Top 10: Win 7 leaks, the U.S. gets a CIO, trade show news

This week's roundup of the top tech news stories includes Windows 7 leaks, Apples new Macs, the U.S.'s first CIO, the Linux Foundation's training plans, and more

The Demo 09 and Cebit trade shows added a steady stream of news to what already seemed like a busy week in IT -- narrowing the list to 10 stories was tougher than usual. Even allowing for the likelihood that we have a case of early spring fever, the headlines were hopping and for a change the ones that captured our attention did not tend to be related to the recession. There was a key federal appointment, some more blunt talk from Yahoo's new CEO and a warning from the FTC, among other things.

1. Microsoft confirms IE8 kill switch in Windows 7 and Windows 7 leaks continue as new build hits BitTorrent: In what will certainly be considered a key positive feature to some users -- we will refrain from naming names here -- Microsoft confirmed that users will be able to remove Internet Explorer 8 and an expanded list of integrated applications and features from Windows 7. In related news, the second post-beta build of the operating system leaked onto the Web.

[ Video: Catch up on the hottest news from Cebit with the World Tech Update. ]

2. Meet the nation's first CIO: President Barack Obama offered up a surprise this week, naming Vivek Kundra the first federal CIO. Kundra earned high marks as Washington, D.C.'s, CTO, putting the nation's capitol on the map as a leader in government use of technology.

3. Demo 09: Recession weeds out uninspiring start-ups and Cebit 2009 highlights: Demo has become one of the more interesting IT shows in recent years, showcasing emerging technologies, while even a shrunken Cebit remains enormous. Both shows were this week and Network World offered a round up of news from each, complete with a slide show out of Hanover.

4. Yahoo CEO likes Google maps better than Yahoo maps: In the morale-boosting (insert eye-rolling emoticon) news story of the week, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said she prefers Google Maps to Yahoo Maps and that Yahoo Maps is not as good as it should be. OK, so that second part is not much of a news flash, but from other comments made by a Yahoo executive at the conference, it does not sound likely that Yahoo is going to improve its maps anytime soon. Bartz also let it be known that she told Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that any future negotiations between their companies have to stay confidential. Good luck with that. Although there is reason to believe that Ballmer might just have met his match in Yahoo's blunt new CEO.

5. Linux Foundation moves on training: While developers are being laid off, job postings related to Linux development are up, so the Linux Foundation decided to offer training along those lines. The foundation also announced that it is taking charge of the information site.

6. Apple releases new iMacs, Apple releases first Mac Pro update in more than a year, Apple adds dual-band capabilities to AirPort, Time Capsule and MacBook Pro gets small speed boost: As we would expect, Macworld was all over coverage of Apple's new iMacs, the Mac Pro update, additions to other products and the MacBook Pro speed bump. Although Apple fans hang on such news, not all of the reports were rosy as we see in the next entry.

7. Analysts: Mac buyers still pay more than PC buyers for same hardware 'guts': That Macs cost more than PCs is well known (and something that does not seem to much bother Mac enthusiasts), but Computerworld boldly decided to undertake a comparative analysis and found that Macs cost more for what are essentially the same components as in a PC.

8. Facebook redesign may earn thumbs down from ordinary users: Facebook users may want to brace themselves -- the popular social-networking site's forthcoming redesign appears to be more appealing to "social media insiders" than to those who make up Facebook's core. In other words, our cousin in Kansas who just took the Facebook plunge might not be pleased.

9. FTC warns of bogus economic stimulus sites: This should go without saying, but we feel compelled to pass along the warning from the Federal Trade Commission -- Web sites that claim to provide "free" U.S. government grants as part of the economic stimulus bill are not for real. These are bogus sites. Do not send $2 of your hard-earned money to those that require payment in alleged exchange of information about how you too can reap the benefits of the huge influx of federal money meant to goose the economy. Do not give them your personal information. The only things they will stimulate for you are a headache and embarrassment when you realize that you have been had.

10. PC shipments to recover in 2010: IDC revised its 2009 PC shipment forecast to reflect the expectation that the recession is going to worsen. Shipments will be particularly slapped down in the first half of this year, dropping 8 percent, with a full-year dip of 4.5 percent, compared to the 3.8 percent dip IDC predicted last December. On the bright side, shipments will pick up next year.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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