THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Microsoft scores in browser wars
Internet Explorer 7 gets good reviews, Sony rolls out a high-end digital SLR and Toshiba announces $18 billion in new spending.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Prompted by the runaway success of Mozilla's Firefox Web browser, Microsoft finally got around to updating Internet Explorer, and its second beta release of Internet Explorer 7 is drawing reactions. Blogger Shel Holtz tried it out and found a lot to like, though he thinks some of the new security features will intimidate non-tech-savvy users. Informationweek, in its review of IE7, asked if Firefox had finally met its match.

Apparently so, according to the latest usage statistics from Since January, worldwide usage of IE has held steady at about 85 percent of Internet users, with Firefox at just under 12 percent. At the very least, the IE7 beta appears to have stanched Microsoft's bleeding of browser market share. Of course, Mozilla is prepping Firefox version 2.0, and even blogger Niall Kennedy -- who now works for Microsoft (Research) -- had kind things to say about Firefox's upcoming features.

Sony dances to Apple's tune
The electronics giant is adopting a format Apple favors -- but its players still can't play iTunes downloads. Plus: Online satire stings Halliburton. (more)

Sony introduces high-end digital camera

Ever since Sony (Research) took over Konica-Minolta's digital-camera business, photo geeks have been waiting to see what would develop. The picture's now becoming clearer: Sony's Alpha SLR camera draws on Konica-Minolta's film-camera traditions and Sony's digital expertise. Most importantly, for hobbyists and professional photographers, Sony will introduce 20 new lenses for the camera, and the camera body will be compatible with 16 million existing lenses already sold for Konica-Minolta SLR cameras. The price has not yet been set, but the camera is expected to hit the market this summer.

Toshiba doubles down on memory

In Tokyo yesterday, Japanese consumer electronics giant Toshiba (Research) announced plans to spend more than $18 billion on new high-tech factories and other capital equipment. Yoshiko Hara of EETimes breaks out the spending, noting that roughly half will go towards semiconductors -- of which the lion's share will be flash memory for mobile phones and digital cameras. Toshiba partners with SanDisk (Research) for flash-memory production, and the companies are now slated to develop two new chip fabs. That's good news for gadget buyers, since the investment will likely lead to higher capacity chips at cheaper prices.

The enormous investment raised for some the specter of oversupply, writes Hara, but Toshiba CEO Atsutoshi Nishida brushed such concerns aside, saying, "We'll decide the actual execution of the investment based on the market situation." Industry analysts are generally pleased by the news, expecting that it will boost Toshiba's share of the critical flash-memory market relative to market leader Samsung (Research), which is also investing heavily in flash.

BBC festival mixes real, virtual entertainment

Spring brings outdoor music festivals, and the blogosphere is buzzing about the BBC's new spin on the form. This weekend the Beeb's Radio 1 will host its One Big Weekend event simultaneously in Dundee, Scotland and online within the virtual world of Second Life, a massively multi-player role playing game. Kotaku reports that virtual festivalgoers will be able to listen to the concert through a virtual radio and watch the simulcast of the live event on virtual Jumbotrons. Even better, "...the real-life festival Jumbotrons may well broadcast screenshots of the virtual festival." While this weekend's concert is free, the virtual concert model would seem to have great revenue potential for promoters, as ticket sales are presumably no longer constrained by venue size. One cautionary note to virtual attendees: Holding a lighter in the air while you're sitting at your computer will never be cool. Top of page

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