3/7/2006

Microsoft Launches Revamped Search Engine

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

In its latest bid to catch up with rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. is launching a revamped Internet search engine it says will help computer users find information faster, view it more easily and organize it better.

Debuting in test form Wednesday, Windows Live Search is Microsoft’s latest move in a major strategy shift that has the world’s largest software company focusing more heavily on Internet-based software and services.

The goal of the shift, which includes initiatives dubbed Windows Live and Office Live, is to create online products to complement its main cash cows: the Windows operating system and Office business software.

Windows Live Search will power queries on live.com, Microsoft’s Windows Live Web site, beginning Wednesday. Once the technology has been fully tested, Windows Live Search will replace the existing search engine that powers MSN.com. MSN spokesman Adam Sohn said the company has not determined how long it will run Windows Live Search as a test.

A key goal with the new search engine will be to give people more control over how they search for information and how they put it to use once they get it, said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of information services at MSN, the division that’s working on Windows Live.

The new search engine includes features such as support for tabbed Web browsing, which lets people keep several search panes open in a single window. Microsoft said other features will include: A search slider bar that offers previews of data in various forms, A “smart scroll” function that displays all search results at once, Various ways to view pictures and An ability for users to save their search parameters as macros.

Source: AP

Hitachi Unveils Security Robot on Wheels

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Hitachi is working on an R2D2-like security robot on wheels that can map out its surroundings using infrared sensors and a camera to detect missing items, suspicious packages and intruders.

The 22-inch tall robot, which looks like a trash can and is reminiscent of the small, beeping robot in “Star Wars,” has a swiveling camera that protrudes like a periscope, enabling it to watch for suspicious changes in the landscape and send photos to a guard, Hitachi said Tuesday.

The Japanese electronics maker has no commercial product plans so far but believes the roving robot, which can figure out the best route to a spot on its own, is better than the stationary cameras now common for security, researcher Toshio Moriya said.

Source: AP

Cyber criminals stepping up targeted attacks

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

seek to avoid detection and reap bigger profits by stealing personal and financial information, according to a report issued on Monday.

Symantec Corp.’s Internet Security Threat report said during the second half of 2005 attackers continued to move away from broad attacks seeking to breach firewalls and routers and are now taking aim at the desktop and Web applications.

The latest report from the world’s biggest security software maker said threats such as viruses, worms and trojans that can unearth confidential information from a user’s computer rose to 80 percent of the top 50 malicious software code threats from 74 percent in the previous six months.

Scams such as phishing attacks that trick users into revealing information such as passwords, credit card information and other financial information also rose, the report said.

Source: Reuters

France debates whether to legalise Internet downloads

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The French government and MPs are preparing to do battle over a digital copyright bill that could clear the way for the legal downloading of music and movie files from the Internet.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin’s centre-right government is trying to block MPs from voting to give such permission to Internet users, who would pay a small extra monthly fee to their Internet service provider for the right.

Representatives from both the ruling UMP party and the opposition benches had already voted to adopt the download fee idea in December while debating an original version of the bill.

As a result, Villepin hastily withdrew the original bill and had it slightly modified for re-submission to parliament Tuesday.

Several days of debate are scheduled before a vote due on March 14.

Source: AFP

Microsoft to OpenDocument Alliance: Where’s the Choice?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft is accusing some competitors of exactly the same thing of which they have criticized the software company: pushing an exclusive standard to the detriment of all others and not enabling choice.

These sharp words from Microsoft follow the formation last week of the OpenDocument Format Alliance, a coalition of more than 35 organizations from across the world whose goal is to enable governments to have direct management and greater control over their documents.

Alan Yates, general manager of Microsoft’s Information Worker Business Strategy in Redmond, Wash., this week accused the alliance, which he referred to as “Sun, IBM and their friends,” of wanting to push the ODF as an “exclusive” standard to the detriment of all others, rather than enabling choice among formats like PDF from Adobe, Microsoft’s OpenXML and HTML.

“Clearly, choice and competition are better than arbitrary technology preferences. Part of this confusion is clearly IBM and Sun promoting their products based on OpenOffice that have had difficulty competing in the marketplace thus far,” Yates said.

Source: eWeek

Intel shows Origami-like device

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Intel on Tuesday plans to show off the minitablet device at the center of Microsoft’s Origami Project.

In a preview of Tuesday afternoon’s demonstration, Intel Marketing Director Brad Graff showed CNET News.com several of the Ultra Mobile PC devices, including an example of the kind of hardware that will ship in the next few weeks as part of the Microsoft effort.

As earlier reported, the first devices have a 7-inch touch screen, standard x86 processors, and can run full versions of desktop operating systems including the Windows XP variant being used for Origami.

In later generations, probably next year or later, the devices could have the pocket size, all-day battery life, and $500 price that Microsoft and Intel are aiming for, Graff said in an interview.

The first generation of devices are likely to get about three hours of battery life, he said.

Source: News.com

MapQuest offers open-source API

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

MapQuest announced Tuesday that it plans to offer Web developers an open-source beta version of its mapping and routing technology.

MapQuest OpenAPI is the latest entry into the market of open-source mapping application programming interface, or API, technology. Google and Yahoo, for example, began offering outside developers their mapping APIs last June as a means to prompt them to develop programs with their technology.

The OpenAPI beta aims to give developers the ability to include its routing capabilities in the programs they create. For example, a developer creating a program that displays all Napa Valley wineries on a single map could combine, or “mash up,” that feature with driving directions to specific vineyards, based on a person’s taste preference.

“OpenAPI represents our initial step to provide developers with a simple way to access all the core tools, routing included, necessary to create truly useful mashups,” Jim Greiner, vice president and general manager of MapQuest, said in a statement.

Source: News.com

Yahoo Expands API For Developers

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Yahoo plans Tuesday to roll out a new set of APIs to allow third-party developers to build applications using Yahoo services.

The four new APIs provide ways to access data inside Yahoo Photos, Calendar, MyWeb and Shopping.

Developers will be able to use the APIs to add features to these services or to use Yahoo data in desktop applications or online mash-up applications. Yahoo is also opening an application gallery to showcase developers’ work.

Yahoos APIs are currently available free of charge for non-commercial use. They have built-in bandwidth limits that Ash Patel, Yahoo chief product officer, Patel characterizes as “very generous.” Patel says Yahoo has been working with developers of particularly popular applications who want to commercialize their Yahoo-dependent apps on a case-by-case basis.

Source: Information Week

Citibank reissues cards after fraudulent withdrawals

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Fraudulent cash withdrawls have prompted Citibank to re-issue an unspecified number of credit and debit cards. The bank has also blocked PIN-based transactions of Citi-branded MasterCard cards in the UK, Russia and Canada to protect customer accounts.

The issue came to light after US Citibank customer Jacob Appelbaum posted on popular blog site Boing Boing details of problems he had with his cards after using a Canadian ATM This fuelled speculation that a widespread ATM fraud issue might be in play.

In response, Citibank has issued a statement designed to quell rumours. “Recently, we became aware of fraudulent ATM cash withdrawls on Citi-branded MasterCard credit and debit cards used in the UK, Russia and Canada on customer accounts that had been possibly compromised in previous retailer breaches in the US. To protect customer accounts that were affected, we placed a special transaction block in those three countries on PIN based transactions. We are currently reissuing cards, as appropriate, to affected customers,”

Source: The Register

Sony to ship blank Blu-ray Discs this month

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Sony’s blank-disc division will this month begin shipping rewriteable Blu-ray Discs in Europe. Recordable discs will appear in April, the company said. However, dual-layer versions will not surface until later in the year, it added.

The products due in March and April each provide 25GB of storage capacity and run at 2x speeds - a transfer rate of 72Mbps, Sony said. The two media are sprayed with a scratch-resistant, anti-static coating - handy, given how thin the data layer is on a BD. Sony said its own tests forecast a lifespan of 30 years for both types of disc.

Source: The Register

Blinkx offers automatic search on desktop

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Search company Blinkx is set to unveil on Tuesday a new free downloadable tool that analyzes what a user is reading or writing, automatically conducts a Web search for related information, and alerts the person via desktop icons when it finds it.

Rather than a person having to go to a search engine to look for information, the 1-megabyte Pico program does the work, inferring what the user would be interested in from the context of the text that’s on the Web page or Word document currently displayed on the screen.

Pico pulls up relevant news articles, Web pages, blog postings, video, images and Wikipedia entries, as well as products from shopping sites and information on people from the MySpace.com social networking site. The items are refreshed constantly, based on what’s on the screen at any given time.

When Pico finds relevant information, icons in a toolbar at the top of the screen representing different types of data light up. Consumers can click on the icons to see the items, or they can use a keyboard shortcut to view all the found relevant items in one view.

Users also can create Smart Folders to save information on specific topics, and the Blinkx technology will continue to populate the folders with items even when people are working on unrelated subjects.

The company hopes to make money off the free consumer program through contextual advertisements displayed at the bottom of the results.

Source: News.com

Microsoft gets 5,000th patent

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft plans to announce on Tuesday that it has been granted its 5,000th U.S. patent

The patent milestone represents a key marker for the software maker in its recent push to boost its patent filings and then license its technology to other companies.

The milestone patent covers technology used to provide a distinct “spectator experience” for video games, a technique used extensively in the Xbox 360.

The company increasingly has used its patent holdings as leverage in licensing to companies small and large. Microsoft has also banked on its intellectual property portfolio to protect its customers in intellectual property disputes, a move the company has heavily touted in its pitch against Linux.

The company, which a decade ago filed only a few hundred patent applications per year, now annually files roughly 3,000 applications.

Source: News.com

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