Google's Kirkland office hasn't even been open for a year, but it's clearly a rising star at the company. The development office, populated...

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Google‘s Kirkland office hasn’t even been open for a year, but it’s clearly a rising star at the company. The development office, populated by several Microsoft alumni, is among the fastest-growing of the company’s locations.


Kirkland Googlers played a part in the development of mapping software the company released earlier this year. Last week, one of the office’s most significant products, Google Talk, an instant-messaging program, was released for testing.


“Were it not for us having the Kirkland office, we wouldn’t necessarily have had this product,” said Georges Harik, a director of product management who oversaw Google Talk.


The way Harik tells it, a number of engineers in the Kirkland office were interested in developing an instant-messaging product earlier this year. They started working on it full time, and within a few months the product was ready to go.


The team isn’t shifting focus now that Google Talk is out, Harik said, because there’s more work to do on the product. Google isn’t saying how many people are working in its Kirkland location or what’s next.


Thinking big


Comparing the upcoming “Halo” movie to “The Lord of the Rings” series isn’t much of a stretch for the folks at Bungie, the studio at Microsoft that developed the “Halo” video games.


Microsoft is looking for a director for the movie that is as committed to the Halo universe as Peter Jackson was to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Middle-Earth,” said Bungie cinematic director Joe Staten in an online posting last week.


Daily Variety reported last week that Fox and Universal will pay Microsoft 10 percent of the box-office take from the movie, slated for a summer 2007 release. The studios will pay Microsoft $5 million from that cut in advance, lower than in its initial asking price of $10 million in advance from 15 percent of the box office, according to Variety.


Paper push


Lawyers from Microsoft and Google are furiously preparing for the Sept. 6 hearing in the case of Kai-Fu Lee, the Microsoft executive who recently left for Google. Microsoft is handing over as many as 20,000 pages of documents a day to Google as part of the discovery process, and both sides have 13 depositions scheduled.


Microsoft is suing Google and Lee, saying his position at Google violates the noncompete agreement he signed at Microsoft. A judge has temporarily blocked Lee from his new job; the hearing is expected to discuss extending the restraining order until after the January trial begins.


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