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Spyglass soars on new Microsoft deal

Spyglass shares soar on a new three-year deal with Microsoft to develop and integrate Internet-ready applications for Windows CE device manufacturers.

A $20 million deal with Microsoft to provide technology and services sent Spyglass shares soaring this morning as the company once again links its fortunes to the software giant.

After seeing its stock languish the last three months, shares in Spyglass rose as much as 92 percent after the company signed a 3-year deal with Microsoft to help develop and integrate Internet-ready applications for Windows CE device manufacturers.

In addition, Microsoft has licensed unnamed Spyglass technology and is looking at ways to boost the usability of Windows CE within that licensing pact, the companies said.

Spyglass rose $6 for a 67.6 percent gain to 14.875 in midday trading, on volume more than 10 times its three-month daily average. Earlier in the day, the shares touched 17, a 92 percent gain from the previous day's closing price. Shares closed at 13.625.

In 1997, Spyglass became embroiled in a dispute with Microsoft over whether or not the software giant was keeping up with royalty payments due to Spyglass for technology used in the Internet Explorer browser.

The issue was later settled when Microsoft offered a lump sum payment to Spyglass for its technology.

Spyglass has long since put aside any ill will in favor of revenue opportunities. The company said in September of last year it had developed a version of its Device Mosaic Web browser for Windows CE, which is Microsoft's operating system for "embedded devices."

In October, the company inked a deal with cable equipment maker General Instrument to provide engineering services to cable operators adding technologies such as Windows CE into their set-top boxes.

But after announcing in January that anticipated licensing deals had not been signed yet, and that revenue would fall short of expectations, the stock price dropped precipitously from its 52-week high of $32.25, giving rise to a rash of shareholder lawsuits.

While Spyglass declined to confirm what technologies were being examined by Microsoft, both the company's Web browser and its "Prism" software for automatically converting Web content for viewing on handheld and other devices could potentially play an important part in Microsoft's plans.

Microsoft has designs on moving content from its MSN service to devices such as handhelds and smart cell phones via wireless connections. It has also formed a new company with Qualcomm, called Wireless Knowledge to provide wireless data services.

Today's deal marks a welcome respite from the bad news buffeting the company so far in 1999. In January, the company announced that anticipated licensing deals had not been signed yet, and that revenue for the upcoming quarter would fall short of expectations.

The stock has dropped precipitously from its 52-week high of $32.25 since them, giving rise to a rash of shareholder lawsuits. President and CEO Doug Colbeth also took a leave of absence from the company for medical reasons, but has officially returned.