IT Channel News Briefs, July 3

Today's headlines: Former HP exec charged. Firefox claims record. Dell buys Dell shares.

News for the week of June 30-July 4, 2008 -- in brief, updated daily, on topics important to the information technology (IT) channel.

Thursday, July 3

Former HP exec charged with leaking IBM trade secrets

A former Hewlett-Packard vice president was indicted for passing off confidential business information from IBM, his former employer, to HP insiders, Wired News reported Tuesday.

The federal indictment focuses on an incident in which Atul Malhotra, the former director of sales and business development at IBM's printing services business, requested pricing information for IBM services in March 2006 and then sent the information to HP execs after he transferred to that company. The indictment says Malhotra sent an email titled "for your eyes only" that included the pricing information.

In a statement, HP said it "conducted an internal investigation," terminated Malhotra and reported the activity to IBM.

Mozilla claims (nonexistent) record

The Mozilla Foundation said its new Firefox 3 browser set a Guinness World Record -- previously nonexistent -- for number of software downloads in one day.

For its June 18 launch day, Firefox 3 claimed more than 8 million downloads, according to Guinness judges who confirmed the figure Wednesday. The judges audited Mozilla servers to eliminate duplicate and unfinished downloads.

Firefox continues its push to unseat Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the browser of choice for users and has seen some success, although IE still holds a dominant 73% market share, according to researcher Net Applications.

There were glitches: Downloaders jammed Mozilla servers for a while, and there is a security hole in the browser requiring a patch.

Dell buys into Dell

Michael Dell bought nearly $100 million worth, or $4.5 million shares, of his own company's stock this week, sending a sign to the investment community that he has faith in the company. This is the largest amount of stock Dell has bought in his company since 2006, when he bought $70 million worth of shares. Before that it had been 14 years since he had invested. After the news, Dell's stock price rose 2.3% Monday to $22.70, but hasn't budged since. In the past year, shares rode as high as $30.77 and as low as $18.13.

Microsoft buys search company (no, not Yahoo)

Microsoft is buying Powerset, a natural language search specialist. "Powerset will join our core Search Relevance team, remaining intact in San Francisco. Powerset brings with it natural language technology that nicely complements other natural language processing technologies we have in Microsoft Research," Microsoft said in a July 1 Live Search blog posting. Terms were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, it's apparently Yahoo's turn to talk to potential partners in the continuing Microhoo saga. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Yahoo is talking to other companies (including News Corp. and Time Warner) about possible deals. This was just days after it reported that Microsoft is talking with Time Warner and News Corp. about possible Yahoo-related deals.

The theory is that Yahoo and Time Warner have restarted discussions about a structure they talked about months ago in which Time Warner would fold AOL into Yahoo and take a minority stake in the combined venture. News Corp. has also been "hovering" around Yahoo, according to reports.

Microsoft starts Office rental at retail

Microsoft will start "renting" Office to consumers later this month. The purpose of the $70-per-year subscription package, called Equipt, is to woo cost-conscious PC buyers who might otherwise opt for low-cost Open Office or Star Office or Google's freebie applications.

Equipt bundles the student and teacher version of Office with Microsoft Live OneCare security software. It will be sold through Circuit City stores.

Agito scores second round of venture funding

Enterprise mobility infrastructure company Agito Networks, founded by two former Cisco wireless executives in 2006, raised $13 million in a second round of venture funding, the company said this week. Agito pulled off the funding in a tight market. This round was led by Castile Ventures and included input from ITX International Holdings and Battery Ventures. Battery led Agito's first round of venture funding worth $9 million.

Agito is best known for its RoamAnywhere Mobility Router, and the company focuses the majority of its sales through solutions providers.

Wednesday, July 2

Report: Microsoft still working Yahoo angles

Microsoft continues to look for ways to do a Yahoo deal, and for partners to do it with, according to The Wall Street Journal. The paper reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proposed then canceled a meeting with Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock to talk about a new deal involving third-party partners. News Corp. remains one likely partner.

Microsoft withdrew its $47.5 billion bid in May after Yahoo's intransigence. Yahoo executives have recently raised questions about whether the Redmond, Wash. software giant was ever serious about a merger. Meanwhile, Yahoo investor Carl Icahn is fielding a slate of directors to replace Yahoo's board and has called for the ouster of Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting Aug. 1.

SAP ERP 6.0 nets 10,000 customers

SAP touted its success in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market yesterday, announcing that its latest release, SAP ERP 6.0, has crossed the 10,000-customer barrier. The company also emphasized a recent report by Gartner that named SAP the ERP market leader, beating its closest competitor by a two-to-one margin. ERP 6.0 came out in June 2006 and is the fastest-adopted release in SAP history.

Former Avaya exec joins Juma board

Juma Technology, an IP convergence systems integrator, has appointed former Avaya chief of North American channels Ken Archer to its board of directors. Archer, who is currently the president of Prime Communications, is credited with creating Avaya's multi-channel strategy and expanding the company's market reach. Before Avaya, Archer spent many years at Hewlett-Packard, where, in one of his positions, he headed the direct response channel.

Applications drive 802.11n sales

A review of 802.11n vendors by ABI Research found that a provider's partner ecosystem can be more important to a customer than its core technology, SearchNetworking.com reported Tuesday. That's because companies may have specific application needs that vendors can only provide if they have the right partnerships in place. ABI suggests users identify their application needs before they choose a vendor. For systems integrators, that can mean helping users make those determinations and leading them to the correct technology.

Tuesday, July 1

Tech companies fight patent trolls

Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Ericsson and Verizon, among others, are forming a group called Allied Security Trust to buy up intellectual property patents before they are acquired by so-called patent trolls, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The companies will pay $250,000 to join the group and will each put $5 million into escrow with the organization, to go toward future patent purchases.

These days, tech companies are scrambling to shield themselves from patent trolls, who buy patents and use them to sue companies for infringement. The Coalition for Patent Fairness reports the number of patent-related lawsuits rose to nearly 2,500 last year, up from 921 in 1990. Of the more notable suits, Research in Motion settled a $612.5 million case in 2006 with a small Virginia firm that held patents for wireless email technology.

Microsoft adds yet another licensing option

Microsoft says its new Select Plus licensing program adds flexibility to volume software purchases for medium-sized and large businesses. It especially suits companies with multiple business units or divisions, the company said. Like the Select program, it lumps products into three pools -- applications, systems (desktop operating systems) and servers -- with each product bringing a point value to help determine discount.

Customers with Enterprise Agreements or other volume licensing agreements can use this option starting this fall. One big change, according to SearchWinIT.com, is that Select Plus eliminates forecasting. Under the current Select plan, companies must guess how much software they will buy over three years. Based on that forecast, customer discounts are set. Under Select Plus, discounts will be based on what they actually buy. Also, Select Plus customers will have to buy a three-year Software Assurance (SA) maintenance agreement with every new purchase. Under Select, they could buy a one-year SA agreement on a new purchase if they were in the last year of an existing three-year contract.

New alliance preaches Mac-Windows interoperability

Five software development companies have formed the Enterprise Desktop Alliance to bolster Macintosh and Windows interoperability, according to SearchWinIT.com. The goal preached by these developers is to deliver solutions that "streamline the deployment, integration and management of the Mac in sophisticated Windows-managed IT environments." Participants in the alliance are Atempo Inc., Centrify Corp., Group Logic Inc., LANrev Inc. and Parallels Inc. Enterprise Mac use is attracting more and more interest this year.

Linux head talks up market share

Our sister site SearchEnterpriseLinux.com scored an interview with Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin during the Red Hat Summit in Boston. Zemlin talked about Linux's growing presence in the market, citing its presence in the Google and Facebook platforms. Linux's enterprise market share is growing, but Zemlin's claim that "computing is becoming a two-horse race between Linux and Microsoft" may be premature -- as we reported yesterday, even Apple Macintosh has a sizeable lead over enterprise Linux's market share.

Agito names ex-Cisco exec to its board

Mobile technology vendor Agito Networks named former Cisco exec David Leonard as executive chairman of its board, The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reported Monday. Leonard was the former vice president and general manager of Cisco's wireless networking unit. He is credited with helping Cisco's wireless and Ethernet product lines grow to be market-leading technologies.

Monday, June 30

Bill Gates' last day at Microsoft

Well, Friday came and went, and the world is still on its axis. Friday, as most everyone knows all too well by now, was Bill Gates' last day as a Microsoft full-timer, and his teary farewell was well documented. Gates is now a nonexecutive chairman, and it's time for Steve Ballmer, CEO since 2000, to shine. Gates relinquished his chief software architect title to Ray Ozzie and announced his plans to step down back in June 2006.

Company insiders say Gates' slow withdrawal from day-to-day duties was more noticeable in some areas than others. He has been very active in the company's software plus services push, sources said. Some think that will continue despite his change of status. But most insiders say Ballmer, long the number two at the software giant, really wants to prove that the company's success was not "all about Bill."

Windows XP deadline today

Windows XP won't be available through major retailers or OEM partners after today, according to the Associated Press. Microsoft has stopped selling the operating system to focus exclusively on its controversial successor, Windows Vista. But there are ways around the deadline: Dell, for one, explains how partners can use a Microsoft licensing loophole to keep selling Windows XP machines. Microsoft will continue full Windows XP support through next year and limited support until 2014.

Oracle acknowledges top Accelerate partners in EMEA

Oracle has named its top-performing Accelerate partners in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The goal is to highlight partners who build custom vertical applications, bundled with best practices, for midsized organizations atop the Oracle software stack. Those affordable Accelerate solutions can then be packaged up and resold.

Winners include EVOSOFT, IBM and iORGA in France; Pyxis in Germany; Atlantic Technology in Italy; Innova IT in Turkey; and Whitehouse and Application Lynx in the United Kingdom.

Watch out Intel! Smaller, quicker and cheaper chips are here

Intel -- the seemingly bullet-proof chip maker -- is seeing competition from an upstart that is producing lighter and cheaper chips at the same or even better quality, The New York Times reported today. ARM Holdings -- a relatively little-known British chip maker -- makes processors that sell for substantially less than Intel's X86 chips and are often used for cell phones or mini mobile computers.

Using ARM's design, Qualcomm, Nvidia and others are making chips for mobile computing that can outshine similar devices powered by Intel chips. Qualcomm's chip, Snapdragon, enables perfect high-definition video off of a palm-sized circuit board, using less than half the power of a similar chip from Intel. Nvidia has a small mobile computer that works five times as long on a battery as a similar portable machine powered by Intel's most recent low-powered chip, according to reports.

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