Brian Pertl is a good reminder of how vast Microsoft is and how many people are tucked away in various corners of the Redmond campus working...

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Brian Pertl is a good reminder of how vast Microsoft is and how many people are tucked away in various corners of the Redmond campus working very interesting jobs.

He arrived at Microsoft in 1992 to record didgeridoo tracks for the multimedia CD-ROM “Musical Instruments.” The ethnomusicologist and musician knew little about computers then.

Still, he went on to a 15-year career at the company, which will end later this year. Pertl is heading back to academia as dean of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wis.

He turned his early contract work with Microsoft into a full-time gig working on music used on Microsoft consumer software.

He most recently led the Media Acquisitions Group. That, he told us in e-mail, is “the team that gets all of the third-party images, music, and video for Microsoft products. All of the images on MSN, and all of the music in the Project Gotham Xbox titles, come through my team.”

Pertl had not planned to leave, but one of his former professors at Lawrence nominated him for the post.

“During the three days of interviews I came to realize that nearly every problem facing the Conservatory had a direct correlation to problems I face every day at Microsoft!” Pertl wrote. “So when they offered me the position, I knew that it was the perfect job. It combined my passion for music and education with all of the management skills I had learned at Microsoft.

“The only issues were leaving Microsoft, and leaving Seattle — two very difficult things to walk away from. The realization that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity tipped the balance.”

The trumpet and didgeridoo player added, “Sorry if that was long-winded.”

How soon is 7?

Makers of ultra-low-cost PCs (ULPCs) such as ASUS can install Windows XP Home until June 30, 2010, or one year after the general availability of Windows 7, whichever is later, Microsoft said last week.

But we thought Windows 7 is coming in 2010, so why the two dates? Unless something has changed …

Microsoft confirmed as far back as summer that it is targeting Windows 7, the internal code name for Vista’s successor, for 2010.

Michael Dix, general manager of Windows Client product management, acknowledged that the ULPC XP Home announcement was worded “in a way that sort of raised suspicion” about that timing, because if 2010 is still the target for Windows 7, why list the June 30, 2010, date?

To clarify, Dix said Microsoft is sticking to its previously announced Windows 7 schedule. The confusing language was added in an attempt to provide flexibility in the nascent ULPC market.

“We still believe what we said, that the next version of Windows will ship three years from the general availability release of Windows Vista,” Dix said. The announcement last week “is not a reflection of any lack of confidence in the next version of Windows shipping within the time frame we had previously announced,” he added.

We thought we had it straight until Bill Gates’ said Friday, “That’ll be sometime in the next year or so that we’ll have a new version.”

He was answering an audience question at an Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Miami.

Microsoft representatives clarified that 2010 is still the target. Gates was referencing test versions Microsoft releases in the course of developing an operating system.

On the record

New products: Seattle-based, which provides online real-estate services, launched Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, providing potential customers with loan quotes from lenders. … RealNetworks, the Seattle digital-media company, has introduced two services that help providers and carriers expand ringback-tone offerings.

Awards: Seattle-based Entellium, which develops customer-relationship-management software, has won a 2008 CRM Excellence Award from Customer Interaction Solutions magazine for its eSalesForce product.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or