WinInfo Daily UPDATE, December 30, 2004

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Short Takes

- Microsoft Continues to Lose Passport Partners
- Now Available: Exploits for Those Unpatched Windows Flaws
- Sirius, XM Add Subscribers
- What Microsoft Is Doing in 2005
- AOL Members: What Spam?
- Commodore Brand Sold Yet Again
- Microsoft Cancels Itanium Version of Windows XP
- Happy New Year!

==== Short Takes ====

An often-irreverent look at some of the week's other stories, by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Continues to Lose Passport Partners

Once envisioned as the ultimate single sign-on (SSO) solution for Internet users, Microsoft's Passport system has fallen into massive disuse on non-Microsoft Web sites and services, and this week, one of the company's few remaining partners dropped the technology. Online auctioneer eBay announced this week that it would stop supporting the Microsoft Passport SSO service, forcing Microsoft to acknowledge that Passport has been a failure. The software giant also revealed that it will stop trying to persuade sites to use the technology. Contrary to some reports I've read, competition from the Liberty Alliance--which proposes a Passport alternative--had nothing to do with Passport's demise. Instead, customer apathy and a general distrust of using a Microsoft service to contain private information doomed the service. In typical Microsoft fashion, the company tried to drive Passport use by bundling the service with a popular product--in this case, MSN Hotmail--but few customers actually used Passport for anything valuable and the service languished. I don't think I'm alone in bidding Passport adieu without any regret whatsoever. It was a solution in search of a problem.

Now Available: Exploits for Those Unpatched Windows Flaws

Just in the time for the holidays, Symantec warned its customers this week that Chinese hackers have exploited two of the three recently revealed Windows flaws, paving the way for potentially devastating online attacks against virtually all Windows users. I think I've already compared our attitude about these kinds of events to the British during the London Blitz of World War II, so I won't belabor the point again. But maybe we could get a patch ahead of the regularly scheduled monthly security update cycle.

Sirius, XM Add Subscribers

Satellite radio suppliers Sirius and XM Radio hit new subscriber records in December, thanks in part to higher-than-expected holiday sales. Sirius surpassed the 1 million subscriber mark, a figure the company promised it would hit by the end of the year. And XM Radio now has more than 3.1 million subscribers, making it the most popular service. Although these numbers are impressive, I think the success of satellite radio speaks to a much more general trend in music consumption, which is that consumers are increasingly turning to subscription-based services over a la carte music downloads. After consumer awareness of these schemes become more pervasive, I expect subscription services to ultimately kill off most music sales.

What Microsoft Is Doing in 2005

Author Stephen Bink has compiled a cool list of the products that Microsoft plans to ship in 2005, including Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows 2003 Release 2 (R2), Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Longhorn Beta 1, and others. You can find the full list at the URL below.

AOL Members: What Spam?

Say what you will about AOL users, but they probably get less spam now than you do. AOL this week revealed that it has seen a marked decrease in spam traffic on its email network, due largely to a concentrated effort to end spam by both technological and legal means. By late 2004, AOL says that it was blocking more than half the spam that tried to reach its users before the spam hit the internal email network. And the number of spam messages diverted to AOL users' spam folders fell 60 percent when compared with the same time period a year earlier. Overall, AOL email traffic has improved 22 percent thanks to the company's spam-fighting tactics. And although AOL users reported 11 million spam messages to AOL in November 2003, they reported only 2.2 million in November 2004. My goodness. Is it possible that AOL will go from being the most ridiculed ISP in the country to being the most revered? No, it's not possible.

Commodore Brand Sold Yet Again

Will the humiliation of my most beloved computer brands never end? It's bad enough that Amiga has changed hands more often than an email chain letter. But Amiga's one-time parent company, Commodore, is now facing a similar fate. This week, Netherlands-based Tulip Computers, which purchased the Commodore brand a few years ago, sold the brand to a California music distributor named Yeahronimo Media Ventures for $32.6 million. Oh, the shame. Yeahronimo will sell portable audio players with the Commodore name on them, the company said, and will look into selling Commodore-branded computers. Seriously, guys, stop messing with my memories.

Microsoft Cancels Itanium Version of Windows XP

Neowin ( reports that Microsoft is canceling its plans for the Itanium version of XP (the last time I spoke with Microsoft about this product, the company was still planning to release a service pack for the existing version). "Because Windows on x64 systems delivers excellent flexibility and choice, while also enabling a smooth migration from 32-bit to 64-bit applications, Microsoft believes Windows for Itanium-based systems is a stronger offering in the high-end server market. As such, Microsoft has made the decision to focus its investments in research and development on its x64 (64-bit extended) architecture and discontinue further investments in the Itanium architecture for workstations," the software giant told Neowin. I'm sure that the six guys running the Itanium version of XP are going to be really upset about this.

Happy New Year!

Sorry for the short Short Takes this week, but it's been a slow news week in addition to being a short week--plus I'm on vacation. In any event, WinInfo Daily UPDATE will be back in full force next week, and I'll be heading to Las Vegas with Keith Furman to cover the epic Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2005, which promises to be the biggest trade show we've ever attended. Be safe over the holiday weekend.

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