Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week

1. "ISO Rejects Microsoft's OOXML as Standard, for Now"

Sept. 4,

Microsoft failed to muster enough votes for the Office Open XML document format to become an international standard. The proposal before the International Organization for Standardization had support from 74 percent of voting member nations, just short of what was required, while 53 percent of the national standards bodies that participated in work on the proposal—the "P-members"—gave it approval. That percentage fell well below the necessary 67 percent for approval. Many of the national standards bodies that voted down the proposal offered comments about what they want to have changed before they would vote for it, and those comments will be considered before another vote is taken early next year. Microsoft said after this failed voting round that it expects the next round to lead to approval. However, that view could be too optimistic given the objections that were raised in some quarters, including those coming from the French national body, which said that OOXML "contains significant design flaws" that will be hard to correct "other than by starting again from scratch or by enriching the already existing standard, OpenDocument Format."

2. "Intel Releases Quad-Core Tigerton Processor"

Sept. 5, InfoWorld

"Intel Gets Ready for Penryn, May Release Silverthorne Early"

Sept. 6, Computerworld

Intel rolled out its first quad-core processors for servers with four or more processors, which is a small but important part of the server market. The Xeon 7300 chips, called Tigerton, will compete with AMD's quad-core Barcelona chips when those come out next week after being delayed. With the Tigerton launch under its belt, Intel said the following day that it was shifting its attention to preparing to roll out the new Penryn chips later this year. Penryn is the code name for Intel's 45-nanometer chip design. There were also indications from Intel that it aims to release its Silverthorne chip for ultramobile PCs and handhelds early next year.

3. "The 8 Most Dangerous Consumer Technologies"

Sept. 5, Computerworld

Increased use of consumer products or services at the office present issues for IT departments that are expected to mount over time. The "consumerization" of the workplace—as work and play use of IT continue to merge—"will be a nightmare for IT departments," says Yankee Group analyst Josh Holbrook. IT policy has to walk the line between making sure employees stay productive and motivated, while also honoring the corporate culture, which in many cases allows latitude rather than being the sort of place that issues bans. Plus, there's the need to make sure IT resources aren't being burned up with nonwork Internet surfing and that security isn't compromised. Instant messaging, Web mail, portable storage devices, PDAs and smartphones, camera phones, VoIP services, downloadable widgets and virtual worlds have been identified as eight technologies with the greatest potential to cause problems.

4. "Chinese Army Blamed for Pentagon Hack"

Sept. 4, Techworld

"Bush Doesn't Confront China over Pentagon Hack"

Sept. 6, Computerworld

This week's geopolitical IT news comes out of the Pentagon via The Financial Times newspaper, which reported that the U.S. Department of Defense has identified the Chinese military as the source of a hack into a Pentagon computer network. The Pentagon declined to identify the source of the June hack on the record, but the Times cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials saying it was the Chinese military. The hack led to the shutdown of a computer system used by the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry called the accusations "wild" and said that they are "totally groundless and also reflect a Cold War mentality." President George W. Bush opted not to raise the issue with Chinese President Hu Jintao when the two met in person this week, according to a national security advisory. Bush had hinted that he might broach the topic, but it wasn't brought up during the 90-minute meeting that covered climate change, Darfur, product safety and religious freedom in China, among other matters.

5. "Foleo, Foleo, Where Are Thou, Foleo?"

Sept. 4, Network World

While delays of products are usual in IT, the outright scrapping of them is not so ordinary. But Palm CEO Ed Colligan posted word on the company blog that he has canceled the Foleo project "in its current configuration" and that focus will turn instead to the next generation software platform that is under development and to new smartphone models. Foleo was Palm's "smartphone companion," which the company announced with great fanfare in May, but analysts and potential customers were skeptical about the device from the outset. Palm's marketing message wasn't terribly clear; how the "companion" device should be used and exactly who was its target audience were among the questions that remained largely unanswered. As recently as the end of last month, Palm was still insisting that Foleo would ship by the end of the third quarter this month, denying industry reports that it would be delayed.

6. "Microsoft Readies Five September Security Updates"

Sept. 6, InfoWorld

Patch Tuesday should be less rugged than in past months, with Microsoft giving advance word that it will issue one "critical" update for Windows 2000 next week and four "important" patches. Fixes will be offered for Visual Studio, Windows Services for Unix, SharePoint Services and Windows Live and MSN Messenger on the first Tuesday of September.

7. "Judge Strikes Down Part of Patriot Act"

Sept. 6, Network World

The part of the Patriot Act that lets the FBI obtain Internet service provider and telecom user records without a court order is unconstitutional, U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero ruled. He ordered the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to stop issuing what are known as national security letters, which require ISPs to hand over subscriber records. The program forbade ISPs from telling customers they were being investigated. That violates the First Amendment, Marrero ruled, because it restrains free speech. It also bypasses judicial oversight. The Patriot Act was passed by Congress less than two months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and was reauthorized in 2006. But it continues to be a lightning rod for civil liberties groups and others concerned that its provisions can be too broadly applied so that innocent citizens can become targets. Those groups have repeatedly argued that the act violates the Constitution and that it allows the erosion of civil rights. Marrero has in the past agreed, ruling in 2004 that the national security letters aspect of the law amounted to unreasonable search and seizure. After revisions were made in 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit went back to Marrero for a ruling on whether the NSL provisions remained unconstitutional.

8. "Open Source Proponents Denounce Microsoft Licensing Program"

Sept. 6, Network World

Microsoft's licensing program called for under terms of its antitrust agreement with the U.S. government will be center stage at a hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court. The review is part of the ongoing oversight of the antitrust case, including whether terms of the settlement agreement should be extended. Microsoft says the licensing program is successful, that more than 40 companies have licensed more than 200 Microsoft protocols for server, storage and security services. The U.S. Department of Justice, which is the lead plaintiff is the antitrust case, agrees. However, six plaintiff states and open-source advocates say the licensing plan hasn't promoted competition and interoperability. A federal judge will hear the arguments for and against and render a decision about where things stand.

9. "Apple Adds iPod Touch to Revamped iPod Line"

Sept. 5, Playlist

"Apple Launches the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store"

Sept. 5, Playlist

"Apple Slashes 8GB iPhone Price by $200"

Sept. 5, Macworld

Just in time for holiday wish lists, Apple announced the iPod touch (small "T") with a touch-interface widescreen similar to the iPhone's. The navigation buttons on the new iPods are the same, with icons for a calculator, a lock, a calendar and settings. Users will be able to access music (the player will store up to 40,000 tunes), video and photos, along with the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, also announced at a launch event in San Francisco. The new music player features Wi-Fi support for 802.11 b and g networks. You'll still need to get an iPhone if you want a telephone. Speaking of the iPhone, Apple also announced it is cutting the price of the 8GB version by $200. Leading us to...

10. "Apple to Offer Early iPhone Buyers $100 Store Credit"

Sept. 6, Macworld

Apple is offering a $100 store credit to early buyers of iPhones to quell the outrage that erupted when the company announced it was dropping the price of the popular device. Although Steve Jobs noted in an open letter on the company site that "there's always a risk when you buy a technology product that there will be a new product with better features for less money," the decision to offer the credit also seems to reflect the realization that dropping the price so soon after the iPhone launched at the end of June could risk losing customers. Apple needs "to do a better job taking care of our early iPhone customers," he admitted. Details of how the store credit can be obtained have yet to be announced, but will be posted on the Apple site next week, he said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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