WinInfo Short Takes: Week of June 15

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

WinInfo Blog

Leo and I actually recorded two episodes of the Windows Weekly podcast Thursday, but one is aimed at early July, when Leo will be in China. The other episode should be available by the end of the weekend, as always.

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Short Takes

Opera: Microsoft Trying to Set Its Own Antitrust Remedy
Like the specter from beyond the grave that it is, Opera has opined on Microsoft's Windows 7 "E" Editions proposal. Opera, you might recall, set off all this silliness when it complained about Windows/IE bundling to the EU. (Opera is also the only browser company that hasn't gained market share against IE in the past three years. Go figure.) So how did Opera react to news that Microsoft would remove IE 8 from Windows 7 in Europe? With its usual grace, of course. "Microsoft is trying to set the remedy itself by stripping out IE," Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner said. "They are trying to replicate the remedy \[from\] the media player case, which we all know didn't work." Really? Two things about that. One, that remedy was the EU's remedy, not Microsoft's remedy. And I'd argue that it did work—by pointing out that government-controlled product feature wrangling isn't a good idea. That is, EU consumers overwhelming chose the version of Windows that included all the features instead of the one that didn't. And speaking of consumer choice, Opera's share of the web browsing market is just .72 percent. Why are we even paying attention to these people anymore, especially when there are viable competitors (Firefox, Chrome, and Safari) that are doing just fine despite Microsoft's so-called abuses? This whole thing is ridiculous. I'd call for a boycott of Opera if anyone was actually using its desktop products.

EU Not Impressed Either
Predictably, EU regulators aren't too happy that Microsoft was able to do an end-run around their Draconian requirements. I mean, where's the fun in all this if Microsoft is able to avoid a huge fine and the punishing weight of years of oversight? "We never suggested that \[Microsoft should\] sell Windows without Internet Explorer," an EU spokesperson said. "We suggested that they might have to give the possibility to customers to choose between different browsers." Yeah. And I'm suggesting that you just back off. This whole bundling thing is an antiquated relic of the past. Windows 7 is so stripped of functionality that customers will spend hours downloading all the free utilities that used to be—and should be—included otherwise. And for this predicament, we can thank the EU. It's so nice to have watchdogs looking out for competition but ignoring the needs of actual users.

Mississippi Settles Antitrust Case with Microsoft
I thought we were done with all the US-based antitrust suits that arose in the wake of Microsoft's federal antitrust settlement. But I guess not: This week, the state of Mississippi settled for $100 million in its antitrust case against the software giant, and it will divide that money between consumers, businesses, public school districts, and various government entities. Given the economy, you have to wonder whether this won't be the biggest windfall the state will have this decade.

DTV Switch finally Gets Underway in the United States
After years of delays and waffling, the United States will exit the "Dinosaur Age" and enter the "Digital Age" by powering down analog TV signals and going all digital. The switch, which will cause momentary confusion with elderly people still using the RCA tube TV they bought at Sears & Roebuck in 1964, will actually lead to a number of benefits, including some that aren't so obvious. Yes, those rabbit-ear antennas will no longer work, so they'll join the 8-track tape and laser-disc player in the technology dustbin. But more TV content than ever will be available over the air, for free, thanks to the switch. So even in the short run, this is going to be more positive than negative. And really, let's stop the complaining about not having enough time to plan for this. The incessant TV ads about the switchover got annoying last December. If you have to spend your life planted in front of a TV, at least pay attention.

Hey, Maybe You Really Can Make Money on Twitter
Dell this week said that it has made $3 million in revenue on the Twitter microblogging service since 1997, meaning that the company has made 3 million times as much money as anyone else using the service. Dell said that the revenues came via customers who learned about online coupons and new products via its Twitter feed. And $1 million came in during the past six months alone, suggesting that Twitter-based sales are increasing. "\[Twitter is\] a great way to fix customer problems and hear what customers have to say, it's a great feedback forum, and it leads to sales ... how can you miss?" Dell's Richard Binhammer says. And how much did Twitter make from these sales? Exactly $0, which says a lot about the Twitter business model. Which isn't much of a model or a business, when you think about it.

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