THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Windows phones get called up for duty
Microsoft's cell-phone operating system scores a big sale. Plus: Yahoo hooks up with BlackBerry.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Never count Microsoft out: The software giant has a knack for getting software right after first rolling out a couple of lousy versions. Indeed, Microsoft's Windows Mobile appears to be hitting its stride, with news today that the Census Bureau has ordered up 500,000 devices running the company's cell-phone operating system. The government agency will supply them to workers gathering information for the 2010 Census. With more government sales likely to follow, Microsoft (Research) executive Peter Knook told Bloomberg News that he expects the Microsoft division's sales to double next year to 20 million phones and other handheld devices.

Yahoo hooks up with BlackBerry

iTunes faces music price hikes
As contracts are being renegotiated, the record labels want more than 99 cents a song. Plus: Movie downloads draw negative reviews. (more)

While Microsoft aims to cut into Research In Motion's (Research) corporate sales, the BlackBerry maker is hoping to sign up more consumers. Up until now, most BlackBerry customers have used the service to read their corporate e-mail. But today, RIMM announced a deal to let BlackBerry users read Yahoo (Research) e-mail and instant messages on the devices. The Unofficial Yahoo Weblog's take: "Yahoo and RIM conspire to hurt your thumbs." This is just the latest maneuver in the battle for space on your cell phone: Motorola (Research) and Google (Research) announced plans earlier this year to ship phones with a built-in Google button that would take you right to a mobile version of Google's search engine, though MobileTracker notes those phones have yet to ship.

Videogame kills off Canadian PM

If you're assassinated in virtual reality, do you die in real life? Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper undoubtedly hopes not. In Ubisoft's new game, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, which is now the best-selling title for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, the Canadian PM is shot and killed in the opening sequence, apparently while meeting in Mexico City with U.S. president George W. Bush and Mexican president Vicente Fox. The Ottawa Citizen noted that on Friday, Harper happened to be finishing up a meeting in that very spot with his two North American counterparts. Ubisoft employee Adrian Fernandez-Lacey told the Citizen that the game was made in the company's French studios, and that as someone who was part Mexican and part Canadian, he would be the first person to complain about the game: " I said, 'Look, you're invading my country and you're killing my prime minister.'" Mexican officials had a stronger reaction to Ghost Recon, which also depicts a rebellion in Mexico: According to a Spanish-language report in El Economista, they're seeking to have the game pulled off the market.

Google gets into real-estate listings

In the future, is there anything we won't Google? Online marketer Shimon Sandler notes that Google is now offering real-estate listings to users who search for homes. The new service quietly appeared in Google's search engine recently, drawing on Google Base, a service which helps users upload for-sale listings, and Google Maps, to show all houses in a neighborhood that fall within a specified price range. The new feature could be bad news for startups like Zillow and, which also combine online maps with real-estate data. Top of page

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