An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...
Coming Monday: WinHEC 2005 Longhorn Preview
If you want to keep up to date on Longhorn developments next week, stay tuned to the WinInfo Web site (http://www.wininformant.com). Monday morning at 6:00 am PST, I will be publishing an exhaustive preview of what you can expect to hear about next week at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2005, where Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will provide a Monday morning keynote that shows, details about Longhorn, the next version of Windows. I can't divulge any details yet, but I can say that Microsoft will be releasing a pre-Beta 1 version of Longhorn at the show (which will not include the Aero user interface but is instead aimed at developers only). Later today, I'll also be posting my WinHEC 2005 page on the SuperSite for Windows (http://www.itprotoday.com), which will also be updated regularly throughout the show. Next week will provide us with the first big Longhorn news in a long while, but the rest of the year will be fast-paced, as we race through Beta 1 in the summer, the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2005 Community Technology Preview (CTP) in September, and Beta 2 in the fall. Finally.
Not News: Longhorn Server will be Both 32-bit and 64-bit
Despite the fact that there was never really any question about this, various reports this week noted that Longhorn Server will ship in 32-bit (x86-based) and 64-bit (x64 and Itanium) versions. That's not news. However, this is news: Microsoft expects x64 to become the volume platform for Windows Server as soon as this year, far faster than the transition to x64 is expected to happen on the desktop. By the time Longhorn Server ships, 32-bit versions will basically be around for legacy upgrades only, I bet, while most new installs will happen on x64 hardware. The times they are a changin'.
Microsoft Ships Windows Server 2003 R2 Beta 2: Public Release Next Week
Speaking of Windows Server, Microsoft shipped the Beta 2 milestone of the next version of Windows Server 2003, currently codenamed R2, to beta testers this week. But the company will make this (or a similar) build available to the public next week, I've been told, to coincide with WinHEC 2005. R2 Beta 1 shipped in December 2004, and the final release is expected in Q4 2005. R2 is the first interim Windows Server release in Microsoft's new Windows Server roadmap, and will add support for only a few key features when compared to Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1). I'll have more details about R2 when the public beta ships.
Microsoft Embroiled in Gay Rights Controversy
Microsoft came under fire from gay rights groups this week when it abruptly pulled its support for a Washington state bill that seeks to end sexual orientation discrimination. Gay rights advocates are accusing the company of bowing to pressure from a powerful church in Redmond, the same city in which Microsoft has its main campus. That's curious. I thought Microsoft purchased Christianity 10 years ago.
Symantec Joins the Anti-Spyware Fray
If you're into Symantec security software for some reason, you can check out the public beta of the company's upcoming Norton Internet Security 2005 AntiSpyware Edition suite, a product which could probably use a few more words in its title. Building on the muddled mess that is Norton Internet Security, the new version adds, you guessed it, antipsyware technology, dubbed Norton Spyware Protection. Find out more and grab the free download on Symantec's site. Just don't blame me if its bloated, slow, and annoying.
Adobe Buys Macromedia
Speaking of bloated, slow, and annoying, Adobe this week announced that it was effectively ending all competition in the Web graphics market by purchasing its one rival, Macromedia. The stunning deal, which will cost Adobe $3.2 billion, will lead to the integration of various Adobe and Macromedia products, allowing Adobe to create software suites that will take up more space on your bookshelf than the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit and weigh as much as a 2005 Volkswagen New Beetle (the coupe, not the convertible). Is anyone else freaked out by this purchase?
PC Growth Stronger Than Expected
According to IDC and Gartner who, let's face it, are just about my favorite companies on the planet, PC shipments grew approximately 10 percent in the most recently completed quarter, providing the industry with better than expected growth. IDC says that PC makers shipped 46.1 million units in the quarter, up 10.9 percent from the same quarter a year earlier. Meanwhile, Gartner says the figure is 50.4 million units, up 10.3 percent. Dell remains the biggest PC maker in the world with 16.9 to 18 percent market share, depending on who you ask. In related news, Microsoft group vice president Jim Allchin this week asserted that Windows will be installed on over 730 million PCs by the end of 2005, an astonishing figure. We're going to have to find life on other planets before Microsoft can grow its usage share any further.
Could It Be? A Single Format Next-Gen DVD in the Works
In a blockbuster development that could literally have huge implications for Blockbuster, the DVD rental company, Sony and Toshiba are unexpectedly discussing the possibility of dropping their currently incompatible next-generation DVD formats and pursuing a singe joint high definition DVD standard. My goodness. Are we really learning the lessons of the past for a change? Currently, Sony is backing a next-generation format called Blu-Ray, while Toshiba backs a competing format called HD-DVD. Both formats have their pros and cons, but the biggest problem, of course, is the incompatibility. In the early days of PC-based DVD burning, for example, differences between the so-called "plus" (DVD+R, DVR+RW) and "minus" (DVD-R, DVD-RW) formats slowed adoption and bedeviled consumers. But the high definition DVD stuff is far more important because the market is so much bigger. Will they work it out? Stay tuned. But my guess is that we're going to still face another DVD format war, regardless.
AMD Ships Dual-Core Opterons: Desktop Chips on Tap for June
Following in the steps of Intel, this week chipmaker AMD released its first dual-core chips. The dual-core AMD Opteron chips are aimed at servers, not desktops, but AMD says that it will have dual-core Athlon-64 processors available by June as well, turning up the heat on Intel. Intel, meanwhile, shipped a high-end, desktop-oriented dual core chip earlier this month and will follow that up with cheaper dual-core desktop chips this summer and dual-core server chips next year.
Next Week: WinHEC
:) Did I mention yet that WinHEC was next week? There will be lots of news, so stay tuned!