1. “Microsoft Releases Internet Explorer 7 for Free Download,”Computerworld, 10/18. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 was rolled out as a significant upgrade to IE6, featuring tabbed browsing, an antiphishing toolbar, a redesigned interface and security features that the company heralded. The release marked Microsoft’s first all-new browser since 2001. Widespread distribution will happen next month, when IE7 will be part of a high-priority update delivered by the Automatic Update system, downloading automatically onto desktops. IT staffs are supposed to be able to manage the browser better on user desktops because it has improved support features. The release of IE7 handily leads to the second entry in this week’s top-story offering…
2. “1st Microsoft IE7 Security Flaw Reported,”CIO.com, 10/19. Within hours after Microsoft released IE7, security researchers had plumbed it for holes, and found the first one. Although Microsoft trumpeted the new version of its Web browser for its antiphishing features, one of the first bugs exposed by researchers at Danish security company Secunia ApS was that IE7 has the same information disclosure vulnerability as reported in IE6 back in April, leaving users who visit maliciously crafted websites vulnerable to—you guessed it—phishing scams. However, Secunia rated the IE7 flaw as “less critical” and said it would be hard to exploit. No doubt, though, crafty hackers are, as you read this, finding other holes to exploit.
3. “Three More Semiconductor Execs Indicted for Price-Fixing,”
Infoworld, 10/18. Three more former semiconductor vendor executives—two from Samsung Electronics and one from Hynix—joined the list of those indicted for alleged participation in a “global conspiracy” to fix DRAM prices. A U.S. grand jury indicted Il Ung Kim, former vice president of marketing for Samsung’s memory division; Young Bae Rha, former vice president of sales and marketing of that division; and Gary Swanson, former senior VP of memory sales and marketing at Hynix. The price-fixing conspiracy took place between April 2001 and June 2002, according to federal authorities, and involved executives from a number of semiconductor vendors meeting to discuss DRAM prices, agreeing to fix prices and exchanging information with competitors on prices they charged computer makers, the U.S. Department of Justice says. Four companies and 16 people have now been charged since the DoJ began its investigation of the alleged conspiracy. Earlier in the week, the DoJ said it asked Mitsubishi, Samsung and Toshiba for information about SRAM chip sales, adding to the investigation it recently launched into that chip market.
4. “HP Overtakes Dell in Global PC Space,”
CIO.com, 10/19. HP edged out archrival Dell in global PC shipments in the third quarter, according to market researchers IDC and Gartner. Third-quarter figures mark the first time HP has been in the lead since the fourth quarter of 2003, Gartner found, estimating that HP shipped 9.65 million units, or 16.3 percent of the worldwide total shipped, to Dell’s 9.54 million or 16 percent. IDC found the figures were closer, with HP shipping 9.83 million units to Dell’s 9.8, leaving both with 17.2 percent market share for a “statistical tie.” While IDC came up with a total percentage growth rate for shipments of 7.9 percent compared to the same period of last year (and a drop from this year’s second-quarter 9.8 percent growth rate), Gartner arrived at a 6.7 percent growth rate for the third quarter compared to the same stretch last year.
5. “Level 3 to Buy Broadwing for $1.4B,”
CIO.com, 10/17. Weeks without big merger or acquisition deals just don’t feel quite right. Level 3 stepped up this week, with the Internet backbone provider announcing its intention to buy Broadwing, which provides voice, data and media services, in a combined cash-stock deal valued at $1.4 billion. The deal is supposed to close in the first quarter of next year, by which time there will undoubtedly be other announcements of other deals involving ISPs.
6. “Sony Battery Recall to Hit 9.6 Million,”
BusinessWeek, 10/19. Every week seems to bring another round of laptop battery recalls, and we can expect that to continue. Sony issued the dismal forecast that its ongoing battery woes could cause annual profits to dip 38 percent, with operating profits hit even harder. Within hours after that announcement, Sony said the total global recall of lithium-ion batteries will hit 9.6 million, costing the company 51 billion yen between July and September of this year. That cost looks a bit better when converted into US$429 million, but Sony executives probably aren’t seeing much bright light in the financial forecast, especially given that they said the 51 billion yen figure doesn’t take into account the cost of possible lawsuits stemming from laptop battery malfunctions.
Check out our Sony Battery Recalls page for more related news.
7. “Some Apple iPods Infected With Windows Virus,”CIO.com, 10/18;
“Update: Excuses on iPod Virus Not Credible,”
Apple said that a small number, perhaps as little as 1 percent, of video iPods shipped with a Windows virus identified as RavMonE.exe, saying in a statement on its website, “as you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.” Microsoft, as well as some security researchers, took umbrage at that comment, contending that the problem isn’t with the OS platform, but with Apple’s internal processes and security checks.
8. “Study’s Conclusions Could Push Telecommuting,”
NetworkWorld, 10/18. Although telecommuting continues to gain in popularity among workers, “extreme commuters” who travel more than 90 minutes each way to get to and from work have become a new commuting category, according to a study by the Transportation Research Board. While commuters who take public trains or buses can read, snooze or even tend to work, their commutes take twice as long as it takes those who drive themselves, the study found. Overall, the means of transportation doesn’t seem to matter in terms of longer commutes. In 1980, the average travel time as 21.7 minutes nationwide, then it expanded to 22.4 minutes in 1990 and 25.5 minutes in 2000. The number of commuters in New York single-handedly boosted the figures, as more than 10 percent of commuters there travel an hour or more to get to their jobs. New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois also have more than 10 percent traveling that length of time. California is almost at that percentage.
9. “Red Hat Vows Stronger Beta 2 ‘Within Weeks’ “
Infoworld, 10/19. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5’s first beta version has “warts,” an executive admitted, and he vowed that the company will improve documentation in the second release. Senior VP of Worldwide Market and General Manager of Enterprise Solutions Tim Yeaton said that beta testers were more positive about the version than the reactions reported in news accounts, but even so, Red Hat apparently realizes it can do better. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 includes Xen virtualization technology so that multiple copies of an OS can run on hardware, which can drop energy costs and decrease the number of machines needed to perform tasks. The beta 2 version will be out soon, and it will include a beta user’s guide.
10. “Study: IT Job Cuts Up Sharply in Q3,”
Computerworld, 10/16. U.S. IT job cuts hit their lowest level since 2000 only three months ago, but the good news apparently won’t be sustained. Corporate restructuring, mergers and other changes are pushing down the number of available IT jobs, according to a study from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Planned third-quarter IT job cuts rose 74 percent to 50,957, which was an increase of 29,226 since June 30 when job cuts had dropped to their lowest level since the third quarter of 2000.
-Nancy Weil, IDG News Service
Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.