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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Yahoo, Alphabet and Oracle

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 05, 2016 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Oracle (ORCL).

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Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Technology Stock Roundup: Microsoft’s Interesting Week, & More

Microsoft (MSFT) had an interesting Build conference last week, while Yahoo (YHOO) changed its by-laws and Alphabet (GOOGL) objected to Oracle’s ( ORCL) damages claim.

Microsoft Build Conference Takeaways

Microsoft had a number of interesting announcements at its Build developers’ conference last week. Perhaps the most interesting of these was what it called its conversation-as-a-platform. This basically means that it’s getting ready to unleash an entire army of chatbots (chatting robots) or at least providing essential tools so developers can do it. These chatbots are intended to help users get different jobs done (once they are ready).

Microsoft’s first experiment, Tay, turned out to be a bit of an embarrassment as it fell prey to pranksters that programmed it to make racial and other offensive comments. But it’s just the beginning. Microsoft believes that in the age of mobile devices, users will soon get tired of accessing a multitude of apps to get simple things done. That’s when the chatbots will take over, retrieving information and carrying out orders when asked in simple conversation.

The idea also doesn’t seem all that novel when you consider that Amazon’s Echo (or Alexa) appears to be doing much the same thing as are some others. But it’s interesting nonetheless.

Other updates: Windows Pen is getting extended to apps beyond Maps, Sketchpad and Office and won’t require switching to mouse and keyboard in some cases. A Surface pen menu will also offer recently-used apps and suggested apps in the Windows store.

Second, Windows Hello, which recognizes your face or fingerprint, thereby eliminating the need for passwords will be available on the Edge browser and developers can also build it into their websites and apps, enabling a more seamless experience for users.

Third, more universal apps are coming including for Facebook, its Messenger and Instagram. Fourth, Cortana’s capabilities are going to increase. Fifth, Xbox One will also operate as a development kit. It will get other enhancements including the ability to stream games directly to a PC.

Yahoo Proxy Fight Update

In what looks like little more than additional drama, Yahoo’s board of directors have changed the by-laws to allow shareholders that hold more than 3% of the company’s shares for more than three years to nominate up to 20% of the board. The new by-law comes into effect after the general meeting that will decide the fate of its current board. That is why it seems rather irrelevant. Activist investor Starboard has declared a proxy war and has filed nominations to replace the entire board.

Alphabet Disagrees with Oracle Claim

Google and Oracle have been fighting this case a really long time. Oracle claims that Google didn’t get the necessary license from Sun (later acquired by Oracle) to use its Java code. It has been found that Google copied a miniscule amount of Java code (0.0009%) in its Android OS that has however been ruled material for the purpose.

Earlier, it was found that it constituted fair use since Android was a free OS and monetized indirectly. This is the issue the jury will vote on in the case that goes to trial in May.

Last week, Oracle said that Google must pay $9.3 billion in damages and Google has objected to the amount. It has also objected to the independent expert appointed by the judge saying that while he accepted Oracle’s claim at face value, Google’s own expert strongly disagreed with the amount.

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