News Schmooze: Microsoft reinvents pen and paper

Microsoft revealed its high-tech writing pad, Stelios and Britney slugged it out, and the Greeks bore Game Boys.

The gadget of the week must have been Microsoft's Tablet PC, if only through dint of sheer marketing outlay. Bill Gates has, after all, been harping on about this concept for the past two years, using every high-profile keynote speech he can to praise the virtues of the keyboard-less computer. Now it's for the rest of us to decide what we think, with the tablets arriving on the market in early November. Hands-on tests indicate, though, that in some respects Microsoft has merely reinvented pen and paper. Oh, and don't expect to be able to make use of handwriting recognition on a Tablet PC if your language is Spanish or Italian, among other languages.
Microsoft gets hands-on with Tablet PC
Microsoft looks to decipher your scribblings
Tablet PC speaks in tongues, but not all File-swapping is a contentious issue everywhere, but in London the battle has of late taken on a more circus-like atmosphere than elsewhere. This is because of a case involving the British Phonographic Industry and EasyInternetCafe, formerly known as EasyEverything. The BPI wants EasyInternetCafe to pay £1m for allowing Web surfers to download songs off the Internet and burn them to CD in its shops. EasyInternetCafe, and in particular its colourful multimillionaire owner Stelios, does not want to pay up. Cue armies of orange boiler suit-clad demonstrators marching for the media in front of the High Court, with Stelios in a tightly fitting Tshirt reading "We Will Not Be Gagged". One suspects that if the cash were not at stake, Stelios would be less adamant that the world should "Legalize Music Downloads", as one very professionally manufactured placard read. You don't see Stelios' other business, EasyJet, giving free rides to Nice, after all...
EasyInternetCafe gagging order reaches court On the one hand, Stelios; on the other, Britney Spears. She, along with Madonna, Sting and other multimillionaires, is lining up to condemn the practice of trading music over the Internet in a series of expensive US adverts. They've gone beyond the traditional plea not to cut into their CD sales, and instead are branding file-swappers as common, dirty shoplifters. Perhaps next they'll start a campaign all about how home taping is the same as stealing.
Superstars blast file swapping
P2P foes defend hacking bill The Greeks have finally got around to de-outlawing video games. It was actually illegal for a couple of weeks to bring a Game Boy into the country, and people were reportedly arrested for Web surfing in cyber-cafes. The government told the police to behave themselves.
Greek government backs down on gaming This should reassure Microsoft and Sony that they will be able to bring their online services and next-generation video-game consoles to the Greek market, something that must have been worrying them. The companies are already looking ahead to the Xbox 2 and PlayStation3, with Sony talking about its plans for digital video recording and Microsoft buying developer Rare so that it will have games nobody else has. As one pundit put it, though, buying entire companies in order to get exclusive games isn't really a business model.
Microsoft's Rare buy pits Xbox 2 against PS3
PlayStation2 to record video In the more immediate future, both console makers are getting their online services ready, with various details beginning to leak out about how they plan to do it.
Ntl wins Xbox Live broadband deal
Xbox Live to go online with BTopenworld Speaking of online services, it was somewhat gratifying to be reminded that the US is having just as much trouble getting broadband out to homes as the UK is. Steve Ballmer complained that he can't get it even in the middle of Seattle, high-tech capital of the universe.
Ballmer can't get a fat pipe Nokia unveiled its first 3G handset this week, with nifty features like Bluetooth, a high-res screen and a built-in camera. Besides the cool technology, though, it's hard to see at first glance why you'd be itching to own one of these -- it looks pretty much like a normal mobile, albeit with a slightly bigger screen. Of course, that's the problem with 3G altogether: nobody knows yet what people will want to do with it. At the opposite end of the price scale, Sony Ericsson introduced some new phones for the mass market. The "youth" (i.e. penniless) oriented T100 actually looks a bit cooler than Nokia's 6650.
Nokia takes wraps off first 3G phone
Sony Ericsson aims at youth market The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to:

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