WinInfo Short Takes: Week of August 10, 2009

Live from Paris: An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including blogger boobery about a nonexistent Windows 7 bug, a Windows Azure move to a Texas tax haven, Microsoft's land grab, Yahoo! lack of search, and much more...

WinInfo Blog

I'm writing today from Paris, France. We've been here since Monday and are heading back to Amsterdam on Saturday morning, so we've been pushing it pretty hard this week to get in all the stuff we want to do. It's been a wonderful week, though, and we've caught up with friends here, seen some familiar sites, and visited some new places too. We're actually staying at the same home we were in for our home swap two years ago, which is a fun bit of déjà vu. But it's all coming to a close. After returning to Amsterdam on Saturday, we pretty much just have time to clean up before we fly back to America on Monday.

Leo and I had to take the week off from the Windows Weekly podcast this week because the connection here in Paris—which is, get this, a 512 Kbps ADSL connection—just isn't good enough for us to link up via Skype. We'll be back with a new episode next week, when I'll be back home in Dedham on a FIOS connection I suddenly miss quite a bit.

But wait, there's more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog.

Short Takes

Folks, you really gotta consider the source before believing something you read online
An agitated Windows community bubbled and churned this week amidst news of a "critical" Windows 7 "bug" that might, get this, actually delay the release of Microsoft's next desktop OS. Stop the presses, assuming there are presses any more. There's news afoot! Except, of course, there isn't. Instead, the blogger boob squad was out in full force making something out of nothing and dragging pseudo-legitimate news sites down with them. The critical Windows 7 bug? Not critical. Not a bug. Not going to delay Windows 7. In fact, there's evidence that the issue in question—a rarely used system check utility—is just working exactly as it's supposed to. But that didn't stop a bunch of tech journalists who should simply know better from getting involved. Folks, let's just call BS when we see it. And if we see someone falling for that BS, maybe we should collectively just agree to ignore those people. Just a thought.

Microsoft Moving Windows Azure to Texas
And you thought Windows Azure lived in a cloud, you silly goose. Microsoft this week began alerting early adopters of its cloud computing platform, Windows Azure, that it would be moving the service off of its data centers in Washington State because of the heavy taxes there. Instead, Windows Azure will be located in San Antonio, Texas. The move is due to a change in Washington's tax code, where data centers are no longer legally considered manufacturing centers, and are thus not able to take advantage of tax exempt status on new building projects. And let's face it, if Windows Azure is anything, it's a new building project.

Microsoft Grabs Domain Name
Microsoft this week purchased the domain name, ostensibly to use for its upcoming Office Web Applications release and, perhaps, other Office Live–related online services. (Microsoft previously told me that these services would all be delivered to consumers via Windows Live.) The domain obviously makes a lot of sense, given that the name is most often attributed to Microsoft Office in the software world, and of course Microsoft is going to be competing head-to-head with Google and its Google Docs service. Previously, the domain name was owned by ContactOffice, a Brussels, Belgium company. So I assume they make beer.

Microsoft Patents XML-based Word Processing Documents
Microsoft was recently granted a patent by the US Patent Office for XML-based word processing documents, which is pretty much exactly what its Open XML format is. What's most interesting about the patent is how long the approval process took: Microsoft filed its patent application in December 2004. But it wasn't approved for over four and a half years: The patent was awarded just the other day, on August 4. In that time, Microsoft has delivered its Open XML formats and had them certified as international standards. So the patent award, while nice, is pretty much icing on the cake at this point.

Yahoo! Defends Exodus from Internet search
In the wake of its blockbuster search deal with Microsoft, Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz this week said that her company had never been a true search company anyway, and that search was just one of the things that users of the site needed to do. In other words, Yahoo! is simply a web destination, one that offers its users a number of features and functions, only one of which happens to be search. So whether that search is delivered via Microsoft technology or Yahoo! technology doesn't really matter, as long as users are staying on Yahoo! and getting good search results. That makes some sense, though I'm still confused about the Yahoo! business model.

Microsoft Planning Nine Security Fixes this Month...
... and five of them are rated critical. Before you get too incensed about this, remember two things. One, Microsoft almost always releases security fixes on a regular schedule, and next week's bundle certainly falls under that category. Two, it could be worse: You could be a Mac user. Apple drops security fix bombs on its users all the time, on no particular schedule at all, and you never know when it's going to happen next. In fact, the most recent release happened this week, with Apple raining a whopping 18 security fixes on its smug, PC-hating users. (And yeah, the Apple fixes even included one for a flaw that puts OS X users at risk of a remote control attack. Yet another PC-first feature brought to the Mac.) So suck it up, Windows users. At least we know what's coming in advance. And don't have to update as frequently.

Microsoft to Mobile Developers: Port Those iPhone Apps to Windows Mobile!
Microsoft has published a case study about a developer that ported his iPhone application to Windows Mobile, sort of successfully. My guess is that this person may in fact be the only person on earth to do this, which doesn't make this so much a case study as a possible new "Dateline NBC" episode on a slow news week. In reality, porting between these two platforms has got to be enormously difficult. They use different programming environments (Visual Studio on Windows Mobile vs. XCode on the iPhone). They require different programming languages (C# on Windows Mobile vs. Objective C on iPhone). And of course, the platforms are all over the map. Right now, there are basically two iPhone platforms (iPhone/iPod and iPhone 3GS) and a third (the oft-rumored but very real iTablet). But there are hundreds of different kinds of Windows Mobile devices, all with different capabilities, and several semi-modern Windows Mobile versions to contend with. In short, this isn't a simple prospect at all, unless of course you're just making a farting application or one of those insipid "moron test" apps. Now that would make for a good case study.

Twitter Succumbs to Online Attack
And for a lonely two hours on Thursday, no one could thrill to a 140-word description of my lunch. You know, this kind of thing is such a non-event it makes the Windows 7 non-bug look like news by comparison. But in a world where virtual navel-gazing is all the rage, the fact that one of the most poorly built tech services of the modern age could succumb to an old-fashioned denial of service attack shouldn't shock anyone. In fact, the only question this raised in my mind was, why doesn't this happen regularly

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