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Tech Roundup: Linux Boomerangs, Faux Military Chips, and More

Linux laptops become boomerangs, strong returns -- At least one OEM, MSI, is seeing much stronger returns on Linux laptops than on those running Windows, to the tune of four to one. Apparently people like the price, open the box when they get home, start the laptop up, and then realize that Linux is not Windows. As Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out, that figure doesn't say how many are actually being returned nor the overall profile of the purchasing public. At least users aren't asking for the previous version of Linux to be installed instead. [Source: ZDNet Hardware 2.0]

Cheap chips mangle military mechanisms -- Counterfeit products, ranging from dish soap to electronics components, have been a problem for many years. Now we see the unintended consequences of a couple of 1990s laws that pushed the military to buy off-the-shelf components. Fake semiconductor chips originating in China raise the ugly specter of intentional espionage and counterfeit routers that would go into military networks suggest the possibility of espionage, though apparently no one has made a stronger statement yet than "may contain back doors." Top Pentagon officials have been slow to respond -- big surprise, as historically only the vendors whose products were copied have gotten into an uproar. Maybe the fact that each chip came in its own "official" Gucci bag should have been a giveaway. [Source: BusinessWeek]

Microsoft proves you can buy search happiness -- Perhaps happiness is too strong a word, but at least Microsoft is staving off the misery. Since starting to brib-- oh, excuse me, monetarily reward consumers for using Live Search, the company's ride down the market share slide has halted, although Google's keeps growing and Yahoo, shrinking. The only problem with incentives for consumers is that you tend to rent market share, not buy it. But with Microsoft's petty cash drawer, that could last a very long while. [Source: Ars Technica]

Think Yahoo was looking bad before? -- As of yesterday, Yahoo stock officially entered a new low point -- the lowest price it's been in the last five years, or approximately half of what Microsoft was willing to pay just a few short months ago. So far the deal with Google is delayed and while Yahoo has begun to return, smartly, I think, to its roots as a destination on the web, that doesn't help if there isn't some way to make a living. Of course, stocks are one thing and corporate performance another. The new quarterly release on October 21 will show where the company is going, whether ahead toward the future or directly into a brick wall. [Source: ZDNet Between the Lines]

Fire them now, bill me later -- The rumors have it that eBay will cut ten percent of its workforce today. But to keep all those savings from going to its head, it will buy online payment company Bill Me Later as well as a Danish newspaper and two online classified web sites. Sending the thousand full-time and 600 temporary folks off with pink slips will supposedly lead to annual savings of $150 million after the initial $70 million to $80 million expense. The roughly 8,100 employees at the beginning of 2005 swelled to about 15,500 by April, when current eBay CEO John Donahoe. The question is now that eBay will own Bill Me Later, will customer and investor-without-a-board-seat say See You Later? [Sources: Washington Post, GigaOM]

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