by CIO Staff

Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week: merger of AOL and Time Warner was a major misstep

Dec 16, 20055 mins
Mergers and Acquisitions

1. “Steve Case: Break Up Time Warner, Free AOL,”InfoWorld, 12/12. The co-founder of America Online admitted publicly what most folks have known for a long time: the merger of AOL and Time Warner was a major misstep. Steve Case was one of the prime movers for the merger, but now says the tie-up has hurt both entities and AOL should be set free. In fact, he proposed to the company board that they split up Time Warner into four separate entities, one of which would be AOL.

2. “Visto Sues Microsoft Over Patents,”PC World, 12/15. Yet another battle in the wireless e-mail market as Visto filed suit against Gates Inc. accusing Microsoft of improper use of patented Visto technologies in Windows Mobile 5.0. The case joins the bitter struggle between Research in Motion and NTP over RIM allegedly using NTP patents illegally in its BlackBerry e-mail devices. Visto is seeking unspecified monetary damages as well as a permanent injunction on Microsoft shipping Windows Mobile 5.0. Microsoft has yet to respond to the suit.

3. “Microsoft Windows Earns Common Criteria Certification,”Network World, 12/14. Gates Inc. had something to celebrate as some of its software achieved Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) 4+, a certification evaluation by the National Information Assurance Partnership. The rating which goes up to EAL 7 is used by government customers to determine the security of IT products. Traditionally, government customers have opted for Unix because of its tendency to be extremely secure and more recently they’ve begun to adopt Linux too.

4. “Google, Microsoft, Sun To Fund New Research Lab,”San Jose Mercury News, 12/15. Putting aside their rivalries for once, the trio of IT titans are teaming up to fund research at a new University of California Berkeley lab. Each company has pledged US$500,000 over the next five years to help the efforts of the Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems Lab or RADLab for short. The lab will explore different methods of software engineering and will make any technologies it develops freely available.

5. “Oracle: Now For The Hard Part,” BusinessWeek, 12/16. Oracle pronounced itself happy with its second-quarter financial results released this week and claimed that the customers it gained through its PeopleSoft acquisition are happy too. However, financial analysts still aren’t convinced that Oracle’s software purchases are going to pay off in the long term. How successful Oracle will be in bringing together the disparate software pieces it bought with its existing applications in its ambitious Project Fusion won’t be known for at least a year. In the meantime, customers may well defect to rival SAP or other players.

6. “Automation Key To IT Cost Savings, Says HP’s Hurd,” Computerworld, 12/13. As Hewlett-Packard moves forward, reducing hands-on labor costs will be vital to the company via process automation and IT virtualization, CEO Mark Hurd told analysts. The company will engage in massive consolidation of its operations, for instance, reducing its 762 data marts to a single enterprise data warehouse and its more than 85 data centers to only six facilities. HP’s capital spending to achieve these aims will total $2.8 billion in fiscal 2006, Hurd said.

7. “Cybersecurity Group Knocks US Government Efforts,”InfoWorld, 12/13. The past year wasn’t a very impressive one in terms of the U.S. government making progress on cybersecurity issues, according to a report from a trade group of cybersecurity vendors. In fact, the group believes cybersecurity research and development within the government has reached a crisis point with a continued lack of leadership and execution in relation to securing the information infrastructure. As well as upping the funding for cybersecurity R&D, the group’s report called for the government to pass a national spyware protection bill and a national data breech notification bill.

8. “Java? It’s So Nineties,” BusinessWeek, 12/13. Sun’s programming language is losing its grip on some developers as they check out more recently developed alternatives to Java. Of particular interest is the LAMP open-source stock stack which includes the Linux operating system, the Apache Web server, MySQL database and a trio of open-source scripting languages — Perl, Python and PHP. Perhaps more worrying to Sun is that Microsoft’s .Net technology is also gaining traction at Java’s expense.

9. “Roll Your Own Google,” Wired, 12/13. A subsidiary of, Alexa Internet, opened up its Web crawler this week to any programmer winning to pay for the privilege. The technologies Alexa’s making available are the same tools used by the likes of Google and Yahoo giving developers the ability to create their own search engines. Ultimately, the move could end up shifting the balance of power in the Internet search ecosystem away from today’s dominant players, according to analysts.

10. “E-Paper’s Killer App: Packaging,”Wired, 12/15. Ever wished the cereal boxes and milk cartons in your local supermarket were more interesting to look at? Electronics maker Siemens hopes to make that a reality within two years via a low-cost paper-thin electronic display technology it has developed. Packaging of consumer goods would become yet another digital medium flashing prices and special offers at the consumer. Experts have their doubts since executing on the technology’s promise has eluded many companies and they’re waiting to see whether Siemens can truly mass produce the electronic paper in a consistent fashion.

–China Martens, IDG News Service