WinInfo Short Takes: Week of June 23, 2008

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including the Boston Celtics and a long-awaited Championship #17, watching Windows Weekly live, the never-ending Yahoo saga, MSN Music reprieve, Microsoft over-employing, devs vs. Vista, and more...

WinInfo Blog

Since last week's Celtics update, things have--improbably--gotten even better. I sweated out a Game 5 loss--and by the way, thanks a lot, NBA referees, for handing that one to LA--with the knowledge that I had tickets for Game 6 back in Boston. I went with my brother Jonathan, as usual, and watched the Celtics demolish LA in a historic 39 point rout, the greatest ever in an NBA Finals clinching game, and win Championship #17. (We actually led by 43 points for one delirious moment.) What a cap on the Greatest. Sports. Year. Ever. I put some pictures up on Flickr if you're curious.

Jon and I didn't get home until almost 4:00 am the morning after the game because of the crazy scene going on outside the Garden and the fact that our car was stuck on the sixth floor of a parking garage and wasn't going anywhere. So we walked around and kind of soaked it up, ending up at a Chinese restaurant up the street at around 1:30 am, a place we'd normally walk quickly by but were quite happy to discover at that point. I actually got up before 8:00 am that morning and worked, but then spent the next couple of days in a complete haze, half dead to the world. Needless to say, I've gotten little done.

But it's nice to see the Celts back in the thick of things. My family got seasons tickets back in 1980, so obviously we look back on the Bird era with a sense of nostalgia. It's been a long 22 years. Since moving back to Boston in 1999 (I was in Phoenix from 1993-1999), I first got my own tickets with my brother and then when my father gave up his tickets, we picked those up instead. What I'm trying to say here is that we sat through a lot of lousy basketball over the past nine years (as well as some decent basketball, including some crazy if undeserved playoff runs in the early 2000s). But basketball is my first love, and the one sport I still play regularly today. Watching the Garden packed to capacity this past season has been nice, though tinged with an element of "and exactly where were you guys last year?" There were nights I couldn't even give my tickets away last season. This year, people were calling just in case.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday as usual. If you can watch it live, there's a video feed on each week as well; we record from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Thursdays. As usual, the new episode should be available before the end of the weekend.

My wife and I and two friends will be in Sonoma, California all of next week. This shouldn't affect WinInfo at all, but I probably won't be online as much as usual. We'll be visiting Leo in Petaluma as well, and I will record Windows Weekly with him there next Thursday.

Short Takes

Yahoo Investor Begs Microsoft to Come Back to the Table
Mark Nelson, a partner in Mithras Capital, which owns 1.7 million Yahoo shares, has asked Microsoft to take its most recent offer for Yahoo directly to Yahoo shareholders. Nelson says that Yahoo's board acted without consulting its shareholders and he believes that the company's decision to walk away from Microsoft's most recent offer--in which it would purchase Yahoo's search business and invest in the rest--was a bad one. Nelson's not alone in doubting the business acumen of Yahoo's board: Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is getting ready to unseat the Yahoo board in a proxy battle and various other Yahoo shareholders have launched lawsuits against the company. No word yet on whether this will actually come to anything.

Yahoo Reorg Looms as Key Executives Continue Exodus from Company
And just in case you thought things couldn't get any worse over in Yahoo-land, consider this: In the wake of Yahoo's most recent rejection of Microsoft's overtures, a number of other high profile executives are leaving the company. And now Yahoo is getting set to announce a reorganization, though it's unclear who's still left to fill all the spots on the org chart. Refuting talks of internal Armageddon, Yahoo says that it still has "deep and talented management team." No offense guys, but it doesn't appear to be either at this point.

You Just Gotta Laugh
I've often complained that Microsoft hasn't been aggressive enough since its humiliating US antitrust defeat a decade ago. That may be changing: This week, the company took out a full page ad in the San Jose Mercury News that is clearly aimed at Yahoo engineers who are thinking of leaving the company. "Microsoft has search jobs in the Valley," the ad reads. "There are now very few companies that remain truly committed to defining the future of search and online advertising. Microsoft is one of them." The ad doesn't mention Yahoo by name, but then it doesn't have to: Everyone knows Yahoo just sold its soul by entering into a search outsourcing deal with number one rival Google. "Come join a company with the resources, engineering expertise, R&D, partnerships, and competitive spirit to make it happen." Good stuff.

Microsoft Does the Right Thing, Extends Life of MSN Music Purchases
When Microsoft announced in April that it would stop authenticating new PCs for song purchases previously made at its MSN Music online store later this year, the furor was swift and loud. Which is interesting when you consider that the number of people who made such purchasers is so small as to be nearly non-existent. But no matter, Microsoft has bowed to the will of the complainers, even though I suspect most of them were never actual MSN Music customers: It will now do the right thing and continue authorizing new PCs to play purchased music through "at least the end of 2011," or almost three and a half years more than previously announced. This is an issue because music purchased from MSN Music is encoded with Windows Media DRM technologies and therefore has to be authorized on first play. But you knew that because, you know, you were such a big customer.

Microsoft Adds Over 11,000 Employees this Fiscal Year
Todd Bishop over at the Seattle PI reported this week that Microsoft has added over 11,000 employees to its ranks in its current fiscal year (ends June 30), and now has approximately 90,000 employees worldwide. That's the biggest annual employee growth in the company's history, which is astonishing when you consider how most of Microsoft is simply underperforming at this point. Maybe if you keep throwing people at the problem, you'll figure it out. Hey, it worked for Digital. And Wang. And IBM.

Developers Shunning Windows Vista?
I love stories like this because they confirm my belief that no story about Windows Vista can be negative enough... or baloney enough. An "analyst house" no one's ever heard of before-- Evans Data, if you're curious--is now the expert on such matters because, you know, they're criticizing Windows Vista. They say that only 8 percent of developers are working on Vista-specific applications (that is, applications that run only on Windows Vista) as opposed to almost 50 percent who are writing XP-specific applications. Wow, that is fascinating, and while I suppose it's shocking that developers would want to target, say, every single PC on the planet instead of the 8 to 10 percent that are currently running Vista, let's look at this another way. Back in 2002, please tell me what percentage of developers were writing applications that would run only on XP, and not on older Windows versions like Windows 2000 or 98? That's right: None of them. And now for bonus points, please tell me what those XP-specific technologies were that developers were supposed to be targeting back then. That's right, you can't. So this report is both pointless and non-newsworthy, and shame on everyone who treated it otherwise. Moving on.

Mozilla Sets Record: Over 8 Million Downloads in 24 Hours
Mozilla got what it wanted this week, though its Download Day event for Firefox 3 got off to a rough start. Firefox fans downloaded over 8 million copies of the browser in the first 24 hours, or the first 22 hours, really, since Mozilla's servers were hosed for the first 2 hours of the event. At one point, users were downloading 17,000 copies of Firefox 3 per minute, or 283 per second. (By 24 hours, the number had risen to 12 million downloads.) You know, I have to be honest here. That doesn't sound like a lot. In fact, when you consider that there are about one billion PC users worldwide right now... Hm. Anyway, congrats to Mozilla, which has established an effective number two player in a market that was once completely sewn up by Microsoft.

OK, I'm outta here...
My brain hurts, my eyes hurt, and I think it's time to watch the recorded version of the Finals Game 6 for the third time. It just never gets old.

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