An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news, including massive PC sales growth for 2010, Microsoft's big bet on the cloud, a Microsoft-branded phone, Windows Phone developer dribbles, a non-surprising Apple iPad delay, and so much more...
It's been a slow year for travel so far. I went to CES in January and then took a short Florida vacation last month, but the next few weeks are going to be busy. I'll be on the road for the better part of the next two weeks, starting first in the Seattle area for a series of Microsoft campus meetings (and a friend's birthday party, which is fun), then I'm off to Las Vegas for MIX'10 (Microsoft's web/developer conference) and the Windows 7 Deployment Workshop. I'll be a sideshow (or, as I think of it, "court jester") at the latter event, sort of, as I'll be speaking about "Windows 7 Annoyances". Since there are no problems with Windows 7, it should be a short session. Well, we'll see.
Leo and I recorded the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday, as usual, so you can expect the new episode to be posted by the weekend.
But wait, there's more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog.
Gartner: PC Sales to Grow 20 Percent in 2010
Analysts at Gartner see some healthy economic growth ahead, with PC sales surging 20 percent this year, thanks to strong demand for notebook computers. The firm now expects PC makers to deliver 366 million units in 2010, which explains why Microsoft's "over 300 million" unit predictions for Windows 7 are, if anything, a conservative understatement. But the big news is that this new growth rate is a major change from Gartner's previous prediction in December, when it said it expected 13 percent PC sales growth in 2010. "The PC industry will be overwhelmingly driven by mobile PCs, thanks to strong home growth in both emerging and mature markets," said Gartner research director George Shiffler. "We expect mobile PCs to drive 90 percent of PC growth over the next three years."
Ballmer: Microsoft Bets Big on the Cloud
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said this week that "90 percent" of Microsoft's employees would be working, in some way, on cloud-based solutions by next year. "This is the bet for our company," he said. "Our inspiration, our vision ... builds from this cloud base." You know, this is an interesting characterization for the company, and one that should be—but won't be—compared with Apple's recent decision to characterize itself as a mobile device company. In fact, I'd argue that Ballmer's comments are even further reaching than what Apple said. (After all, Apple has always wanted to position itself as hugely successful, and by communicating its emphasis on mobile devices only, it can help the public ignore comparatively unsuccessful products such as its desktop computer OS, with 4 percent market share, and the Apple TV.) But Microsoft has only a tiny footprint in the cloud right now, and its successes all come from legacy products such as Windows and Office, which are still delivered on old-fashioned discs. So, we'll see whether Ballmer's prediction comes true. But either way, this has the makings of a complete and unprecedented turnaround for the company—one that will make the previous Internet "tidal wave" look like a bubbling brook by comparison.
Sources Point to Microsoft-Branded Phone Sold by Verizon
There have been rumors of a Microsoft-branded phone for years, but now several sources claim that the wireless giant will sell the so-called "Pink" device starting this year. And of course the kiddie gadget blogs, having moved on to The Next Big Thing (tm), are all over this. But ... I don't know. Even if it's real, who cares? Why would anyone bother with a Microsoft phone that's not tied to the company's next big mobile platform? It just doesn't make sense.
Microsoft Dribbles Out Windows Phone Developer Info
Microsoft this week began a cautious and limited peek into the development environment it will use to support Windows Phone 7. Previously, the company had said it would reveal it at its MIX conference, happening in about 10 days in Las Vegas. But last night, Microsoft decided to drop a few vague details about what's coming. Developers familiar with technologies such as .NET, Silverlight, XNA, Web 2.0 standards, and Visual Studio will feel right at home with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft says. And that's pretty much all the company said. More info, as before, can be had at MIX. Not surprisingly, I'll be at the show, so you can expect a full report when it happens. But there might be a bit more info in advance of MIX, courtesy of the Microsoft Game Developers Conference (GDC); I won't be at that particular show, but apparently Microsoft is serious about turning Windows Phone 7 into a legitimate game platform, too, so don't be surprised if there's some phone-related goodness at GDC.
Microsoft Stands By China
And really, who wouldn't? This is a country with more Internet users than the United States, and only a tiny percentage of its population has even heard of the Internet. (And of those who have, only some have been tortured.) This week, Microsoft said that it will stick to its current development strategy for China, regardless of the outcome of Google's high-profile (if somewhat dubious) conflict with the country. "Regardless of whether or not Google stays, we will aggressively promote our search and cloud computing \\[in China\\]," Microsoft Asia-Pacific Chairman Zhang Yaqin said. "We hope to achieve a relatively important place in the China search market. But we must be very patient \\[as\\] we still need a lot of time." According to Zheng, Microsoft's China-based development teams are working on online advertising, mobile platform, and cloud computing technologies. And hey, I'm sure it's all on the up and up. It's not as if anyone's getting abused in China so that we can buy cheap products in the United States. Our collective conscious is clear.
Act Surprised, I Dare You: Apple Delays iPad
Virtually every time Apple announces a release date, you just know the company will miss it. And sure enough, Apple's promise to deliver the first iPad tablets in March has been broken. The company will instead start shipping them on April 3, and then only in the United States, and then only the version without 3G connectivity. A week from today, US-based customers who wish to purchase this first buggy and incomplete iPad can preorder it and pray that it arrives in usable shape. And in late April (wink, wink), Apple will supposedly deliver the 3G models. I think we can comfortably forget about that ever happening, of course. But my favorite part of this whole mess is this little quote from Apple CEO Steve Jobs in today's PR explaining the delay without ever actually admitting to a delay: "iPad is something completely new," he said, ignoring the fact that it's actually just a large iPod touch, or, in other words, something that is very similar to what Apple already sells. Given the lemming-like nature of Apple fans, we can expect presales to go through the roof. There's nothing those people won't buy. And that, really, is the only thing "magical and revolutionary" about the iPad. Because in these people's eyes, April is now March.