Merchandising MySQL, Scalping Skype, and IE 3!
It's time again for the Weekend Edition of Breaking News, bringing you all the news you need to know before jumping back into the grind on Monday. There's lots to cover, so strap yourself in and prepare for a ride.
Starting us off is news of MySQL, which regular readers will remember was acquired in January by Sun Microsystems. The deal raised questions for some about MySQL's future as an Open Source project, fears which some believe are coming true, with the revelation that Sun is considering limiting certain "advanced" features to enterprise subscribers in the next version of MySQL. Former MySQL CEO Marten Micklos, currently Sun's database group VP, claims the move was planned before the buyout, and that Sun had nothing to do with it. Further, he says, while no decisions have been finalized, Sun's influence is likely to push the decision away from closed licensing, though that doesn't explain why the first word of the move comes three months after Sun gained influence over such decisions.
While acquisitions are on our mind, eBay has finally confirmed the rumors circling for months that the online auction house is interested in unloading Skype, the VOIP buy that has consistently caused headaches being acquired in 2005 for $2.5 billion. The blogsphere has been alive with rumors of a Skype sale for some time, including speculation last November that Google might buy the service, though eBay has, until now, refused to comment. John Donahoe, eBay's recently-installed CEO — perhaps most famous for sparking a week-long seller's boycott by eliminating their ability to leave buyer feedback — said that while Skype has seen rapid growth, eBay still isn't sure it's a good fit, and if things don't start fitting better by the end of the year, Skype may find itself up for auction.
On the subject of eBay subsidiaries, PayPal stirred up a bit of news on Friday by announcing their intent to begin blocking "unsafe" web browsers from accessing the PayPal service. According to research by PayPal's security chiefs, some customers are using browsers as old as Internet Explorer 3, released two years before PayPal was founded. Such browsers are completely lacking the security features essential to preventing online fraud — presumably an application of Microsoft's position that browser upgrades are dangerous. The duo's report compared allowing insecure browsers to selling cars without seatbelts, and portrayed anti-phishing efforts as "a fast-moving chess match with the criminal community." Somehow, PayPal and The Seventh Seal never quite came together in our minds...
Speaking of evil and things that don't work as they should, everyone's favorite bastion of doom was busy belying their shortcomings on Friday. The day started with Big Evil once again extending a sideways acknowledgment to a security hole they denied a mere three weeks prior — making this at least the third time this year that Microsoft has insisted their software was immune only to be proven wrong by security researchers. The vulnerability in question involves privilege elevation, and affects all current versions of Microsoft Windows, including Vista and the recently-released Sever 2008. As usual, there was no word on whether a patch will be forthcoming, but they were nice enough to acknowledge that the bug is the same one reported to — and dismissed by — Microsoft by Argentinian security consultant Cesar Cerrudo.
Meanwhile, Satan's Little Helper himself made the startling admission that Microsoft's — sinking — flagship, Windows Vista, is incomplete. Of course, this isn't startling to anyone who has used Vista, but it's quite startling that someone as juiced up on Microsoft propaganda as Mr. Ballmer would make it. The shocking announcement came at Microsoft's annual MVP event — that's Most Valuable Professionals, not Most Vulnerable Products — came with an acknowledgment that Microsoft has "things we need to learn from," and that their focus remains on giving customers "the best possible experience" — a move we're guessing is part of a new campaign aimed at masochists. He even went so far as to publicly accept that some users — millions — want nothing to do with Vista, and offered a completely noncommittal stance on the fate of Windows XP.
For now, we're going to ovoid a noncommittal stance on the end of this story, and sign off saying: Get your fun in now, because Monday's just around the bend.