype deal in June of this year. Tethering may be coming (officially and not) to Windows Phone Mango devices: After Microsoft's official statement earlier this week that seemed to imply that only new Windows Phones running the Mango operating system would be able to tether, reality is setting in. As Long Zheng noted, hackers already have tethering working on some legacy Windows Phones. It sounds like some existing phones that include chips supporting the capability officially may end up supporting tethering, too (if carriers allow it). In short, more clarity is needed on Mango tethering, sooner rather than later.

Microsoft is tinkering with its ZunePass music-subscription service pricing and policies. Brand new subscribers in countries where ZunePass already is supported (plus Canada) will be offered a new $10 per month price, with no option to keep 10 songs per month. Those of us already on the $15 per month ZunePass plan (which includes the 10 songs per month purchase plan) can opt to stay on that plan, if so desired. As Windows Supersite's Paul Thurrott noted during our taping of Windows Weekly this week, Microsoft is now referring to the subscription service as Zune Music Pass... which could be seen as implying the long-rumored Zune Video Service Pass in the works. Microsoft is continuing to slowly but steadily flesh out Office Web Apps, the Webified versions of its Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote products. This week the Softies added digital-ink support to OneNote Web App; the ability to print directly from inside the browser with Excel Web App; and use right-click short cuts from inside the Excel Web App. Note: These are updates to Office Web Apps that are accessible via SkyDrive, not for all versions of Office Web Apps.

Microsoft is cementing partnerships for its soon-to-be-launched Xbox Live TV Service. Bloomberg BusinessWeek and others are reporting the Softies are lining up a host of service and content partners, including Comcast, Verizon, HBO, Sony Pictures, NBC and others, for the imminent Xbox Live TV Service launch. Microsoft offered a brief preview of the coming Xbox Live TV capability at the E3 show earlier this year. I believe this is Project Orapa -- the Mediaroom IPTV plus Xbox Live service -- about which I've blogged before. Microsoft also is working on related Media Center, Silverlight and set-top-box components (codenamed Rome, Taos and Monaco).

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