WinInfo Short Takes: Week of September 21, 2009

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including great student deals on Windows 7, a first peek at the Office Web Applications, a new IE vulnerability, the end of support for Windows 2000, Google display ads, and so much more...

WinInfo Blog

After two straight weeks on the road, I finally spent a week at home, but it was curiously non-restful what with all the stuff going on. Plus, Fall appears to be in full swing around here, despite the summer calendar date. It's cool out, the kids are back in school, and they're selling pumpkins in front of the supermarket. I'll be around for a few weeks more and then it's back to Amsterdam and Paris in early October, this time for work.

I recorded this this week's episode of the Windows Weekly podcast with Leo from the Penton offices on Thursday as usual, before scurrying off to see 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

Students Can Get Windows 7 for Just $30
Microsoft this week revealed that students in the United States can get Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional for just $30, beginning October. And the deal is being extended, with similar pricing to students in the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Korea and Mexico. Check the website starting October 1 for details. (And remember that students attending schools that participate in MSDNAA can get Windows 7 for free via download. Check with your educational institution for details.)

Microsoft Finally Delivers Preview of Office Web Applications
Almost ten months after it originally promised to deliver a pre-release version of its web-based office productivity solution, Microsoft finally shipped a Tech Preview version of its Office Web Applications. Sadly, there's plenty of downsides to this release. First off, almost none of the Web Apps offer the full functionality that will come eventually (Word Web App can't even edit documents, for example). Also, the Tech Preview is closed and limited to a very small group of people. So if you're waiting to check it out, you've got a few more months ahead of you. In the meantime, check out my preview on the SuperSite for Windows. I'll post more screenshots soon as well.

Microsoft Investigating IE Hijack Vulnerability
Another day, another IE hack. Microsoft this week admitted that it was investigating reports that there is a hack out there that lets hackers hijack secure browsing sessions. Oddly, the problem affects Apple's Safari for Windows browser as well as IE, but apparently that's Microsoft's fault, since Safari's vulnerability is caused by code in Windows. Current versions of Safari for Mac, Firefox, and Opera are all protected against the hack.

Microsoft Ends Support for Windows 2000
I'm not sure why they have to even announce that, given that all you have to do is look at the product's name to realize it was released a decade ago. But Microsoft this week reminded customers that it would end support of Windows 2000 on July 13, 2010. (Windows Server 2003 moves into limited support in the same time frame.) Customers that insist on using the ancient version of Windows Server past July 2010 will be able to access a "Self-Help Online Support" option that apparently equates to Googling answers to your own questions. But in July 2011, even that option will start to wind down, as Microsoft makes no promises that it will continue hosting Windows 2000-based Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other resources on its website. If the kids ask, just tell them that Windows 2000 has been sent off to a farm where it can frolic with other OSs. Like OS/2 and AmigaDOS.

Google Goes After Display Ads
Though Google has earned about 99 percent of its income over the years on tiny, text-based ads, the Internet juggernaut is now turning its attention to graphical display ads, a business that number two player Yahoo! has dominated to date. It will utilize technology it got with its $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick last year, and the company says that the opportunities in this market will only grow. (Unlike, say, the general economy.) "The objective from the outset is to grow the display advertising pie for everybody," said Google Vice President Neal Mohan. Well, everybody except Yahoo! I'd imagine.

Despite Pre, Palm Financials Still in Dumpster
Smartphone maker Palm posted worse-than-expected financial results for the quarter ending in August, with the company reporting a loss of $13.6 million on revenues of just $68 million. (In the same quarter a year ago, the company lost $41.9 million, but revenue was dramatically higher, at $366.9 million.) Palm shipped 823,000 smart phones during the quarter, down 30 percent year over year, which is kind of disappointing given that its next-generation Pre smartphone just shipped. But Palm is also deferring a lot of revenues around the Pre, and sales were up quarter over quarter. This is a company I'd like to see performing a lot stronger, because they're the only smartphone maker that offers a technological challenger to the iPhone. But so far they're not doing that great, from what I can tell. "Our culture of innovation is stronger than ever," Palm CEO Jonathan Rubinstein said. "We're launching more great Palm web OS products with more carriers, and turning our sights toward growth." At this point, growth is pretty much one of two things that could happen, I guess.

Verizon: Land Lines are Dead to Us
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said this week that his company no longer cared about traditional land lines from a business perspective and that Verizon would no longer fight to retain customers. "It's like the dog chasing the bus," he said. Instead, Verizon will now focus on its mobile service (the largest in the United States) and its FIOS fiber-optic network, and will consider traditional phone service as an add-on rather than a central offering. It's kind of odd that the company at the forefront of moving to fiber optics didn't come to this conclusion earlier, a fact that Seidenberg readily admits. But they're there now, and as a long-time FIOS customers, I can firmly state that this is, indeed, the future of wired telecommunications. It's just awesome.

Skype/eBay at Odds over Sale
The founders of Skype have filed a lawsuit against eBay, which bought Skype back in 2005. It gets complicated from there, however. The founders, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, left Skype in 2007. But they've been involved in a messy intellectual property battle with eBay ever since the Skype sale, basically, and it's complicating eBay's recent efforts to sell Skype to another buyer. A company named Joltid and owned by Friis and Zennstrom controls a peer-to-peer technology that's used by the Skype software, and eBay's license to use the technology was cancelled back in March. Joltid alleges that eBay illegally made the technology available to third parties and sold it as part of other software. Since the suit arose, there have been fears that it could derail the incredibly popular Skype software (which I use to record Windows Weekly each week, incidentally). But eBay says it is developing its own software to bypass Joltid's technology. If only they could drag this lawsuit out long enough to finish it

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