WinInfo Daily UPDATE, August 17, 2004

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In the News

- Microsoft Delays Windows XP SP2 Automatic Updates Rollout
- Free Your iPod: RealNetworks Kicks Off Freedom of Choice Digital-Music Campaign

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Delays Windows XP SP2 Automatic Updates Rollout

Microsoft alerted me yesterday that the company has decided to suspend the Automatic Updates rollout of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) to give its corporate customers more time to install the download-blocking mechanism that Microsoft provided last week. As a result, XP Home Edition users will start receiving XP SP2 via Automatic Updates on Wednesday, August 18, and XP Professional Edition users will start receiving the update via Automatic Updates on Wednesday, August 25. The original schedule called for both sets of users to start receiving the update yesterday, August 16.
"Because some of our customers use Automatic Updates for a collection of PCs, and because \[those\] organizations might not yet be prepared to deploy XP SP2 on those machines, we recently made available a mechanism for temporarily blocking the download of XP SP2 to those machines that use Automatic Updates," a Microsoft representative told me. "Last week, we received feedback from our corporate customers that they would like more time to put this temporary blocking mechanism into place. Based on that feedback, we've altered the XP SP2 delivery schedule. Machines that are running XP Pro and use Automatic Updates won't receive XP SP2 until Wednesday, August 25--at the earliest."
Here's the altered XP SP2 delivery schedule:
- August 6: Release to manufacturing (RTM)
- August 9: Release to Microsoft Download Center (full network installation package) and to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription site (CD-ROM International Organization for Standardization--ISO--image)
- August 10: Release to Automatic Updates (for machines running beta or release candidate--RC--versions of XP SP2 only)
- August 16: Release to Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS)
- August 18: Release to Automatic Updates for users running XP Home only
- August 25: Release to Automatic Updates for all XP users, including those running XP Pro, and to Windows Update for interactive user installations
Corporate administrators who want to download the mechanism that temporarily disables Automatic Updates and Windows Update XP SP2 deliveries should visit the Microsoft TechNet Web site. Note that this site currently includes an out-of-date version of the SP2 rollout schedule. Thanks to Stephen Bink at for alerting me to the schedule change.

Free Your iPod: RealNetworks Kicks Off Freedom of Choice Digital-Music Campaign

Today, RealNetworks announced the availability of the shipping version of RealPlayer with Harmony Technology (previously called RealPlayer 10.5) and a new promotion called Freedom of Choice. During the promotion, individual song downloads from the RealPlayer Music Store will cost just 49 cents and all album downloads will be half price--about $5 to $6 per album. RealNetworks' Harmony Technology lets songs from the RealPlayer Music Store work with previously incompatible devices, including the Apple iPod and the Dell Digital Jukebox (DJ).
"To celebrate Freedom of Choice, we're running the biggest music sale in history," RealNetworks Chairman and CEO Rob Glaser said. "Thanks to RealPlayer with Harmony Technology, consumers can now buy digital songs and play them on virtually any device of their choice. We believe Freedom of Choice is both the right thing for consumers and a crucial step in bringing digital delivery of music into the mainstream."
Thanks to the Harmony Technology, the RealPlayer Music Store is now compatible with more 100 portable devices, far more than the Apple iTunes Music Store, which supports just one device, and other online music stores, which support as many as 70 devices, depending on the service. Apple Computer has pledged to fight back against RealNetworks' "hacker" techniques, although Apple has been short on specifics, and most legal experts agree that RealNetworks' approach to compatibility not only is legal but also has many precedents. Indeed, the PC industry itself started when Compaq legally reverse-engineered IBM's PC BIOS.
RealNetworks will tout the Freedom of Choice message through an extensive online, print, and radio advertising campaign, which includes a full-page ad in today's "The New York Times," and through a new Freedom of Music Choice Web-based community, which the company will use to explain its stance and interact with customers. Public Knowledge, a public-advocacy group that's based in Washington, D.C., has endorsed the campaign.
The title Freedom of Choice is taken from Devo's 1980 hit album of the same name. Not coincidentally, Devo is supporting RealNetworks' campaign to force Apple to open up the iPod. "People should be allowed to play their songs on any device they want," Devo band member Gerald V. Casale said. "As you go through life, moving through time and through space and with friends and here and there, you never know what device you're going to have available to you."
To take advantage of the promotion and to download the new RealPlayer with Harmony Technology, visit the RealNetworks Web site (see the first URL below). To learn more about the Web-based community, visit the Freedom of Music Choice Web site (see the second URL below).

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