Internet and Society News -- 050204

"Dismantling the New Deal for Over 1 Month"



SBC's big bid for Ma Bell

$16 billion deal with telephony stalwart AT&T comes as cable and Net phone
rivals close in.

Telecom consolidation raises concerns for IT

The merger frenzy in the telecommunications industry accelerated with SBC's
agreement to buy AT&T, leaving some IT managers concerned about the possible
short- and long-term impacts on their network services.

Microsoft's EU proposal is monstrous, says Samba

'Monstrous' royalties demanded under Microsoft's proposed server
interoperability licence will discourage competition, says Samba's Jeremy
Allison. The co-founder of Samba, the open source file and print server
software, is due to contact the European Commission (EC) in the next couple of
weeks to lobby for changes to Microsoft's proposed server interoperability
licence. Speaking to ZDNet UK this week, Samba co-creator Jeremy Allison
launched a damning attack on the proposed licence, calling the fees that would
be demanded under it "monstrous".

of commission

In a landmark deal with Eliot Spitzer, New York’s attorney-general, Marsh &
McLennan, the world’s largest insurance broker, has paid $850m to settle civil
charges of bid rigging and alleged wrongdoing. Who’s next?

Microsoft: Slow going for desktop search in Windows

Microsoft has no immediate plans to integrate new desktop search tools into its
Windows operating system, according to an executive with the software maker.
Speaking on a conference panel at the Harvard Business School's 2005 Cyberposium
event Saturday, Mark Kroese, general manager of information services for
Microsoft's MSN portal, indicated that the software giant is watching its step
with desktop search. Krouse said he believes the company could be perceived as
trying to leverage its dominance in operating systems to knock out search rivals
such as Google if it tried to bring desktop search to Windows.

Microsoft to change name of 'Windows XP Reduced'

Microsoft will change the name of the stripped-down version of Windows XP it has
been ordered to sell in Europe after criticism from the European Commission.

OFT refers
the anticipated joint venture between LINK Interchange Network Limited and
Transaction Network Services (UK) Limited

The OFT today referred the anticipated joint venture between LINK Interchange
Network Limited and Transaction Network Services (UK) Limited to the Competition
Commission (CC). The OFT has decided that the test for reference is met in
relation to the supply of outsourced ATM transaction processing services in the
UK. Sir John Vickers, OFT Chairman, said: 'The proposed joint venture would
bring together the two principal suppliers of outsourced ATM transaction
processing services. This might substantially lessen competition.' The CC is
expected to report by 13 July 2005.

Hide Your IPod, Here Comes Bill

Cult of Macintosh » Apple's music player apparently is wildly popular on
Microsoft's campus. Thousands of Microsofties own the devices, to the great
irritation of management.

It's Windows vs. Windows as Microsoft battles piracy

In effort to up sales of Windows, firm has sights set on nearest rival: Not
Linux, not the Mac--Windows itself.

FTC’s Bureau of
Economics Releases Issue Paper On Transparency and the Horizontal Merger Review

Finds Commission’s Enforcement Policy Has Been Stable from 1996 to 2003. The
Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics today released an Economic Issues
paper entitled, “Transparency at the Federal Trade Commission: The Horizontal
Merger Review Process, 1996-2003.”

"The Use of
Economics in Merger Analysis",

Luke M. Froeb, at The IBC Conference: The Use of Economics in Competition Law,
at the Renaissance Hotel, Brussels, January 27, 2005

State aid: Commission decides Dutch exemption from waste tax for dredging sludge
does not constitute state aid

The European Commission has decided that a tax exemption for sludge dredged from
public waterways does not constitute state aid. The Commission took account of
the fact that the tax exemption does not provide selective advantages to certain
undertakings and is fully consistent with the public policy objective in the
Netherlands of encouraging the dredging of public watersays.

last call of an American legend

SBC’s acquisition of the company that spawned it will create America’s biggest
telecommunications company and perhaps spark a wave of consolidation in the
business. But none of the firms competing to supply phone communications through
a variety of channels is likely to attain the status of AT&T, which held a
monopoly over America’s phones for more than a century

Love is in the air

But will the latest flowering of corporate romance have a happy ending? After a
miserable few years in the executive suite, with only the ugly sisters of cost
control and corporate governance for company, many a boss's thoughts have lately
turned to love. A recent spate of headline-grabbing mergers seems to herald
another wave of corporate marriages. The mood had already begun to sweeten last
year, the most active for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) worldwide by value
since the last wave broke in 2000. But the recently announced nuptials of some
of the world's most celebrated firms—Procter & Gamble (P&G) tying the knot with
Gillette, “Ma Bell” (AT&T) being swept (a tad Oedipally) off her feet by one of
her own “Baby Bells”, SBC—have once again given the urge to merge the aura of
respectability in the corporate world, a respectability lost when so many of the
previous wave of beautiful marriages (remember AOL-Time Warner?) crashed so soon
and so spectacularly on to the rocks.

The rise of
the superbrands

Can Procter & Gamble's $54 billion merger with Gillette kick-start growth in the
consumer-goods industry? Every industry has its golden age. The makers of
packaged consumer goods—quilted paper towels, tinned baked beans and other
household essentials—enjoyed theirs around the middle of the 20th century. In
the 1950s and 1960s, companies such as General Mills, Unilever and Procter &
Gamble were delighting their customers with one innovative new product after
another, from fluoride-enhanced toothpastes to fragrant fabric softeners and
disposable nappies. But the industry's youthful vigour has ebbed away. Mr Clean,
the bald, rugged sailor who fronts a line of domestic-cleaning products for P&G,
turns 47 this year. (The chap has had a rejuvenating name change, however: he
used to be called Mr Veritably Clean.)

economics of sharing

Technology increases the ability of people to share, but will they share more
than just technology? By Now, most people who use computers have heard of the
“open source” movement, even if they are not sure what it is. It is a way of
making software (and increasingly, other things as well), which relies on the
individual contributions of thousands of programmers. The resulting programs are
owned by no one and are free for all to use. The software is copyrighted only to
ensure it remains free to use and enhance. In essence, therefore, open source
involves two things: putting spare capacity (geeks' surplus time and skill) into
economic production; and sharing.

Citigroup sells to MetLife

America's biggest bank completes its exit from insurance

shares rise on talk of Pernod bid

Antitrust issues loom as Stoli and Beefeater maker eyes merger with Chivas and
Jameson -- report. French spirits group Pernod Ricard is mulling a bid for
Allied Domecq Plc, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, sending shares in
the world's second-biggest spirits group 6 percent higher. "We never hid the
fact that we were interested by acquisitions of both local or global brands,"
Pernod said.

[Which movie featured a scene involving Anthony "Goose" Edwards ordering Pernod
after Pernod from a snotty French waiter?]

Coca-Cola threatens legal action over juice packaging

Coca-Cola is suing rival US beverage manufacturer Florida's Natural because it
believes the company has infringed on the patented plastic carafe used by its
Minute Maid Simply Orange juice brand. Coca-Cola spokesman Ray Crockett told
Florida-based news service The Ledger yesterday that the company believes
Florida's Natural is attempting to take advantage of the success of the Simply
Orange brand, which he attributes partly to the innovative packaging.



Verizon Sniffing Around Sprint

Verizon, the nation's largest phone company, is now taking a closer look at
Sprint, amid a rash of merger dealings across the telecom industry. People close
to the Verizon camp say the big telco has started a so-called due diligence
process at Sprint. The sources describe the work as at the "fact finding" and
information-gathering stage, with no formal discussions under way.

IBM beefs up WebSphere for integration

WebSphere's next version, code-named Pyxis, will focus on making the application
server a better choice for tying systems together.

CIOs see IBM, Dell gaining market share

IT budgets are forecast to grow 5 percent in 2005, according to a survey of 100
chief information officers.

Google sees profits surge

Earnings rise 101 percent year over year, exceeding Wall Street expectations, as
ad revenue soars.

Napster Goes Mobile

A new feature lets subscribers fill up their portable music players with as many
songs as they want for 15 bucks a month. But will the technology seduce iPod

Googling the Bottom Line

Media Hack » Ranking high on a Google search is advantageous for businesses, but
how much is it really worth? Depends on who's tailoring the results.

HP takes aim at Lenovo, IBM with mobility push

Taking aim at IBM laptop customers who may be concerned about its deal with
Lenovo Group, Hewlett-Packard Co. yesterday announced plans to become the
leading vendor in notebook shipments by the end of 2005.

Microsoft uncorks Elixir

Bill Gates lets developers in on a project for expanding Office's reach in the
corporate world.

Kazaa's a drag at its own company

Exec reveals why employees "hate" installing the P2P software and how rivals are
well-positioned to "out-innovate us."



Passenger Screening, Take 10

The Transportation Security Administration continues to push for a centralized
passenger-screening system, this time using a combination of airline passenger
information, terrorist watch lists and junk-mail databases.

Canadians Fight for Privacy

A government decision to outsource health records to the Canadian-based
subsidiary of a U.S. company has Canadians worried that sensitive information
will wind up in the hands of the U.S. government.



Sun begins Its release of open-source Solaris code

Sun released an initial portion of its Solaris 10 source code to the open-source
community and said the rest will be made available by midyear. New device
drivers, ports of the operating system to other platforms and use in embedded
devices are all possible, said backers of the initiative.

Open-source honchos trash software patents

"Software patents are clearly a problem," Linux founder Linus Torvalds says at
the OSDL Linux Summit



Yahoo sues Xfire for patent infringement

Web giant accuses game start-up of misappropriating "messenger service"
technology; seeks injunction, money damages, jury trial.

Google loses trademark case in France

French court charges search giant with trademark counterfeiting and misleading
advertising in case brought by Louis Vuitton.



licenses analog anti-rip technology

CD copy-protection specialist Macrovision is to work with Microsoft to ensure
their respective DRM and anti-rip technologies are interoperable, the two
companies said this week. Sounds straightforward enough, but the deal runs
deeper. Microsoft agreed to license a number of Macrovision's patents, in
particular those relating to analogue copy protection technology and more recent
extensions to that system that cover video-on-demand, pay-per-view content and
support for the US 'broadcast flag', which determines whether consumers will be
able to record digital TV broadcasts. Essentially, the deal positions MS'
strategy of locking down as much content as it can in the hope that such an
approach will find greater favour among consumer electronics kit makers and
content providers than the more flexible approaches taken by, say, Apple.

[Absent Microsoft's market power, do you think an operating system vendor would
choose to incorporate anti-rip technology into their system?]

Software patents: EU votes for restart

The European Parliament's committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) has voted
overwhelmingly in favour of a restart of the whole legislative process of the
controversial directive on computer implemented inventions. The result of the
vote is a huge boost to anti-patent campaigners, who are concerned that the
directive would allow patents to be granted on pure software inventions, as they
are in the US. Although anti-software campaigners had predicted this result,
many others working in Brussels will be surprised. One source told El Reg that
it is almost unprecedented for such a high profile piece of legislation to be
sent back to the drawing board.



Commission reorganises its Information Society and Media DG

From 1 February, the Information Society and Media Directorate General of the
Commission has two new Directorates and three new Units. This reorganisation
completes the changes following President Barroso's decision to bring together
under the responsibility of Commissioner Viviane Reding, all three aspects of
modern day electronic communications ?in the fields of broadcasting, computer
networks and of electronic communication services.



general: It's 'fun to shoot people'

A three-star Marine general who said it was "fun to shoot some people" should
have chosen his words more carefully, the Marine Corps commandant said Thursday.
Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded Marine expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq,
made the comments Tuesday during a panel discussion in San Diego,
California."Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a
hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the
audience. "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I
like brawling.

Ned Flanders, superstar

Pious 'Simpsons' next-door neighbor becomes standout Good heavens! Ned Flanders
has come into his own. A zealous instrument of God, Ned has long been
instrumental to "The Simpsons" as it lampoons organized religion (that is, when
not mocking virtually every other human institution, from business to democracy
to its own TV network). But lately the ground has shifted beneath the Simpsons'
hometown of Springfield, U.S.A., along with the rest of the nation. The new term
has begun for a president whose re-election was clinched by the "moral values"
ballyhoo. The current climate finds faith synonymous with patriotism, while
"secular" is code for un-American.

Naughty children, Not just William

Anti-social behaviour used to be more acceptable, and more fun. IN A speech last
year, Tony Blair traced the origins of anti-social behaviour to the 1960s. That
decade, he explained, “spawned a group of young people who were brought up
without parental discipline, without proper role models and without any sense of
responsibility to or for others”. It's a widely held view. But if earlier
generations were paragons of good behaviour, why do so many old children's books
praise naughtiness?

UC Considers Using Barcodes for Cadavers

Shaken by scandals involving the black-market sale of body parts, University of
California officials are considering inserting supermarket-style barcodes or
radio frequency devices in cadavers to keep track of them.

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