by CIO Staff

Top Ten IT News Stories of the Week: Move Over Excel, Here Comes Google Spreadsheets

Jun 09, 20066 mins
Enterprise Applications

1. “Move Over Excel, Here Comes Google Spreadsheets,”

Macworld, 6/6. The search company took a significant step into Gates Inc.’s desktop applications territory with the release of its free online Google Spreadsheets. Accessible via a number of different Web browsers, users can use the Google software to import and export spreadsheets in Microsoft’s .xls format and the more generic .csv format and then view and edit the spreadsheet data. Google already has an online word processor, Writely, which it acquired in March.

2. “Microsoft Adds BI Product to Office Lineup,”, 6/6. Gates Inc. is getting more serious about providing business intelligence capabilities for its Office desktop applications suite with the unveiling of a new product this week. PerformancePoint Server 2007 brings together a business analysis engine Microsoft gained through the purchase of ProClarity with an Excel front end and analysis and reporting from the software giant’s SQL Server database.

3. “Active-Duty Troop Information Part of Stolen VA Data,”

Network World, 6/6. The impact of the May theft of a laptop containing millions of personal data records isn’t limited only to veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This week, the department revealed that the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of active-duty military personnel were included in the stolen data of 26.5 million veterans. Five national veterans groups and several individual veterans have filed a class-action lawsuit against the VA for not properly protecting their personal data. (For updated information, see CSO’s Data Theft at the VA.)

4. “IBM Announces $6B Investment in India,”, 6/6. Big Blue plans to triple its investment in India over the next three years up from a previous figure of US$2 billion to US$6 billion as part of its ongoing strategy to grow its presence in emerging markets. IBM employs about 43,000 staff in India and of late is seeing an upturn in the local market there for the company’s products and services. Part of the investment will pay for IBM’s expansion of its Indian facilities and on health and education projects the vendor is working with the government on. IBM’s Indian unit is already the company’s largest operation outside of the United States.

5. “Apple Follows Its Instincts out of India,”

BusinessWeek, 6/5. From IBM to Apple, which has recently shelved plans to set up a large offshore technical support center in India. The computer company apparently realized that establishing such a substantial operation didn’t make business sense given the rise in costs in India and the high turnover rate of local IT staff. Apple ultimately determined spreading support center activities across a number of other countries would be a cheaper alternative. Another factor for Apple was probably its May tie-up with New Delhi-based HCL Infosystems, which will provide distribution and after-service care for Apple’s iPod music player.

6. “Pressure Mounts Against Apple DRM,”

InfoWorld, 6/8. While the call in France may have died down for Apple to loosen the ties between its iTunes music store and its iPods, that cry is being taken up in both Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Norway’s consumer ombudsman has asked Apple to change some terms of the agreement in its iTunes store and to defend its digital rights management (DRM) policy, which the local consumer council contends violates the Norwegian Copyright Act. Similar moves are under way in Denmark and Sweden, but the three countries have differing takes on the DRM issue. In the United Kingdom, the British Phonographic Institute called Apple’s dominance of the digital music industry unhealthy and asked the vendor to make it possible for customers to play the music they buy on iTunes on music players other than the iPod.

7. “IBM Offers Flu Readiness Service for Companies,”Computerworld, 6/6. When considering disaster recovery procedures, companies large and small might want to factor in plans for how they’d handle a potential flu pandemic. The likely impact of such an outbreak could leave companies seriously shorthanded as well as disrupt their supply chains. IBM has started a service that will review an organization’s existing disaster-recovery procedures and interview company officials to look for any gaps in planning. Issues include determining what a firm’s minimum operating needs are and under what conditions it should consider shutting down its operations temporarily.

8. “Microsoft Still Working on Tiny Haiku PC,”, 6/7. You have to admire Gates Inc.’s persistence. Although tablet PCs have yet to find mainstream appeal, years on from first talking up the devices, Microsoft is still doggedly working away at coming up with more concepts for those form factors. At the Computex show in Taipei this week, Microsoft showed off a mini-tablet PC concept known as Haiku, about the size of a paperback book, which the company hopes one day may retail for between US$500 and US$700. The software vendor launched an ultra-mobile PC, code-named Origami, earlier this year.

9. “IBM to Unveil DB2 9 ‘Viper’ Database on July 28,”, 6/8. Positioning it as one of the company’s most important database releases in recent years, IBM officially unveiled its DB2 9 hybrid relational and XML product. Previously known as “Viper,” the new database shipping July 28 will manage and store unstructured XML data such as audio, video and webpages as easily as structured relational data, according to IBM. The vendor is hoping that capability along with a new storage-compression technology and other features may prove attractive not only to existing DB2 users, but also to customers running Oracle or Microsoft databases.

10. “Microsoft: Windows Antipiracy Tool Not Spyware,”, 6/8. The software giant’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tool is drawing some critical fire for operating like spyware. Introduced last year as a way to check a user’s copy of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system wasn’t pirated or counterfeit by checking in with Microsoft, WGA appears to be still contacting Redmond even when the tool has already verified a system as legitimate. The tool is checking in with Microsoft whenever a PC is booted. Microsoft maintains that WGA’s check-ins aren’t providing any information to the vendor, but just checking a setting to determine whether the tool should run or not.

-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

(The staff of contributed to this report.)

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