Warning of half-billion-dollar settlement tops off tough week for Google

Windows may be 'torturing users,' but a lot of things are torturing Google

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Those two, the former of which takes too long to find a useful link and the latter that seems to actively avoid it, make up a combined 30 percent of the search-engine market, while Google dropped from 64.7 percent to 65.4 percent.

Google suffered another PR attack from a French security company that claimed to have been able to use the bug Vupen to hack Google's Chrome browser, which Google has touted as far more secure than Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Mozilla's FireFox.

Google engineers countered that the exploit actually played on a weakness in Adobe's Flash (which, in fairness, is made of up security flaws loosely connected by functional code requiring frequent updates and replacement of itself in the auto-startup folder). OTOH, Google had bundled that version of Flash with Chrome for more than a year, so it should really get credit for the hack, if only for complicity in it.

The flap hit the news the same day Google announced its new Chrome operating system and the not-a-laptop laptops it will run on.

Reaction to that, at least, was almost universally positive, except for those cranks among the chattering classes who felt compelled to point out that Chromebooks are simply updates of several failed or obsolete alternatives to the laptop (netbooks, network computers, dumb terminals).

With its focus on Web access, portability and keeping as little of its own data, applications or other compute resources on the local device, the Chromebook is designed more as an alternative to smartphones and tablets in the BYOT virtual-desktop market, than as a replacement for regular laptops.

Topping that off, Microsoft managed to nab Skype (by vastly overpaying for it), despite reported efforts by both Facebook and Google to buy it instead.

Overall a tough week for Google, but one that, for the rest of us, is a little reassuring, if only because it shows even the giant, omnipotent companies with unfettered control of much of our computing universe and private information can also make mistakes, be taken advantage of and sometimes even be successfully attacked.

On the other hand, that may not be so reassuring after all.

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