October - December 2006 Vol 2 Issue 11
Brainwave      Insight      Technova      Perspective      X'Pressions     


Microsoft backtracks on Vista transfer limits

On Oct. 16, Microsoft issued the new user license for Vista, including terms that would have limited the ability of those who buy a boxed copy of the operating system to transfer that license. Under the proposed terms, users could have made such a switch only one time.

However, the new restriction prompted an outcry among hardware enthusiasts and others. Microsoft is returning the licensing terms to basically what they were in Windows XP--users can transfer their license to a new PC an unlimited number of times, provided they uninstall and stop using it on the prior machine.

The software maker said it paid attention to the response both directly to the company and on blogs and decided to reverse course. Microsoft had hoped to use the change to aid its ongoing efforts to thwart piracy.

"We're trying to be really clear about our intention to prevent piracy," said Microsoft product manager Mike Burk. "At the same time, after listening to the feedback that came in, (we) felt that we needed to make this change."

By reversing course, Burk said, Microsoft hoped to assuage users' concerns, particularly those of hobbyists who frequently upgrade the components of their PC, in some cases triggering Windows to consider the machine a new PC.

The plan to limit transfers was part of a series of changes to the terms that apply to boxed copies of Vista, not to the license that comes on a new, Vista-equipped PC. Separate rules apply for the versions of Windows installed on new PCs, which is how the majority of buyers get their copy of Windows. Typically, copies of Windows purchased on a new PC cannot legally be transferred to another PC.

Nokia develops low-power Bluetooth hybrid

The Finnish handset maker has developed an offshoot of the popular Bluetooth wireless technology, dubbed Wibree, that utilizes radio waves over relatively short distances to connect devices like PCs, handsets and PDAs.

Wibree uses the same frequency band as Bluetooth and the same hardware, but uses less power to send small streams of information over short distances. As a result, the devices that will be capable of communicating wirelessly are getting smaller.

Wibree would allow devices that use button-cell batteries--like a wristwatch, wireless keyboard or toy--to communicate with other devices via sensors. It's not a replacement for Bluetooth, which is used widely in wireless phones and headsets, but a complement, said Bob Iannucci, senior vice president and head of Nokia Research Center.

It's an open technology, and Nokia is working with semiconductor makers and others to develop the specification. So far, Broadcom, Nordic Semiconductor, CSR and Epson have licensed Wibree. The first commercial version of the spec will be available in the second quarter of 2007, Nokia said.

Global chip sales reach new high in September

Semiconductor chip sales worldwide reached a new high in September, according to a report from the Semiconductor Industry Association, an industry trade group.

Sales of chips rose to $21.4 billion, a 9.3 percent increase from September 2005, and a 4.2 percent increase from the previous month.

``Strong demand for consumer products, including cell phones, MP3 players and personal computers were major drivers of increased chip sales,'' association President George Scalise said in a statement.

Computer manufacturers are now producing systems designed for the upcoming Windows Vista operating system, which is contributing to strong demand for chips known as DRAMs, or dynamic random access memory, a type of memory chip commonly used in PCs. DRAM sales increased by 40 percent from September 2005.

Some analysts had expressed concerns that a delay in the Vista release until after the holiday season might hurt PC sales, but Scalise said the industry is on pace to meet its midyear forecast of 9.8 percent sales growth for 2006. September sales of cell phones were particularly strong, especially in India and China, he said. Sales of microprocessor chips, the main processors inside most personal computers, declined by 11 percent from August 2005 due to price competition, as total revenue decreased despite a larger number of chips sold.

Intel's Barrett in India to discuss philanthropy, business expansion

Intel Corp.'s Chairman Craig Barrett was meeting government and business leaders in India Friday to discuss how the U.S. chip maker could participate in advancing efforts to empower unemployed youth and farmers with the help of information technology.

Bridging a widening digital divide is a tough challenge for India where gains from the booming economy, which is growing 8 percent annually, have mostly accrued to the urban middle class.

Barrett sees a part of the remedy lying in WiMAX technology, a wireless capability that provides Internet connectivity without requiring a computer to be tethered to a cable. Like its wireless cousin Wi-Fi, WiMAX delivers high-speed connections but the coverage range can stretch for miles.

More than two-thirds of India's 1 billion plus people live in villages, depending mostly on agriculture. Much of rural India lacks adequate infrastructure such as good roads, electricity supplies and telephone facilities to help people improve productivity and living standards.

Google buys wiki maker

Google has acquired JotSpot, a Palo Alto company that makes Web-site pages called wikis, for an undisclosed amount, according to statements released Tuesday by both companies.

The purchase is further evidence of one of the Internet search giant's emerging strategies: helping people share information and media online.

``The more we saw Google betting on this space, the more excited we got about being a part of Google,'' said JotSpot co-founder and Chief Executive Joe Kraus.

Wikis are changeable Web pages whose content can easily be edited by many users, allowing people in different locations to collaborate on a page. They're among a host of social software and services, often described as ``Web 2.0,'' that companies are offering to help consumers and businesses create and share data on the Web.

Microsoft and IBM have recently announced upcoming wiki offerings, and Yahoo has a partnership with San Bruno-based PBwiki to host wikis for Yahoo Groups. Kraus said JotSpot spoke with several software and Internet companies before settling on a deal with Mountain View-based Google.