Microsoft has been fined €561m ($731m, £484m) by the European Commission for breaking an agreement to offer Windows users alternative web browsers to Internet Explorer.
A fresh investigation was launched against Microsoft by Brussels' competition officials in mid-2012 following complaints that the company was still using its Windows operating system to push people into browsing the web with Internet Explorer.
Microsoft signed a legally binding agreement with the commission that required the firm to display a choice screen in Windows that allowed customers in Europe to pick between using IE, Firefox, Chrome and other browsers on the market. The dialogue box was supposed to remain in the operating system until 2014. Read more...
Worldwide IT spending remains on course to grow by 6 percent in 2012 despite the grim economic situation in Europe, thanks to strong software, storage, smartphone and tablet sales, according to IDC.
While 2012 has been a tough year for many IT vendors, they have done better overall than many expected in the first half of the year, IDC said.
For example, software spending has been robust, even in parts of the world where the economy has been weakest, as businesses hope software tools and applications will help them implement cost-reduction strategies.
The 6 percent growth compares to a 7 percent increase in worldwide IT spending last year. IDC expects 6 percent growth in 2013. Read more...
A final copy of Windows 8 leaked to the Internet on Thursday, just a day after Microsoft stamped the new operating system as finished. Identified as Windows 8 Enterprise N -- the "N" marks it as aimed at European users -- on several BitTorrent file-sharing websites, it was unclear yesterday whether the leaked build was legitimate.
Although some who downloaded the leaked copy asserted it was an invalid build, the consensus early Friday was that it was the real deal.
"Legitimate. It works. Looks real," said one commenter on a popular file-sharing site. Numerous downloaders posted screenshots to back up their contention that the leak was the actual Windows 8. Read more...
Worries have been steadily growing among European IT leaders that the USA Patriot Act would give the U.S. government unfettered access to their data if stored on the cloud servers of American providers -- so much so that Obama administration officials last week held a press conference to quell international concern over the protection of data stored on U.S. soil.
Patriot Act Games
The unease over the reach of Patriot Act provision -- which expands the discovery mechanisms law enforcement can use to access third-party data -- has been amped up by the sales and marketing efforts of some European cloud providers, seeking to set apart their services as a way to keep corporate data out of the hands of the American government. The most blatant examples are two Swiss companies touting their cloud options as "a safe haven from the reaches of the U.S. Patriot Act," but it's become a popular topic at negotiating tables across the continent.
"I don't see how you have a pitch meeting with one of these European cloud providers and not have subject of the Patriot Act concerns come up," says Alex Lakatos, a partner and cross-border litigation expert in the Washington, D.C. office of Mayer Brown.
Anxiety was heightened last year when a Microsoft UK managing director admitted that he could not guarantee that data stored on the company's servers, even those outside the U.S., would not be seized by the U.S. government.
"Some of it certainly is companies trying to take advantage of the Patriot Act to market against U.S. competitors," Lakatos says. "Some of it is just the general concern Europeans have about the Patriot Act." While the 9/11-inspired legislation has been misused in a variety of ways, says Lakatos, some of those perceptions don't necessarily mesh with reality. Read more...
Visa has added smartphones from Samsung Electronics, Research In Motion and LG Electronics to the list of devices it has certified to work with the 185,000 NFC-based payWave payment terminals in Europe.
All the certified products run Visa's payWave application on a secure SIM card and use NFC (Near Field Communications), a short range communications standard, to securely transmit payment information to a contactless payment terminal, according to Visa.
The first round of certified phones are: Samsung Galaxy S II, LG Optimus NET NFC, BlackBerry Bold 9900, BlackBerry Bold 9790, BlackBerry Curve 9360 and BlackBerry Curve 9380. Read more...
The hacker with links to several breaches of SSL certificate-issuing networks this year admitted sharing stolen certificates with others in Iran, and threatened to extend future spy-style attacks to computer users in the U.S., Europe and Israel.
"I'll own as more as gateways in Israel, USA, Europe, as more as ISPs and attack will run there," the hacker said in a long, rambling statement today written in sometimes-fractured English.
Comodohacker, as he calls himself, also made new claims, saying that he stole sensitive data, including customer information, from two other certificate authorities, or CAs, the term for organizations of companies allowed to issue SSL (secure socket layer) certificates. Read more...
Most of the time, the international politics of intellectual property law are pretty easy to follow: countries that are large exporters of intellectual property usually favor stronger international IP agreements that help exploit international markets. Countries that are large importers of IP, in contrast, generally favor lower levels of IP protection that minimize the outflow of royalties, licensing fees, and other payments for foreign-owned products and technologies–whether computers, drugs, movies, or books. Whatever other rhetorics are in play, from the rights of authors to the right to development, political positions usually line up with those underlying incentives.
The turn toward the use of trade agreements to set IP obligations–from the early bilateral agreements of the 1980s to the WTO’s TRIPS agreement in the early 1990s–more or less formalized this instrumental approach to IP law. Trade agreements, at the end of the day, are about economic deals–not morality or even fairness. For anyone clinging to a moral interpretation of these arrangements, it’s worth revisiting at the US and EU positions in the South African AIDS drug controversy from the late 1990s or more recent opposition to the proposed WIPO treaty for the visually impaired. Read more...
A German court's ruling on Monday that bars distribution of Samsung's Android-based Galaxy Tab 10.1 in most of Europe shocked many. It also raises some long-term licensing worries for Android globally, some believe.
Samsung is expected to appeal the preliminary injunction in Germany over what Apple called a design infringement -- an imitation -- by the Galaxy Tab of its iPad. Still, Samsung and other Android device makers face patent and design infringement lawsuits from Apple in the U.S., Australia, the Netherlands and elsewhere.
It's unclear whether Apple eventually will win its battle in the courts to ban sales of competing tablets and smartphones or perhaps settle with some Android makers, such as Samsung or HTC, and grant them design or patent licenses that could raise the cost of their products. Read more...