<IT WORLD> Morro's another day for Microsoft By Martin J Young
HUA HIN, Thailand - Microsoft plans to introduce free security software for
personal computers and discontinue the subscription-based Windows Live OneCare
service. The new security suite, codenamed Morro, will be available in the
second half of 2009 and will protect computers against viruses, spyware,
malware and Trojans.
The company seems to be taking aim at rivals McAfee and Symantec, current
leaders in the PC security market. McAfee spokesmen, however, said the move
signals a defeat for Microsoft as OneCare achieved less than 2% market share in
its two years on the market. This could be the end of bloated, resource-hogging
security suites and annual subscriptions to keep computers free of nasties, in
other words goodbye Norton, Trend Micro, McAfee
and Kasperspy. People generally warm quicker to "free", especially if it is of
a Microsoft flavor and designed specifically to help protect the already
vulnerable Windows operating system.
The current service, costing US$49.95 per year, will be discontinued from June
30 and replaced with the lighter, no-cost offering. Morro will use fewer
resources, making it more suitable for older, slower PCs which are less likely
to have any virus protection, according to the software giant. The company also
said it will offer refunds to customers who have already purchased OneCare.
Apple may want to take note because if Microsoft is successful, virus writers
and spyware and malware peddlers may start to target OSX instead. Some people
are reporting that this has already begun.
While on the subject of computer security, Internet users have been warned to
be on high alert as Monday, November 24, has been predicted as the worst day of
the year for viruses and attacks. Data from over half a million computers
around the world showed that the high point last year came three days before
America's Thanksgiving holiday. With millions of users going online to look for
bargains or purchase gifts for friends and family, hackers and criminals gear
up to take their chances at stealing financial data.
These malicious software scripts, which usually target personal data, have
increased to over 1.2 million this year from 135,000 in 2007 and over 8 million
Americans have been the victim of identity theft during the same period.
Worms, Trojans, botnets, viruses, spyware and malware will all be in Santa's
sack early so be on guard! Do not open any e-mail attachments you're not
expecting, do not click on any pop-ups when web surfing, do ensure your browser
is the latest version with all of the security patches and make sure you have
up-to-date anti-virus software, and a spyware/malware scanner and removal
program or two.
A new application by Google for iPhone users went live this week amid plenty of
speculation about delays apparently caused by Apple. The voice search
technology allows users on their mobile to ask it questions in the form of
search terms. It will then return a list of results similar to those found on
Google on the web. The new Google Mobile App for iPhone also detects the
phone's movement and activates when you're ready to do a search. The speech
recognition software does not need to be trained or adapted to an individual
voice - it is far more intuitive and works right "out of the box".
The system will make a search based on your geographical location so you can
look up local restaurants, movie show times, or weather reports just by telling
the phone what you want. The download was made available from Apple's App Store
earlier this week following a somewhat embarrassing delay from the original
release date promised by Google last Friday.
Apple was involved in more strife this week after repeatedly ignoring user
complaints about hairline cracks in some of its iPhone 3G models. Disgruntled
iPhone owners started posting problems on Mac-specific websites in August and
Apple has since ignored them. One Long Island resident took things a step
further, deciding to sue the company for false advertising and its lack of
response. There are further complaints that increasing 3G demands from the
units cause AT&T cell towers to revert to the much slower EDGE transmission
system, resulting in none of the advertised high-speed benefits the two
companies have touted.
SuperSpeed is the buzzword touted for the latest USB 3.0 specifications,
released this week, and it's pretty close to the mark. The USB 3.0 Promoter
Group announced the specifications to enable hardware developers to begin
implementing the new technology into their products.
With speeds of up to 5 gigabytes per second, the technology will be over six
times faster than USB 2.0, released eight years ago, which offers data transfer
rates of up to 480 megabytes per second. Advanced power-management features and
simultaneous bi-directional data flows will also be featured along with
backwards compatibility with USB 2.0. However, the successor to the current
computing standard isn't likely to be appearing in devices until late 2009.
officially introduced its next generation desktop processors this week - enter
the Nehalem, or Core i7 CPU. Three different desktop PC markets have been
targeted by the company, which is offering three versions of the current
fastest CPU that money can buy. PC makers including Dell, Gateway and Falcon
Northwest are offering the latest hardware to take advantage of the new
processing horsepower from the Intel chip.
The quad core processors range in clock speed from 2.66GHz to 3.2GHz and are
priced between around $300 and $1,200. Features include an integrated memory
controller, the return of Hyperthreading, and new "Dynamic Speed Technology",
which can shut down the cores and increase the clock speed on demand, depending
on the application and its processing requirements.
AMD will have trouble competing on these grounds, even with its 45 nanometer
Phenom II X4, which is due for release in the first quarter of next year. What
we will see though are cheaper Core 2 Duo processors and more competitive
pricing from AMD across its range of multi-core CPUs.
Yahoo co-founder and chief executive Jerry Yang announced that he will be
stepping down from the helm of the pioneering Internet company this week. The
news resulted in a boost of 8.7% to Yahoo stock, which has had a particularly
rough ride this year following repeated rejections of multi-billion dollar
takeover bids from Microsoft. Before the announcement, Yahoo's market value had
fallen by over $20 billion since Yang took over last year, the result of an
accumulation of collapses including those proposed deals with Microsoft and
partnerships with Google and AOL.
A decision on Yang's replacement is not likely until next year. Until then,
Yang will remain in his position. A new chief executive will need a clear
direction of where the company is heading in order to turn operations around.
This could pave the way to re-opening negotiations with Microsoft, which is
still striving for a more prominent Internet search and advertising market
share. Yahoo has hired Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm, to
find candidates for the position.
Repairs to the Large Hadron Collider based at CERN (the European Organization
for Nuclear Research) near Geneva in Switzerland are expected to cost over $20
million and they could delay the startup of the mega-machine until next summer.
A faulty electrical connection between two magnets resulted in helium leaks
just nine days after the subatomic race track was fired up in September. The
closure will delay the ground-breaking experiments, which researchers expect
will replicate conditions in the universe just moments after its conception,
for around a year. That is good news for the doomsayers who have predicted the
experiments, which smash together beams of high-speed particles, would result
in the end of the world, but bad news for the hundreds of scientists involved.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.