Business Software

Microsoft's Stunner, Zer01 Questions

Microsoft kicked off the week of news with the surprising revelation that it had submitted source code for the Linux kernel. But this being Microsoft and open source, the news set off a little back and forth regarding the company's motives. In other news, an investigation into Zer01's mobile service claims raised questions that have yet to be satisfactorily answered. Otherwise, there was a wide variety of IT news this week, including some that involves shoes.

1. Microsoft stuns Linux world, submits source code for kernel: Microsoft submitted driver source code for the Linux kernel under the GPLv2 license in a move that, as the headline says, stunned the open-source community. Although it didn't take long, as is noted in our fourth entry below, for Microsoft's decision to be called into question.

2. Zer01's mobile offer may be too good to be true: A convoluted network of companies has promised to launch through Zer01 Mobile the service of our dreams, including unlimited Internet access, phone calls and texting for US$70 a month. The service was supposed to launch July 1 but didn't, and digging into Zer01's claims raises a lot of questions about the people behind the company and its affiliated firms, and whether it is even possible to do what Zer01 says it is going to do.

3. Microsoft offers choice of browsers to satisfy EU: Microsoft will offer a choice of browsers with the Windows 7 OS to appease European Union competition regulators, who say they welcome the company's proposal and will look into "its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice." We'll let you know what they decide about that.

4. Engineer: Microsoft violated GPL before Linux code release and Microsoft: GPL Linux code release not due to violation: Three days after Microsoft released that driver source code for the Linux kernel, an open-source engineer said that the code was in violation of the GPL, and he offered details in a blog for how the violation was uncovered. Microsoft responded that it did not release the code because of any "perceived obligations" to the license, but because the license is preferred by the Linux community and the release benefits Microsoft customers and Linux users. We doubt we have heard the last of this.

5. Adobe users face week of exploit angst and Zero-day PDF attack goes after Flash flaw: It was a bad week for Adobe and its users because of exploits found in the company's software, and next week does not look to be any better. Security companies warned that Acrobat Reader and the Flash Player will continue to be vulnerable to a zero-day exploit that is rated "highly critical." Adobe is working to get a patch out by next Friday.

6. Amazon CEO apologizes for removing digital books: This week's ironic twist came from Amazon.com, which dealt with illegally sold copies of the George Orwell classics "1984" and "Animal Farm" and other novels for its Kindle e-reader by deleting the works from its e-book store and eliminating any digital trace of them. The move meant the books were not available to people who had bought them from Amazon, prompting a lot of comments about how that kind of thing does not happen with books bought at brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos apologized for the company's Orwellian move: "Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission."

7. New software contract principles prompt worries: A new set of legal principles governing software contracts that was developed by the American Law Institute prompted concerns from IT vendors and industry groups that innovation will suffer and the cost of software will go up, contrary to the ALI's goal of protecting consumers.

8. Apple turns in record-setting third quarter sales, profits and Wall Street Beat: Tech sector boosts markets: Apple's third-quarter results indicate that it is utterly impervious to the recession (or perhaps that its customers will cut back in a whole lot of other places before they will forsake buying a new iPhone or Mac). A number of other tech bellwethers also reported financial results this week and although, for instance, Microsoft's earnings were disappointing, overall IT financials and forecasts for future quarters boosted investor confidence.

9. IEEE 802.11n heads for a September finish: It has been a long, slow road, but it appears that the IEEE 802.11n standard for high-speed wireless LAN will be approved in September.

10. Amazon to buy Zappos.com for $847 million: We do not often in IT news have the chance to write about shoes, a subject dear to our hearts and, ahem, soles. So, we feel compelled to wind up this week's edition with word that Amazon is buying Zappos.com, the popular shoe and clothing e-tailer.

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