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Microsoft to buy companies, strengthen Web 2.0 offerings

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Microsoft is to hit the acquisition trail, announcing its intention of acquiring up to 20 companies a year to boost its Web 2.0 strategy. 

This was one of the revelations to come out of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's presentation at the Web 2.0 Summit held last week in San Francisco.
Microsoft is on record as saying that it wants to transform into a media and advertising company, and its Web 2.0 strategy is designed to take it in this direction.
“Microsoft is committed to supporting new business models on the Internet, and has an exciting – and growing – portfolio of Web technologies that is helping to catalyze the growth of Web innovation,” says Ballmer
“This is an incredible time for developers, designers, advertisers, marketers and consumers to plug into and take advantage of the opportunities to experience and grow businesses on the Web.”
The company used the Web 2.0 Summit to make a number of announcements.
These included the public beta release of Popfly, a tool built on Microsoft Silverlight, which provides a fun and easy way for anyone to build and share “mashups,” gadgets, Web pages and applications.
Popfly provides anyone – even those with no programming experience – with a simple way to make creations without code and share them on social networks such as Windows Live Spaces and Facebook.
Microsoft also released a new beta version of the Windows Live Photo Gallery, a free tool for managing and sharing photos for Windows Vista and Windows XP SP2 users. The new beta version offers a Publish on Flickr option directly from Windows Live Photo Gallery, extending the photo publishing options for the service to allow consumers to publish photos to either Windows Live Spaces or Flickr with just a few clicks.
With these new options, consumers have a single end-to-end solution for helping get photos directly off the camera, onto the PC and then up on the Web for quickly and easily sharing with friends, family or the world. The Windows Live Photo Gallery is available on the Windows Live betas page while Windows Live Photo Gallery customers will receive the beta update via Microsoft Update.
New local and mobile search features have been added to the Live Search service. The new features and enhancements are designed to make it easier for people to find what they need at home or on the go through significant innovations in mapping, imagery and driving directions, as well as new services to make the mobile search experience easy and powerful.
Meanwhile, the ecosystem of Silverlight partners and customers continues to grow worldwide. Only one month after the launch of Silverlight 1.0, the number of partners participating in the Microsoft Silverlight Partner Initiative has already grown to more than 50 organisations, and over 40 customers have delivered Silverlight applications.
Customers come from countries around the world including Austria, Australia, Brazil, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the UK and the US.
Silverlight 1.0 is now available in 10 languages: Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
Microsoft also announced commitment from its Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 partners to expand community-building capacities and social computing opportunities in the workplace.