WinInfo Daily Update, April 7, 2006: Short Takes

My son Mark turns eight today. His birthday is always tinged with a bit of retrospection because seven years ago he almost died from bacterial meningitis. Several long time readers have periodically asked me how he's been doing since then and even given his complete hearing loss corrected in late 1999 with a cochlear implant, he's doing terrifically. Every year about this time we meet with the town to assess his progress and this year's meeting was the best yet. Mark is doing extremely well in school and has completely matriculated. He's in second grade at the local elementary school and is outgoing, sensitive, friendly, and intelligent. He has lots of friends and plays at least one sport each season in addition to karate and swimming. It's all sort of astonishing. Somewhat naturally as each year comes around we think back to how it all happened and wish things had gone differently. But it's impossible not to look at this child each day and see the miracle. With the implant his hearing is incredible, sometimes even shocking. It's not perfect and he'll never hear like you or I do. But it's better than we have any right to expect. Utterly amazing.

The big buzz in the tech world this week of course was Apple's Boot Camp which lets you dual boot an Intel based Mac between OS X and Windows XP. I snagged a Mac-mini on Thursday to test this software and it does work as advertised I'll have a full review soon on the SuperSite for Windows.

As I've documented my Boot Camp experiences on my blog I've been impressed by both the discussions concerning this software and some of the intriguing developments that have occurred. Barb Bowman, my tech guru, has figured out how to get XP Media Center Edition 2005 to work on the Mac and with a TV tuner no less Mediafour, suddenly has a new market for its excellent MacDrive software, which lets users access Mac formatted hard disks from within XP. And most important, now we can all purchase Apple's beautiful, if eclectically configured hardware secure in the knowledge that it will run Windows just fine. This is a win-win situation. Apple sells more hardware and Microsoft sells its OS. Since that's how both companies make money there's no real loser per se, although I can see some trouble looming for OS X. However, future versions of Boot Camp will require Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard no doubt. And if I know Apple, Leopard will be the only version that supports Windows Vista. Let the upgrading begin!

If you're still not convinced that Boot Camp is big news, consider that it was reported on the front page of the New York Times on Thursday instead of in the business section as you'd expect. And this morning the Times also dedicated an editorial to it. That's pretty incredible considering what's going on in the world today.

I visited LinuxWorld in Boston yesterday and wasn't overly impressed. Attendance seemed very light, although to be fair it was the last day of the show. The tiny show floor would have barely filled one of the overflow tents you see at the Interntional Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. My guess is that Boston isn't a great venue for this kind of show despite the fact that there's a lot of open source development going on there. Overall, I expect this to be the last Boston rendition of the show. It's clearly not clicking.

Microsoft Preps Windows Vista Capable PC Stickers 

I wonder if Apple will start using these now. Microsoft is creating new Windows Vista Capable stickers that PC makers can put on their PCs this year alerting consumers that the machines they buy today will run Windows Vista tomorrow. The move is an attempt to offset disappointment in Vista's interminable delays and to help ensure consumers that it's safe to buy a new PC before Vista ships. However, I'd like to point out the difference between capable and kicking butt and taking names. A Windows Vista Capable PC will be able to run Vista, yes, but for the best experience that is the Aero Glass UI you're going to want a high end 3D video card. Basically, any XP capable PC can run Vista but to run it right you need a good video card.

Microsoft Goes Linux Sort Of 

At the LinuxWorld trade show in Boston this week Microsoft carted out Bill Hilf the lead program manager of its Platform Strategy organization to tout the company's new interoperability initiatives which include I'm sure not constantly FUD about the Linux competition Hilf promoted a new Microsoft Web site Port 25 which is designed to foster communication between Microsoft and the open source community. Port 25 refers to the default server port for sending email when port 25 is open, a server is said to be listening. Get it? In any event, I expect Microsoft Port 25 and the company's new interoperability pledge to receive a healthy dose of distrust from the Linux guys. But, I do like the name!

It's That Time of the Month Here Come the Patches

Next Tuesday, Microsoft will provide its regularly scheduled shipment of monthly security patches. April's batch includes five security bulletins and at least one will be tagged as critical. Among the patches is a fix for a recently discovered bug in Internet Explorer (IE). I'm a bit miffed, however, that this bug was exploited weeks ago and that Microsoft is making users wait until next Tuesday to get the patch to fix it. I realize that fixing security problems is time consuming, but there has to be a faster way to do this.

Microsoft Snags Its Biggest Ever Smart Phone Contract 

For years I've reported on Microsoft's lackluster performance in the smart phone market. This week all that changed when the company snagged an order for 500,000 smart phones from the US Census Bureau. That's the biggest ever mobile phone contract the software giant has made to date and Microsoft is now reporting that it expects its Windows Mobile software to ship as many as 20 million handsets in 2007 which will double the number that will ship this year. Microsoft also expects its mobile unit's sales to triple to more than 1 billion within three years. I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons these optimistic forecasts will never happen, but I'll let this one sit for now. Let's face it: Microsoft could use some good news.

Microsoft Airs Documentation Success Stories 

Speaking of good news, this week Microsoft published several quotes from companies claiming to have had great success using the server interoperability documentation that the European Union (EU) claims is useless. Microsoft's partner, EMC, reported that the documentation is appropriate and helpful and Network Appliance claimed that the documentation has steadily improved over time. These types of sweeping endorsements are really making me reevaluate my opinion about Microsoft's compliance with the EU antitrust ruling. No, I'm not serious.

MSN Search Goes Offline and No One Notices 

On Thursday, Microsoft's MSN Search went offline for four hours. What's humorous about this outage is that the company is still trying to figure out what caused it. My guess is that someone actually attempted to use the service thereby triggering a crash. OK, I'm kidding. Seriously, I love MSN and only poke fun because I know the company can handle it. Please guys, don't hand tailor all the Paul Thurrott searches to go to a porn site. We're all friends here.

Microsoft Is the Strongest Brand in the World 

According to research firm Millward Brown, the company with the strongest brand in the world is, ta da! Microsoft! Microsoft! Yep, that's what the data says. Microsoft is followed by General Electric (GE) Coca-Cola and China Mobile China Mobile. OK, this whole thing confuses me. GE has a strong brand. People actually like Microsoft. Who the heck is Millward Brown?

Dell Ups Notebook Warranties 

Responding to complaints that its customer service is lousy mostly because the Indian guy on the phone is claiming to be from Iowa and can barely speak English this week Dell announced that it would increase the warranty on its Inspiron notebook line from 90 days to a full year. That gives you another nine months to call a sun starved Indian gentleman and converse uncomfortably about the fact that your computer no longer works. Which reminds me of a restaurant giving you a coupon for a future free meal after you've had a lousy experience. I'm actually a big fan of Dell and although I salute the longer warranty the company isn't really getting to the heart of the problem.

America Online to Rebrand Itself as AOL 

My editors insisted on renaming America Online (AOL) years ago and now it's finally official. This week, Time Warner announced that its America Online subsidiary will be renamed AOL. The reason AOL is simpler than America Online it doesn't contain the word America and AOL long ago accomplished the mission implied by our old name, according to AOL CEO Jon Miller. Plus, it's vaguely reminiscent of KFC, which as many of you know has been welcomed with open arms around the world. Oddly enough, AOL is actually the third name for this company, which started off as Quantum Computer Services in 1985. I can barely recall using the Quantum Link service with my Commodore 64 but I'm still scarred by my experiences using AOL in the early 1990s.

It's Official Firefox Tops 10 Percent of the Market 

And finally, Mozilla's open source Firefox Web browser topped 10 percent of the market this week marking the first time an IE alternative has snagged a major chunk of market share away from Microsoft. According to Web audience measuring firm NET Applications 10.05 percent of all Web surfers used Firefox in March up from 9.75 percent in February. Meanwhile, 84.5 percent are still using IE. The remaining 5.45 percent are all over the place 1.05 percent of surfers use a Netscape browser 0.54 percent use Opera and 0.34 percent use Safari.

TAGS: Windows 8
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