WinInfo Short Takes: Week of May 4

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

WinInfo Blog

As April turns into May, my schedule for completing Windows 7 Secrets becomes ever more compacted, so I'll be killing myself over the weekend to bang out some chapters. This month promises to be punishing along those lines, but if all goes as planned, I'll be free and clear by June and can start enjoying the nice weather for a change.

One thing I'll be taking time off for this weekend is a Pawtucket Red Sox game on Saturday: My son will be participating in the singing of the national anthem, which is cool under any circumstances. But given that he's deaf, it makes the moment even more poignant. As many of you will recall, Mark contracted bacterial meningitis in 1999, when he was 1, almost died, and became profoundly deaf. He had his first cochlear implant at 18 months, then a second one almost two years ago, and he's done phenomenally well. He attends public school here in Dedham and will be moving on to middle school next year. It's been a while since I've mentioned this, but the reason is all positive: He's doing great.

Leo and I recorded the Windows Weekly podcast Thursday on the normal schedule, 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
Microsoft Delivers Windows 7 RC to MSDN, TechNet ... Sites Go BOOM
Microsoft on Thursday delivered the release candidate (RC) version of Windows 7 to eager downloaders at MSDN and TechNet. Predictably, the sites went down almost immediately. This situation doesn't bode well for anyone looking forward to next week's much broader public availability, I'm thinking. Microsoft says that a SQL Server glitch was responsible for the problem, and it was fixed after a couple of hours, but from what I can see, downloads are still proceeding at a glacial pace. Hey, what could go wrong next week, right?

Microsoft Delivers SP2 for Windows Vista and Server 2008 to MSDN, TechNet Too
And what a bad bit of timing that was, if you really wanted to download it and didn't understand that half the user base was clogging the pipes trying to get the Windows 7 RC. Microsoft previously announced that it had finalized SP2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, but said it would deliver the code to the public sometime in May. (I'm thinking it will happen at TechEd in a week and a half.) But then the company silently handed it out to MSDN and TechNet subscribers early. I'm sure they'll be able to download it eventually.

Windows 7 in October?
I think Microsoft will finalize Windows 7 in late July or August at the latest and make it available to customers starting in September. But a representative of PC maker Acer says that his company plans to start shipping Windows 7-based PCs on October 23, 2009. That doesn't change a thing: Microsoft will roll out Windows 7 over time, I believe, and that will start with electronic and then retail distribution, the latter of which will include new PCs, which themselves will appear over time. Folks, however it happens, this train is barreling into the station. Bring on Windows 8, I say.

New "Laptop Hunter" Ad Debuts
Microsoft has debuted a new ad in its "I'm a PC/Laptop Hunters" series. In this one, a woman named Sheila is looking for a notebook for less than $2,000 that's capable of video editing. She's open to any brand but, alas, the best Mac in that price range has just 2GB of RAM. So, Sheila goes for an HP widescreen notebook with 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and dedicated graphics. The price isn't disclosed, but based on HP's website, it can be had for as little as $1,200. What does Apple offer in that price range? A steaming pile of ... well, never mind. I'm sure an Apple system at that price point can at least browse the web.

I'm a Server? Microsoft Moves Marketing Message to the Enterprise
Speaking of Microsoft's recent publicity campaigns, the software giant is taking its "I'm a PC" message to the server: This week, the software giant published the results of an analysis of cost and performance comparisons between IBM WebSphere running on AIX and Server 2008-based servers running on Intel. Not only were the WinTel solutions cheaper, they were also faster. "Customers would spend three times the money on IBM hardware and get poorer performance," said Microsoft Senior Director Steven Martin in a recent briefing. "These results should be alarming for IBM customers." The side gag here is that even IBM's own WebSphere runs better on Windows Server than it does on AIX. "If you are running WebSphere, I can save you money and increase your performance," Martin added. Find out more at

Track the Swine Flu in Real Time. Hey, It's not Like You Have to Work!
Microsoft has released a beta version of its Vine online service, which some say is like "Facebook plus Twitter for disasters." Vine is basically a way for people to keep in touch with others they know online during times of trouble so that everyone can ensure that everyone else is OK. Microsoft researchers came up with the idea for Vine during the Hurricane Katrina debacle, and the company is providing it to emergency-management officials so that they can use it to broadcast and receive information about various crises as they develop. "Microsoft Vine aims to create an inclusive network so that ultimately anyone can participate, through a social-networking application such as Twitter or Facebook or using email, any computer connected to the internet, or a mobile phone, kitchen phone, or special-needs device," the software giant says.

Of Time Magazine and Microsoft "Self-Mutilation"
Time's Douglas McIntyre has written an interesting article about Microsoft in which he claims that the software giant's "self-mutilation" culture is the key to its ongoing success. This is, of course, an interesting concept. But what does it mean? According to McIntyre, Microsoft has too many smart people that have too little to do. So, it's trying to expand into new markets—the Internet, video games, digital media players, and hardware—in a bid to both keep those people busy and expand the business. There's just one problem: None of these efforts has been even remotely successful. But that, McIntyre says, is Microsoft's strength: Though the company keeps launching new products and keeps failing, it never stops trying. And it keeps those smart people busy because if the company just retrenched around Windows and its other traditionally successful products, those people would simply leave Microsoft. And then the company would die. Interesting stuff.

Morro Will Have a Change of Name is reporting that Microsoft's upcoming, free anti-malware solution—currently called Morro—will ship with a far more boring, corporate sounding name. Potential choices include Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft Antivirus Plus, Microsoft Personal Security, and Microsoft Security Fundamentals. I get why Microsoft would want to do that, but seriously—isn't it time to just drop the stupidity and call it something cool? I'm not saying Morro is the right name. But come on.

Microsoft Releases JavaScript Performance Test Tool
In a move no doubt aimed at recent claims by browser makers Google and Apple, Microsoft this week delivered a Visual Studio-based tool to developers that will help them measure the JavaScript performance of their web applications. Dubbed AJAX Profiling Extensions (speaking of bad names), the tool provides insight into the performance of client-side JavaScript, which is the language most often behind today's so-called "web 2.0" solutions. It works with any web browser.

ABC Joins Hulu
Well, it's semi-official. If you're looking for the biggest collection of legitimate streaming TV show and movie content online, is the place to go. This week, ABC joined NBC and Fox in offering its television content to users of the service, meaning that three of the four biggest networks are all now represented. (Only CBS is left.) ABC says that hit shows such as Lost, as well as inexplicably popular shows such as Desperate Housewives, will soon begin airing on the Hulu service, which is typically accessed through a PC-based web browser. With 42 million visitors per month, Hulu is now the third-most-popular video-sharing site online, behind YouTube and Fox Interactive Media (which owns MySpace, IGN, PhotoBucket, and other sites).

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