WinInfo Short Takes: Week of November 24, 2008

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a Vista Capable dismissal request, Zune price reductions, Morrow musings, Novell and Microsoft sitting in a tree ... two years later, Yahoo!, IE 6 on Windows Mobile, and so much more...

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Short Takes

Microsoft Asks for Dismissal of Vista Capable Suit
Microsoft on Thursday asked a federal judge in Seattle to dismiss the remaining claims in a class action suit over the Vista Capable logo program. According to the suit, Microsoft deceived customers with the program because it described computers that met only the bare minimums required to run Windows Vista, computers that often weren't compatible with Vista's best features. The suit has been a source of endlessly embarrassing email revelations from the software giant, as many of its executives and partners were outraged when Microsoft lowered the requirements for the logo program to appease microprocessor giant Intel. Microsoft says, correctly by the way, that those emails, while entertaining, only highlight a "robust internal product debate" and have little bearing on the case. If the judge does not agree to dismiss the charges, the case is set for an April trial date.

Microsoft Lowers Zune Prices
It's been a big week for Zune fans. First, Microsoft shipped the Zune 3.1 update for its software, devices, and Zune Social online social community. Then, the company announced a blockbuster update to its Zune Pass subscription service, giving subscribers ten free songs to keep a month. But the final bit of news may be of most interest to those who haven't yet taken the Zune plunge: The company has reduced prices on most of its Zune device hardware by $10 to $30 per unit, seriously undercutting the price of competing iPods. Microsoft also significantly lowered the price of several Zune hardware accessories as well. As they say, there's never been a better time to buy.

To Morro, To Morro, I'll Love Ya, Morro, You're Only a Day Away
Five years ago, I argued that Microsoft should simply put anti-virus and other security protections into Windows, providing it free to consumers and business users alike. Microsoft proceeded to charge customers for OneCare, no doubt out of concerns that the Symantecs and McAfees of the world would sue if Microsoft took away their Golden Ticket. This week, however, Microsoft announced a free security tool, codenamed Morro. So how did these erstwhile competitors respond? Oddly enough, they don't seem to care. The key, apparently, is that Microsoft was very clear that morrow would be a stripped down tool with only core anti-malware functionality. I guess what I'm wondering is, why didn't they just do this five years ago?

Two Years Later: The Novell/Microsoft Deal
Two years ago, Hell froze over and Microsoft and Novell consummated one of the most controversial alliances in tech history, with Microsoft purchasing millions of dollars worth of Novell SuSE Linux and Novell entering into an intellectual property licensing agreement with the software giant. So. How's it going two years later? Well, the sun continues to rise every day and a plague of locusts hasn't yet ravaged the planet, so the fears of open source pundits and backers were, apparently, unfounded. And many corporate customers appear to be pretty excited about the interoperability gains that Microsoft and Novell have made. That said, Novell's standing in the open source community is somewhat dimmed. For example, Roy Schestowitz, who runs a cute little Web site called Boycott Novell, has the following to say: "If Novell and Microsoft get their way, then metaphorically speaking, Linux will increasingly be pressured into a corner of the datacenter, essentially being marketed as a guest machine \[running under Windows\] as opposed to a host running with or without Windows virtualized." Exactly. So what's your problem again?

Yahoo! Turns to Time Warner for Redemption
Shunned by Microsoft, Yahoo! this week renewed discussions with Time Warner to see if some deal can be worked out around combining Yahoo! with America Online (AOL). I'm tempted to make the obvious joke about the value you get when you add zero to zero, but let's just say that they can do whatever they want to do. They're doomed.

The Search Is Over: Yahoo! Search Exec Lands at Microsoft
And speaking of Yahoo!, Sean Suchter, the company's VP of search technology left last week, which wasn't a big surprise given the ongoing exodus of executives from that sinking ship. But this week, he turned up at Microsoft, turning some heads. He will become the general manager of Microsoft's Silicon Valley Search Technology Center, where he will work on Live Search beginning in late December. Maybe Microsoft can just buy Yahoo! Search. One employee at a time.

Looking for IE 6 on Windows Mobile? Look for a New Phone. Next Year.
Microsoft has been promising to dramatically improve the Web browser in its Windows Mobile device OS for several months now and I'm guessing that many Windows Mobiles users have been putting up with their lackluster phones for the duration because they knew things would soon get better. Well, I assume Windows Mobile users are used to disappointment by now. In order to get this new browser, Internet Explorer 6, you'll need to purchase a new phone next year that already includes it. That's because IE6 for Windows Mobile requires a device with at least a 500 MHz processor. And it will launch first in China, so it will help if you can move there as well. Who loves you, Windows Mobile users? That's right. Nobody. Not even Microsoft.

Dell Exceeds Forecasts By Posting Lower Profits and Sales
You just gotta love being in a recession. Dell this week announced quarterly profits and revenues that were well below the levels it posted in the same quarter a year earlier. And Wall Street responded by cheering on the company. Why is that, you ask? Well, in this economy, just posting results that aren't as bad as expected is considered good news, so what the heck.

DVD Sales Decline Year Over Year for First Time; Blu-Ray Too Techie for Most People
DVD sales have declined year-over-year for the first time ever, and this year so far, sales are down 4 percent over all. Well, fortunately for the movie industry, they have Blu-Ray to fall back on. I mean, sales of Blu-Ray must just be surging. Oh. Well, I'm sure they'll surge eventually? No? Huh. The situation is so bad, in fact, that movie studios are going to start running TV commercials aimed solely at promoting Blu-Ray technologies. Which should go over great. After all, Blu-Ray is such a great name. And we all miss the days of paying $30 for a single movie, right?

PC Magazine Shutters Magazine
One of the oldest running PC magazines, which is in fact named PC Magazine, will cease publication in January and move solely to the Web. Ziff Davis, which publishes the magazine, says that the business model is just collapsing, and that's true even though its current subscriber base is 600,000 strong. I don't tend to subscribe to computer magazines, but I do pick up PC Mag at the airport when I'm traveling, so now there will be one fewer option. Well, two fewer, if you include CPU magazine. They could continue publishing that piece of junk forever and I'd still never read it.

Obama's Cell Phone Breached by Verizon Employees
Finally, Verizon Wireless disclosed this week that several of its employees accessed president-elect Barack Obama's personal cell phone account during the recent historical presidential campaign. "We apologize to President-Elect Obama and will work to keep the trust our customers place in us every day," Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement. I can't imagine they discovered too much of interest. Obama is allegedly a huge Blackberry user, but the Verizon account that was tapped was for a normal phone-only cell phone. Besides, it's not like he was sharing moose recipes or setting up $150,000 shopping sprees. I mean, that would just be silly.

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