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Thu, Jul 10, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World business quick take

Software

Japan favors Linux

The Japanese government is considering using a free Linux operating system when it upgrades its computer data files for public servants in 2005. Japan has chosen a proposal submitted by a group made up of Fujitsu, IBM Japan and Oki Electric Industry Co that suggests using Linux software to manage salary and other personnel data for the nation's 800,000 central government employees, government official Masanobu Arao said yesterday. Details of the proposal are still being worked out, he said. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported yesterday that the government has decided on Linux, saying that using the software will halve maintenance costs because it is free. The ?188 million (US$1.6 million) contract underlines an overall trend toward favoring Linux to slash costs, Fujitsu spokes-man Bob Pomeroy said.

Internet

McDonald's offers WiFi

The counter help will be saying "You want Wi-Fi with that?" now that residents of the technology-focused Bay Area will be able to get a Big Mac and wireless Internet access at the same time. McDonald's Corp, which already has been offering wireless Web access at 10 restaurants in New York City, is expanding the pilot program to dozens more restaurants spanning the San Francisco Bay region. The fast-food chain launched wireless access in about 55 area restaurants Tuesday. About 20 more will soon follow. Additional restaurants in New York and Chicago also are slated to become so-called wireless "hotspots" as part of a McDonald's goal to offer wireless service at several hundred restaurants by year's end.

Auctions

Buffett offers lunch

Billionaire Warren Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, will have lunch with the winner of an auction on EBay, with the proceeds going to San Francisco's Glide Foun-dation. The half-hour auction will be held Thursday at 8:30pm San Francisco time and the winner and seven friends will have lunch with Buffett in New York sometime in the spring of next year, Glide said in a statement. If the winner of the auction chooses, lunch can be moved to an earlier date in Omaha, Nebraska, where Berkshire Hathaway is based. It's the fourth year that Buffett will host a lunch to benefit the non-profit organization, which provides programs to about 30,000 homeless and otherwise needy people in the San Francisco area, said Reverend Cecil Williams, Glide's chief executive officer. In previous years, the lunch auction has raised US$25,000 to US$32,000 for the organization.

Benefits

Microsoft nixes options

Microsoft Corp, the world's biggest software company, will stop giving employees and executives stock options and record costs for old awards in a shift that may touch off a change in how US companies compensate workers. Microsoft will instead give workers stock starting in September, the Redmond, Washington-based company said in a statement. It's also working on a way to let staff realize some value from options that can't be exercised profitably. Comp-anies are reevaluating their use of options as accounting regulators move closer to requiring firms to deduct the estimated cost from earn-ings. Microsoft's profit for the year ended June 30, 2002, would have been cut by 32 percent if the company had made options an expense.

Agencies

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