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IBM's Open-Source Lovefest
Beefing Up Longhorn
Microsoft is taking potshots about the security of its products seriously and is planning more security features to bolster its next version of its Windows operating system, dubbed Longhorn. "For years, programmers at Microsoft Corp. and elsewhere have worked to make it easier for devices like cell phones and personal digital assistants to work instantly and easily with computers. Now, Microsoft is working to make it a little harder. The reason: As such devices including Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iPods become capable of holding more data, some worry people could use them to steal data or unleash virus attacks on business networks," the Associated Press explained, noting that "Microsoft is working on technology that will give companies more control over whether to prohibit devices that can easily be used to transfer data to and from personal computers, said Greg Sullivan, a lead product manager."
CNET's News.com reported on the development last week. "Much has been made of the security risks posed by portable storage devices known as USB keys, or flash drives, music players like the iPod, and other small gadgets that can store vast amounts of data. Some fear that such tiny devices can be used to quickly copy sensitive data off business PC hard drives, or to introduce malicious software onto corporate networks," CNET said.
The Associated Press via the San Jose Mercury News: Next Version of Windows Will Include More Anti-Data Theft Protections (Registration required)
CNET's News.com: Longhorn to Put Squeeze on Gadgets
La La Land
There's trouble in the ring tone world. Snazzy ring tones for cell phones were supposed to be a goldmine for the music industry. But it hasn't been an easy sell. The Wall Street Journal wrote about ring tone woes in a front page article today. An excerpt: "The ring tone market, once seen as the industry's next cash cow, has become a dizzying free-for-all, stymied by nightmarish contractual disputes, conflicting technical requirements and the old specter of piracy. Losing out could be a big blow to an industry that most recently missed the opportunity to control the sale of music online," the article said. "Musicians have contracts with companies that own the underlying music and lyrics and also with companies who own the rights to a recorded performance. Sometimes many musicians are credited with writing one song. Getting all these players to agree on ring tone rights can be a huge morass. Meanwhile, not all cellphones play all ring tones. No one can even agree on what to call the latest variants that play actual snippets of songs, as opposed to tinny beeps. They've been dubbed master-tape ring tones, ring tunes, true tones, hi-fi ringers and song tones."
The Wall Street Journal: Music Industry Struggles to Get Cell Phone's Number (Subscription required)
Reuters had a report of its own on the trend, noting that "the U.S. appetite for ring tones has not developed as quickly as in other markets, and no company has emerged to do for ring tones what Apple Computer has done for digital downloads with iTunes. A big part of the responsibility for building the market falls to the five major mobile phone carriers: Verizon, Sprint, Cingular/AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile and Nextel. However, it is generally held that mobile music promotions are more effective when some combination of the carriers, handset manufacturers, ring tone aggregators and record labels co-market their products."
CNET's News.com: Ring Tones Slow to Rock U.S. Market
Getting Fat on Defense
The defense industry continues its acquisition binge. London firm BAE Systems, which Bloomberg noted is Europe's largest defense player, is scooping up DigitalNet Holdings, a technology defense contractor based in Herndon, Va., for roughly $600 million. The move by the Rockville, Md.-based unit BAE Systems North America is intended "to expand sales in the United States. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending government approvals, [BAE] said. DigitalNet sells network security software to U.S. defense and intelligence agencies," Bloomberg said.
The Washington Post pegged the deal at "$595 million in cash." More from the article: "The deal, which must be approved by shareholders, continues a consolidation of the market and would create [a] $1.2 billion information technology division ranked among the federal government's top 10 information technology providers. The acquisition would also result in a significant payoff for the DigitalNet investors who founded the company in 2001 and took it public last year."
Bloomberg via the Los Angeles Times: BAE to Buy DigitalNet Holdings (Registration required)
The Washington Post: BAE Systems to Buy DigitalNet (Registration required)