Barack Obama became the 44th, and first African-American, president of the U.S. on an Inauguration Day that captured the world's attention and provided a flurry of technology-related headlines. The post-inaugural buzz ended quickly, though, with dismal economic news being rife (again) this week. On a happier note, Apple did well with its quarterly financials and celebrated the 25th birthday of the Mac.
1. A high-tech agenda for the Obama Administration: Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th U.S. president Tuesday, with Inauguration Day coverage blanketing the Web, including sites that typically do not have much to do with political news. There were any number of tech-related stories pegged to the big day, including how mobile-phone networks and the Internet held up. A tech-savvy president -- Obama publicly declared he was not going to give up his BlackBerry despite security issues and ended up winning the right to continue using his beloved handheld -- will undoubtedly mean more emphasis on tech policy and legislation. Here are some humble suggestions on which issues he should tackle first.
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2. Microsoft to cut 5000 jobs: Following a disappointing second quarter, Microsoft is laying off 5000 employees as a belt-tightening measure. The company also predicts more dire economic straits ahead. Part of the problem was Windows Vista, which has provided subpar financial returns, and the economic slump could cause the company to rethink its Windows client business .
3. Heartland data breach could be bigger than TJX's and Heartland breach raises questions about PCI standard's effectiveness: Heartland Payment Systems, which provides credit- and debit-card processing services, disclosed a massive data breach that could rival that of TJX, though specific numbers were unclear. However, Heartland processes 100 million card transactions per month, so analysts suspect that the breach was huge. (The TJX breach compromised more than 45 million cards.) The Heartland breach has led to renewed concerns that the Payment Card Industry data security standard required by Visa and MasterCard is not up to the task of ensuring data safety.
4. Microsoft to deliver first IE8 release candidate Monday: The first release candidate of Internet Explorer 8 will be out Monday, according to sources who know what Microsoft is up to with its next browser version. A release candidate, in Microsoft parlance, is software with all the features set to go and code that is stable. It also means that a final release of the software is imminent.