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WinInfo Short Takes, December 30, 2010

An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...

Windows Phone 7 Easily Surpasses WebOS App Milestone, Has More Than 5,000 Apps

Windows Phone 7 is already the number-four player in the smartphone market, from an apps-availability perspective: The platform already has more than 5,000 apps available, just two and a half months after launch. That's enough to catapult it ahead of the moribund Palm webOS platform, and within striking distance of Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry, which has 10,000 apps. Although I think Windows Phone will surpass BlackBerry in a matter of months, it has a ways to go before it can even dream of taking on the top two players in the market: The iPhone (iOS) has more than 300,000 available apps, and Android has more than 200,000. Still, the point was always to be a player, and it's fair to say that Windows Phone will be number three in 2011, just as I expected.

Hacker Cracks Windows Phone DRM

In the bad news department, hackers have already cracked the digital rights management (DRM) scheme in Windows Phone by stripping the protection from the trial version of an app and unlocking the full (and normally paid-for) version. The crack is just a proof-of-concept, but it demonstrates how possible it is to promote software piracy on the Windows Phone platform, at least until Microsoft gets around to fixing the hole. Which, based on its current Windows Phone update schedule, could be sometime in late 2012. If we're lucky.

Facebook More Popular than Google in 2010; Bing Jumps into Top Ten

According to Hitwise, was the most visited website in the United States in 2010, with 8.9 percent of all web traffic, and up from its number-three position the year before. Google fell from the top spot to number two, with 7.2 percent of traffic. Rounding out the top five are Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo!, and YouTube. Microsoft didn't fare too poorly either: was number six, Hotmail was number eight, and was number ten (and is new to the list this year).

Paul "Patent Troll" Allen Re-Files Suits Against Tech Companies

You know that uncle that used to be cool when he was young but then turned into a curiously bitter old guy? That's Paul Allen. He cofounded Microsoft. He's beaten cancer ... twice. He's heavily involved in philanthropic ventures, having given away millions of his fortune. And he's also one of the lamest patent trolls on Earth. Weeks after his frivolous patent-infringement lawsuit against several tech companies was thrown out of court, he's back with a re-filed version of the suit, and this one actually specifies what it is that Allen thinks he owns. And get this—it's "related links." That's right: Paul Allen owns a patent on a list of links that are related to the currently viewed web page. I hope I've made my position on this matter clear enough in the past, but regardless, let's review. This patent system is broken. And it needs to be fixed.

Oops! Mozilla Coughs Up User Data

And you thought Facebook was a privacy disaster! Mozilla this week acknowledged that it inadvertently published the usernames and passwords of more than 44,000 of its users to a public website. But don't worry, Mozilla says: This issue poses minimal risk to users. "We were able to account for every download of the database," Mozilla Director of Infrastructure Security Chris Lyon said. "As a precaution, we felt we should disclose this issue to people affected and err on the side of disclosure." Mozilla disabled all the affected accounts, though the real issue here, as I see it, is that most people foolishly use the same username/password combos on multiple accounts, so it's possible for anyone in possession of this list to attempt to use those combos on other, more damaging sites. If you're wondering whether you're among the disclosed, don't worry, as Mozilla notified everyone involved privately.

iPad Digital Magazine Sales Do Not Materialize

I'm not sure which bozo first came up with the nonsensical idea that the iPad was going to be the "savior" of the magazine industry, but let's just say it didn't happen. Months after numerous magazines went digital and offered their wares to iPad users, none have taken off in any material way. In fact, virtually all of them have fallen off a cliff. According to recent figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, digital magazine sales on iPad have steadily declined all year, suggesting that the initial burst of interest was overcome by the actual limitations of the device, which can't be read outside and is otherwise reflective in most lighting conditions. Most of the high profile magazines are seeing 20 percent readership drops month-over-month by the end of 2010, as well. I suspect they'll see a little bump in January thanks to all the lemmings who foolishly bought iPads for the holidays, but then it should settle back into the normal lull. Two obvious fixes: A new, less reflective screen (which won't help current users) and lower prices; most iPad-based magazines are just too expensive. You know, like the iPad itself.

Happy New Year!

Windows IT Pro is taking Friday off to celebrate the New Year, and that explains the early delivery of Short Takes again this week. We'll be back next week. Happy New Year!

This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast

Leo and I will record the last new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast for 2010 later today (Thursday) at the usual time. The new episode should become available by the weekend on the Zune Marketplace, in iTunes, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog.

My next book, Windows Phone Secrets is now available in bookstores everywhere.

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