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Software From Google: Sign Me Up

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Software From Google: Sign Me Up
2. Today's Top Story
    - Update: More Unpatched Bugs Loose In Microsoft Windows Meta File
    - New IM Worm Makes New Use Of Old Techniques
3. Breaking News
    - Judge Gives Nod To Sony BMG Copy-Protection Deal
    - Review: Palm Treo 700w
    - Chips In 2006: A CPU Road Map
    - Wiki Developer Debuts Competition For Microsoft Excel
    - Review: Advancing Firewall Protection
    - Microsoft Hires Rocker To Record Windows Vista Sounds
    - Wal-Mart: Error To Blame For Offensive MLK Link
    - Why You Should Take The VoIP Plunge--Now
    - CA Moves Ahead With Acquisition, Resale Plans
    - H&R Block Unveils TaxCut Online
    - IPv6: World's Largest Technology Upgrade On Deck
4. Grab Bag: Review Of The Latest Palm Treo
5. In Depth: The Latest On Google
6. Voice Of Authority: Fighting Hackers
7. White Papers: Microsoft Office Optimization
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day: Choices
"I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies." -- Oscar Wilde


1. Editor's Note: Software From Google: Sign Me Up

I'm a reasonably proficient PC user. I load and unload programs--including freeware and open-source programs--as my needs dictate. I periodically scrub my personal PC of spyware, I recently cleaned up my Windows registry, and I've set up a handful of in-home wireless networks. I'm no power user, mind you, but I can address the majority of routine PC management functions that crop up.

Yet it's not uncommon for me to be utterly flustered at other tasks--not necessarily those that are more complex, but often those that are more laborious. Recent examples include loading a video-editing program that came with a new portable kids' video camera, as well as maddening file- and media-compatibility problems with digital photos as I tried to back them up from one PC hard drive to another. I've got a headache just thinking what could transpire when Windows Vista ships, introducing a whole new round of compatibility and maintenance functions that must be performed.

It's these latter experiences that lead me to believe Google's latest anti-Microsoft volley--the Software Starter Kit for PCs, introduced late last week--provides long-term hope for people like me--the 'tweeners who have decent skills on the PC but really don't want software and hardware maintenance to consume a weekend.

What Google is planning to do--bundle together a series of applications (notably excluding word processor and spreadsheet) that make it easier to perform common computing functions--offers the potential to alleviate the pain for those of us who struggle with the bizarre, inexplicable behavior of so many Microsoft Office and other Windows apps.

With its pristine search interface, Google has one influential stake in the ground for a simplified approach to finding information and using computers. A bundle of applications from Google--presumably including its assurance that its own apps and the third-party apps in the bundle will play together nicely--would put even more pressure on Microsoft to clean up its act when it comes to ease of maintenance and operation.

Will Google revolutionize or become the dominant player in personal computing, as it did with Web searching? Not as long as Microsoft is still in the picture. But I'm confident the company's commitment to simpler software and accessibility of information will, over time, make the starter pack the kind of viable alternative that's been missing for years. Sign me up.

Tom Smith
tsmith@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Update: More Unpatched Bugs Loose In Microsoft Windows Meta File
Microsoft released its WMF patch just days ago, but multiple unpatched memory-corruption vulnerabilities remain. Symantec is warning users to disable the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer application.

Related Story:

New IM Worm Makes New Use Of Old Techniques
The new worm targets PCs that have been infected with the lockx.exe or palsp.exe viruses and uses Internet Relay Chat-enabled malware to connect the host to a server for further infection through a series of commands.


3. Breaking News

Judge Gives Nod To Sony BMG Copy-Protection Deal
Buyers of specific Sony BMG music CDs could receive cash payments, additional album download privileges, or both.

Review: Palm Treo 700w
Palm's first foray to the smart phone "dark side" delivers the power and functionality of a Windows Mobile device, with much of the simplicity and ease of use you normally find only with Palm OS gadgets. It's the first smart phone our reviewer has used that doesn't sacrifice either PDA functionality to make the phone work or phone capabilities for the PDA.

Chips In 2006: A CPU Road Map
What do Intel and AMD have planned for the desktop in 2006? Sixty-five-nanometer fabrication, more sophisticated multicore architecture, virtualization, and a new 940-pin socket, among other things.

Wiki Developer Debuts Competition For Microsoft Excel
JotSpot takes wikis, or collaborative Web sites, a step further by offering menu-driven page editing as an alternative to markup languages. The result with its new software is surprisingly simple spreadsheet collaboration.

Review: Advancing Firewall Protection
SmoothWall's latest Web-security effort not only supports up to 20 network interfaces, but combines perimeter and internal firewalls with intrusion detection, E-mail-virus protection, and bandwidth management.

Microsoft Hires Rocker To Record Windows Vista Sounds
Noted electronic musician Robert Fripp has been tapped by Microsoft to record the sounds that will be used in its upcoming Windows Vista operating system.

Wal-Mart: Error To Blame For Offensive MLK Link
An employee's online misclassification resulted in a film about Martin Luther King Jr. being recommended to buyers of a "Planet Of The Apes" DVD, the retailer says.

Why You Should Take The VoIP Plunge--Now
If you're still on the fence about VoIP, consider these reasons from telecom experts about why it's time to make the move.

CA Moves Ahead With Acquisition, Resale Plans
CA will resell StoreAge cross-platform virtualization and multitiered data-protection solutions with BrightStor intelligent storage-management software.

H&R Block Unveils TaxCut Online
H&R Block is the last of the top three providers of federal and state tax preparation and filing returns to go live for the 2006 tax season. TurboTax Online and TaxBrain have been live for more than a week.

IPv6: World's Largest Technology Upgrade On Deck
IPv6, the latest version of the Internet Protocol, expands the address space and offers improved security, quality of service, digital-rights management, and mobile communications features.

All our latest news

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In the current episode:

Elena Malykhina With 'Mobile & Wireless Resolution'
Elena's New Year's resolution to upgrade her mobile and wireless gear.

Tony Kontzer With 'The Return Of Techmaster T'
Tony raps about the trials and tribulations companies face protecting consumer data.


4. Grab Bag: Review Of The Latest Palm Treo

Personal Technology: Walter S. Mossberg / New Microsoft-Supported Palm Treo Doesn't Beat 650 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Despite some nice new features, the Windows Mobile software is still inferior to the Palm software for one-handed use on the go. Its crucial E-mail and phone functions are also weaker. And there's a serious bug in its E-mail software that affects individuals, though not corporate users.

Computer Chips Get Under Skin Of Enthusiasts (ABC News)
Forgetting computer passwords is an everyday source of frustration, but a solution may literally be at hand--in the form of computer chip implants.

PSA Peugeot Citroen Unveils Small Fuel Cell (Reuters UK)
French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen on Monday unveiled the smallest fuel cell currently available for cars and pledged further research to halve the price of these environmental friendly power sources by 2010.


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5. In Depth: The Latest On Google

Google Introduces Software Starter Kit For PCs
The "Google Pack" software bundle will include third-party apps such as the Firefox browser, Adobe Reader, Norton AntiVirus, and six of Google's own programs, including Desktop Search and the Picasa image-management tool.

Commentary: It's Not A Google PC
Google co-founder and president Larry Page kicked off the Google Pack and Google Video at a colorful CES keynote, with the assistance of funnyman Robin Williams.

Google Video To Compete With Apple ITunes
Google will sell thousands of video downloads, including recent TV broadcasts of popular CBS shows and pro basketball games, as well as vintage episodes from old TV series. Google is trying to be more flexible than Apple's iTunes by allowing content owners to set their own prices.

Google Adds Support To Viiv Technology
Intel will team with the search-engine company to make Google Video, a form of video on demand, accessible on Viiv computers.

Get all the latest at InformationWeek's Google Center


6. Voice Of Authority: Fighting Hackers

Business Technology: Prep For Sober.z Sends Vermin Back Into Rat Hole
Cooperation and preparedness by vendors, customers, and law enforcement scared off hackers planning to unleash the latest variant of the Sober worm, Bob Evans says.


7. White Papers: Microsoft Office Optimization

Optimizing Microsoft Office Applications For Wide Area Networks
Because Microsoft Office files were designed for use in LANs, users attempting to access and share files across WANs often encounter long waits and frustration. To address these WAN latency and performance issues, Brocade Tapestry Wide Area File Services utilizes unique technologies to provide "local-like" access to these types of files across the WAN.


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