Breakfast Briefing: Microsoft's Blue wave, Surface storage vs MacBook Air, Facebook error page glitch

Today's tech news features details of Microsoft's Blue, a big case for software patents and how Facebook redirected other sites' surfers to its own error page

8 Feb 2013

We round off the week with a look at Microsoft's Blue update strategy, a software patent case that could have big repercussions, Facebook's hijack error and more on Surface storage. Plus, with broadband caps, the numbers don't always add up.

Microsoft's Blue updates to land across multiple products

Microsoft's update for Windows 8 – dubbed Blue – will not be a standalone service pack, but part of a wave of upgrades for everything from Windows Phone to SkyDrive, webmail and Windows Server, ZDNet reports. The strategy marks a new way of working for the software maker, with development teams aligned to release regular upgrades at around the same time.

"To date, many Microsoft teams like Windows, Windows Live and Windows Server have been focused on delivering major platform updates every two to three years," ZDNet reports. "The challenge is to get them to pivot around yearly platform updates, the first of which will hit as part of the Blue wave."

Surface storage comparisons go wonky

ZDNet takes a detailed look at Microsoft's Surface battery life, which has seen the company criticised over missing GBs. However, after Microsoft revised its estimates of just how much storage space was available, the tablet comes out favourably in comparison to a MacBook Air. It's an interesting tale of how you count numbers, and when and why disk spaces on Apple machines can also be less than advertised.

Facebook takes over the web

ReadWrite details how a bug in the Facebook plug-in hijacked visitors to web sites with connections to the social network. Visitors to sites from Yahoo News to Gawker and The Washington Post found themselves redirected to a Facebook error page.

"Developers at Say Media, ReadWrite's parent company, believe that the problem was caused by Facebook Connect having problems with oAuth authentication that allows users to sign into a site using their Facebook profiles," the piece explains. The glitch has since been fixed.

Software patent timing examined

Two opposing forces are set to be affected by a patent case involving banking software that could determine when a piece of software is patentable, and when it merely moves an old idea along. Companies like IBM want to see more patents, while Google and Facebook argue that only software meeting the most rigid definition of innovation should be protected.

"I just don't see an elegant rule coming out that's simple to apply," one patent lawyer told the Wall Street Journal. "You basically have a 'you-know-an-innovation-when-you-see-it' standard, and I'm not sure how fast that's going to change." That noise? That's the sound of lawyers rubbing their hands together.

Why broadband caps are inaccurate

BT and Sky have dropped their broadband data caps, but other ISPs still limit downloads - and that may be a problem, as traffic meters aren’t actually accurate, says a story on GigaOM. It quotes a US firm that audits broadband metres as saying five out of seven aren't counting correctly. While the inaccuracies don’t inspire confidence, the company said under reporting is more of a problem than over reporting, so at least the problem isn’t hurting many customers.

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