Daily Archives: July 8, 2009

Conspiracy theorists will no doubt find plenty to read into the timing of Microsoft’s announcement today of a shake-up in the leadership of its Windows division.

There was Google’s attention-grabbing announcement of an operating system to rival Windows, for a start. Perhaps this was enough to galvanise Microsoft into action – or at least provided a big enough diversion for the software company to slip through a reorganisation without attracting too much attention?

Then there is the pending launch of Windows 7. Is it a bad sign when the man responsible for marketing the company’s biggest product moves on, little more than three months before such an important launch?

The reality, though, looks far more prosaic. Read more

Intel held its annual open-house Research Day for the media at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View this year, placing its impressive displays of future technologies among hardware relics of transistors past.

While we admired a demonstration of how electrical power could be transmitted wirelessly in one corner, at the other end of the museum, Difference Engine No. 2 was being cranked up – a computing machine designed by Charles Babbage in 1849. Read more

“Copyright was meant to encourage culture, not restrict it,” writes Christian Engström, the Pirate party’s member of the European parliament.

If you search for Elvis Presley in Wikipedia, you will find a lot of text and a few pictures that have been cleared for distribution. But you will find no music and no film clips, due to copyright restrictions. What we think of as our common cultural heritage is not “ours” at all.

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  • Microsoft and Brussels have started a new round of talks over a potential settlement of the software company’s antitrust travails in Europe. The resumption of what one person close to the situation described as the “on again, off again” discussions comes as the regulators move closer to imposing stringent penalties on Microsoft over its practice of “bundling” its Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system.
  • Facebook showed off the power of its Connect service today, as about 1m of its users logged into sites like CNN, ABC and MTV to chat about the Michael Jackson memorial service. Some members were wallflowers, but others were chatty, posting upwards of 800,000 status updates through the partner sites. Twitter, no doubt, also experienced a boost during the memorial service, but Facebook clearly proved that it, too, could be a prominent forum for public discussion.

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Google has fewer than 1m paying users for its Google Apps service, and it has clearly decided that the time has come to get more serious about turning this into a mainstream business tool.

That is the conclusion to be drawn from today’s move to bring Gmail and three other apps out of their official test phase (finally). The beta designation has been a running joke for much of the five-plus years of Gmail’s life: after all, the company claims tens of millions of consumer users for individual applications like Gmail and Google Docs, along with another 15m or so students and workers who use a free version of the full suite of Apps, so the test period is clearly long over.

Yet the number of paying subscribers still only numbers in the “hundreds of thousands”, according to a spokesperson. Read more