WinInfo Short Takes: Week of April 7, 2008

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a Windows Weekly breather, an XP respite but only for ULCPCs, a Microsoft-Yahoo meeting, a Microsoft-Symantec suit, a MySpace-recording industry cabal, Dell, 64-bit Photoshop, and more...

WinInfo Blog

Leo is away in Australia, so we're taking a short respite from the Windows Weekly podcast, sorry. The next episode probably won't be available until two weeks from now.

I've been busy working on the second edition of "Windows Vista Secrets," which builds on the first edition by adding new material, including some based around Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Windows Live, and Internet Explorer 8. If you've got any tips you'd like to share, I'm happy to give credit where credit is due, in print: Drop me a line at [email protected]

Short Takes

Microsoft Extends Life of XP Home for Ultra-Portable, Ultra-Low-Cost PCs
While Microsoft insists that this June's expiration date for retail versions of Windows XP is writ in stone, the company did announce this week that it will extend the shelf life of one XP version through at least mid-2010. The company will continue licensing Windows XP Home Edition only for use on a new category of PCs called ultra-low-cost PCs, or ULCPCs, which include such things as the Asus Eee PC and Intel Classmate, both of which sell for under $300. This availability will extend until either June 30, 2010, or one year after the next version of Windows (Windows 7) ships, which comes later. (I'm betting on the latter, and by a wide margin.) The reason is simple: ULCPCs run on ultra-low-performance processors that simply aren't suited for Windows Vista. But XP, whose design dates back almost a decade, is a perfect fit for these underpowered devices.

Microsoft, Yahoo Met This Week, Can't Agree on Price
Representatives of Microsoft and Yahoo! finally met this week to discuss substantive issues around Microsoft's proposed purchase of the online giant. But the discussions didn't get very far: Microsoft refused to entertain the possibility of raising its $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo!, while Yahoo! refused to discuss merger terms unless Microsoft would raise its bid. You can sort of see how such a stalemate would lead to much uncomfortable silence and little in the way of actual conversation. And that's pretty much exactly what happened. Ah well.

Microsoft Settles Suit with Symantec
After nearly two years of fighting, Microsoft and Symantec have finally settled their data storage suit, in which Symantec had accused the software giant of violating its patents and then received their own patents based on the stolen information. An event this controversial cries out for a well documented resolution, but it's not to be: Symantec and Microsoft instead settled out of court and the terms of the agreement are sealed. "Microsoft and Symantec are pleased to have amicably resolved this dispute in a manner that reaffirms and extends our technical cooperation on volume management technologies," a statement from both companies reads. "This agreement will produce significant benefits for our many mutual customers using mission-critical storage software technologies." In other words, it's none of your business, but thanks for asking.

MySpace, Recording Industry Plan Online Music Service
Which is great, because I was just thinking we needed another one, perhaps something with annoying blinking graphics and auto-start embedded music players. But seriously, less than two years after suing MySpace for intellectual property theft, the recording industry is hopping into bed with what it is pretty much describing as just the latest in a long list of companies that they hope will help it combat the dominance of Apple's iTunes Store. The proposed online service, which will include content from the four largest record companies, will launch later this year and will be designed by MySpace, which again, certainly has the experience needed to drive this entire endeavor into the ground. They're looking at subscription services, of course, which an industry representative described as, I'm not kidding, "a transformative mega-music experience." Like most of you, I can hardly wait.

Dell: More Layoffs Coming
Last year, PC giant Dell announced that it would cut 8,800 jobs as part of its efforts to reduce costs, increase sales, and regain its lead in the PC market. This week, Dell CEO Michael Dell proudly announced that his company would, in fact, wildly exceed those predictions. That's right, they're laying off way more than 8,800 people. 'We have identified a very significant opportunity here and are aggressively going after it,' Dell said at an analyst meeting Thursday. 'To be very clear, we are not satisfied with the current state of affairs and we are on a mission to address this. We will go past the 8,800 target previously discussed as we achieve everything that I'm outlining today.' I'm guessing that got, at most, a smattering of applause from whatever Dell employees were in the audience for this particular talk, with the rest silently checking on their smart phones and missing the rest of the speech. 'We don't have an acquisition strategy,' Dell said. 'What we have is a growth strategy.' Apparently, they don't have a retention strategy either.

64-Bit Photoshop Coming, Adobe Says
Adobe this week revealed that it will soon a native 64-bit version of its flagship Photoshop software. But in a controversial if logical move, that 64-bit version of Photoshop will ship only on Windows, and not on Mac OS X. The reason? Apparently, Adobe can't get the technical help it needs from Apple, which I'd imagine is far too busy working on future iPod and iPhone products to worry about little things like helping one of the top Mac developers. Adobe says the 64-bit version of Photoshop will have access to far more memory and offer much better performance. You know, on Windows. Because they aren't doing it on the Mac.

Forrester: Office 2007 Demand Stronger than Expected
I guess there's life in desktop software yet. While Windows Vista is widely (if incorrectly) seen as not selling particularly well, it's Office stable mate, Office 2007, is selling much better than expected. Analysts at Forrester--and you know how much I love those guys--reported this week that corporate adoption of Office 2007 is "much healthier" than they had predicted. I guess that goes to show you: Anyone can make a prediction. But the truth is generally far more interesting.

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