Xbox outages, IRS lawsuits, and other year-end drama

One holiday-shortened week gone, another arrived. Here's a rundown of the Microsoft-flavored news you missed if you had the good fortune to unplug last week:

-The IRS has sued Steve Ballmer and a slate of other current and former Microsoft executives in an effort to get them to testify in a long running tax probe. The agency is looking into how Microsoft treated subsidiaries for tax purposes. Microsoft said it had expected to receive a notice of an increased back tax bill this month. Company lawyers also suggested the subpoenas to executives are part of a campaign to force the company to the negotiating table regarding the taxes it paid between 2004 and 2006.

-Microsoft, along with rival Google, agreed to host streaming video of Sony's "The Interview," after threats of spurred some theater chains to pull the film. The online gross for the film's first four days? $15 million, according to the studio.

-Some gamers hoping to try out new goodies on Christmas were disappointed, as the online arms of both Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation went down. A took credit for the disruptions. Sony said its outage was indeed the result of a distributed denial of service attack, which essentially floods servers with requests in an effort to bring them down. Microsoft was mum on the cause of Xbox's failure.

-Finally, before the Seahawks battered the St. Louis Rams to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFL playoffs, I looked at Microsoft's strategy to boost its relevance to consumers through the lens of its most popular pitchman: Russell Wilson.


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