An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including back to school, Silverlight 1.0, a Zune price cut, Vista and XP TCO, SCVMM07, Microsoft licensing fun, fighting piracy, Net Neutrality, Google, the iPhone price drop, and so much more...
What a week. Microsoft shipped the first public beta version of its Windows Live suite (and yes, that's "suite" with a small "s," it's still unclear what the naming gods at Microsoft are up to), giving users a glimpse into the future of the company's "software + services" strategy. And then Apple dropped the bomb mid-week with a bunch of new iPods (one of which, the iPod touch, is truly interesting) and lowered the price of the iPhone a whopping $200, just two months after the company's loyal fans stood in line just to spend too much money on the over-hyped and curiously lacking smart phone. The outrage was, shall we say, outrageous, but I was lucky enough this time to have called it accurately on the iPhone: I gave the device a 3 out of 5 rating in my SuperSite review and called out the early reviewers--all of which promptly supplied super-positive reviews back in June--as the Apple shills that they are. Now, the truth can be told: Apple under-delivered and over-charged on the iPhone and now early adopters are paying the price. Literally.
The kids are back in school. And as always, my "na-na-na na-na-na hey-hey-hey good-bye" song was not appreciated. But as any parent will tell you, the first week of September (or whenever school starts where you live) is one of the best times of the year. Don't be ashamed of this. We can love our kids and still want them to be gone most of the day. Seriously.
Leo and I took the week off from Windows Weekly this week as Leo is doing his Canada thing, but we should be back next week.
Silverlight Ships, Linux Support Added
You just can't let those 16 Linux desktop users not see the Web the way God intended it to be seen: With Microsoft technologies. Microsoft shipped Silverlight 1.0, its initial non-beta version of the Silverlight cross-platform browser plug-in that enables Web audio and video streaming and playback using Windows Media. The big surprise with this release, which has been telegraphed for months, is Linux support, thanks to Novell collaboration on a project called Moonlight. Thanks to this project, Silverlight-enabled Web applications will work on Windows, Mac, and now Linux. And you just know those guys are going to be real appreciative of that, as they are of all Microsoft technologies.
If You Cut the Price of a Product No One Wants, Did the Price Really Fall?
Microsoft this week slashed the price of its 30 GB Zune portable media player by $50, from $249 to $199, raising what I think is a very relevant question: Who cares? Compared to market leader Apple, whose iPod line is ubiquitous they work in everything from automobiles to espresso machines, the Zune is an also-ran of the almost epic proportions. And when you factor in this week's Apple announcements--there are now five iPod models if you count the iPhone--you have to wonder why Microsoft is bothering with its one model, now almost a year old. Obviously, Microsoft has more Zune models in the works, and hopefully we'll see those soon. But I can't escape the feeling that they're not going to live up to what we've seen this week from Apple, let alone the devices Apple was shipping last year.
Microsoft: Vista Saves Money over XP
And in other news, the "surge" is making progress. Microsoft this week released details of a study (which, yes, it commissioned) that show that the total cost of ownership (sometimes known by its acronym FUD) of Windows Vista on mobile PCs is $605 less a year than that of its predecessor, Windows XP. The study, which was performed by Wipro and GCR Custom Research, notes that the total cost of ownership for a Vista-based mobile PC is $3802 a year, while an XP PC comes in at $4407. (Both of these figures, incidentally, are lower than the total cost of ownership of an Apple iPhone, even after this week's price drop.) These figures include hardware costs, software costs, IT labor, and user-related costs. And just upgrading to Vista saves $251 a year, the study says. It's like money in the bank.
Microsoft Ships Virtual Machine Manager
Microsoft on Thursday shipped System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007, its first true virtual machine (VM) management software. The release of SCVMM07 (pithy acronym, that) is notable because it means Microsoft is finally catching up on its chief virtualization competitor, VMWare: Now, instead of being 10 years behind VMWare, Microsoft is only 9 years behind.
Microsoft Licenses Its Own Technology
The guy who coined the phrase "what goes around comes around" probably didn't have this in mind, but it seems appropriate. Microsoft this week began licensing traffic data from a company called Inrix. No big deal, really. But Inrix previously licensed predictive, real-time traffic technology from Microsoft. So the data Microsoft is licensing from Inrix is being generated by Microsoft technology. This one doesn't even deserve a throw-away joke. It's just silly.
Microsoft: We're Fighting Piracy There So We Don't Have to Fight It At Home
Like the war on terror, but with even fewer victories. Microsoft this week said that it might take the company decades to overcome massive software piracy in emerging markets. I have to be honest here: I'm not sure I really care. I mean, the countries we're talking about are so poor that Microsoft would have to pretty much give away its software in order to eradicate piracy, and these people have far more pressing concerns than the legality of the software they use. You know, things like shelter, food, and medicine. It's the little things that just mean so much.
DOJ Says Its Opposed to Net Neutrality
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) this week told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it is opposed to Net Neutrality, a principle that states that all Web sites should be equally accessible to all users. At issue are communications companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others, which would like to be able to charge customers more for delivering certain Web sites and other online content more quickly. The DOJ says that Net Neutrality, which would prevent this practice, would hamper innovation in the online space and raise consumer costs over time. In other words, network expansion should be determined "by market forces, not regulatory intervention." The FCC disagrees, noting that communications companies could otherwise discriminate against certain Web sites and services. (Not to mention users.)
Google Talks Up Next-Gen Web Office
At the Office 2.0 conference this week, Google representatives predicted that the collaboration aspects of Web 2.0-based office productivity tools like Google Apps would cause this next-generation tool type to make inroads with the enterprise. Demand and user familiarity with these tools won't hurt either, Google says. In Google itself, workers are apparently chastised as Luddites any time they actually attach documents via email, a process which is considered old-fashioned at the company. Now, workers are expected to simply making online documents available to others for editing and collaboration, and this style of interaction will quickly seep outside the tech sector, Google says. They may have a point, but it will be interesting to see what a few Skype-style outages do to quell that trend.
iPod touch: If the Name Sounds Familiar, There's a Reason
Apple is no stranger to theft, though its fans often overlook this fact and point instead to instances in which other companies (notably Microsoft) have supposedly stolen something from Apple. In the second major instance this year of Apple releasing a product with the same name as an existing product from another company--the first was the iPhone--Apple this week announced the iPod touch, which follows, of course, the HTC Touch, a Windows Mobile-based smart phone that sports touch capabilities. (And yes, it launched before the iPhone too, if you're wondering). No word yet on whether HTC intends to sue Apple or pursue other legal avenues.
Early iPhone Stooges, Er Ah, Customers Get Comeuppance But Don't Realize It
And speaking of Apple and trouble, it's been a tough first few months for iPhone customers: First they stand in line like stooges for the right to purchase an overpriced gadget that would soon be in the hands of millions of users, and then, two months later, Apple suddenly and unexpectedly drops the price a whopping 33 percent from $600 to $400. Apple CEO Steve Jobs belatedly published a half-hearted public apology to these beta testers--excuse me, early adopters--and then, get this, offered them a $100 Apple store credit. So they could buy more stuff from Apple. That's a great tactic, when it works. Something tells me it will work just fine with Apple's starry-eyed fans. And they have the gall to call Windows users lemmings. Here's a mirror, guys. Enjoy the view.