• The Obama administration’s top antitrust enforcer on Monday declared an end to Bush-era policies that made regulatory action against the biggest companies a rarity. The Justice Department’s Christine Varney said that dominant companies need not collude with their rivals to violate the law, and Silicon Valley attorneys said Google, Microsoft and Oracle would be well advised to tread more carefully.
  • Microsoft confirmed what everyone expected, announcing that Windows 7 would be released in time for the holidays. Missing the crucial holiday shopping season, when many consumers buy new PCs, would have dealt a blow to PC makers who depend on strong holiday sales.

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  • Sun Microsystems, which last week agreed to be purchased by Oracle for $7.4bn, reported sharp losses in the opening months of this year, highlighting the impact of the recession on the computer systems company. In a departure from protocol, Sun did not host the usual conference call with investors and analysts following results.
  • IBM responded to the collapse of its own takeover offer for Sun this month with an announcement that it would return more cash to its shareholders instead in the form of a higher dividend and increased stock buy-back plan.

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Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall next time Oracle gets round to negotiating Java licences with IBM and Nokia?

Sun’s aim of countering Microsoft by getting the programming language and development tools widely adopted was a knock-out success, but its business model (make the profits on hardware) failed utterly. Oracle has been pretty clear that it won’t make that mistake.

But will Java licensees be willing to pay up to justify Larry Ellison’s claim that this is “the single most important software asset we have ever acquired”? Read more

There are two explanations making the rounds for Oracle’s unexpected entry into the hardware business. Neither on its own is wholly convincing, but each hints at what is probably really going on here.

The first is the explanation that Oracle was putting about on Monday. This holds that vertical integration of all aspects of hardware and software is the next step being demanded by the customers of enterprise technology companies, who want one throat to choke when something goes wrong. Read more

  • Three months into her stint at the head of Yahoo, Carol Bartz is seeking buyers for the HotJobs employment site. Other ancillary businesses in Yahoo’s portfolio could also be getting prepared for disposal.
  • Twitter is benefiting from all that attention. Visitors to surged 131 per cent in March to 9.3m, suggesting that more than being just a fad, Twitter could in fact be going mainstream.

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  • IBM is said to be in talks to acquire rival Sun Microsystems for about $6.5bn, potentially marking a major consolidation in the computer hardware manufacturing industry. The move would boost IBM’s hardware offerings, but the deal could face major regulatory hurdles.
  • Oracle reported lower sales and profit for the quarter, but the results beat analyst estimates, sending shares higher. Some watchers were predicting a much worse decline. Oracle announced it would pay its first dividend – 5 cents a share – since the company went public in 1986.

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