WinInfo Daily UPDATE, January 24, 2005

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In the News

- Microsoft Shareholder Payout Raised US Incomes, Worsened US Deficit
- Firefox 1.0 Surpasses 20 Million Downloads

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Shareholder Payout Raised US Incomes, Worsened US Deficit

When Microsoft issued an unprecedented $32.6 billion stock dividend payout to its shareholders in December, the company had a huge effect on the US economy, the US Department of Commerce said this week. According to the agency, the payout raised the average income of US citizens and will likely worsen the nation's deficit. Overall, the US economy will "become more negative" because of the payout because so many of the company's shareholders live overseas.
According to the Commerce Department, $24 billion of the $32.6 billion payout will be recorded as personal dividend income, enough to raise the average US personal income by 2.9 percent for the month of December. The income rise is the largest since 1993.
The payout has also negatively affected Microsoft's cash balance, and we'll see how dramatic that change is later this week when the company issues its first post-payout quarterly earnings report. Before issuing the dividend, Microsoft had more than $64 billion in cash or cash-like assets on hand; the company also earns a few billion to several billion dollars a quarter. Microsoft issued its one-time, $3-a-share payout in a bid to reduce its massive cash stockpile after resolving most of its major legal battles last year.

Firefox 1.0 Surpasses 20 Million Downloads

Surging open-source Web browser Mozilla Firefox 1.0 has garnered more than 20 million downloads in just 76 days, reaching that milestone more quickly than expected, The Mozilla Foundation reported over the weekend. Firefox has snagged almost 5 percent of the Web browser market from market leader Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), creating an increasingly serious problem for Microsoft. Until last year, IE had always gained market share.
According to Firefox Maintainer Asa Dotzler, Firefox has maintained a steady rate of downloads after spiking in November, shortly after the 1.0 release. Since then, Firefox has averaged between 210,000 and 270,000 downloads a week.
Looking forward, The Mozilla Foundation is planning a March 2005 release of Firefox 1.1, which the organization says will be a minor upgrade without major new features. One new feature that's come to light is a reworking of the Preferences dialog box that simplifies the presentation of large amounts of configuration information.

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