WinInfo Daily Update, March 10, 2006: Short Takes

WinInfo Short Takes
An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including Vista on Intel Mac woes; Office 2007 UI controversy; EU vs. Microsoft; a slew of Google news (including a nice document leak); an Amazon movie service; and so much more...


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WinInfo Blog

Short Takes

- Bombshell, Indeed: Vista Will Not Boot on Intel Macs

- Microsoft Reveals Controversial Final Office 2007 UI

- Microsoft: a Good Competitor ... For Office 95

- In Final Push, Microsoft Adds Antispyware Tech to Windows Live OneCare

- EU Defends Its Technical Expert from Microsoft Attack

- Microsoft Finally Kills Passport; Long Live Passport

- Google Inadvertently Leaks Its Secrets

- Google Settles Fraud Lawsuit

- Google Buys Web Word Processor

- Amazon Talks to Studios About Downloadable Movie, TV Service

==== WinInfo Blog ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Last week, I noted that I had 100 Gmail account invites and a few Windows Live Messenger account invites to give out. Although I gave them away pretty quickly, I continued to get requests for Messenger account invites well into this week, so I mentioned it to a friend on the MSN team and got an amazing gift: 300 invites. As of this morning, I still have about 90 of those left (the rest went to people who previously requested invites), so if you're still interested, drop me a blank email at [email protected] with the subject line "Windows Live Messenger invite" (no quotes). I can't reply to any of these messages, but I'll fulfill the invites in the order in which they're received. When they're gone, they're gone. I also have 45 more Gmail account invites to disperse, so if you want one of those, use "Gmail invite" in the subject line.

==== Short Takes ====

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

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Bombshell, Indeed: Vista Will Not Boot on Intel Macs

Dan Warne wrote me this morning to tell me that he attended a late Microsoft briefing at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) this week in San Francisco, where the software giant quietly dropped a bombshell: Windows Vista will not support the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) BIOS found on Intel-based Macintoshes and thus won't be able to boot on those machines. This is a problem for me personally, as I recently spent $2000 on a new Intel-based iMac, which is looking increasingly like an expensive paperweight on my desk. According to Dan, this Microsoft revelation came after the conference had officially closed and most people had gone home. You can read his write-up on the Australian Personal Computer (APC) Magazine Web site:

Microsoft Reveals Controversial Final Office 2007 UI

Jensen Harris, a lead program manager for Microsoft Office, wrote me Thursday to alert me to the fact that Microsoft has revealed the final UI for Office 2007 (previously code-named Office 12). Suffice it to say, this UI is going to be controversial. We all knew about the ribbons and tabs replacing the menus and toolbars of previous Office versions. What we didn't know was that Office 12 would be so ... big. And so ... colorful. It's got a vaguely Netscape 8 look to it, which isn't a compliment in any quarter, though I have to say I kind of like it, especially for a very high-resolution screen. But I can see why people would be a bit unenthusiastic about the new UI. To see what I mean, check out Microsoft's Office 2007 UI Overview:

Microsoft: a Good Competitor ... For Office 95

Speaking of Microsoft Office, Alan Yates, the general manager of business strategy for the Information Worker Group at Microsoft, this week unleashed a zinger at Office's competition that I have to admit made me smile. Referring to the open-source office productivity suite, which forms the basis for Sun Microsystem's Star Office suite, Yates said the competition was, ahem, just a bit behind. "OpenOffice is fine if you have very limited needs because it was really designed around what Microsoft Office products were designed \[to do\] 10 years ago," he said. A decade ago, Office 95 was still all the rage; Microsoft has shipped four major Office updates since then. I kind of like, but Yates is right about one thing: Its dated UI does look 10 years old. Seems like that'd be something those folks might want to work on.

In Final Push, Microsoft Adds Antispyware Tech to Windows Live OneCare

In a briefing with Microsoft yesterday, I was told that the company was winding down its development of Windows Live OneCare (previously called OneCare Live), its subscription-based PC health and protection service. What is the final piece of the puzzle? The product now integrates with Windows Defender, Microsoft's antispyware solution. Testers will begin receiving the new bits automatically over the new few weeks, and Microsoft expects to be selling the initial retail version of Windows Live OneCare by midyear.

EU Defends Its Technical Expert from Microsoft Attack

Responding to accusations from Microsoft, the European Union (EU) this week defended its technical expert, whom Microsoft had criticized for being a bit too partial to its competitors. "We want to set the record straight," an EU spokesperson said. "We feel obliged to do so given that there have been allegations made concerning the activities of the trustee and suggestions in particular that the trustee has been acting in an inappropriate manner as regards contacts with ... companies which would be interested in making products interoperable with MS products." The EU says its expert naturally had to be in contact with Microsoft's competitors, because he had to ensure that the technical documentation Microsoft was providing as part of its antitrust requirements would, in fact, work for them. "The trustee's contacts with such potential beneficiaries are therefore part of his obligations under the trustee decision and not in any way a form of inappropriate collusion as has been suggested," the spokesperson said. Makes sense to me.

Microsoft Finally Kills Passport; Long Live Passport

Microsoft this week revealed that it would finally kill off its once-reviled Passport system, which it uses for universal Web logon. But it's not really killing Passport; it's just renaming it. In line with Microsoft's other Windows Live services, Passport will be renamed Windows Live ID and will be used to authenticate users on Windows Live, Office Live, Xbox Live, MSN, and other Microsoft services. Microsoft launched Passport way back in 1999 and originally designed it to sit at the middle of a massive suite of services, including the ill-fated "Hailstorm," an attempt by the software giant to bring universal Web logon and other Web services to businesses. But fear not, Microsoft fans, the company hasn't given up: It's developing a technology called InfoCard that, yes, will attempt to provide business users with universal Web logon. It'll get you eventually.

Google Inadvertently Leaks Its Secrets

I'm just curious. If Google can't keep its own data secret, why would anyone trust them to keep users' data secret? This week, Google inadvertently posted an internal document on its public Web site, ironically (ahem) revealing that it seeks to "store 100 percent of \[its\] user data" on the Web, including "emails, Web history, pictures, bookmarks." To do this, of course, Google will need "infinite storage." Google is working on a Web-based storage system called GDrive (what else would it be called?) that will let users store files online. Anyway, once the company figured out its mistake, it pulled the document and announced it had nothing to announce. I have an announcement: I don't know if we can trust these guys.

Google Settles Fraud Lawsuit

Speaking of Google and--ahem--trust, this week Google settled a click-fraud lawsuit for $90 million. Google was being sued as part of a class-action lawsuit in which it was accused of overcharging customers for pay-per-click advertising, which constitutes the company's primary (only?) form of revenue. Google agreed to pay $90 million to settle the case and will, no doubt, admit no wrongdoing. Hey, it worked in China.

Google Buys Web Word Processor

To conclude this week's odd Google mania, everyone's favorite search engine du jour yesterday purchased a Web-based word processing business called Writely and its product of the same name, setting the stage for what will no doubt be an uneventful war between Web-based applications and more traditional Windows-based productivity applications, such as Microsoft Word. Writely lets users compose and edit text documents, share them with others, and, presumably, print them to local printers. The company was founded in 2004, and probably has about 16 active users, so it will be interesting to see where this goes. According to Microsoft, Word is the "clear leader" in the market, with more than 400 million users. To make a long story short, Microsoft isn't particularly worried about Writely just yet.

Amazon Talks to Studios About Downloadable Movie, TV Service

Online retailer Amazon might have just stumbled onto the latest thing it can lose money selling: digitally distributed movies and TV shows. Amazon is talking with various movie studios and TV production companies to explore interest in an Amazon service that would let customers download digital versions of movies and TV shows and watch them on PCs or burn them to DVD. If it happens, Amazon will find itself going head-to-head with Apple Computer, though Apple's iTunes service offers only low-quality (technologically, not content-wise) TV shows that can't be burned to DVD. Existing PC-based movie download services such as Movielink and CinemaNow haven't really taken off in the market, but those services offer only a small selection of big-budget movies and have been hampered with peculiar Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes. Can Amazon succeed in this market? Hey, it's making a killing in lawn tools and gourmet foods.

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