Independent business service companies have become a rare breed after Monday's news that Xerox is buying Affiliated Computer Services. Xerox follows Dell and Hewlett-Packard, fellow hardware companies that see revenue in selling machines as well as services. In Internet news, a more diverse management body will run the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), ending the U.S. government's close oversight of the organization. Finally, two of Microsoft's latest software products, Windows 7 and a rudimentary version of its online collaboration applications, are reviewed.
1. Xerox will buy business process outsourcer ACS for $6.4B: Another business process service provider became linked to a hardware company this week after Xerox purchased Affiliated Computer Services. Xerox, known for its photocopiers, sees the merger as a way to expand beyond its traditional document-management business. Xerox executives see the buy as a way to expand business since the companies do not have many overlapping clients. Mergers between hardware and service companies are popular: Last week Dell announced it would buy Perot Systems.
2. ICANN freed from US gov't oversight: The U.S. government will play a less dominant role in managing ICANN. Under a new agreement announced Wednesday, a committee comprised of ICANN officials, experts and the U.S. government will review ICANN's performance every three years, replacing the model of the U.S. Department of Commerce overseeing ICANN. The measure earned praise from critics, like the European Union, which believed that the U.S. government wielded too much influence over the organization.
3. Facebook warns members about rise in '419' scam: An increase in money extortion scams on Facebook prompted the Internet company to issue a security warning to users on Tuesday. In these frauds, called 419 scams, criminals use phishing techniques to obtain Facebook users' log-in details, hijack their profiles and send their friends messages asking for money. The fake message usually claims that the person is stranded and broke abroad and asks that money be wired to them. Facebook, a prime fraud target with more than 300 million members, said that while the scam attempts have increased, the number of affected users is low.
4. New Trojan gives criminals full-service bank theft: The user interface on a new banking Trojan makes detecting fraud even more challenging. The URLzone Trojan contains code that can make an infected PC authorize small withdrawals from a person's bank account that do not look suspicious to the victim. The Trojan can also control the appearance of a person's banking page and display only certain transactions.
5. Pressure on Microsoft, as Windows attack now public: In other security news, Microsoft faces pressure to patch a flaw in its Windows Vista OS after new attack code became publicly available this week. The code allows people to run unauthorized software on a computer. Security researchers are debating the attack's effectiveness, though. One researcher claimed the program worked on a machine with virtualization software and crashed a PC only running Vista.
6. Windows 7 review: Maybe you're a frustrated Windows Vista user fed up with the OS getting in the way of itself. Or perhaps you shunned a Vista upgrade and opted to continue using Windows XP. The next version of Windows will finally meet my needs, you said. Well, that day is nearing with Windows 7 slated for release in three weeks. Now, should you upgrade? A PC World review of the new OS, which garnered mostly positive comments, can help you decide.
7. Hands-on: Microsoft's Office Web Apps: Continuing the theme of new developments in the software space, Computerworld looked at a technical preview of Microsoft's Web Apps. Being a preview, the applications lacked features and were a bit raw. Despite these shortcomings, the article predicted that Web Apps will help users bridge the gap between applications running on a person's PC and their online counterparts.
8. Google turns 11 with an eye on Microsoft: Google turned 11 this week and had a precocious childhood. A company that began in a California garage now dominates Internet searches, threatens Microsoft's grip on the software market and even became a verb. And the Internet heavyweight isn't resting yet. Google expanded into the mobile OS phone space, launched a browser and is developing online collaboration software. While offering cloud computing hasn't come without service issues, Google has become the company to emulate.
9. Survey: US residents don't want targeted ads: Internet users either detest targeted online ads or have gradually accepted the marketing tactic, depending on the study. A survey released this week claimed that 86 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed decried the notion of receiving targeted ads based on the Web sites they visit. The U.S. government even weighed in on the survey and implied that the results may nudge lawmakers to introduce online privacy laws. These results contradict a March survey that polled mostly Internet users and found a decrease, compared to last year's study, in the number of people who are concerned about targeted Web ads.
10. New gadgets, prototypes to debut next week in Japan: Look for Sony and Panasonic to promote 3D technology at Ceatec, Japan's largest consumer electronics and gadget show, in Tokyo next week. Sony will show a camera with 3D image recording technology that could eventually appear in consumer devices, and Panasonic will display a plasma TV that presents images in 3D. New cell-phone handsets, including one that analyzes a person's golf swing, and the latest in automotive IT are also some of the many other interesting IT developments that the show will offer.