Ed Oswald

Senator Schumer sides with Apple and publishers in ebook price fixing case

books eye glasses

A prominent Senate Democrat sided with Apple this week, and called on the Justice Department to drop its ebook lawsuit against the Cupertino, Calif. company. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in an opinion piece that appeared in the Wednesday edition of the Wall Street Journal that a victory by the DOJ could be detrimental to the entire publishing industry.

"The suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple", Schumer argued. "If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets".

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Researchers take down botnet responsible for a fifth of world's spam


If you notice a huge drop in the amount of pharmaceutical spam you're receiving, you're not imagining things. Security researchers say they were able to take down "Grum", the spam server behind about 18 percent of global spam.

The process began when researchers blocked the botnet's command servers in the Netherlands and Panama on Tuesday. Grum's administrators acted quickly to restore the server, and shortly thereafter had set up new command servers in Russia and Ukraine. Researchers were still hot on their trail, and Militpas, Calif.-based security firm FireEye along with UK-based anti-spam group SpamHaus worked with Russian security experts to take down Grum again on Wednesday morning.

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Maritz may be out as VMware's CEO, but now heads EMC's business strategy


EMC and VMware confirmed that Paul Maritz is leaving his position as CEO of VMware late Tuesday, transitioning to chief strategist within parent company EMC. As first reported by CRN Monday, and confirmed by the Wall Street Journal, Pat Gelsinger will move from his current role as EMC President and COO of Information Infrastructure Products to CEO of VMware. Both appointments take effect September 1.

EMC acquired VMware in 2004. Insiders say that while the two companies initially stated their respective management teams would stay separate, many expected an eventual blurring of those lines and a shuffling of executives between the two companies. Maritz has been with EMC since 2008, and Gelsinger joined a year later.

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VMware CEO Paul Maritz reportedly out in executive swap with EMC


VMware CEO Paul Maritz (pictured right) has reportedly been ousted as the company's CEO, with current EMC Information Infrastructure Products division president and chief operating officer Pat Gelsinger taking his place. The news, first reported by CRN on Monday night, has so far gone unconfirmed. The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday cited its own sources saying Maritz will take the position of vice chairman within EMC.

EMC acquired VMware in 2004. Insiders say that while the two companies initially stated its respective management teams would stay separate, many expected an eventual blurring of those lines and a shuffling of executives between the two companies. Maritz has been with EMC since 2008, and Gelsinger joining a year later.

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Microsoft delivers Customer Preview of new Office suite

Office 2013

Microsoft unveiled the latest version of Office on Monday, intended to take advantage of the latest features of Windows 8 including touch, an ARM-based version for Windows RT, and two new Office applications including OneNote and Lync.

"We are taking bold steps at Microsoft", CEO Steve Ballmer said at the press conference in San Francisco. "The new, modern Office will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility for both consumers and business customers. It is a cloud service and will fully light-up when paired with Windows 8".

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Microsoft should follow Apple's lead and ditch the disc in Windows 8

Windows 8 Metro

Microsoft plans to simplify Windows 8 sales by eliminating the full version of the operating system and focusing on upgrade and "system builder" editions. The change likely means that Windows 8 will be cheaper by and large to obtain the most consumers.

Pundits Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley spoke of the move, citing sources on their weekly Internet radio show "Windows Weekly". The move follows another from April where the company announced Windows 8 would only be available in standard and Pro editions, aimed at making the purchasing process much easier.

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Hack exposes 450,000 Yahoo passwords

Yahoo HQ

Yahoo is investigating a hack that disclosed the usernames and passwords of at least 450,000 users. The attackers are believed to have gotten into the site through Yahoo Voices, the user-generated content site formerly known as Associated Content.

Security Firm TrustedSec found that the passwords were stored unencrypted, and have now been posted online. This means anyone affected by this breach is at immediate risk of an account breach, and so far has only offered publicly that it is "looking into" claims of a breach. The best advice for Yahoo users at this point is to find out for themselves if their account has been breached, and take immediate steps to change their passwords.

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Motorola and Microsoft suspend some patent disputes

patent agreement contract

Microsoft and Motorola Mobility pulled back from their bitter patent dispute in the courts, as both sides joined together Tuesday to ask for a temporary stay to all ongoing patent disputes in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. This involves three cases currently being heard by that court, and refocuses arguments on so-called FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing terms.

Motorola is accused -- not only by Microsoft, but by other targets of the company's patent suits -- of attempting to demand too high royalties for standards essential patents. The company's efforts have frustrated judges, too, with one publicly admonishing both Motorola and Microsoft of using the courts to gain an upper hand in negotiations.

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Windows Server 2012 will be generally available in September

servers cloud

Microsoft will publicly release Windows Server 2012 a month earlier than Windows 8, the company's server and tools business vice president Satya Nadella told attendees of the Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto on Tuesday. The release will be part of a broader effort to draw customers away from its competitors and on to the Windows Azure platform.

The server platform will release to manufacturing first in August, followed by general availability of the OS in September.

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Microsoft keeps the old Surface alive with Perceptive Pixel buy

Perceptive Pixel display

While Microsoft has turned to the smaller touchscreen with its Surface tablet, the company hasn't forgotten about its roots in large-format touch screens and the original Surface (now PixelSense). Microsoft announced the acquisition of Perceptive Pixel on Monday, one of the leading large-scale, multi-touch display solution providers.

You are probably already familiar with Perceptive Pixel's technologies, although you may not realize it. CNN began using the company's touch displays during the 2008 presidential election and has used them ever since. Perceptive Pixel also has customers across other sectors, including government, defense, energy exploration, engineering, and higher education.

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Apple's App Store flub causes dozens of iOS and Mac apps to crash

Apple App Store

A bug in Apple's App Store updating mechanism caused some recently downloaded apps to crash on startup. The issue affects several popular apps including Instapaper and Angry Birds Space, and made Fourth of July stressful for many developers.

The issue appears to have cropped up after changes in Apple's app distribution. The glitch not only affects iOS apps but also those obtained through the Mac App Store, leading some to believe the issue may reside in Apple's FairPlay DRM mechanism.

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Micron swoops in to save Elpida, becomes top-tier supplier

micron hq

Micron set itself up to be the world's top tablet and mobile memory supplier after announcing its intent to purchase Elpida on Monday. Apple is one of Elpida's biggest customers, and its chips are found in devices and Macs throughout its product line.

Micron will pay Elpida creditors $2.5 billion to settle any claims, and will pay Elpida $750 million to purchase its assets. Another $1.75 billion is to be paid through 2019 in installment payments for foundry services to be provided by Elpida to Micron, which will now operate as a Micron subsidiary.

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RIM Death Watch: Revenues plummet, jobs cut, BB10 delayed until 2013

BlackBerry Outage

The news for Research in Motion went from bad to worse after the close of the market Thursday, as the company reported a sharp 33 percent drop in revenues quarter-to-quarter. Worse yet, its next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system is postponed until the first quarter of next year, meaning any major new device releases are also delayed.

As part of its earnings announcement, RIM is also giving some bad news to its employees: layoffs for 5,000, or about a third of its workforce. Looks like it's time to start the RIM death watch once again.

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Google takes on Amazon with Compute Engine cloud service

cloud computing laptop smartphone tablet

Google has Amazon in its sights. The Mountain View, California company has announced Google Compute Engine, its answer to Amazon's Elastic Compute (EC2) service. While the company currently only offers its cloud platform in limited preview, it is likely wider availability will come in short order, likely later this year.

Google will provide customers with virtual machines in 1,2,4, and 8 core-configurations running Linux. Each virtual machine will come with 3.75GB of RAM per virtual core, and storage is provided through Google's new persistent block device, or its newly announced Google Cloud Storage product.

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Google-backed CliQr may have the solution to end cloud vendor lock-in

businessman cloud

Google-backed startup CliQr launched its cloud management platform on Tuesday. CliQr's offering is aimed at making it easier for enterprise IT to migrate legacy apps to the cloud, as well as between different cloud platforms with little additional work.

Lock-in has become an increasing concern among cloud computing industry watchers, as Amazon Web Services takes an ever more dominant role. Rackspace president Lew Moorman slammed AWS last week, saying its proprietary cloud tools make it difficult for Amazon customers to migrate elsewhere.

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