WinInfo Short Takes: Week of September 22, 2008

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including some great new Microsoft ads, some untrue Seinfeld rumors, a Zune shocker,a coming visual Studio upgrade, some Google news, sharing mooseburger recipes on Yahoo! Mail, and so much more...

WinInfo Blog

We were awoken early recently by our kids who reported "a strange smell" downstairs. Turns out it was the heat coming on for the first time this year. This, of course, is the official start of autumn in the Thurrott household. And as I sat last night in the bleachers, freezing, as my son's baseball team battled to an unexciting tie game, I ruefully recalled that it seemed like we were all sitting on the beach very recently. Very recently. So much for global warming.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week on Wednesday, a day earlier than usual. I'm sure it will be up 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

New Microsoft Ads Debut ... And They're Awesome
Sorry Apple freaks, but the new Microsoft "I'm a PC" advertisements are awesome, and the first one offers a wonderful comparison with the smug, arrogant, and inaccurate Apple "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads. I mean, which one are you buying? The one where the Mac and PC can be identified solely by silly stereotypes, or the one where the PC market is a rich tapestry of diversity, where people get work done, play, and live their lives online? I love that Microsoft has finally, if belatedly, taken the discussion back and put it where it belongs: In a human center, where Apple's nagging disappears off into the distance where it belongs. Yeah, we get it, Apple. You're better than us. Great. Now get out of the way. One billion people have spoken. And we use Windows. Deal with it.

And No, Seinfeld Wasn't "Dumped"
And for the record, no, comedian Jerry Seinfeld was not "dumped" by advertising executives. I've spoken with Microsoft several times about its advertising this year, and the plan was always to use Seinfeld and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a short series of teaser ads before moving into the real campaign. The real question of course is whether Microsoft will bring back Seinfeld for future ads. They wouldn't promise, but it's pretty clear that Seinfeld, indeed, will be making a comeback, so fear not if you are a fan of those ads. It's gold, Jerry, gold!

Zune Shocker: They're Better MP3 Players Than iPods
And speaking of things that have rocked the Apple world this week, imagine the shock over in Cupertino when the Apple promoters (sorry, "reviewers") at the "Wall Street Journal" and "New York Times" actually wrote this week that Microsoft's oft-ridiculed Zune MP3 player is, in fact, a better device for digital music than Apple's ubiquitous iPod. That these reviewers ape a call I've been making this week as well is A-OK, because it's a simple fact: Yes, the Zune may lack much of the niceties of the wider iPod ecosystem, which includes a much broader range of functionality than anything possible with the Zune. But when it comes to music, especially new music discoverability, the Zune is the place to be. Funny how things come around, isn't it? Apple has spent so much time turning the iPod into an uber mobile device that it's left its core music-listening demographic behind.

Microsoft Preps Visual Studio Upgrade
Microsoft this week revealed that the next major update to its software and Web development suite, Visual Studio 10, will focus on extensibility. The product, which has no anticipated release date as of yet (think Q1 2010, alongside Windows 7) will also include a new editor and shell that are based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technologies, Windows Live Search, ID, and Mesh integration, and Live Messenger-based team collaboration features. I suspect we'll hear a lot more about this product at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in LA this October.

Google Co-Founder Brin Has Genetic Code Linked to Parkinson's Disease
While knowledge is obviously a good thing, sometimes knowing too much about something can be troubling. Such is the case with Google co-founder Sergi Brin, who revealed this week that he has a gene mutation that's known to increase his likelihood of getting Parkinson's Disease. How does he know such a thing? Brin's wife works for 23andMe, a company that does personal genetic testing or, in its words, "democratizes personal genetics." They currently provide information on over 80 traits and diseases, and Brin, curious guy that he is, is a customer of the company and, according to his blog, has spent a lot of time exploring his genetic makeup as a form of "entertainment." So. What does this all mean? Not much, really: Doctors say that people who carry this gene are more likely than not to never develop Parkinson's. But for a really smart guy like Brin, this is the type of thing that will stick in his head forever. You can't "unknow" it. And that, I think, is the problem with this kind of thing. Sometimes it really is better not to know.

Palm Suffers Yet Another Loss
No big surprise there. In today's smart phone market, there's basically Microsoft, RIM, Apple, and ... well, that's about it. But yeah, Palm still makes smart phones, even though they haven't updated their own OS in years and mostly sell products based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile design now. The company's most recent quarterly loss was $42 million on revenues of $367 million. Analysts had hoped to see a bit growth, but even Palm's sub-$100 device, the Centro, has proven somewhat disappointing over time. Seriously, guys. It's time to get that new OS out the door or just give it up. You can't keep riding a five-year-old design while the rest of the industry is making huge strides forward.

Google Increases Share of the Search Market
It's become a steady refrain: Another month, another market share increase for Google. This wouldn't be notable if the company was starting from a minority position, but it is interesting when a company as dominant as Google is able to continue pulling away from the competition. In August, Google raised its share of the US search market to 63 percent, up from 61.9 percent in July and 56.5 percent in August last year. Meanwhile, number two Yahoo! fell 0.9 percent to 19.6 percent (23.3 percent a year ago) and number three player Microsoft fell 0.6 percent to 8.3 percent (11.3 percent a year ago). So what accounts for this growth and the continued problems with Google's so-called competition? I honestly have no idea. In fact, the search experience between all three is so similar, I suspect you could silently replace Google Search with, say, Yahoo! Search, and no one would even notice.

Google's First Android Phone to Arrive September 23
The first smart phone based on Google's Android platform will arrive on September 23, according to T-Mobile, which will be the exclusive US carrier for the device. Dubbed the HTC Dream, this first Android phone will cost about $200 (with a two year contract) and offer functionality similar to that of the Apple iPhone, according to reports. Well, there is one big difference: Android phones, unlike the iPhone, are completely open to third party development, and those hoping to sell or give away applications for the platform don't have to deal with the anti-competitive gatekeepers at Apple. As the first Android device, the Dream will no doubt big a big with Linux geeks, gadget freaks, and other early adopters. But we can expect a wide range of Android designs to begin appearing next year, and from a variety of mobile operators and device makers.

Sara Palin's Email Hacked
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin isn't just a moose-hunting hockey mom and someone who favors Creationism over science. Apparently, she's also a Yahoo! user. This week, a college-aged hacker who goes by the moniker Rubico says he hacked into Palin's email account thanks to lax security at the service: He was able to look up publicly-available information about her to answer Yahoo!'s secret questions and break in. So what did Rubico find in Palin's email account? Not much, as it turns out. Moose recipes?

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