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For years, Apple has used Macworld as a stage for launching some of its most exciting products. But with Steve Jobs missing this year and Apple saying that it would not participate in future Macworld conferences, pundits had figured that Apple might hold off on any ground-breaking product news at this year’s show. They were right.

Apple’s most interesting news related to iTunes. Apple began introducing freely copyable iTunes music last year when it began selling songs from EMI’s catalog for an extra US$0.30 per song under a program called iTunes Plus. On Tuesday, Apple announced it has expanded iTunes plus to cover 8 million of the 10 million iTunes songs. By the end of March, the entire song catalog will be available under the program.

Virtualization giant VMware has named Borland Software CEO Tod Nielsen to the newly created position of chief operating officer, in the latest chapter of a VMware management shakeup that began with the ouster in July 2008 of co-founder and CEO Diane Greene.

Nielsen had held the top job at Borland, which focuses on application lifecycle management tools, since November 2005. He was previously senior vice president of marketing and global sales support at Oracle, and also spent 12 years at Microsoft, serving in roles such as general manager of database and developer tools.

An arm of the U.S. Treasury Department has approved Advanced Micro Devices’ plan to create a new foundry company with major investment from the government of Abu Dhabi.  AMD announced in October that it would spin off its chip-making operations into a separate company. Two investment funds owned by the government of Abu Dhabi said they’d contribute new capital to AMD and to the new foundry company.

On Tuesday, AMD announced that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has cleared the creation of The Foundry Company, the company that will make chips. The committee is part of the Treasury Department and examines foreign investments in U.S. companies in part with an eye toward safeguarding national security.

Looking for a good deal on an iPhone in the U.S.? You could try eBay but a safer bet might be Best Buy, which announced on Tuesday that it has started selling refurbished iPhone 3Gs at a slightly discounted price.  The 8GB model costs US$149, instead of $199 for a new one. A refurbished 16GB model is going for $249 instead of $299 for the new model.  Like new iPhones, the refurbished models require a two-year contract with AT&T.

…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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