An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including Microsoft's incredible but overdue revelations about Windows 8 on ARM devices, why the tech press is wrong to deride Nokia for not having a Plan B, a hypocritical Barnes & Noble won't let antitrust claims against Microsoft sit, the Xbox 360 continues to reign over a sad and diminished industry, an ironic Ethical iPhone movement sweeps across a hypocritical world, and Google is making a consumer electronics device that is not in any way interesting.
I'm in a mood this morning. Strap in.
WOA! Look Out Apple, Microsoft is Getting the Tablet Right
After months of silly silence in the face of hundreds of legitimate questions from customers, businesses, developers, and the tech press, Microsoft suddenly and unexpected unveiled (most of) its plans for ARM-based Windows 8 tablets. I've got the details (of course) in Microsoft Finally Explains Windows 8 on ARM: Desktop and Office 15 Applications Will Be Included, as well as an accompanying screenshot gallery. But the big takeaway here is simple. Windows on ARM, or "WOA," as Microsoft calls it, looks like more than a credible answer to the iPad. In fact, it looks like something that will relegate the iPad to the backwater of the tablet market, much as Windows did to the Mac. And they will ship with full, but touch-enabled, versions of the coming Office 15 apps, which should be a neat final nail in the coffin of those overpriced luxury items from Cupertino. Last year, the Kindle Fire proved that a low-priced device could quickly chip away at the iPad's dominance. This year, ARM-based Windows 8 tablets are going to accelerate the iPad's decline. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. This is a big deal, people. The only question is why Microsoft sat on this for so long. Windows on ARM looks awesome.
Why the Tech Press is Biased, Part 281: Nokia Has No "Fallback Plan"
If I were to tell you that Microsoft had no "fallback plan" in the OS market in the sense that, if Windows suddenly nosedived, they weren't secretly working on a version of Linux or something, you'd quickly intuit that this statement was ludicrous. So why is it OK to claim that Nokia, which embraced Windows Phone as its smart phone OS last year, likewise has no "fallback plan"? That's exactly what the tech press is doing this week, based on a comment from Nokia vice president Victor Saeijes, who replied "Plan B is that Plan A must succeed" when asked whether there was a Plan B. Why would there be a Plan B? And why is it OK to criticize this company for having a plan? They're not RIM for crying out loud. That company's Plan A is to continue failing with the same strategy it's always used. Nokia, at least, has made a big bet. Now back off.
Barnes & Noble Seeks Reversal in Microsoft Ruling
Those prickly never-pay-for-patented-technology eBook reader makers at Barnes & Noble just won't let the Microsoft thing drop. The company this week said it would seek a reversal of a US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling that dismissed B&N's antitrust-based "patent misuse" claim against the software giant. Heads-up, Barnes & Noble: That claim is so 1998, and the Microsoft of today is many, many miles away from the recalcitrant industry behemoth that wrecked other businesses 15 years ago. In fact, if I'm mistaken, the last time you were in the news, it was for putting independent, small book stores out of business. So pay up, or answer in court, and stop the whining. And you had to know Android was pretty risky. You didn't really think it was free, did you?
Making Lemonade: Xbox 360 Still Number One in January, But the Video Game Market has Imploded
Imagine you've just won a nuclear war, but the entire planet has been destroyed. That's the Xbox 360 in January 2012. Microsoft this week crowed that its video game console was number one yet again in January, and number one for all of 2011. But the Xbox 360 rules over a decidedly unhealthy market, with video game industry revenues plunging an unprecedented 38 percent, year over year. Analysts, weighing in from their ivory towers, say the slide had a lot to do with the lack of any major new games being released in January, though I'd point out that the month after Christmas is generally a slow release time for any consumer products. See how easy it is to "analyze" this? Frankly, I'm amazed anyone bought an Xbox 360 in January, let alone one of its even more lackluster competitors. It's only a matter of time before Wii consoles are falling out of cereal boxes. This generation of devices is spiraling down the drain.
Irony Alert: Ethical iPhone Movement Sweeps Across the World
This is what happens when a significant chunk of the population is unemployed and has nothing to do: They pretend to care where, and in what conditions, in which their expensive digital baubles are made. It's cute, and it's silly, but yes, Apple really is the biggest offender here, by far, since its products are incredibly successful. And Apple, unlike its competitors, goes way out of its way to claim they're ethically made when in fact they're not, which should be a warning sign. The issue here is simple: Apple makes absolutely illogical margins on its popular electronic devices almost solely because they're made in Chinese sweatshops where workers are ill-paid, overworked, and, go figure, have a curiously high suicide rate. And now some of its many fans are starting to see the irony in Apple's squeaky-clean image, though I'd frankly point the finger at them for taking so long to notice. I mean, where did you think these things came from? Did you believe Unicorns were building them in their spare time between rainbow parties? I bet Apple could make every single one of its devices in the US, using high-priced US workers, and still make a heady profit. Will they do it? Of course not. And that's everything you need to know about Apple in a nutshell. Now either live with that fact, or don't. But don't pretend Apple is doing anything differently than other companies or that you actually care about people in China. And for crying out loud, don't upgrade your unnecessary consumer electronic devices every single year as if on cue. Again, the problem isn't Apple. It's you, the Apple customer. Think globally, please. But act locally. Stop buying crap you do not need.
Google Working on Vague Consumer Electronics Device
And speaking of crap you do not need, Google is in the news this week because it is allegedly working on "a home entertainment device" that would move the company further into Apple's core market of abusing Chinese workers. But where are the details? According to a New York Times report, the device is Google's "most significant venture into hardware." It will stream music at first, and eventually do more. So ... what? They're making a Roku device? Seriously, does every company in the tech industry have to just copy what every other company is doing? Do I really need to remind you that Google is responsible for Google TV, a series of devices so bad that it actually punished its users more than the Chinese workers who made it? Are we really going to pretend to be interested or excited by this product? No. We are not.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
This week, Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Mary Jo Foley, Leo Laporte and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available now or soon, generally in both audio in video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
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