Ed Oswald

Zune -- It's really dead this time

Stop me if you heard this one before: the Zune is dead. Buried within Microsoft's slate of announcements at E3 was a change in branding, which effectively kills off the Zune altogether. A new music service is in the cards, called Xbox Music, which will be its replacement.

The Xbox branding is more appropriate considering the service will be available across Microsoft's disparate platforms -- Windows 8 computers and devices, Windows Phones, and the Xbox 360. Removing the Zune branding also gives the service a fresh start, free from the negative connotations the Zune name may have among many consumers.

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Netflix will build content delivery network of its own

Netflix is building its own content delivery network, a sign that the company wants to be able to deliver its content on its own terms. The move signals trouble for current content delivery partners, many of which get a large portion of their revenues through contracts with Netflix.

The company is not immediately tearing up these contracts: rather Netflix will continue to use these commercial networks for the "next few years". Eventually, however, most Netflix content will be delivered through its own pipes, called the "Open Connect Network".

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Microsoft turns on 'Do Not Track' in Internet Explorer 10 by default

In a move that is sure to rankle web advertisers, Microsoft late Thursday disclosed that Internet Explorer will have "Do Not Track" functionality on by default. This will prevent browser data crucial to behavioral and targeted advertising from being sent to third parties and could seriously disrupt the advertising industry in general.

Microsoft is vowing to move ahead despite the complaints of the industry. "While some people will say that this change is too much and others that it is not enough, we think it is progress and that consumers will favor products designed with their privacy in mind over products that are designed primarily to gather their data", IE vice president Dean Hachamovitch says.

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Judge strikes down Oracle API copyright claims against Google

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison may have felt like king of the world Wednesday night as he announced his company's move to the cloud, but today he's likely licking his wounds: Oracle's case against Google over Android's use of Java is essentially dead.

Judge William Alsup ruled Thursday that Oracle could not assert copyright claims on Google for 37 different Java APIs used within Android. Alsup ruled that only the code within, and not the way they are used, are subject to copyright claims.

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Microsoft debuts Visual Studio 2012, .NET 4.5 and Windows Server 2012 release candidates

Microsoft's suite of enterprise products isn't about to let the consumer-facing ones steal the headlines. On the same day the Redmond, Wash. company announced the Release Preview of Windows 8, the company's enterprise and developer software arm announced the release candidates of .NET Framework 4.5, Visual Studio 2012 and Windows Server 2012.

Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 are available for download by anyone by visiting the Visual Studio 2012 website, while Windows Server 2012 is available only to TechNet and MSDN subscribers by visiting TechNet.

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Oracle's Ellison: "We have a much more modern version of the cloud"

Think what you want about Larry Ellison personally, but Oracle's bombastic CEO is never one to be shown up. That's why when he took the the stage at the D: All Things Digital conference near Los Angeles Wednesday night, he had an announcement to make: his company is wholeheartedly embracing the cloud.

Oracle will announce next Wednesday that all of its tools will be available in the cloud. This is a major step for a company that was seen as lagging in the cloud computing sector. Look at Oracle's competitors: SAP just last week acquired Ariba in a blockbuster $4.3 billion buy, and VMware is aiming for the developers that Oracle calls its core customer base.

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Office 365 for Government puts Microsoft squarely on Google's turf

Microsoft is making a play for the lucrative government sector, releasing Office 365 for Government on Wednesday. The service is much like the standard product, including Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online and an option to purchase a local version of Office Professional Plus.

Where the government version of Office 365 is different is how it stores data. Government agencies typically require a good deal more security, so all data is stored in a "segregated community cloud". This means data for government customers will be completely separate from other Office 365 users.

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Is Israel behind the 'Flame' worm?

Security researchers are warning of what they call one of the most sophisticated worms to date, and believe that this time, the worm may be the work of a nation-state rather than hackers. Called "Flame", the Trojan has hit Middle Eastern countries particularly hard, most notably Iran.

According to Kaspersky, Flame is capable of stealing "computer display contents, information about targeted systems, stored files, contact data and even audio conversations". The worm appears to be targeted to specific computers, likely indicating its creators are searching for specific information.

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Over-allocation kills cloud savings

When it comes to the cloud and Amazon Web Services, IT administrators often buy far more than they need and fail to adjust to realities once they have a good understanding of their deployment's needs. These are the findings of Cloudyn, a cloud cost management provider.

Cloudyn estimates that some cloud adopters are wasting on average 40 percent of their annual expense on AWS resources they don't use. The reasons why vary: resources are often over-allocated, instances are left running after they are no longer needed, or even failing to take advantage of Amazon's own cost-cutting offerings.

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Box cozies up to large scale users, debuts new admin tools

Enterprise cloud-based file sharing service Box strengthened its offering on Thursday, announcing new features that will simplify management for IT administrators. The new functionality allows for greater control over security, and the ability to enable enterprise-wide search.

The company also debuted new pricing structures that enable larger companies to adopt its services with more predictable pricing. This is a move away from the traditional per-seat model of the past, and makes cloud storage more cost-effective for large enterprises.

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HP reports better-than-expected quarter, but cuts 27,000 jobs amid restructuring

HP released better than expected results after the close of the markets Wednesday, and the company overall shows signs of a long-awaited turnaround. But the big story tonight surrounds the 27,000 workers who will lose their jobs as part of a "multi-year" restructuring plan announced by CEO Meg Whitman.

The cuts amount to about eight percent of the workforce and are expected to save HP between $3 and $3.5 billion annually by 2015. It will be phased in gradually though 2014, and involves an early retirement package to be offered by the company. In a conference call with analysts, Whitman described the quarter's results as positive, but added "we have a lot of work to do".

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Oracle gains stake in social CRM with $300 million Vitrue buy

A day after competitor SAP acquired Ariba to bolster its cloud portfolio, Oracle announced a significant buy of its own, acquiring cloud-based social, marketing company Vitrue on Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although TechCrunch reports it was worth some $300 million.

Oracle's purchase of Vitrue gives the Redwood Shores, Calif. company a foothold in the social CRM segment, an initiative Gartner says companies will spend some $2.1 billion on this year alone. With the rise of social networks, companies need methods to quantify the results of their social marketing. Virtue's platform allows customers to "centrally create, publish, moderate, manage, measure and report on their social marketing campaigns and activities", Oracle says.

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SAP acquires Ariba for $4.3 billion in bid to challenge Oracle in the cloud

SAP made a major play for the cloud Tuesday as its American arm announced acquisition of Ariba, a German cloud computing applications maker. The transaction is worth some $4.3 billion, and is expected to close this summer.

Ariba is the world's second largest-cloud vendor by revenue, SAP says. With the addition of the German company, SAP now looks to challenge rival Oracle, which also has made a play for the cloud segment as of late.

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Open source software comes of age

More than half of all software acquired by IT in the next five years will be open source, according to a new study, and open source software (OSS) leads in the areas of cloud, big data, mobile apps and enterprise mobility.

"Taken together with applications like mobile and enabled by cloud, we are entering an exciting new era of 'Open Innovation on Demand,' where not only can OSS innovate faster, it can be deployed immediately and consumed as a service from the cloud", says Michael Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, one of the sponsors of the survey.

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GitHub for Windows released, developers rejoice

Code sharing site GitHub announced a client for Windows on Monday, aimed at making it easier to search for code on the platform. The move is an obvious nod to Microsoft's dominance in computing, and done more out of necessity than anything.

GitHub is built on top of the command line Git application, and has quickly begun to change the way software is developed. It makes the process of managing an open-source project a whole lot easier, and allows work on code by many developers versus a few "gatekeepers" who control what gets into daily builds.

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