by CIO Staff

Top Ten IT News Stories of the Week; Gates to End Daily Role at Microsoft

Jun 16, 20066 mins

Bill Gates Microsoft CEO
Credit: Rick Wilking/Reuters

1. “Gates to End Daily Role at Microsoft,”

InfoWorld, 6/15. Come July 2008, antitrust investigators and software rivals won’t have Bill Gates to kick around anymore. In a surprise announcement, the Microsoft cofounder, chairman and chief software architect said he would quit his daily role at Microsoft in two years to focus his attentions more fully on the charity organization he runs with his wife, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates, however, is determined to remain Microsoft chairman “indefinitely,” he said. 

2. “Ray Ozzie’s Illustrious IT Career Takes Another Turn,”, 6/16. It’s certainly been a meteoric rise at Microsoft for the creator of Lotus Notes. Ray Ozzie joined the software giant in April 2005 when it scooped up his company, Groove Networks, and then became the company’s chief technology officer. Now Ozzie will work “side by side” with Gates until July 2008 when he’ll take over as Microsoft’s chief software architect. Analysts estimate it will take two years of transition before Ozzie’s ready to step into Gates’ shoes, and even then they question his ability to steer the Microsoft ship in new directions as Gates has done on several occasions.

3. “New E-Discovery Rules Go into Effect in December,”

Computerworld, 6/15. Should users fail to comply with new rules for electronic discovery of documents in civil cases, they could face paying out millions or even billions of dollars. Due to go into effect in December, the rules state that companies involved in civil litigation must meet within the first 30 days of a case’s filing to discuss how to handle electronic data including issues around retention practices and data accessibility. The rules also impose limits on the ability of a single company to define what e-discovery is reasonable. To prepare for complying with the new rules, some companies are forbidding the internal use of instant messaging and Web-based e-mail as they consider those kind of communications harder to track and retain.

4. “Microsoft WGA Program Continues to Irk Users,”, 6/15. Already under considerable fire, Microsoft’s program for testing whether a PC is running a genuine copy of its Windows operating system drew more heat this week. Microsoft revealed that the release of the Windows Genuine Advantage program that it’s currently distributing as a high-priority automatic update to Windows-based PCs is a test version. Typically, Microsoft distinguishes test versions of its software from updates, giving users the chance to sign up for the software before test versions are downloaded.

5. “Oracle Unveils ‘Content Management for The Masses,’ “InfoWorld, 6/14. The database and applications vendor is entering a new market, providing software to manage unstructured content like Word documents, PDFs and graphics. Oracle is due to ship two new products, Content DB and Records DB, within 60 days. The idea is for Oracle to provide baseline content management (CM) capabilities and then for existing enterprise CM players to build more specialized capabilities on top of the vendor’s software. Too few companies have adopted content management software, mostly due to its cost and complexity, according to Oracle President Charles Phillips.

6. “Web Pioneers Warn of VoIP Wiretapping Problems,”, 6/13. U.S. government efforts to require most voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers to allow law enforcement to wiretap phone calls by May 2007 could have serious repercussions. Either re-engineer the Internet to handle the wiretapping requirement or prepare to face substantial new online security risks, warned the authors of a study released by trade group the Information Technology Association of America. The authors included one of the fathers of the Internet Vint Cerf, the co-creator of TCP/IP.

7. “Google U.S. Government Search Site Unveiled”, 6/15. The search company is intensifying its focus on meeting the needs of U.S. government employees and contractors. This week, Google launched a specific website designed to take the frustration out of trying to find specific information held on federal, state and local government websites. Google U.S. Government Search can also be used by the public. The site will rub shoulders with the search capabilities already offered across those same sites by the U.S. government Web portal powered by Microsoft’s rival MSN technology and that of contextual search expert Vivisimo.

8. “Study: Sarbanes-Oxley Forcing Some Companies To Consider Going Private,”Network World, 6/15. The cost involved in complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) is leading some public companies to consider going private, according to the findings of a survey by law firm Foley & Lardner. Of those organizations surveyed on their reaction to the ongoing rigors of SOX compliance, 21 percent said they were debating whether to go private, while 10 percent thought of selling up altogether and 8 percent contemplated merging with another company. SOX compliance in 2005 worked out at an average expense of US$11.5 million for companies with more than US$1 billion in revenue, while companies with revenue below US$1 billion had to spend an average of US$2.9 million, the study stated.

9. “Q&A: Microsoft Security Chief Sees New Vistas,”, 6/14. In his new role as corporate vice president of Microsoft’s security technology unit, Ben Fathi is responsible for heading up the vendor’s response to hacker threats as well as defining the company’s overall security strategy. He’s particularly passionate about establishing a trust ecosystem, moving computer security away from being a defensive technology and turning it into the ability to perform tasks securely and “without fear.” Microsoft has a lot more to do to create such an ecosystem, both in the consumer and enterprise software space, Fathi said.

10. “Dell Spiffs Up Its Service,”

BusinessWeek, 6/13. PC maker Dell has long prided itself on its speed to assemble computers, but another source of pride, the quality of its customer service, is no longer as impressive as it once was. Dick Hunter, Dell’s new head of customer service, is looking to fix all that by applying the lessons he picked up in manufacturing to the vendor’s call centers, treating each as a “call factory.” Speaking candidly, he revealed that Dell’s specialized phone queues for customers have resulted in the company transferring close to 45 percent of its half-million weekly support calls with customers often first being connected with the wrong support person.

-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

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