April 25, 2008 11:00 AM PDT
Week in review: A week for Web 2.0, a day for Earth
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In one of the bigger announcements of the show, Microsoft unveiled Live Mesh, an ambitious technology platform for synchronizing files, folders, and Web-delivered content such as news feeds across multiple devices.
The service underscored Microsoft's contention, outlined this week in a memo from Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie to company employees, that the Web--not the PC--sits at the center of today's digital home and office.
Reaction to Live Mesh among developers and tech bloggers has been generally positive, likely because the platform seems to serve a real need for people with multiple devices. CNET's Webware team took the preview version of the platform for a test run and concluded that it shows potential but is still a bit rough around the edges.
In addition to offering up a frenzy of applications (and plenty of parties, naturally), the conference provided ample opportunity for analyzing the state of social-developer platforms and other Web 2.0 mainstays. But interestingly, as CNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi discovered while touring the show floor with camera crew in tow, people have very different definitions of what "Web 2.0" even means.
While some Microsofties were busy promoting Live Mesh in San Francisco, CEO Steve Ballmer made another newsworthy announcement while in Belgium: the company could re-evaluate its plans to phase out Windows XP by June 30, if customers demand that the operating system it stick around. So far, they have not.
"XP will hit an end-of-life. We have announced one. If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter, but right now, we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments," Ballmer said during a Thursday news conference.
Big-name computer makers are still scheduled to have to stop selling models with Windows XP installed by the end of June. Mainstream technical support will continue to be available for Windows XP through April 2009, and more limited support will continue through April 2014.
Microsoft was also among the companies reporting quarterly earnings this week--others included Motorola, Amazon.com, and Samsung--and the results hit the mark. The software giant edged past analyst estimates, but revenue came in slightly lower than what some analysts had been expecting--and Microsoft cited increased piracy as one factor. On the plus side, the company's profit forecast for next year is higher than some analyst predictions.
While those hoping for a Microsoft earnings blowout were likely to be disappointed, Apple's results could be called blockbuster.
Mac leads earnings charge
The Mac had a stellar quarter--shipments were up 51 percent, compared with the same period last year, at 2.3 million units, and revenue from Mac sales increased by 54 percent.
The iPhone and iPod divisions made solid contributions, as well. (News.com reporter Tom Krazit is looking at what the next couple of months might hold for each segment of Apple's business.)
In news far less likely to make Apple cheer, the company faces a new lawsuit filed by shareholders angry over its stock option-backdating practices. Several shareholder suits have already been filed; the latest one comes from the Boston Retirement Board.
Apple acknowledged in late 2006, after an internal investigation, that certain stock option grants--including one to CEO Steve Jobs--were improperly backdated in a way such that they were made more valuable. The company has maintained that while Jobs was aware that the options were backdated, he was not aware of the accounting implications of the practice.
A chance to think green
If you think it's hard to keep up with backdating lawsuits, try staying on top of developments in the rapidly growing field of green tech. Fortunately, Earth Day on Tuesday provided a perfect opportunity to sum up the latest clean-tech news and resources of note.
Included in this week's green coverage: renewable-energy and recycling companies to watch; tools, tips, products, and procedures for shrinking your carbon footprint; and a company looking to make household plastic items out of pig urine. Yes, pig urine.
On the subject of plastic, have you ever wondered exactly which plastic products are recyclable? Our gallery sorts it out by the numbers. We have another gallery that breaks down green labels. Studies show that some shoppers will pay more for "green" products, but it's not always clear what seemingly eco-friendly labels mean--or who's creating the standards.
And Earth Day, of course, doesn't have to be just one day out of 365. Be sure to bookmark CNET's Green Tech Blog to stay on top of environmental news all year long.
Also of note
FBI wants widespread monitoring of 'illegal' Internet activity...Sun confirms that it's buying Montalvo...N.Y. court upholds school cell phone ban...Morgan Stanley executive is named new Google CIO...Google is sued over an advertising program...Defunct MSN Music has a DRM controversy on its hands...Red Hat publishes Fedora 9 preview...Hans Reiser's 'geek defense' could backfire...Man Googles his name, then makes a movie about what he finds...Linden Lab selects Mark Kingdon as new CEO...New dating site caters to smarties.
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