Top 10: Bartz in at Yahoo, Apple's Jobs out until June

This week's roundup of the top tech news stories includes Yahoo's new chief, Steve Jobs taking a leave of absence, tech giant job cuts, Windows Azure tools updates, and more

Yahoo tapped Carol Bartz as its new CEO and in her first press conference she let it be known that the outside world is not calling the shots at her company. While she settled in to her new gig, Apple CEO Steve Jobs started a six-month medical leave, announcing that the health issues he publicly disclosed last week are more complicated than he thought they would be. Otherwise, the drumbeat of bad news related to the economy continued, with Nortel Networks going bankrupt, Google cutting services and jobs, and reports that Microsoft will announce big layoffs next week.

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1. Bartz won't rush into Microsoft deal: Former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz was named Yahoo CEO Tuesday and in her first press conference in the new job she said that Yahoo needs to be allowed to set its own course. "More than anything, let's give this company some friggin' breathing room," she told reporters in a conference call. "It's been too crazy, everybody on the outside deciding what Yahoo should do, shouldn't do, what's best for them. That's gonna stop."

2. Jobs to take leave of absence until June: Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence until June, saying that "during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought." Jobs issued a rare public letter last week saying that the weight he lost over last year owed to a hormonal imbalance. His thin appearance has led to ongoing speculation about his health given that he had treatment for pancreatic cancer several years ago. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will take over day-to-day operations during Jobs' leave.

3. Microsoft-Nortel relationship again under the microscope: Financially ailing vendor Nortel Networks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leading to questions about the viability of the company long term and whether customers will stick by North America's largest telecommunications equipment vendor, which is based in Toronto. The filing also calls into question the stability of Nortel's four-year deal with Microsoft, which the companies signed in 2006.

4. Google prunes popular services from its portfolio and Google will lay off 100 recruiters, shift to fewer sites: Google is eliminating or ending support for a number of its less popular free Web-based services as it aims to redistribute engineering resources. The company is also laying off 100 recruiters and shutting engineering offices in Texas, Norway and Sweden to cope with the lousy economy.

5. Microsoft considers major job cuts: The Wall Street Journal cited anonymous sources that Microsoft is going to announce major layoffs next week, although rumors of impending job cuts at the company have been swirling for a while now. Although the company has steadily hired more employees over the last decade, it has also nipped and tucked its head count now and again. Still, the layoffs expected next week could be the largest in its 34-year history.

6. Microsoft refreshes Azure cloud tools: Microsoft refreshed versions of its Windows Azure software development kit and Azure tools for Visual Studio, which support the planned Windows Azure cloud services platform. The updates offer improved integration with Visual Studio, performance improvements with execution and debugging scenarios and improvements to the storage client and ASP.Net provider samples. Bug fixes are featured as well, as is added support to debug Silverlight in a Web role.

7. Netbooks won't save PC market this year, surveys say: After six years of growth, global PC shipments dipped 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the same period of 2007, analyst IDC found. Both IDC and Gartner expect netbook shipments to outpace other computer shipments in 2009 -- netbook shipments could possibly double -- but that isn't going to be enough to push overall global shipments above last year's numbers.

8. Palm request for app store advice opens floodgate: Andrew Shebanow is working on a third-party application distribution system for Palm's new OS and so he figured he would get input from developers on how they think the system should work. He posted an item about that on his blog on Jan. 8 and was quickly swamped with input, so he removed the blog post this week, saying that the swarm of responses took him and Palm by surprise. The company has now started a developer blog for input and Shebanow is going to work on developer outreach. All of this is yet another indication of how wildly popular mobile apps have become.

9. Facebook has Whopper of a problem with Burger King campaign: Burger King's campaign offering a free hamburger to Facebook users who deleted 10 friends from their networks didn't go over so well with Facebook. After days of negotiations between the companies, Burger King has stopped its Whopper Sacrifice campaign rather than make changes Facebook wanted it to make. The campaign led to 60,000 people paring down their Facebook friends' lists, which may be an indication that, just as Burger King suspected, people are adding "friends" they don't really know.

10. Court orders White House to preserve e-mail: White House employees of President George Bush have been ordered by a federal court to look for and preserve e-mail on their workstations and other devices. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive filed lawsuits in September 2007, asking that the White House be ordered to preserve e-mails from between March 2003 and October 2005. White House officials have acknowledged that some 5 million e-mails are missing from that period.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.