WinInfo Short Takes: Week of August 23, 2010

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

Inexplicably, Intel Buys McAfee

And get this, Intel actually paid money for the company—big money!—as in $7.68 billion. And what does a microprocessor giant like Intel want with a security software firm like McAfee? I was hoping Intel planned to simply perform some amazing public service for the industry and just close the thing down, but according to the company, it's because "security is now a fundamental component of online computing" and "today's security approach does not fully address the billions of new Internet-ready devices connecting, including mobile and wireless devices, TVs, cars, medical devices, and ATM machines, as well as the accompanying surge in cyber threats." Um, what? Not nonsensical enough. Try this one on for size: "Intel has elevated the priority of security to be on par with its strategic focus areas in energy-efficient performance and Internet connectivity." Wow. And I thought Intel made chips.

Sorry, Haters, Steve Ballmer One of the Top "Over-Achieving" CEOs

It's become almost too easy to criticize Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer these days, and even Microsoft employees are (supposedly) anonymously calling for his ouster. The thing is, there's actually plenty of evidence that the guy is doing a great job. And the latest example comes this week from Money magazine, which conducted an interesting survey in which it looked at companies that out-performed the S&P 500 over the past year, then listed their CEOs, in order, by salary. And when you look at this list—shocker—Ballmer does great, coming in at number 6 on the list of the top 15 CEOs. Only two tech-industry CEOs outperform him, both artificially: Apple CEO Steve Jobs (since he gets "paid" only $1 per year) and Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell, who was paid $963,623, but of course came out of semi-retirement to help put his company back on track. Ballmer earned $1.3 million last year, in case you're curious.

It's Official: Xbox 360 Only Halfway Through Life Cycle, Will Be Sold for 5 More Years

Microsoft this week confirmed that it plans to eek out another five years in the market with its Xbox 360 rather than replace it sooner with a next-generation console. This is the same strategy Sony is employing for its PlayStation 3, and for exactly the same reason: R&D costs on these consoles were so high that they have to be in the market twice as long as previous consoles in order to be financially viable. In Microsoft's case, a console redesign and the upcoming release of the Kinect motion-sensing add-on will contribute to its longevity, according to the company. We'll see, I guess. But if the previous-generation consoles are any indication, this means we can expect the Xbox 360's replacement to appear in 2013 or 2014 at the latest.  I'm curious to see where Microsoft goes next.

Now, That's Vaporware: Microsoft "May" Link Windows Phone, Kinect

It would be like the tech version of an MC Escher painting! According to completely unsubstantiated reports, a Microsoft executive has hinted that linking Windows Phone with the Kinect add-on for Xbox 360 is possible, and "at a company that did stuff with phones and PCs ... maybe something like that would be possible." Yeah, maybe. I'm coming up blank when I try to imagine wildly gesticulating in the air in front of a 4" screen, however. Maybe it would make more sense with one of those mythical tablets Microsoft is going to have in the market any day now. Either way, don't hold you're breath.

All the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Reports Were Wrong: It's Just a Mouse

If I read one more blog post or article that claims that Microsoft's new mouse somehow is a copy of—or was influenced by—Apple's Tragic Macpad, I'm going to scream. This thing has clearly been in development since last year. That doesn't make it less dumb. But it does make those articles that accuse Microsoft of copying the Tragic Macpad dumber.

No Hyper-V at VMworld

VMware is hosting its annual VMworld conference later this month and, as with last year's show, Microsoft is going to have a very constrained presence. The reason is the same as last year: Thanks to Microsoft's release of its Hyper-V products, VMware suddenly required companies to be VMware partners if they wanted a booth bigger than 10' by 10'. And since Microsoft isn't a partner—it competes directly with VMware's products—it's stuck with a tiny booth. VMware also started preventing companies at the show from highlight products that aren't "complementary" to its own products, so that will prevent Microsoft from highlighting Hyper-V at the show, again. So instead, Microsoft will show off other products, such as Windows Azure and Visual Studio, in what it's calling "the biggest little booth at VMworld." Frankly, VMware's behavior here is understandable but childish. If the company is so positive it has the best product, it doesn't need to shout down the competition. What is VMware so worried about?

Visual Studio LightSwitch Beta 1 Hits MSDN

As promised, Microsoft this week released the Beta 1 version of its upcoming Visual Studio LightSwitch development tool to MSDN subscribers only, though a public release is expected on Monday. Microsoft is positioning LightSwitch as a way for IT pros and admins to visually build business applications that run on Windows, the web, and in the cloud (using Windows Azure). I have my doubts about the viability of such a thing, but I am curious about it, so I'll put it through the paces over the next week and see if it's really easy to use or just—as I suspect—pretty limited.

Facebook Unleashes Location Functionality

Worried that the hundreds of thousands of stalkers on its service aren't getting the detailed information they need to locate new prey, Facebook this week introduced a new location service that, as usual, opens up its users to untold privacy violations. Cutely dubbed Facebook Places—but called "Stalking 101" by those in the know—the new feature actually lets Facebook users "tag" other people in photos and explain exactly where they were when the picture was taken. That way, your anonymous followers can obtain your complete schedule over time and figure out where you'll likely be when the mood for an in-person meeting strikes. Delightful!

This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast

I'm still in Germany, but Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week. I spilled water all over my laptop and had some fun connectivity issues, but we got it done, and the new episode should be edited and available by the weekend on iTunes and the Zune Marketplace, in both audio and video formats.

But Wait, There's More!

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog. Also, follow along as I write my next book, Windows Phone Secrets!

TAGS: Windows 8
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