by CIO Staff

Microsoft to Back Office-to-ODF Plug-In

Jul 07, 20066 mins
Enterprise Applications

1. “Microsoft to Back Office-to-ODF Plug-In,”Computerworld, 7/6. In an unexpected about-turn, the software giant is now admitting that OpenDocument Format (ODF), the rival electronic document format to its own OpenXML offering, has some merit. Perhaps in response to the willingness of several European governments and the U.S. commonwealth of Massachusetts to embrace ODF, Microsoft is now putting its weight behind a project to create software that would allow users of Microsoft Office to open and save files in ODF. The project’s first plug-in is due out in December.

2. “Regulators OK E.U. Fine Against Microsoft,”

Macworld, 7/3. Antitrust regulators across the European Union have apparently approved the European Commission’s plan to fine the software vendor for failing to comply with the organization’s 2004 antitrust ruling. That’s what sources privy to closed-door discussions were saying this week. Microsoft could face fines of up to 400 million euros (US$510 million). A final ruling on whether the fines will be imposed is expected Wednesday.

3. “Researchers Claim Great Firewall Workaround,”, 7/5. A group of researchers at the University of Cambridge believe they may have come up with a way to get around China’s Internet content controls. The Chinese government’s complex filtering system relies on routers and intrusion detection technology. When a banned keyword is detected, the router sends reset connection (RST) packets to both the client computer and the Web server, prompting them to break their connection and block the user’s access to the site. In their paper, the researchers suggest using special software or modifications to firewall software to ignore RST packets and thus circumvent the firewall.

4.”Intel’s $600 Million WiMax Bet,”

BusinessWeek, 7/6. Rumors that the chip giant was looking to dump its WiMax business were well and truly scuttled this week when Intel made a US$600 million investment in wireless broadband provider Clearwire. The added cash should help Clearwire move further forward with its ambitious plans to offer a high-speed wireless broadband network across the United States. Such a move would really shake up the market, with WiMax providing a cheaper alternative to the high-speed Internet access offered today by cable and telecom companies. For its part, Intel plans to build dual Wi-Fi/WiMax chips into its Centrino platform for mobile computers next year.

5. “Executives, Workers Brace for Fallout,”San Jose Mercury News, 7/4. Of late, not a day goes past without at least one high-tech company revealing trouble with its stock option allocations, often in relation to a widespread federal investigation. At issue is the timing of option grants mostly dating back to the halcyon days before the bubble burst. Vendors like CA and Apple have already made announcements, and many other firms are also facing the gloomy prospect of having to review years of their corporate accounts. At last count, about two dozen Silicon Valley companies are under investigation by prosecutors and regulators. Although charges have yet to brought, already heads have rolled with executives being ousted from Mercury Interactive, Brocade and McAfee.

6. “Sun Jumps Back into Blades, Expands Opteron Line,”

Network World, 7/6. Sun is set to re-enter the blade server market next week when the vendor engages in its traditional quarterly product rollout. The company didn’t fare well with its first blades, but this second approach might meet with more success, according to analysts. By focusing on key issues such as cooling and systems management, Sun’s new blades are more on par with what’s on offer from established market leaders HP and IBM. Sun needs to find more winning technologies as its financial fortunes continue to languish.

7. “N.J. Budget Crisis a Test for State IT,”

Computerworld, 7/6. It’s one thing to engage in contingency planning, but quite another to suddenly find yourself face to face with a veritable crisis. For Adel Ebeid, the chief technology officer of New Jersey, the issue isn’t a natural disaster, but a man-made one—a state budget shutdown that forced him to cut his staff from 930 to 80 while still keeping essential IT services running. He describes the experience as “an excellent lesson statewide on how IT actually proved to be sort of the umbilical cord for government operations.” Ebeid’s biggest concern has been keeping New Jersey’s WAN operating and ensuring that e-mail and Internet services don’t go down.

8. “Ransomware, Other Trojans Dominate in 2006,”Network World, 7/5. Hackers are increasingly favoring ransomware, software that grabs control of your computer and demands money before allowing you to access your files. That’s one of the findings of a midyear security report from antivirus software vendor Sophos. Ransomware is one of many Trojan horses, malware that appears to be legitimate computer programs. Sophos estimates that Trojans now outnumber viruses and worms by a factor of four to one.

9. “What to Do When Your Outsourcer Is Acquired,”Computerworld, 7/3. With consolidation an increasing trend, it’s likely that your outsourcer may end up being gobbled up by another company. There are a number of strategies to head off any potential issues when you discover your outsourcer is up for sale, according to companies that have experienced such a situation. First, dig up as much information about potential buyers and, if you don’t like what you hear, look over your contract to see if you can opt of it in the event of an acquisition. Should the acquisition go ahead, talk as much and as often as you can to the buyer and check on whether the staff you’ve previously dealt with will be staying with the outsourcer once the purchase is completed.

10. “HP Sees Profit in Design,”, 7/5. Hewlett-Packard is looking to hardware and software design as a way to boost its market share and cut product development and support costs. The company is midway through a plan to redesign its vast array of consumer and business offerings so that they have a similar look and feel. The hope is that if someone’s already familiar and comfortable with the controls of an HP printer at work, they may also opt to buy an HP printer for use at home.

-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

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