Dev Bytes

Microsoft opts to share more code

Microsoft Corp. will uncloak more of the source code powering its Windows operating system, ostensibly to give system integrators better ability to perform deep security analysis and privacy verification, and to troubleshoot and fine-tune custom Windows applications.

The well-guarded code will be made available under Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative initially to about 150 licensed systems integrators, the company announced. Eligible licensees are Gold Support Services certified partners and system integrators with more than 1,500 seats of Windows with a level A or B Microsoft premier support agreement. The U.S. federal judge overseeing the ongoing antitrust case against the software maker ordered the company to open source code for recent versions of the Windows operating system to nine states that are plaintiffs in the case.

AMD shares Hammer chipset details

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) will make the first chipset for its upcoming Hammer processor available during Q4, the company announced. Hammer is AMD’s first family of 64-bit processors. Chipsets are companion chips that handle much of the integration between the processor and the rest of the computer.

The AMD-8000 chipset series for the Hammer processor will initially include three chips: the AMD-8111 HyperTransport I/O hub, which is designed to replace the Southbridge chip used in Athlon chipset configurations; the AMD-8131 HyperTransport PCI-X tunnel, which offers two PCI-X bus bridges; and the AMD-8151 HyperTransport AGP3.0 graphics tunnel which support AGP-8X graphics. The chipset is designed to be used in desktops, workstations and servers, AMD said. All three members of the AMD-8000 chipset series support AMD’s HyperTransport chip interconnect technology, which supports a peak aggregate bandwidth of up to 12.8GB per second. The “tunnel” function offered by the AMD-8131 and AMD-8151 allows downstream devices to be connected to the host via a HyperTransport connection, AMD said.

EC proposes controversial patent law

The European Commission recently unveiled a controversial proposal for a harmonized law on software patents that is less encompassing than laws in the U.S. and Japan. The proposed law, which would replace 15 different regulations in the 15 countries within the European Union, would only allow patents for software applications of a technical nature – that is, software that runs a mechanical device or changes how a mechanical device works – and it would not permit patents on business methods. Examples of the kinds of software that could be patented would include software that runs an X-ray machine, or that makes a PC run faster.

The U.S. and Japan allow patents on a much wider range of software, and they both permit patents on business methods. Business methods include innovations such as one-click purchasing, for which online retailer Inc. received a patent in the U.S. in 1999. Amazon used the patent to get an injunction against use of a similar purchasing feature by a rival, Barnes & Noble Inc., but that injunction was lifted by an appeals court this year pending a trial.

Oracle delivers free developer tools

Oracle Corp. has launched the Windows Developer Center on Oracle Technology Network (OTN), Oracle’s online developer community. The Windows Developer Center on OTN provides free development resources and services to developers and partners currently using Microsoft Windows technologies with Oracle software.

As a member of OTN, developers and partners can access the Windows Developer Center to download the latest Oracle9i software, XML and Web services software developer kits (SDKs), and tap expertise for developing applications using both Oracle and Microsoft software. Additionally, the centre provides a forum for discussing how to get the best from a Windows environment running Oracle software, as well as education and resources about how to migrate to Oracle’s open-standards software.

Speech apps inching forward

An early version of an emerging technology that will allow users to control software applications using the human voice was released to developers recently.

A group led in part by Microsoft Corp. and Speechworks International Inc., known as the SALT Forum, short for Speech Application Language Tags, released the first public specification of its technology. When completed, the technology would allow developers to add speech “tags” to Web applications written in XML and HTML, allowing those applications to be controlled through voice commands rather than a mouse or a keyboard. Other founding members of the SALT Forum include Cisco Systems Inc., Comverse Inc., Intel Corp. and Philips Electronics N.V. Nearly 20 other companies have announced support for the effort, according to information at the group’s Web site.

Version 0.9 of the SALT Forum specification, which is available for download at, includes early design details for how a developer would go about adding a speech interface to an application. It also offers suggestions about how developers might consider using the technology to voice-enable Web applications, creating what are known as “multimodal” programs that can be controlled by both voice and traditional input methods. The SALT specification is also designed for applications that don’t have a visual user interface, such as those accessed by telephone.

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