It's virtually all about virtualisation, EDS job cuts and EMC court cases

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Need air? Open your Office, er, Windows

Outsourcing outfit Cap Gemini said it will start selling Google Apps to its corporate customers in a move that could help companies negotiate better deals with the big mama of office apps, Microsoft.

Serena Software has laid out a roadmap founded on Web 2.0 representing the software industry's latest attempt to chip away at Microsoft's Office development base.

The company has released an early version of its Serena Mashup Composer, previously codenamed Veil, which Serena promised would provide point-and-click creation of business applications and processes using web services.

Oh, and IBM has also waded into the OpenOffice.org development community, kicking off its participation by donating code it has developed for its Lotus Notes project and promising to contribute to improving the "feature richness and code quality" of OpenOffice applications.

In the meantime, Microsoft has also been attempting to dampen rumours that the Redmond-based firm had been sneaking up behind the backs of its users to perform stealth patch updates on Windows machines...

Hard rockers

Sony and Blu-ray Disc is go in the UK with the launch of its new desktop PC, the Vaio LT, which is expected to be available in October.

HP shrank its Bladesystem this week in pursuit of the mid-market.

Paint box-happy hardware vendors continue the trend towards jazzing up their product lines. This week RIM decided to inject some colour into its existing range of Blackberry 8100 handsets.

Frenzied excitement ensued following news that Led Zeppelin old boys Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would reunite on stage after 15 years apart. Led heads everywhere raced for their chance to see their heroes do the Misty Mountain Hop. Alas, the website selling tickets for the much-hyped event was hit by a Communications Breakdown which left some would-be rockers quoting Wayne: "No 'Stairway' – denied!".

Deep fat news in chip land

AMD finally launched its four-core Opteron processor chip this week, six months late and at 2Ghz performance.

The chip, which had been code-named Barcelona, danced its way into the affections of big name hitters in the server market. Dell, HP, Novell and IBM all turned up to toast AMD's latest offering. Well, kind of.

But gatecrashing the party somewhat, market leader Intel said it expected to see a healthy third quarter.

On a chirpier note for the firm, AMD regained a few percentage points of world microprocessor market share from its rival Intel in the bloody x86 tug of war. According to market watcher iSuppli, AMD's CPU sales share for Q2 was up from Q1's 10.9 per cent to 13.4 per cent.

Elsewhere, The Register exclusively learned that IBM had shelved a top-secret chip project meant to give the company a massively multi-threaded part that could have served as a major disrupter in the Unix world.

However, the firm decided that its so-called Q7 processor would not deliver the mainstream performance needed by most of its Unix server customers.

Linux, the Ford engine of the software world

Should open source software carry a warning about the damage it can cause to otherwise robust (cough) hardware kit bought in PC World stores?

Apparently, a broken hinge on an Acer laptop still under warranty could not be fixed by the computer retail mammoth's IT support "Tech Guys" because a pesky copy of Linux had been installed on the system.

Explaining the rationale behind that decision, a PC World spokesman told El Reg it would be "like buying a BMW and putting a Ford engine in it". Um, well, thanks for clearing that up for us. He added that the shop would offer a fix-up; that is once they've tracked down the customer.

Elsewhere in Linux world, open-source fanboys will be pleased to hear that Sun Microsystems has upgraded its Solaris 10 operating system, most notably enabling its OS to run Linux and its applications on x86 systems. Woop.

Sunny side up

Mind you, the server firm has also been cosying up with Microsoft having been welcomed into the software giant's ample bosom to become one of its OEM partners.

And, like some sort of file-managing addict, Sun Microsystems also acquired yet another high-end file system. It said it will buy most of Cluster File Systems' intellectual property and business assets, including the Lustre File System.

Virtualisation folk study industry's visible panty line

Over at VMworld many found themselves preoccupied with odd-sock syndrome, with several key industry players bemoaning a growing problem of incompatibility between virtual machines from VMware, XenSource and Microsoft.

Is VMware, which this week acquired Dunes, ahead of the game and therefore likely to take the standardisation crown? Well, possibly maybe the firm's new ESX 3i hypervisor could offer the answer: it's thin, bony and mean, apparently. We dubbed it the "Calista Flockhart" of virtualisation. Ahem, and Wyse also wised up to the oh-so-skinny look this week.

We also learned that the mysterious Dell virtualisation server appliance – code-named Veso – will ship at the end of November, leading the charge for systems with embedded hypervisors. Oh, and Big Mike was wheeled out to show off the direct computer vendor's new modular disk storage array featuring iSCSI support.

But Hitachi Data Systems said it is scaling down its Universal Storage Platform V system to target the virtualisation needs of the mid-range market.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said it will ship a new hypervisor preview, code-named Viridian, the Redmond-based software firm said it will be bundled with Windows Server 2008.

United we stand, divided we fall

Fujitsu Services said that it has settled its long-running row with Manchester-based employees over redundancy rights, union recognition and better pay.

Unite, the union representing the workers, said: "Our members are pleased that so many issues have been successfully resolved to end the dispute. We now hope to build a much better working relationship with Fujitsu."

But elsewhere, EDS said it has offered a quarter of its US staff early retirement as it seeks to move more and more of its operations to cheaper territories.

The outsourcing firm is offering 12,000 people extra benefits if they take early retirement. Staff have until October 30 to accept or decline the offer.

Storage giant EMC found itself in potentially steaming hot water following a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by two women who formerly worked at the firm's Chicago sales office.

The ex-employees detailed company-paid visits to strip clubs, demeaning sexual remarks, and a general failure to hire and promote women. The lawsuit is now seeking class-action status as 12 other EMC saleswomen have also stepped forward with similar claims.

On the subject of short skirts and leggy blondes: If you think that the English county of Essex is synonymous with a slimmed-down, sexy, next generation of application server then you'll understand the logic behind BEA's new, er, 150Mb WebLogic Server. It's codenamed Essex and is expected to launch next Spring.

It's a result

Increasingly popular web browser Firefox celebrated a significant milestone this week as it surpassed 400m download hits.

Computacenter had a lot to smile about this week following its interim results, which saw both revenues and profits jump.

BT continued on the rickety road to take over the world of IP telephony with the acquisition of Belgian IT services outfit INS Group S.A.

China and corporate firms swoop with snoops

Germany, the USA and the UK have all become the subject of targeted attacks originating from China, with many observers pointing the finger of blame towards China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). France, Australia and New Zealand joined the growing list.

Corporate snooping over the telephone was given the thumbs up by Vodafone this week, as it granted software makers Compliant Voice certification for its voice-recording application. The software can catch calls made from mobiles and commit them to the memory of an intercepting server.

And finally, if it all becomes too much for you in the heady world of shrinking servers, there’s always some reassuringly tough-as-nails hardware to turn to at the toyshop of doom. If you're going to throw yourself off the roof, make sure you're wearing a set of strap-on stealth wings.

That's it folks, until next week. ®

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