Software

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Things got quite exciting in London at noon on Tuesday. First Kweku Adoboli, the rogue trader formerly employed by UBS, was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud. Then Hewlett-Packard accused the former management of Autonomy, the UK software company, of wrongdoing. The moral appeared to be, as a New York journalist wryly tweeted: “Don’t trust the British.”

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How far will Google go to head off the threat of long and damaging antitrust battles on both sides of the Atlantic – and how hard will regulators push to cramp its expansive style?

The answers to those questions should become clearer in the next few weeks, as the European Commission and the US Federal Trade Commission press the company for voluntary changes in its business model to end their antitrust investigations. Rivals want radical action, perhaps even extending to a break-up of Google into separate companies that handle search and other services. The likely outcome, though, is more minimalist.

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Software, to borrow a phrase from venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, is eating the world. Last month Facebook announced its billionth active member. An Android-powered Google is worth more than Microsoft. Companies from Kickstarter to Khan Academy to Skype to Amazon to Etsy are transforming the retail, telecoms, education, manufacturing and financial services sectors, writes Andrew Keen.

East London’s Silicon Roundabout, a cluster of tech companies, has received support from the British government. Yet some people remain sceptical. Sir James Dyson, an inventor, has told the BBC that hardware manufacturers are a smarter investment than software companies.

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Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

For many, Tim Cook made his first significant mark on Apple this week with a reshuffling of senior executives that included the departure of Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice-president of iOS, and John Browett, its head of retail operations.

At the same time, commentators welcomed news that chief hardware designer Sir Jonathan Ive would now oversee software design. Read more

Windows 8Does Microsoft risk confusing consumers with an operating system that tries to serve every kind of computing device and may end up satisfying no one? With its dual-interface, dual-purpose, dual-processor, mixed-up thinking, Windows 8 is a pushmi-pull­yu, half-man, half-biscuit, weird and occasionally wonderful creation that is guaranteed to bewilder – at least initially.

And that’s just the Microsoft end of the operation. The hardware makers have responded with their own Whirligig 8 – sorry, Windows 8 – of swivelling, swinging, sliding and snapping hybrid devices that veer from tablets to notebooks. Everyone is trying to cover everything while they wait to see what we consumers will go for.

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Will Windows 8 turn out to be Microsoft’s “New Coke”?

Messing around with one of the world’s most familiar everyday products is hardly something to be undertaken lightly – and with the new version of Windows, which goes on sale on Friday, there has been a lot of messing around. That almost guarantees some degree of user backlash. But it would be wrong to judge the outcome of what amounts to a bet-the-farm gamble by Microsoft on its initial reception.

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Chris Nuttall

Demo Fall 2012 is underway with more than 75 new ideas being pitched in six-minute presentations by startups at the annual event in Silicon Valley.

Hardware, software and services are being featured covering the social, entertainment, media, commerce, communications, big data, infrastructure, health and education sectors. A sample of the most impressive demonstrations – from a tabloid social-network app to an Instagram for video – is after the jump. Read more

Richard Waters

The hotly anticipated IPO of Workday could help to advance Morgan Stanley’s rehabilitation in the wake of the Facebook fiasco. But given the way other recent tech deals led by the bank have been structured, it is still too soon to pass a verdict on its performance – or to tell how much long-term damage the debacle surrounding the Facebook offering will do to its business in Silicon Valley. Read more

It’s been the season of high-profile phone launches. Except, sadly, for Acer and Alibaba. Their planned launch of a co-branded phone for Chinese consumers got cancelled at the last minute when Google objected to the version of Android on the phone.

What the last-minute cancellation – and some continued sniping between the companies – shows is how tricky it is to manage China’s booming mobile market. That’s true, apparently, even for Google, whose Android platform dominates in a big way.

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Care.com, the website for finding nannies, pet sitters, and caretakers for the elderly, has raised $50m in late-stage venture capital funding, bringing the five-year old company’s total financing to $111m.

Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and chief executive, said she would use the money to support the Massachusetts-based company’s international expansion efforts. Read more