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Microsoft rivals want “ballot screen” reworked

Microsoft’s antitrust settlement offer to the European Commission needs minor, often cosmetic changes in order to restore fair competition to the market for Internet browsers, said some of the software giant’s main rivals Thursday. Their concerns about the settlement are echoed by ECIS, a trade group representing Oracle, IBM, Red Hat and others, as well as by consumer organizations following the Microsoft antitrust case. Microsoft has proposed that Windows operating systems should show users a ballot screen inviting them to choose a Web browser from among the most popular ones when they first attempt to access the Internet. Consumer organizations and the company’s rivals generally approve of the idea, but believe the way Microsoft’s ballot screen is designed is biased and will deter people from replacing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser with another.

Android fragments into three different versions

With this week’s release of Verizon Wireless’ Droid phone comes the first real test of the potential for fragmentation with Android. The Droid will be the first phone to run Android 2.0. After it goes on sale Friday, there will be Android phones on the market running three different versions of the OS. But operators and hardware manufacturers currently selling Android phones are coy about whether their devices will be upgraded to the new OS. If some phones continue to run old versions, issues could arise with application compatibility across the different OS versions. Motorola, whose Cliq runs Android version 1.5, would not specifically say if users of that phone would be offered the 2.0 upgrade.

Facebook, MySpace plug major security hole

Social-networking sites MySpace and Facebook have apparently fixed coding errors that could have allowed an attacker access to all of their users’ data and photos. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook typically block other domains from requesting and receiving data for privacy reasons, except for their own vetted subdomains. In the case of Facebook, the company disallowed access from other applications on its main domain, but a developer in the Netherlands, Yvo Schaap, found that Facebook would allow data to be given out from one of its subdomains, which host all of Facebook’s data.

Palm’s WebOS gets Web-based development tool

Palm will introduce a Web-based development environment for WebOS applications, called Ares, by the end of this year. Ares got its first public demonstration on Thursday at the Open Mobile Summit conference in San Francisco. It is designed to make it easy for developers to pull various components together in Javascript to build applications for the Palm Pre and Pixi, the two handsets that run Palm’s WebOS. The storied mobile-device company is up against tough competition for developers against the Apple iPhone, Google Android, Research In Motion BlackBerry and other mobile platforms. It released the WebOS SDK (software development kit) to a select group in April and to the public in July. The company said the SDK has been downloaded tens of thousands of times.

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