WinInfo Short Takes: Week of April 17

WinInfo Blog

Short Takes

- Yet Another Vista Interim Build Coming Soon
- Vista Product Guide Reposted
- Microsoft to Head to Fiji After Vista
- Moves to x64; Rest of Planet to Follow in 2010--Maybe
- Microsoft: Pirates Can't Get Vista Aero
- Linux Backers to Hold "FreedomHEC" During WinHEC 200
- Microsoft Plans to Sell 1 Million Xbox 360s a Month
- McAfee Claims No Fear From Microsoft's Security Product Push
- Mashups Explained
- Google Opens China Operations, Reveals New Name
- Microsoft Quietly Updates Windows Defender
- Microsoft Offers Free Visual Basic 2005 eBook

WinInfo Blog

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

I received a lot of nice notes about my 8-year-old son, Mark, last week--thanks for that. I don't want to bore anyone with my personal life, but I do get the occasional question about him, and it's been awhile since I've provided an update, so what the heck. Anyway, all is well.

Speaking of 8 year olds, maybe it's just me, but is everyone on Xbox Live these days a child? And if they're all 8-year-old kids, what the heck are they doing online in the middle of the week? It seems like every time I jump into "Call of Duty 2" multiplayer, I face a foe that's more daunting than the Nazi and Russian armies combined. There's always some little moron babbling endlessly, or even singing along to a radio, or whatever. You can mute them, but--God help me here--the mute command doesn't always work for some reason. Plus, I shouldn't have to jump through hoops for some peace and quiet. I have an idea: How about an Xbox Live that's designed just for adults? It could be like the Quiet car on the Amtrak train between Boston and New York: devoid of stupidity. Just a thought.

Many people have asked whether I'm going to finish my Windows Vista February Community Technology Preview (CTP) review on the SuperSite. I am. The problem is that Microsoft has since shipped an interim build and will soon ship another (see below). I'm going to incorporate these changes into the third and fourth parts of the review, which will be up soon (part three is mostly complete). But there's a growing sense of doom surrounding Vista, similar to the shadow coming out of Mordor at the end of "The Lord of the Rings," which has me wondering where this is all going. Vista seems like such a huge step back from what it should be.

Short Takes

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

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Yet Another Vista Interim Build Coming Soon

You heard it here first: Microsoft will issue its second consecutive Vista interim build as early as today but more likely by early next week. My sources tell me that this build will go out to tech beta and Technology Adoption Program (TAP) members and will likely be some variant of build 5365. It will include massive performance and driver support improvements, but otherwise will be quite similar to previous builds. Microsoft's next CTP build of Vista, originally due this month, has been delayed to May 25, 2006. That date, incidentally, coincides with Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2006, which has been a wellspring of Vista information for the past three years. The software giant considers the May CTP build as both Beta 2 and Release Candidate 0 (RC0).

Vista Product Guide Reposted

Earlier this week, I broke the news about Microsoft's surreptitious release of the "Windows Vista Product Guide," a massive XML Paper Specification (XPS) document that details everything the company plans to ship in its next major OS release. Within the day, however, the document was pulled because of some permissions problems. Now, it's back, but this time it's at the blog of Microsoft TechNet Presenter Keith Combs, which you can find on the TechNet Web site (see URL below). To read the document, you'll need to get Microsoft's XPS Viewer, which Keith also links to.

Microsoft to Head to Fiji After Vista

Mary Jo Foley reports this week at Microsoft Watch that the R2 version of Vista is code-named Fiji, though she doesn't hazard a guess when it will ship. My guess is that we'll see it about two years after Vista ships, and about two years before Windows "Vienna" (previously code-named Blackcomb) ships. Generally, R2 releases are very minor updates with few new functional updates, but given the wide range of features Microsoft cut from Vista over the past few years, I think we can expect to see some interesting developments. Anyway, the name Fiji is literally the only piece of news Foley reports about the next Windows version--there's no other information. Moves to x64; Rest of Planet to Follow in 2010--Maybe

Microsoft will move its entire collection of Web servers running to x64-based hardware, with each server running an x64-based version of Windows Server 2003. The company started making the transition back in March 2004, when the x64 versions of Windows 2003 were still in beta. The company cites the massive memory address improvements of the x64 platform as its primary incentive in moving from 32-bit servers to 64-bit servers. If you're interested in knowing more, Microsoft has published a white paper about its migration, which you can download at the URL below. I think it's fair to note that Microsoft is way ahead of the curve: Though many businesses and individuals are indeed using x64-based PCs and servers, only a tiny minority are running x64 OS versions. What's the hold-up?

Microsoft: Pirates Can't Get Vista Aero UI

CNET reports this week that Microsoft will prevent pirated copies of Vista from displaying some of that OS's most impressive graphical effects, including the translucent Windows Aero UI, the Flip 3D application switcher, and live icons. "Those who are not running Genuine Windows will not be able to take advantage of the Windows Aero user experience," a Microsoft representative said. Microsoft has been using Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) to prevent users with pirated copies of Windows from downloading certain Windows XP updates for the past few years, and it seems like this change is designed to put WGA right in the heart of the OS. Hey, what the heck. Consumers absolutely love Windows Product Activation (WPA). WGA is just like the icing on the cake, right?

Linux Backers to Hold "FreedomHEC" During WinHEC 2006

This one is too funny. As soon as WinHEC 2006 finishes next month in Seattle, the Linux community will host a smaller, but I'll bet homier, show called FreedomHEC. FreedomHEC will feature sessions about getting hardware devices to work properly in Linux, the open-source competitor to Windows. But the best news is that WinHEC attendees will be able to get into FreedomHEC for free. My only regret is that it wasn't scheduled at the same time as WinHEC, which would have been hilarious. Anyway, you can find out more at the FreedomHEC Web site.

Microsoft Plans to Sell 1 Million Xbox 360s a Month

Hey, remember when hardly anyone could get an Xbox 360 and people were queuing up in front of Best Buy just for the chance to get one of the few units that were sporadically available? Well, those days are over. Microsoft is now shipping Xbox 360 consoles in volume to retailers and e-tailers alike, and if you visit a local electronics chain, chances are the consoles will actually be in stock. Microsoft says it now plans to ship and sell over 1 million Xbox 360s each month at least through mid-year, and that, combined with the 1.5 million units it sold in first quarter 2006, should help it reach its mid-year goal of 4.5 to 5 million units sold. If you've been waiting to get an Xbox 360, this isn't a bad time: Game title output is up, and eagerly awaited games such as "Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter," "Oblivion," and "Far Cry Instincts Predator" are now available.

McAfee Claims No Fear From Microsoft's Security Product Push

With Microsoft getting ready to unleash its Windows Live OneCare security subscription service on the public, you'd think that existing security products firms such as McAfee would be shaking at the knees. But they're not, at least not in public. This week, McAfee President Kevin Weiss told ZDNet Australia that Microsoft isn't a threat, because it's just a part-time security solution provider. "Security is hard," he said. "We have been doing this for 15 years. We have over 10 patents that are focused right at security. We think we have a pretty significant lead in what we are doing. Security is not something you do part time." Cute. Microsoft, for its part, says OneCare is all about choice. Companies such as McAfee are Microsoft partners, of course, but as is often the case with Microsoft, they're also competitors. Hey, at least the company isn't bundling OneCare with the OS like it would have done 10 years ago.

Mashups Explained

Geoff Walker sent over a link to a nice article explaining the origins of the term "mashup," which I riffed on a few days ago. According to "Newsweek," the term mashup was coined in 2001 when DJ Freelance Hellraiser (yes, seriously) took the vocal track from Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" and recorded it over the instrumental tracks from the Strokes' "Hard to Explain." The resulting, uh, song, "A Stroke of Genius," was a big hit with certain crowds apparently, and the mashup was born. You can find out more on the "Newsweek" Web site.

Google Opens China Operations, Reveals New Name

After capitulating to the Chinese government, Google is now ready to begin the first phase of its Chinese operations. The company opened its Beijing R&D center this week, where up to 150 researchers will ... do something. Google hasn't actually decided yet what the researchers will do, but I suspect at least part of their work might involve helping the Chinese government restrict its people electronically. The center's head will be ex-Microsoft researcher Kai Fu Lee, who ran into some legal trouble with the software giant last year when he announced his departure. In related news, Google also revealed the corporate name it will use in China, Gu Ge.

Microsoft Quietly Updates Windows Defender

Fans of the Microsoft Windows Defender antispyware solution will want to download the latest version, which the company posted this week. It's unclear what's changed, but you'll see an x64-specific version as well, which I believe is new.

Microsoft Offers Free Visual Basic 2005 eBook

And finally, if you've been wondering how you could possibly receive more wedgies around the schoolyard, I have a suggestion: learn Visual Basic. Microsoft is now offering a free eBook called "Introducing Visual Basic 2005 for Developers," in eight chapters, all published lovingly in industry-standard Adobe Acrobat PDF format (and not, ahem, Microsoft's XPS format). You can download the eBook from the Microsoft Web site.

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