Short Takes: February 6, 2015

Short Takes: February 6, 2015

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news. In this edition: Surface RT - again, iOS and Android further succumb to Microsoft, the touchable apps that aren't, Satya's first year, the death of an old friend, a Surface Pro 3 deal, Super Stream Sunday, another government approved digital attack on the books, a drone with a friendly face, and System Center Universe.

On again, off again

Guesswork is the machination of the truly bored. Speculation is one thing, but finding fact where there is none makes news reporting much harder than it should be and keeps the public confused. In the course of two weeks, we've heard that Windows RT is dead, Windows RT will see limited support, and Windows RT is alive and well. The only real fact here is that we truly don't know what will become of Microsoft's second son. And, at this point, I'm not sure if Microsoft even knows. I assume that when they figure it out, they'll tell us.

Microsoft Everywhere

If we've learned anything about Microsoft the last couple weeks is that the company is determined to exist on every popular mobile platform available. Last week the company released the Outlook email client for Android and iOS that won both praise as a wonderful app and scrutiny for the app's utter lack of security. The Outlook app comes from an acquisition in December 2014. Microsoft took the app, modified the colors and stuck its logos on it, and it immediately became a hot download from iTunes and the Google Play store.

This week, Microsoft reportedly spent a whopping $100 million on a calendar app for iOS and Android. Sunrise Calendar will most assuredly get the same treatment as the Outlook app and we should see the rebranded version sometime soon.

It's interesting to see Microsoft's apps continue to lead the app stores for both Apple and Android in popularity.

The moral here: It's not about Windows. It's about Microsoft.

Office Touch Apps Need a Lot of Work

More big news floated in this week as Microsoft finally released a long-promised version of Office for touch. As the company continues to do, the apps released as Preview – which is a fancy way of saying beta. Like many of you, I used my Windows 10 device (Windows 10 is required) to jump out and install them. But, also like many of you, I found that the new car smell quickly wore off. I appreciate the effort Microsoft has put in to fulfilling its promise, but after a quick jaunt around the interface, it's clear that this is a first pass and has a long way to go. I expect much more from a touchable interface. The UI is still not refined and revamped enough to accommodate the fattest fingers.

You can get a hands on review here: Hands On: Office Preview Apps on Windows 10

Happy Anniversary, Satya!

Has it been a year already? Satya Nadella, on Wednesday, celebrated his first full year as Microsoft's current CEO. A lot has changed in that year. Early on, some said that Nadella was just executing Ballmer's plans, but I think we've come to understand now that that's not the case. Microsoft clearly has Satya's stamp on it, and despite one large gaffe on women's pay in October, has floated through a full year of news, change, and some pretty monumental, tectonic-like industry shifts. I'd say he's done pretty well and the future looks extremely bright for Microsoft.

To celebrate his anniversary, Satya sat in on a quick-fire interview with ABC news. The questions were fast and furious and we learned a little more about the personal side of Nadella. His favorite childhood toy was a cricket bat. He gets 8 hours of sleep each night and wakes at 7am. The one app he can't live without is Microsoft Office. The person he'd most like to live as is Australian cricketer Don Bradman. He's a cook. And, apparently has a vendetta against ink pens.

Out of Joy, Comes Sadness

If you're a true geek and have been for as long as I have, there is some sad news this week. Radio Shack has officially filed for bankruptcy. My wife stopped by one of their local stores a week or so back to invest in a new cordless phone system for the house and reported that the store had been cleaned out except for a few miscellaneous electronics components. A day later, I saw rumors that Radio Shack could be closing up shop. Then, on Thursday, the inevitable happened. The 94-old company was reported to have filed for bankruptcy. I wasn't an avid Radio Shack shopper and maybe that was part of the problem. Even in its heyday, Radio Shack wasn't the first place I thought of when purchasing big-ticket items, only bits and pieces of electronics and most times cable parts. Still, it's sad to see a piece of our history go the way of the Aztecs, the Incas, Blackberry, and Atari.

Both Sprint and Amazon are reportedly considering snatching up the 4,000 retail outlets.

Surface Pro 3 Sale Ends Saturday

There one store that's performing marginally better than Radio Shack these days and that's the Microsoft Store. If you're out shopping this weekend and are still looking to outfit yourself with a Surface Pro 3, you can get the higher end models for $100 off and a free slipcase. Unfortunately, the entry-level model is not part of the deal.

The sale ends Saturday.

Azure Delivered Super Stream Sunday

We're almost one week past the worst play call in NFL history, but it didn’t take long for Microsoft to trumpet its part in the day. I'm sure it took the company a few days to calm down, since the majority of Redmond citizens were cheering for the Seahawks, but now that the dust has settled and Pete Carroll has taken full blame, Microsoft has detailed how it helped deliver a full day of NFL festivities. The NFL has streamed the Super Bowl before, but this is the first year the entire day has been available. In The Cord-cutter's Guide to Streaming NFL Super Bowl XLIX for Windows Users, I surmised that Microsoft would have a hand in it, and I was right.

Here's how it shook out:

  • 11 hours of content
  • 2.5 million unique users
  • Peak of 1.3 million concurrent viewers
  • 800,000 average viewers per minute (last year, 528,000 average viewers per minute)
  • Delivered to iOS, Android, and Windows devices
  • Dual datacenter architecture with seamless failover
  • Only 10% of provisioned capacity was needed

Now, if they could have just done something about that depressing Nationwide ad.

P.S. One commenter noted correctly that the Super Bowl has been available for cord-cutters since the beginning of broadcast TV. You just need rabbit ears and stand with one arm in the air and one knee raised to your waist.

It's 2015, do you know where your data is?

If you are an Anthem Health Care customer, you might want to take notice. A new report is hitting the news hubs that the Chinese government could be involved in the latest, publicly conveyed electronic security breach. As with most security breaches, Anthem isn't saying much, though it has admitted that every one of its branches have been affected. This stinks like another case of bad patching and unmanaged malware protection. If China's involvement is true, tens of millions of Americans' names, social security numbers, and birth dates, could be sitting on a hard drive in Beijing.

If you start receiving personalized birthday cards from Xi Jinping, you'll know you're one of those affected.

Geek's Pleasure

When some consider drones these days, they relate them to ominous, privacy-intrusive, airborne robots, akin to the coming of Skynet. But, one person, at least, is attempting to give them a friendly and familiar persona. Oliver C devised a Styrofoam shell for his drone, giving it the appearance of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. The result is a beautiful, scaled-down and fully working reproduction of the famous YT-1300 light freighter that carried Han, Leia, Luke, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2D2, and old Ben Kenobi into the Death Star. Oliver C has posted his work on Imgur (HERE) and delivered the freighter's first mission on YouTube…

You can't tell me this doesn't make you salivate. Oliver C is promising a Tie Fighter with his next project.

And, lastly…

I just flew in from Dallas (and, boy are my arms tired – buh-duh-bum) where I spent the last few days attending a wonderful event called the System Center Universe. The event is put on by the good folks at Catapult Systems and is a day-long, brain-numbing, two-track summit for deeply technical System Center and Cloud professionals. I've spent the better part of my professional life deeply embedded in this community and I had a wonderful time catching up with good friends and hearing about the latest improvements in the products.

Brad Anderson (who is also a keynote speaker for IT/Dev Connections) was the keynote speaker for the event, but instead of appearing in person, delivered the keynote from a remote location in Redmond. Except for an audio burp midway through the presentation, it worked pretty well. It's amazing how far technology has come in such a short time.

The event happens once a year somewhere in Texas, and if you're a System Center fan, you really need to consider attending. With the Microsoft Ingite sessions catalog nearly 50% complete, its evident that the best opportunites for deep, technical learning for System Center admins exist elsewhere.


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