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WinInfo Short Takes: Week of June 13

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including email advertising, Apple and Intel, Halo: The Movie, Microsoft Acrylic, XP N, IE 7 reduced privileges, Linux desktop failure, XP SP2 penetration, Leopard and Longhorn, and so much more...

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Thanks to the wonders of free email advertising, I'm busy this year becoming the man women desire. More specifically, my confidence is back, and I'm getting prescription generic meds 4 less. Isn't the Internet wonderful? I just wish I could get offers like that via standard mail. Ahem.

But seriously, folks ...

Is anyone using Zone Labs ZoneAlarm Security Suite? In the past 2 days--on two different machines--I've been experiencing TrueVector Service crashes that temporarily put me offline. Is anyone else having this problem? It's annoying but not as annoying as using Symantec's Norton security software.

A couple of people wondered why I spent so much time reminding everyone this week that I was the first person to report that Apple Computer would migrate the Macintosh to Intel chips this year. I guess I should just point them to news behemoths "The Wall Street Journal" and, which are busy fighting each other over the right to say that they were the ones who "broke" the story. Even Apple CEO Steve Jobs, during the keynote address in which he announced the move, pointed to "The Wall Street Journal" article as the one that broke the story. Ah well. I've been the little guy from day one. I remain the little guy.

This year marks at least the 10th anniversary of WinInfo Daily UPDATE, which started life as a technology news and trends newsletter for the staff at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. The problem is that I don't know exactly when WinInfo started. It almost certainly happened in 1995 but it might have been late 1994. All I remember is that I started WinInfo before Windows 95 shipped, perhaps well before. If anyone has any WinInfo issues from that time period, please let me know. And while we're on this subject, the SuperSite for Windows will be 7 years old in August.

This week's WinInfo Short Takes is officially jet powered and monkey navigated in honor of Homer Simpson's revised wedding vows.

Short Takes

Xbox Team Continues to Embarrass Microsoft--This Time With a Movie
   Let me be clear: I like the Xbox--a lot. I'm not so sure about the goofy guys who run the Xbox division at Microsoft, however. They seem to think they're a lot cooler than they really are. Here's the latest example: This week, Microsoft began propositioning Hollywood to make a movie version of Halo, the hit Xbox game. Displaying typical Microsoft hubris, the company alienated virtually every movie studio in California by presenting a list of demands that included a $10 million up-front and nonreturnable fee for the rights, full creative control over the movie (despite not taking any financial risk in it), final approval of the film's cast and director, and--get this--60 first-class plane tickets for Microsoft representatives and their guests to attend the movie's premiere. Guess how many proposals the company got? That's right--none. Within 24 hours of receiving Microsoft's demands, five studios simply walked away. To the company's credit, complex negotiations did ensue with one studio, and supposedly Microsoft will eventually have a deal for a Halo movie, assuming the company agrees to give up creative control. What's wrong with these people? Halo is certainly popular, but it isn't the best-selling (or best) video game of all time by any margin. You'd think people who have been consistently beaten down in their market would behave a bit less like prima donnas. Just a thought.

Slightly Changed Windows XP N to Ship Soon
   Microsoft announced this week that it will begin shipping the controversial N versions of Windows XP--those versions of XP Home Edition and XP Professional Edition that don't include Windows Media Player (WMP)--to European PC makers on June 15 and to retailers for release to the public on July 1. XP Home Edition N and XP Pro Edition N won't be sold at a lower cost than the versions that do include WMP, which will make them particularly appealing to .... whom? Media player competitors? Does anyone else not quite get the point of this exercise?

Microsoft Expresses Itself with Acrylic
   Microsoft issued a public beta this morning of the next version of Microsoft Expression, which is code-named Acrylic. Formerly owned by a small company called Creature House, Expression is marketed as a "vector-based illustration application based on a unique 'skeletal strokes' technology that brings a natural-media painterly style to vector art." In short, it's similar to Adobe Photoshop but uses vector, not bitmapped, graphics (like Adobe Illustrator, I guess). Acrylic, however, includes photo-editing functions and other features. The product requires XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and a hefty system. The public beta is available from the Microsoft Expression Web site.

Microsoft Touts Longhorn on Its Web Site ... You Know Where to Go
   Microsoft has finally added a Longhorn section to its Windows Web site , but the site is filled with PR drivel ("get greater confidence and control" sounds like spam to me), not actual product information. Something tells me that will be the case for a long, long time. In any event, WinInfo readers already know that the best place on the Web for accurate and timely Longhorn information is the SuperSite for Windows

Desktop Linux Falters as Linux Use Shrinks for First Time
   We're starting to see some interesting Linux trends this year, and for the first time they aren't positive. In the past, I've lampooned all the "this is the year of desktop Linux" reports, which showed up like clockwork every 12 months. January 2005 was a little different. For the first time, few analysts touted the year of Linux on the desktop. And now I think we're seeing why: Linux, everyone's favorite open-source poster child, isn't exactly doing well on the desktop ... or the server, for that matter. In fact, Linux is starting to look a bit like that killer bees invasion that was going to strike North America but never really happened. The proof? For the first time, Linux adoption in corporations has fallen year over year. Mind you, Linux adoption hasn't just slowed. It's fallen by half. There will always be a market for free products, but the notion that Linux will magically replace Windows on the desktop is suddenly looking a bit silly.

Rumor Busting: IE 7.0 Reduced Privileges? Not So Fast
   Several reports suggested this week that Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0, which will ship this year for XP SP2, will include a feature called low rights that lets the browser operate in a safer, lower-privileges mode. That news would be wonderful, but it's not true. "While most IE 7.0 security features will be available in IE 7.0 for Windows XP SP2, low-rights IE will be available only in Longhorn because it's based on the new Longhorn security features that make running without Administrator privileges an easy option for users (User Account Protection)," Rob Franco, lead program manager for IE Security, wrote in the IE blog this week in an effort to clear up the confusion. "The primary goal of low-rights IE is to restrict the impact of a security vulnerability while maintaining compatibility. Low-rights IE doesn't 'fix' vulnerabilities, but it can limit the damage a vulnerability can do."

Windows XP SP2 Exceeds 200 Million Business Users
   At Microsoft TechEd this week, Microsoft announced that businesses have installed more than 200 million copies of XP SP2 worldwide. That number is astonishing, mostly because it includes only businesses, not consumers.

Microsoft Ordered to Pay $8.9 Million for Patent Infringement
   A federal jury has ordered Microsoft to pay $8.9 million in damages to a Guatemalan inventor for infringing on his patent for software-linking technology. The software giant used the technology in versions of Microsoft Office Access and Microsoft Office Excel sold between 1997 and 2003. Carlos Armando Amado received a patent for his invention in 1994, after first filing in 1990. He unsuccessfully tried to sell the technology to Microsoft in 1992. Microsoft then incorporated the technology into its applications. Interestingly, Amado succeeded only in receiving damages on one of ten counts he filed against Microsoft. Had he won the other nine, he could have received hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. In any event, with this week's verdict, Amado becomes, from what I can tell, the single most successful Microsoft Office partner on earth.

Microsoft Delays Visual Studio 2005 Launch Until November
   You probably won't be shocked to discover that Microsoft has delayed the launches of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 until November. All three products were originally scheduled to ship during, oh, the first Nixon administration. "No one wants to ship SQL Server 2005 more than me," said Microsoft Senior Vice President of Server Applications Paul Flessner. "It was a lot of work to make sure customers and developers have a seamless developer experience." It sure was. Microsoft's current SQL Server version is 5 years old, or 35 years in dog years.

AOL Opens Webmail, Other Service Features, to Nonmembers
   Not that anyone who reads this newsletter should care, but this week AOL opened a free Webmail service that offers 2GB of storage to non-AOL customers. AOL also announced a new version of the Web portal, which incorporates several free features that only AOL subscribers previously received. It all adds up to desperation. AOL used to control the Internet, giving its customers a cleaner, tidier version of the virtual Wild West. But AOL now knows what the government in China is about to discover: You can't control the Internet, so don't even try.

Leopard vs. Longhorn
   How long has Longhorn been delayed? Apple has now cycled through three revisions of Mac OS X, each of which was originally designed to go head to head with Microsoft's next-generation OS. According to Apple, the latest of these Mac OS X versions, code-named Leopard, will ship in late 2006 or early 2007, around the same time that Longhorn ships. No details are available about which features Apple plans to include in Leopard, but I'll say this: I bet Leopard will ship right on schedule.

Not News: Microsoft to Ship Windows Server 2003 R2 in Fourth Quarter 2005
   At TechEd this week, Microsoft reiterated that its sequel to Windows Server 2003, cunningly called Windows Server 2003 R2 (for Release 2, although I think of it as "The Quickening") will still ship in late 2005 as planned. Why is this news? Apparently rumors have been circulating that R2 will be delayed because Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently pegged the release as occurring within "12 months." Seriously, people, you should be this skeptical about the important things in your life.

Apple Opens Web Technologies
   Lost amid the hoopla of Apple's announcement that it's switching to Intel chips (I think I first read about that in "The Wall Street Journal," according to the new version of history that came out this week) was another smaller, but definitely important, Apple announcement. Apple revealed that it's revamping its open-source practices in response to complaints from the KHTML browser engine group. You might recall that Apple uses KHTML technology to power its Safari Web browser. Apparently, the KHTML folks believe that Apple hasn't honored its requirements because the company hasn't released information about the changes it's made to the technology. That contention is no longer a concern. As of this week, Apple opened its code and will work more closely with the open-source community. That's big stuff. Apple has often touted its open-source affiliations, but the company is really as rigid and closed as Microsoft is.

TiVoToGo Expands to Windows Mobile Devices
   TiVo has expanded its TiVoToGo service to include portable media players and Windows Mobile-powered Smartphones and PDAs. The six people who use both TiVo and the Portable Media Center will be ecstatic. As for the rest of the people on the planet, I'm sure the expansion of TiVoToGo is vaguely positive, but how about supporting the devices people really use, such as the Sony PlayStation?

Intel Boosts Second Quarter Revenue Forecast
   Maybe Apple really is on to something. Intel has boosted its revenue estimates for the current quarter, citing a higher-than-expected demand for its microprocessor products. Intel says that the demand for Pentium M chips and other notebook computer parts is particularly strong.

10 Security Patches Next Week, One Critical
   Next week Microsoft will issue a whopping 10 security patches, including one for Windows that's rated critical, as part of its customary monthly security patch release. Yep, it's just another typical month in the life of Microsoft security. Good stuff.


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