Microsoft gets bugs, Google gets worms, and Orange goes bananas

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Hey, Bill! 1999 rang - they want their news back

Microsoft was kicking it old skool this week with product delays, being accused of underhand tactics, security gaffes, and bickering with open sourcers.

First up, Microsoft anti-piracy spy, Windows Genuine Advantage, cried wolf when legitimate users tried to install security patches over the weekend. This angered users, especially since it's not the first time it's happened. A spokesman said: "WGA's goal is not to punish the people who purchase these programs". Which is nice.

On Wednesday, it emerged that Redmond had been putting pressure on its partners to toe the company line in a vote over Open Office XML standards. It was caught busing in a load of its "supporters" to rig the poll on ratifying the format in Sweden. Oops.

The eternal struggle between Microsoft and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the soul of the Universe bubbled up again. FSF rattled its legal sabre in Chairman Bill's general direction over potential violations of GPL3 - a document which MS does not recognise.

The biggest news out of Seattle this week was not much of a surprise to most. The first service pack for Vista is still several months away. Also delayed until next year is Windows Server 2008. Plus ça change.

One of Vista mark 1's many glitches resurfaced with research into its "long goodbye" bug. Media files can bring the network, then the whole OS screeching to a halt.

Don't go looking anywhere but Microsoft for a patch though. Lawyers shut down Autopatcher, a third party alternative to Windows Update, which itself squeezed out five minor fixes.

Microsoft security flaw of the week came via MSN messenger. Webcam invites allow your machine to be taken over by dodgy data. Undeterred from the communications game, Redmond dusted off the chequebook for Parlano, an enterprise chat firm with a marketing manager who's heard of social networking.

Up the non-workers!

We're feeling a little queasy after all that, and this isn't going to help. Nevertheless, and sticking with paradigm redefining social utilities, UK trade unions said employers should allow Facebook at work.

Facebook itself tweaked the rules for developers who write applications to make it harder to spam users. The less said about the story of banking group HSBC being cowed by a Facebook group, the better really.

Copycat Intel

Intel was caught napping by an analyst who unpicked their plans to copy AMD's Hypertransport technology. It's going to be called QuickPath and wasn't set for public consumption until IDF next month.

AMD meanwhile was thinking up ways to squeeze more life from older technologies with additions to the x86 instruction set which should boost single thread performance in 2009

The latest twist in the anti-trust mud-slinging between the pair came from a third party DC lobby group, the American Antitrust Institute. It urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Intel for monopolistic practices.

Local hard drives for local people

We began the week with our American friends all in a tizz over the acquisition of US PC stalwart Gateway by Acer. It was less the fact that a Far East company was the buyer, and more the price: just $710m. It makes Acer third in the world behind HP and Dell.

Chinese attempts to romance HDD maker Seagate are worrying US authorities however. Lenovo was tipped as wanting a piece of the world's largest magnetic platter spatterer, which upped its financial forecast. Seagate parked the rumour later in the week.

Yahoo! updated its mail service to allow users to text mobile phones

Yahoo! was among several internet firms named in a suit by a patent trolling firm over an email patent. Google, Amazon and others will defend their highly innovative ability to answer email automatically in the Eastern District of Texas, known for friendliness to patent holders.

Yahoo! is also trying to dismiss the human rights lawsuit brought against it by the families of jailed Chinese democracy campaigners.

Google's got worms

Two of Google's web properties found themselves the target of internet crims this week. The authors of the Storm worm exploited public friendliness toward YouTube links to trick people into becoming part of a botnet early in the week.

The same bunch of miscreants then attacked Blogger, bombarding blogs with fake messages. One security watcher commented: "This group is definitely escalating its activity". Lummy.

City-wide Wi-Fi disappears into thin air

The full extent of Google's municipal Wi-Fi partner Earthlink's woes was revealed when it sacked half its workforce. City-wide Wi-Fi projects in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco have been binned.

AT&T: this is the boogeyman calling

Why anyone ever thought city-wide Wi-Fi would be a goer is beyond our tiny, irradiated brain. 3G forged ahead again in the UK this week with news that Vodafone is turbo-charging its data network in central London and at airports to 7.2Mbit/s by rolling out HSUPA.

The exclusive operator for a certain non-3G handset in the US turned heavy breather this week. AT&T placed creepy calls to Belfast mobile phone unlocker UniquePhone for its work on the iPhone.

Nothing rhymes with Orange, but what rhymes with leaky punts?

Sometime mobile operator Orange decided to have a clearout of old Freeserve customers it inherited from Wanadoo. It could have handled it better.

Sky, its more competent competitor in the communications bundling market, leaked news that it would offer its popular LLU broadband service to non-TV customers come November under the brand "Picnic".

Cash karaoke

In music, the UK's MCPS-PRS royalty collecting society became first to cut a deal with YouTube so artists can get paid for crapola lip-synching clips. We bid a not-so-fond adieu to Sony's Connect download store, which failed by being a less user-friendly, but equally DRMed version of iTunes.

Undeterred, Nokia made a big fuss over the launch of some portable telephones and Ovi, the Nth "iTunes-killer" at the Ministry of Sound.

iTunes itself plodded on by announcing it'll flog a limited range of TV shows in the UK at inflated prices compared to the US. Not that Apple really needs a cut of sales of Tim Westwood's Pimp My Ride: one in six laptop sales in the US funnels cash back to Cupertino.

Novell riding SUSE

A marginally less chic and cash-swollen IT player said its finances were looking slightly brighter. Novell narrowed losses on the back of a 77 per cent surge in SUSE Linux sales.

Burning bananas

Finally, as part of our pioneer work highlighting breakout career opportunities for IT pros, we recommend retraining as a banana ripener. Only the very best need apply however: you'll need a "good knowledge of Excel".

That's the lot for this week. We're all off to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert to try and burn this year's second Man the before the hippies can. More next week, assuming we don't get nicked. ®

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