by CIO Staff

Top Ten IT News Stories of the Week: Microsoft Commits to New Competition Principles

Jul 21, 20066 mins
IT Leadership

1. “Microsoft Commits to New Competition Principles,”, 7/19. Gates Inc. made an undertaking this week to continue to adhere to the principles of its 2002 antitrust settlement with the U.S. government beyond the ending of that agreement in late 2007. The software giant also committed to expand on some of those requirements, notably pledging to release all of its software application programming interfaces, not just the middleware APIs required in the 2002 settlement. Microsoft also promised to allow original equipment manufacturers to remove any Microsoft products when shipping PCs loaded with its Windows operating system. The vendor had previously agreed only to removal of tightly integrated middleware.

2. “Web Pioneers Debate Net Neutrality,”, 7/17. Pitting Vint Cerf and David Farber, often regarded as the Internet’s father and grandfather, respectively, against each other on the thorny topic of net neutrality resulted in a lively debate. Farber said prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to competing Web content would open the door to the U.S. Congress trying to regulate Internet content. Arguing in favor of net neutrality, Cerf countered that Congress is already attempting such regulation in several areas. Where both men agreed was that net neutrality is a highly complicated issue requiring extensive debate and not one that benefits from the oversimplistic tenor of recent television and newspaper ads.

3. “World Cup Slows PC Sales in Q2; Apple Shines”, 7/20. The World Cup soccer tournament proved a distraction to IT buyers, driving in part a significant slowdown in PC shipments in Europe during the second quarter of this year. On a global basis, PC shipments remained strong but softened somewhat compared to the first quarter, with growth pegged at 9.7 percent compared to 12.9 percent in the previous quarter. Looking at the rest of 2006, analyst IDC expects to see increased competition in the PC market and more price cutting. Apple’s move to offering Intel-based systems helped the company grow its shipments.

4. “Don’t Count Intel Out,”

BusinessWeek, 7/20. Much of the news from the chip-making giant hasn’t been too sunny of late. In the midst of a major corporatewide reorganization, Intel announced this week its second-quarter earnings plunged due to soft chip sales. However, the vendor is hoping its new Core 2 Duo PC chips and revamped manufacturing techniques will help it bounce back and push archrival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) back on the ropes. The new production capabilities should make it cheaper for Intel to produce chips versus AMD, an advantage that could be key as an intensive processor price war looks more and more likely.

5. “Ex-Brocade CEO Charged In Options Scandal,”

San Jose Mercury News, 7/20. U.S. federal authorities stepped up their efforts to counter stock options backdating late this week, charging the first two IT executives in the widening scandal with securities fraud. Facing the music are Gregory Reyes, the former chief executive officer, president and chairman of Brocade Communications, and Stephanie Jensen, the company’s ex-vice president of human resources. More than one-third of the 60 companies under federal investigation over the stock options scandal are based in Silicon Valley, suggesting more executives may face charges.

6. “XenSource Extends Partnership With Microsoft,”

Computerworld, 7/18. The software giant strengthened its ties with open-source virtualization player XenSource this week. The pair have agreed to work together so that the next version of Microsoft’s Server operating system, code-named “Longhorn,” will interoperate with Xen-enabled Linux operating systems. The move is indicative of a shift in Gates Inc.’s thinking toward embracing certain elements of the open-source community and will also be helpful in positioning Xen virtualization as a more mainstream technology.

7. “Oracle Acquisitions Could Turn to Systems Management,”IT World, 7/18. Having made 22 purchases in two years, the database, applications and middleware vendor remains keen to eat up more software companies. What Oracle may hope to serve up next on its plate is some systems and network management technologies to beef up its ability to manage not only its own software, but also that of its rivals. The company is also keen to add to its arsenal of industry-specific applications, particularly in the four markets its sees as core to its business: retail, public sector, banking and telecommunications.

8. “Nortel, Microsoft Communications Alliance Wins Praise,”

Computerworld, 7/18. Users and analysts welcomed news that Microsoft and Nortel Networks have teamed up to sign a wide-ranging, four-year deal to develop and market unified communications products and services. The companies hope to deliver products as early as next year through the exchange of their respective intellectual property. For Nortel, the alliance could mean US$1 billion in added revenue over the coming years. Microsoft wouldn’t be drawn on how much extra cash it expects to net from the arrangement. The initial work will revolve around tighter integration between Nortel’s Communication Server 1000 and Microsoft’s Office communications software generating a voice server appliance and terminals and devices to realize an Office communications suite of offerings.

9. “Wiretapping Suit Against AT&T May Go Forward,”

PC World, 7/20. A U.S. federal judge denied motions by both the U.S. government and AT&T to halt a lawsuit over alleged participation by the telecom carrier in an illegal wiretapping program run by the U.S. National Security Agency. The government had sought to have the case dismissed on the basis that it involved state secrets. Civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued AT&T back in January on behalf of the carrier’s customers. The EFF alleged that AT&T diverts traffic from its fiber-optic lines to the NSA as part of an illegal antiterrorist surveillance program.

10. “Send Your Love into Space on a Personal Satellite,”, 7/18. What says “I love you” more than spending US$855,000 on sending your love missive up into space to orbit the Earth for the next couple of years? With its stated mission to make space available to everyone, Japanese company Astro Research is offering customers the ability to pay to have a small satellite ferry some romantic cargo such as letters or photos 600 to 800 kilometers above the earth. Unfortunately, the satellites won’t be visible to the naked eye, but a beacon on each satellite will let Astro Research track them and tell customers at what time they’re likely to pass overhead.

-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

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