This Week's Top 10 IT News Stories; Microsoft Reorganizes

1. Microsoft Reorganization Makes Sense for Giant, InfoWorld, 9/21

Microsoft is carrying out a major overhaul of its operations, halving its divisions from six to three and appointing a president to helm each unit. At the same time, the company raised the profile of Chief Technology Officer Ray Ozzie, additionally tasking him with overseeing the entire company’s services strategy. Some analysts suggested Ozzie, the creator of Lotus Notes and founder of Groove Networks, is being groomed to take over from Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates should the latter retire in 2010.

2. Ellison Looks to Double Oracle Revenue, CNET News.com, 9/21

Oracle’s head honcho plans to double his company’s size over the next few years from a $15 billion business to a $30 billion operation, fueled by some more major acquisitions. While Oracle is holding off making another PeopleSoft- or Siebel-sized buy for now to give the company time to digest those purchases, the software firm will do smaller, more niche deals signaled by its hoovering up of logistics specialist G-Log for its supply chain management business.

3. FCC Head: Hurricane Shows Need for Redundant Telecom, InfoWorld, 9/22

The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission Kevin Martin said the communications chaos caused by Hurricane Katrina is positive proof that the United States needs more reliable telecom and broadcast systems. He called for the government to incorporate the Internet into the emergency warning system that has previously been carried on TV and radio stations. He also encouraged telecom providers to embrace Internet Protocol-based technologies to enhance their networks and he requested more radio frequency spectrum for emergency responders.

4. Microsoft, Qwest Team Up on VoIP, Network World, 9/20

Qwest became the first telecom to sign up with Microsoft to offer joint voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) services to small to midsize businesses. The pair expect to roll out their first offerings early in 2006. Combining VoIP with business applications is proving an interesting application of the technology, which has typically been used for consumers to make cheap phone calls over the Web.

5. Users Discuss Big VoIP Rollout Risks and Rewards, Network World, 9/20

One of the major challenges companies are finding in deploying a major VoIP project is the initial step prior to rollout of taking stock of their existing telecom infrastructure. That stocktaking exercise often throws up surprises in terms of how many phones a company has, and is key in determining the amount of VoIP bandwidth the organization is going to require in future, according to users.

6. AOL Goes from Dog to Diamond, BusinessWeek, 9/22

Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons appears to have effected the impossible, turning around his company’s AOL business to such an extent that it recently held talks with rival Microsoft over potentially linking up their two Internet services. Analysts have doubled AOL’s valuation to top $20 billion and see a huge growth potential for the division which has rechristened itself a Web portal. There are even rumors that instead of Microsoft, AOL may end up partnering with Google instead.

7. Google WiFi Hints Are on the Web, San Jose Mercury News, 9/21

Not a week goes by without the search engine company adding another Web string to its bow. This week was no exception as clues emerged that Google may be planning to launch its own free wireless Internet service. So far, the company is experimenting with the technology, establishing two secure Wi-Fi hotspots near its Mountain View campus and sponsoring one or two others in San Francisco.

8. Firefox Faces Challenges As It Matures, Computerworld, 9/20

In less than a year, Firefox has taken on dominant incumbent Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to pick up seven to nine percent of the Web browser market. Some users who switched from Internet Explorer due to security vulnerabilities have been disappointed that open-source Firefox isn’t immune from such issues, slowing the growth of the software. Both Firefox’s maker, The Mozilla Foundation, and Microsoft are hard at work on new releases of their respective browsers with a renewed emphasis on providing better security defenses and responding rapidly to any perceived breaches.

9. Name That Worm—Plan Looks to Cut Through Chaos, CNET News.com, 9/22

Yet another effort is under way to try and come up with a standard way to name worms, viruses and other security intrusions. The Common Malware Enumeration initiative from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) in conjunction with security vendors is just coming out of its testing phase. At present, a single worm can have a variety of different names assigned to it, making it very difficult for users to know exactly what they’re dealing with and whether their systems are already protected against the malware.

10. Are We Getting Smarter or Dumber? CNET News.com, 9/21

Neuroscientist Mike Merzenich is developing and testing brain calisthenics to help keep human thought processes in shape as our brains adapt to the plethora of information we garner from the Internet and elsewhere. He said that our brains are being remodeled by all our exposure to the multiplicity of information sources.

--China Martens

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