WinInfo Short Takes: 4th of July Special Edition

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

WinInfo Blog

We're about to celebrate the 4th of July here in the United States, so we're on a shortened work week. We won't be publishing (or working) on Friday, July 3. Thus, this week's Short Takes is both earlier and shorter than usual.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Monday with Mary Jo Foley and Rafael Rivera. But the next three weeks could be pretty confusing because Leo will be on vacation in China. If I understand the schedule, we'll have two episodes coming out over the next three weeks, including an interview we did earlier with Zune's Rob Greenlee and then the episode we recorded Monday. I'll post updates on the Windows SuperSite as the episodes come out.

But wait, there's more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog.

Short Takes

Windows 7 Isn't a Rip-Off in Europe, Claims Microsoft
Responding to widespread complaints that its upcoming Windows 7 OS appears to be a lot more expensive in the European Union (EU) than it is in the United States, Microsoft this week said that's not the case. Except, of course, that it is: Consumers in the EU will pay roughly double for Windows 7 what their American counterparts will. Well, Microsoft says, it's not because of increased antitrust scrutiny there, at least. It's because taxes in the EU are so high. Maybe if the EU lowered taxes, it wouldn't have as much money for expensive and pointless antitrust investigations. Just a thought.

Bing Wins Usage Share from Google in First Month on Market
Microsoft's fledgling Bing search service picked up some usage share at Google's expense in its first full month on the market, according to data from StatCounter. Bing controlled 8.23 percent of the market for US web searches in June, up from 7.21 percent in April. Meanwhile, market leader Google saw its usage share fall accordingly during the same time frame, from 78.72 percent to 78.48. (Meanwhile, number-two Yahoo! also rose slightly, from 10.99 percent to 11.04 percent.) As StatCounter CEO Adohan Cullen noted, "A 1 percent increase in \[usage\] share does not appear to be a huge return on the investment Microsoft made, but the underlying trend appears positive." I guess we'll see whether it continues. If it does, Microsoft should be able to pull even with Google sometime in 3011.

IE 8 Heads to Businesses in Late August
Microsoft has already begun offering its Internet Explorer (IE) 8 browser to consumers via the Windows Update service, but the company will make it more broadly available to businesses as well, starting late next month. On August 25, 2009, IE 8 will appear as an Update Rollup on Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), the business-oriented software-updating service that's part of Windows Server. Businesses that wish to avoid IE 8 can utilize a deployment blocker, of course, but it helps to know that this is coming, so you can set that up.

Steve Jobs Returns to Work, Part-Time
As promised, ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs returned to work this week after more than five months off to recover from a mysterious and unspecified ailment that led to a secret liver transplant. According to the company's tersely worded statement about the matter, Jobs is now working at Apple a few days a week and lounging around at home the other days. (Well, that's not quite how Apple worded it, but come on, you pretty much have to read between the lines.) It's unclear if Jobs has resumed any of his former responsibilities or if he just putzes around criticizing people, but what the heck. He's back.

China Delays Web-Censoring Software ...
... Apparently because it wasn't restrictive enough. This week, the Chinese government delayed a controversial (and, let's face it, completely wrongheaded) requirement that PC makers ship their machines with web-filtering software that censors huge parts of the Internet. The delay was triggered by complaints from PC makers. No, they weren't arguing that China shouldn't censor the web. They just needed more time to get the software installed. No worries, people: The world's biggest companies are still kowtowing to repressive regimes.

The Pirate Bay Sold to Swedish Software Company
Apparently, no one told the buyer that the site was designed solely to pirate software, movies, and other copyrighted materials. Global Gaming Factory X AB this week said it would purchase The Pirate Bay for about $7.8 million and turn the site into a legal business that would pay content makers for their goods. Hey, it worked out great for Napster.

Google Fixes Outlook Plug-In
Remember all the pretend controversy surrounding the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook utility, in which Google had unintentionally disabled Outlook's search function? Well, Google fixed it. So let's stop pretending this is a big deal, OK?

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