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In anticipation of economic recovery and dramatic growth in computer and network use in Asia, Microsoft expanded telecommunication investments in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan


IE 5.01, a minor upgrade that rolls up bug fixes and improves security, is shipping; IE 5.5, currently in public beta, adds a couple of features (such as print preview) and supports several new Web content formats


This release is an important step in Microsoft's BizTalk initiative, which is defining communication protocols for business-to-business e-commerce that Microsoft will support in its server products


The most important part of this new release is the beta Windows Media Device Manager (WMDM), which enables users to download audio to portable players while retaining copyright protection on the material


A new partner program offers Web site usage analysis tools based on SQL Server 7.0's On-Line Analytic Processing (OLAP) Services to selected solution providers


The promotions are small, but they illustrate Microsoft's larger plan to boost its Windows CE-based Palm-size PC against the popular systems based on the Palm operating system



The venture will employ components of the recently announced Microsoft Mobile Explorer (MME) platform, including a microbrowser, and a Windows NT-based backend for delivering messages to wireless systems


Microsoft anticipates that Windows-powered smart cards will allow the company to capture a significant part of an embryonic market that is expected to swell to more than 1.2 billion units by 2001


While Microsoft used the Streaming Media West conference in December to heavily promote its streaming media platform, many of Microsoft's partners are hedging their bets by supporting both Microsoft and RealNetworks formats