News in brief

Short takes on this week's news

Short takes on this week's news

Wal-Mart to step up expansion of RFID use

US retailer Wal-Mart is planning to "aggressively" expand its use of radio frequency identification technology. The retailer will implement RFID at 500 stores before the end of January next year, taking its total number of RFID-equipped locations to more than 1,000. Wal-Mart has 3,900 stores in the US.

Banks to spend £2bn on Euro payment compliance

Europe's leading 100 banks are projected to spend more than £2bn to comply with European Union requirements for a Single Euro Payments Area, according to a survey conducted by Accenture. Two-fifths of respondents said they expected to invest between £7.5m and £34m on automated clearing capabilities over the next five years, and a third planned similar spending on card processing systems.

Microsoft releases full version of Live Search

Microsoft has announced the release from beta of its Live Search product and has launched in 47 markets worldwide. By using as their personal search home page, users can find, customise and track news, images, video, RSS feeds and blogs across the web. Microsoft also announced the final availability of Live Local Search in the UK and the US.

Owner of 'massive' piracy website jailed in the US

The owner of a "massive" for-profit software piracy website has been jailed for over seven years in the US. Nathan Peterson of California was also ordered by the court to forfeit the proceeds of his illegal conduct and pay restitution of more than £3m. This is the second recent major prison sentence handed out for software piracy in the US. In August, Danny Ferrer, the operator of, received a six-year sentence.

Early Learning rolls out Hyperion reporting tools

The Early Learning Centre is deploying management reporting tools from Hyperion. Gavin Jones, finance director at the retailer, said, "The business has grown substantially in recent years and we needed to improve our approach to management reporting to meet the changing needs of the business."

Microsoft warns of new threat to Internet Explorer

Computer code that targets a new-found vulnerability in the Internet Explorer browser has been posted online, Microsoft has warned. The code, published on public websites, could be used to attack vulnerable Windows PCs via ActiveX controls. Microsoft suggested that Windows users disable ActiveX and active scripting controls until a patch is made available.

Visa to trial contactless payment system

Visa is poised to trial contactless debit cards later this year in London. The trial will let shoppers buy low-value items by passing their card over an electronic reader. Visa said contactless technology would not require replacement infrastructure merchants would simply need an upgrade that would cost about £50 per terminal.

Ofcom to cut costs for cross-network calls

Telecoms regulator Ofcom plans to bring down the cost for fixed-line and mobile users ringing other mobile network numbers in the UK. Ofcom has proposed new controls on wholesale mobile voice call termination charges, which would come into effect when the current regulation expires in March 2007.

City to run simulation to assess impact of bird flu

More than 60 City institutions, including the Bank of England, will begin an exercise on 13 October that simulates the impact of a bird flu pandemic on the financial services sector. The Financial Services Authority, which is leading the six-week exercise, hopes to gain a better insight into how firms would cope with a reduced workforce and other likely flu-induced disruption.

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