WinInfo Short Takes: Week of July 13, 2009

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

WinInfo Blog

Next week, Microsoft will host its annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in New Orleans. I can't attend because I'm prepping for a big trip (see below), but I'll be watching virtually thanks to Microsoft's new virtual conference-watching doohickey. (I know, the technical terminology can be jarring to the uninitiated.) I expect some big Office 2010 announcements and another Office Web Applications demo (but not a public release, contrary to bizarre and widespread speculation). And yes, one might expect some announcement surrounding the Windows 7 Release to Manufacturing (RTM). This, too, isn't a tough guess, given that Microsoft previously announced that Windows 7 would ship "by the second half of July.". Anyone acting as if this is a scoop gets the Scoble Award.

Next weekend, I'm taking the family to Amsterdam for three weeks. This is our fourth home-swap, and this time we're trading with Steven Bink of fame. We're planning on visiting a number of places in Belgium and The Netherlands while we're there, as well as spending four or five days in Paris visiting friends. It should be a busy time, but I'll be working as usual, so no major disruptions are expected.

Leo and I took the week off from the Windows Weekly podcast because he's away in China, but if I understand the schedule, we might still have a new episode to push out this weekend because we recorded a few extra ones. I'll post an update on the SuperSite when the next episode is out.

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

Short Takes

Microsoft Reportedly Prepping Windows 7 Family Pack
Users interested in purchasing three copies of Windows 7 Home Premium at a discount will apparently be able to do so, as Microsoft is preparing to offer a Windows 7 Family Pack bundle. Coming a few years after a similar Apple offering for Mac OS X (which offers five OS licenses and costs less), the Windows 7 Family Pack will apparently cost about $140. This is the right thing to offer, of course, but then it was the right thing to offer when Windows Vista launched almost three years ago. Hey, Microsoft is the company that puts "no" in "innovation," after all.

Google CEO: Microsoft Forced Us to Make Chrome OS
The way Google CEO Eric Schmidt tells it, he resisted internal efforts to produce a Google OS for six full years before giving in. So why did he finally cave? He says that the enthusiasm of cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page finally wore him down, and that he was tired of OSs getting in his face when he's trying to get work done. (Cough, Windows.) "I just gave up," Schmidt said, while simultaneously forgetting about the OS beating Microsoft handed Novell when he ran that company. "But there is no question I am hugely supportive of Chrome \[the web browser\] and Chrome OS. They are game-changers. They change the way you think about your computer." Amusingly, Schmidt also says that Microsoft is welcome to port its Internet Explorer (IE) browser to Chrome OS if it wants to, although he admits that's highly unlikely. "The ball's in their court," he said. Ah, hubris.

Schmidt Might Have to Rethink Apple Ties
Speaking of Eric Schmidt, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently investigating both Apple and Google because Schmidt is on the board of directors at Apple, a company that ostensibly competes with Google (thus making such an appointment a legal no-no or, as one might otherwise put it, "illegal"). To date, both companies have been able to pretend that they don't really compete. (Google makes the Android phone platform, whereas Apple makes the iPhone. According to Schmidt, he excuses himself from board meetings when talks turns to the iPhone. Pfftt.) But now that Google is making an OS, those claims are, of course (and even more so), complete BS. So he's going to discuss with Apple whether he should recuse himself from discussions about Apple's Mac OS X. Here's an idea: Just walk away. Obviously. Or maybe you could ask Apple whether that company would be interested in porting iTunes to Chrome OS. Hey, the ball's in your court.

Chrome OS Fakester Fooled Many. But Not Me
So, some clown posted a supposed first look at Google's Chrome OS the other day, and his post was linked from thousands of tech blogs and even supposedly legitimate sites. (I'm looking at you, Engadget and Gizmodo.) Well, guess what? It was a fake. Which the author of the blog triumphantly announced the next day, publishing a video in which he listed the many sites that linked to him. As it turns out, I linked to the blog, too. But unlike the overly eager kids out in the blogosphere, I didn't take the bait. My post, called "Worst blog post ever? Or worst blog ever?," mocked the blog and the post, used terminology such as "supposed" and "assuming it's real" to describe its contents, and then ridiculed the author for "putting \[his\] career and notability on the line." See, it's not that I can't be fooled. It's just that this particular post was so obviously bad, so patently foolish, that you'd have to be particularly gullible to have fallen for it. As I noted before the post was revealed to have been fake, "this one takes the cake." That's more true now than it was the other day.

Latest Laptop Hunters Ad Lowers the Price to $700
Remind me again, which Apple laptop costs just $700? Oh right, a used iBook G3 found on eBay. In the ad, a family has a $700 budget for a laptop, quickly checks out the previous-generation MacBook that Apple still keeps on hand to bring down the average selling price of its machines, but walks away after discovering that it still costs a whopping $999. The family ends up with an HP machine—which happens a curious percentage of the time in these ads, by the way—costing just $699. But don't worry, Apple. There will always be dupes waiting to spend twice as much on your boutique machines. In fact, I think they were enjoying a little blog post about the upcoming Google Chrome OS just the other day. PT Barnum, I salute you.

Schmidt: Bing Will Steal More Usage Share from Google
Back to Eric Schmidt. The Google CEO also said this week that Microsoft's new search engine—excuse me, "decision engine" —Bing will likely steal more usage share from Google's dominant service. But that's not because Bing is good. No, that's just not possible. "\[Microsoft is\] spending a lot of money getting awareness," he said, adding that Google's usage share losses, thus far, have been "not much." Meanwhile, Schmidt and ostensible Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates—yes, he's still around, sort of—ran into each other at a media conference in Idaho yesterday. Instead of breaking into a real-life version of Celebrity Deathmatch, however, the duo shared a laugh about Google's entry into the OS market. I'm curious to see which one of these guys is still laughing a few years from now.

From the Antipathy Files: Silverlight 3 Is Ready
If you simply must download every single new product or service released on the Internet, you should check out Microsoft's newly minted Silverlight 3, which shipped to the web this week. If you're looking for a more credible reason to download this somewhat pointless Flash competitor, you'll have to look elsewhere. I don't get it.

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