WinInfo Short Takes: Week of June 30, 2008

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a (sort of) week off in Sonoma, a visit to the TWiT Cottage, Icahn's Yahoo takeover plans, a Yahoo reorg, Windows 7 in 2010 (again), an internal Bill Gates email misrepresented, and more...

WinInfo Blog

My wife and I and two friends spent this week in Sonoma, California so please excuse a shorter-than-usual Short Takes today. I'm pretty much unable to take real vacations, but this was a sort-of vacation, so I'm trying to keep the work stuff to a minimum. Suffice to say that a good time was had by all. We're flying home Friday.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday, but this time I visited him live at "TWiT Cottage" in Petaluma, California, which was a good time. The new episode should be available before the end of the weekend, and I'll post some photos from my visit then as well.

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

Short Takes

Icahn to Microsoft: Wait for it...
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has been circling the Yahoo board of directors like a vulture waiting for his next meal to take that first staggering step toward death for a few weeks now. But this week he upped the ante on his attempt to oust the Yahoo board by asking Microsoft to wait on any other potential deals until his August 1 showdown with Yahoo: On that date, Yahoo will hold its delayed annual shareholder meeting, at which time all of the boardmembers are up for reelection. Icahn is hoping to replace Yahoo co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang with "a talented and competent CEO," along with all the other board members. If he is successful, he hopes to get Microsoft back to the acquisition bargaining table. I'll give the guy this much: He's got moxie.

Yahoo Reorgs with the Few Executives Still Left at the Company
And speaking of Yahoo, everyone's favorite Internet punching bag this week announced a corporate reorganization that centralizes product development, prompting me to wonder aloud... Yahoo develops products? Basically, the company is being split into three groups, global product strategy, sales operations and publishing, and data storage. I'll avoid the obvious "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" comment and ... oh heck, no I won't.

Microsoft Confirms 2010 Ship Date for Windows 7. Again.
I'm not clear why this is still an ongoing concern, but Microsoft this week again reiterated that it plans to ship Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista, in early 2010. The latest reaffirmation of this long ago resolved question came via a letter sent by Microsoft senior vice president Bill Veghte to customers. In the letter, Veghte promised to "deliver Windows 7 approximately three years after the January 2007 general availability launch date of Windows Vista." He said the non-revelation was made because customers had asked the company to be more predictable about its OS releases. Seriously, I can't imagine how much clearer this could be.

Microsoft Buys Natural Language Search Company
Microsoft this week purchased a company called Powerset for a cool $100 million, hoping to capitalize on its natural language search technology. Powerset is apparently a big deal in the search engine world, which is to say it's really exciting to the three guys that know anything about it. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine World said that Powerset is different from traditional search engines. "\[Powerset's\] technology reads and comprehends each word on a page," he wrote. "It looks at each sentence. It understand the words in each sentence and how they related to each other. It works out what that sentence really means, all the facts that are being presented. This means it knows what any page is really about. In lieu of a better phrase, call it an 'understanding engine.'" All I understand is that if you're looking for a place for search-related technology to die, you couldn't pick a better home than Microsoft.

Learning the Wrong Lessons, Again, from an Internal Email
Todd Bishop of the Seattle PI has found another excellent internal Microsoft email, this one from Bill Gates chewing out various underlings in 2003 for failings at the company's Web site. And once again, the blogosphere has gotten exactly the wrong message, chortling over the notion that the world's biggest geek couldn't find a particular download on Microsoft's Web site. Hardy-har-har. That's not what this is about, children, and I have to be honest here, I'm getting tired of explaining this kind of thing. Say what you will about Gates--I have, obviously--but what this email shows is that the guy cares about the customer experience. Anyone who's not celebrating that, well, is kind of an idiot, sorry. You can read the full email on the Seattle PI Web site.
By the way, Gates' response to this whole thing is classic, too. He says, "There's not a day that I don't send a piece of e-mail like that piece of e-mail. That's my job." Exactly.

Intel Won't Adopt Windows Vista
Intel reportedly has decided to not upgrade most of its 80,000 PCs to Windows Vista, and you can imagine the twittering that caused with the Vista-hating iCabal. There's just one problem--isn't there always?--Intel always rolls out new OSes late. In fact, Windows watcher Ed Bott reports over on his ZDNet blog that Intel in 2002 rolled out Windows 2000 across its 80,000 PCs, instead of Windows XP, which was a year old at the time. So this is exactly the same thing. Exactly. The. Same.

See you next week. --Paul

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