WinInfo Daily - Short Takes: Week of February 6

WinInfo Daily - Short Takes: Week of February 6

I get a lot of email. In fact, I get so much email that I can't answer it all anymore. This week my wife actually got some fan mail for me and forwarded it to me with her usual sardonic wit. Sometimes, the good stuff falls through the cracks. Traditional email solutions don't apply to me because much of my mail is from people I've never communicated with before, so my white lists aren't as effective. And I use so many different computers it's hard to keep it all synchronized. I've complained about email for years but the truth is there's no good solution, at least not yet. I just mention it every once in a while when it gets particularly bad, as in my email account hasn't responded or been able to send mail in days or in a lame bid for sympathy from those wondering why I never write back.

I also tend to live on the edge a bit when it comes to software. I've been using Microsoft Office 12 on my main desktops and notebooks since late last year on a regular basis and I've traveled with Office 12 three times so far. It's fairly stable, but Outlook 12 suddenly coughed up a hairball last week and is now marking every word I type as a spelling error using those squiggly red lines, thus making the spell check feature useless. And don't get me started on Windows Vista. I'm working on a Vista book and I've had to reinstall Vista on my main desktop three separate times this week. It's a real time suck. There's also a side issue. I'm testing Windows OneCare Live on the same machine so I don't get the usual spam protection from ZoneAlarm Security Suite. So I seem to get only spam. Sigh. 

Between manually picking spam out of my Inbox and working on my new book I've spent a bit of time slightly redesigning the SuperSite for Windows this week. I hope it's cleaner looking. But there's a big organizational problem at the SuperSite. There's just too much content. And it's not clear how well one can sort out that many articles by using just a few sections such as FAQ Reviews and Tech Showcases. One idea I've contemplated is simply having a page for each product as with the Microsoft Xbox and Windows Vista activity centers I now use. So I'd have a single XP page, for example, with all of the associated XP articles, FAQs, reviews and showcases linked from that page. Such an organization might ultimately make a lot more sense. Let me know what you think. Of course, I might never get your email, see above.

The other problem with the SuperSite, of course, is that it is too Microsoft-like. Or was, I guess. Many people seem to think that the site is sponsored by Microsoft or at least condoned in some way. That's not the case. The SuperSite is completely independent of Microsoft, though of course, I have a lot of great contacts and friends at the company and I do prefer to maintain a good working relationship with Microsoft for obvious reasons. That doesn't mean I won't slam a product when it's deserved (reference Media Center in Windows Vista build 5231 for an obvious example or just tell it like it is). Critics might not create but they can affect.

Since we're speaking of emai,l or were a little while ago, I should mention that my favorite message this week (actually it was from a few weeks ago) said I was uptight and elitist. I still laugh when I think about that. In fact, I might work the phrase into my tagline somehow. "WinInfo: Uptight and elitist since 1994," or "WinInfo: Your source of uptight and elitist Windows news and information." Something like that.

Pet peeve: The word ironic is almost never used correctly and most of the times it is used the word coincidental would be the right way to go. For example, it wouldn't be ironic if Bill Gates got a virus. But it would be coincidental and heck funny because he's the cofounder of Microsoft. I'm always on the lookout for things that truly qualify as ironic. Ironically, there aren't many good examples.

Vista Will Not Ship in a Single Media Version

A few weeks back, reports emerged that Microsoft planned to ship a single Windows Vista media disk so that users could upgrade to the various product editions using the disk and wouldn't have to purchase different versions or download code. Those reports, it turns out, weren't correct. Instead, Microsoft will make Vista available under the new Windows Anytime Upgrade license which lets customers upgrade to different Vista product editions at will. However, Microsoft hasn't specified how this system will work, presumably it will be a Web download or perhaps even a DVD order. I'll supply more info as it becomes available.

Not News: Sidebar Will Be in Next Vista CTP

For some reason a number of news sites determined it was news this week to point out that the February Community Technology Preview (CTP) release of Vista will include the Windows Sidebar. Obviously, the February CTP is a feature complete CTP and will include all Vista features. So one might also write an article stating that the February CTP will include other features we've not yet seen such as DVD Maker. Or let's write a story saying that the sky is blue, i's just about as obvious. Actually, it's raining here today but you get my point.

Patent Infringement Case Figures in Office Upgrade Push

I've gotten a couple of email messages recently from readers telling me that their companies had to upgrade Microsoft Office because of some patent dispute. I originally wrote off their claims as urban myth, but it turns out there's something to it. In June 2005, a California jury found that a feature in Office infringes on a patent owned by a Guatemalan inventor Carlos Armando Amado. Every version of Office since Office 95 includes this feature, which lets Microsoft Excel connect to Microsoft Access databases. Amado received almost 9 million in the case and Microsoft was forced to remove the feature from Office. Currently supported Office versions, Office 2003 and Office XP, have to be upgraded to the latest service packs to remove the infringing technology. Microsoft has been contacting its enterprise customers to make sure they upgrade. So much for my urban myth explanation.

Man Sentenced for Stealing Windows Source Code 

A man who attempted to sell the source code for Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 on the Internet was sentenced late last week in Connecticut to 2 years in prison. US District Judge William H. Pauley called the man, William Genovese Jr, "a predator who has morphed through various phases of criminal activity in the last few years." Genovese had obtained the source code illegally on the Internet after Microsoft's network was supposedly hacked back in 2003. Microsoft says it wasn't hacked and doesn't know how the source code was disseminated. Law enforcement officials immediately descended on Genovese when he offered the code for sale online. Yeah, he's a dope. And yeah, now he's doing the time.

New Intel Core Based Laptops Plagued by XP Power Management Bug

While Apple's recently announced Intel based Macs were getting big press over the past few weeks, the real world was waiting for Windows notebooks that use Intel's Core Duo and Core Solo processors. You might want to keep waiting. Apparently, there's a bizarre bug in Windows XP that causes Core based notebooks to lose battery life quickly when a USB 2.0 device such as a mouse printer or MP3 player is connected to the machine. Microsoft says it's looking into the situation but the company has actually known about the problem since last July. Yes, seriously.

Small Re-Org at Microsoft

This week Microsoft combined its Exchange Server and Real Time Collaboration business units into a new group called the Unified Communications Group. Anoop Gupta, who previously headed the Real Time Collaboration unit, will lead the new group which will be part of the same division as Microsoft Office. This reorganization makes a lot of sense when you think about i.t Communication is communication, no matter what method you use and the lines between telephone, email, IM, video conferencing and Web based meetings are getting more blurred by the day.

Microsoft Talks Blog Shutdowns 

You might recall that Microsoft last month buckled instantly under pressure from China which had demanded that the software giant block Microsoft hosted blogs that violate China's stringent anti-human rights laws. Since doing so and absorbing heaps of criticism from around the globe, Microsoft has decided to alter its blog shutdown policies. Now instead of simply shutting down blogs at the request of countries such as China, Microsoft will make the blogs unavailable in that particular country. When users in such a country try to visit a closed blog, instead of seeing a generic error message, they'll see a message explaining why the blog was shut down. Although I applaud Microsoft's somewhat altered stance on this issue, I have to wonder why the company couldn't move as quickly to meet the legal demands of the European Union (EU). China says "Jump!" and Microsoft asks "How high?" The EU says "Provide competitors with technical information about your server products" and Microsoft says "Define information" and then stalls for 11 months. Weird.

Google's Earnings Disappoint 

Omniperfect Internet company Google came crashing back to Earth, or at least into the ionosphere, this week when its quarterly profits failed to excite investors. These same investors apparently, suddenly realizing that Google's insanely high stock price was unjustified by its single successful service and a lackluster set of Windows applications, sent Google's stock price on a nice little nosedive after its earnings announcement. However, this is Google we're talking about so even though the stock fell 30.88 in one day it still closed north of 400. And you thought the Internet bubble had burst.

Google Toolbar 4 Beta 

And speaking of everyone's favorite search giant, Google this week shipped a beta version of Google Toolbar 4, a Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) add on that offers several new features including user configurable buttons, bookmarks, search suggestions and blogging integration. Yep, this is about as sophisticated as Google gets folks. If you're into the whole IE toolbar thing check out the new toolbar on the Google Web

PortalPlayer Builds Hardware for Vista s Sideshow Feature

Though Apple gets all the credit for the success of the iPod, the company never could have done it without a little known company called PortalPlayer which designed the original iPod hardware. Now PortalPlayer is back with another cool new hardware product called Preface which is essentially an auxiliary display for notebook computers and tablet PCs. It sits on the outside facing lid of such a computer and lets the user interact with PC software even when the PC is asleep. Preface has its own OS processor and memory so it's much smarter than standard auxiliary displays but it's also completely compatible with the SideShow feature in Vista. PortalPlayer says that Preface will add only a few dollars to the cost of each notebook but that's a small price to pay for what you get Instant access to email, calendar items, IM messages and other data. Sounds good to me!

Firefox 1.5.01 Ships 

This week Mozilla shipped a small update to its Firefox 1.5 Web browser. Firefox 1.5.01 improves stability, adds international domain name support for Iceland, fixes memory leaks and enhances security. Most Firefox 1.5 installations will automatically download the update but if you want to manually install it you can head on over to the Mozilla Web site. Either way, you should obviously grab it today.

TAGS: Windows 8
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