WinInfo Short Takes: Week of June 22

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

WinInfo Blog

Between the incessant beep-beep-beep of construction trucks on my street and the near-constant gloom and rain this month, I've had to keep checking the calendar to make sure that it's actually June. I've also had to keep checking the GPS to make sure we haven't moved to Seattle. But no, we're still here outside Boston. This time of year, we've usually hit the beach several times already, but we haven't even gone once yet. My bike sits unused in my garage. And I keep expecting my car to bottom out on the unmarked trenches that were once normally paved roads. It's just been a lousy spring, basically, and I'm ready for it to end.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast Thursday. It should be available by the end of the weekend, as always.

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

Short Takes

Microsoft to Release Free Security Software To-Morro ... Well, Actually, Next Tuesday
Next week, Microsoft will deliver a limited public beta of its Morro security software, which has been branded Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). Essentially a free version of the anti-malware technology that previously appeared in OneCare, MSE will ship in beta form for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP on June 23, 2009, and in final form by the end of 2009. You can read all about it on the SuperSite for Windows.

Microsoft Extends XP's Life Again
I've already made all the "Friday the 13th" jokes I can think of, but let's just say that rumors of Windows XP's death, once again, have been greatly exaggerated. According to its most recent plans, Microsoft would have officially stopped selling XP on April 22, 2010—six months after the release of Windows 7. But that schedule was a little too aggressive for Microsoft's Vista-skipping corporate customers (i.e., virtually all of them), so now the company is once again extending XP a lifeline. "Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate customers will have the option to downgrade to Windows XP Professional from PCs that ship within 18 months following the general availability of Windows 7 or until the release of a Windows 7 service pack, whichever is sooner, and if a service pack is developed," a Microsoft spokesperson said. What I enjoy most about this quote is how the service pack silliness from Vista—in which the company pretends it isn't actively developing a service pack for some reason—is rearing its head again,. More important, I guess, is that businesses will now have until at least April 2011 to get their Windows 7 upgrade plans in order. Get busy, people.

Microsoft/Google Standoff Continues in Tepid Fashion
Microsoft and Google ... well, they don't like each other (to put it charitably). While Google raced through the first few years of its existence pretending it was in a completely different market than Microsoft and was thus not a competitor, the past couple of years have been much more telling. And now that it's obvious that Google isn't just going after certain Microsoft businesses but is, in fact, intent on attacking Microsoft's key businesses, the animosity between the companies is evolving from an open secret into all-out war. Consider the most recent skirmish. This past week, Google introduced a free utility that will help businesses of all sizes migrate from expensive and complex Microsoft Exchange Server systems to free or very inexpensive Google services. (This is sort of like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, or it would be if Google hadn't been tiptoeing toward such a complete solution for some time now.) Meanwhile, Microsoft fired back with complaints that the Google utility actually disables one of Outlook's core features (instant search), accusing the online giant of creating buggy software but creating a workaround for users. The companies are actually working together to fix the problem (!), but let's face it: In the sense that Microsoft represents the past and Google represents the future, Microsoft is going to need a better response than assisting the company that is busying trying to siphon off its customers. Just a thought.

New Xbox 360 Next Year, or Just the Same Tired Console with a Baloney Motion-Control Add-On?
Microsoft is desperate to earn back the development bucks it put into the Xbox 360, which means that it will need to keep selling this piece of junk until we're all retired. So, it's developing a plan to extend the life cycle of the console to 2015 or so, when the thing will look like an Atari 2600 compared with the PCs (and, likely, smart phones) of the day. Part of that strategy involves "Project Natal," the yet-to-be-named Nintendo Wii-like motion control system that it might launch next year. And when you add foot-in-mouth Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to the mix, hilarity ensues. Yep, it's just another day in the wacky, never-ending soap opera that I like to call "Xbox 360: March to Profitability, November 2015 or Bust." Anyway, here's what's happening: Ballmer said this week that Microsoft will launch a new Natal-based version of the Xbox 360 next year. And then virtually everyone else at the company said they weren't doing that. Cue the soundtrack to "Benny Hill," sit back, and enjoy.

Microsoft to Supply Ads for NBC
It's just like the heady days when Microsoft and NBC were working together to merge Internet-based and traditional newsgathering techniques and form the cable/web news powerhouse MSNBC—you know, if that had actually happened. This time around, Microsoft and NBC's new alliance is all about delivering ads, not news, and if that isn't a statement about the state of our world, I don't know what is. Hey, at least the length of TV ads matches peoples' attention spans these days.

Zune HD Utilizes New NVIDIA Processor Platform
The upcoming Zune HD portable media player will be among the first to utilize NVIDIA's Tegra "computer on a chip" platform, sources confirmed this week. The platform consists of an ARM core processor; integrated memory, graphics, and storage; and all kinds of output options (including, yes, HDMI). But the really cool thing about this platform is its size: The whole thing is about the size of a stick of chewing gum. It kind of makes a Mac mini look like a room-sized mainframe by comparison.

iPhone 3G S Not Quite as Exciting as the iPhone 3G Was a Year Ago
Today, Apple fanatics are partying like its 2007. Sort of. In sharp contrast to the humongous lines that formed days in advance of the original iPhone in 2007 and the iPhone 3G in 2008, only a handful of goons opted to spend the night in front of Apple Stores and AT&T retail outlets last night in preparation for the release of the iPhone 3G S. Apple fan sites, of course, are reporting on the lines in sort of a lame bid to make it sound more exciting than it is, but the best quote I've seen so far comes from PC World's Harry McCracken who, standing in a short line at an Apple Store in the Bay Area, noted, "I've seen longer queues and more commotion at Walgreens' pharmacy on a weekend." LOL.

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