Top 10: Windows 7 beta, Jobs' health, the economy again

This week's wrapup of the top tech news stories includes the Windows 7 public beta saga, Apple's final Macworld, 2009's rough economic start, and more

Macworld Expo (sans Steve Jobs) and the International Consumer Electronics Show (sans Bill Gates) got the new year off to a start, providing plenty of IT news this week. Jobs' decision to forgo giving the Macworld keynote was in the news again, as he released a public letter saying his obvious weight loss owes to a hormonal imbalance. In another continuation of news that started last year, economic woes continued to hit IT (along with pretty much everything else). But happy new year anyway.

1. Ballmer sets loose Windows 7 public beta, Microsoft's Web site overwhelmed by would-be Windows 7 downloaders and Microsoft postpones Windows 7 public beta: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the Windows 7 public beta in the opening keynote at CES Wednesday night in Las Vegas, with downloads set to be available worldwide (beyond developers) Friday, leading to a rush that slammed the company's site even before the software was online. In response, Microsoft has delayed posting the public beta until its site is better equipped to deal with the traffic surges.

[ Check your Windows 7 compatibility | Test Center: Windows 7 benchmarks revealed ]

2. Jobs says he has 'hormone imbalance': A hormone imbalance has caused Apple CEO Steve Jobs' marked weight loss, he said in a letter posted at the company's Web site. The letter was meant to put an end to rumors and speculation about Jobs' health after it was announced he would not give the keynote speech at this week's Macworld Expo. He is being treated for the imbalance, and doctors expect that by late spring he will have put back on the weight he lost. For months now his public appearances have set off rumors that he is badly ailing because he had become thin to the point of appearing to be gaunt. Jobs had treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and ever since his health has been a hot topic of discussion.

3. Obama includes broadband, smart grid in stimulus package: Broadband rollout, an Internet-based smart-energy grid, computers for schools and a push for all U.S. medical records to be in electronic form within five years are part of President-elect Barack Obama's enormous economic stimulus proposal. In announcing his plan, he called the economic state of the U.S. a "crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime."

4. Consortium tackles cloud computing standards: The Open Cloud Consortium, which Cisco recently joined, is trying to look at the big picture of cloud computing and deal with issues like compatibility before they become too entrenched. In particular, the group wants to establish standards for cloud computing such that a company moving from one cloud provider to another won't have to rewrite its applications.

5. Macworld Expo: For a change, Apple didn't announce any consumer-electronics-quaking news at this year's installment of Macworld, but there was still plenty to write about.

6. Wall Street Beat: IT faces tough start to 2009: Lenovo, EMC, On Technologies and Logitech are laying off employees, and Intel and Time Warner have issued earnings warnings ahead of upcoming quarterly financial result announcements. So, the new year is off to its expected dismal start with regard to the economy.

7. Satyam chief quits, admits faking financial results and Indian outsourcers face scrutiny after Satyam debacle: The chairman of Satyam Computer Services, the Indian outsourcer in the news lately because of various troubles, resigned and admitted the company exaggerated its financials. Satyam's balance sheet includes inflated figures, nonexistent accrued interest, understated liabilities and overstated credit amounts, B. Ramalinga Raju confessed. His brother, B. Rama Raju, the company's managing director, also resigned. The news is sure to lead to increased scrutiny of other Indian outsourcers.

8. CES 2009 and Computerworld @ CES: New netbooks, PCs, digital cameras, digital camcorders, MP3s, HDTVs, home theater systems, car audio systems and assorted other gear -- as well as the hotly anticipated Windows 7 beta -- are on show through this weekend at CES. IDG reporters are at the show in force, checking out the new gadgets and gizmos and offering first impressions.

9. 'Leap second' snafu affects Oracle clusterware: Scientists added an extra second to 2008. It seems like a harmless thing to do, but it ended up having a big effect on Oracle's CRS clusterware, causing nodes to reboot. Oracle has posted fixes for any nodes thrown off by the extra second.

10. Outlook '09: A lot of us were glad to be rid of 2008, and although 2009 is expected to be a fasten-seatbelts sort of year with a lot of bumps along the way, there's still something to be said for a new year and its possibilities. Network World offers tips for how to budget in difficult times and takes a look at IT forecasts for the year, hot startups and interesting people in IT to keep an eye on.

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