Microsoft's Unlikely New Ally

Remember the storied battles a few years ago between Microsoft and the Department of Justice? For a while there, it looked like the DOJ just might carve up the Redmond juggernaut into smaller pieces, a la the Bell monopoly breakup decades earlier.

Now, Justice is singing a different tune. Thomas Barnett, a top antitrust official at the Justice Department, has been trying his best to persuade state prosecutors to reject an antitrust complaint filed by none other than Microsoft's current archrival: Google. The Googlers contend that Redmond designed Vista to discourage users from using their search engine.

Wait until you hear where Barnett came from, though. He was previously a partner in the law firm that represented Microsoft during the antitrust debacle. In all fairness, though, he never actually worked on a Microsoft case, and for more than a year after going governmental, he kept his distance from anything Redmond-related. In fact, ethics lawyers have cleared him to lend a hand in the current legal wrangling between Microsoft and Google.

Still, it sounds like a bit more serious case of switching teams than when the Pats traded Drew Bledsoe to the Bills.

At the very least, this turnabout in the DOJ's overall stance against Microsoft seems to recognize the sweeping changes in the marketplace -- that the battles are taking place on the Web, not on store shelves.

Where do you feel the fair battles are being fought? Is Microsoft still behaving like a monopolistic megalomaniac? Is Google heading in that direction? File your thoughts at llow@redmondmag.com.

Google and Intel Go Green
With my deepest apologies to Kermit, it may be easy being green after all: Google is teaming up with Intel to start the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI). The program's intent is to develop more energy-efficient personal computers

So far, the CSCI has signed up Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, the EPA and a handful of smaller companies and university groups. Sounds like all the major players agree that the desktop and the server room are the next stages for environmental awareness and activism.

Basically, the CSCI will set new goals for the efficiency of computers and power supplies, and how they're managed. It's sort of like the Energy Star standard from the early 1990s writ large. Early drafts of the CSCI standard call for 90 percent efficiency for power supplies.

When you feel the wave of heat emanating from even a modest-sized server room, you can get behind the energy savings this could generate.

How do you feel about these energy-saving maneuvers and green computing? What is your company doing to conserve energy? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

YouTube Tests Blocking System
YouTube has been a veritable free-for-all for posting video clips. Beyond the home-grown videos, shots of kids pouring Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke and the obligatory stupid stunts, the Wild West of video clips is ripe for abuse when it comes to posting copyrighted material.

Up to now, YouTube has frequently been in the crosshairs of film and television studios and networks for the myriad copyrighted clips that have appeared on the site.

Now, YouTube is testing technology that would block users from posting unauthorized copyrighted clips on its site, protecting filmmakers and safeguarding the site against future legal action.

The technology, which has been dubbed video fingerprinting, was developed by engineers at Google, which bought YouTube last year. YouTube first plans to test the blocking technology with Disney and Time Warner. Good move to keep those guys happy.

What are your thoughts on blocking copyrighted material from sites like YouTube? What do you feel is appropriate sharing? Send me an e-mail or post a video explaining your thoughts at llow@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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