THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
AOL to launch MySpace killer
The online service wants to turn its instant-message software into a social-networking website. Plus: Is Microsoft hiding security flaws?
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - The runaway success that MySpace has enjoyed after News Corp. (Research) bought it has the rest of the media world convinced of the value of social networking websites. Indeed, word on the street has been that Time Warner's (Research) AOL would use its AIM instant messenger as a platform to jump on the social networking bandwagon. The B2Day blog reported in March that the project was codenamed "AIMSpace" and was expected to launch in mid-April. AOL exec Tina Sharkey argued that AIM was already the "largest social network in the world." The rumors got a bit louder this morning as AOL program manager Armughan Javaid confirmed existence of AOL's MySpace killer, claiming the service "will be open for non-members, and it will be kick-ass!" A note to Javaid: If things don't work out with the new site, you might be able to find a new job through Murdoch's latest Internet investment, job search engine Simply Hired.

Microsoft's bug fixes are silent, perhaps deadly

Yahoo tries TV again
This time, the portal's not going Hollywood -- it's building its own version of TiVo. Plus: A file-sharing rebel recants. (more)

Security experts are up in arms over what they say is Microsoft's misleading approach to software fixes. Microsoft (Research) regularly releases updates designed to fix vulnerabilities in its software that hackers could take advantage of, but the experts say its announcements leave out key details of exactly what's being fixed. Microsoft security manager Mike Reavey says that the company omits details that hackers might find useful because until the software fixes are installed, after all, Microsoft systems remain vulnerable. But Steve Manzuik, a product manager at eEye Digital Security, a security software company, says that Microsoft users need to know all the gory details. Security fixes can take tremendous effort to install across a company that has thousands of systems. Without more complete information about vulnerabilities, Manzuik argues, system administrators won't be able to judge for themselves which Microsoft fixes are routine and which ones are truly urgent.

Inventor of early MP3 player seeks his due

Kane Kramer, a British inventor, claims he invented a digital-music player remarkably like Apple's (Research) iPod back in 1979. Paul McCartney even invested in his company, which came out with a player in 1986 that could record 5 minutes of music on a chip - a far cry from the iPod's many gigabytes of storage. Unfortunately, Kramer's patents expired long before the first modern MP3 player came along in 1999. Given the iPod's runaway success, "I suppose, in a way, I'm the world's biggest failure," Kramer told The Mail on Sunday.

Seattle startup sells for $275 million

Want to make 80 times your money in four years? That's what Seattle startup Qpass managed to do, by making a radical switch in its business model. In 2002, when its plan to charge Internet users "micropayments" to read newspaper articles was in tatters, Qpass was worth a mere $3.5 million. But it attracted new money from venture capitalists and aimed its payment processing prowess at the booming market for cell-phone content. Now, it's been sold to Amdocs, a St. Louis software company which handles billing for cell-phone companies like Cingular and Sprint Nextel (Research), for $275 million. Top of page

To send a letter to the editor about this story, click here.

Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?