by CIO Staff

Top Ten IT News Stories of the Week: Ballmer Says Microsoft Must Operate in Multiple Markets

Jul 28, 20066 mins
IT Leadership

1. “Ballmer: Microsoft Must Be ‘Multicore,’ “, 7/28. In order to continue to grow, the software giant needs to operate successfully in multiple markets, according to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer. The company has extended its core business up from desktop operating systems and applications to include server products making it a two-core company. Next on the agenda is the push to turn Microsoft “multicore,” Ballmer said, building out operations in markets that other companies have created such as Web-based services, business intelligence and high-performance computing.

2. “ATI a Potent Weapon for AMD in Clash With Intel,”Macworld, 7/25. Advanced Micro Devices’ planned US$5.4 billion acquisition of Canadian graphics chip vendor ATI Technologies could ultimately put AMD on more equal competitive footing with bitter rival Intel. With ATI under its belt, AMD will be able to round out its graphics chip portfolio particularly in the mobile and consumer electronics markets. The chip maker was careful to state that owning ATI wouldn’t threaten its existing partnership with Nvidia, ATI’s nemesis. However, some analysts believe the tie-up between AMD and ATI may wind up throwing Nvidia and Intel closer together.

3. “Users: HP Acquisition of Mercury Interactive Makes Sense,”

Computerworld, 7/26. Hewlett-Packard’s decision to purchase troubled Mercury Interactive for US$4.5 billion has drawn HP customer approval as it presages a marriage of the pair’s systems and application management software. Users characterized the news as a major commitment by HP to secure the future of its OpenView systems management software and enable the vendor to compete more strongly with offerings from BMC, CA and IBM. Battered by a stock-option scandal, Mercury’s continued future as an independent entity had been in doubt for some time with rumors swirling around a potential HP acquisition for more than a year.

4. “Microsoft, Design Guru,”BusinessWeek, 7/27. As users have a plethora of computing devices to choose from, Microsoft continues to promote its vision of a PC-centric universe. What’s needed to make users fall in love with their PCs is a major face-lift, according to the software giant, which is taking the unusual step of weighing in on hardware design with a design kit. Microsoft’s also keen to give users a reason to embrace its delayed Vista operating system, and a better-looking PC might help that decision process. Rival Apple has been very successful in creating a unified design for its hardware while integrating its device with its software, and Microsoft isn’t averse to copying that approach.

5. “Experts Weigh Giving ICANN Full Control of DNS,”

Network World, 7/26. Internet governance experts held a public forum this week to debate the merits of having the U.S. government fully hand over the technical coordination and management of the Internet’s domain name system to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit group. Those in favor of the move say U.S. government involvement is stalling international development of the Internet, while those opposing the transfer of power counter that ICANN doesn’t have the resources to handle the job alone, and an early pullout by the U.S. government could compromise both the security and stability of the Internet.

6. “Microsoft Steps Up Focus on Health Care IT,”Computerworld, 7/26. Gates Inc. is buying its way into the health-care software market with the purchase of Azyxxi, a system developed at Washington Hospital Center, which Microsoft plans to make commercially available to hospitals worldwide. Azyxxi acts as a repository of patients’ entire clinical information from case notes to X-rays so that medical staff can access the data they need more rapidly through devices including tablet and handheld PCs.

7. “Motorola Shows Its Mojo,”BusinessWeek, 7/26. The mobile phone maker is continuing to flex its competitive muscles and edge closer to Nokia, the number-one player in the market. The resurgence in Motorola’s standing and fortunes date back to the arrival at the company of new CEO Ed Zander in January 2004. The vendor’s hoping its new Krzr phones will be as successful as its previous ultra-thin Razr offerings and that it’ll win business in emerging markets with its low-cost Motofone devices.

8. “A Clearer View of Exec Pay,”San Jose Mercury News, 7/27. As part of the most extensive overhaul of executive-pay rules in 14 years, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will require companies to explain both the value of their stock options and how they choose grant dates. The body is seeking to end questionable pay practices, not only in relation to stock options, but also around the granting of other hidden benefits such as personal use of company aircraft and country club memberships. Some industry watchers fear that the increased scrutiny will lead to fewer stock options being granted to lower-level employees and the size of grants shrinking.

9. “India Attractive Offshore Location Despite Wage Hikes,”, 7/27. Although many outsourcing staff salaries are increasing at a rate of 12 percent to 15 percent annually, the cost advantage of hiring engineers in India as opposed to the United States and Europe is likely to continue to exist for at least another five years, according to analysts. While salaries for experienced engineers are on the rise, the financial rewards for entry-level staff have remained about the same over the past few years. As more offshore companies create reusable software components, they’ll also be able to realize efficiencies in software development and have to take on fewer new hires.

10. “One Man’s Spam Is Another’s Art,”CNET, 7/26. For most of us, spam is a nuisance clogging up our e-mail boxes, but for Alex Dragulescu, spam is an inspiration. The computer artist has created what he calls “spam plants” by writing algorithms that analyze text and data points of junk e-mail and then generate images of plantlike structures that grow as more spam is received. His program matches the numbers in an e-mail sender’s IP address to a color chart to determine the shade of the plant. The time the spam message is received determines the size of the plant, while the size of the message can govern how bushy the plant is.

-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.