WinInfo Short Takes: Week of May 25

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

WinInfo Blog

Well, it finally happened: On Monday, I finished the first-draft manuscript of Windows 7 Secrets and submitted it to the publisher. Work continues, of course: Rafael and I have to review all the edits that come back and work through a formal checklist before we sign off on each chapter. But the hard part is over, and I hope it's understandable that I spent most of this week catching up on rest. I had to work 15-hour days last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to get this thing done on time.

In fact, this weekend, my wife and I are driving up to Stowe, Vermont, to relax for the long weekend, and Steph's parents are staying here to watch the kids (who have baseball/software games and some other events over the weekend). Our 19th anniversary is Tuesday, and, coincidentally, we got engaged in Stowe a little over 20 years ago. We try to get up there once a year, if possible.

Helping with the relaxation is the fact that I completely rolled my ankle over playing basketball Thursday night in a move that was cringe-inducing to everyone who saw it happen. My ankle has swollen up like a baseball and is now mostly purple and gross-looking. So, I won't be moving around a lot for the next few days. Which is just fine with me. (It figures I'd do this in the last game of the year, too; I've been playing twice a week since last September and hadn't hurt myself almost at all until this week.) My wife's half-glass-empty comment: "A bad sprain is often worse than a break." Thanks, babe.

Leo and I recorded the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday, and the new episode should be available by the end of the weekend, as always.

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

Short Takes

Windows 7 Starter Won't Have Three-App Limit
I can now reveal that Windows 7 Starter won't be hobbled by the three-application limit that previously made this product edition less than desirable. Expect an official announcement to this effect sometime in the days and weeks ahead. But there's no word on whether Microsoft will remove Starter's other weird limitation: There's no way for the user to change the desktop wallpaper—which is just weird.

Windows 7 Pricing Coming Next Month
According to online reports (read: "unsubstantiated blog rumor"), Microsoft will unveil its pricing structure for Windows 7 in mid-June. The announcement will include retail pricing for the Full and Upgrade versions of Windows, and apparently PC makers and retailers have already been briefed on the plans. Which means this is all hogwash, because if these leaky sieves had been briefed about pricing, we'd have heard all about it by now. Actually, maybe we have: A Dell executive recently noted that Windows 7 pricing would be higher than hoped for. That would be a shame, because I think Microsoft needs to practically give this thing away to jumpstart tech sales this year.

Windows 7 Netbook Specs Get a Bump
Speaking of PC makers who like to reveal Microsoft's secret plans, one of them has leaked details about Microsoft's plans for Windows 7 on netbooks. According to an unnamed company, Microsoft expects most PC makers to bundle Windows 7 Starter or Home Premium on their netbooks for price reasons, though every Windows 7 product edition will work just fine. On the technical end, Microsoft is removing some hardware limitations from its netbook licensing terms, which should result in some slightly beefier netbook hardware. PC makers are now free to use touch controls and any graphics processors on the devices. The storage limits were bumped to 250GB (for HDDs) and 64GB (for SSDs), up from 160GB and 32GB, respectively, for Windows Vista and Windows XP. CPUs still must be single-core but can run up to 2GHz in speed (up from 1GHz). Screen size, oddly, has gone down: Whereas Vista- and XP-based netbooks could utilize up to a 12.1" screen, Windows 7 netbooks can utilize only up to a 10.2" screen. (Note that PC makers can, of course, use any hardware they want in their PCs; these limitations apply to those devices that get preferential netbook pricing for Windows.)

Where Is Windows Vista SP2?
In late April, Microsoft completed development of Windows Vista SP2 (and Windows Server 2008 SP2—the same service pack addresses both releases). At the time, the company delivered the update to MSDN and TechNet subscribers and said it would deploy the release to the public, via web downloads and Windows Update, by the end of May. Well, it's the end of the month, and people are getting pretty antsy about it, for some reason. So, this week, Microsoft blogged about SP2 and noted a vague time table for its public release. "Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 will be available in the coming weeks on the \[Microsoft\] Download Center (DLC) and also through Windows Update and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)," a post to the Microsoft Update team blog reads. "We hope this information helps." Um, yeah. Sure.

Microsoft Won't Present Oral Arguments in EU IE/Windows Antitrust Case
Today, Microsoft announced that it won't be able to attend the European Union's (EU's) June 3-5 antitrust hearing because it interferes with another event that its senior regulators previously committed to. Microsoft notes that it hasn't declined the chance to defend itself but rather that it simply can't meet the date that the EU set; if the EU can change the date (unlikely, but you never know), the company will be happy to explain to the EU why the EU should go stuff itself. "We believe that holding the hearing at a time when key officials are out of the country would deny Microsoft our effective right to be heard and hence deny our 'rights of defense' under European law," said Dave Heiner, Microsoft's deputy general counsel. "The \[European\] Commission \[doesn't\] see any reason to postpone," came the response from the EU. According to Microsoft, the EU told the company that June 3-5 was the only time the appropriate rooms would be available for the hearing. They must be so busy bringing legal actions against other successful American companies that they just can't find the space. Understandable.

If Microsoft's Online Search Is Such a Joke, Why Is Everyone So Excited About Kumo?
It's funny to me that although people seem to routinely make fun of Microsoft's online search efforts, excitement for the next-generation Microsoft search product, currently code-named Kumo, is exploding. Rumors persist that Microsoft will soon unveil a public version of its Kumo-powered search engine—rumors that I can neither confirm nor deny—and the tech blogosphere is abuzz with opinions about what Microsoft might or might not do. Obviously, no one (including Microsoft) expects the software giant to suddenly displace Google anytime soon. But I do agree that there's a growing apprehension that all of our online activities will be funneled through a single, Google-powered funnel. So, most would like to see Microsoft and others at least be competitive. One thing I can tell you is that as soon as Microsoft announces whatever it's doing, I'll have a full report available on the SuperSite for Windows. Stay tuned.

Google: One Key to Our Success Is Avoiding Microsoft-like Antitrust Entanglements
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said this week that one of the guiding principles at the company is avoiding "the \[antitrust\] mistakes, which in my view were quite tragic, that Microsoft made." In a Financial Times interview, he said, "I'm not going to pass judgment on Microsoft. They are where they are, and they suffer from the mistakes that they made. But from our perspective, the fact that we're large and we do something important, which is information, is not in itself a violation of law. It has to do with how you behave when that occurs. And we operate under a set of principles which we hold very dearly, which focus on end users, and to do so without regard to the other constituents of our business." Schmidt said that one example of this was how easy it is for users to walk away from Google and, "in one click," adopt competing solutions from Yahoo!, Microsoft, and others. In such a case, Google says, users are able to take their personal information with them, and the company does nothing to prevent that. And that's all well and good, but let's be serious here. Google is a ginormous company. And it's going to run into legal problems again and again no matter how careful it is.

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