Breakfast Briefing: Windows Phone's syncing truce, CES steps into "best of show" row, more Java woes

Today's top reads include a truce in the Microsoft-Google syncing row, how a simple CES award turned ugly and Apple blocks Java - again

1 Feb 2013

Today's top technology stories include good news for Microsoft Phone users on Gmail, the sordid tale of CES awards, Java security, cookie consent, and the world's most literal baker.

Google and Microsoft Phone back on speaking terms

Late last year we reported on a standards stand-off between Microsoft and Google over the latter's decision to remove ActiveSync (EAS) support from its free web services such as Gmail. The potential syncing difficulties prompted Microsoft to tell Gmail users to switch to Outlook. Now it seems the pair have worked out their problems, with Microsoft announcing a compromise deal that will extend support and make syncing simpler, at least for the near future.

"We’re happy to share that Google will extend their support for new Windows Phone connections via Google Sync until 31 July, 2013," Microsoft said in a blog post.

"At the same time, the Windows Phone team is building support into our software for the new sync protocols Google is using for calendar and contacts—CalDAV and CardDAV. These new protocols, combined with our existing support for the IMAP protocol for email, will enable Windows Phone users to continue to connect to Google services after 31 July, 2013." Phew.

When "best in show" lacks class

The Verge has a revealing look at a dispute that's been raging quietly since CES, when CNet chose not to award the coveted "best of show" title to a PVR maker after the editor received orders from on high.

The Consumer Electronics Association that runs the show has taken the unusual step of bumping the DISH Hopper DVR up into a joint winning position for the title – judging for which was contracted out to CNet – after it became clear that CNet's parent company had vetoed the recorder winning the due to ongoing litigation between CBS and the Hopper's manufacturer. The CNet editorial team had initially been smitten with the TV time-shifting device.

"We are shocked that the ‘Tiffany’ network which is known for its high journalistic standards would bar all its reporters from favourably describing classes of technology the network does not like," said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, in a statement.

"We believe that the DISH Hopper DVR is fully covered by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios Inc. The simple fact is making television easier to watch is not against the law. It is simply pro-innovation and pro-consumer."

Apple blocks Java plugin – again

ArsTechnica reveals how – for the second time in a month – Apple has blocked the Java web plugin from OS X over security fears. Oracle has been working to fix a series of vulnerabilities in Java, but is not moving fast enough for Apple, and the fixes themselves have turned out to be weaknesses.

"Unfortunately, the security mechanism itself turned out to be vulnerable due to additional bugs discovered in the Java frameworks," Ars reported. "Security researchers revealed on Sunday that the bug could allow unsigned applets to run inside a browser without prompting a user to allow its execution."

ICO steps back from cookie law on its own site

The cookie consent law - which required sites in the UK to ask permission before dropping tracking cookies on users’ PCs - has taken another hit. The Information Commissioner’s Office, the regulator tasked with policing the rule, is removing its own banner explicitly asking for consent in favour of a more relaxed "implied consent" - essentially a note saying the site uses cookies.

"We first introduced a notice about cookies in May 2011, and at that time we chose to ask for explicit consent for cookies. We felt this was appropriate at the time, considering that many people didn't know much about cookies and what they were used for," the ICO said.  

"Since then, many more people are aware of cookies – both because of what we’ve been doing, and other websites taking their own steps to comply. We now consider it’s appropriate for us to rely on a responsible implementation of implied consent, as indeed have many other websites.”

The ICO has never actually prescribed exactly what route websites should take to meet the rules, but surely this is a sign websites opting for implied consent are in the clear. Website developer Silktide called the ICO "fickle", choosing to express its thoughts via an extremely sarcastic infographic.

Photo of the day

OK, so there's no reason for a baker to be high tech, but if you were a baker that specialised in cakes with photos printed on the icing and someone handed you a USB thumbdrive alongside an order, what would you do? Hat tip to Wired's Olivia Solon.

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