Green

Roundup: AOL shutting businesses, First Solar building factory, and Microsoft's robot receptionist

AOL plans to shutter a bunch of businesses: Among the businesses on the chopping block are Bluestring, Xdrive, and AOL Pictures.

Apple is testing update for iPhone software: Apple is testing version 2.1 of its iPhone firmware. It includes improved location features.

Vonage getting new CEO? The Wall Street Journal reported that Vonage Holdings Corp. CEO Jeffrey Citron will step down next week and appoint a new CEO. The VoIP phone service company also said it has signed a letter with Silver Point Finance setting the terms and conditions for up to $215 million in private debt financing of which Silver Point has committed to provide $125 million.

Solar firm to build more: First Solar, which has designed efficient thin-film solar cells, announced plans to build another solar cell production plant in Nevada.

Sprint Nextel offloads its towers to reduce debt: The struggling U.S. mobile carrier agreed to sell nearly all its cellphone towers to a private-equity-backed firm called TowerCo in a deal that will generate about $670 million in cash.

Microsoft debuts robotic receptionist: Chief Strategy Officer Craig Mundie showed off a virtual robot receptionist that could recognize speech and see objects so that it could perform rudimentary greeting services for a company.

Both Walt Mossberg (subscription required) and David Pogue panned Apple’s MobileMe service: Apple’s new productivity synchronization service got low marks from its biggest fans as columnists at both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times panned the product for spotty performance.

Samsung’s financials disappoint:
The Korean electronics giant failed to meet second-quarter expectations as results suffered from a weak memory chip market and falling margins on flat-screen TVs.

Microsoft shows off fake Mojave operating system: As a gimmick to show that Windows Vista isn’t so bad, Microsoft played a trick on focus groups with people who were fans of Windows XP. It showed them a faux new operating system prototype, code-named Mojave — which was in fact Windows Vista — and came back with a 90-percent favorable result.