WinInfo Short Takes: Week of December 14, 2009

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

WinInfo Blog

Maybe it's just me, but it seems as if time has sped up dramatically over the past few months. November disappeared in a flash, and now December is careening toward completion as well. Is this what getting old is like? I'm not a fan.

One of the side issues here, of course, is that I'll be doing my usual last-minute, spastic search for Christmas presents. I'd vaguely like to do this earlier, in the same way that I'd vaguely like to be a morning person, but I guess that's just not going to happen. Ah well.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday, and it should be available by the weekend, as usual.

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

Short Takes

Trend Micro: Windows 7 Is Less Secure than Windows Vista
According to Trend Micro CEO Raimund Genes, Microsoft's recently released Windows 7 sacrifices security for usability, a statement that—while not exactly profound—has certainly generated a lot of buzz this week. "I'm not saying Windows 7 is insecure, but out of the box Vista is better," Genes told UK IT rag The Register. He's referring to the User Account Control feature, which was widely (if wrongly) panned in Vista for being invasive and then toned down in Windows 7. "Windows 7 may be an improvement in terms of usability, but in terms of security it's a mistake, though one that isn't that surprising. When Microsoft's developers choose between usability and security, they will always choose usability." That's absolutely not true, but whatever. The point is that Trend Micro sells security software, and that software could, you know, help overcome Windows 7's supposed problems. My advice is simple: People who make self-serving proclamations like this one can be safely ignored. And you can read all about my opinions on the SuperSite for Windows. Cough. (That was a joke. No, really.)

"Game Over" for Microsoft with Consumers, Says ... Some Guy
Speaking of people who cheaply garner headlines by making absurd claims, Mark Anderson, author of the Strategic News Service newsletter (I've never even heard of this person, but Mary Jo Foley called him "very influential" for some reason) said this week that "it is Game Over for \[Microsoft\] in Consumer." Weird caps usage notwithstanding, his message is this: "\[In 2010,\] Microsoft loses in its Consumer play: except for gaming, it is Game Over for MS in Consumer. This will make Consumer the place to be, where the most robust and exciting change artists will work." That blurb is so nonsensical that I don't even know where to start. Seriously, read it again: Microsoft's loss of the consumer market will make the consumer market the place to be. Um, what? Sorry, I'm not joining the group love-in on this one. Why do we give these guys headlines?

Google CEO: Privacy Doesn't Exist in Online Age
And he should know, since he's ostensibly running the company that's responsible for this state of affairs. Google CEO Eric Schmidt, previously responsible for such runaway success stories as Java and Novell, found himself in a bit of hot water this week when he opined on CNBC that "if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." He was referring to usage of his company's ubiquitous search engine, where your searches could, he said, be "made available to the authorities" thanks to the Patriot Act. OK, so why is this funny? Because one of Google's biggest partners (for now, at least; one gets the idea this cozy little relationship is mid-crash as I write this) used this blurb as an excuse to recommend that, perhaps, users would be better off without Google. For example, Mozilla Director of Community Development Asa Dotzler documented how easy it is to change the Firefox search engine to ... gasp! ... Microsoft Bing. You can feel the tension in the air.

Gamers Answer the Call of Duty, but Video Game Sales Fall Again in November
Remember when Microsoft was losing to Sony in September and October but claimed that all was well because it had the only console to experience year-over-year sales increases in those months? Well, that situation reversed itself in November, with Sony's PlayStation 3 coming in last (but experiencing a year-over-year sales increase) and Microsoft's Xbox 360 narrowly beating the PlayStation 3 (but experiencing falling year-over-year sales). So, guess what Microsoft's takeaway from November was? That's right, everything is just great and the company is "on track" to do something positive, whatever that is. According to NPD, US sales of video games fell 7.6 percent from a year earlier despite the blockbuster release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (which should sell 12-13 million units in the United States alone by the end of 2009). Among consoles, the Nintendo Wii was again number one with 1.3 million units sold, the Xbox 360 was number two with 819,000 units sold, and the PlayStation 3 brought up the rear with 710,000 units. According to Sony, " PlayStation 3 was the only hardware console to see any growth when compared to last November, experiencing an 88 percent lift." According to Microsoft, it was "the company's best-ever November for \[US\] game sales."

Oracle Defends Sun Microsystems Purchase Against EU
At closed-door hearings this week in Brussels, database giant Oracle pressed its case for purchasing Sun Microsystems, which owns—among other things—the open-source MySQL database. The European Union (EU) is concerned that Oracle will destroy the free MySQL because it competes with its own expensive database software. Oracle thinks that opinion is insane, essentially (as do I, for whatever that's worth). All Oracle's Sun purchase does is put the company on more equal footing with its main rival, Microsoft. And Oracle certainly could use a low-cost offering that it can utilize to upsell customers to its more capable (and expensive) enterprise database products. The EU will decide by January whether it will allow the purchase, but my advice is simple: Just back off. You've been micromanaging the tech sector for too long.

Americans Are Content-Consumption Hogs, Too
According to a study by the University of California, San Diego, the average American consumes 34GB of data every day via TV, radio, the web, text messaging, video games, and other channels. This represents a 350 percent increase in usage over the past 30 years and equates to 100,000 words consumed each day (and not always as "read" words; this content includes web, TV, and other more visual/aural media). Most of our time consuming content occurs in front of the TV, naturally, where we waste an average of 5 hours per day. Second, oddly, is radio (2.2 hours per day), with the PC in third place (2 hours a day) and video games in fourth, at about an hour a day. We actually read an average of 36 minutes per day. Being the inefficient multitaskers we are, we also do many of these tasks simultaneously (which pretty much guarantees that we retain as little as possible.) There are all kinds of numbers associated with the study, including the consumption gains per year (6 percent). But the most interesting one, I think, is that Americans consumed a total of 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. That's 3.6 billion trillion bytes—or 36 followed by 20 zeros. And as the study notes, one zettabyte is the rough equivalent of 100 billion copies of all the books in the Library of Congress. Yikes.

Google Chrome Catches Up to Browsers Made in 1998
Google's WebKit-based web browser, Chrome, was updated (in beta form) to support extensions, a bit of functionality that most web browsers had a decade ago. But this actually makes Chrome quite interesting, as it turns out, and there are already a number of useful extensions available. Google also finally made Chrome available to Linux and Mac OS X users this past week, though of course those versions of the browser don't support extensions—at least not yet. I've been using Chrome pretty heavily for the past few weeks, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed: It's fast, fast, fast, and it seems to work properly with most of the web. That's more than I can say for the most-often-used web browser. You know what I mean.

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