An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
EU to Google: Make Changes to Your Mobile Services
The Financial Times is reporting that antitrust regulators in the European Union (EU) have demanded that Google make “sweeping changes” to its mobile services or face formal charges of abuse. Regulators from the European Commission (EC) are currently trying to negotiate a settlement to the months-long charges with Google, but this week’s action apparently signals that the EU is tired of waiting. The Financial Times reports that the EU will give Google a few weeks to respond in a satisfactory manner. The EC had no comment on the report, but Google said that it was “working cooperatively with the European Commission.” Someone should tell the EC that.
We’re Going to Be Swimming in Touch-Capable Windows 8 PCs
Tech enthusiasts might be wary of Windows 8, but PC makers know a hit when they see one: Intel says that PC makers will ship an incredible 140 Ultrabooks for Windows 8 in the months ahead. But the big news is that more than 40 of those will be multitouch-capable, and more than 12 will feature convertible-screen designs that allow the machines to transform between laptop and tablet form factors. (There will also be more than 20 Windows 8 tablets running Intel’s Clover Trail Atom processor.) And if you’ve been waiting for Ultrabook prices to come down—remember, Intel specifies that these machines should cost an average $999, about $999 less than your typical Macbook—then I’ve got good news on that front, too. The expected low-end price for a Windows 8-based Ultrabook should be $600 or less. Ah, the sweet smell of choice.
Windows Phone to Double Usage Share in 2012
Which sounds awesome—I mean, who doesn’t love 200 percent growth?—until you realize that this means that Windows Phone will go from 2 percent of the market in 2011 to 4 percent in 2012. Moving on.
Microsoft Hires Political Strategist to Push Consumer Products
Microsoft has made an interesting hire this week in Mark Penn, a former political strategist, pollster, and public relations firm CEO who is now forming a “SWAT team” to fix Microsoft’s perception problems with consumers. Penn will report directly to CEO Steve Ballmer, meaning he won’t have to deal with any BS from Microsoft’s many vice presidents, and his initial focus will be on the Bing search engine. (Just a guess: His first recommendation will involve the name of the service.) And he does have a record of success: He helped the US government convict Microsoft of antitrust abuses a decade ago.
Potential Ship Dates for Microsoft’s Upcoming Products
With Microsoft set to release major updates to virtually all of its core products, a lot of people are starting to wonder what the actual release dates are. Sure, we know that Windows Server 2012 will debut in September, and Microsoft said this week that Windows 8 would ship to customers on October 26. But what about the other products? Mary Jo Foley says most of it is happening in the months ahead. Visual Studio 2012 will release to manufacturing (RTM) in August and shipping in September. Windows Phone 8 will follow the path of its predecessors and RTM in September and ship to customers in November. And Office 15 will RTM in November and then ship in February 2013, about three months earlier than the last schedule I heard. Kind of makes me wonder if that May 2013 date is for Office for iPad.
AT&T Cuts Price of Nokia Lumia 900 to $50
When AT&T offered the high-end Nokia Lumia 900 for a bargain-basement price of just $99 in April, some (Apple- and Google-friendly) tech blogs howled in protest, claiming the price was “too low,” with some even going so far as to suggest this pricing “cheapened” the Windows Phone brand. And when the Lumia 900 proved a hit for Nokia, they tried to find some other way to discredit the product, finally resting on the “it can’t be upgraded to Windows Phone 8” baloney that Nokia this week said didn’t impact sales in the slightest. Well, Sunday, AT&T cut the price to $49.99, and the howling has begun again, with these same clueless clowns claiming that the price cut is coming (get this) because of the Windows Phone 8 brouhaha, and that Lumias must not be selling well. Wrong again. Instead, we’re at the halfway point between the April release of the Lumia 900 and the October launch of Windows Phone 8 and the Lumia 900’s successors. That’s it. There’s no other reason. Sorry.
Microsoft Completes Its Acquisition of Yammer
Or as I call it, another $1.2 billion down the drain.
Story of the Decade: Apple Forced to Publicly Admit that Samsung Did Not Copy Its Product Designs
Apple has been pursuing a very particular legal strategy against Samsung, which it accuses of bald-faced copying in both its smartphone and tablet products. But a UK court has issued a delicious verdict that will trigger a smile on anyone out there who’s just a bit tired of Apple’s smug self-righteousness and hypocrisy. This week, a UK judged ruled that Samsung did not copy the design of the iPad when it created its own tablet. And it has ordered Apple to publish a notice of this fact on its website and in British newspaper ads for six months. Microsoft fans will delight in this last bit, too: Apple lawyers argued that this note would be like advertising a competing product. Which, when you think about it, is exactly what Microsoft has to do with its ridiculous browser ballot screen in Windows 7. I’m sure Apple was all hot and bothered about that little decision, eh?
Google Comes In On Target with Quarterly Earnings
Online advertising giant Google posted net income of $2.79 billion on revenues of $12.21 billion, just about meeting expectations. But there are troubling signs for the company: Prices on ads have declined, and Google hasn’t seen as big a bump form mobile advertising as expected. And Motorola Mobility, now part of Google, is basically a cash toilet, from what I can tell. Actually, it’s not just me: Motorola’s $233 million loss on just $1.25 billion in revenue during that period was called “frightening” and “ugly” by analysts, and these guys cover Nokia and Research In Motion (RIM). But let’s not get distracted by Google’s mobile moves. Its core business—its only business, really—is becoming a less lucrative business. And maybe that will finally force Google to focus. Perhaps it will focus on something more meaningful and technologically interesting than ads.
Microsoft’s aQuantive Write-Down and Quarterly Results, In Perspective
When Microsoft revealed recently that it would write down $6.2 billion due to its 2007 purchase of aQuantive, you didn’t need math expertise to figure out that it was going to lead to the software giant’s first-ever quarterly loss. Looking back on its previous four quarters, for example, you can see that Microsoft’s profits were $6.37 billion, $6.62 billion, $5.74 billion, and $5.23 billion, in reverse chronological order. But, aside from this one-time charge, the quarter was actually fairly exceptional, especially when you realize that Microsoft is on the verge of upgrading every single one of its major product lines. Don’t forget to read my news story about the results, "Microsoft Posts Record Quarterly Revenues," which, unlike most other posts about this event, didn’t go for the non-story/sensationalistic headline.
Microsoft Improves the Security of Xbox LIVE
Microsoft this week documented changes it has made to Xbox LIVE security and actions it has taken to protect user security via a public letter on its Xbox.com Blog. But the part you really need to pay attention to is the bit about what you can do to make sure your Xbox LIVE account is secure. These include checking and updating your security information, including the addition of security proofs that will make it harder for a hacker to compromise your account.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available 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.
The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?
The Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech app is now available for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too. Download for Windows Phone - Download for iPhone
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