WinInfo Short Takes: Week of July 2

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including Mark's surgery success, the iPhone launch, Windows Server 2008 in production, Vista security claims, worst science jobs ever, a $500 PC in India, Red Hat patent talk, and much, much more...

Short Takes

- Switches to Windows Server 2008

- Microsoft Ships Windows 2008 CTP

- Red Hat Admits to Microsoft IP Talks

- Microsoft's More Secure Claim for Vista Possibly Even More Controversial than Expected

- Worst Job Ever? It Might Be Working in the Microsoft Security Unit

- Microsoft Pushes $500 PC in India

- Ex-Googler Returns to Microsoft, Pens Critical Missive About Google

- Google Brings Desktop Search to Linux

- Here Comes the iPhone




    by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Mark finally had his long-awaited cochlear implant surgery on Monday and I'm relieved and excited to tell you that it went much better than expected. The day was, of course, stressful and emotional, and since Mark selected me to go down to anesthesia with him, I had the tough assignment of holding his hand while they placed the mask over his mouth. I watched his eyelids grow heavy as he finally slipped into anesthetized sleep. While almost anyone should be able to appreciate how painful that was, I suspect the parents out there are especially empathetic. These moments can be very trying. 

Mark's surgery was expected to last about five hours, which is longer than usual for a cochlear implant operation. The concern was that X-rays had previously shown some calcification, or hardening, in the cochlea, which meant he wouldn't be able to get a full insertion of the implant. (They were hoping to insert just 8 of the 16 nodes on the implant.) The surgeon said she would try to clear away as much of the hardening as possible to make the implant more successful. So away they went. When the phone rang three hours into the procedure, stunning us out of a lackluster and distracted lunch in the hospital cafeteria, we figured we were in for some bad news. Fortunately, that wasn't the case at all: Whatever had shown up on the X-ray, it wasn't calcification. Mark's cochlea was surprisingly clear and the surgeon was able to do a full insertion of the implant, thus finishing much earlier than expected. Everything went perfectly. Stephanie went down to meet up with Mark in recovery and an hour later they were upstairs. Mark was still groggy from the anesthesia, and nauseous, but otherwise doing well. His first words were, "Are they going to start soon?" Priceless and perfect.

He spent the night at the hospital and was declared fit to travel home the next morning. This week, of course, has been difficult, but he's gotten better each day and the pain is pretty much just a dull throbbing on the side of his head. He's more concerned with embarrassment over his "massive head wound Harry" head dressing than anything else, which I'm sure is normal for a nine year old. I had and continue to have a hard time getting back up to speed with work, though things are finally starting to calm down. This sort of thing is draining and of course ongoing. Looking ahead, the doctors will be able to turn on his implant in a few weeks. Then, it's a waiting game: Mark may never be able to hear out of that side, since it's been inactive for eight years now and he's spent those years training himself to hear only from the other side of his head, which received his first cochlear implant when he was 18 months old. So I guess we'll see: It could be a year before we know how it will work. Best case, he will gain positional hearing ("stereo," or 3D sound, I guess), be better able to hear people in crowded and loud environments, and maybe gain better appreciation of music, which today is pretty much lost to him. Honestly, this is all gravy: Mark has done fabulously well with what he has and we're very proud of him. This week was simply the latest miracle in this young man's life. 

If you're curious about this event, I wrote a blog post on the Internet Nexus the night of his surgery as well:

And we have a photo slide show available:

Finally, thanks to everyone who's written in with kind words about Mark. I'm humbled by the amazing thoughts and prayers we've received from around the world. What's amazing is that Mark can now read these for himself, which is an interesting difference from the first time around. Of course, he already thought the world revolved around him, so this has only solidified that opinion. We'll continue to work on that. Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week and as usual, it should be up soon. I think this podcast was our longest episode yet, as Leo actually ran out of recording space on his hard drive at one point. There's always so much to discuss. (

Reading the paper this morning, I noticed an editorial about Apple's iPhone, so I looked up at my wife and said, "So... are you going to wait in line to get an iPhone tonight?" Her instant reply of "No" was said with an absolutely perfect combination of disdain and surprise. She'd never wait in line for that sort of thing (her begrudging appearance in a line to buy Mac OS X 10.3 a few years back caused her to start ripping into all the Apple geeks nearby, which was classic). And she literally had no idea that it was going on sale today.My wife is, in other words, perfectly normal, and I love her for that, because she can and does instantly deflate any needlessly geeky tendencies I might have. We all need people like this in our lives.



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

    by Paul Thurrott, [email protected] Switches to Windows Server 2008

Microsoft this week moved its production Web site,, to Windows Server 2008, a practice known in the industry as "dog-fooding." The idea is that Microsoft has such confidence in its next server OS, even at this beta stage, that it can run its own infrastructure on the system. The company notes that is the fifth-most trafficked site on the Internet (fourth in the US) and is visited by almost 290 million unique users every day. Microsoft has performed similar exercises with pre-release versions of other Windows Server versions, SQL Server, Exchange Server, and other products in the past.

Microsoft Ships Windows 2008 CTP

Speaking of Windows 2008, Microsoft shipped an interim version, or Community Technology Preview (CTP), of the software to testers this week. This interim build of Windows 2008 includes the previously announced Web Server role for Server Core, the low-impact version of Windows Server that's debuting in this product version. Beyond that, there aren't many obvious changes as the previous milestone, Beta 3, was pretty much "feature complete." (I use quotes there because, in this case at least, that's not technically true: Web Server in Server Core has been added since, and Microsoft has yet to ship its Windows Server Virtualization technologies as well.) The CTP offers bug fixes, performance improvements, and other minor changes, Microsoft says.

Red Hat Admits to Microsoft IP Talks

Linux maker Red Hat said this week that it discussed a possible patent agreement with Microsoft last year but ultimately decided to pass on the deal. However, it's unclear if a deal is still on the table: When Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik was asked this week whether his company was still negotiating with Microsoft, he said "I can't answer the question," fueling speculation. Red Hat is, of course, the world's largest open source company, so a Microsoft deal would be major news. Stay tuned.

Microsoft's More Secure Claim for Vista Possibly Even More Controversial than Expected

I think we all understood that when Microsoft made claims about Windows Vista being more secure than Linux or Mac OS X this week that the open source community, in particular, would take umbrage. Well, that's happened, yes, but one of the complainers has an interesting charge: Kristian Hermansen of Full Disclosure claims that Microsoft actually stacked the deck in Vista's favor by "silently" fixing numerous vulnerabilities in Vista and then not disclosing that it did so. But here's the problem: He never provides any examples of these silently fixed bugs, although he goes to great pains to explain why the numbers Microsoft used are suspect. If you're in a fighting mood, you can read more on

Worst Job Ever? It Might Be Working in the Microsoft Security Unit

And speaking of Microsoft security, "Popular Science" magazine this month ran a feature article about the 10 worst jobs in science, and "Microsoft security grunt" came in sixth place. That's funny and obvious at the same time, I guess. But it could be worse: Coming in ahead (or, hmm, behind) Microsoft were hazmat driver, oceanographer, elephant vasectomist, garbologist, and coursework carcass preparer. That's some interesting company.

Microsoft Pushes $500 PC in India

Microsoft had teamed up with chip maker AMD and PC maker Zenith to create low-cost computers for the India PC market. But there's just one problem: At $590 for a bare-bones system, they're hardly low-cost. Heck, you can get computers for just over half that here in the United States. By comparison, MIT's Nicholas Negroponte plans to sell his One Laptop Per Child notebook computer for just $175, and he wants to get the price down to $100 within a few years. Of course, the Microsoft/AMD/Zenith machine is quite a bit more powerful. I guess it has to be to run something like Vista.

Ex-Googler Returns to Microsoft, Pens Critical Missive About Google

This one's a little convoluted, but here we go: A company called Phatbits was founded a few years back by a guy from Microsoft. When Phatbits was purchased by Google, that guy went to Google briefly and worked as a senior software engineer. However, after a short time, he became disillusioned and returned to Microsoft. And there, he penned a little missive that debunks a bunch of the feel-good myths about Google. He says that "Microsoft is an amazingly transparent company. Google is not." For a look at the concerns he raises, check out his amazing blog post:

Google Brings Desktop Search to Linux

Now who is Google going to complain to the DOJ about? Google this week shipped a version of its Google Desktop Search (GDS) application for Linux. However, like the OS X version (and unlike the Windows version), it's a stripped-down affair that doesn't include the useful Sidebar feature, but it does feature Google's desktop search algorithms, which is pretty much the core of the product. Linux users can also download versions of Picasa, Google Earth, and Google Toolbar for Firefox that work for their OS. Maybe that little backwater desktop OS will finally join the big leagues. Assuming you're into Google applications, I guess.

Here Comes the iPhone

And last, but not least, tonight marks the coming out party for Apple's long-awaited iPhone. I won't be waiting in line for what I hope are obvious reasons (plus my wife would never stop ridiculing me), but I'll definitely be getting one for review. Early reviews suggest some of my concerns are valid: The AT&T wireless network can hardly be called "high speed" let alone "broadband," and the virtual keyboard isn't going to cut it for today's smart phone-based Systems Management Server (SMS) mavens. But I'll give the iPhone its due after actually using it. See you next week...

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