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Saturday, January 28, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Amazon.com movie download service to begin?

Pacific Northwest

Amazon.com plans to start a digital download service for movies by the end of April with at least two major movie studios supplying content, Daily Variety reported on its Web site, citing content suppliers.

Seattle-based Amazon is trying to get smaller studios Image Entertainment, Ardustry Home Entertainment and First Look Entertainment to provide digital content for the service, the trade paper said.

The online retailer is considering offering a service where customers can stream a digital copy of a movie for a fee and apply the charge toward purchase of a DVD, Daily Variety said. Another alternative is for a customer to buy the DVD and download the film while waiting for it to arrive.

Amazon spokeswoman Kristin Mariani told Daily Variety the company hasn't announced plans for a digital service.

Microsoft

New test browser for XP on its way

A test version of the new Internet Explorer browser will be released for Microsoft's Windows XP users "very shortly," according to Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's platform division.

Allchin told The Seattle Times on Thursday that Internet Explorer 7 has security improvements, including a feature to prevent "phishing" scams involving deceptive Web sites. The browser is primarily designed for the upcoming Windows Vista operating system, but Chairman Bill Gates pledged last year to make it available to XP users as well.

Allchin wouldn't say when the browser version will be released, but it's likely to happen before Feb. 14, when Gates speaks at the RSA security conference in San Jose, Calif. It was at RSA's 2005 conference that Gates promised a new browser for XP users.

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Microsoft

Profit report sends shares up sharply

Shares of Microsoft rose the most in almost two years after the world's biggest software maker said profit this quarter will beat analysts' estimates, easing concerns that technology growth is slowing.

The stock rose $1.29, or 4.9 percent, to $27.79 Friday.

Microsoft, which reported second-quarter earnings Thursday, said the November releases of products such as its SQL server software and Xbox 360 will boost sales for the rest of the year.

The forecast helped allay investor worries that technology spending may stall.

enterpriseSeattle

Company halfway to fundraising goal

enterpriseSeattle, formerly known as the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, says it's more than halfway toward its goal of raising $10 million in public and private money. The group has raised $5.2 million so far.

John Powers, enterpriseSeattle's president, said the group wants to increase its business-development spending to $2 million a year for the next five years, compared with the half-million it spent last year, and hire five or six new "case managers" to join the half-dozen already on staff.

Half of the money is earmarked for retaining businesses that are already in the county and encouraging them to expand. Thirty percent would go to recruit new businesses, with the rest spent on research and communications efforts.

The overall goal is to bring 15,000 jobs to the county above existing growth projections; that, in turn, would generate 20,000 "spinoff" jobs, according to estimates prepared for enterpriseSeattle.

Such growth, the group estimates, would add $1.4 billion in wages and benefits to county payrolls and lead to $1.5 billion in new capital investment.

Microsoft

Hacker gets two years for source-code theft

A Connecticut computer hacker with 13 convictions was sentenced to two years in prison for selling Microsoft's proprietary software source code for the Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 operating systems.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in New York told William Genovese Jr., of New Britain, Conn., he was "a predator" who was "becoming a cyber-predator." Three of Genovese's earlier convictions were computer-related, prosecutors said.

Genovese, 29, was arrested in November 2004 when an online-security company hired by Microsoft and a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent downloaded the source code from Genovese's Web site after paying him electronically. Genovese said on his site that he had obtained a copy of the stolen source code, which hackers may use to find vulnerabilities in Windows.

Genovese, whose computer name was "illwill," pleaded guilty in August to stealing Microsoft's trade secrets.

Nation and World

Federal Reserve

President nominates two to Federal Reserve

President Bush is nominating Randall Kroszner and Kevin Warsh to fill two vacancies on the Federal Reserve's board of governors.

With the nominations announced Friday, Bush will have nominated or re-nominated all seven members of the Fed board including selecting Ben Bernanke to take over as chairman of the Fed from Alan Greenspan, who is retiring Tuesday after 18 years in the job.

Kroszner, 43, is an economics professor in the University of Chicago's graduate school of business and a previous member of the Council of Economic Advisers. He directs the university's George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State.

Warsh, 35, is a special assistant to the president for economic policy at the White House, managing domestic finance, capital markets and banking issues. Previously, Warsh served as executive director and vice president of mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley.

In addition to managing monetary policy through the setting of interest rates, the Fed is responsible for regulating giant bank holding companies.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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