WinInfo Daily UPDATE, October 13, 2006: Short Takes

WinInfo Short Takes

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including some podcasts, Vista changes in Europe, punctual Vista shipping, more Windows team restructuring, controversial Vista licensing changes that affect almost no one, and so much more...


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Short Takes

- Microsoft Changes Vista for European Union (EU), South Korean Markets
- Yes, Gartner (er, Virginia), Microsoft Will Ship Vista on Schedule
- Microsoft Restructures Core Windows Development Team
- Vista Licensing Changes Rile Analysts, Won't Affect Many Users
- About Buying a PC for Vista Now
- Eudora Goes Open Source
- Microsoft Opens Xbox Live Marketplace to PC Web Browsers
- Google Combines Writely, Google Spreadsheets ... Eh?
- Muslim Groups Supposedly Claim Apple Store in NYC Is Blasphemous
- Microsoft Isn't Delaying Mac Office 2007
- Sony Tries with Walkman MP3 Player Again
==== WinInfo Blog ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Episode 2 of the "Windows Weekly" podcast should be available some time today. I also appeared in the most recent episode (#72) of Leo Laporte's "This WEEK in TECH" (TwiT) podcast, alongside Leo, John C. Dvorak, David Prager, and Patrick Norton. It was a fun roundtable experience, and if I'm not mistaken, the ever-cantankerous Dvorak actually called me "cavalier." He has no idea!

One thing we didn't touch on in Episode 2, stupidly, was the current Windows Vista licensing controversy. You'll find my short take on this subject below, and I'm trying to get Microsoft to speak on the record about the licensing changes. More on that topic as it develops.

Today is Friday the 13th. When I was a teenager, you could count on some excellent horror movies coming out on such a day--in October, no less--but today the biggest news in cinema is "Marie Antoinette" and what appears to be a crappy "Grudge" sequel. It's not really the same.

==== Short Takes ====

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Changes Vista for European Union (EU), South Korean Markets

Citing "constructive dialog" with antitrust regulators in Europe and South Korea, Microsoft announced today that it would make changes to Vista in those markets. The changes will let consumers easily remove Microsoft middleware and replace it with third-party solutions, and Microsoft said it will ship Vista globally and not delay it in Europe because of antitrust concerns. What Microsoft isn't doing, of course, is altering Vista's security features--a more recent concern for some of Microsoft's security software partners and competitors. Mark your calendars, folks. Vista is finally headed for the finish line.

Yes, Gartner (er, Virginia), Microsoft Will Ship Vista on Schedule

Sorry Gartner, but it's official: "Microsoft today confirmed that it is on track to deliver Windows Vista for worldwide availability to its volume license business customers in November and worldwide general availability in January," reads a Microsoft press release. In other words, hold the jokes about Microsoft not being able to ship timely products. As scheduled, Microsoft is going to release Vista to manufacturing some time this month--the internal date is October 25, although that date could slip to as far back as November 8--and roll out the product according to the schedule that the company revealed early this year. Since the release of Microsoft's Vista schedule, analysts at Gartner have made themselves look silly twice by predicting that Microsoft would never meet its deadline.

Microsoft Restructures Core Windows Development Team

Although there has been a lot of noise this week about various developments in the Windows world, the one that should have gotten the most press hasn't. This week, Microsoft restructured its core Windows development team in fairly dramatic ways, setting the stage for quicker and smoother updates in the post-Vista world. The changes, which will take place after Vista ships (presumably within an hour or so of release to manufacturing--RTM), will "streamline" the group responsible for the Windows kernel--or OS core--to make the group "more agile." These moves are just the latest in Stephen Sinofsky's overhaul of the Windows division, which had grown fat and lazy during the seemingly never-ending Vista development.

Vista Licensing Changes Rile Analysts, Won't Affect Many Users

If there's no such thing as bad press, Microsoft should be ecstatic about this article. This week, the software giant quietly unveiled changes to its Vista licensing terms, and a corporate blog carefully pointed out only a couple of changes--one positive and one previously known. But after looking over the changes, several reporters and bloggers discovered that Microsoft had in fact made some sweeping changes to the Vista retail license terms. The most controversial is a clause that lets users reassign a Vista license to a different computer only one time. Previously, Microsoft implicitly allowed multiple license reassignments. Enthusiasts are crying foul, but I have to wonder how many people this change will really affect. Sure, the Ed Botts of the world will milk this change for all the anti-Microsoft bile they can, but honestly, are huge numbers of people really reassigning single copies of Windows XP to multiple machines regularly? Most people (90 percent, maybe more?) obtain Windows when they buy a new PC. And those versions of Windows couldn't be reassigned to new PCs even under the previous licensing terms. So, to take advantage of the new Vista licensing clause, you'd need to buy a retail copy of the "full" version of XP, build your own PC, install XP, and later build another completely new PC, uninstall XP from the first computer, and reinstall it on the new computer. And then do it again. And again. And again. Under Vista, you get to do that only once. But how common is that scenario, really? My point is simple: Yes, this change will adversely affect a very small minority of (admittedly vocal) Windows users. But since so few people buy retail copies of Windows, and even fewer reinstall those copies on a second computer, and even fewer still install them on further computers down the line, it won't really affect many people. So the controversy is really one of the press' making. It's a non-event for the general public.

About Buying a PC for Vista Now

You know, there's nothing like the experience of waking up on Christmas morning, looking under the tree, and finding a coupon for a product that won't ship until January. That's the Christmas that Microsoft is envisioning for Vista fans this year, and I think it stinks. If Vista will be ready for volume-license customers in November, it should also be ready for consumers in time for the holidays. But the real reason that Vista isn't shipping until January is that Microsoft's PC-maker partners would cry foul. They don't want people buying Vista this holiday season. They want people to buy new PCs with Vista preinstalled. And because Microsoft distributes far more copies of Windows with new PCs than it could ever sell at retail, there's no reason to get its PC-maker partners up in arms. So, spread that holiday cheer and sleep tight knowing that Microsoft's partners, at least, are taken care of.

Eudora Goes Open Source

This week, QUALCOMM launched the final commercial versions of its Eudora email application and announced that it's moving the product to an open-source model that will be based on Mozilla's Thunderbird email application. Currently code-named Penelope, the upcoming open-source version of Eudora is due in early 2007 and will "look, act, and feel like Eudora." Although the underpinnings will be based on Thunderbird, QUALCOMM says that the new Eudora will continue to offer the unique features that Eudora fans love and appreciate, and the company is providing engineers to continue working on the product going forward.

Microsoft Opens Xbox Live Marketplace to PC Web Browsers

In a half-hearted move, Microsoft made a read-only version of its Xbox Live Marketplace--previously available to only Xbox 360-based Xbox Live customers--available via any PC-based Web browser. But you can't purchase or download Xbox Live Marketplace content from your PC--a flaw that renders the project rather worthless. If Microsoft can fix it so that users can at least download video content--which would often be more useful on a PC than on the Xbox--this will be a useful project. For now, it's just a waste of time.

Google Combines Writely, Google Spreadsheets ... Eh?

If I were to combine one utterly useless online service with another utterly useless online service, what would I get? A Microsoft Office killer? No, seriously. That's what Google is apparently attempting: This week, Google integrated its Writely online word processor with its Google Spreadsheets online spreadsheet maker and created the Frankenstein's monster now called Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Although I'm a big fan of the whole Web 2.0 thing, I guess I don't quite get the point of online productivity applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. Any computing device these days can utilize simple and free applications that can do much more than these online variants. Heck, even Palm devices come with good productivity applications now. This is an example of Google solving a problem no one has--and all because the company feels as if it needs to compete with Microsoft every step of the way. To send the message that Google is crazy, simply ignore this stupidity.

Muslim Groups Supposedly Claim Apple Store in NYC Is Blasphemous

This week, an insane report claimed that unnamed Muslim groups were supposedly complaining that Apple's cube-shaped New York City Apple Store was an insult to their religion because the structure resembles the sacred Ka'ba in Mecca. But descriptions of the store as an "Apple Mecca" aside, parts of the report seem bogus. For example, Apple has a "Genius Bar" in the store, a supposed affront to Muslim dictates about alcohol. But the Genius Bar doesn't serve drinks; it provides advice and product support. Further delving into this strange story reveals that it originated within an organization whose goal is to find the "worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible." In other words, this one's pretty much a non-event--kind of like that Vista-licensing baloney.

Microsoft Isn't Delaying Mac Office 2007

This week, Microsoft announced that it's delaying the Macintosh version of the 2007 Microsoft Office system until mid-to-late 2007. Put another way, Microsoft announced this week that it isn't delaying the Mac version of Office 2007 until mid-to-late 2007. So which is it? Microsoft said that this week's announcement about its shipping plans for the Mac version of Office 2007 don't constitute a delay because the company had never previously announced shipping plans for the product. So there you go. It's just late compared with the Windows version--which, as Mac fans know, is par for the course.

Sony Tries with Walkman MP3 Player Again

You have to feel somewhat sorry for Sony, although the company gets points deducted for constantly shooting itself in the foot. This week, the onetime consumer electronics giant announced yet another attempt to enter the portable MP3 player market that Apple currently dominates. Sony is shipping a new Walkman device that looks curiously like its previous models, with a terrible twisting-knob controller. The Walkman does feature sound-canceling headphones, however. Those should help drown out the laughter. Give it up, guys. No one cares anymore.



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