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Originally published Monday, September 11, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Unbox reviewers unimpressed

Amazon.com launched its Unbox video download service Thursday to some fairly harsh reviews. BusinessWeek described it as "shackled by a...

Compiled by Times technology staff

Amazon.com launched its Unbox video download service Thursday to some fairly harsh reviews. BusinessWeek described it as "shackled by a raft of viewing limitations imposed by movie studios." Techdirt said the service was "me too," with "all the problems of just about every other video download offering out there."

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg couldn't get a video to download and was told he needed to purchase that TV program again.

"Time to uninstall this thing and hope it didn't screw up my PC in the process," he wrote.

And the Good Morning Silicon Valley blog quoted analyst Richard Greenfield of Pali Capital, who said, "the rules and pricing scheme of Unbox make us believe that movie studios do not want legal movie downloading to be terribly successful in the near-intermediate term."

Did Amazon rush its service to beat Apple Computer, which is expected to unveil Tuesday a movie-download component to its iTunes music player and store? The company isn't saying, but so far it doesn't look like the Amazon has stolen much of Apple's oomph.

More than a card

Steve Ballmer gave someone a nice present earlier this month.

The Microsoft chief executive gave 1,725,000 shares of company stock to an unnamed recipient, according to a regulatory filing last week. At the stock's closing price Sept. 1, the day the gift was given, those shares were worth nearly $44.6 million.

It was the largest of three stock gifts he's made in recent years, according to filings.

In March 2005, Ballmer gave away 990,000 shares worth about $25.2 million at the time. In August 2004, he distributed 84 shares valued at $2,288.16 the day they were given.

Ballmer owns about 4 percent of Microsoft's stock, a position worth about $10.45 billion at current prices.

Old-school ads

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For a wireless Internet company, Kirkland-based Clearwire is resorting to some old-fashioned methods. Last week, the company was going doorknob-to-doorknob in Seattle neighborhoods, hanging fliers advertising its wireless Internet service, which its Web site says is coming to Seattle in the fall.

"There's nothing complicated about us," the flier said. "Plug our modem into any power outlet and start surfing today."

Download: 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.

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