Microsoft Looking for Face Time?

Sounds like Microsoft has growing interest in a different kind of networking -- not the routers-cables-servers kind of networking, but the profiles and pages of social networking.

According to reports just published in The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft may soon be scooping up as much as 5 percent of the privately held Facebook for anywhere from $300 to $500 million. That would put Facebook's value at about $10 billion.

Microsoft already has an advertising agreement with Facebook. This move may be intended to keep archrival Google out of Facebook as a revenue stream. So far, reps from both Microsoft and Facebook are keeping a poker face about their intentions.

Have you ever used Facebook or any of the other social networking sites? Do you think this is a sensible area in which Microsoft should invest? Network with me and let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

Waiting for Red Hat
You'll have to wait a little longer for the new version of Red Hat's OS for PC hardware. When the forces of the crimson chapeau last checked in, they said delivery would be some time in August. Now, it sounds like we'll be waiting another 30 to 60 days.

Well, if the company really wants to take on competitors like Microsoft, it might as well emulate its liquid ship dates.

Red Hat is apparently still translating the software for foreign language support and resolving some lingering licensing issues. The foreign language support is a huge issue, as Red Hat plans to support its new PC version only in developing countries, not in the U.S. While there will be no official support in the States or other developed countries, you can freely run it anywhere if you have a friend or colleague in one of the countries in which it will be distributed and supported.

Does your organization use or plan to use Linux or any open source operating system on the desktop, whether from Red Hat or other sources? We'd love to hear your stories at llow@redmondmag.com.

TJX Data Theft Blamed on Wireless
The fallout from TJX's infamous customer data theft doesn't get any better for the Framingham, Mass.-based retail behemoth. (Incidentally, TJX's corporate headquarters is just down the road from where most of the Redmond magazine editors have set up shop).

A Canadian investigative panel has found fault with both the company's wireless technology security and its data retention practices. The eight-month investigation revealed that the hackers got TJX customers' credit card numbers by intercepting wireless signals from two Miami-area Marshalls stores.

Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart also singled out how TJX held onto older customer data it should have purged long ago. "The company collected too much personal information, kept it too long and relied on weak encryption technology to protect it," Stoddart said at a recent information security conference in Canada. Guess TJX won't be opening any new stores north of the border any time soon.

Stoddard's recommendations for TJX included masking the information on driver's licenses when they're collected during returns. TJX says it's already working on that.

The situation for those whose card numbers were stolen continues to be a nightmare. Experts say it takes a huge investment of time and money to clear your name once a crook has gone wild with your card numbers or account information. With my financial situation, if someone stole my identity, they'd probably want to give it back.

Has your company ever had any sort of security breach? How did you react and respond? How did that event change the way you manage and monitor your security infrastructure? Steal a moment to let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

Oracle Profits Up by 25 Percent
Ellison's gang is starting off its fiscal year with a bang. Oracle just reported a 25 percent increase in its first quarter profit. Execs attributed the boost to increased applications market share, not to the company's bread-and-butter database business.

"We continue to take applications market share from SAP," said Oracle President Charles E. Phillips Jr. in a prepared statement.

Oracle's net income increased from $670 million last year to $840 million this year for the first quarter. Not a bad increase. Besides chipping away at SAP's applications lead, Oracle also added to its bottom line sales from Hyperion, MetaSolv and several other companies it recently acquired.

Are you a SQL Server or Oracle shop? Any comments or complaints? File them with me at llow@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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