Software maker Liquid Audio to sell patent rights to Microsoft
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — Internet music software maker Liquid Audio Monday said it has agreed to sell its patent rights to Microsoft for $7 million in cash.
Liquid Audio, based in Redwood City, Calif., makes software that allows consumers to listen to, download and buy music off the Internet.
In contrast to the MP3 format, Liquid Audio's secure format is more to the liking of record labels that want to sell copyright-protected music over the Web.
The assets to be sold to Microsoft include patents on digital-rights management technology, and technology for secure content transfer to portable devices.
Liquid Audio said the sale is part of a shift in strategy in advance of its merger with Alliance Entertainment.
The company is moving away from product development and toward digital distribution of media to the retail industry, complementing Alliance's physical media distribution business for home entertainment products.
Under the agreement, Liquid Audio shareholders will own 26% of the combined company, and Alliance will own 74%.
Another Version of Win XP in the Works?
Microsoft says no, but analysts expect a revised edition.
Microsoft discloses more security flaws, some 'critical'
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft disclosed several security flaws Thursday, including "critical" problems in many versions of its Windows operating system.
The flaws were detailed in four security bulletins, which urged users to download software patches from Microsoft's Web site.
The flaws in most versions of Microsoft Windows occur in the help function and could allow attackers to gain control of the user's system. Microsoft reported other flaws, which range from moderate to critical severity, in some versions of Microsoft Windows, SQL Server, and other software programs.
On another security front, the National Infrastructure Protection Center alerted computer users Thursday to a worm, called the "W32.Bugbear or I-Worm.Tanatos." The worm is sent as an e-mail attachment and "appears to target machines running Microsoft software."
Some subject lines for the e-mail are "bad news," "Membership Confirmation," "Market Update Report," and "Your Gift." The worm has infected more than 22,000 systems since Wednesday, the agency reported, and can give attackers access to victims' personal information and passwords. The agency urged computer users to download a patch issued by Microsoft last year, Microsoft Security Bulletin MS01-027.
The latest bulletins came a day after Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer sent an e-mail to customers reiterating the company's commitment to improving the security and reliability of its software.
Ballmer noted that customers who report problems through an error reporting system built into Office, Windows and other major software products have helped the company learn more about flaws that cause user errors. He said 1% of software bugs cause half of all errors.
The e-mail was to update Microsoft customers on the company's Trustworthy Computing initiative, which Chairman Bill Gates announced in January. The initiative pegged security and privacy as top priorities for the software company.
Microsoft has issued 57 security bulletins so far this year.
Windows Help Tool Contains Critical Flaw
Security hole could let attacker gain control of your PC, Microsoft
Microsoft unveiling new business software to manage array of data
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft plans to announce a new business software application on Wednesday that allows users to enter and collect data across a variety of platforms. The product, dubbed XDocs, also incorporates word processing, graphics and other capabilities. The application was developed by Microsoft's Office team, which focuses on business software. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer was scheduled to announce the software at the Gartner Group's Symposium and ITExpo in Orlando The software is designed to allow users to gather and automatically share multiple types of data, said Scott Bishop, a Microsoft Office product manager. For example, a sales representative returning from a trip could record expenses, new customer contact information, a report to management on the success of the trip and other information through XDocs. The software is written using the XML standard, or extensible markup language. Because XML can identify the types of information that are entered, the application can automatically send the expenses data to the company's expense-reporting system, the customer contact information to a customer database and the report to the appropriate person. Microsoft has not decided whether it will include the application in its Office suite of software or as a separate application. XDocs is expected to be ready in mid-2003. Microsoft does not have any real competitors yet for such an application, said David Yockelson, director of Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group. He said the vision for XDocs seems to be evolving but that it is a promising development for Microsoft.
Microsoft rethinks copy protection scheme for TV programs on computer
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Bowing to criticism, Microsoft Corp. has backed off a copyright protection scheme that would have restricted the use of TV programs recorded on computers that run a coming version of the Windows XP operating system. Windows XP Media Centre Edition, which is to be installed on a new line of Hewlett-Packard Co. personal computers later this year, would have encrypted recordings so they could only be played on the PC that recorded the program. After details of Microsoft's original plan emerged last month, consumer advocates criticized the system as being more restrictive than traditional technology such as videotape recorders, which let viewers make personal copies of TV shows and watch them on any set. Now, consumers will be able to burn recorded programs onto DVDs to watch on other computers and, by the end of the year, on standalone players, said Murari Narayan, a product marketing director at Microsoft.
The recordings will also be transferrable over the Internet, though that would not be easy given the size of most video files. "We have to make sure we enable a very good consumer out-of-the-box experience," he said. The software will still support the Copy Generation Management System, which, if restrictions were encoded into a broadcast, would bar the sharing of a DVD recording, Narayan said. He said less than one per cent of all broadcast content is encoded with CGMS restrictions. "We take feedback from partners, customers, press and analysts very seriously," he said. "We heard loud and clear that we have to enable consumer choice." Frightened by the free-for-all of the late music-swapping Napster service, Hollywood studios and other copyright holders have been pressuring Silicon Valley to create mechanisms for protecting intellectual property. But Microsoft's original plan is more like the existing experience with home-recorded videos, said Scott Dinsdale, executive vice president of digital strategy for the Motion Picture Association of America. He said the new plan will open the door to piracy.
"If I have a copy that's digitally encoded on Microsoft's platform, I can then take that and send it out over the Internet to my 10,000 favorite friends," he said. "I would not call that equaling the current consumer experience." HP applauded Microsoft's decision. "We think this is definitely a step in the right direction for the consumer because it gives our customers greater flexibility in how they'll be able to manage their digital content," said Tiffany Smith, an HP spokeswoman. HP's Media Centre PCs, which will hit store shelves later this year, will range in price from $1,500 to $2,000 US. HP faces competition from Sony, which has announced its own media-focused systems that will not bar the transfer of programs recorded onto its hard drive.
Microsoft warns of e-mail security flaw affecting Outlook Express
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft disclosed a security flaw Thursday of "critical" severity in its Outlook Express e-mail programs.
The flaw, which affects the free e-mail software bundled in Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser, could allow attackers to crash the e-mail program or to potentially take over the user's machine.
The flaw does not affect Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail program included in the Office suite of business software.
Users who downloaded the "service packs" for either Windows XP or Internet Explorer 6.0 are already protected against an attack, the company said. Others were advised to download the patch.
The security bulletin is the Redmond-based company's 58th this year.
Microsoft to set up e-govt
By JUHEL BROWNE
Guardian, Oct 12, 2002
Paying your bills or your driver’s licence from home by computer are just some of things that can be done with an electronic Government system which Microsoft Caribbean hopes to install in Trinidad and Tobago. “We are scheduled to meet with Government officials next week,” said Nick R Robinson, Microsoft Caribbean enterprise service manager yesterday at a media conference. Contracts will soon be awarded for the implementation of the infrastructure necessary for an electronic Government system, Microsoft Caribbean officials said. The event was held at the in the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of industry and Commerce building in Westmoorings. “There was a subject of the infrastructure question that came up last year,” said George Gobin, Microsoft Caribbean territory manager. “From what I learned recently the tenders were awarded. We are waiting for the infrastructure to get in before we proceed.”
Microsoft Caribbean is the regional division of Microsoft, the US based information technology monolith that makes the computer software used by most computer users. Robinson has been spearheading Microsoft’s Caribbean operations for the past year and a half. The company is now seeking to sell the e-Government applications to Caribbean states. “A number of Caribbean countries are interested,” Robinson said. The idea, said Robinson, is for the technology to be so user friendly that anyone can use it to access any Government department. E-Government systems are meant to reduce the length of time it now takes to deal with any Government department and reduce the number of physical visits with on-line transactions. At present Microsoft Caribbean is imzzplementing such a system in Puerto Rico. “We are going to be training thousands and thousands of workers in the Government of Puerto Rico,” Robinson said.
Asked if Trinidad and Tobago can no longer delay in implementing E-Government, Gobin said, “I don’t think we can afford to let the window of opportunity slip by.” Microsoft has already established an Internet portal for the UK Government also. The portal is a web page that allows users to access many different Government departments.