WinInfo Short Takes: Week of November 5 - 02 Nov 2007

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a Seattle trip, a World Series victory, scripting wars, a lost Linux contract, Microsoft stock (and mojo) rising, IPTV MIA on Xbox 360, Windows Mobile Neo, Mac security, and so much more...

WinInfo Blog

As predicted, my cold is pretty much winding down in time for me to fly today to Seattle for a three-day Windows Server 2008 reviewers workshop early next week. I'm actually kind of looking forward to it, though these events are the note-taking equivalent of getting beat over the head with a stick.

Since last week's note about the Boston Red Sox, the team went on, predictably, to sweep the Colorado Rockies and win the World Series. I was tempted to go to the rolling parade they held in Boston earlier this week, but as noted previously, I was still a bit sick. Frankly, I was thrilled they won so quickly, if only so I could start going to sleep at a normal time again: Most of their last seven games or so in the playoffs ended well after midnight. Geehs.

I should note that a few of my co-workers, most of whom live in Colorado, chided me for not throwing out a positive word for the Rockies. I mean no offense, but comparing AL and NL teams of the past decade is a bit unfair, given the 7-3 AL World Series advantage, with 4 of those being sweeps (two by the Red Sox). I think of the Red Sox as a perfect mix of seasoned veterans and up-and-coming young players, while the Rockies seem to consist of one seasoned veteran and a bunch of up-and-coming young players. In the World Series, experience counts for a lot. But the Red Sox were simply more talented, sorry. And it wasn't the high-priced superstars that won these games, either, which makes it all the more sweet. Maybe next year, Colorado.

Leo and I are taking the week off from the Windows Weekly podcast because Leo is up in Vancouver. I hope to be back next week, though we'll have to work that around my own Seattle trip.

Short Takes

Microsoft, Mozila Spar Over Web Scripting
Microsoft and Mozilla are engaged in a public spat about what seems like a pretty technical point, but one that will have ramifications for the future of the Web. At issue is the next version of ECMAScript, more commonly referred to as JavaScript. Microsoft's contention is that compatibility with today's Internet--i.e. "not breaking the Web"--is the paramount concern, and that makes sense given the company's history: It would like to see an ECMAScript "revolution" take place with an entirely new scripting language. Mozilla's CTO Brendan Eich just happens to be the creator of JavaScript, however, and his company has a different opinion: Microsoft's arguments, he says, are self-serving because Microsoft would prefer to see the Web remain proprietary rather than standards-driven. It's hard to side with Mozilla on this one, frankly, as the Web is maturing to the point where it very much is a primary platform for today's consumers and business users. It's where people transact business and share ideas. It really is something that should be stable and reliable. My take on this is that ECMAScript shouldn't be overhauled dramatically, and that if such revolutions are on the way, they should take place in the context of a new language so that legacy services and Web applications are not broken. It's unclear to me how this turned into a shouting match, however. Mozilla's complaints seem baseless and invented. Yeah, I'm taking Microsoft's side here. It happens.

Mandriva Linux Loses Software Contract After Microsoft Intervention
And speaking of very public spats, the CEO of Mandriva Linux is seething this week because Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer swooped in at the last minute and stole a major software contract away from them. On Tuesday, Mandriva announced that it had secured a contract to distribute 17,000 copies of Linux on new PCs being delivered to Nigeria. A day later, however, the Nigerian government informed Mandriva that they will pay for the software they ordered but are planning to wipe out the systems and replace Mandriva Linux with Windows. Mandriva CEO Fran├žois Bancilhon accused Microsoft of "dirty" tactics and wondered aloud in a blog posting how this could possibly have happened. "Wow! I'm impressed, \[Microsoft CEO\] Steve \[Ballmer\]!," he wrote. "What have you done to these guys to make them change their mind like this? It's quite clear to me, and it will be to everyone. How do you call what you just did Steve? There is various names for it, I'm sure you know them ... You have the money, the power, and maybe we have a different sense of ethics you and I, but I still believe that hard work, good technology and ethics can win too." So... what? Microsoft can compete for a contract too? Is business suddenly an ethical battle where the company with the best morals wins the contract? I mean, on some level, I see the "unfairness" of this. But this is business, not kids pushing each over in a schoolyard. Maybe it's time for Mandriva to man up and shut up.

The Microsoft Surface Team Started a Blog This Week
... And I bet not one of them is writing it on that silly table. Just a thought.

Microsoft Unbundles SharePoint from Next Windows Server
Microsoft revealed this week that it is unbundling Windows Share Point Services (WSW) from Windows Server 2008, the upcoming release of its Windows Server software. WSW 3.0, a Web-based collaboration and document management system, will continue to be made available for free, but will not ship with Windows 2008 as of the upcoming Release Candidate 1 (RC1) version (the final version is due in Q1 2008). The reason? Microsoft wants to be able to ship WSW updates outside of the lengthy Windows Server release schedule. There's also an argument to be made that the WSW parent product, Office SharePoint Server, is being developed outside the Windows Server group anyway, and that maybe the software is better off not being tied to specific Windows Server versions. Whatever the reason, it's separate now, and I don't see that changing much.

Microsoft Stock ... Is Up?
For the first time since the Reagan administration, it seems, Microsoft's stock is actually climbing. OK, it hasn't really been that long, but Microsoft stock is at its highest point in six years, having hit about $37 this week. It's up 24 percent this year, after having hovered in the mid-$20's for most of the past several years. I've always thought that the stock market was the economic version of a roulette wheel, and Microsoft's stock quagmire is a perfect example. Microsoft financially destroys companies like Apple and Google on a regular basis, but the stock in both companies, especially Google, is just soaring. It doesn't make any sense.

Xbox 360 IPTV? Just Kidding, Guys
Remember how Microsoft showed off IPTV capabilities for the Xbox 360 in January? And remember who Microsoft then shipped a huge swath of new Xbox 360 consoles over the ensuing months, including the Xbox 360 Elite, the Xbox 360 with HDMI, the Xbox 360 Arcade, and the Xbox 360 Halo 3 Edition? Well, curiously, none of those new models includes this IPTV functionality, so you may be wondering what's going on there. As it turns out, absolutely nothing: Microsoft has no plans to ship IPTV capabilities for the Xbox 360 by the end of 2007, and it most certainly won't be included in the upcoming Fall Update, a software update that will apply to all Xbox 360 consoles. So when will IPTV happen? I suspect another January will come and go before we have the answer to that one.

Microsoft Unveils Neo UI for Windows Mobile
Microsoft and mobile provider T-Mobile this week unveiled the T-Mobile Shadow, and Windows Mobile-powered smartphone, with a twist: The UI looks nothing like Windows Mobile and is instead highly graphical and custom tailored for the device design. This week, Microsoft explained that the new UI, codenamed Neo, was made designed specifically for T-Mobile, which wanted a "cuddlier" user interface. So hey, that's neat. But what about the 99.99 percent of Windows Mobile users who aren't using a Shadow? Will Microsoft ever release a nicer looking Windows Mobile experience for the rest of us? You can find out more about Neo on the Windows Mobile blog.

Tired of Mac User Superiority Complex, Hackers Finally Target the Mac
There's a myth that's been circulating since, well, forever, that Macs are more secure than PCs. This myth was backed up by the fact that the Mac has never actually suffered from a major security breach. Those in the know, however, contend that the reality of the Mac's security situation is tied more to its low user base and the fact that hackers tend to like Apple more than Microsoft; and besides, Apple doesn't exactly respond to security problems in a timely manner either. This week, various pornography sites online unleashed a Mac-based Trojan attack by promising free dirty pictures. It's sort of the oldest trick in the book, if you will, but then Mac users aren't particularly sophisticated when it comes to having to worry about security threats. Welcome to the party, kids.

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