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Consumer Confidential: Safer cribs, Microsoft Office online, hot dresses recalled

June 28, 2011 | 10:08 am

Cribpic Here's your I'll-love-ya-tomorrow Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- We now have the world's toughest safety standards for baby cribs. Newly required tests are so stringent that few cribs in American homes are currently sturdy enough to pass them. As a result, federal regulators recommend that families that can afford to do so should buy a new crib and ditch their old one. The new rules address all major hazards that have killed infants in recent years, including traditional sides that move up and down. While convenient for parents, those so-called "drop sides" too often broke, creating deadly gaps in which babies got trapped. Drop sides are now forbidden. The law also effectively eliminates the secondhand market for cribs because it's now illegal to sell a crib that fails to meet the new standards.

-- Microsoft's future is looking increasingly cloudy. The software giant is pushing back against Google by introducing a revamped online version of its hugely profitable Office software suite. Microsoft is rejiggering it Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint collaboration tools into an online format so that customers can use them on a variety of devices from wherever they can get an Internet connection. Microsoft has offered online versions of some Office programs -- chiefly Outlook email -- for its corporate customers for several years, and last year rolled out free versions for individual home users. The new offerings are collectively called Office 365. Microsoft, like Google, will host users' data remotely and maintain all the servers in vast data centers. Unlike Google, it will also allow companies to put their data on dedicated servers if they choose, or keep the data on their own premises.

-- Some women are way-hot, but this is too much. Topson Downs, a Culver City apparel company, is recalling women's dresses for failing to meet federal flammability standards for clothing and posing a fire hazard to consumers. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the company's Bar III brand dress is fully lined with a sheer rayon outer layer. The dress has a checkered, multi-colored and black pattern called Mint Chili Combo and was sold in five adult sizes, ranging from extra-small to extra-large. It was sold at the Impulse Department of Macy's stores nationwide and on the retailer's website from March through May of this year for about $60. The dress was manufactured in India. If you have one, you can return it to any Macy's for a full refund.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: New safety standards are so strict, most cribs in U.S. homes wouldn't pass. Credit: Associated Press