Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Microsoft Singled Out In PC Decline

First-quarter PC shipments suffered the steepest decline ever for a single quarter, according to research firm IDC, which claims Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system is to blame in part for the market slowdown. "While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the [user interface], removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC program vice president for clients and displays, in a prepared statement.

"The magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome," said David Daoud, IDC research director for personal computing, in a statement. "The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer."

Dell's Biggest Investor Criticizes Special Committee's Process

Dell's biggest outside investor this week fired off a letter to the special committee overseeing Dell's proposed $24.4 billion leveraged buyout, stating that the process used to investigate transaction possibilities was inadequate.

The April 9 letter, from Southeastern Asset Management, argues that there are better offers on the table than the current $13.65-per-share deal with Silver Lake Partners for a leveraged buyout.

Dell issued a proxy statement last week detailing the background of the Silver Lake deal as well as other proposals from Icahn Enterprises and The Blackstone Group.

"We believe the proxy statement fails to make a case for shareholders to accept the $13.65 per share Michael Dell/Silver Lake buyout," wrote O. Mason Hawkins, chairman and CEO of Southeastern Asset Management, and G. Staley Cates, president and CIO, in the letter.

Cisco Global Enterprise Segment Chief Leaves Company

John McCool, a 17-year Cisco veteran who was heading up the networking market leader's Enterprise Networking Sales Architecture team, is leaving the company.

As senior vice president and chief technology officer of Cisco's Global Enterprise segment, McCool helped shape Cisco's sales strategy for its enterprise routing, switching and security portfolio.

McCool was previously a senior leader of Cisco's engineering organization, where he played a key role in developing Cisco's Catalyst 4500, Catalyst 6500 and Nexus 7000 switches.

Cisco said Tom Wilburn, former vice president of Unified Access Sales at Cisco and a key driver behind Cisco's $1.2 billion acquisition of Meraki, has been tapped to fill McCool's role.

AppDynamics Hit With Patent Lawsuit

CA Technologies filed a lawsuit against AppDynamics alleging the company's application performance management products infringe on three patents CA holds on APM technology. CA filed the lawsuit against San Francisco-based AppDynamics Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York. Islandia, N.Y.-based CA is seeking undisclosed damages "for lost profits and legal costs" and an injunction against AppDynamics "prohibiting the infringement of CA Technologies' APM patents," CA said in a statement. AppDynamics countered: "The reality is, we win against our competitors in nine out of 10 selling situations, which is due to the highly unique nature of our technology that has been embraced by thousands of organizations worldwide. We encourage our competitors to compete in the marketplace on the basis of their technology and not engage in frivolous lawsuits." CA said it acquired a number of APM patents, including the three cited in the lawsuit, when it bought Wily Technology in 2006 for $375 million. Jyoti Bansal, a former lead software architect at Wily and former CA employee, founded AppDynamics in 2008.


Staples Still Silent On Breach Severity

Staples is remaining mum about the extent of a malware infection that crippled its corporate systems last week while investigators contained the attack.

CRN learned that the Framingham, Mass.-based office supply retailer was impacted by the ChangeUp worm, a fast-spreading attack designed to spread via network shared drives. Once systems are infected with ChangeUp, the worm contacts a remote server to download additional malware, which can range from banking Trojans to keystroke loggers designed to record keystrokes to steal account credentials.

Staples spokesperson Mark Cautela said last week that he would look into the matter but has not returned repeated requests for information about the attack or whether any customer data was exposed as a result of the incident.

Security experts said shared drives are typically isolated from servers containing more sensitive data; however, file shares could contain intellectual property and other information that could be high-value assets to the retailer.