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Can Microsoft silence the critics?

Microsoft – it's got PR agencies coming out of its ears to keep a tight hold on the media, and flocks of legal eagles flying around the planet to keep the courts in order. All this effort to keep a squeaky-clean image and then someone goes and cocks it all up.

Last week the company settled its only outstanding anti-trust case, a class action lawsuit brought in Iowa. The case was resolved seven weeks into trial, and the terms of the settlement will not be revealed until April. But evidence, which constitutes the largest and most comprehensive archive of Microsoft's, ahem, dirtier side ever amassed, vanished from the web when the case was settled.

Then, just as suddenly, we received reports of the reappearance the 3,000 document archive from the anti-trust trial. It's almost as if someone wanted to make Microsoft look bad.

It's been a bit of a bad week for Redmond, as it's now reviewing legal options after a US court ordered it to pay Alcatel $1.5bn for infringing the French telecoms company's MP3 technology in Windows. Microsoft slammed the court's ruling, calling it "completely unsupported by the law or the facts," and claimed it had paid $16m to license the voice technology in question from the German company, Fraunhofer.

Google lunges for share of Microsoft pie

Google has launched a pay-per-seat version of its Docs & Spreadsheets to in a bid to win customers from Microsoft.

Google will charge companies and individuals $50 a seat per year for its Google Apps Premier Edition suite. Unlike Microsoft, Google seems to have a working currency converter, with UK punters being charged £26 a seat. Microsoft, of course, uses the much simpler method of doing a search and replace of dollar signs for pound signs.

More Euro data laws?

Europe's police data protection policies must be more consistent before Europol's powers can be increased, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has deemed. The comments come in response to the European Parliament's suggestion last week that police powers be increased.

Malware man

A Washington state man has pleaded guilty to spreading malware over four chat channels. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in early May.

Skype wants operators leaned on...

VoIP operator Skype is lobbying the US Federal Communications Commission to force mobile operators to allow third-party devices to be attached to mobile phones in a bid to open the market for more applications.

Can mobile companies handle the truth?

Mobile operators have been accused of "twisting the truth" by a major European consumer lobby group investigating roaming charges.

According to BEUC, mobile customers shouldn't pay more than €0.33 per minute on roaming charges. The figure was calculated by doubling the mobile termination rate of the larger networks, and adding a 30 per cent mark-up.

Symantec says sorry

Symantec is sorry for a glitch in its software that resulted in a "small group" of its customers been falsely advised that their software subscriptions had expired early. The early renewal alert SNAFU affected an unknown number of users of 2006 versions of Norton products.

Smoke and mirrors surround transparency

The Article 29 Working Party, which is made up of representatives from all of Europe's data protection authorities, had formally adopted a declaration of transparency at its meeting last week, said sources close to the group. Apparently, however, they have failed to tell anyone about it yet.

My phone not iPhone

Apple and Cisco have agreed to share the iPhone name. In a surprisingly short legal spat, the two have said they will work towards interoperability in other areas to prove they are now best friends. Awwww.

The internet villain – she's behind you...

European Commissioner Vivianne Reding is the internet's biggest villain of the year, according to UK internet service providers. She was given the title by the ISP Association (ISPA) in protest at the rules for registering a .eu domain name.

Lord knows what would happen if they actually gave the award to a real villain.

Tony Blair, who doesn't use a computer, emails 1.8 million people

The 1.8 million people opposing Tony Blair's proposal to introduce road pricing and vehicle tracking received an email, supposedly from the Prime Minister, explaining why their opposition is misguided.

The email thanks people for taking part in the exercise and promises: "Before we take any decisions there would be further consultations."

Can Blair tag the UK?

The National Identity Register will allow police to add the adult population of the UK to their suspect list, giving them the opportunity to check fingerprints left at scenes of crime against those collected from ID card and passport applicants, says Tony Blair.

Nor are fingerprints in other EU countries necessarily safe - the introduction of biometric technology, he adds, will "improve the flow of information between countries on the identity of offenders".

Open source for Cuba

The Cuban government is to use open source in a bid to ditch Microsoft software - Cuban ministers say their national security depends on ditching Microsoft because its software could be made with backdoors built in for the US military and intelligence services.

Email abuse could lead to sex offenders' register...

A UK legal order has amended the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 to make it possible for offences which are not primarily sexual in nature to be punishable by a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO). This means the sending of emails of a sexual nature could earn the sender a place on the sex offenders' register.

Fancy a date with a sheep?

And finally, New Zealanders are flocking to an exciting new online initiative aimed at connecting sheep fanciers with their perfect date - AdultSheepFinder.com (NSFW).

The website reads: "With AdultSheepFinder you can meet sexy sheep in your area at the touch of a button! Find the right sheep for you from our extensive database and try to arrange with their owners for a sexy encounter!"

Nice. ®

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