Week in review: Unfolding Origami

Despite hints at big announcements, Microsoft offers whispered details while Apple brings big noise to iPod.

Despite hints at big announcements, Microsoft offered little more than whispered details while Apple Computer tried to crank up the volume on its iPod line.

Microsoft updated the Web site for its secretive Origami Project, offering a more elaborate tease, but also confirming key details about the Windows-based minitablet.

"I am everywhere you are, but never in the way," reads the cryptic text of the site, with pictures showing a mountain peak and a subway. "Who am I?...Find out 3.9.06."

However, right-clicking outside the flash animation of the main Web page and viewing the source code provides this: "Origami Project: the Mobile PC running Windows XP."

Although Microsoft continues to play somewhat coy, sources have provided a pretty clear picture of the minitablet devices. They will carry Microsoft's software, but be made by several other companies, sources have said. They will also be larger than a typical handheld computer, with at least some of the devices using a roughly 7-inch screen.

Rumors about the device have been swirling during the past week, but more details are not expected until later in March, likely at the CeBit show that takes place March 9 to 15 in Hannover, Germany, sources say.

Meanwhile, Apple unveiled the "home stereo quality" iPod Hi-Fi, which CEO Steve Jobs said is of higher quality than other speakers available today. The large speaker system comes with a built-in iPod dock, as well as an auxiliary port to connect an iPod Shuffle or other device.

"It's really a home stereo reinvented," Jobs said. "It's home stereo reinvented for the iPod age."

The iPod Hi-Fi sells for $349 and can plug directly into the wall or run with six "D" batteries.

Apple also introduced its third Intel-based Mac, a revamped version of its petite Mac Mini. The new Mac Mini is available in two models: The low-end model sells for $599 and comes with a 1.5GHz Intel Solo single-core chip, a 60GB hard drive and a combo drive that can play DVDs and burn CDs.

Some CNET News.com readers were left unimpressed with Apple's announcements.

"I'm a Mac freak and this was super, super, lame," . "An overpriced speaker? A new Mac Mini which is $100 more? What happened to the $500 dollar Mac? Oh well."

Fixing the holes
Apple also released a security update for Mac OS X that fixes 20 vulnerabilities, including a high-profile Web browser and Mail flaw disclosed last week. The set of patches addresses a variety of security flaws, including several that could let an attacker gain control over a computer running the operating system software.

The Apple security update addresses those flaws, which affect the Safari Web browser and Apple Mail client. The vulnerabilities expose Mac users to risks that are more familiar to Windows owners: the installation of malicious code through a bad Web site or e-mail because of improper validation of downloads.

The patch arrives after two weeks of intense scrutiny for Apple Mac OS X safety, prompted by the discovery of two worms and the disclosure of two security flaws in that period.

While these threats represent a sea change, there is no need for Mac owners to worry, security experts said, as the published attacks are still mainly theoretical and

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