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Microsoft and Scientific-Atlanta are developing set-top boxes for Internet protocol television that can control home-electronic products with one device.

The boxes, which will be made by Scientific-Atlanta and run on Microsoft’s software, will allow Internet protocol television using existing cables, Scientific-Atlantic said in a statement on its Web site yesterday.

Separately yesterday, Microsoft released a test version of a delayed system for storing, retrieving and naming files.

Called WinFS, the system was to be a key part of the next version of Windows, Vista, due for release in the second half of 2006. A test of the technology was made available for download from Microsoft’s Developer Network Web site yesterday, Quentin Clark director of program management for WinFS, said in an e-mail.

Microsoft decided in August 2004 to yank WinFS out of the main Windows Vista release to ensure the larger program would be completed in 2006.

Microsoft hasn’t disclosed when WinFS will be released, except to say it will be after Vista.

Washington Mutual

UK Banking hires Oppenheimer

Deanna Oppenheimer, the former head of Washington Mutual’s retail bank, has been hired as chief operating officer for the UK Banking arm of United Kingdom-based Barclays Group.

She will start her new job in mid-October and report to Roger Davis, the CEO of UK Banking. With more than 2,000 branches, UK Banking is similar in size to WaMu’s retail bank.

Oppenheimer had been considered a possible successor to WaMu CEO Kerry Killinger but left in March, shortly after the arrival of the company’s new president and chief operating officer, Stephen Rotella.

Apple Computer

Early iPod owners to get $50 vouchers

Apple Computer’s plan to issue $50 vouchers to settle a lawsuit filed by consumers who complained about the battery life of older versions of the iPod music player was approved by a California judge.

Customers who had a battery fail in one of the first two generations of iPod players are entitled to a $50 voucher for Apple’s online store, or $25 cash. Owners of a third-generation player who had a battery fail after two years are entitled to a battery replacement or the $50 voucher. Customers are entitled to a refund of at least half of what they paid Apple for repairs of any model.

People’s Bank of China

No abrupt changes planned for yuan

The central bank does not plan more abrupt changes in the yuan’s value, a senior People’s Bank of China official said, squelching speculation over further currency revaluations ahead of a meeting of top international finance officials later this week in China.

But the yuan yesterday climbed to its highest level since its July 21 revaluation as the comments by Ma Delun, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, suggested authorities will let the yuan appreciate in the foreign-exchange market.

The yuan rose to 8.0954 to the dollar yesterday, its highest close since July 21, when authorities revalued the currency at 8.11 yuan to the U.S. dollar, up about 2 percent from the previous rate of 8.27 yuan.

Last week, the yuan had gained amid speculation that a visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao early next month might prompt another revaluation.


New board member latest addition at top

Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest printer maker and No. 2 seller of personal computers, said McKesson Chief Executive Officer John Hammergren will join its board later this year.

Hammergren will be the 11th member and the board’s ninth outside director, the company said. Hammergren, 46, has been chief executive of San Francisco-based McKesson, the biggest U.S. drug distributor, since 2001.

The move is the latest by new Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd to expand the company’s top leadership. Last month, Hurd tapped Randall Mott, chief information officer of rival Dell, as Hewlett-Packard’s information chief.

In June, he hired former PalmOne CEO Todd Bradley as head of PCs and promoted Hewlett-Packard veteran Cathy Lyons to chief marketing officer.


Restructuring cuts marketing chief spot

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage maker, said yesterday it is eliminating its chief-marketing-officer position as it continues to restructure senior management roles.

Current marketing chief Chuck Fruit said in a memo to employees that starting next year he will shift to a new role as senior adviser to the company focusing on new media strategies, sports and entertainment marketing initiatives, and key prestige relationships.

Company spokesman Kelly Brooks said the chief-marketing-officer position will not be filled.

The announcement follows Coke’s decision in March to assign Mary Minnick, president and chief operating officer of its Asia division, to lead a new corporate function overseeing the coordination of Coke’s marketing, innovation and strategic-growth segments.

The company said at the time that Coke’s senior marketing and innovation officials would report to Minnick. It also made changes in March to its European management.


Claims-processing company to be sold

NDCHealth, a provider of software for health-care claims processing, will be purchased for $1 billion by two other firms, including Alpharetta-based Per-Se Technologies, the companies announced yesterday.

Per-Se, which sells medical-claims-processing services, is purchasing the Atlanta-based company’s physician, hospital and retail pharmacy business lines for about $665 million. In a separate transaction, a Dutch company named Wolters Kluwer is buying NDCHealth’s pharmaceutical information-management business for $382 million.

The transactions are subject to regulatory approval, and Per-Se and NDCHealth shareholders must vote on it as well.

NDCHealth is a 28-year-old company with 1,600 U.S. employees.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, The Associated Press and Bloomberg News