WinInfo Short Takes: Week of October 20, 2008

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including Windows Vista and 2008 SP2, Windows 7 as Vista R2, Windows 7 Instant On, future Microsoft/Yahoo! relations, Fast Search pulls a fast one, Xbox 360 lawsuits, and so much more...

WinInfo Blog

I gave away 20 copies of my new book, Windows Vista Secrets SP1 Edition, this week to listeners of the Windows Weekly podcast and those who follow me on Twitter. This weekend, I'll be doing the third give-away, this time on the SuperSite for Windows Web site ( If you live in the US or Canada and are interested in getting a free copy of the book, check out the site on Saturday for instructions on entering the give-way. And you can still order the book from Amazon at a hefty 37 percent discount.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week on Thursday as usual, so it should be online sometime this weekend.

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

Short Takes

Windows Vista SP2 Before Windows 7
According to ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft plans to ship Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 before it ships Windows 7. The first SP2 builds have, in fact, already been sent out to some Microsoft partners, though it's unclear whether there are any major new features this time around. My guess is no: Microsoft seems pretty serious about decoupling major functional changes from its service packs when possible, and I'd be surprised if SP2 was as far-reaching as SP1, which wasn't exactly a major change.

Ballmer Admits that Windows 7 Will Be Vista R2
I've been saying for a while that people should think of Windows 7 as Windows Vista R2 (release 2) because it's basically just an evolutionary update of Microsoft's currently-shipping OS. This week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said as much in a keynote address at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo. "Windows 7 will be Vista, but a lot better," Ballmer noted. \[It\] will be compatible with Vista. The key is let's get on with it." Ballmer also said that Vista is selling faster than XP did during a similar phase in its life time, but that if businesses wanted to wait on Vista and just go for it with Windows 7, Microsoft is OK with that.

Microsoft May Be Testing an "Instant On" Feature for Windows 7
According to a survey sent out to its customers, Microsoft is considering adding an "Instant On" feature to Windows 7 that would "take your computer from being completely powered down or 'turned off' to being usable for a few specific activities in a very short amount of time." Microsoft has been experimenting with ways to speed Windows boot time under a variety of conditions, and many PC makers offer special media playback environments for laptops that bypass Windows entirely. Instant On seems to work like these environments: The PC would boot in about 8 seconds, but your available activities would be limited to things like playing DVD movies, browsing the Web, listening to music, and chatting on IM.

Ballmer: Yahoo! Deal is Still Possible ... Or is It?
Ballmer also offered up some comments about erstwhile merger partner Yahoo!, which has fallen even further since Microsoft gave up on any combination of the companies. Microsoft had offered $33 a share for Yahoo! earlier this year, a deal that Yahoo! rejected. Ballmer said that "they probably still think it's worth at least $33 today," suggesting that he wasn't so sure about that himself and opening the door, supposedly, to another merger attempt. Alas, it's not true, Microsoft says. Their position on Yahoo! "hasn't changed." I wonder if that will still be the case if Yahoo!'s share price continues its steady decline.

Microsoft's Fast Search & Transfer Charged with Accounting Fraud
Norwegian authorities have charged Fast Search & Transfer, a Microsoft-owned company, with accounting fraud and have raided its offices for evidence. Microsoft purchased the company in February for $1.2 billion. "The charge regards accounts from before Microsoft came in," an attorney for the Norwegian police said. "We think Fast recognized revenues that there is no basis for." There's no official comment on the latest allegations yet, but Microsoft had previously corrected $6 million worth of irregular payments that the company collected in 2006 and 2007. Sounds like a great little company there, guys.

Microsoft Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death Issues
Microsoft is facing a class action suit in California alleging that it knew about massive reliability issues with its Xbox 360 video game console as far back as November 2005 and didn't do anything to address the problem until over a year and a half later. According to the suit, fully 50 percent of all Xbox 360 consoles made over the first two years of its life cycle succumbed to so-called Red Ring Of Death (RROD) crashes, which require the consumer to send the unit back to Microsoft for refurbishing. Also alleged: Microsoft tried to conceal the reliability issues so that it could compete with the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 consoles that shipped a year later. There might be something to this. I've had seven different Xbox 360 consoles through my house over the years, and all but the latest--a mid-2008 60 GB console--have come up dead at least once.

Ironic? Microsoft Sues DHL for Broken Xbox 360s
Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against shipping company DHL, which has refused to reimburse the software giant for $2 million worth of Xbox 360 consoles that were damaged when a train derailed last October. Microsoft says that 20,000 of its consoles were damaged or pilfered during the accident, which involved DHL freight trains. You know, there's a certain justice in knowing that, this time at least, it's Microsoft sitting there with the broken consoles and trying to figure out exactly what happened. It doesn't feel very good, does it?

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