Weekend News Round-up: Microsoft CIO steps down, US and China in cyber war talks

4 Jun 2013

In our round-up of some of the weekend’s top tech stories it has emerged that Microsoft’s own CIO Tony Scott is leaving the position; Apple is scrambling to get deals in place with music labels so it can reveal its music streaming service dubbed iRadio by the tech press; and the US and China are to engage in high level talks over hacking.

US and China to hold cyber warfare talks

The New York Times reported that the US and China are to hold high level security talks on how to set standards of behavior for cybersecurity and commercial espionage, the first diplomatic effort to defuse the tensions over what the United States says is a daily barrage of computer break-ins and theft of corporate and government secrets.

“The talks will begin in July. Next Friday, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China, who took office this spring, are scheduled to hold an unusual, informal summit meeting in Rancho Mirage, Calif., that could set the tone for their relationship and help them confront chronic tensions like the nuclear threat from North Korea.

“American officials say they do not expect the process to immediately yield a significant reduction in the daily intrusions from China.”

Microsoft CIO steps down

Geekwire reported that Tony Scott, who oversaw Microsoft’s internal IT operations for more than five years as the company’s CIO, has exited the position.

“Microsoft says Jim Dubois, its vice president of IT product and services management, will serve as interim CIO.

“Scott’s exit is notable in part because of the role played by Microsoft’s IT department as the first customer of the company’s business groups — rolling out new products for use and testing across the company, prior to public release, in a process commonly known as ‘dogfooding.’ That’s a critical function in addition to the fundamental role of IT in running, securing and maintaining Microsoft’s internal systems.”

Apple battles to finalise iRadio deals

The New York Times reported that Apple is pressing hard to complete deals with music publishers for its iRadio streaming service with a view to announcing the new service next week at the WWDC in San Francisco.

“Apple’s service, a Pandora-like feature that would tailor streams of music to each user’s taste, has been planned since at least last summer. But Apple has made little progress with record labels and music publishers, which have been seeking higher royalty rates and guaranteed minimum payments, according to these people, who spoke anonymously about the private talks.

While it is still at odds with some music companies over deal terms, Apple is said to be eager to get the licenses in time to unveil the service — nicknamed iRadio by the technology press — at its annual developers conference, which begins June 10 in San Francisco. “

Virtual currencies under greater scrutiny

The Wall Street Journal reported that virtual currencies like Bitcoin are attracting greater scrutiny from law enforcement agencies in the wake of the closure of the Liberty Reserve operation, which has been accused of abetting US$6bn worth of money laundering by criminals.

“In the past three months, the Treasury Department, prosecutors and now state regulators have taken aim at virtual-currency exchanges, telling them they must follow traditional rules aimed at thwarting money-laundering. The lightly regulated currencies have caught the attention of people who allegedly use some of them to mask profits from illegal activities.

“Companies using virtual currencies said they welcome the regulatory push because it helps legitimize the practice and build trust with users and investors. But new rules could also make the systems more cumbersome, taking away some advantages, currency experts say. Bitcoin can sometimes be cheaper to use than regular currencies, for instance, because there are fewer ‘transaction fees’ that can take a bite out of regular credit-card transactions.”

Haswell is here

Ars Technica reported on the much anticipated arrival of Intel’s Haswell microprocessors which could lead to a stepchange in the computing power in hybrid computer devices and eventually standalone tablet and smartphone devices.

“The biggest part of the fourth-generation Core launch is Haswell itself, the new CPU architecture that supersedes last year’s Ivy Bridge (which was itself only a modification of 2011’s Sandy Bridge). Haswell is a “tock” in Intel’s overarching ‘tick-tock’ refresh strategy, meaning that it is a new architecture built on Intel’s established 22nm 3D tri-gate manufacturing process. Next year’s refresh, code-named Broadwell, will modify the Haswell architecture for manufacture on Intel’s forthcoming 14nm process.”

Cyber war image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years