15th > February > 2005 Archive

HP celebrates Opteron, IBM doesn't

While HP and IBM turn to both AMD and Intel for chips, it's easy to tell that all relationships are not equal between these vendors. This week, for example, HP rolled out three, new systems based on AMD's Opteron processor. It showed off the two-processor DL385 and BL25p and BL35p blade servers. These boxes have been in the works for a long time with The Register uncovering their existence back in September. The casual observer might conclude that these are just some new x86 systems. Nothing special. The boxes, however, underscore HP's commitment to Opteron in the x86 market. The DL385 is an HP-designed system - not a repackaged server from an Asian design house. It taps much of the top-class technology found in the four-processor DL585 and flaunts the ProLiant brand. Similarly, the blades mark the first systems of their kind from a Tier I vendor. The BL25p ships with up to 2.6GHz Opterons, while the more energy efficient BL35p ships with two 2.4GHz (68 Watt) chips. Egenera is the only other major blade vendor to announce Opteron systems. Along with these servers, HP put out the Opteron-powered xw9300 workstation. The box starts at $1,899 and holds up to two 2.4GHz chips, has the latest Nvidia graphics kit and supports up to 16GB of memory. HP announced this gear on the same day that AMD upgraded its Opteron processor line. Such a joint-launch would have been unthinkable a year or so ago. Back then, Intel gripped HP with a tight fist. Now, HP has the most complete Opteron server line around and is damn proud of it. The same cannot be said for IBM. IBM today stood behind Intel by announcing new servers built with the latest Xeon DP. The fresh Xeon part - aimed at dual-processor systems - has 2MB of L2 cache. By the end of this month, IBM will have the Xeon chip in its xSeries 226, 236, 336 and 346 systems and its BladeCenter HS20 product. IBM does sell an Opteron server, but it doesn't tell the world about it terribly often. Funny that, since IBM was the first major vendor to get behind Opteron when AMD introduced the chip some two years ago. You get the feeling Intel didn't appreciate that AMD embrace and has played a role in IBM's unambitious Opteron product plans. Rumors swirl that convincing amounts of Intel marketing money keeps IBM from shipping more Opteron gear, but only gullible types would believe such gossip. What is for certain is that HP celebrated the arrival of new Opterons, and IBM celebrated the arrival of new Xeons. The vendors have picked their sides. ® Related stories Intel ships 2MB cache 64-bit Xeon AMD slashes processor prices AMD unveils next-gen 90nm Opterons Ex-Intel sales chief joins TSMC Linux maker sprouts MP3 server Intel pushes out low end Grantsdales
Ashlee Vance, 15 Feb 2005

SAP plays down Microsoft threat

Microsoft will take a long time to get a grip on the market for enterprise software, SAP boss Henning Kagerman says. Henning Kagermann, chief executive at Europe's largest software firm, believes Chinese and Indian competitors will present a bigger threat. Despite Oracle's recent takeover of PeopleSoft, and Microsoft's aborted talks with SAP, Kagermann does not think there will be much consolidation in the market. "I don't think there will be consolidation among the big players...Microsoft is in our business already, through its small business software, but it will take them a long time to bridge the gap with the big players," he said, the FT reports. According to Kagerman, SAP has benefited from the Oracle-PeopleSoft takeover: "Oracle made its offer to PeopleSoft 18 months ago. In these 18 months, SAP has gained six per cent market share and Oracle and PeopleSoft have lost four per cent where we overlap." Talking to analysts in New York he said 2005 will be a year of peak investment for SAP. It is hiring 3,000 new staff and expects licence revenues to grow at 10- 12 per cent this year. ® Related stories SAP Q4 profits up 29% The PeopleSoft vs. Oracle clash SAP ups profits
John Oates, 15 Feb 2005

US info-sharing initiative called a flop

Nearly a year after its launch, a federal office created as a conduit for corporate America to provide the government with sensitive information about critical vulnerabilities has been all but rejected by the technology industry that helped conceive it. The Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) program allows corporations who run key elements of US infrastructure to submit details about their physical and cyber vulnerabilities to a special office within the Department of Homeland Security, with legally-enforceable assurances that the information will not be used against them or released to the public. The effort is funded at $5.5m in the White House's 2006 budget request. The program implements a 2002 law that was backed by the technology industry, and intended to assuage its fears that sensitive or embarrassing information shared with the government for security purposes would be released to the press and public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The law was opposed by environmental watchdog groups and open government advocates, who feared it would provide companies with a smokescreen for corporate negligence. Instead, the PCII program has gone completely unused, at least by the information technology world, says Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Industry Association of America. The ITAA lobbied hard for the original legislation, but takes issue with DHS's implementation. "There's a lot of concern about whether the protections are adequate, and whether the regulations are too difficult to comply with," says Miller. "This is about the lawyers being comfortable, and they're not comfortable yet, generally. After all, you're not talking about companies sharing their advertising and marketing material, you're talking about sharing their deepest, darkest secrets in some sense." Paperwork daunting The IT Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an industry security coalition whose members include Microsoft, Oracle and Intel, has not submitted a single piece of vulnerability data through the PCII program, says the ISAC's director of operations, Peter Allor. "How the regulation was instituted, I don't think followed the intent of the original law," says Allor. "That wasn't what the industry campaigned for." One industry concern, Allor says, is that while data channeled through the PCII office is protected from public disclosure, it's subject to wide distribution to cleared personnel within the federal government and at state agencies, without the originator maintaining any further control. "A lot of states and other agencies within the government are all signed up to get the information on whatever whim the DHS has," says Allor. "The PCII program removes any opportunity for the originator to know where the information was distributed, let alone control it." The electric power industry has also not availed itself of the program, daunted by the PCII office's requirement that any submissions be made though old fashion paper filings, says Lou Leffler, who heads the Electricity Sector ISAC. "Most of what we communicate to [DHS], on quite a regular and frequent basis, is by a secure messaging system that we developed for our industry," says Leffler, who anticipates using the PCII program when the office starts accepting electronic reports. "We are very encouraged with the idea that there's going to be, soon, an electronic submission capability for the information that we submit using the PCII coverage," says Leffler. A spokesperson for DHS's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate, which runs PCII, declined to comment on the program. The department hasn't released any figures on how many vulnerability reports it's taken through the office. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and government watchdog group OMB Watch are jointly suing the department under the FOIA in an effort to force the release of some details on the program. "I know it's been used, but not extensively," says OMB Watch policy analyst Sean Moulton. "Companies got a lot of protection out of that, more protection than a lot of public interest groups were comfortable with. And they're saying that's still not enough... I really find it troubling that it's industry driving the process and not the government driving the process, when it's the public who has a stake in this. It's the public who will be harmed if these infrastructures are attacked." Allor insists the IT-ISAC would still use the program if a matter of sufficient urgency and sensitivity arose. In the meantime, he says his ISAC continues to share vulnerability and attack data with DHS without going through the PCII office, after purging the reports of information that identifies specific companies. "The good news is we're not abusing PCII," says Allor. "We can dispel that myth." Copyright © 2005, Related stories Police clairvoyants protect DC subway PATRIOT Act author tapped for Homeland Security DHS network vulnerable to attack Blair's Britain vies with US in ID snoop wars Uncle Sam demands all air travel records
Kevin Poulsen, 15 Feb 2005

More advisories, more security

More and more, we see articles questioning the security of a given platform based solely on the number of advisories published - and this approach is simply wrong, writes Thierry Carrez, of Gentoo Linux. In recent news we have seen evaluations of security metrics for various software publishers and operating system families. In many cases, including the infamous Forrester Research report, "Is Linux More Secure Than Windows," the raw data used is the aggregate number of security advisories published. More and more, we see articles questioning the security of a given platform every time multiple advisories are published in a row. This might be useful for the marketing department of a large software company, but for determining real life security this approach is simply wrong. Advisories depend on more than just software quality The quality of the software in question directly affects the number of advisories - this should go without saying. Software with fewer security flaws will generate fewer security advisories. In a simple world, the number of advisories published by a given entity might be a direct indication of how secure that software is. But the reality of software and operating systems today is far more complex; many other factors affect the number of security advisories, which can be lumped into three broad categories: scope, policy of publication, and audit efforts. Let's look at each of these briefly. The overall scope of the project is the most important (and most often overlooked) factor affecting the number of advisories published. Gentoo Linux security advisories, for example, cover more than 8700 software packages that can be installed through the Portage software tree. There will be far more Gentoo Linux Security Advisories than Microsoft Security Advisories (where Microsoft only lists 275 different products and technologies on its website). An organization's policy of publication is the factor that correlates the number of vulnerabilities found with the number of advisories to be published. For example, some entities will only publish remotely-accessible vulnerabilities and will silently fix the rest; others will regroup multiple products or multiple vulnerabilities into a single advisory. Comparing the number of advisories from entities with different policies of publication, therefore, makes no sense. Finally, the more you audit a package, the more vulnerabilities you'll find and similarly, the more advisories you'll publish. A good example of this is the Apache web server, which has generated several advisories because it has undergone many security audits. This makes it a very secure web server, not a less secure one. Impact on security depends on more than just software quality Security is a process. The vulnerabilities in the software itself adversely affect the security process, but this is just one part of the big picture. Sometimes it's the way the software is designed that is determined to be the fatal flaw. These "features" or "design choices" can increase the impact of any other flaw without generating advisories. For example, linking together an operating system and network-facing piece of software like a popular web browser or an HTTP server might provide some interesting features, but it's bad for security. Even if the software provided is well-designed and does not have a single security flaw, a bad configuration can still ruin everything. Minimizing the risk of human error by providing secure-by-default configurations and good security-conscious documentation is necessary, but we rarely see security advisories due to software that is not secure-by-default. Perhaps the most important way software can be improved through the security process is how easy it is to fix identified vulnerabilities, and how long that process takes. Reducing the vulnerability window is becoming more and more important because the time between vulnerability disclosure and exploitation in the wild is quickly decreasing. The size of the vulnerability window depends on three real-life delays: Time for the vendor to produce a patch This is often used to rate security awareness between vendors. It depends on how important security is to a given vendor, of course, but also on the quantity of QA they will do before releasing the fixed package. These QA metrics are not something you really want to become too short because it may create other issues. Fortunately, aside from these issues there are other delays which can be shortened without sacrificing the quality of the patch. Time for the user to become informed and to get the patch The time it takes for the user to get a patch is never accounted for. Most software authors or organizations setup lists and channels to push out information about a vulnerability to the user, so this area cannot be improved much over the current process. However, subscribing to these lists and following the security announcements of all the software installed on all your systems is a very difficult, painful, and time consuming task - the result of which is that some vulnerabilities might still go unnoticed for a long period of time. Time for the user to apply the patch An easy and painless security patching process will also reduce the vulnerability window. Painful upgrades, like those requiring a reboot or those that that affect multiple packages and multiple incarnations of the same code (like the MS04-028 JPEG vulnerability) face the risk of being postponed or only partially applied in an organization. And as always, patches to production servers require time to be tested in a non-production environment prior to being rolled out. Summing up these three points, the number of advisories an organization publishes depends only partially on the number of flaws present in the software. This number is only a small part of the global security process. We could, for example, compare publication policies between various advisory publishers (by considering a common corpus of software packages), but it's now obvious that we can't really infer anything about security based solely on a comparison of the quantity of advisories produced. More advisories, more security Security advisories from a software publisher or packager should not be seen as bad news. There are always vulnerabilities in software, and when an advisory is released it means that one of these flaws has been identified and fixed. It also means the good guys have done their homework, and that one less flaw can be used by the bad guys to harm you. Sure, if the patching process takes too long, the vulnerability window will benefit the script kiddies and other miscreants of the world. That's why everything possible must be done to ensure that this patching window is kept to a minimum - and here is where the choice of software or operating system used by your organization may become an advantage. Operating systems that use compartmentalized software packages and common libraries will, in fact, make patching a lot less painful. Operating systems with a strong separation between kernel space and userland space will also help to reduce delays and downtime. The most important part of the security process is to hear about the new vulnerability as soon as possible. And here, the approach used by the various GNU/Linux distributions (especially those that offer security maintenance over a very large software repository, like Debian and Gentoo) is invaluable - you can have a single source of security information and a single security patching procedure for all your software. There is no point in using complex patch management systems that cover only half of the software products you actually use. If you run Shoutcast Server on Windows, for example, the only way to be informed that it contains a critical remote hole is to be watch various the various security lists, such as Bugtraq and the SecurityFocus Vulnerabilities Database, or else follow NullSoft's web pages directly. If you run Shoutcast Server on Gentoo Linux, however, you'll get a GLSA about it just as you would for any serious vulnerability in any of the 8700 packages you install from the Gentoo Portage tree. This sort of advisory truly makes you more secure, not less secure. Copyright © 2005, Related stories Microsoft posts record 13 patches Security Report: Windows vs Linux Novell fires counterblast at Ballmer Linux summary
Thierry Carrez, 15 Feb 2005

Sony Ericsson preps Walkman phone

Sony Ericsson is to target Motorola's upcoming iTunes-compatible mobile phone and other handsets developed to cash in on the digital music phenomenon by leveraging Sony's Walkman brand. The handset, due to be formally launched next month, will sport sufficient storage for six to ten CDs' worth of songs encoded in MP3 or AAC format, company president Miles Flint said yesterday. "We intend to bring to market a complete consumer music option," he said. Tracks will be copy-protected using the Open Mobile Alliance's DRM 2.0 specification. Interestingly, Sony's digital music service, Connect, will offer songs to owners of the new handset. Connect currently supports only the company's own ATRAC format, developed for MiniDisc. Flint did not suggest the new handset would support ATRAC, so it seems likely that Connect will support alternative formats - something it may well be doing anyway to support the PlayStation Portable. AAC is the most likely candidate since, unlike MP3, it was designed from the start to support DRM. Tellingly, AAC support will also allow iTunes users who have ripped CDs into that format to copy their songs to the handset more easily. Separately, Motorola was reported yesterday to have announced its iTunes-compatible handset. However, the subject of the announcement, the E1060, isn't due to ship until Q4, and Motorola and Apple have already said their joint effort will appear during the first half of the year. Motorola's own E1060 product page makes no mention of iTunes support. ® Related stories Real relaxes media player tech licence Mobile DRM levy hits operators where it hurts Apple talks up mid-range Motorola 'iPod phone' Napster beams songs to Windows smart phones AT&T Wireless launches mobile music store MS, Apple pitch music at mobile phone makers Nokia moves to counter Apple-Moto music alliance Apple licenses iTunes to Motorola
Tony Smith, 15 Feb 2005

Broadband a go-go: Orange goes mad on EDGE, TV, video

3GSM3GSM Orange is beginning a rollout of EDGE in France, with the aim of providing mobile broadband access covering the entire country, via EDGE, 3G and WiFi, by the end of 2006. The rollout begins in this half, with Alpes Maritime scheduled to be the first department with 100 per cent EDGE/3G coverage by the tend of March. EDGE is the key, because although Orange has reasonably high coverage of major population centres via 3G and WiFi, it's a pretty big country and whole departments have slight coverage, or no coverage at all. EDGE gives the opportunity for a quick fix, and Orange will be offering dual mode EDGE/3G handsets in the second half of this year. At 3GSM in Cannes this week the company was clearly desperately keen on mobile broadband, and the numbers it produced concerning the 3G story in France so far explain why this is; whether Orange is right or not though is, in our view, another story. Orange is claiming in excess of €100 per month ARPU from the initial 3G customer base, for Orange Intense. The customers are heavily weighted towards business, Ile de France location, and male - 74 per cent are male (which we feel should trigger 'alert alert!' messages, but it seems not to be doing so). What are they doing? Thankfully we do not have the precise details, but they appear to be video crazy. 33 per cent use video phone services, 80 per cent watch live TV, 57 per cent video on demand, 73 per cent MMS. Orange has been offering 10 TV channels, with 11 new ones announced yesterday, and the company claims 55 per cent of 3G sessions are live TV. So, getting 3G out across the whole of France would be a tricky and protracted procedure, whereas whipping out EDGE coverage as infill opens up the whole population to all of those lovely, lovely TV and video services in short order. But will they come? Look back at those 3G demographics and consider what we have here. Young, or youngish male techno-freaks, surely, who can't really be used as a clear indicator of the way much larger populations are going to react. And the whole notion of mobile TV and video is, in our view and that of numerous others, doubtful. So when presented with numbers that appear to show that it's working, that people actually want it, what should one do? Shout loud huzzas, or worry about the value of the figures? People will engage in a measure of mobile TV because they can, but the idea of them paying good money for it and sitting watching TV as they today sit and listen to music is more than a little dubious on its own (reality check - actually, did many of them pay good money specifically for the mobile music they're currently listening to? Nope.). In addition, a fly in the ointment is taking clearer form, in the shape of DAB and related technology. Fast growth in the UK for DAB radio makes it a natural evolutionary step to the mobile phone, and this week in Cannes, WorldDAB, backed by LG and Samsung among others, is pushing the DAB convergence message. DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) allows the delivery of TV, video, audio and data to mobile devices, and LG is showing off the first digital TV to mobile phone system. So if free broadcast TV comes to mobile phones, where does that leave video over broadband? Maybe not as a complete write off. Another interesting Orange announcement, for the UK at the moment but with rollout elsewhere if it's successful, was of the Wanadoo LiveBox, a broadband hub convergence product for the home that offers WiFi access within the home plus 'Orange dashboard' control of pipes and services. So it's a play in the 'who runs home entertainment' game, and you could also view it as a mark down for Orange and Wanadoo as regards who sells your home entertainment. Buying movies from Orange in order to watch them on a mobile phone screen might seem an esoteric perversion, but buying them from Orange (or Wanadoo) in order to watch them on a proper screen at home might be mass market, if the price is right. Do you get it over 3G, EDGE, DSL or whatever? Do you care? Does Orange/Wanadoo? It's the customer, the product and the sale that matter, noot the truck the product comes in. Oddly, although LiveBox is a UK launch, parent company France Telecom signed an MoU with Nokia last year covering R&D of a 'your stuff anywhere' home hub product that sounds dashed similar. An Orange spokesman however told The Reg that LiveBox is something entirely different from this, which Orange UK appears not to have heard of anyway, so maybe there's two of them. Good idea though, so long as they're designed right and the price is right. ® 3GSM 2005 All the Reg stories from this year’s conference
John Lettice, 15 Feb 2005

Ebbers trial halted 'till Wednesday

Defence lawyers in the WorldCom fraud trial will have to wait until Wednesday to cross examine star witness Scott Sullivan after Judge Barbara Jones suspended the trial yesterday. No reason was given for the halt to proceedings. Former CFO Sullivan has already pleaded guilty for his part in the $11bn (£5.8bn) accounting scandal that led to the financial collapse of the telecoms giant in 2002. Throughout his four days of testimony so far Sullivan has repeatedly told the jury that Bernie Ebbers was aware of the financial irregularities at WorldCom and that the former chief exec prompted the book fiddling. Ebbers denies the fraud charges against him. When Sullivan does retake the witness stand on Wednesday he can expect a rough time from Ebbers' defence team. At the beginning of the trial they won the right to probe Sullivan's private life, in particular alleged "marital infidelities". And when Sullivan first took the stand last week he told the court that he used cocaine and marijuana while working at WorldCom and was also convicted of drink-driving in 1984. It's expected that Ebbers' lawyers will use this to undermine the credibility of the prosecution's star witness. ® Related stories Ebbers failed to tell of book fiddling Ebbers 'drove Worldcom fraud' - Sullivan Sullivan fingers Ebbers in WorldCom fraud whodunnit WorldCom directors $54m lawsuit deal unravels Ebbers fortune at risk as share prices slid Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m Ebbers never made 'an accounting decision' - witness Ebbers feared fortune would be 'wiped out' Ebbers knew of financial fiddling Ebbers' financial know-how probed Gloves off in Ebbers WorldCom fraud trial Ebbers fraud trial kicks off Ebbers faces WorldCom court showdown Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m MCI breaks free from Chapter 11 WorldCom gets sums wrong by $74bn Bernie Ebbers faces criminal charges
Tim Richardson, 15 Feb 2005

Carly's landing cushioned by 45m dollar bills

If HP's erstwhile CEO, Carleton Fiorina, feels like sobbing as she contemplates life after ink cartridges, she can blow her nose on a golden parachute worth roughly $45m. As well as existing stock options, a cash payout of $14m, plus $7.38m in other bonuses, Carly gets to keep her computer, with three months of tech support. She'll get home security for a year, six months of administrative support, and $50,000 towards financial counselling and help with finding a new job. When Fiorina joined HP in 1999, charged with shaking up the company, she received a $3m signing bonus and 5.8m stock options. These are now worth substantially less than the $65.5m they represented when she signed the deal, following the dot com stock market crash and the continuing drop in HP's share price. Nonetheless, their face value of around $18m is better than a kick in the teeth. During her tenure with the company her salary averaged $1.2m, and her bonuses have topped $1.5m in total. It is not recorded whether the severance package includes hair maintenance services. At the outset of her HP career, Fiorina was rumoured to travel with a personal hair stylist, a claim she always denied. Reuters has more here. ® Related stories Carly Fiorina quits HP unites golden printer biz and gimpy PC unit HP discussed divorce
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Feb 2005
For Sale sign detail

XGI signs partner for US sales push

Graphics chip maker XGI has moved into the US market in response to what it claims is "growing demand" for its products. The Taiwanese company today said it has signed ASI to distribute in the US its Volari-branded V8, V5, V3 and V3XT boards, pitched at the high-end, mainstream and budget segmentst, respectively. During Q4 2004, XGI accounted for less than a third of one percentage point of the world graphics chip market, according to Jon Peddie Research. So it has some way to go to challenge the likes of VIA and SiS, let alone Nvidia and ATI. XGI was spun off from SiS as Xabre in 2003 a couple of months before re-styling itself XGI. XGI's latest products, the V8 and V5, support DirectX 9.0b, Shader Model 2.0 and full-screen anti-aliasing, and contain eight and four parallel pixel processing pipelines, respectively. The V3XT is pitched at the HDTV TV tuner board market. "With a great professional reputation addressing a diverse channel market, ASI is a valuable distributor and a clear choice for XGI to strategically expand into the US market," said Simon Pickard, XGI's US sales director, in a statement. XGI began shipping product to ASI earlier this month, with an initial shipment of 1,500 units, according to a DigiTimes report. ® Related stories Intel, Nvidia were Q4's graphics chip winners Nvidia chisels away at ATI market share SiS graphics spin-off to drop Xabre brand SiS spins off Xabre, buys Trident's graphics biz
Tony Smith, 15 Feb 2005

Macrovision to tout lock-down DVD tech

UpdateUpdate Anti-rip software company Macrovision will today claim it can prevent almost all attempts to copy movie DVDs on a PC. The new technology, dubbed RipGuard DVD, prevents ripper software from working. It isn't fully effective, Macrovision admits, but with a claimed effectiveness rate of 97 per cent, the technique should act as a major disincentive for casual copiers, the company believes. Unsurprisingly, Macrovision is cautious about giving too much away, but the company did indicate that RipGuard is integrated into the disc itself rather than software installed automatically when a protected disc if first used in a PC. The company's CD copy-protection system, CDS 300, introduces noise into the audio data in an attempt to fool PC CD drives but leave consumer CD players, with their complex error correction technology, unaffected. RipGuard may use a similar approach, but as Macrovision found with CDS, there is resistance among some user groups to such a system because of concerns that the technique reduces disc longevity. Since it's already coping with CDS-inserted errors in the data, the argument runs, any player's error correction system will have less headroom to deal with errors arising from scratches and dirt on the disc's surface. In other words, the disc can take fewer knocks and bumps before becoming unplayable. That's even more true of DVDs, which are inherently less robust than CDs, and will be considerably more so for upcoming digital video disc formats such as HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, because they cram even more data into the medium. Macrovision says it is dropping the use of such techniques within CDS in favour of software-based anti-copy solutions. But RipGuard does not use embedded player software. According to Macrovision, it uses a "format-based Unique Digital Framework to each protected DVD5 or DVD9 title", allowing protected discs to continue to work in consumer DVD players and legitimate computer-based DVD playback applications. Whatever tricks the company uses, it is likely to gain strong support from the movie industry, which has been hurting ever since its Content Scrambling System (CSS), the encryption system developed to protect DVD content, was broken earlier this decade. Adam Gervin, senior marketing director with Macrovision's entertainment technologies group, cited by ExtremeTech, told consumers to look for Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) members to adopt "complete DVD protection" this year as studios incorporate both RipGuard and Macrovision's established analog copy-protection systems. RipGuard DVD is available today in "select replication facilities", with general availability expected in Q2. ® Related stories SunnComm fixes 'Shift Key' embarrassment MS licenses analog anti-rip technology ContentGuard talks DRM futures Macrovision gives forth on DRM Indie music label rejects lock-down CDs Sony Japan dumps lock-down CDs Microsoft tells music biz to 'back lock-down CD standard' Review: Macrovision CDS-300 version 7 beta
Tony Smith, 15 Feb 2005

FCC investigates VoIP squashers

US regulator the Federal Communications Commission is investigating allegations that telco networks are deliberately killing off Voice over Internet Protocol calls on their networks. Network management software means telcos could, in theory at least, stop or degrade traffic identified as voice calls. The complaint was made by Vonage Holdings. "We're very actively on this case and we are taking it pretty seriously," said Michael Powell, chairman of the FCC, according to the Advanced IP Pipeline which broke the story. More details here. Powell told the newswire that he believed blocking was coming from rural Local Exchange Carriers rather than big providers. Vonage would not comment. Some states in the US have asked for the power to tax and regulate VoIP providers but the FCC has so far resisted. It is not clear whether the blocking of VoIP calls would breach FCC regulations but it might be considered anti-competitive behaviour. Telcos are considered "common carriers", like the postal service, and have responsibilities to carry all traffic regardless of type. ® Related stories VoIP security group goes on the defensive Skype VoIP threat to Euro telcos Vonage offers VoIP mobile phone
John Oates, 15 Feb 2005

Dell grows Celtic fringe

Dell will create more than 850 jobs in Scotland by 2008 with a new sales and support call centre operation in Glasgow. The first 400 jobs will be in place by 2006, the company said. The new centre will provide sales and support services for Dell's enterprise and public sector customers. It will be housed in the old Imperial Factory, a building that was at the heart of the tobacco industry in the city for more than a century, and has recently been refurbished by the city council. According to Scotland Today Dell officials finalised the terms of the deal with Jack McConnell, Scotland's First Minister. The paper reports that Glasgow's skills base was key to its selection, but we reckon the Scottish government's decision to back the project with an offer of Regional Selective Assistance - a grant worth almost £7.5 million - must have helped. Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace acknowledged that Scotland cannot compete on cost alone in a global market. "We must ensure that we provide investors like Dell with a high quality business environment that is adaptable and responsive to the needs of that individual business," he said. First Minister Jack McConnell added that the challenge for Scotland now will be to entice other companies to follow Dell's lead. The news follows a recent announcement that Dell plans to create another 420 jobs at its European Business Centre in Ireland. ® Related stories 500 call centre jobs bound for UK BT, Kingston face EC illegal state aid probe Dell ramps up Indian call centres, software development
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Feb 2005

PalmOne Treo 650 Euro debut delayed to Q2

The European release of PalmOne's Treo 650 smart phone has been delayed, the company said this week. Launched in the US in October 2004, the 650's European debut was initially pegged for February 2005, according to comments made at the time by Ed Colligan, the company's president and soon-to-be interim CEO. However, PalmOne said yesterday that the handset will now ship here in Q2 - at least five months after the 650 shipped in the US. At least PalmOne has the backing of the Orange network, which will offer the smart phone to its UK, French and Swiss customers. Orange said the 650 will support its TalkNow push-to-talk service when the handset goes on sale. TalkNow is currently available only on the Treo 600. The 650 improves on its predecessor, the 600, with a higher-resolution 65,000-colour 320 x 320 display, integrated Bluetooth, VGA digicam with 2x digital zoom, a faster, 312MHz Intel XScale processor and 32MB of Flash memory, of which 22MB to 23MB are available to the user. There's an SD IO slot for expansion, and the device runs PalmOS 5.4, aka 'Garnet'. The new model also sports an easier-to-use QWERTY backlit keyboard, now with call make and break buttons. According to PalmOne, the GSM version of the 650 provides up to six hours' talk time and 12 days on stand-by. ® Related stories Smart phone shipments break records PalmOne chief quits PalmOne Q2 sales soar Treo 650 delayed till February PalmOne launches Treo 650 Orange UK launches corporate push-to-talk
Tony Smith, 15 Feb 2005

Nominet responds to internet strategic plan

Nominet has responded to the strategic plan [pdf] written by internet overseeing organisation ICANN to pitch what it sees as the future of the internet. In a four-page letter [pdf] written last week by Nominet chief executive Lesley Cowley to ICANN's chief exec Paul Twomey, ICANN was given broad support but a number of fundamental disagreements remain, particularly over funding. As the company in charge of all .uk internet domains, Nominet has traditionally been an outspoken critic of the US organization. However the letter is "intended to be constructively supportive," stated Ms Cowley. Thanks to the UK's role in creating the internet, the significant size of the .uk registry and the expertise that rests in the country, Nominet's views remain respected and influential. And it would seem that ICANN has gone some way to removing the deep sense of distrust felt by countries around the world. The letter concludes: "Nominet endorses the coordination, collaboration and cooperation approach that is now being taken by ICANN." But there is plenty of food for thought before this careful endorsement appears. When we reviewed the Plan when first released in November, we felt it to be "charming, convincing and considered" but also "simplified, one-sided and vague". Nominet is less enamoured. Target practice Nominet wants ICANN to identify priorities and write down targets (or "progress milestones" in its diplomatic language). ICANN's wish and intent is not enough. Nominet is also suspicious that the stability and security of the internet is given relatively little attention when compared to the sexier - and more profitable - aspects of the net. And in the first of several warning shots, Nominet asks that a clear distinction be made between global top-level domains (gTLDs like .com, .net, .biz) and country-code domains (ccTLDs like .uk, .de, .fr). ICANN talks a lot about fostering competition and choice in the market, but Nominet reminds the organisation that when it comes to ccTLDs it is "respective governments, registries and local internet communities" that get to decide, not ICANN. The letter then states several wider concerns about ICANN's plan. The organisation predicts a big increase in spending but only has one stated approach to getting the money needed. It would be wiser to develop "multiple scenarios" Nominet advises. It suggests money might be saved by ICANN working closer with existing organisations outside the US. It advises the same when it comes to ICANN's new communications strategy. And it implies the same thing with future recruitment - why waste time, money and effort in building your own team when others can already do it if you ask nicely. Effectively, Nominet is advising ICANN to avoid entering an arms race. If it spends money building up its own presence in other countries, the organisations in those countries will respond by doing the same. Why waste money and effort going it alone when working together, but ceding some power, will be more efficient? Nominet can't help but poke ICANN in the ribs for not stating a policy to update the rules over domain name ownership (UDRP). The reason is that UDRP is a can of worms with strong forces pulling in multiple directions. It is also increasingly in a mess thanks to its quasi-legal but poorly regulated approach. No one wants to touch it. Nominet helpfully points it that it has already revised its own domain rules. Twice. Money, money, money However, the most contentious issue is left until last - finance. ICANN wants to pull the world's countries into its own processes and at the same time start getting more money out of them for its running costs. ICANN therefore created the ccNSO (Country Code Names Supporting Organisation) to act as the discussion body for countries around the world. It has five of these bodies, acting for different internet interests, from which ICANN claims to draw all its policy. However, while ICANN pushes the ccNSO in order to enhance its legitimacy, all the big countries in the world have so far refused to join until they get what they feel is sufficient autonomy and influence. The stand-off has been going on for years and Nominet is keen to point out that only 17 per cent of countries are currently members of the ccNSO and that the majority of them are very small in terms of internet impact. Nominet is not saying it won't join the ccNSO, but it also makes it clear that things will have to change. "We note that the Plan reports that ccTLD managers participate through the ccNSO...this statement should perhaps be more properly expressed as an aspiration." Until there are "other mechanisms for dialogue with the 83 per cent of ccTLDs who are currently not members of the ccNSO", nothing is going to change, Nominet warns. And that means no extra money either. It points out though that Nominet will happily fund its fair share of the aspects of ICANN's structure that it uses. It is not bad as it sounds. While Nominet makes it quite clear that the fourth largest registry in the world (behind .com, .de and .net) is not going to go along with the Plan, the letter is a clear indication that it is interested in coming to agreement. That, if nothing else, is a victory for ICANN's still relatively new management. Stand up and be counted Coincidentally, if you think Nominet is right or wrong or confused, now is your chance to actually make a difference. It's election time again and three posts on the Public Advisory Board are up for grabs. The PAB is not just a talking shop, it has a very significant impact on how Nominet behaves and how it decides policy. You've got a week to put forward your nomination, and voting takes place between 8 March and 10 April, with results announced 20 April. The process is extremely simple and it is Nominet members that get to decide who wins, so if you're unhappy about anything, it's time to put up or shut up. ® Related links Nominet's letter to ICANN [pdf] ICANN's Strategic Plan [pdf] Nominet PAB 2005 election. Related story ICANN pitches the internet's future
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Feb 2005

3G sets Cannes smoking again

3GSM3GSM If the thick fug of cigar smoke in the lobby of the Majestic Barrière is anything to go by, the good times are coming back to the mobile phone industry as it makes its final visit to Cannes. 3G is finally taking off, GSM Association CEO Rob Conway told those 3GSM World Congress attendees who got up early enough to hear his keynote today. The number of 3G handsets (which for some reason he was calling 3GSM handsets) is up to 75, with another 40 to come by the end of the show. It still wasn’t enough for T-Mobile CEO Rene Obermann, sharing his thoughts with the crowd in a ‘fireside chat’. He listed the lack of compelling handsets as one of the issues which ran through his mind shortly before his head hit the pillow each night. “We need to get the right range of devices to get a true mobile internet experience and get mass market penetration,” he said. NTT DoCoMo CEO Masao Nakamura, fireside chatting through an interpreter, shed some light on the Japanese giant’s plan for HSDPA, the high-speed download enhancement to 3G which will be one of the conference’s most talked-about technologies. HSDPA will appear on the market in 2006, he said. “There are two elements,” his translator said. “One is the fact that HSDPA is important to reduce network cost. And because of its higher speed it will allow us to offer richer content.” “We can introduce HSDPA with minimal incremental investment,” he added. DoCoMo is keen to continue to promote interoperability between its own equipment and international standard kit. The idea is that this will increase volumes, and reduce prices for DoCoMo’s own equipment and handset purchases – so expect more efforts to push iMode, and perhaps even Linux enabled handsets in Europe. Whether DoCoMo can transplant a thriving content business which is worth 1 trillion yen (£5bn) a year remains to be seen. Orange’s CEO Sanjiv Ahuja looked uncomfortable when probed about Orange’s desire to expand geographically. “We are looking… I’m not ready to tell you.” “We have to look at organic and inorganic growth. When we moved to Africa and Eastern Europe it has been very successful. So we are constantly on the lookout.” A key step in the march towards the inevitable second billion GSM/3G subscribers is a cheap handset. Or rather, a “not a cheap handset, but high quality handset at low cost,” an important difference, Conway told the crowd. This would open another 181m to 321m subscribers to the joys of mobile telephones. Motorola has been chosen by the GSM association as the ones to manufacture a handset that will sell for $30 - the price of a modest Havana. The handset is $40 at the moment, but the intention is to shave off another $10. Another tender for a second high-quality-at-low-cost handset is on the cards. The GSM association has been trialling systems to make the process of global roaming easier. Rather than concluding deals with a network in each country, operators just need to sign up with a hub exchange. This is being launched for MMS, and a similar system for SIP-based IP traffic has been trialled with a posse of European operators, including TeliaSonera, KPN, Orange, SFR, Telenor and Vodafone. To “accommodate its growth path”, said Conway, 3GSM is moving to Barcelona for 2006, where conventioneers can look forward to a better choice of restaurants, functioning public transport and much cheaper cigars. The taxi drivers of Cannes will certainly miss it. ® Related stories Broadband a go-go: Orange goes mad on EDGE, TV, video Nokia bends to operators MS, Nokia in Valentine's Day headline bid 3GSM 2005 All the Reg stories from this year’s conference
Ben King, 15 Feb 2005

Orange to offer 3G, Wi-Fi palmtop smart phone

Orange has confirmed that it will release later this year a Windows Mobile-based handset engineered for 3G networks and that the device will be produced by HTC. The announcement, tucked away in the company's device roadmap for the coming year, almost certainly refers to 'Universal', HTC's upcoming palmtop/phone that T-Mobile has already said it will offer as the MDA IV. Universal is the world's first Windows Mobile device to provide 3G compatibility. It's a PDA-sized product with a 640 x 480 display that can be swivelled and rotated round to allow the unit to be operated either as a tablet or as a clamshell. The unit sports a QWERTY keyboard, stereo speakers and twin digital cameras for still photography and video-calls. In addition to 3G and regular 800, 1800 and 1900MHz GSM/GPRS operation, Universal can connect to Wi-Fi networks and incorporates Bluetooth. The device is powered by a 520MHz Intel XScale processor. Orange did not say precisely when its version of Universal will go on sale - it simply said the device will ship "later this year". However, T-Mobile expects to ship the MDA IV in Germany in the "Summer" with other countries following shortly afterward, so that's probably Orange's timeframe too. HTC has become one of the key manufacturers of Windows Mobile-based handsets, cutting ODM deals with O2, Vodafone, i-Mate and QTek in addition to Orange and T-Mobile. Last month, it reported monthly sales of TWD4.2bn ($132.3m) up 90.1 per cent on the TWD2.2bn ($69.6) recorded for January 2004. ® Related stories Broadband a go-go: Orange goes mad on EDGE, TV, video PalmOne Treo 650 Euro debut delayed to Q2 Orange preps latest own-brand smart phones T-Mobile unveils Sidekick-styled 3G device Related reviews HTC 'Magician' PocketPC phone HTC 'Blue Angel' Wi-Fi PocketPC phone
Tony Smith, 15 Feb 2005

PalmSource's sideways shuffle to Linux

3GSM3GSM Wave goodbye PalmSource the PalmOS company, say hello to Palm the Chinese Linux company. That judgment may be a little premature, but there's no doubting where the company sees the future. PalmSource's takeover of China MobileSoft makes it a significant player in the Chinese market, trebling the number of offerings it can take to phone vendors. It's acquired an embedded OS, and a set of applications which are licensed to ten ODMs already. But most significantly it's pledged to base future PalmOS development on the Linux kernel - a decision that Palm considered, before rejecting, early in 2001, as we exclusively revealed here. So, we asked Albert Chu, VP of Business Development at PalmSource, what makes Linux makes sense now when it didn't make sense four years ago? "Heh. Sometimes it takes time for ideas to mature," he said, diplomatically. Actually it's not fair to pin that chaotic era of Palm's history on Albert, as he only joined two years ago from AT&T. And chaotic it was. Palm had once vowed to base development on Symbian's kernel but let the agreement grow cold. And as it mulled Linux first time round, the company had barely waved goodbye to CTO Bill 'Mad' Maggs, who once vowed to your reporter that Palm didn't need an OS with a memory management unit. Bonkers. Since then we've had Motorola embrace Linux in a kind of "well, we've tried everything else" unification move. Naturally Chu doesn't quite see it like that. In fact PalmSource's twist is that it'll allow ODMs to use another Linux kernel - say MonteVista's, or Motorola's - in place of its own. It simply wants to keep those APIs, and therefore its developer community, alive on a low cost platform favored by Asian manufacturers. Cobalt Blues However, the omens aren't good for Cobalt, the ground-up rewrite of PalmOS which offers sophisticated multimedia features and multi-tasking. Palm acquired the team who wrote BeOS in August 2001, and the OS crept out to manufacturers just over a year ago. We're still waiting for the first Cobalt phone. Cobalt itself will continue insists Chu, although as a flavor of Linux. "Linux will be the underlying kernel," he said. "We'll strip the pieces above the kernel and put Cobalt pieces there. It will no longer be the Cobalt kernel". So why even go to Cobalt, now that it has the whiff of death about it - and no shipping products? "Manufacturers can go to Cobalt now and 12 to 18 months out, maybe they can go to Linux." It doesn't sound like the most compelling sales pitch we've ever heard. But Cobalt products are in the pipeline, it's just taken far longer to integrate than anyone expected, said Chu. Even PalmOne struggled to get the Treo 650 to market in time for Christmas, and that's based on the old PalmOS, Garnet. The troubled 650 won't ship in Europe until Q2, we now hear. So PalmSource is in the business of selling, and protecting, the old PalmOS APIs. Chu said that it will protect its IP to prevent a GNUStep or a WINE emulator taking root - "we're in the intellectual property business too" he said - and added, "if we do our job correctly people will see value in upgrades. I think they'd rather be up to date, rather than a step behind." And there you have it. The brave, bold Cobalt venture probably began too late, and Palm's long years of dithering when it insisted everything was for the best and now catching up with it. A year ago we speculated in the smart phone wars, it looked rather like the OS vendors - Microsoft and Symbian - had all lost. Since then Symbian has been buoyed by new investment and Microsoft continues to pound away. Only PalmSource, it seems, has been forced to accept the new Asian phone economics. Hollow yourselves out, before someone else does. ® Related Stories Palm mulled Linux for next-gen OS Palm CTO rubbishes 3000 man years of Symbian OS work Mad Maggs to quit Palm PalmSource to build Palm OS on Linux 3GSM 2005 All the Reg stories from this year’s conference
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Feb 2005

T-Mobile launches WiMax net access for UK trains

T-Mobile has pledged to take its global Wi-Fi hotspot tally to 20,000 sites by the end of the year, including both fixed locations and mobile access points on UK trains connected to the net via WiMax. The 20,000-hotspot target is double the company's goal for 2004. In fact, it exceeded its expectations thanks to a burst of activity in Europe. In October 2004, Joe Sims, T-Mobile's US hotspot chief, said the company would close the year with 6,000 sites in the US and 4,000 more in Europe. In the end, it missed the US target, with only 5,300 sites, but surpassed the European complement with 7,000 locations. T-Mobile's total includes sites it maintains itself, such as those in Starbucks coffee shops, Texaco gas stations and Borders bookstores, and sites open to its customers through roaming deals. Getting on board the UK's rail network is particularly interesting, as it represents the first use of a 32Mbps WiMax backbone for the service, currently being trialled on Southern Trains' London to Brighton run. To date, internet access has been connected to on-board Wi-Fi networks through fast satellite links, with slower GPRS connections used as a fall-back when the line of sight between satellite and antenna is blocked. T-Mobile says its WiMax-based set-up, designed and installed by Nomad, will maintain high-speed connectivity throughout the journey. T-Mobile will launch the service commercially next month, so may yet prove to be one of the first commercial WiMax roll-outs in the world. Available in three carriages on 14 trains from today, the service is currently free. ® Related stories WiMAX turns the screw on 3G T-Mobile to axe 800 UK jobs T-Mobile unveils Sidekick-styled 3G device UK's Royal Festival Hall announces WLAN link Eurostar brings Wi-Fi to termini T-Mobile widens UK airport Wi-Fi cover Vodafone to offer in-flight Wi-Fi Major telcos tout Wi-Fi roaming pact T-Mobile brings Wi-Fi to Borders' UK stores
Tony Smith, 15 Feb 2005

Toshiba gets tough with notebooks

Toshiba today launched a new line of business-oriented notebooks, claiming the systems offer better connectivity, data security and reliability than rival products. Notebooks equipped with the EasyGuard system are intended to appeal to IT departments fed up with fixing or replacing damaged laptops. The new machines feature sealed keyboards to protect more valuable components from drink spillages - sufficient, at least, to "safeguard the notebook from certain low-volume spills and gives users several minutes to close any open files and turn off the machine". They also feature rubber corners to limit the effect of impacts. Following on from recent IBM and Apple notebook releases, the Toshiba machines contain movement sensors to allow them to detect sudden falls the better to protect their delicate insides from the inevitable contact with the floor by parking the hard drive heads, for instance. There's also a shock-absorber to minimise the vibrational effect of drops. To protect data better, EasyGuard systems contain a Trusted Platform Module-compatible data encryption chip to scramble data as it's written to the hard drive and to put it right when it's read again. Unlike Dell's recently launched TPM-compatible notebooks, Toshiba's offerings use a USB Flash drive or SD Card to contain the decryption keys rather than a smart card. Finally, to improve connectivity, the Centrino-based notebooks will ship with ConfigFree, a graphical Wi-Fi connection tool that Toshiba claims makes it easier to hook up to other computers and to wireless networks. The software also allows users to swap files over a Bluetooth link. The notebooks incorporate three antennae - one for Bluetooth, two for Wi-Fi - in the screen section to better pick up signals from other wireless devices. Toshiba is shipping a range of Tecra notebooks - the A3, A4, S2 and M3 - with EasyGuard technology built in, along with a new Portégé, the M300, that incorporates the system. All five systems are offered in a variety of configurations. The M300s are priced from £999, the Tecra M3s from £1649 and the S2s from £699, and the A4s from £699. Tecra S2 pricing was not available at press-time. ® Related stories AMD slashes processor prices Intel confirms P4 6xx launch 'this month' Dell touts smart card disk crypto for laptops Apple updates G4 PowerBooks with Bluetooth 2.0 Tablet PC bug 'fills computer with ink' Intel revamps Centrino Intel 2.13GHz Pentium M 770 arrives
Tony Smith, 15 Feb 2005
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New top dog for MS Europe's public sector

Microsoft has appointed Jan Muelfeit as its new head of public sector sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Muelfeit will oversee Microsoft's continuing efforts to counter the threat open source software poses in this sector. He replaces Peter Hayes, who has moved on to join Citizens Communications. Muelfeit joined Microsoft in 1993 and is currently vice president of Microsoft's operations in Eastern Europe, the fastest-growing region within Microsoft, worldwide. He has his work cut out for him, though, if he is to fill his predecessor's shoes. It was during Hayes' time in charge that European governments began to seriously consider migrating to Linux and other open source systems. In the UK, the response from Redmond's finest was determined and thorough. Key local government deals, like the one at Newham, became must-win contracts for the software giant. In that instance, Microsoft offered the council a very reasonable deal on its licensing fees to make sure that it beat out the open source competition. Then, when the NHS went looking for desktop computing software, Steve Ballmer was brought in to close the deal. Microsoft has recorded similarly high profile contract wins in Holland's public sector, prompting complaints from Dutch MPs. The company also established a new position in the UK, Germany and France: that of National Technology Officer. The NTO is responsible for developing the software giant's strategy in the lucrative public sector market. ® Related stories Gates drops in on Brussels NCC and eGov launch IT accreditation scheme MS appoints eGovt. strategy chief The government open source dynamic
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Feb 2005
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Notebook love won't save PC makers in 2005

PC makers should brace for a significant sales slowdown in the next couple of years, according to research firm Gartner. Gartner has pegged the PC market to grow at 9 per cent in 2005 and 7 per cent in 2006. These rates are down from the 11.6 per cent rise in sales enjoyed during 2004. What's the cause for the drop off? “Overall shipment growth is expected to slow this year as both professional and home users wind down major replacement cycles,” said George Shiffler, an analyst at Gartner. “We believe professional replacement activity peaked in 2004 and will decelerate sharply over 2005. While home replacement activity will continue to provide some strength to the market in 2005, it too seems likely to slow by year-end. “ Overall, PC makers should ship 199m units in 2005, which compares to 183m units moved during 2004. While total sales will slow, notebook sales are actually expected to surge. Mobile unit shipments should be up 17 per cent next year, but PC sales will grow just 6 per cent, according to Gartner. “Mobile PCs are becoming increasingly attractive to a broad range of users. There are a number of reasons for this including rapidly falling system prices, enhanced wireless experiences, and expanded multimedia/entertainment functionality," Shiffler said. ® Related stories Macrovision to tout lock-down DVD tech Carly's landing cushioned by 45m dollar bills Desktop Linux cracks Freak Mainstream Poor left stranded by digital divide
Ashlee Vance, 15 Feb 2005

MS: we are not blackmailing Denmark

Microsoft has denied reports that it told Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen it would pull Microsoft jobs out of Denmark if the government continued to oppose the European directive on Computer Implemented Inventions (CII). According to an article in Danish financial newspaper Børsen on Tuesday, during a November 2004 visit to Denmark, Bill Gates told the Prime Minister and two other ministers that he would kill 800 jobs in Navision, a Danish development company acquired by Microsoft in 2002. Science minister, Helge Sander, then said that Denmark would, of course, support Microsoft's investments in the country. Groklaw has a translation of the original article. A statement issued by the opposition party, the Social Demokratiet, says that it would not allow blackmail from any big company to dictate Danish policy. Klaus Holse Andersen, the EMEA VP for Microsoft Business Solutions, the division of the company that now runs Navision, issued a statement, denying all the allegations: "Contrary to the story reported in the Danish media there are no plans to close the Microsoft development centre in Vedbaek. We are very committed to Vedbaek." The company made no further comment on how the misunderstanding might have arisen. In January Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported that a group of technology firms had written to the Polish government about the CII directive, implying that it would reconsider investment in the country if Poland did not change its stance. Anti software patent campaigner Florian Muller described such bullying tactics as "despicable". He said: "The country in which you develop a technology has nothing to do with where you can take out patents. If they move jobs to Asia, they won't get a single additional patent, neither in Asia nor in Europe." He argued that it is unacceptable for companies to threaten governments with consequences that are not directly related to the legislation. ® Related stories European software patent law hangs in the balance Software patents: EU votes for restart Denmark joins Poland's software patent picket
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Feb 2005

Software patents law dodges another rubberstamping

The directive on Computer Implemented Inventions will not appear on the agenda of the next Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels, further delaying resolution of the bill's tortuous progress. The directive was set to appear as an A-point item - that is, one that would be voted on without further discussion - at the meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs council, this Thursday. With the bill's main opposition in the council, Poland, having declared that it would support the bill this time, it was virtually certain that it would pass through to its second reading. Parliament would then have to vote with an absolute majority to affect any changes to the text. An EU spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday, however, that the directive was no longer on the agenda for Thursday's meeting. With the vote delayed again, the fate of the directive rests entirely with the Conference of Presidents (CoP), set to review a request to ask the Commission for a restart of the legislative process, also this Thursday. JURI, a parliamentary committee on legal affairs, voted, two weeks ago, to ask for the directive to be sent back to square one. If the CoP approves the Parliamentary request, the directive will be sent back to Parliament for another First Reading. In related news, the FFII and campaign group NoSoftwarePatents.com of the directive will be holding a demonstration in Brussels this Thursday, to protest against the terms of the proposed legislation. ® Related stories European software patent law hangs in the balance So what is a technical effect? Find out at UK Patent Office workshop Poland blocks software patents again
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Feb 2005

Gates: security concerns propel IE7 launch

RSA 2005RSA 2005 Information security concerns have prompted Microsoft to release a new version of Internet Explorer before the next version of Windows ships. Contrary to previous plans, Microsoft will release IE7 as a beta in "early summer" 2005. Longhorn, the next iteration of Windows, isdue late next year. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates today said IE7 will offer Windows XP SP2 advances in defending against phishing and malware but failed to go into any details. IE7 will also be included in Longhorn but its availability on other platforms remains unclear. In a keynote address at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Gates singled out spyware and social engineering such as phishing and spyware attacks as the "fastest growing challenge". "There's no exploit involved," he said. "Social engineering attacks take the privilege of a user and fool them into running code they don't want to run." Microsoft has decided to make its Windows Anti-Spyware, released as a beta earlier this year and downloaded by 5m users, available at no extra charge to licensed Windows users, Gates announced. Microsoft also intends to introduce a consumer-focused anti-virus product by the end of the year. Gates repeatedly highlighted information security as a "top priority" for Microsoft. "It's the one thing we need to make sure that we get absolutely right to deliver the digital revolution," he said. Microsoft is spending $2bn of its $6bn research and development budget on security. Windows XP SP2 is a key building block in Microsoft's efforts to make its software more resistant to attack. More than 170m users have downloaded the product since its release late last year, Gates said. More users have applied the update after obtaining it on a CD. To make it easier for customers to apply patches, Microsoft intends to bring its separate Office and Windows Update services under one umbrella from March 2005. This service will be aimed at consumers and small businesses. Gates appeared relaxed during his 45-minute keynote as RSA, even cracking a decent joke. He produced a spoofed version of doodles he made at the recent World Economic Forum, which were mistaken by a UK paper for the jottings of Prime Minister Tony Blair. The spoof notes contained remarks such as "Why does Bill Clinton sit next to Angelina Jolie?" "Need cheeseburger" (a reference perhaps to Gates' expanding waistline) and his "password". ® Related stories Gates parades Windows security advances Stunned pundit agrees with Gates over passwords Security is our biggest ever challenge Gates Microsoft posts record 13 patches MS mulls charging for anti-spyware app RSA 2005 All the Reg stories from this year's conference
John Leyden, 15 Feb 2005

Yahoo! creates 400 jobs in Ireland

Search giant Yahoo! is to create around 400 jobs at its newly-announced European operations headquarters in Dublin. The announcement was made today at a press conference held by Micheal Martin, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The new jobs will be created over five years and will focus on areas such as website editorial, IT, financial service, web hosting and customer services. Some 75 per cent of the jobs will require third-level education. Martin welcomed the Yahoo! announcement, citing it as an "outstanding achievement for Ireland" and affirmation of Ireland's reputation as a "serious contender for the world's largest internet companies." The Dublin operation will be based at East Point Business Park in Clontarf, where Yahoo!'s subsidiary, Overture Search Services, employs around 150 people at its European headquarters. Overture opened its Dublin office in February 2003, and the success of the company since its Irish launch has been mentioned as one of the main factors which influenced Yahoo! to make the move to Ireland. The decision to centre Yahoo!'s European headquarters in Dublin was also based on "the calibre and volume of graduates available in Ireland; the up-to-date and cost competitive telecommunications and data centre infrastructures and the assistance of IDA Ireland," according to John Marcom, Yahoo! senior vice president. Yahoo!'s Irish operation will be responsible for the company's European business in three main areas: a shared services centre, which will handle accounting and revenue activities and statutory reporting; a web hosting centre, which will support databases for Yahoo!'s websites, other applications and systems; and a customer support centre, which will be made up of a multi-lingual support service and website editorial team. Yahoo!'s main rival, Google, has also based its EMEA operations headquarters in Dublin, where it expects to create up to 200 jobs within the coming years. Online retailer Amazon.com announced in January that it is to establish a European systems and network operations centre in Dublin, which will create 25 new jobs over the next two years. Online auction site eBay and payments giant PayPal also have offices in Ireland. © ENN Related stories Dell grows Celtic fringe Media Lab Europe shuts down Google founder ponders Irish R&D unit 250 'jobs-from-India' earmarked for Belfast Northern Ireland touts low IT wages Ebay creates 800 Irish jobs
ElectricNews.net, 15 Feb 2005