Here are the Top Stories Which Drove Tech Stocks This Week

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to this week’s top tech industry business headlines:

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Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): Current price $28.61

An early build of Windows Blue, which will be the next version of Windows, has been leaked online: Build 9364, a partner version that was first compiled on March 15, has been made available on file sharing sites and includes some of the new modifications that Microsoft is building into its significant Windows 8 update. Leaked screenshots posted at Winforum indicate that the firm is bringing smaller tile arrangements and even a larger desktop one to its Start Screen, as well as greater control over the color personalization options, and much more. Microsoft is building in additional Snap Views into Windows Blue, permitting users to place applications side-by-side in the Windows 8 view. The new 50 / 50 view is similar to the desktop mode snapping, but as many as four snapped applications are supported alongside each other.

The European Commission has received a complaint about Microsoft from a Spanish association representing open-source software users, marking a new challenge to the Windows developer subsequent to a sizable fine earlier in March. The 8,000 member Hispalinux, which represents users and developers of the Linux operating system in Spain, said that Microsoft had made it hard for users of computers sold with its Windows 8 platform to transfer to Linux or other operating systems. Neither Microsoft nor Commission officials were available for comment.

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MSFT

Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS): Current price $16.46

In a heightened effort to sell its flagship NOOK HD+ tablet, the company is ready to throw in a NOOK Simple Touch e-reader for free. Barnes & Noble seems to realize that its chances for success are deteriorating quite rapidly, as e-reader sales start to stall out against fully-featured tablets like the iPad and Nexus lines, and Amazon’s Kindle range sails right along. The NOOK HD+ was intended to be the firm’s silver bullet, offering a full HD, 1920×1280 display and access to multimedia content such as music, films and games, being an assertive response to the Kindle Fire HD. In any case, President of Digital Products at NOOK Media Jamie Iannone, said the offer has been formed to help consumers “fully experience all that the expansive NOOK Store of more than 3 million titles has to offer.”

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BKS

Oracle Corporation  (NASDAQ:ORCL): Current price $32.34

Oracle is still a dominant force in tech with its $32.7 billion in revenue and database and applications software used by corporations to manage their finances and procurement. However, The Wall Street Journal says that nowadays its business is being eroded around the edges by smaller, more focused firms that offer newer technology.

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ORCL

Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) : Current price $266.49

Analyst Ross Sandler at Deutsche Bank says that Amazon is becoming more efficient in shipping due to an increase buildup in the number of fulfillment centers over the past three years, but gains in this area are being outweighed by higher service levels required by Prime customers. Sandler commented that “there are three factors driving greater shipping efficiency from the fulfillment center build-out: 1) reducing the mix of air shipments, 2) increased ability to bundle multiple items per order, and 3) optimizing the last mile with lower cost vendors and AMZN delivery (i.e. – the locker).”

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AMZN

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Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA): Current price $3.35

The firm’s Chief Information Officer Debra Chrapaty, also Cisco and Microsoft veteran, has been chosen chief executive of the enterprise cloud storage firm Nirvanix. She will supplant Dru Borden, who will remain at the company as senior vice president of planning and development and a director. Also, Chrapaty will remain executive chairwoman of the board of Nirvanix, which has investments from Khosla Ventures and Intel Capital.

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ZNGA

Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM): Current price $179.00

Chief Executive Marc Benioff said on Monday that Chatter will become the primary interface for Salesforce.com, at a Boston kickoff of a national tour for the firm’s new “customer,” focus. Benioff discussed the rise of mobile, how people are connecting and the advent of Twitter and Facebook, and then used that context as a segue to say how Chatter, an activity stream platform, is becoming the primary interface into Salesforce. He called it a significant step that other firms will follow.

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CRM

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG): Current price $794.03

Analyst Martin Pyykkonen at Wedge partners wrote Monday in a research note that Google’s mobile ad run rate has increased by ore than twice since mid-2012, and the search major’s mobile ad run rate now is at more than $5 billion a year. Google leads in mobile advertising, with tech that’s unequaled in the industry, said Pyykkonen, who commented that “We think this is a clear positive, not only for Google, but also for overall adoption of mobile advertising spending.”

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GOOG

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY): Current price $14.49

Earlier in March, through an effort to show that its newly-released smartphone was getting some traction, BlackBerry announced that “an established partner,” who was not identified, and ordered 1 million BlackBerrys, without reporting details of the order. Analyst Jeff Johnston at Detwiler Fenton & Co., thinks the order came from Brightstar Corp., a large firm that distributes smartphones to retailers, which was confirmed by another industry source, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Analyst Stuart Jeffrey at Nomura Securities anticipates that BlackBerry’s better-than-expected fourth quarter profitability to inspire broad increases in consensus forecasts, pushed by higher margin expectations. Still, Jeffrey maintained a Neutral, and a downside $10 price target at this point. The analyst said that the main highlight was the 40 percent gross margin, commenting that “This suggests that hardware gross margins rose from around -2 percent in fiscal third quarter to 11 percent in the fiscal fourth. It’s not clear how much of this was due to the Z10 being priced for a healthy gross margin and how much was BlackBerry ending its excess promotions of BB7 devices.”

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BBRY

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): Current price $442.71

On Tuesday, T-Mobile USA announced that it will start offering the iPhone 5 on April 12. The firm said that qualifying customers can buy an iPhone 5 for $99.99 down, along with monthly payments. So far, T-Mobile is the sole major domestic wireless firm to offer the device with no annual service contract plus unlimited talk, text and Web on a nationwide 4-gigabyte network. Since there are no annual contracts, customers decide when to upgrade their phones, and not the carrier.

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AAPL

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC): Current price $12.60

The Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson has brought a lawsuit against the Indian handset maker Micromax and its distributor for infringing wireless patent rights. Ericsson confirmed an earlier report in the Economic Times of India that it had sued after Micromax would not sign license agreements for a number of wireless technologies. Company spokeswoman Karin Hallstan said that ”It is once again about FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms),” declining to further comment.

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ERIC

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): Current price $25.58

The company is now conducting an alpha test on its Facebook Exchange Ads in the right-hand column, so as to extend the ads  into the desktop News Feed, which is the place where users spend most of their time when they are on the social network. Facebook tested and debuted the ads in 2012 as a method for advertisers to market themselves to users based on those users’ online browsing habits. Since then, the ads have become among the firm’s strongest performing ad units.

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FB

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LogMeIn (NASDAQ:LOGM): Current price $19.22

LogMeIn on Tuesday said that a federal jury in Eastern District of Virginia found that its products do not infringe on United States Patent No. 6,928,479, as asserted by 01 Communique. Chief Executive Michael Simon commented that ”We are obviously very pleased with the Court’s decision, and we feel this validates LogMeIn’s long-standing tradition of investing in the development of unique and innovative products. We will continue to vigorously defend patent lawsuits, and we will not succumb to attempts by litigious parties to profit from our ongoing investments in innovation.”

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LOGM

Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ:BRCM): Current price $34.68

On Tuesday, Broadcom announced the choice of Michael Hurlston to Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales effective April 1st, replacing Executive Vice President of Business Development Thomas Lagatta, who will continue with Broadcom until he retires at the end of 2013,  reporting to President and Chief Executive Scott McGregor.

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BRCM

Western Digital Corporation (NYSE:WDC): Current price $50.28

Shares of disk drive maker were up three cents in after-hours trading at $48.71 after Amit Daryanani at RBC Capital began coverage with an Outperform and a price target of $55, after predicting that profit margin in the industry “will be more ‘stable,’ the firm’s capital allocation is favorable, and the company can take share.”

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WDC

Shutterstock (NYSE:SSTK): Current price $44.99

The Web-based email marketing firm Emma is working jointly with the wholly-owned Shutterstock subsidiary Bigstock, to provide customers with seamless access to more than 12 million stock images. This integration permits Emma customers to find and buy the perfect image for their campaign by searching through Bigstock’s library from within Emma’s image editor.

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SSTK

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AT&T (NYSE:T): Current price $36.71

Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 will go for $250 on AT&T along with a two-year contract, and will be available for pre-orders beginning April 16. The latter has yet to announce an actual release date for Samsung’s next flagship phone. Beyond that, it remains unclear as to how much storage will be available in AT&T’s version of the S 4. Samsung will offer 16-, 32- and 64-gigabyte versions with a microSD card slot for more storage, but AT&T has not yet indicated whether it will carry the full range.

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T

eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY): Current price $54.29

Company executives said Thursday that eBay is targeting $110 billion worth of sales volume on its marketplace in 2015 by expanding worldwide, getting more local inventory online and using mobile tech to work more with shoppers. President of eBay’s Marketplaces business in North America Devin Wenig made the new projection, which compares with gross merchandise volume, of $75 billion in 2012. That particular yardstick is a closely-monitored measure of eBay’s performance. Analyst Doug Anmuth at J.P. Morgan was expecting a 2015 GMV of $101 billion.

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EBAY

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK): Current price $3.28

The mobile phone maker is shrugging off a multi-billion rupee tax demand from India, explaining that it is not required to pay any part of the demand as of  now and would continue to fight the claim. Tax officials demanded Nokia pay 20.8 billion rupees in unpaid taxes, accelerating claims against foreign firms, although the Delhi High Court has issued a stay on the demand. If it were enforced, the order would increase pressure on Nokia’s finances which are already impacted by falling sales. The firm cut out its annual dividend payment for the first time ever to reinforce its cash position.

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NOK

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