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Public can try out Microsoft's new antivirus, security software service for free

By Times Staff
Published December 5, 2005


Microsoft Corp. is offering the public a free test version of its new service for protecting consumers from viruses and other Internet threats.

The company plans to eventually charge for Windows OneCare Live, though it has yet to announce subscription fees.

In the test version, OneCare will update itself automatically on Internet-linked computers to deal with the most recent threats, while performing other PC tuneups to keep computers running smoothly.

Microsoft's foray into consumer security puts the Redmond softwaremaker in competition with companies such as Symantec Corp. that have built businesses out of providing security for people who use Microsoft's Windows operating system and other products.

The OneCare service is also an early test of Microsoft's new effort to offer more Internet-based software and services, so it can better compete against companies including Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

The OneCare system (ideas.live.com), will be part of Windows Live, a set of online offerings that the company hopes will complement Windows and keep people loyal to Microsoft products.

Three Nigerians sentenced, ordered to pay restitution for roles in Brazilian bank scam

A month after Microsoft agreed to help Nigeria crack down on the country's notorious online scammers, a court threw the book at two men who pulled off the biggest scam in Nigerian history.

It was the first major conviction by a Nigerian financial-crimes commission established in 2003.

The scammers had promised Brazilian bankers a commission for funding a nonexistent contract to build an airport in Nigeria, Reuters reported.

They ended up swindling Banco Noroeste out of $242-million, leading to its collapse.

Emmanuel Nwude was sentenced to 25 years in prison and Nzeribe Okoli to 12 years. They also have to forfeit assets worth at least $121.5-million to victims of the scam. A third participant, Amaka Anajemba, was sentenced to 21/2 years and agreed to return $48.5-million to Banco Noroeste.

The report didn't say what happened to the remaining $72-million.

Microsoft working on online classified service that links to other company products

Microsoft Corp. is developing an online classified service to compete with companies such as Craigslist and becoming the latest company to capitalize on growing consumer interest in buying and selling everything from cars to babysitting services on the Web.

Such Web-based classifieds are proving to be tough competitors for the ads that traditionally provided a big chunk of newspaper revenue.

Microsoft is hoping to distinguish its service, code-named Fremont, from rivals' by tying in functionality with other Microsoft products.

For example, people will be able to have Microsoft's instant messaging service alert them if items they seek come up for sale, or if someone is interested in buying something they are selling.

Internet phone service Skype's user to be able to call via video

Skype is upgrading its popular Internet telephone service to add video calling and a toolbar for Microsoft Outlook to find and dial contacts with a click.

Skype was acquired last month by Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. for $2.6-billion.

While the Windows download is available to any user, the application is actually a beta version, meaning the company still is tweaking the software into a final edition. Skype did not provide a timetable for the final edition or the planned release of a version for the Macintosh operating system from Apple Computer Inc.

The video feature will not cost extra, so Skype's trademark computer-to-computer calls will remain free (fees apply to calls to traditional and cell phones).

Users would need to attach a digital camera to their computers, though some laptops hitting the market have built-in cameras. To that end, Skype also announced partnerships to sell Web cams made by Logitech International SA and Creative Labs Inc.

The new edition of Skype also features a new search box to type in names or numbers and pull up matching entries in the user's address book, as well as an installable toolbar to perform the same function within the Outlook e-mail program from Microsoft Corp.

Possibly coming to a laptop near you: concept "ultrafashionable' casings

Road warriors apparently want more than dull gray or black in their notebook computers, and Intel and Ultrasuede say they will try to accommodate the fashion-conscious travelers. According to a survey commissioned by the companies, 40 percent of road warriors describe their laptop as "generic, boring, dull, sterile or lackluster." And 60 percent would like to customize their machines. The companies have developed concept laptops that they call "ultrafashionable," using micro-fiber Ultrasuede fabric in the casing.

Companies, group can register for Internet domain names with EU suffix

The European Union will inaugurate the Internet suffix ".eu" as part of efforts to boost electronic commerce and Web use throughout Europe.

The EU said the suffix, known as a top-level domain, will give users the option of having a pan-European Internet and e-mail identity. The ".eu" designation will complement existing country-specific suffixes such as ".fr" for France and won't replace them.

The domain "will be particularly useful for organizations operating at a European level, such as companies taking advantage of the EU single market," the EU said in a press release. "Until now, such companies either based their Internet presence in one country or created Web sites in each of the EU countries they operated in."

Starting Wednesday, holders of trademarks as well as public organizations will be able to register their ".eu" addresses with a registry system and will be able to start using the domain names "several weeks" afterward, EU said.

TiVo to offer movie ticket purchases and podcast services through DVR boxes

TiVo Inc. has announced it will offer Internet content through its boxes including a movie-ticket service and podcasts to compete with cable and satellite companies.

Subscribers can use their TiVo remote control to buy movie tickets through Fandango Inc.'s service, which also provides show times and theater listings. TiVo customers also can listen to radio programs, view shared photos through Yahoo! Inc.'s online service and check local traffic and weather, TiVo said Thursday.

TiVo Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rogers said the company is adding features to bolster subscriber growth after losing a contract with DirecTV Group Inc. that accounted for 51 percent of TiVo's customers in the third quarter. Comcast Corp. said in March that it will begin offering TiVo as an alternative to its own DVR service next year.

The added content "could drive a serious step-up in end- user awareness and demand," Richard Baldry, analyst at First Albany, wrote in a note to clients Thursday. Baldry rates the shares "strong buy."

Last month, Yahoo agreed to offer TiVo's TV schedule to Yahoo users, allowing them to set their recorders online.

Join Times personal technology editor Dave Gussow throughout the week for news, links and comments about tech issues at the Tech Times blog (www.sptimes.com/blogs/tech) We invite you to post your comments and questions. Also, we invite you to check out Josh Korr's take on the video game scene at his blog (www.sptimes.com/blogs/videogames)

--Compiled from staff and wire reports

[Last modified December 5, 2005, 03:00:29]


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