Short Takes: March 28, 2014

Short Takes: March 28, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...

Next Week: Build 2014 in San Francisco

Next week, I'm heading to San Francisco for Build 2014, Microsoft's developer-focused conference, where the software giant is expected to discuss Windows 8.1 Update, Windows 9, plans for Windows/Windows Phone integration and Xbox One. If you'll be in the area and would like to hang out, there are a few possibilities. There are a number of events on Thursday, April 3. Our Build Blogger Bash starts at 7pm at the Southside Spirit House, but it's already sold out, sorry. There's a Xamarin party at 8:30pm that night as well, however, and also the Build attendee party, and we'll be trying to make a showing at each. On Friday, April 4, Mary Jo Foley and I will be joining Leo Laporte at the TWiT Brick House in Petaluma (about 45 minutes north of San Francisco) for a live recording of "Windows Weekly" sometime in the early afternoon (1pm to 2pm start time most likely). Everyone is invited, and we'll be heading to a local watering hole afterwards as well. If you think you will be coming for the recording, please RSVP with TWiT.

Related: It's Official: Microsoft Releases Office for iPad

Debates Rage About Office for iPad

Continuing a longtime tradition, I continue to be amazed that something I consider logical, if not overdue—Microsoft's release of a surprisingly full-featured Office version for iPad—has generated some pretty pointed debates. "Yesterday was the day Microsoft killed Surface," one commentator moaned. "How could they not even mention the Windows 8 version?" another opined (even though Microsoft did mention it). What may interest you a bit more, however, is that this same debate continues to rage inside of Microsoft as well. I heard from several sources at the company yesterday—including one buddy who pinged me a bit incessantly via Skype—that there are many people there who are quite unhappy about this move. And some believe it is somehow tied to Satya Nadella. Folks, this product has been in the work for years, and it was approved for launch before the Windows version last year simply because it was so much further along. Mr. Nadella has been CEO for less than two months, this wasn't his call. But I'm excited Microsoft did this. It was the right choice, as was making it truly functional and not a minimalist product like Office Mobile for handsets.

Related: Details Emerge About Office for iPad

Office Mobile is Now Free

Lost in all the excitement and angst around Office for iPad was the news that Office Mobile—the stripped down version of Office for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android handsets—is now completely free. Previously, if you had an iPhone or Android handset, you needed an Office 365 subscription to use this product, which costs $99 per year and up depending on the version. Office for iPad does, of course, require a subscription for anything other than basic document viewing and presenting. This, too, was a smart move.

Mini-Controversy Surrounding Office for iPad

The other mini-controversy around Office for iPad, for some reason, is whether Microsoft is paying Apple's 30 percent App Store vig. The answer, as it was for Office Mobile previously (and is now for OneDrive if you purchase extra storage through the app), is yes. And I'm unclear why this is even a question. But because it is a question, here's what's happening. If you purchase an Office 365 subscription normally—on the web or whatever—you can download Office for iPad and Apple gets nothing. (For this reason, I strongly recommend you do it that way. I mean, seriously. Screw the Apple tax.) But if you download the apps, discover you need a subscription to do anything useful and then buy that subscription from within an app, yes, Apple gets 30 percent of that. Simple. And not at all different from how things have worked in Microsoft apps on iOS since last year.

"Microsoft CEO Signals New Course with Office for iPad"

Nope. See above.

Journalists "Under Attack" from Hackers

So dramatic!  According to Google security researchers (an oxymoron if there ever was one; what's next? A Google privacy officer?), journalists at most of the top 25 news organizations are under attack by hackers. "If you're a journalist or a journalistic organization we will see state-sponsored targeting and we see it happening regardless of region, we see it from all over the world both from where the targets are and where the targets are from," one of the researchers noted. Two points. Because Google is only monitoring those news organizations that use its own Gmail service, this means that many journalists have chosen privacy invasion (Gmail) over legitimate law enforcement ( when it comes to determining who can secretly read their emails. And two, I'm slightly disappointed I'm not being hacked. Oh, right. I'm using the safer services.

Amazon to Announce Apple TV Competitor on April 2

Good, I still barely have room for yet another set-top box in my living room, so go nuts.

Shutting Down Anything Negative About Apple

And speaking of living room set-top boxes, Roku CEO Anthony Wood said this week that Apple loses money on every Apple TV it sells. (The device retails for $99.) "If you're losing money, why would you want to sell more?" he asked CNET semi-rhetorically. But here's the real story. You see, no one is allowed to criticize Apple, and when you do, the lemmings rally and let you have it. That happened with former Wall Street Journal reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane, whose excellent book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs has been blasted by pro-Apple fans and press for accurately describing how the innovation has halted at that company. And it's happened with Mr. Wood: Unable to accept the fact that Apple loses money on every Apple TV sold, an Apple fan pestered an analyst to prove otherwise. His off the cuff remark, via Twitter in case you were worried it wasn't carefully researched, was that he "considers [Apple TV] to be a Kindle-like product. Expected to break even. $1 billion revenue last year." Revenues don't equal profits, and I'd argue that if you sell $1 billion worth of something you're losing money on, you're not doing something right. But the point has been made: Someone made an assertion about Apple, and that someone has been put in his place. That's how this works.

Blackberry Sees a Tiny Light at the End of the Tunnel

The bad news? It's a train. This week, Blackberry announced a fourth quarter loss of $423 million, but because this is Blackberry we're talking about—total losses of $5.9 billion for its current fiscal year—that's considered good news. It could have been worse, right? But seriously, part of the reason for the, um, positive vibe around Blackberry is that some believe it has found a way out of its hole. That is, the handset maker will now focus on managing devices for businesses and governments rather than selling those businesses and governments handsets. That sounds crazy to me. I mean, imagine if Microsoft stopped calling itself a software maker and decided to focus on something like devices and services instead. Nuts!

Blackberry CEO John S. Chen: "We Were Once a $20 Billion Company"

Sure. And I was once 20 years old.

Alternate response(s): Atari. Osborne. WordPerfect Corp. Lotus. Commodore.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and the Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. And check out my free e-books, Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8 and Paul Thurrott's Xbox Music, plus the incredibly inexpensive ($2!) Windows 8.1 Field Guide, which should be completed (in "1.0" form) by the end of the weekend.

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