The Top 10 Stories in IT This Week
Mobile news dominated this week's headlines. Microsoft entered the increasingly crowded mobile OS space when it launched Windows Phone 7, which the company hopes will take market share from Apple's iOS 4 and Google's Android. The U.S. government took steps that may result in mobile carriers alerting users when they near their data plan limits. U.S. teenagers could welcome these measures after a study revealed a sharp increase in their use of mobile data services. In other news, Microsoft and Facebook are looking to make Internet searches more social with a feature that uses Facebook profile data in Bing Web searches.
1. Microsoft announces Windows Phone 7 launch partners and Windows Phone 7 launches Monday in crowded smartphone market: Although we first learned about Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 in February, the company officially launched the mobile OS on Monday. CEO Steve Ballmer emphasized that people can customize the user interface and used the word "delightful" to describe how the software should function in different scenarios. Analysts concurred that Microsoft needs to offer users a positive mobile experience since the company's efforts in the important and growing mobile market have floundered compared to Apple and Google.
2. Smackdown: Windows Phone 7 Phones vs. iPhone 4 vs. Droid X,Hands on with HTC HD7 Windows Phone 7 handset, HTC goes in big with five Windows Phone 7 handsets and Samsung reveals first Windows Phone 7 handset, Omnia 7: Are you curious about how Windows Phone 7 performs? Want to learn what carriers will offer phones that run the software? Do you wonder what mobile OS would win in a battle royal featuring Windows Phone 7, the iPhone 4 and the Droid X? Turn to IDG's stable of publications to offer reviews and news on Windows Phone 7 and how it compares to the competition.
3. FCC proposes mobile 'bill shock' rules: Keeping with the mobile news theme, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed rules that aim to protect consumers from mobile bill shock. Along with the rules, the agency released a white paper detailing the issue, which occurs when people exceed monthly data or voice limits or rack up roaming charges and see a dramatic rise in their phone bills. The rules would require mobile carriers to alert people with a phone call or a text when they are close to reaching their monthly quotas.
4. Oracle pledges support for OpenOffice.org and Microsoft ad trashes OpenOffice.org: The OpenOffice productivity suite remains safe under Oracle's care, the software company indicated this week by announcing its participation in an upcoming Open Document Format confab. Developers questioned if Oracle's developmental support for OpenOffice would waver after it completed purchasing Sun Microsystems, which developed the suite. OpenOffice may need Oracle's backing given the negative ad that Microsoft launched on Thursday against the application.
5. Google, Facebook battle for 'future of the Web': Microsoft's Bing search engine can now deliver search results based on information culled from the data in people's Facebook profiles and their friend's pages. Now you have to know if your Facebook friends share your interests in addition to actually knowing the person. Privacy appears somewhat preserved. Bing will give users the opportunity to opt out of this function and people must be logged into Facebook for this search feature to work. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed how the feature makes Web search social, analysts wondered how the move would affect search leader Google.
6. Adobe: More secure version of Reader out by year end, Microsoft will look to courts for botnet takedowns and Former US official: Invest in secure Internet protocols: This week's RSA security conference in London did not fail to provide interesting news. Microsoft will continue to use the court system to help take out botnets while Adobe said that it will issue a security upgrade to its Reader software, which attackers have aggressively targeted. A former U.S. official used his presentation to decry the poor state of Internet security and called for security research that focuses on developing stronger networks.
7. Microsoft releases biggest-ever security update: Microsoft released fixes for 49 software flaws, making this month's update its largest to date. Microsoft said that two patches, fixing Internet Explorer and the Windows OS, should receive priority immediately and assigned a critical status to fixes for the .Net Framework and Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. Security vendor Symantec reminded users that the other updates should not be ignored because they are not rated critical.
8. US Teens Text 3,339 Times a Month, Nielsen Says: A Nielsen study analyzing mobile data usage among U.S. teenagers shows why businesses are clamoring for a piece of the mobile space. According to the study, teenagers use their phones to text, not to talk. Teenagers sent and received an average of 3,339 texts per month in the second quarter while their minute usage decreased 14 percent compared to last year's survey. The amount of data teenagers use on their phones soared compared to last year's study.
9. Wall Street Beat: Google, Intel, AMD stoke market: IT titans Google, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices announced their quarterly earnings this week, supporting tech stocks even as concerns rose on IT spending. Google, naturally, saw its quarterly revenue increase 23 percent compared to last year's third quarter and said its efforts in mobile and display advertising "show significant momentum." Intel said its quarterly revenue set a record and AMD reported a smaller loss compared to 2009's third quarter.
10. Facebook and eBay share energy tips for data centers: With companies looking to cut back on data center energy use, Facebook and eBay offered advice on how businesses can better cool their facilities. While Facebook's size factored into the methods it used to decrease energy use, a company executive noted that every business can do something to improve energy efficiency. EBay's energy conservation efforts resulted in a 16 percent decrease in power consumption and carbon emissions at its data center.