WinInfo Short Takes: Week of September 14, 2009

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

WinInfo Blog

I spent the week in Loveland, Colorado, which is where my company's offices are. It was a great chance to catch up with everyone and get nostalgic about past visits—not to mention relive some painfully hilarious memories. I also collected some new dubious memories, including a raucous restaurant incident involving a spectacularly loud Mariachi band (which still gives me involuntary shudders), and an instant-classic "walk into a closet in the dark" episode yesterday that left an angry mark on my forehead. My point is simple: I've been put on Earth as a warning to others, and my friends in Loveland will never let me forget it.

I recorded this week's episode of the Windows Weekly podcast with Leo from the Windows IT Pro offices on Thursday before scurrying off to Denver to catch a Colorado Rockies game. Well, sort of. I arrived in the bottom of the ninth. Anyway, the episode should be up by 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 Continues Its Positive Stance with First Windows 7 Ad
In sharp contrast with Apple's snarky (and sometimes near-libelous) "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads, Microsoft's ads for the past few years have been fun, light, and decidedly good-hearted. The trend continues nicely with the first Windows 7 ad, which features a cute kid, good vibes, and the tag line "More happy is coming." It's just good stuff, and if you were looking for the true fundamental difference between the PC world and the Mac world, look no further. Apple is all about ridiculing anyone who doesn't buy its stuff and agree with its worldview. Microsoft? Not so much.

DOJ Examining Microsoft/Yahoo! Linkup Further
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) this week asked both Microsoft and Yahoo! for more information about their proposed Internet search partnership, a move that expands the agency's investigation. The DOJ is trying to ensure that the Microsoft/Yahoo! deal passes regulatory muster, and it looks as if an approval isn't coming anytime soon. Given Yahoo!'s proclamations since the deal was announced, I have to wonder whether Microsoft will get cold feet before the DOJ renders a final verdict. On the other hand, Yahoo!'s shouts of independence should do much to help approve the deal. So maybe it's just a cunning plan after all. Hmmm ...

Not an American? No Zune for You. For Now.
Microsoft confirmed this week that it will sell the eagerly awaited Zune HD only in the United States when the device starts shipping next week. That decision doesn't preclude the Zune HD from going international after that, but the news has disappointed people around the world who have been waiting three years to get their hands on Microsoft's nicely designed but slow-selling Zune devices. (Microsoft finally shipped the second-generation Zune devices to Canada last year.) But take heart in the language used, because this is clearly a temporary situation. "For the time being, the Zune HD device will remain US only," a Microsoft representative said. "Right now, we are focused on deploying an exciting service in the form of Zune Video to 18 markets. We are looking at potential future hardware experiences for these markets but do not have anything to announce right now."

Microsoft: We're Not Pushing Pornography
Responding to ridiculous claims on CNET that it had designed its Bing search engine (excuse me, "decision engine") to be particularly good at finding pornography, and that it had furthermore purchased porn-based sponsored links on Google, Microsoft this week said that CNET needed to get a life. "The keyword that seems to be triggering these results is 'free videos,'" a Microsoft representative explained to CNET. "We are following up with Google to understand why this ad is showing up in these types of queries." Here's an equally spurious (and slanderous) possibility: Google is engineering its search results to show Bing ads during pornography searches. That claim is no less preposterous than what CNET wrote. I'm just saying.

August Video Game Sales Up Again for Microsoft
Cutting video game console prices had a nice effect on sales in August for both Microsoft and Sony. Microsoft's Xbox 360 console saw a 10 percent bump in sales to 215,400 units, while Sony's PlayStation 3 was up 13 percent to 210,000 units. (Market leader Nintendo Wii dropped a whopping 39 percent, but still outsold the others with 277,400 units.) Overall, however, video game sales for the month were down 16 percent. But since we're in a Depression (though no one wants to admit it), that's still positive news because it's better than the 29 percent dip in July and the 31 percent falloff in June. It's called adjusting expectations, people.

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