IBM dodges bullet as the great URL debate rages

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Filling the Goolag

Google can't find enough big-brained types to populate the expanding Googleplex Stateside. It made representations to Congress for the number of visas available to foreign IT workers to be boosted. Bill Gates has been beating the drum for years.

As if to foreshadow how hungry Google is for new input, we had exclusively spotted its left-field acquisition of multi-core server start-up PeakStream. Ashlee Vance, the man with the scoop, said it shows that the Googlers are willing to buy in any expertise they think they might need in the future, even if it might have been destined for great things on a broader basis.

Perhaps there's undiscovered talent in China that can't be hired because of government internet repression. Google, along with MS and Yahoo!, didn't want to participate in Amnesty International's worldwide debate on the subject, however.

Pop-ups to beat pop-ups

They could probably learn a thing or two from Beijing about impenetrability. With vulnerabilities stacking up, our own Dan Goodin asked whether Google was heading for Windows 95-style depths of security buffoonery.

Yahoo! was scrambling to fix ActiveX security holes in its instant messenger software, and Redmond's attempts to protect older versions of Office from Trojans were flagged as useless.

One Chinese user reckons Symantec's anti-virus updates are so inept they need suing. Unfortunately for Liu Shihui, legal experts think he's got no chance.

In their wisdom, US politicians passed an act to tackle another prong of the malware fork: spyware. Along with new penalties, the Spy Act aims to tackle those irritating pop-ups which collect personal information with...a compulsory pop-up which tells you they're about to do it. You couldn't make it up. Unless you were a politician, because then it would be your job.

EU maybe screwed

An equally incisive cohort of politicos and legal types in Brussels said they might have a verdict in Microsoft's appeal against anti-trust allegations against its server and media player software. If it loses, Redmond faces a record-breaking fine. We'll definitely know either way by 17 September, but John Oates' contacts around the case are indicating we could get a nod as early as July.

Away from past opposition-crushing glories, Microsoft added Linux distibutor Xandros to its roster of buddies in the open source sector, with a Novell-style agreement not to sue for patent infringement, and work on interoperability.

Big Blue bullet dodged

IBM could have come off much worse in its own long-running spat with regulators. The SEC told it to stop committing fraud. The firm said it hadn't committed any fraud, but would stop doing it anyway.

IBM celebrated by acquiring Watchfire, a security firm specialising in web application development tools. Party!

IBM's rival in storage, EMC, bought Verid, another security firm, which does knowledge-based authentication.

The award for biggest acquisition of the week goes to private equity outfit Silverlake Partners, which agreed to buy networking firm Avaya for $8.2bn, from under the nose of its rivals at Nortel.


Pipex debuted a new website which allowed ex-subscribers to access their accounts again, raising data protection issues.

BT told us that broadband users don't want any more speed than the theoretical 24Mbit/s maximum it's set to deliver in 2010/11. It's tried to declare an end to the speed wars, so it can concentrate on pumping more services down the pipes.

Siemens obviously didn't get the memo. It trumpeted a record-breaking 1Gbit/s IPTV data stream over plastic fibre, which is many times faster than the fibre being rolled out in the US, Europe, and the Far East, but which BT has so far refused to commit to.

At least it won't face competition from the mobile industry for a while. Orange got heat this week when we revealed its new data tariffs are capped at a measly 30MB per month.

National program for bickering

Fibre's an issue for "UK PLC", according to BT. If there is such a company, it got a new boss this week. The Office of Government Commerce appointed rail suit Nigel Smith as chief executive, just in time to witness the controversy over the office shredding documents related to big money public IT projects.

The saga around iSoft, the software outfit at the centre of the daddy of all big money public IT projects, the NHS' NPfIT, is nowhere near done it seems. After CSC tried to block a rescue of the troubled firm last week, iSoft responded on Monday by setting its lawyers on CSC. NHS IT chief Richard Granger told the quarrelsome pair to sort it out or risk losing their fat contracts.

Apples need Sun

The week in servers got off to a stormy start with Cray raising its revenue alarm. It blamed shipping delays, which in turn kicked off a rumpus over AMD's much speculated-upon Barcelona chips, due in summer. Cray's comments prompted a swift clarification from AMD, who blamed a misunderstanding by a newswire reporter. Barcelona's still on track, we're promised.

On a more prosaic note, Sun finally got around to launching some proper mainstream blades. It did manage to get Apple fanboys in a tizz the following day, however, when CEO Jonathan Schwartz let slip during an event for Sun's "Thumper" hybrid storage/server platform that the next OSX would run his Zettabyte File System.

And finally...

Apparently, UK companies have no IT strategy.

In entirely unrelated news, by far the most commented on article ever on The Register touched down on Wednesday. Do you want to get this email from a or a .com address? It's vital stuff, and 500 readers have voiced a view so far. Go here to toss your two pence. Or go to the pub instead - ours is a line of powdered lime Bacardi Breezer. More next week. ®

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