Bill Gates, Cliff Richard, and Richard Branson walk into a bar...

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FUD, glorious FUD

We have the excellent combination of Fortune magazine and the Microsoft PR ubergoblin to thank for a lively start to the week. They conspired to crystallise Redmond's patent claims against open source software ever so slightly, by putting a number on how many times they had wronged: 235.

Cue cries of "show us the code", and criticism from Sun's Scott McNealy and, er, Linux's Linus Torvalds.

Our own Ashlee Vance had a few choice thoughts for Steve Ballmer, too. And even the American public aren't satisfied with Microsoft.

Click to buy lie

We hope the legal monitoring bunker at Redmond is paying attention to others' patent battles which are further down the road. Amazon's silly 1-Click lobbyist ended up misleading congress in his keenness to defend clicking on a button.

In better Amazon news, it finally released details of its DRM-free download store.

Say goodbye to your balls, Bill

Ashlee reckons chairman Bill hasn't got the stones for a fight anymore. Maybe he's right: Gates' contribution this week was one of his "the PC is the blank of the future" speeches. Office Communicator 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 mean you can say goodbye to your telephone, apparently. More here.

Gold Bland

Not that BT should give a tinker's cuss. Its Q4 results, the last under the chairmanship of Sir Christopher Bland, showed its "new wave" of IP-based products and services was more than making up for declining phone revenues. And it overtook Virgin Media as the top residential broadband provider, so probably won't feel the need to listen to calls for fibre to the home.

Branson pickle

Indeed, the Branson halo effect is most definitely over for the UK cable monopoly. It's got huge debts and annoyed customers. Trouble at the top too, as a power struggle emerged at the AGM on Thursday in New York. Virgin responded to its travails by announcing an LLU deal with Cable and Wireless to connect the 50 per cent who aren't on the cable network. Not until Q4 though...more cynical observers might infer a little desperation for some good news in the PR boutique.

U-turn (up in court or else)

One look at Dell might cheer them up. After years of shunning the channel, Mickey Dell swallowed his pride in the direct model he pioneered and announced a reseller recruitment drive. Admirable, but the same day the firm was hit with a fraud lawsuit from the New York Attorney General.

MyDataprotectionpolicy Rulez!

MySpace took a principled stance this week, when it refused to respond to a letter from eight state Attorneys General demanding data on sex offender users. Show us your subpoenas, MySpace retorted.

Trust no one

Security has emerged as another big problem with a lot of social networks. Research revealed users trust the sites too much. As well as their bandwidth hoggery, the US DoD reckons its a good reason to ban their use. Some lonely grunts will undoubtedly miss the "find-love-now messages" the spamtastic MySpace offered them.

AMD announces announcements. Further announcements to come

Back in the more tangible world of silicon, AMD's been a busy puppy. The chip number two, desperate to regain momentum, began with a new graphics card, then launched the "Phenom" family of processors, and squeaked out a trio of details around upcoming gear. It also offered up a peek into laptop CPU "Griffin", which may not be all that next generation after all.

Aussie rules healthcare IT

The sorry iSoft saga began a new chapter. The board approved a takeover by Australian healthcare IT group IBA. For all our sakes, we hope they sort it out.

There was further confirmation that the NPfIT was making life difficult for doctors and nurses. IBA picked up iSoft for a bargain £140m.

Buy the buy

Oracle paid $495m for product lifecycle management firm Agile software.

Good news for venture capitalists: Cisco said its appetite for small technology companies is nowhere near sated.

Amazon bought a UK digital photography site.


Plucky software as a service CRM outfit Salesforce.com beat its own financial expectations and integrated Skype.

Microsoft also upped its efforts to grab a slice of the rising SaaS pie.

Bachelor boys and pirates

The British Software Association blubbed that it needs a bigger stick to hit software pirates with. MPs were busy tub-thumping for Cliff Richard's intellectual property instead.

In the US and Canada, Symantec took matters into its own hands, demanding eight firms cough $55m for nicking its software.

Downtime at Google

A relatively quiet time on planet Google. It tried to make a hoo-ha over the fact that it rejigged results pages slightly.

It made less of a fuss about its latest copyright battle, which it won against grumble mag Perfect 10. Google's free to pump out thumbnails of nudey ladies to its heart's content.

We had our own Google news, that its Blogger site has had the most downtime of any of the top 20 websites this year. If your site has beaten that, buy yourself a beer to celebrate.

Drunken terror

We'll leave you with the news of the terror trial judge who didn't know what a website was. At Vulture Central, we have faith in the justice system, and would like to give Judge Peter Openshaw the benefit of the doubt: he was probably just tired.

More next week, have a good'un. ®

Headline of the week: "Gloves come off in George Bush buttplug rumpus"

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