WinInfo Short Takes: Week of October 21

Windows XP: 67 Million Copies and Counting
Microsoft contacted me Thursday evening to tip me off to a new sales record: In its first year, over 67 million copies of Windows XP have been sold in the OEM and retail channels alone, the company noted. This makes Windows XP the fastest selling version of Windows ever. Microsoft also tried to counter recent reports about slow corporate adoption of WinXP by noting that 63 percent of all WinXP sales are of WinXP Professional, the business version of WinXP. But if this past week's security road show was any indication, corporate customers are well on the way to adopting WinXP. In non-scientific "show of hands" crowd surveys, I was rather surprised by the number of people already using WinXP in the enterprise.

Microsoft Announces Record Profits
Yesterday, Microsoft announced revenues of $7.75 billion for its first quarter 2003, which ended September 30, 2002, a 26 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago, when the company posted revenues of $6.13 billion. But profits for the quarter were up even more: The company reported operating income of $4.05 billion, compared to $2.90 billion in the same period last year. Yikes. Looks like Microsoft is back to printing money again.

Inquiry Begins in Microsoft Beta Site Hack
Late last week, Microsoft's private Web site for beta testers was breached, causing company officials to issue new passwords to testers. But the situation is a little more serious than originally thought, and Microsoft is now participating in a criminal investigation. "We can confirm that there was an illegal intrusion last week," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "Due to the ongoing criminal investigation and our desire to apprehend the person or persons responsible, we can not comment further on any details."

Microsoft Loses Key Software Ruling in California
Microsoft was handed a major legal setback this week when San Francisco Superior Court Judge Paul Alvarado ruled that California courts can use federal antitrust findings against the company during a class action case that could cost the software giant up to $8 billion. The ruling means that jurors in the California case will accept the federal case's Findings of Fact as fact. The class action case arose in the wake of the Microsoft antitrust trial and alleges that Microsoft overcharged California consumers for Windows in a bid to maintain its software monopoly. The case is just one of many the company now faces, but it could be the most financially damaging because California has strict pro-consumer laws and, well, lots of potential victims.

Dell Regains Crown as Gateway, Apple, Others Stumble
According to reports by IDC and Gartner, Dell Computer regained its position as the number one PC maker this past quarter, wrestling away the crown from Hewlett-Packard (HP). Dell shipped about 5.2 million PCs, compared to 5 million for HP, in a quarter in which overall PC shipments rose 3.8 percent. But with PC sales finally rising, why are some players still having problems? Gateway lost almost $50 million in the quarter and saw sales dip 21 percent compared to a year earlier, though the company notes that sales are actually up 12 percent from the previous quarter. For Apple Computer, however, there's even less good news: The company lost $45 million in the quarter, and saw Mac shipments fall 14 percent, year-over-year. Also, Apple has sold just 280,000 copies of Mac OS X 10.2 "Jaguar."

The Problem with Microsoft's Bluetooth hardware... that they're useless for game players. According to David Chernikoff, who recently reviewed the Microsoft Bluetooth Desktop, which includes a Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse, the products work fine for desktop applications but lag behind in real-time online games like Quake III Arena. The keyboard also lacks any sort of indicator light, and includes the same lame keyboard layout the company introduced last month with the Natural Multimedia keyboards. I do think that Bluetooth is going to be a popular technology, but I'm surprised Microsoft's products are a step back from previous non-Bluetooth models.

Apple vs. Boston, Or Are Things More Complicated?
So, it's official: IDG is moving MacWorld to Boston. There's just one problem: Despite being aware of the plan for several months and not raising a single concern, Apple Computer abruptly announced that it would not attend the Boston show, casting a pall over Boston's celebration and leaving Mac fans wondering what happened. But the truth behind this story may have nothing to do with the new location. IDG officials now believe that Apple is using the show's move to Boston as a scapegoat that will let Apple save some money by attending only one major tradeshow a year in the US. With sales and market share steadily falling, this is probably a good financial move for the company, but one has to wonder: Is this the beginning of the end?

Windows Users: Got Spam?
An ingenious but annoying new type of spam is taking advantage of an administrative feature in Windows called the messenger service (no relation to Windows Messenger or MSN Messenger) to broadcast bulk pop-up advertisements to Windows servers and desktops. The messenger service is usually used by systems administrators to send on-screen messages to users. This is a typical example of the way Windows' historic ease-of-use features were designed without any security methodology whatsoever, a fact the company is trying to reverse through its Trustworthy Computing initiative. However, as I've often argued, only a truly new platform, designed for security above features, will be truly secure. This is because hackers will always find a way to compromise legacy systems like Windows, no matter how many band-aids Microsoft applies. I think the company realizes this. In fact, I think that's what the company's Palladium project seeks to fix.

Microsoft Switcher Ads Embarrassing, But Are Apple's Ads Even More Disingenuous?
Thanks to Robert Downey for forwarding me an interesting report comparing Microsoft's recent "Switcher" embarrassment, in which two essentially fake switcher ads appeared on its Web site, to Apple Computer's multi-million dollar national ad campaign, in which Windows users have allegedly switched to the Mac. According to Scott McCollum at World Tech Tribune, news agencies were very quick to jump all over Microsoft for the ads, but they gave Apple a pass when some interesting deceptions in the Switch ad campaign came to light in August (For example, one of the switchers who complained about her PC's "stupid little speakers" was once a music consultant for Apple). It's an interesting report, if only because it shows how the media reacts to both Microsoft and Apple in nearly identical events. The US News and World Report article that McCollum mentions is also linked below.

Windows .NET Server 2003 Review, Part Two
Sorry to the many people who wrote in about part two of my Windows .NET Server 2003 review: After missing my Friday deadline, I promptly hit the road for this week's Security Roadshow, and I wasn't able to finish the report, or update the site, for technical reasons. But I'll post Part Two later today. Seriously.

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