WinInfo Short Takes: Week of November 9, 2009

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

WinInfo Blog

I'm in the Seattle area this week—Redmond, really—visiting with friends and even getting into the odd Microsoft meeting or two. I attended the SQL PASS Conference earlier in the week so I could catch up on Microsoft's latest SQL Server version, had some meetings at the Microsoft campus, and now hope to be able to relax a bit today and tomorrow for a change. I'm back home next week, and then it's off to Los Angeles for PDC 2009 after that.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week and special guest, Ed Bott, came along for the ride. The new episode should be up soon.

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

Short Takes

More Evidence of a Strong Windows 7 Launch
So far, we've seen such things as Windows 7 presales outselling the combined presales for Windows Vista and Windows XP combined and, more recently, news from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that Windows 7 handily generated more revenue than any previous version of Windows in its first 10 days of availability. But you want more, don't you? Yesterday, NPD market researchers said that retail sales of boxed copies of Windows 7 were 234 percent higher in the first week of availability than sales of Vista were during its first week on the market. This figure applies only to consumer sales of retail, boxed software—a tiny percentage of actual sales overall and one that doesn't include any business sales. "Our expectations were already pretty great, but \[Windows 7 sales\] exceeded our expectations," a Wal-Mart spokesperson added.

Sophos Accuses Microsoft of Neutering UAC in Windows 7 ... I Accuse Sophos of Stupidity
After all the complaining about the User Account Control (UAC) feature in Windows Vista, you'd think that Microsoft's decision to alter the feature in Windows 7 to be less annoying would be appreciated by people. But not at Sophos: A security researcher there says that Microsoft "neutered" UAC in Windows 7, and to "prove" his point, he loaded up an antivirus-less Windows 7 PC with 10 popular Trojan attacks. Um, what? Isn't that what antivirus software is for? And isn't UAC really just a means by which users prevent software from running with admin privileges until they explicitly OK it? Yeah, as it turns out, that is what UAC is, and even the boob from Sophos admitted that his test "didn't accurately portray how secure Windows 7 was overall." So instead of giving this company some good PR and potentially a few new customers, let's just ridicule it for proving that even a security company doesn't get security sometimes. Thanks for nothing.

Microsoft: Don't Use Our Cloud-Computing Solutions
OK, the company didn't say that exactly. But Microsoft did publish a whitepaper this week warning its customers to seriously consider the privacy implications of moving to the cloud-computing solutions it is now heavily publicizing. "Cloud computing does raise a number of important policy questions concerning how people, organizations, and governments handle information and interactions in this environment," the whitepaper reads. "Privacy protections are essential to building the customer trust needed for cloud computing and the Internet to reach their full potential." But hey, if you're scared, fear not: Unlike, say, Google, Microsoft does offer on-premise solutions, as well. Wink, wink.

More Complaining from Microsoft's Browser Competitors
The real-life soap opera that is Microsoft's soon-to-be-over antitrust battle with the European Union (EU) took an unfortunate and unnecessary side-trip this week when the software giant's browser competitors—Google, Mozilla, and Opera—demanded more concessions in the so-called "browser ballot screen" that Microsoft will be adding to Windows in Europe. They want more frequent monitoring of Microsoft, which is somewhat reasonable, and fewer warnings about installing competing browsers. Opera, for example, wants a one-click installation option with no warnings. Mozilla doesn't want the browsers listed alphabetically, because then it would appear last. Fortunately, EU regulators, for once, appear ready to stop fighting. "A number of people are never 100 percent satisfied," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said. "But there are some warts, things that can easily be fixed."

Zoho: The Fake Office
This week, Microsoft Corporate VP Ron Markezich was discussing alternatives to Microsoft Office when he referred to solutions such as Google Docs, Zimbra, and Zoho as "offering fake Office capabilities." This was understandably upsetting to the fakers, and one in particular—Zoho—decided to respond in a particularly funny way: by buying the domain and using it to advertise its product. "Zoho ... the fake Office," the site reads. "If by 'fake' Microsoft meant that there is no CD or DVD to buy, no bloatware to download, nothing to install, no hundreds of dollars to pay ... then yeah, we agree." Good stuff, but with regards to the actual argument, Zoho is really nice for a web app. But it's not Office, sorry.

Verizon: This Is the Droid You're Looking For
Verizon Wireless today launched its (curiously) eagerly awaited Android-based smart phone, the Droid. It's being hailed—this week, at least—as the latest in a long line of supposed Apple iPhone killers. But as I'm sure you've all been noticing, the world of gadget fans and gizmo peddlers is one of fleeting interest, and I'm sure by next week we'll all have moved on to the Next Big Thing. Sorry, but that's what it's like in the attention-challenged world of blogger sweatshops run by children. You know the sites I'm referring to. It's up to you to just ignore them.

That Said...
There's one broader concern surrounding the Droid that troubles me. The same gadget-blogger goobers who have been ceaselessly promoting Droid for Verizon have also decided, somehow, that the Google Android platform that powers it—despite having approximately 0 percent market share right now—is the heir apparent, and will sit side-by-side with Apple's iPhone, ruling the galaxy. That they've so easily written off such actual competitors as Nokia, Research in Motion (BlackBerry), Palm (WebOS), and Microsoft (Windows Mobile) is sort of amazing. But then these guys are known for a lack of perspective. Maybe this isn't so surprising. (And if Android is so good, by the way, why does Google need to make another mobile OS? I'm just wondering.)

Meaningless Statistics, Part 1
So, Apple's App Store for the iPhone now has more than 100,000 apps—an astonishing achievement and one that Apple, in typical fashion, is trumpeting to the world. There's just one thing. If you actually look at the App Store, you quickly realize that about 99,900 of the apps are utter crap, and what you really have here is an app store with about 100 excellent apps and the promise of more … available somewhere else that you'll never visit. I'd bet pretty heavily that very few iPhone users ever get past the featured apps and top 10 lists that Apple publishes. In some ways, this situation is similar to how the music store works, where once you get past a certain number of songs, all you're really talking about is search and new music charts.

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