March 10, 2006
Justice Wants 21 Days Compliance From Google in Subpoena Case
ZDNet is reporting that the Department of Justice wants a 21 day compliance schedule for data from Google given the tight schedule in the COPA trial. The judge in that case wants all expert reports in by May 3. The hearing on the subpoena takes place on March 14.
The story is here.
Europe To Microsoft: Documentation Not Good Enough
The European Commission has sent a letter to Microsoft basically telling the company that it is still out of compliance with the EC's 2004 Antitrust Order. The non-compliance relates to the documentation that Microsoft was to provide to let non-Windows competitors connect to Windows-based desktops and servers. Microsoft has provided some documentation that it says meets industry standards. The EU says this is still not complying, and the monitor in the case says the documentation that Microsoft provided after objections were raised remains "incomplete, inaccurate and unusable."
The EU also took steps to state more explicitly the role of the monitor. This comes after Microsoft took action in U.S. Courts to gain documents from competitors it said the Commission was withholding. The company claims it needs these documents to defend itself. The Commission said the monitor's role was "proactive," meaning he needed to consult with potential beneficiaries of the remedies the Commission had ordered. The Microsoft hearing is at the end of this month, and the company faces fines of $2.4 million (€2 million) retroactive to last December 15th.
Stories about the latest tussle between Microsoft and the European Commission are at CNET, The Herald News Daily, Bloomberg, and the San Francisco Chronicle. The EC press release (English) on the status of the monitor with links to other documents is here.
March 9, 2006
Google Buys Writely Online Word Processor
In other Google news, the company acquired the Writely online word processing service. The software lets users edit and share documents with other Writely customers, including groups and other collaborative efforts. Google made no statement as to what plans they have for the service other than noting the acquisition and happiness with the development team. There have been some ramblings in the press about a Google Office to compete with Microsoft Office.
Google is one of the few companies that may have the reach to pull off something such as an Office challenge. Others have tried and failed. A Google word processor probably won't have much impact on Word's market share, at least at first. But it does have the potential to make Word less important depending on how the service is offered. Perhaps Google's strategy with Microsoft is the death by a thousand cuts approach. Mail, storage, instant messaging, video and now word processing with more services expected to come, all integrated with a commanding search audience is sure to pull some market share for similar services away from Microsoft. More on the Google word processing service when its released.
Stories on this are at Information Week, ZDNet, and Red Herring. The latter story has some interesting views on what this means in the Google vs. Microsoft world, raising the point of what happens when the servers go down.
Google Settles Click Fraud Claims
Google is settling a claim against it on behalf of advertisers that it engaged in fraud by suppressing information from advertisers over the amount of fraudulent clicks on web ads. These would be by individuals clicking on ads for malicious reasons other than commerce.. Advertisers would pay for these clicks even though they were made without any intention to buy anything. The suit covered advertising fees since 2002. Yahoo is also part of the suit, but that company plans to fight the charges.
Google will give advertisers credits against $90 million (less attorney fees) to make the case go away. Market analysts were concerned that this would stem Google revenues, but according to the AP report on the matter, this amount represented less than 1% of the $11.2 billion in revenue covering the time of the suit.
Net Neutrality Equals Property Theft
Or so say participants at a conference sponsored by the Progress and Freedom Foundation. The think tank is promoting its own bill to deregulate broadband and to strip the FCC of rule making ability that covers the area. They have authored a piece of legislation called the Digital Age Communication Act to that effect. It has been introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC). This is in contrast to Senator Ron Wyden's (D-OR) bill that would do the exact opposite.
March 8, 2006
New York AG Files Suit Against Radio Conglomerate for Payola
Eliot Spitzer, New York Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate, filed civil charges against Entercom Communications that they sought and accepted payments from record labels and independent promoters to increase air time. Spitzer has gone after labels in the past, most notably Sony among others. This is the first time he has targeted the radio side of the scandal.
Employees of Entercom apparently sent incriminating emails that promoted a pay for play scheme, and some evidence implies that the practice occurred with corporate blessing. Representatives of Entercom said they took the charges seriously and were cooperating with Spitzer's office on the probe. The FCC has taken notice as well, and is starting its own investigation.
Microsoft Releases New Live Search Beta
Microsoft has debuted its new search service at live.com. You can access a version of it at http://www.live.com, or get a more severe looking page at http://search.live.com. The latter URL offers essentially a blank page with a search box at the top of the screen. Microsoft highlights the relevancy of the returned search results and the ability to search across a wide variety of sources, including news, images, RSS feeds, email, shopping, blogs, and others. The product, which is still in beta, also includes an optional toolbar for Windows Live, not unlike the offerings from Yahoo and Google.
The highlight of the site is the look, which is quite different from the other search portals. There are tabs at the top of a results page that organize the categories of results. On the top right are sliders that allow for results to display more or less information, and on the side is a slider that works like a fast forward or fast reverse to scroll through results, which are displayed on a single page.
My first search, for the terms Pinky and the Brain (come on, I was tired and couldn't think of anything), brought back results that were interesting and different from the results in Google. Live search returned 189,433 results with Google well over 1,600,000. Of course, I'm no likely to wade through almost 200,000 results as I am through a million six. As to the relevancy factor? The results in Google were more interesting with more fan sites way at the top, than those on Live Search, but they all showed up eventually there with scrolling. As a fan of the show I thought Google's results were a bit more interesting, but that company has had years of refining its understanding of my fascination with cartoon mice.
The image search in Search Live was not implemented. It is in Beta, so no criticisms there. The news section brought up one story about chicken sales picking up from an Indian newspaper, although the reference was to a police cat named Gurmit Singh Pinky (now an Inspector). Google led off with a news story from a Georgia newspaper titled "Bush and Cheney: America's Very Own Pinky and the Brain." There were others.
Microsoft is obviously challenging Google and Yahoo for search supremacy. It adds up to a lot of ad dollars. There's a lot of brand loyalty for Google and Yahoo among their customers making Microsoft's climb distinctly uphill. There may be a better comparison between search giants when all features are implemented. Give Microsoft a try. As the product matures, its substance may meet the company's goals of out-Googling Google.
What are we going to do today Bill? Same thing we do every day Steve, try to build a better search engine than Google.
March 6, 2006
Is China Creating It's Own Internet?
There are conflicting reports as to whether China is considering creating an internal Internet structure that is not governed by ICANN. Reports in the China People's Daily suggested that China would create top level domains using Chinese characters as addresses. A lot of the non-English world wants to extend addresses to their own alphabets, something with which ICANN has been moving glacially slow.
Reports are that China is working with second-level domains, rather than .cn, .com, and .net as suggested by other reports.
A report in the Toronto Star by Professor Michael Geist suggests that whether top or second level domains are involved, the prospects of China being used as a model by other countries has the potential to up-end U.S. control of top level domain servers. China is a little different from most countries in that the population of Internet users is large enough that the Chinese government could, indeed, make the split work for that country. Critics believe if China successfully splits from the Internet as it is currently governed, the government there would be able to censor content even more than is possible under current circumstances.
Microsoft Goes to Court to Get Documents
Microsoft has asked U.S. federal courts to force it's domestic competitors to release documents that the European Commission refuses to release. Microsoft believes that competitors have had secret meetings with the Commission, something it says is alluded to in documents already in its possession. Cases have been filed in New York, California, and Massachusetts. These documents relate to the ongoing antitrust action in Europe over non-Windows client connections to Windows Server. Microsoft contends that it needs these documents to defend itself against Commission action.
Microsoft has also posted its supplemental response to the EU, filed on March 2, to its web site.
MacWorld has the story.