August 30, 2007
Microsoft to Buy RIM?
That's the rumor. The cause, another rumor that Google is developing a mobile operating system. But isn't Google buddy-buddy with Apple? And won't that put them in competition with each other on the phone side of business? CNET has the story on the Microsoft part of the story.
Microsoft Settles With Eolas Over Browser Patent
Microsoft and Eolas have concluded a settlement agreement over the use of a disputed patent for technology used in Internet Explorer. Eolas had won a judgment against Microsoft for $521 million for use of patented technology that describes how applets and plug-ins work with a browser. After judgment Microsoft challenged the patents with the Patent and Trademark Office. After some back and forth on the validity of the patents, the USPTO upheld Eolas.
The settlement is not public, but the fact of the settlement apparently is. See the story in Ars Technica.
Death of a Music Store
In this case, it's Sony's Connect store which will expire sometime in March of 2008. The Sony ATRAC format goes with it. Sony never had a chance with either. The Connect client software was problematic for consumers and an embarrassment for Sony. The ATRAC file format was heavily DRMed and tied to Sony products. Sony must have thought they were going to be just like Apple and draw a big consumer base due to its position in consumer electronics. That never happened. Let's recall: MiniDisc, UMD discs for the PlayStation Portable, excessive DRM on SonyBMG CDs, Memory Sticks, Beta, of course, and now ATRAC. Sony has to realize that it could never compete with ubiquitous standards, even if some of those standards are proprietary. An alternative is usually not compelling unless it offers something better than exclusivity. Otherwise, what's the point?
Sony recommends that consumers who have ATRAC collections on the Connect service burn their files to CD before the March cutoff. Local files will still work with ATRAC compliant devices though Sony's new consumer audio devices won't support ATRAC, just non Sony standards such as WMA, MP3, and AAC. Think of ATRAC files similar to the stack of Beta tapes boxed in the basement next to the player that hasn't been plugged in for 20 years. Look inside the box and you'll probably find a lapel button that says "Beta is better." Oh, the nostalgia.
August 29, 2007
Vista Service Pack 1, XP SP3 Announced
The big news today is Microsoft announcing some details about Vista Service Pack 1. It goes to beta this year and will be released officially some time early next year. The buzz is that it tweaks performance of existing features an doesn't really add much in the way of new features. The other news buried in this announcement is Service Pack 3 for XP.
In a story on CNET, Windows Unit General Manager Shanen Boettcher was quoted that SP3 would be the last release for XP. He suggested that service packs were less important these days given all the updates available online. That's partially true, though many of the continuing updates focus on security rather than performance.
August 28, 2007
Yahoo Seeks Dismissal of Rights Suit
Yahoo filed a response to the case against it for cooperating with the Chinese government resulting in the imprisonment of dissidents. The World Organization for Human Rights sued Yahoo on behalf of the wife of one of the dissidents, charging that if Yahoo had not turned over information, then there would have been no imprisonment. That's speculative to some extent but evidence in the case shows that Yahoo's information was relative to the convictions.
Yahoo for its part contends that it has no choice but to cooperate with the Chinese government under legal process there or cease doing business. The company also contends that the case doesn't belong in federal court. Everything that took place happened in China. That's where the Yahoo affiliate is based, along with the servers. Commentators suggest that Yahoo is likely safe on legal grounds, but not so much on ethical grounds. Microsoft and Google are probably grateful that it's not them. Let's wait and see how the judge rules on the motion to dismiss.
Another Sony Rootkit?
This one has to do with jump drives that have fingerprint access security features. It's so secure that it hides its drivers in a rootkit in C:\windows. The folder is invisible to the operating system but reports are that hackers can use it to hide malicious files. The problem is not that Sony wants to protect its authentication files but that others can get to the folder. At the same time, if someone can get to the folder, can't they tamper with authentication files?
File Sharing Availability Equals Infringement
Making material available via P2P network is copyright infringement. This is the ruling in Atlantic v. Howell. More in Digital Media Wire.
August 27, 2007
Successful iPhone Hack, Literally
The march to unlocking the iPhone continues as a New Jersey teenager has figured out a way to liberate the phone from the AT&T network. The method involves resoldering components on the phone's system board, but it works according to news reports. The holy grail of this is an all software solution. Wait for those headlines. Expect a cottage industry of unlocking phones and selling them via auction sites until Apple and/or AT&T figure out a way to stop this. Somehow voiding the warranty just doesn't scare people anymore.
Yahoo Mail Capable of Text Messaging to Phones
Yahoo mail will now let its users send text messages directly to cell phones. More from USA Today.
Part of a Deal Reached in Net Radio Royalties Imbroglio
There's been some progress in the negotiations between net radio station operators and SoundExchange over radio royalties. Both sides have agreed to cap the per station minimum fee of $500 per channel at $50,000. The negotiations continue over other issues. Stream DRM is still a major sticking point between the two sides.
Windows Genuine Advantage Server Is No Advantage At All
Microsoft apparently had a little oopsie with its Windows Genuine Advantage server, invalidating copies of XP and Vista. In the case of Vista, it stripped out the Aero interface and DirectX support. The Windows WGA site has a patch. Microsoft has no cause for the glitch. Click on the link to validate Windows.
And Then There Were...
Acer has announced that it will acquire Gateway for $710 million. The combined company will be the number three largest computer company. More on it in Forbes. $710 million? Gee, that sounds kind of low. Then again, Gateway has been on the edge in terms of viability.
More on the Novell-SCO Case
A fairly decent analysis of Judge Kimball's opinion in the Novell-SCO case is by Ryan Paul in Ars Technica.