The Buzz: September 8, 2003

Microsoft announced a raft of wireless peripherals for desktops last week.

Microsoft Unveils Wireless Peripherals

Microsoft announced a raft of wireless peripherals for desktops last week. The mouse products have a new scroll wheel, based on Microsofts Tilt Wheel Technology, featuring vertical and now horizontal scrolling in one wheel, accelerated scrolling, smooth scrolling, and the ability to toggle between open windows by depressing the wheel button, officials said. Microsofts new Optical Technology includes optical chips that promise longer battery life, officials said.

Pricing for the products is as follows: Wireless Optical Desktop Elite (shown), $104.95; Wireless Optical Desktop Pro, $104.95; Wireless Optical Desktop, $84.95; Basic Wireless Optical Desktop, $64.95; Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer in Black Leather, $64.95; Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer, $54.95; Wireless Optical Mouse, $44.95; IntelliMouse Explorer, $44.95 (available in February).

Gateway to Close Facility, Cut Jobs

Gateway will shut down a manufacturing facility in Virginia and change how it does product sourcing, support and service in moves officials said will save the company $115 million to $130 million a year.

Chairman and CEO Ted Waitt said last week the moves are part of a larger plan to transform the company from a PC maker into a larger player that sells everything from enterprise servers to plasma televisions.

"We have spent the past six months transforming our products, our retail network and our marketing efforts," Waitt said in a prepared statement. "But were also completely redesigning our sourcing, logistics, service and support systems. Part of that plan is to close a manufacturing plant in Hampton, Va., Sept. 30.

Spokesman Bob Sherbin said the company will cut 450 jobs with the closing of the Virginia manufacturing facility. More jobs will be lost at Gateways Sioux Falls and North Sioux City locations in South Dakota as tasks are shifted to partners or other facilities. The number of jobs that will be lost in South Dakota has not yet been determined.

ACLU Slams Face-Recognition

The American Civil Liberties Union last week issued a statement condemning face-recognition technology used at Bostons Logan Airport and in two other cities as an ineffective security tool.

The ACLU cited an independent report that found the systems generated a large number of false-positive results and that the systems operators "workload is taxing and strenuous, requiring constant undivided attention and periodic relief, which amounts to a staffing minimum of two persons for one workstation."

"We are unsurprised to learn that yet another real-world test of face-recognition technology has found [the technology] to be a dud," Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, which obtained the Logan report under the states public records law, said in a statement.

Microstrategy Wins Against Business Objects

Microstrategy has won a summary judgment in a patent infringement lawsuit that rival Business Objects filed against it.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a summary judgment dismissing Business Objects lawsuit on the grounds that Business Objects did not have enough evidence for the case to proceed. The lawsuit alleged that MicroStrategy infringed on U.S. Patent No. 5,555,403, titled "Relational Database Access System Using Semantically Dynamic Objects," owned by Business Objects.

Business Objects sued Cognos and Brio Technology on similar grounds, reaching settlements in both cases.