News in brief

Short takes from this week's news

Short takes from this week's news

Microsoft offers hosted Exchange services

Microsoft is making a set of new Exchange Hosted Services (EHS) available from 1 April as part of its software-as-a-service strategy. Formerly known as Frontbridge Technologies, EHS has four separate hosted services covering e-mail filtering, archive, continuity and encryption. Microsoft also announced a new per-user licensing model for all the services.

ID cards to save firms £425m, says minister

ID cards will save businesses £425m, Home Office minister Andy Burnham claimed last week. Burnham was speaking after the House of Lords agreed a compromise to the ID Cards Bill, under which the first ID cards will be issued from 2009 as people renew their passports. The Home Office believes that ID cards will bring savings to businesses by simplifying identity checks on customers and employees, and by reducing the risk of fraud on online purchases.

Fire and Rescue moves to voice and data system

The Fire and Rescue Service is replacing 46 radio systems with a single system to handle both voice and data in a £350m contract. The new system will go live throughout England by 2009 when the Fire and Rescue Service moves to regional fire control centres. The Firelink system from O2 Airwave will enable fire, police and ambulance services to communicate over a secure digital network for the first time.

Clothes retailer aims to optimise supply chain

Clothing retailer Zara aims to optimise its supply chain through the expansion of its single distribution centre in north-west Spain. All 981 Zara stores or franchises are supplied from the logistics centre. Over the past few years, Europe's largest clothing retailer has implemented new point of sale, stock administration, distribution and in-store garment labelling systems.

Microsoft retains support for security tool

Microsoft has reversed its decision to end support for a popular tool that allows Windows users to scan their computers for unpatched programs and security flaws. Support for Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) 1.2 was due to end last Friday, but user appeals have led Microsoft to announce that support will continue indefinitely.

Mobiles are given their own internet home

Mobile Top Level Domain is to start registering .mobi internet addresses in May, to cater for mobile devices. The domain will come with a new set of standards to help companies design their websites for small screens.

Highways Agency gets the message across

The Highways Agency has opened a £160m National Traffic Control Centre to give drivers up-to-date information on the state of the motorway network. The centre consolidates the systems and information generated by existing regional traffic centres and national roadside infrastructure systems via a single hub. Roadside information will also be provided on electronic message boards.

Northern Ireland DFP in £185m outsourcing deal

The Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) has signed a £185m deal with Fujitsu Services to outsource its HR operations, which support 28,000 staff. Fujitsu Services will manage payroll and recruitment systems at a shared service centre, and replace personnel systems with an electronic HR system.

EC to force down overseas mobile tariffs

The European Commission is to introduce legislation to force mobile operators to reduce the amount they charge for using mobile phones when abroad. The commission said such roaming charges were too high and that mobile operators had failed to voluntarily bring down their prices, so it was forced to act.

US state of Georgia in pensions security breach

The US state of Georgia has been hit by a remote attacker who accessed a database containing the details of 570,000 members of the state's pension scheme. The breach has been blamed on an unpatched flaw in one of the state's security programs.

For the record

David Weeks, Microsoft's Windows Vista product marketing manager, was reported in Computer Weekly last week as saying that Microsoft had not committed to release Vista by the end of this year. Microsoft has been committed to a 2006 release since the announcement of the availability of Windows Vista beta 1 in July 2005.


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