News in brief

Short takes from this week's news

Short takes from this week's news

Crash computer course for tax inspectors

Tax inspectors are set to receive a crash course in computer science to enable them to accept more applications from firms claiming research and development tax credits for software innovation. IT suppliers' organisation Intellect has lobbied for the change since chancellor Gordon Brown introduced R&D tax credits in 2000 in a bid to boost innovation.

Anglian awards Siemens £25m comms contract

Anglian Water Services has awarded a £25m, five-year communications network contract to Siemens. Siemens will provide network performance monitoring and support services as Anglian migrates its communications network to a converged voice and data IP infrastructure over the next five years. By using the IP network, Anglian Water Services said it expects to cut its call costs between sites.

VMware gets behind multicore chip move

Virtualisation software supplier VMware has become one of the first to sell a virtualisation product that supports the latest hardware virtualisation technologies from processor makers Intel and AMD. VMware Workstation 5.5 supports both 64-bit and 32-bit operating systems, and can run virtual machines on multicore chips, which analysts believe will help firms reduce IT operating costs and make applications run more efficiently.

BEA to unveil details of new version of Jrockit

Middleware supplier BEA Systems is due to reveal details of the latest version of its Jrockit high-performance Java Virtual Machine at the BEAWorld Beijing user conference on 7 December. The company will also discuss additions to the Aqualogic range of service oriented architecture management products and the general availability of its high-end application server BEA Weblogic Real Time.

IBM launches self-healing software

IBM has launched a series of "self-healing" software products that can automatically find and fix problems before they slow down systems. The company has also announced new Tivoli monitoring software for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Microsoft releases Windows Live Mail beta

Microsoft has released a test version of its Windows Live Mail service. The beta was sent out to testers last week and aims to offer a more powerful alternative to Hotmail. The Windows Live initiative was announced last month as part of Microsoft's drive to offer more on-demand applications to users. Windows Live is being used to deliver the type of desktop features already possible with Microsoft's Office productivity suite.

Teacher applications delayed by IT problems

The deadline for applications to graduate teacher training courses was pushed back by three days last week to 4 December after applicants complained that the online application process failed to work. The Graduate Teacher Training Registry said, "Due to the difficulties some users have experienced with GTTR Apply [the IT system], we are pleased to confirm that the deadline for primary education applications has been extended."

French mobile networks fined for collusion

The French competition authority has fined mobile operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom a record total of £382m for market collusion practices between 1997 and 2003. The fines represent up to 18% of the operators' net profits in 2004. French mobile networks are among the most expensive in Europe for international users to roam on.

Tivoli tool finds and fixes datacentre problems

IBM's Tivoli software unit has developed a tool that can automatically detect and fix performance problems in a datacentre, as part of the firm's strategy to build self-healing technology. Among the new products, IBM Tivoli Monitoring 6.1 will use additional servers when a key system, such as e-mail or online bill payment, gets overloaded.

Retailer charged after data security failures

US discount shoe retailer DSW has reached a settlement with US government regulators following charges that it violated federal law by failing to secure sensitive customer credit card data. According to the US Federal Trade Commission, 1.4 million credit and debit cards and 96,000 cheque accounts were compromised after a string of security failures.

HP launches utility computing services

HP has unveiled a range of utility computing services to allow users to address fluctuating processing demand. The hosted Infrastructure Provisioning Service and the Application Provisioning Service compete against services from IBM and Sun.

Microsoft hires Cray chief scientist

Microsoft has hired Burton Smith, the chief scientist of supercomputer manufacturer Cray, as it attempts to carve out a niche in the growing business market for supercomputers.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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