MS loses on specs, Beeb's iPlayer and disappearing Scottish votes

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We serve it up every Friday. The links to the full news stories are there if you’ve got the time to read them. If you don’t you’ll still know the core details on the big tech developments.

Meatcasting with El Reg

Its is Open Season on Open Source as El Reg's very own Ashlee Vance hosts a new, fortnightly panel discussion with bigwigs and shaky movers (or is that movers and shakers, we're never sure) from the OS community. You can find episode one here, where Vance and guests explore the tricky issues of MS, Google, MySQL, Web 2.0 and freedom.

iPlayer heading for Mac and Linux revamp

The Beeb's controversial decision to roll out its iPlayer TV-over-IP platform on Windows only seems to have been slapped down, presumably by its own governing body. A response to a Number 10 petition explains that the BBC Trust "noted the strong public demand for the service to be available on a variety of operating systems", and made this a condition of the approval for the BBC's on-demand services.

Patently waiting

Patent reform is big news on both sides of the pond. The US is mulling an overhaul of its patent system, a move which has attracted support from tech industry players like Google. The search-firm-cum-ad-broker also filed a patent application for a text message payment system. Expect Google ads on your handset any day now.

In the UK, authorities have struck a deal with the US to share each other's patent examination records. So far the deal is for a 12 month trial, but the offices are hopeful that it will cut examination time, especially for applications that are lodged with both offices.

Property of some intellectuals

Glasgow University, already known for its close collaboration with the tech industry, is moving into electronics design. The academics say they'll definitely be looking to do deals, rather than run fabs themselves, so keep your eyes peels for all kinds of embedded wizardry from north of the border.

Passing, not fudging, the buck

Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computers said Wednesday he was not involved in any of the accounting irregularities uncovered during an internal probe at the company. This is the first time Dell has spoken publicly about his (lack of) involvement in the scandal.

Lawyers on standby

He claims he's not planning any litigation yet, but another former Harvard student has come forward claiming to have invented a precursor to social networking giant Facebook. He's written a book, as yet unpublished, detailing his claims.

Lawyers on active duty

Legal teams at Google and Spamhaus have been busy this week. Google has seen an adwords lawsuit against it dropped this week, after complainant American Blinds & Wallpaper Factory (ABWF) backed out of the conflict, which was headed for a full jury trial later this year. The agreement between the two parties confirmed that Google would not be changing its policies in relation to AdWords, and that it has not made any form of payment to drop the suit.

Meanwhile, an appeal court has quashed an $11m judgment against anti-spam organisation Spamhaus. The judge also lifted an injunction that barred Spamhaus from listing either e360 Insight or its principal David Linhardt as a source of spam.

Spin cycle

PR maestros at Microsoft have had their hands full this week, as the software behemoth tries to spin straw into gold and turn defeat into a public relations victory. The firm had been looking for fast track ratification of its proposed OOXML specification as an international standard, but with national standards bodies in open revolt, things look set to take a little longer.

Dog and bone?

Brits love their mobiles more than they do their pets, a fabulous survey has revealed. This helps explain how upset people are when they are told there are reasons for not using cell phones in hospital. It also offers a glimmer of hope to O2, which made significant changes to its contracts last week, effectively creating a loophole through which unhappy customers can escape.

On the other side of the pond, the Americans have begun a love affair of their own, with the iPhone. Stats released this week reveal that the Apple gadget is outselling its smartphone competition, with even non AT&T customers parting with cash to get their mitts on one.

No surprise, then, that Samsung's rumoured Croix looks a uncannily familiar.

Three, two, one, virtual launch

Virtualisation is the key word in new products this week, with XenSource announcing an OEM version of its VMware, and Virtual Iron's new release also hitting the shelves.

IBM and Novell joined forces to launch an integrated open collaboration client for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. The package include IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Lotus Sametime and IBM productivity tools.

New jobs for old

Miles Flint, president of Sony Ericsson, has stepped down to spend more time with his money; to be replaced by Dick Komiyama, current chairman of the board at Sony Electronics, USA. When Flint took the helm at SE, in June 2004, the company had sold 27.2 million units during the previous year, compared to the 74.8 million it managed in 2006. Nice work.

You break it, you buy it

From new jobs, to new deals. Search engine Yahoo! has ramped up its service for advertisers by acquiring privately held global ad network BlueLithium for $300m. San Francisco-based BlueLithium was founded in 2004 and offers web usage matchmaker technology that marries ads with an individual's lifestyle choices and interests.

MetroPCS has been very public about the fact that it wants to buy Leap Wireless, intent on creating one big we-don't-do-contacts wireless carrier. But there's no telling what Leap wants. MetroPCS sent a letter to Leap's board of directors, offering to purchase its San Diego-based competitor for more than $5bn in stock. Then it slapped the letter into a press release. Joy.

Number crunching

Not much number crunching this week, but E-learning firm SkillSoft saw its profits nearly treble in its latest set of results, which were released late last week. The firm reported net profits of $12.4m, or $0.11 per share, for the second quarter, up from $4.8m, or $0.05 per share, for the same period last year.

Vulnerable to interference

Yet more security woes for Yahoo instant messger users. the firm had urged users to upgrade their software following the discovery of a brace of security vulnerabilities - the second set of serious security flaws involving Yahoo! Messenger in as many weeks. Without the upgrade, stack-based buffer overflow flaws in the YVerInfo.dll ActiveX control could allow hackers to inject hostile code onto systems running vulnerable versions of Yahoo! Messenger.

Also having access issues was the Bank of India, whose website was taken over by n'er do wells who rigged the site to feed malware to customers trying to access online services. Tasty.

Scottish voters were also left wondering about system integrity, after a BBC investigation revealed that more than seventy thousand votes in the recent Scottish elections were rejected by the electronic counting machines, with no human oversight. New First Minister Alex Salmond described the news as "astonishing", and deeply disturbing.

And finally...

Baggage restrictions on plane flights may have to be relaxed a little, after an electrical fault on a 757 was fixed up just fine by a goat sacrifice in Nepal. Try explaining that one to the humourless security drones at Heathrow. ®

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