In This Issue: 1. Editor's Note: Can Microsoft Convince You To Switch? 2. Today's Top Story - Vista To Handcuff Firewall Related Story: - Microsoft Preps E-Mail, Collaboration Managed Solutions 3. Breaking News - Apple Offers Free Recycling With Mac Purchases - Trojan Demands $10.99 Ransom To Free Files - Intel To Speed Product Releases, Cut Costs - Mobile Content Issues Resonate - Seagate Ups Desktop Capacity To 750 Gbytes - Digital Cameras Leave Unique 'Pixel' Fingerprints - Yahoo Software Turns PC Into A Digital Video Recorder - Ethernet Service Revenue Rockets To Nearly $6 Billion 4. Grab Bag: News You Need From Around The Web - Tech Giants' Internet Battles (BusinessWeek Online) - The Story Of PGP (Webmonkey.com) - One Day Soon, Straphangers May Turn Pages With A Button (The New York Times - reg. required) 5. In Depth: Reviews And Personal Tech - IE7 Beta 2: Has Firefox Met Its Match? - Review: Samsung Helix Is Like TiVo For Radio - Getting Started With Podcasting - The Top Five Skype Add-Ons - 802.11n Wireless Gear Falls Short In Testing - Printable Blu-Ray Discs On Tap 6. Voice Of Authority - Surf's Up At Work 7. White Papers - Protecting Customer Data Privacy: A Kazeon Solution Brief 8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek 9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
Quote of the day: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." -- Albert Einstein
1. Editor's Note: Can Microsoft Convince You To Switch?
Everyone likes a good horse race—even when the race is fixed. That's about how I see the supposed race between Internet Explorer and Firefox. Ever since IE was included with Microsoft's operating system, its dominance has pretty much been a done deal. But that doesn't mean the front-runner should sit back and rest on its laurels. And up until now, that's what Microsoft has been doing.
Which means there are a lot of folks like me out there who have made the switch from contented IE user to happy Firefox fan. It wasn't just the tabs that convinced me—they had a lot to do with it, of course, but Opera has had tabs for a lot longer than Firefox, and I've never become an Opera lover. (Although I do go for a bit of Rigoletto now and again—OK, old joke. Sorry.)
It also wasn't just that Firefox made it less likely I'd pick up a case of malware. Besides the fact that I'm a careful browser, I felt it was only a matter of time before Firefox was targeted. And I may have been right.
It was mainly the extensions—the idea that you could mold the application to work exactly the way you want. And it was, well, fun—for example, controlling your audio app or getting a continuous weather report from your Web browser isn't exactly a "must do" in anybody's book, but those are two of Firefox's most popular extensions.
And that's what, until recently, Microsoft just didn't get. It didn't get that people like to futz around with their software—at least, a lot of the people reading this newsletter do. It didn't get that people like to have a lot of Web pages—not a lot of browser windows—open at the same time. And it didn't get that you can't just sit around and expect technically savvy users to continue to use your application out of pure habit.
Well, at some point, Microsoft finally got it.
Just as IBM finally got that suits and white shirts and shiny shoes don't project a friendly image at trade shows, Microsoft seems to have finally understood that just shipping a browser along with its operating system isn't going to guarantee that people will use it. So as Ed Bott reveals in "IE7 For XP Beta 2: Has Firefox Met Its Match?" Redmond has added a few interesting features to its venerable browser, such as tabbing and some additional security protection. (Which it needs—IE is still the number-one target of malware writers.)
In fact, IE has done so well that Ed actually gives it points over Firefox in several categories. And since the latest version is supposed to be stable enough for anyone to use, presumably Microsoft is now hoping at least some of its lost sheep will return to the fold. We'll see.
Do you think the new version of Internet Explorer will attract back Firefox users? And how about you? Are you a lost sheep or a wily fox? (And are you annoyed by that metaphor?) You can read more and leave comments on my blog entry.
Vista To Handcuff Firewall Microsoft plans to turn off half the firewall in Windows Vista when the new operating system ships later this year. The reason: It doesn't think most users need all the firewall's functionality or can handle its management.
Related Story: Microsoft Preps E-Mail, Collaboration Managed Solutions Redmond's desktop manager offering—incubated and in production at battery maker Energizer—has turned out more complex to develop than anticipated and won't be generally available for some time, a Microsoft manager says.
Intel To Speed Product Releases, Cut Costs Intel CEO Paul Otellini, speaking Thursday at Intel Analyst Day in New York, gave a sobering analysis of the chip giant's missteps over the past year, including an admission that its server road map was weak and its execution off the mark.
Mobile Content Issues Resonate Executives at a broadcasting trade show discussed technology and other problems with mobile video, including the size and audio quality of mobile devices and digital rights management.
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The Story Of PGP (Webmonkey.com) Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP as it's usually known, is an encryption standard that revolutionized computer security for individual users. But when it was first introduced, the U.S. government considered it a danger to national security.
The Top Five Skype Add-Ons Skype is more than just a telephony client. There are many accessories that enhance the basic Skype functionality. Here are the ones we like the most.
802.11n Wireless Gear Falls Short In Testing Performance of the home networking gear was very weak and interoperability nonexistent, according to a new round of independent testing of Netgear and Buffalo Technology wares.
Printable Blu-Ray Discs On Tap Using a thermal printer from Rimage, users can print custom text and graphics directly onto each disc's label-side surface.
6. Voice Of Authority
Surf's Up At Work Has your boss ever yelled at you for surfing on company time? Show him this blog by J. Nicholas Hoover, which tells how, earlier this week, a New York judge compared time spent on the Internet to reading a newspaper or making a personal phone call.
7. White Papers
Protecting Customer Data Privacy: A Kazeon Solution Brief Kazeon offers a two-phase approach for automatically applying corporate information governance policies to a network. The Kazeon Information Server IS1200 is a file management appliance designed to minimize the risk posed by unmanaged files.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Nov. 10, 2014Just 30% of respondents to our new survey say their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions, down from 42% in 2013. What gives?