An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a short trip, CableCARD-based Media Center PCs, the upcoming Xbox 360 launch, HD-DVD and Microsoft, Windows Server 2003 R2, XP Starter Edition, and so much more ...
This week is an interesting exercise in news before it happens. Well, sort of. If everything went well, I should be in
Why Paris, you ask? No, it's not (only) because I want to burn a few cars, though my wife I and I were surprised by how many people asked us this week if we were still going because of the riots. Overall,
A few weeks ago, I discussed some computer nostalgia stuff and got a bunch of nice emails. A quick update: Several hundred dollars on eBay later, I've reacquainted myself with the Amiga and some other long-forgotten computers, and it's funny to see what's changed and what hasn't in the years since Commodore roamed the earth. One thing I found rather humorous: The Amiga's right mouse button was used specifically for bringing up application and system menus (which were otherwise hidden), but there's no concept of right-clicking individual items and getting a context sensitive menu, which is so common today. I'll keep playing around. Literally: One of the best things about the Amiga is the wealth of platform games. You just don't see those on the PC that often.
OK, if this is a little short, cut me some slack.
By late 2006, Microsoft says, PC makers will be shipping Media Center PCs with integrated CableCARD hardware, which will let these devices natively control digital cable systems, with no need for a separate set-top box. Finally, you say. That's for sure: Today's system of "IR blasting" a set top box is slow, prone to error, and, let's face it, lame. But right now it's your only option, because cable companies and other TV operators all have their own way of doing things. With a CableCARD-based system, a next generation Media Center PC will allegedly be all you need. I can't wait.
Microsoft Expects Solid Debut for Xbox 360
With anticipation building for next week's launch of the Xbox 360, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week noted that he expects the system to take off in a big way. "We have very strong momentum, particularly in the northern parts of Europe, \[the\]
Microsoft Still Loves HD-DVD
And speaking of Microsoft and Japanese technology, Ballmer this week also reaffirmed the software giant's bizarre love affair with HD-DVD, the lesser of the two competing next-generation DVD standards. So why does Microsoft favor HD-DVD over Blu-Ray, despite the fact that Blu-Ray will allow for much larger amounts of storage? "We have chosen to support HD DVD for a number of reasons, including the way and the effectiveness with which we can see it integrating with the PC," Ballmer said. "We think it has some real advantages and that's why we have been working very actively with Toshiba and other members of the DVD forum in order to promote this concept." I'm sure that's it, and that it has nothing to do with the fact that Sony, which makes the PlayStation series of video game systems, is a co-creator of Blu-Ray and will support the format in its upcoming PlayStation 3. That would just be petty.
R2 on Track for this Year
IT Forum came and went this week in
XP Starter Edition Heads to Two New Markets
This week, Microsoft shipped two new versions of its entry-level Windows XP Starter Edition, which is aimed at emerging markets full of people yet to experience Microsoft's full court marketing press. The new versions are aimed at the disadvantaged in
Firefox 1.5 Will Ship Later this Month
As someone who's been burned occasionally by sources, I guess I can sympathize, but rumors this week about an impending release of Firefox 1.5 were indeed false. Instead, expect the next major version of Mozilla's Web browser to appear by the end of the month. My source for this information? The Mozilla Foundation. Sometimes you have to go right for the tap.
Sony Recalls Copy Protected Audio CDs
After weeks of criticism and a new spate of electronic attacks caused by its inaction, Sony is taking the rare of step of recalling the controversial audio CDs it shipped with a new kind of rootkit-based copy protection. The news comes as yet another blow to Sony's reputation, which has suffered in recent years as sales and revenues have plummeted. Sony hasn't yet revealed how many discs it will need to recall, but it will surely be in the millions. For a company that should be leading the digital media revolution, Sony is suddenly pulling a Commodore. Or, for Happy Days fans, they just jumped the shark. Either way, it's not a compliment.
US Keeps Control of the Internet
One day before the start of the UN Internet Summit in Tunisia this week, the United States reached a late hour agreement to retain control of the, well, the Internet. More specifically, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which answers to the
Apple Getting Ready to Cave to Record Industry on iTunes PricingAccording to EMI CEO Alain Levy, Apple Computer is getting ready to cave to record industry bigwigs over the single price issue for online music. Today, all music sold via the iTunes Music Store is 99 cents, regardless of its age or popularity. The record industry would like variable pricing, as its older and less popular products are typically sold for less, while its most popular products could be sold for more. Apple has resisted the complexity of variable pricing so far, but with Apple's record industry contracts running out early next year, the company will have to suck it up if it wants to keep selling music. We are having discussions which make us believe \[variable pricing on iTunes\] will happen in the next 12 months," Levy said this week. "There is a common understanding that we will have to come to a variable pricing structure. The issue is when. There is a case for superstars to have a higher price." Not to be a jerk about it, but given Apple's historically high prices for computing hardware, I'm sure that's one company that can appreciate paying more for a better product.