An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including the conclusion of iWeek and the iPhone 3G launch, Microsoft's delayed response to baloney Vista criticisms, an Xbox 360 price cut, Apple's App Store, SQL Server 2008, Midori, and more...
Well, iWeek concludes today with the release of the long-awaited but surprisingly unexciting iPhone 3G, which adds 3G wireless networking support and not much else to Apple's year-old device. Other new features are quite a bit less exciting. There's a GPS chip, but it's so lame it can't handle navigation, let alone voice control, and big buildings in cities throw it off. And there's a new, um, pricing model. But it's really more expensive. Hm. So yeah, the iPhone 3G isn't really all that exciting, not really. That said, I'll be at the local mall very early in the morning waiting to buy one so I can review it. Think of it as me taking a bullet so you don't have to.
All that said, two things related to the iPhone 3G are, in fact, very exciting, and best of all, they both work with the existing iPhone. The first is the iPhone 2.0 Software update, which adds a bunch of new features and answers some of my long-standing complaints about the device. The other is the new iPhone Application Store, which actually opened its virtual doors a day ago. I've already downloaded a ton of apps and I have to say it's pretty impressive. I'll be reviewing the iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software, the App Store, and a related product called MobileMe in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned.
Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast yesterday, and it got pretty contentious, which may or may not be good depending on your perspective. Leo's going crazy with iPhone-mania, but I'm sure the episode will be up sometime this weekend regardless.
But wait, there more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/thurrott), Friendfeed (http://www.friendfeed.com) and the SuperSite Blog (http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/default.aspx).
Microsoft: Seriously, Windows Vista Doesn't @#$%
This past week was pretty interesting if you've been following Windows Vista's inglorious (if undeserved) reception since its launch early last year. Put simply, Microsoft announced at its annual partner conference that it intends, finally, to fight back against the forces that, to date, have had the soap box all to themselves. (We're looking at you, Apple.) The software giant isn't yet providing any details about its plans, but it did hint that it's "Empire Strikes Back" moment will include an expensive Vista ad campaign that will directly counter Apple's over-the-top "Switcher" ads. Microsoft is also looking at an offensive against Google, whose holier-than-thou "do no evil" mantra has been proven time and time again to be highly hypocritical (one word: China). "You thought the sleeping giant was still sleeping?" Microsoft corporate vice president Brad Brooks said during the show. "Well, we've woken up now, and it's time to take our message forward." It can't happen quickly enough.
Microsoft to Cut Price of Xbox 360 in the US
And speaking of things that can't happen quickly enough, Microsoft on Sunday will begin selling its flagship Xbox 360 video game console--the eponymous unit that comes with the 20 GB hard drive--for $299, $50 less than its current price. The price reduction comes in the face of increased competition from Sony's once-also-ran PlayStation 3 console, which has shown surprising gains in recent months. Sony's unit starts at $399, so the hope is that the $100 differential--not to mention closing the gap with the Nintendo Wii, which retails for $249--will make a big difference from a sales perspective. So far this year, Sony has either equaled or beaten the 360's sales.
Today's the Day: Here Comes the iPhone 3G
So what happens when you update the so-called Jesus phone? You get Jesus phone 1.2? Blasphemy aside, today's obviously a big day, and you can expect the tech news to be dominated by Apple's latest shiny bauble for the next several days at least. To be fair, the hype is somewhat deserved. Apple has revolutionized the mobile market with its iPhone, and the new version ups the ante in a few critical areas. Maybe this bears a bit of examination...
500 Apps for iPhone? Pfftt.... Windows Mobile Has Over 18,000!
While Apple is touting that its iPhone Application Store now has 500 compatible applications, Windows Mobile backers can point to the Handango service, which offers over 18,000 applications for compatible devices. That sounds like quite an advantage for Windows Mobile, at least until you start to drill down a bit. Yes, Handango does indeed offer over 18,000 Windows Mobile compatible applications. But those applications don't work with every Windows Mobile device. If you've got, say, a first-generation Motorola Q running on Verizon's network, for example, just over 2,000 applications are compatible. Have a second generation Q 9c? Well, just 300 applications work on that device. And let's not even get started with the quality of those applications. The best-selling Motorola Q 9c application is ... ta da! ... a ringtone library. Number 2? Documents To Go. Exciting stuff.
1.8 Million in Sales for iPhone? Pfftt... Windows Mobile Sold 4.5 Million!
One fact that Apple can't argue with, however, is sales. In the first quarter of 2008--a period of time before iPhone sales fell off the face of the earth due to the oncoming iPhone 3G, by the way--Microsoft's partners sold 4.5 million Windows Mobile device, while Apple sold just 1.7 million iPhones. To put that in perspective, Windows Mobile devices saw more in year-over-year growth--1.8 million units--than Apple saw in total sales. Of course, Apple's recent "price drop" on the iPhone 3G could turn things around. I wonder whether the iPhone's ability to outsell Windows Mobile is a matter of when ... or if.
iPhone App Store Opens with No Microsoft Entry
And speaking of the iPhone, with the opening this week of the iPhone Application Store, one software vendor was conspicuously absent. That's right, there isn't a single Microsoft application to be found in the iPhone Apps Store, an its unclear whether this is a temporary condition. Anyone hoping for a Microsoft Office on the iPhone--and seriously, that's a ridiculous concept--will be disappointed for some time to come. CNET's Ina Fried speculates that Microsoft's first iPhone application will be based around the TellMe speech recognition search software that the software giant recently acquired, and certainly that's a possibility. But I think a bigger need would be some Windows Live applications, including Push support for Windows Live Hotmail, Contacts, and Calendar. And how about a Windows Live Messenger client?
SQL Server 2008 to Ship in August
Microsoft announced this week that it will ship the next major update to its relational database server, SQL Server 2008, in August. Like many recent Microsoft products, SQL 2008 has suffered from its share of delays, but the product finally seems on track. And it will ship in an expanded set of product editions, which will include SQL Server 2008 Web (for hosters), Express, Compact, Workgroup, Standard, and Enterprise Editions. Hey, it worked great for Windows Vista.
Microsoft Gives Software to 26,000 Schools in South Africa
Hopefully they won't just sell it all on eBay and buy Macs.
Looking for a New Windows? How About Some Midori?
Many well-meaning but ultimately clueless tech bloggers have been calling for Microsoft to replace Windows with a more elegant OS, built from scratch, that comes with none of the decades of legacy deadwood that supposedly hobble today's PCs. Well, take heart my misguided friends, as Microsoft may indeed be incubating an NT for the new Millennium. Codenamed Midori, this OS research project is based on the .NET CLR (common language runtime) but doesn't necessarily offer any backwards compatibility with today's Windows versions. That said, it's equally likely that Midori technologies will simply be pushed into future Windows versions. Right now, it's just too early to say. But understand this: Microsoft isn't sitting still. And while there might not be much to say about Microsoft's extra-Windows OS work these days, rest assured that the company continues to look to the future.