WinInfo Short Takes, June 1, 2012

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

Surprising New Feature in IE 10: Do Not Track, On by Default

I thought I had a handle on all the new stuff in the Windows 8 Release Preview—indeed, you can check out my 16 new articles about this release, with more coming today, on the SuperSite for Windows—but Microsoft surprised me by slipping one in under my radar: Internet Explorer (IE) 10, part of Windows 8, will be the first browser to ship with Do Not Track functionality embedded and enabled by default. “We believe in putting people first,” Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch noted in a blog post. “Consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared, and used.” Sadly, the Digital Advertising Alliance believes in putting advertisers first and has already complained that browser makers should not enable Do Not Track by default. Say what you will about Microsoft, but the company is right about this one. People always come first. Always.

Skype CEO Talks Microsoft, Integration, and Windows Phone … And Basically Reveals That Skype Has Done Nothing

There were a lot of people expecting a big Microsoft splash at the Apple-centric D10 Conference this week, but with Skype CEO Tony Bates as the only (sort of) Microsoft executive in attendance, I knew that wouldn’t happen. Bates didn’t let me down. He vaguely praised Microsoft, the ongoing efforts to integrate Skype into every single Microsoft product on Earth, and Windows Phone, sure. But he didn’t say anything of substance, and the net takeaway was that—one year after Microsoft’s mammoth $8.5 billion purchase of Skype—the two companies have done exactly jack squat. “We're going to double-down on integration with Windows 8,” he said, whatever that means. As for Windows Phone, Bates said that he wouldn’t describe the platform as the one that’s “most important” to Skype (a ringing endorsement) but that it was “very exciting because of that people-centric nature.” Yawning yet? No? Bates says he “hopes” Skype can “add value” to Windows Phone—no promises, now—and then went on to say that mobile, generally, was the most important market to Skype. Not Windows Phone, mind you. Mobile. Looks like someone didn’t get the memo. But just in case you thought Bates was the most clueless person on stage that day, I’ll point you to D10’s Kara Swisher, who appears to have about as much tech acumen as my mother. She actually asked Bates if he thought he’d run Microsoft one day. So Bates joked about how Microsoft’s Kinect wasn’t even a “goal” of his for the year. OK, I gotta walk away from this one.

Apple Still Dominates … Chinese Workers

Speaking of D10, the grandparents of tech—Walter Mossberg and Ms. Swisher—correctly came under fire this week for having Apple CEO Tim Cook on stage and fawning over him like a demigod instead of holding his feet to the fire for his company’s human rights abuses in China. And while Cook may have gotten off Scott free at D10, the timing of a new report this week by Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) won’t be as easy to ignore. According to the report, absolutely nothing has changed at the Chinese factories that make all of Apple’s hardware products despite a lot of rhetoric from the consumer electronics giant and Cook earlier in the year. Workers in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou are still subject to long shifts, low pay, routine humiliation, dangerous work conditions, and cramped and harsh dormitory conditions. But hey, at least they’re making those pretty iPads. The factories—which are owned by Foxconn and also make significantly fewer products for companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Sony, and others—came to some infamy last year after a spate of suicides led to the mainstream media finally taking note. As for Apple, no worries: Despite roughly 50 percent margins, it has no plans to stop making its electronics in the cheapest place on Earth.

Google Files EU Patent Complaint Against Microsoft and Nokia

Google on Thursday filed a complaint with antitrust regulators in the European Commission (EC), alleging that Microsoft and Nokia are patent trolls that are “colluding” to raise the prices of mobile devices. Which is rich coming from the company that steals other companies’ technologies and gives them away for free in Android. But I digress. “Nokia and Microsoft should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices,” a Google spokesperson said, apparently unaware that the exact same phrase has been used against Google. That’s OK, Microsoft will set Google straight. “Google is complaining about patents when it won't respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials, and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95 percent of mobile search and advertising,” a Microsoft statement notes. (You’ll have to picture the “dripping in sarcasm” stuff for yourself.) Meanwhile, Nokia—which, like Microsoft, and unlike Google, has actually been investing in its own intellectual property for decades—basically laughed off the complaint and “avoided wasting the commission's time and resources on such a frivolous complaint.” Yep, that’s pretty much how I see this one too. Moving on.

StatCounter Is At It Again, Claiming that Chrome Beat IE in May

Although Microsoft has already explained why StatCounter’s methodologies skew browser-usage results and StatCounter has, in turn, defended its methodology, you can expect a renewed version of this battle to step up in the coming days, as StatCounter is now claiming that Google Chrome beat Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) to become the most-used web browser in the world last month. According to the firm, Chrome commanded 32.43 percent of the browser market in May, compared with 32.12 percent for IE, or what most people would describe as “exactly the same amount.” Of course, given how StatCounter skews things, it’s equally clear that IE was actually the most-used browser in May. How skewed is StatCounter, you ask? According to the more reliable NetApplications, IE controlled 54 percent of the market in May, compared with … wait for it … 20 percent for Chrome. Chrome for the win!

Windows Phone 8 Screen Resolutions Revealed?

Back in February, I was able to confirm a report in PocketNow that described numerous new features in Windows Phone 8, the coming Windows 8-based version of Microsoft’s smartphone platform. (See Windows Phone 8 Preview for details.) And though I knew then that Windows Phone 8 would support four different display resolutions, what I didn’t—still don’t—know is which resolutions it would support. But this week, Daniel Rubino of WPCentral makes a compelling case for what he believes these resolutions to be: 640 x 480, 800 x 480 (the current resolution of Windows Phone 7), 1280 x 720, and 1280 x 768. I’m surprised one of those isn’t 1366 x 768, the “optimal” resolution of Windows 8 PCs and devices. But I’m even more surprised that one of them is lower than the current Windows Phone 7 resolution, given the complaints about how today’s Windows Phone handsets somehow don’t match up well against higher-resolution iPhones and Android handsets. (That’s a BS argument, but whatever.) Anyway, we should know soon: Microsoft is holding a Windows Phone 8 developer event later this month.

Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!

For the second week in a row, my podcast schedule got a bit mixed up. Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday at the regular time. And then Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast later in the afternoon, two days later than usual. 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

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TAGS: Windows 8
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