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Microsoft soothes anti-trust adversaries in Europe

Microsoft’s offer to settle its outstanding antitrust issues with Europe’s top antitrust regulator was given a cautious welcome by the company’s principal antagonist Friday.  The lawyer representing companies including IBM, Oracle and Red Hat, as well as Opera, the browser manufacturer that sparked the current antitrust investigation against Microsoft, described the software giant’s moves as welcome. Microsoft has offered to carry a browser “ballot,” making it easier for even novice users to choose another browser besides IE for their default link to the Internet. The European Commission also welcomed the move, saying it would now investigate the effectiveness of the offers, focusing initially on the proposal to restore competition in the browser market.

Microsoft rushes to patch IE, Visual Studio

Microsoft is taking the unusual step of rushing out two emergency security patches ahead of its regularly scheduled updates on Aug. 11. The patches will include a critical fix for Internet Explorer as well as a related Visual Studio patch rated “moderate” urgency by Microsoft. The patches are set to be released on Tuesday. Microsoft didn’t say exactly what it was fixing. The company typically doesn’t rush out these “out-of-band” emergency updates unless the bug is being exploited by cyber criminals; however, in this case the flaws being patched are not being leveraged in attacks, according to Microsoft. In this case, the problem appears to lie in a widely used Windows component called the Active Template Library

Palm reverses Apple’s iTunes block of Pre

Palm reenabled iTunes synching for owners of its Pre smartphone last Thursday, overcoming a recent Apple move that blocked the handset’s access to music stored in the latest version of iTunes. The release of Palm’s webOS 1.1 adds new features for enterprise users, like the ability to remotely wipe data stored on a lost phone, but the most important feature for consumers may be the restoration of the Palm Media Sync feature, which lets the Pre connect and sync DRM-free media files with iTunes. The release of webOS 1.1 came eight days after Apple released iTunes 8.2.1, which blocked Pre users from accessing the software. At the time of the release, Apple said the software “provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices,” an apparent reference to the Pre’s ability to sync with the application.

Dell settles sex discrimination lawsuit

Dell will pay US$9.1 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in which former employees accused the company of sex discrimination, the computer maker said Friday. Of the total, $4.5 million will be paid out to the plaintiffs and $1.1 million will pay their lawyers and other legal costs. The other $3.5 million will go into a fund for base pay adjustments for current female employees who were part of the suit, subject to an equity review and salary analysis. Under terms of the settlement, Dell admitted no wrongdoing and the parties have agreed to dismiss any pending legal actions, according to a joint statement from Dell and the plaintiffs.

…And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Sumner Lemon in Singapore. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.

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