WinInfo Short Takes: Week of January 19, 2009

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a Washington D.C. side trip, Microsoft layoffs, a video game education campaign aimed at clueless parents, a Vista compatibility fix (of sorts), a new Yahoo! CEO, and much, much more...

WinInfo Blog

I'm in Washington D.C. as I write this. No, not for next week's inauguration, though I'd love to see that. Instead, I'm here to visit with Rafael Rivera, who will be co-authoring the next edition of Windows Secrets with me, which we've imaginatively titled "Windows 7 Secrets." Works starts soon, but we just need to iron out some details so we can get started.

Ostensibly, I'm also here for a Microsoft traveling road show called the MSDN Developer Conference. It's sort of a mini, traveling PDC, and I'll try to spend some time in the Windows Azure sessions if I can get myself up for it. The actual show is in Reston, Virginia, not DC, so I'll also be getting up extra early Friday morning to head over to the rental car company. And that should be nice since the high temperatures all along the Northeast US are going to be in the teens (Fahrenheit) at best. Ah, the wonders of winter.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Wednesday, a day earlier than usual because of my trip. It should be available on the normal schedule by the end of the weekend as always.

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

Short Takes

Microsoft allegedly planning massive layoffs
While Microsoft has actually had several small bouts of layoffs, the company has never cut massive numbers of employees. Until now, according to a "Wall Street Journal" report. The paper says that Microsoft is mulling laying off several thousand workers, though the figure should be substantially less than the 15,000 number that was mentioned in recent rumors. So much for my emergency fallback plan: I was pretty sure I could get a job at least cleaning up in one of the company's cafeterias if everything else went south. And I do mean everything else.

Microsoft, Best Buy team up to educate parents about video games
And I'm guessing the message is going to be: "Seriously, spending $60 per Xbox 360 game is a perfectly legitimate way to entertain a child." As part of a new public service program called "Get Game Smart," Microsoft and Best Buy are trying to help parents make more educated decisions about video games for their children. For example, an M-rated video game is roughly analogous to an R-rated movie, so why you'd even consider letting little Johnny play "Grand Theft Auto" is sort of beyond me. If you are truly clueless about video games, or just clueless, do visit the site. And get a clue.

Three years too late, Microsoft finally fixes number one Vista complaint
Well, maybe the number TWO complaint: They didn't get rid of User Account Control (UAC). Instead, Microsoft has shipped a beta version of a virtualization tool that will allow enterprises to more easily rollout legacy applications that would otherwise not run on Windows Vista at all. As you might expect, it's got a painfully convoluted name--Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)--and will only be made available to Microsoft's volume licensing customers. But it's a start. MED-V (formerly Kidaro) basically installs a virtual machine running an older Windows version and whatever applications, providing an environment in which, to the user, those applications just appear to run properly under Vista. The final version will ship in Q2 2009 as part of the company's Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

Microsoft updates Azure tools; no one understands it now either
Microsoft this week released new versions of its Windows Azure software development kit (SDK) and Azure Tools for Visual Studio, tools aimed at helping developers get a handle on the company's coming cloud computing platform. The updates are the first since Microsoft shipped the initial versions of these tools as part of the Azure Community Technology Preview back in October at the PDC (Professional Developers Conference). Honestly, Azure is still so vague that most people don't quite understand how it works and how all the pieces fit together. Even Microsoft seems a bit confused by Azure: Part of the official Azure roadmap includes a Q2 2009 announcement about what the Azure roadmap is. Seriously, think about that one for a second.

Yahoo! picks a new CEO
Ailing Internet giant Yahoo! selected ex-Autodesk executive Carol Bartz to be its new CEO, replacing Yaboob Jerry Yang. Bartz has all the right credentials in that she's well-known and well-liked in Silicon Valley, and she's on the board of just the right number of high tech companies to boot. But it's unclear what she can do to resuscitate Yahoo! beyond having a giant yard sale. That sad, she's rumored to not be interested in making any major changes quickly, and that would include not selling off the company's search business to Microsoft anytime in the near future. Heck, maybe if she just waits long enough she won't even be able to sell it.

Apple finally admits that Steve Jobs is really sick. Now what?
With Steve Jobs wasting away before our eyes over the past year or so, the only real question wasn't whether he was sick but what exactly is the problem. That's still the question today because Apple and Jobs can't shake their secrecy schtick, and isn't it just getting a little tiring for everyone? Look, we get it guys: You're pathologically opposed to telling the truth. But what now? The guy is sick. He's taken a leave of absence. You're losing market share in the PC market and you just announced, well, nothing at your most recent trade show. Seriously. It's time to just fess up and tell the world what's really going on. And yeah, I mean that across the board.

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