Not much is going on this week, which is actually kind of nice. We spent last weekend in Pennsylvania visiting relatives and got caught in some less-than-lovely weather and New York traffic on the way home, which caused some frayed nerves, but it all ended well. This weekend, I'm off to Paris for four days with my wife to visit some friends and the people we'll be home swapping with next summer. I hope the weather will cooperate. Certainly, it can only be warmer than it's been here lately.
In related news, Leo and I are taking this week off from the Windows Weekly podcast because we're both traveling: He's headed to Toronto again, which is making me wonder whether he's busy setting up a tax shelter there. Good for him if it's true.
And with that, I'm off. See you next week!
In Court Case, an Allegation that Microsoft Broke its Antitrust Agreement
This week, plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft claimed that they discovered evidence that proves the software giant violated the terms of its antitrust settlement with the US government. The claims were made in a Des Moines, Iowa, courtroom, where lawyers representing the plaintiffs asked for more time so that they could brief the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Attorney General. "We feel as officers of the court it is our responsibility to do this," said one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. "It's simply our duty as citizens and lawyers to let the Department of Justice know that we are in possession of information that goes to the issue of whether Microsoft is in compliance." Not surprisingly, no one is offering up any information about what Microsoft has allegedly done, but I'll just throw the idea out there that a little drama never hurt a court case. In any event, the judge in the case did grant the plaintiffs permission to contact the US government with this information. Fun, fun, fun.
Digital Music Sales Can't Overcome Falling CD Sales, Piracy
Despite $2 billion in revenues from digital music sales last year--a jump from $1.1 billion in 2005--the record industry was unable to offset falling CD sales and music piracy for the year. As a result--and really, let's all shed a tear for this group of lovable upstarts--the recording industry will likely see revenues fall, overall, year over year. And while we're on this topic, I'd like to note that the latest data does confirm information I published late last year: Although digital music sales are indeed growing, that growth is slowing dramatically. Growth between 2004 and 2005, for example, was 300 percent.
Intel Financials Stumble as Company Tries to Reclaim Market Share
In Intel's mad dash to reclaim market share it had lost to AMD, the company apparently coughed up a big wad of cash. In its most recent quarterly earnings statement, Intel reported a 39 percent drop in profits, largely due to extremely aggressive pricing aimed at potential AMD customers. Intel's numbers were decent, however: The company made $1.5 billion on revenues of $2.45 billion for the quarter. Intel also sold a record number of microprocessors in 2006, which has to be good news.
HD-DVD Copy Protection Is Partially Hacked
A collection of hackers from around the world is claiming to have taken the first steps toward defeating the copyright protection scheme used by HD-DVD, one of two contending next-generation DVD formats. The copy protection scheme, called the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), includes multiple levels of protection, and hackers have been able to bypass only some of them. The system the hackers developed isn't universal, and will only let you copy only particular HD-DVD titles. And here's some interesting news for Blu-ray fans: Although Blu-ray uses AACS, it also utilizes a separate level of protection that can kick in should AACS be rendered ineffective.
Netflix Offers Digital Movie Downloads
Although the mail-order DVD movie business Netflix has garnered several million subscribers, one question has been dogging the company recently: What will the company do next? After all, DVDs have a limited shelf life, and consumers will likely turn to digital movie downloads over time. Well, this week Netflix announced its plan to bridge this gap, and it's an intriguing solution given the price: The company will offer free digital movie downloads to its subscribers. This is a smart move because Netflix subscribers often find themselves between movies when they're waiting for new DVDs to show up. The service will be limited to a small percentage of the movies Netflix offers on DVD, although that can obviously change over time. The only question, of course, is how well Netflix's digital movie downloads will be received. After all, few people can watch PC-based movies on PCs. But that, too, should change over time.
Apple's iPhone is an LG Rip-off
Apple's exciting new iPhone was launched with typical hyperbole last week, but it turns out that one of the device's coolest features--its amazing form factor--is completely ripped off from an LG smart phone that was codesigned with the Prada Group. Like the iPhone, the Prada Phone features a slab-like design with a single button and a large wide-screen display, uses touch-screen technologies, and features a cool, next-generation UI. But the Prada Phone has a single and dramatic advantage over the iPhone: It will be available much earlier. It goes on sale in Europe next month and will be available in Asia in March.
Apple Roars to Strong Holiday Quarter
Speaking of Apple, everyone's favorite MP3 player maker posted record sales for the last quarter of 2006 (or what Apple reports as its first fiscal quarter of 2007). The company made $1 billion on sales of $7.12 billion, both of which are records. The big news, of course, was the iPod, although the Macintosh did respectably as well, especially the portables versions. Apple sold more than 21 million iPods and more than 1.6 million Macs and ended the quarter with $11.9 billion in cash. So much for that beleaguered also-ran we were so worried about a year ago: Today, Apple dominates the digital-music business, and it's clear that the company intends to extend that domination into related businesses, such as digital movies and smart phones.
HP Extends its Lead over Dell, Still Number 1 PC Maker
HP is still the number one PC maker in the world, but the big news this time around is that the company actually extended its lead over one-time champion Dell. HP managed to increase its worldwide PC shipments by 24 percent, year over year, in the fourth quarter of 2006, snagging 17.4 percent of the market. Dell, meanwhile, tumbled 8.7 percent and came in second place with 13.9 percent of the market. Dell said it's attempting a turnaround, but the company is also focusing more on profitability than market share. HP also has a stronger presence than Dell in the consumer market, which has been growing much more quickly than the business market.
MySpace Developing Parent-Notification Tool
Hey, I have a notification for parents too: Don't let your kids use MySpace. Everyone's favorite hotbed for creepy home pages and teenager hangouts announced this week that it will soon offer parent-notification and age-verification software aimed at smoothing some of the site's rougher edges. We call sites such as MySpace social networks, but really they're just breeding grounds for sexual predators and, apparently, people with no Web development skills. I can't hold MySpace responsible for the latter charge--actually, on second thought, maybe I can--but it's nice to see them finally doing something about the former. But my advice still stands: Friends don't let friends--or kids--use MySpace. It's just not right.
Windows Server 2007?
ActiveWin is reporting that Microsoft has officially named its latest OS (code-named Longhorn Server) Windows Server 2007, although ActiveWin couldn't get a Microsoft representative to go on record about the name. If Microsoft does go with the name Windows Server 2007, it can only be for naming symmetry, as the company previously promised to ship major and minor Windows Server upgrades in two-year intervals, and the last major release was Windows Server 2003. Given that Longhorn Server is due in late 2007, it should be called Windows Server 2008. I do know this: It will most certainly be named either Windows Server 2007 or Windows Server 2008, but I personally haven't heard that a name has been chosen.