“It really represents something almost unprecedented. What we’re seeing Microsoft do is in effect privately assume the role that historically the federal government and the states have played.” Microsoft will make $500 million available to help build affordable housing in Seattle. (That doesn’t make up for IE 6, but it’s a start.) It’s a good move. But it’s also a role usually played by government. NYT Upshot: Microsoft’s Leap Into Housing Illuminates Government’s Retreat.