WinInfo Short Takes: Week of February 18, 2008

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a trip to London, a Microsoft reorg in anticipation of buying Yahoo!, an Xbox 360 "shortage," Vista SP1 availability update, Mozilla ships Firefox 3 Beta 3, Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD, and more...

WinInfo Blog
Anyone else tired of the Yahoo!/Microsoft yet? This is like a compacted version of Microsoft's US antitrust trial: It seems like it's the only thing going on right now. I'm trying to keep it balanced, but obviously this is a big story, and I can't ignore it. I wish Microsoft would just make an offer they can't refuse so we could at least move on to all the stories about the problems they're going to have integrating the two companies. Ah, to dream.

By the time you read this, I'll either be on the way to London (Friday) or there already, I guess. Most of the trips I've taken across the Atlantic have been overnighters, but this one is a daytime trip, so my family and I leave in the morning and arrive in the evening, which I'm hoping will get our internal clocks jumpstarted. We'll be there until next Friday.

Leo and I recorded a blockbuster episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week, clocking in at around 90 minutes. And despite my impending trip, we won't be missing next week either. Who loves you?

Short Takes

Microsoft Shuffles the Deck in Anticipation of Yahoo! Deal
Microsoft this week announced a number of internal promotions and executive exoduses (exodi?) in its Windows and online groups in what is clearly a presage of its impending deal with Yahoo!. The most telling promotion is that of Satya Nadella, previously the senior vice president of Microsoft's search, portals and advertising group: It looks like he's being positioned to handle the Yahoo!/Microsoft integration. Of course, should the Yahoo! deal fall apart, Microsoft will likely move executives around once again. It seems like they do this 13 times a year anyway.

April Fools? Microsoft .. Get This ... Sees 'Xbox 360 Shortage'
I know, it sounds crazy, but Microsoft says that it will soon be facing a shortage of its Xbox 360 video game console because of higher-than-expected sales in the post-holiday period. "We are really running short of product here in the United States," says Microsoft head of global marketing Jeff Bell. "You could say we misjudged demand." Here's my take on this: Microsoft expected to sell about 17 consoles in January and sold somewhere around 20. Meanwhile, Nintendo probably sold about 1 million consoles in the same time period, slightly (ahem) ahead of Microsoft. Not coincidentally, video game sales figures for the month of January are expected to be released Friday, and my guess is that we're going to see Nintendo stomping all over poor Microsoft. My further guess is that not building enough consoles isn't the reason why the 360 got stomped. But hey, it's just a guess. And for the record, I bet Sony sold about 13 PlayStation 3's in January to come in a distant third. Again.

Windows Vista SP1 Goes Out to MSDN, TechNET Early
Those lucky enough to have access to MSDN or TechNet Plus subscriptions may be interested to hear that Microsoft has bowed to public pressure and released Windows Vista Service Pack 1 via those venues. This release is significantly earlier than the original plan, which saw Microsoft delivering SP1 to MSDN and TechNet much later in the month. Maybe they'll relent and let the general population download it early too. We can dream.

Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.0 Beta 3, Plans 4th Beta
Mozilla this week shipped the third major pre-release milestone of its Firefox 3 browser, Firefox 3 Beta 3. This release adds a number of new enhancements, but comes with some bad news as well: Mozilla is abandoning its plan to make Firefox 3.0 a native Vista application and will instead skin the browser with a horrible looking user interface that is basically identical across all platforms. Mozilla says that it is doing this so that it won't lose whatever branding identity it has, but I think it's a mistake: The upcoming Vista skin is ugly and a far cry from the mockups Mozilla had showed off last October. I realize that there's a lot more to Firefox than the look and feel, but Mozilla could have had the Vista poster child on their hands. Instead, they've given up. Anyway, a later Beta 4 release should include the final, craptacular, Vista skin.

Best Buy, Netflix Throw Support Behind Blu-Ray
In the event that you were looking for yet another reason that HD DVD is doomed, I've got two: First, US retailing giant Best Buy this week announced that it would put its marketing muscle behind Blu-Ray instead of HD DVD, though it will still offer HD DVD titles in less well-traveled parts of its stores. And second, Netflix, the number one DVD mail-based rental service, said this week that it would offer Blu-Ray exclusively to its customers and drop support for HD DVD entirely. Listen. I think I hear a fat lady, singing.

HP Settles Spying Case
Computing giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) has settled with reporters from The New York Times and Business Week that sued the company for spying on them during HP's tumultuous post-Carly period in 2006. HP will pay the reporters an undisclosed sum and, in return, from what I can gather, the reporters will stop telling the world what a dirty, dirty company HP is. According to reports, HP's board actually hired investigators to "pretext," or pretend to be other people in order to obtain the reporters' private records from telephone companies. HP previously paid the state of California $14.5 million in fines and promised to change its corporate governing practices. Several high ranking HP executives, including chairperson Patricia Dunn, were forced to step down as a result of the scandal. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that reporters from The Wall Street Journal, who were also pretexted during the scandal, decided to "man up" and not sue HP.

Presidents Day
Finally, it looks like we'll be off Monday for President's Day, so WinInfo will back Tuesday. Thanks! --Paul

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