A little bird told us Microsoft may have fared well in the quarter and fiscal year that ended Thursday. Our inside source: sales chief Kevin...

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A little bird told us Microsoft may have fared well in the quarter and fiscal year that ended Thursday.

Our inside source: sales chief Kevin Johnson.

The group vice president, one of Microsoft’s top five executives, just got a healthy 19 percent raise. His annual salary went from $480,336 to $570,000 June 20, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Johnson’s salary nearly matches those of Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, and his stock-incentive plan may give him up to 696,296 shares.

Spokespeople declined to say why Johnson’s getting a boost.

But if Microsoft missed its forecast, would the sales boss be getting a 19 percent raise? We’ll find out when the company reports earnings July 21.

Buy no evil?

MSN is so desperate to catch up to Google that it may buy the infamous adware vendor Claria, formerly known as Gator. At least that’s what an anonymous source told The New York Times last week.

Claria does nothing illegal, but its technology for tracking consumers and targeting them with ads won’t do much for The Borg’s reputation.

How far will Microsoft go to boost MSN? Hire Michael Jackson as a spokesman?

Boom time

It really is 2000 all over again. The number of new Web pages is exploding this year and probably will surpass the previous record set in 2000, according to a Netcraft Web Server survey released Friday.

So far this year, 10.7 million new host names have been added to the Internet, including 2.76 million names last month.

“Barring a dramatic slowdown, 2005 should easily exceed the record growth of 16 million hostnames in 2000,” Netcraft said.

One factor is a return of the speculative market for domain names. Resale prices for Web-site names are going up, and people can make pay-per-click ad sales even on “parked” domains.

Also driving the growth are increased business use of the Web; explosive growth of Web logs, many of which are buying domain names for branding purposes; and strong online ad sales that encourage business models such as commercial blogs and domain parking, Netcraft reported.

The total number of Web sites Netcraft found, as of Friday: 67,571,581.

Blogcaster Inc.

Speaking of corporate blogging, it’s time to revisit the stereotype of bloggers and podcasters being young, wired hipsters changing the world from a groovy loft in San Francisco.

The next podcast may very well come from an old-fashioned corporation, such as Nestlé, which just started podcasting to sell pet food.

Purina podcasts enable consumers to fill their iPod with advice on pet topics such as animal training and veterinary insurance. Customers can also sign up to get the information broadcast to mobile devices such as cellphones, and they can download ringtones including a Friskies “Feelin’ All Right” ad jingle.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is hiring professional bloggers to post material on its MSN portal. Freelance MSN bloggers will be paid to write five to 10 posts a day, drawing material from reader comments, MSN and the Web, according to the job description.

With a few thousand Microsofties blogging now, you’d think MSN could go in-house.

Download can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com