An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including the release of the not-so-all-new iPad, Nokia's coming Windows 8 tablet, Lenovo's bid to ship a Windows 8 tablet before other PC makers, Windows Phone Tango is now the Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh, an IE comeback, an Office 365 price drop, cross-platform gaming, the next Xbox console, and Diablo III.
Lemmings Line Up for Latest Apple Product That Looks, Works Exactly Like Its Predecessor
I was told that Apple was starting to sell a new version of the iPad this morning, but when I checked the company's web site, all I saw was pictures of an iPad that looks exactly like its predecessor. This clearly means that people are lining up by the thousands as I write this, to be among the first to replace their expensive iPad 2 with an equally expensive new iPad. This behavior amazes me a bit, given the evolutionary nature of the update, but then they did it with the iPhone 4S as well, so what do I know? I've personally done the Apple line thing many times, mostly for entertainment purposes, but it's pretty clear this is serious stuff for a lot of the folks buying this devices. Maybe a little too serious. Folks, they make a new one every year. Relax.
Nokia Confirms Its Working on a Tablet ... Will It Run Windows 8?
And speaking of tablets, a Nokia executive this week kinda-sorta confirmed that the company is making a tablet computer, setting off a new wave of hysteria amongst the gadget-of-the-day crowd. I'm genuinely excited by such a thing: Can you imagine a Lumia-style tablet running Windows 8? But then I'm also genuinely disappointed by the quality of the discussion around this purported device, and some are actually questioning whether a Nokia tablet would run Windows 8 or some other OS. Folks, please. If Nokia is making a tablet, it's making a tablet that runs Windows 8. Obviously.
Lenovo Says It Will Be First to Market with Windows 8 Tablets
And what the heck, while we're on the topic of Windows 8 tablets, I should note that Lenovo, which is now the world's third biggest PC maker, says that it will be the first to have a Windows 8-based tablet in the market. The company will host an event in New York in early April at which it will show off its Windows 8-based designs and, yes, as a long-time ThinkPad advocate, I'll be there and will report back what I discover. Based on what I've seen so far, sticking with Lenovo will likely be a wise choice. These guys know what they're doing.
Windows Phone "Tango" Will be Branded as Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh
You gotta love Microsoft and its inability to name things correctly. The first version of Windows Phone, codenamed Metro, went to market as Windows Phone 7.0. Its first update, however, codenamed NoDo, didn't get its own version number, but was instead billed as a software update. Then came Mango, or v2 of Windows Phone. This was marketed as Windows Phone 7.5 for some reason, though its SDK/APIs were more honestly given the version number 7.1. And now we have Windows Phone "Tango," an update that will open up this platform to lower end devices. It's SDK is tagged as version 7.1.1 so there was some thought that the marketing version number would be 7.5.1. Nope. It's being billed as the Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh. How anyone can keep this stuff straight--and why anyone would want to--is beyond me. But I can't wait to watch them rename Windows Phone 8 ("Apollo") to something even sillier. You know they will.
Cue Up the "Rocky" Soundtrack, IE is Making a Comeback
Remember those ads that used to appear on the back of comic books, offering skinny little nerds the solution to the problem of bullies kicking sand on them at the beach? Well, Microsoft says that its Internet Explorer web browser is making a similar transition from Zero to Hero, and that people who dismiss this browser are making out of date assumptions about its capabilities (or lack thereof). And the company has erected a new web site, The Browser You Loved to Hate, to showcase its humorous approach to convincing people of this. "Some people are trying the new Internet Explorer and actually liking it," the site notes in a winking way. "Not that they would say so out loud." OK, well, first of all, IE 9 isn't "new," it's a year old. And honestly, I've been using IE 9 (and IE 10) a lot lately and don't see what all the fuss is about: It works and performs well, and it has some features, like site pinning, that I prefer over other browsers. Oh wait, maybe that is what the fuss is all about.
Microsoft Drops Prices on Some Office 365 Versions
Microsoft this week announced a nice surprise for Office 365 subscribers: It is lowering the prices of some Office 365 subscriptions thanks to reduced costs related to running the service. "As we rapidly add customers, the cost to run Office 365 becomes more efficient," Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer wrote in post to the Office 365 Blog. "With these efficiencies, we're able pass on savings to make it even more affordable for customers of all sizes to move to Office 365." Unfortunately, only the enterprise versions of Office 365 will see any price reductions, and not the small business/individual plan. But the savings can get as high as 20 percent, depending on which plan you're using. They're effective today for new and existing customers.
Cross Platform Gaming, Take 27: Maybe This Time They'll Get It Right
Since the advent of video gaming and video game platforms, the holy grail has been cross platform play. Imagine being able to play a game like Call of Duty and have folks on Xbox 360s, PlayStation 3, and PCs, all competing against each other, for example. The mind boggles, but the few furtive attempts to make this happen over the years have gone nowhere. Microsoft delivered a game, Shadowrun, that allowed cross platform play between Xbox 360 and PCs, but it was a dud. And then it offered ancillary Xbox 360 game experiences on Windows Phone, and everyone pretty much ignored it. Now, we see another like-minded attempt to bring cross platform game play of a sort to Microsoft's different platforms: The game Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode II will let gamers play the game on the Xbox 360 and then pick up the action on Windows Phone, and vice versa, similar to how the PS3/PlayStation Vita cross platform play is supposed to work. Will this latest attempt prove successful? My guess is that gamers will simply continue what they're doing now and play games that work well on whatever device they're using. It's not clear to me that many games would translate well between an Xbox 360, which uses a hand controller, and the touch-based interface of Windows Phone. But that PS3/PS Vita thing? Now that could actually make sense.
Xbox vNext Will Not Be Announced at E3 2012
In a surprising move, Microsoft revealed this week that it will not discuss its next Xbox game console at the expected time and place, the E3 video game conference in June 2012. The reasons for this are simple. First, the next Xbox won't be ready for sale this year anyway, so a 2013 launch is the most likely target. And why would Microsoft start promoting a new console when its current console, the Xbox 360, is experiencing a sales resurgence and is in fact outselling other consoles, generally by a wide margin? I may disagree with the usefulness of the Kinect add-on, but there's little doubt that these things, and the console on which they run, are selling like hot cakes. Let the good times roll.
And the Best Example of Video Game Vaporware Since Duke Nukem Forever Is... ?
Blizzard Entertainment this week announced that the long-awaited video game title Diablo III will finally arrive on May 15. If you're a fan of the Diablo series, chances are you're pretty old: The last game, Diablo II, shipped way back in 2000. You know, before George W. Bush was (sort of) elected president, before 9/11, before Windows XP, and before most of the people who will play the game were out of diapers. Still, the downtime between Diablo II and III--12 years--pales in comparison to that between Duke Nukem 3D (1996) and Duke Nukem Forever (2011), or 15 years. One has to simply pray that Diablo III is at least a decent game. DNF certainly wasn't.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
This week, Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Mary Jo Foley, Iyaz Akhtar and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available now or soon, generally in both audio in video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?
If you haven't seen them, we're now offering Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech apps for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too.
Download for Windows Phone - Download for iPhone
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