Research In Motion officially opened its BlackBerry App World online store at the start of the month, delivering a broad mix of personal and business applications for users of its BlackBerry handsets in the UK, the US and Canada. Our tests found it was straightforward to get started with the app store and the range of apps already on offer is impressive. On the downside, some of the apps proved tricky to get up and running.
New legislation came into force in April that enabled an extra four and a half million parents to ask for flexible working, in a move that had serious implications for the IT managers tasked with supporting such practices. Only around 12 per cent of the population is currently set up to work remotely, according to research from Work Wise Week.
A report in The Wall Street Journal claimed that agents from China and Russia, along with several other countries, had infiltrated the computer systems charged with managing electricity in the US, and left behind software payloads which could be used to control or disable grids in the future. The Chinese government denied any involvement in the reported infiltration. The Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu as saying that any sort of involvement from China in the incident did not exist.
Auction site eBay announced plans to spin off Skype, floating the VoIP service as a standalone business from early next year. The announcement followed news that Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who sold the system to eBay for $2.6bn in 2005, were trying to raise capital to buy it back.
Business software giant Oracle announced it would acquire server builder Sun Microsystems for $7.4bn (£5.1bn). Although analysts generally agreed that Java and Solaris have a safe future, they were divided over what the acquisition could mean for Sun's other products.
The RSA Conference 2009 took place in San Francisco in April. Much of the focus was around the need for collaboration between security vendors and new security challenges from cloud computing.
Chancellor Alistair Darling announced a commitment to invest billions of pounds in green developments and new technologies in his budget statement. A £750m Strategic Investment Fund will provide financial support to emerging technologies, advanced manufacturing and biotechnology. The budget also included £10bn of funding for the communications sector, focused largely on extending broadband networks to all UK citizens.
Microsoft confirmed that the release candidate of its new operating system, Windows 7, was on track for a release date of 30 April. Microsoft said the Windows 7 team had been busy analysing feedback from beta testers, fixing bugs and working hard to improve the overall experience.