Breakfast Briefing: Windows 8 sales revisited, Google takes over servers, Motorola patents useless

3 Dec 2012
Breakfast Briefing

Today's stories include Windows 8, cloud computing hitting servers, Google's patents arsenal, Boeing's e-weapon, and Twitter censorship

Today we take another look at Windows 8 sales figures, how Google and Amazon are changing the server market, how a new Boeing e-weapon spells doom for the Western superpowers, Google's patent problems and Twitter censorship.

Windows 8 – cheap but not cheerful

There have been mixed reactions to the success or otherwise of the Windows 8 launch, with 40 million licences sold in the the OS's first month. Windows IT Pro has a look behind the numbers and suggests the initial figures are not as impressive as they might seem. A lack of devices with touch is hampering sales, but the bigger question remains why, when it is relatively very cheap compared to predecessors, few people have made the move.

Server makers face threat to income

Wired has an interesting piece on the changing face of the server market (no, really) and the way companies such as Google and Amazon are changing the way big data is handled, with more money going into cheap white box devices than traditional server manufacturer machines.

The scale of the shift is highlighted by the fact that eight server makers now contribute 75% of Intel’s server chip revenues — and one of those is Google. Just four years ago, only three companies made up that 75%, those being Dell, HP, and IBM.

As Amazon's Chris Pinkham points out: "It will be interesting to see, over the next ten years or so, how successful the traditional server vendors will be competing against that kind of server capacity," Pinkham says. "Once developers realise they can use this much cheaper, homogenous infrastructure, the power may shift toward the folks who build the cheapest, simplest hardware."

Boeing tests electronic meltdown weapon

The Daily Mail reports how scientists at Boeing have developed a microwave weapon designed to take out a city's computer hardware without injuring people on the ground.

We're not sure if the graphic showing the "how sinister new weapon wipes out entire networks" was supposed to be ironic, but it looks like a refugee from the clipping room floor of Scooby Doo. There's even a mad scientist villain at the helm.

Google's Motorola patents deal looking more expensive

ArsTechnica reports that Google will not be able to use the patents it snapped up when it bought Motorola for $12.5bn to fight in a patent battle with Microsoft. The ruling by a US judge undermines Google's tactics of using Motorola patents bought up as weaponry for a battle against allegations of patent infringement brought by Microsoft.

"Judge Robart's ruling is bad news for all Google and all Android makers who want to use standards-based patents to defend themselves from patent attacks by competitors," Ars declared. "In both the bench trial and this order, Robart has shown he believes sharp limits should be placed on the use of these patents, which have been the weapon of choice for Android phone makers."

Twitter's blocking dilemmas

Twitter was given much credit for the way it helped protesters during the Arab Spring, allowing the public to communicate and organise themselves, but The New York Times highlights the ethical issues facing the social network. The paper reports how several US politicians are calling for a Twitter block on organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah because they are on a US terror list.

"Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilise in their war on Israel," said one Republican lawmaker. "The FBI and Twitter must recognise sooner rather than later that social media is a tool for the terrorists."

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