by CIO Staff

Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week: Vista Key to Multimedia Computing

Feb 02, 20077 mins
Small and Medium BusinessWindows

1. “Gates: Vista Key to New Era of Multimedia Computing,”

PC World, Jan. 30

With great global fanfare, Microsoft kicked off the week with the Vista launch for home users and small businesses, even as enterprises for the most part continue to sit back and wait before migrating to the new Windows OS, released to that market in November. The fanfare, and its attendant coverage, was all the more impressive for the fact that pretty much anything that can be said about Vista had already been said and said and said. Bill Gates trumpeted Vista as “the key to the [computing] era we have today” during the launch event in New York, which was one of a number of global shindigs to mark the release. The buzz from the wider launch might have been knocked down a notch or three by this week’s number-two story.

2. “Vista Hole Opens Door to ‘Shout Hacking,’ “

InfoWorld, Feb. 1

Two days after the global event that was the Vista launch, word spread that a flaw in the new OS could allow remote hackers to use the speech-recognition feature to run malicious programs through prerecorded verbal commands. Microsoft was investigating reports of the vulnerability, which was more than just the first publicized flaw in the operating system, but also a novel development in security issues, given its use of verbal commands and speech recognition. It quickly garnered the name “shout hack.” The effect of the vulnerability is expected to be minor because it would potentially trouble only those who have the speech-recognition feature enabled and have a microphone and speakers connected to their computer. Those who hope to rely on that feature might find it somewhat more bothersome, however.

3. “Michael Dell Back in Charge as Rollins Departs Dell,”, Feb. 1

The Dell board decided to put company founder Michael Dell back in charge. He will again be CEO after Kevin Rollins, who was his handpicked successor, stepped down after two and a half stormy years at the helm. Dell will also continue as board chairman. The company lost its top PC vendor status to rival HP during Rollins’ tenure and also is undergoing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. Besides announcing the executive shuffling, the company said that its most recent quarterly financial results, scheduled to be released on March 1, will fall below analyst expectations.

4. “Google Upgrades Mini Workplace Search Device,”, Jan. 30

Google overhauled security and search features for its Mini search device, which is a hardware box for small and midsize businesses and departments in larger companies. Version 2.2 was released with features that are part of the Search Appliance, a more sophisticated and powerful product for enterprises. Analysts and market watchers had expected Google to give the Mini an overhaul because in December, IBM and Yahoo launched a free, entry-level enterprise search application to compete with Google’s offering.

5. “SAP Jumps Into On-Demand ERP Market,”

Computerworld, Jan. 29

SAP is getting into the on-demand ERP market, targeting midsize companies that want that software but don’t want to mess with installing it themselves. The announcement represents a significant shift in SAP’s approach to that market because its business model has been to have customers install and run SAP in-house. But rivals such as have forced SAP into the on-demand space. SAP rolled out its first on-demand software last year when it released a CRM application. The company didn’t offer much in the way of detail about the forthcoming ERP product, but analysts say it could be significant in the on-demand market.

6. “SAP Names Team to Lead New Global SME Unit,”

InfoWorld, Jan. 31.

SAP has publicly said it wants more midsize business customers, so two days after it said it will get into the on-demand ERP market, it followed up by naming executives to head its new SME unit. SAP will focus more on customers and partners in the small and midsize market, and has also said it will improve its product alignment to help it achieve that goal. The new team will be in charge of delivery of SAP’s upcoming hosted and on-demand business applications.

7. “BT Buys Service Co. INS for Over $196M,”, Feb. 1

BT Group seems determined to make inroads in the U.S. enterprise market. Last year it scooped up Counterpane, and this week it said it is buying International Network Services, an IT consulting and professional services company. INS is based in Santa Clara, Calif., but has offices in 19 states offering services throughout the United States, and also has offices in Canada, Europe and Asia. The $196 million acquisition is expected to allow BT to combine Counterpane’s managed security services with INS’ network services, providing on-site consulting and remote management services to customers.

8. “IBM Labs: The Next Five Innovations,”, Feb. 1

IBM gave business partners, analysts and journalists a peak at innovations being worked on in its labs, including real-time language translation, nanotechnology to purify water, medical monitoring over the Web and work on a 3-D Internet. Products resulting from the innovations should be on the market within five years, the company said. The real-time translation program is being tested by the U.S. military in Iraq to translate English into Arabic.

9. “Daylight Saving Time: When Clocks Spring Forward This Year, Will IT Fall Down?”

Computerworld, Feb. 1

Daylight saving time will begin in the United States the second Sunday in March this year, rather than the first Sunday in April, and will be extended to the first Sunday in November as part of an effort to save energy. But the initiative means that every software and hardware system that has time stamps needs to be evaluated and tested and possibly patched with software updates to make sure the time stamps work the way they should after the DST change takes effect. Research firm Gartner is urging companies to take the issue seriously because the DST change is likely to cause “disruptions at an IT infrastructure and application level,” and that has “significant implications” for companies worldwide. Calendaring applications, billing software, security programs, travel and trading schedules could be affected. Even so, the change isn’t comparable to conversion to euro conversion or Y2K.

10. “Will Your Network Survive Super Bowl Monday?”

Computerworld, Jan. 31.

Here’s something to contemplate between cheering for or against Payton Manning while watching Super Bowl XLI: The Monday after the annual big game brings headaches, other than those induced by too much celebrating or mourning, to network managers. Fans will relive the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat at work, clicking on video replays and other game-related applications that eat bandwidth. The loss of productivity among employees and networks will start before the game begins (it’s undoubtedly already well under way in at least two cities we can think of) and will peak when football fans return to work Monday, with images of the game replaying in their minds. A survey found that 32 percent of those who responded had plans to check out websites related to the NFL or the Super Bowl before the weekend, with 27 percent confessing they will blow up to three hours online at work getting their Super Bowl plans together. Twenty-six percent expect to watch game-related content Sunday using corporate Internet access, while 29 percent expect they’ll watch, download and stream content on Monday using their work PCs.

-Nancy Weil, IDG News Service

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