HP criminal charges, Microsoft licensing and Bulgarian airbags

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HP comes home to roost

We're not sure we'd have a weekly summary to write without the help of HP. This week we learnt a bit more about the company's sickly sweet relationship with a reporter on the Wall Street Journal.

IM conversations never look as good in the cold light of day – just ask Mark Foley.

This week also saw the first criminal charges filed against ex-HP chair Patricia Dunn. The Californian Attorney General charged five people connected to the HP scandal with various wire fraud and conspiracy charges. More charges are likely to follow. The Securities and Exchange Commission is still investigating how the company informed, or misinformed, the markets about the resignation of director Tom Perkins.

Internal documents released this week show at least one person at HP realised just how wrong what they were doing was. One of HP's internal gumshoes, Vince Nye, wrote: "As I understand Ron's methodology in obtaining this phone record information it leaves me with the opinion that it is very unethical at the least and probably illegal. If (it) is not totally illegal, then it is leaving HP in a position of (sic) that could damage our reputation or worse."

There's a selection of HP's juicier emails here. And anyone tempted into a bit of snooping of their own can take heart from this advice - planting bugs in offices is legal in the UK. But be careful what you do with the information you collect because then data protection laws kick in.

Away from the scandal, HP this week offered users the chance to take a look at its dual core Montecito servers. Customer BT was there too talking about utility computing. In a similar vein, a massive deal between HP, BT and Pepsi was announced this week.

Microsoft and schizophrenic licensing

Licensing and Microsoft are two words guaranteed to upset many an IT manager. This week it emerged that Microsoft's oft-promised operating system Vista will go into lockdown mode if it suspects you of buying the software from a car boot sale rather than an approved reseller. Which would be fine - if it worked, and didn't label lots of honest people pirates.

This week Microsoft's much-loathed WGA raised its head again – wrongly labelling a bunch of businesses as pirates. But don't give up the faith just yet – Microsoft gave some details of how its future licensing strategy will work. Here's hoping...

And let's not forget that Microsoft isn't as mean while it is trying to build market share. Microsoft is a relative newbie in data centre operating systems and this week made its software licensing even more open.

Trying to understand the complexities of data centre licensing can make your eyes bleed, but Redmond is trying to make it easier. Virtual servers mean applications and boxes aren't tied together anymore in the way old school licenses require.

Crackberry users forced into rehab

Partners and friends of Vodafone Blackberry users were shocked this week that their conversation with the mobile email addicts were even more truncated. An upgrade at the weekend left customers without the option to access and manage their mail over the web - meaning even more time spent thumb twiddling..

Remember the virus wars?

Virus infected emails fell to a record low this week. Just one in 300 emails sent last month contained a virus, according to researchers from Sophos. Progress of sort – even if it means we have inboxes full of bleeding spam instead.

If you don't remember the virus wars, it could be that your teeth have fallen out. Swedish researchers have discovered a link between memory function and a full mouth of gnashers.

PGP gets on the network

Sticking with security, PGP this week announced its network storage product. It reckons companies sharing data centre resources will snap it up More on networked encryption here.

Euro patents compromise

The European patents row has been rumbling on forever, but there's been progress on a compromise this week. In essence, the European Parliament is agreeing to look again at the unpopular legislation.

EMC cheers Vista, but McAfee jeers

While the world awaits Vista software, companies are busy making sure they don't get locked out. Office and SharePoint Server 2007 users will be able to archive information straight into EMC's Documentum archiving software.

But it's not all sweetness and light among Microsoft partners rivals. Anti-virus company McAfee used a full page advert in the FT to complain that Microsoft is witholding the information it needs to make its products with Vista. It's a bizarre missive addressed to "computer users of the world". The whole letter is available as a Pdf here.

In duller McAfee news, it is paying $60m for a majority stake in Citadel Security, which helps companies ensure they are compliant with Sarbanes Oxley and other regulations. Well, if you can't survive as a virus company anymore...

Fuel cells: on, off, and on again

We like fuel cells – filling up your phone with gas, or even vodka, must be more fun than recharging it. The trouble is no one seems able to decide if they're ever actually going to arrive.

Early last year Nokia said: "Schtop this technology isn't ready yet." But now we hear the technology is ready, but the supply chain isn't. Nokia's research boss said: "A few years you would still need to wait." See the full SP on fuel cells.

Dammit JANET

Poor students and professors lost their superdooper network JANET this week. A mysterious outage brought much of it down on Monday. No official word on why, but sources tell us a Scottish rat chewing through a cable was to blame.

Siemens we salute you

Siemens is taking positive action to help workers at its mobile unit, which was sold to BenQ. BenQ promptly shut it and sacked 3,000 workers. The board of Siemens is foregoing a €30m pay rise and is paying the money into a fund for the laid-off staff.

Bulgarian airbags save the day

More good news from the east – a Bulgarian woman was saved from serious injury by her sizeable breast implants. A police expert said: "[They] worked just like airbags - protecting the victim's ribs and vital organs from damage." He did, however, add: "They are not as safe as the real thing because they exploded, which airbags are not supposed to do."

News in Briefs

Stock option probe claims Apple CFO scalp

Well, that's about it for this week. Thanks for reading. ®

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