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MICROSOFT'S ACCOUNTING procedures are being reviewed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Greg Maffei, chief financial officer. The investigation centres on the practice of putting aside some revenue and recognising it at a later date, a method know as "cookie jar" accounting where reserves are used to smooth results over the financial year.

The review arose following a Wall Street Journal article in January about a former auditor who said he was sacked after questioning the practice. Microsoft said it has consistently followed industry guidelines since the launch of Windows 95 in putting aside revenue from its operating system and applications sales to take account of later upgrades and support. The "unearned revenue" on its balance sheet is more than $4bn, although net earnings are not affected.

Maffei said that before the review was launched, Microsoft had already adjusted its reserve policies to comply with the new accounting guidelines to recognise more revenue up front.

UNDER PRESSURE of a boycott, Yahoo last week modified the terms of service it offered on its GeoCities website. Users wishing to place their pages on GeoCities had to agree to conditions that protesters said amount to giving away all intellectual rights to anything posted on a site hosted by the company. Yahoo responded on its site: "[We do not] own content you submit, unless we specifically tell you otherwise before you submit it. You license the content to Yahoo as set forth below for the purpose of displaying and distributing such content on our network of properties and for the promotion and marketing of our services."

Organisers of the campaign to boycott the free web-space provider have set up a site to keep track of the debate at boycottyahoo/. They said that Yahoo's statement was only a "partial victory" as the previous terms remain which give Yahoo "the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, and fully sub-licensable right and licence to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed".

THE FIRST annual New Statesman New Media Awards, to promote the effective use of the Internet in public and democratic life, were announced at the ICA last week. Stand won the New Advocacy Award for using new technology to enhance open debate and try to change opinions and behaviour. Tom Loosemore and Stefan Magdalinski picked up the Merit Award for original thought in their work for Stand's website.

YouthNet won the New Information Service Award. The New Local Democracy Award went to the London Borough of Newham. The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions took the New Public Policy Award and Anne Campbell MP won the New Representative Award. Full details and links to winning sites are posted on the New Statesman's website at http://www.