WinHEC 2005: Day Three Blog [Updated]

Finally, a day to sleep in: Looking at my morning session schedule, I figured this would be the day to skip out on the first one or two sessions and get some sleep in. Good move.

Anywyay, there's a controversy brewing. The community sites like Neowin were asked yesterday by a "community lead" at Microsoft to take down their screenshots of Longhorn build 5048. This caused a big stir in the press room after the blogger lunch. When someone asked why they were doing this, Chris Pirillo quipped, "because it looks like #$%," which I thought was the appropriate response. Apparently, there is a condition in the EULA preventing people from posting screenshots. Nobody saw anything like that. And I wasn't asked to remove anything yesterday, which caused some grumbling. I'll get to that in a moment, but I'm a bit freaked out that Microsoft wouldn't mention this condition when they asked us to come to WinHEC, or when they handed out the CDs. It would have affected my decision to come.

This morning, checking my email, I discovered that someone from the MVP organization at Microsoft, and not one of my normal press contacts, has now asked me to take down my screenshots as well. I've declined to do so. As I mentioned to him in an email, I am a legitimate member of the trade press and would never have agreed to an expensive trip to Seattle if I knew that Microsoft was, for the first time, mysteriously not letting people post photos of a publicly-released Windows build. This is information that would have been helpful weeks ago, not after the fact.

Enjoy them while you can:
Longhorn Developer Preview (5048) Screenshot Gallery 1
Longhorn Developer Preview (5048) Screenshot Gallery 2

I'll clean up and head in, and see what's up. But Microsoft has handled this situation extremely poorly, and it's not appreciated. Way to throttle back the enthusiasm even further, guys.

The controversy continues. It looks like the shots will come down sometime today, and I'll have an explanation from Microsoft about why this must be so. Depressing.

I've been talking with Peter Glaskowsky and ... he has a Newton MessagePad 2100. And it works. Very, very cool.

OK, Microsoft has provided its explanation. What it boils down to is that there may be certain technologies in the Longhorn Developer Preview build for which Microsoft has not filed patent applications, and the confidentiality provisions protect or mitigate the company's filing rights. One of the focus areas of IP protection has been user interface, hence Microsoft cannot permit screenshots of the UI. I was told that Microsoft had left its Media Center user interface unprotected, and that UI has been stolen and replicated in numerous other places. They don't want that to happen to Longhorn.

Longhorn Beta 1 will not have a confidentiality provision in its EULA. So we won't have to worry about this issue with that build, now due in late June.

In other issues, Microsoft has changed the schedule for some sessions, so the Internet Explorer Today and Tomorrow session is at 3:15, not 5:45 as originally scheduled. That's good, because I can get out of here much earlier than I previously expected.

A clarification. On Tuesday, I noted that "this has the makings of a train wreck." I wasn't referring specifically to build 5048, which is a developer build only, and doesn't show off the final UI. Instead, I was referring to the Longhorn project itself, which is careening so wildly out of control that it may never successfully come to a conclusion.

So the IE session was a complete waste of time: The speaker was horrible and they revealed absolutely no new information about IE 7. The crowd was quite restless. Ah well.

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