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Nokia

In a widely expected move, Microsoft and Nokia have announced they're joining forces on the smartphone front. Nokia has long been a leader in the cell phone industry, but has fallen behind Apple and Google in the smartphone arena. Microsoft has been playing catch-up with its Windows Phone 7. The new partnership melds Nokia hardware with Microsoft software in what the companies hope will be a winning combination. 

AP

Final bids were submitted Thursday by Boeing and Airbus' parent company, EADS for the contract to build the Air Force's in-flight refueling tanker. The Air Force could announce the winner as early as next month, but the award is likely to be sidetracked by politics and protests.

Image courtesy of Boeing

It's been a big week for aerospace in the Puget Sound region. The Boeing company turned in its final bid for the air force refueling tanker on Thursday. CEO Jim McNerney took his strongest stance yet for building a 737 successor. And earlier this week, analysts and suppliers heard briefings on the state of the industry at an aerospace convention in Lynnwood

AP

Howard Schultz announced his investment in the enormously popular consumer-discount site Groupon Thursday. At the same time, Groupon confirmed the Starbucks CEO's election to its board

TechFlash's John Cook reports Schultz' investment "is not connected to Starbucks":

...but having the leader of the world's leading specialty coffee retailer on the board certainly will add some interesting possibilities. Starbucks has been expanding its digital footprint aggressively in recent months, adding features such as mobile payments and free in-store wi-fi.

Simon Bisson (sbisson) / flickr.com

Microsoft wants more engineers leading the company. According to a Bloomberg report, CEO Steve Ballmer wants his senior executives to have solid technical backgrounds in addition to business expertise. Bloomberg's Dina Bass reports the new strategy may be announced later this month. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

justmaketheshift.com

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. So we thought it was a good time to update a story from nearly a year ago. Last March, Idaho Governor Butch Otter penned a "love letter" to Washington and Oregon businesses. He was trying to romance companies into moving to his state.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The future might be a bit brighter for aerospace workers in the Puget Sound region. Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Jim Albaugh says the company can still find customers for its wide-body 767. He says the line won't be shut down, even if Boeing doesn't win the competition to build refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

Change in stance

Alan Cleaver (alancleaver_2000) / flickr.com

Washington businesses with overdue taxes can now pay them off without penalties and interest. It's the state Department of Revenue's first-ever tax amnesty. Delinquent taxpayers have until April 18th to apply for the temporary program and must pay their taxes by April 30th. Full details, including the application form, are available at PayMyTax.org.

WSDOT / Flickr

Tolls on the 520 bridge are set to start this spring and they could be as high as $3.50 each way. 

Frustrated?  There's an app for that. 

An Irish company called Avego created a new smart phone app for "real-time ride sharing." Company leaders say it encourages more carpooling. 

PRNewsFoto / Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft handily beat Wall Street's expectations, posting record revenue: nearly $20 billion in its second quarter.

The company says the strong financial report was fuelled by rebounding business demand, as well as swift sales of the Kinect motion controller for its Xbox 360 video games. 

Xbox sales booming

Microsoft says it sold 8 million Kinect motion controllers in just 60 days this past holiday season, far exceeding the company’s expectations, as well as Wall Street's.  

Photo by Gary Davis / KPLU

Starbucks has done it again. The coffee giant says its global revenues reached a record: $3 billion in the first quarter. Profits were up 44 percent compared to a year ago, thanks in part to the chain's growing popularity with coffee drinkers around the world.

Alaska Air Group

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group is consolidating its two airlines under the same brand. Horizon Air's Bombardier Q400 turboprop planes are being repainted with the Alaska Airlines logo. Alaska and Horizon will continue to operate as separate airlines.

A law that went into effect at the start of last year puts new limits on payday lenders.  It created a registry of borrowers and restricts them from taking out more than eight of the high-interest loans in a year. 

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

US Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) says the US Air Force contract for the next generation of refueling tankers should not be awarded until questions are answered about the military's latest snafu. 

A decision on who wins the $35-billion contract is expected as early as next month. 

In November, the Air Force admitted that it had inadvertently mixed up two packages of information.  It sent details of Boeing's bid to Airbus-parent EADS and of EADS's bid to Boeing. 

Starbucks

Technology-savvy consumers could soon be able to leave their wallets behind when picking up a cup of Joe at Starbucks.  

The Seattle retailer is expected to announce Wednesday that customers will be able to use smartphones to pay for goodies at 6,800 stores the company operates in the United States and 1,000 that are in Target stores, according to Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times. 

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