WinInfo Short Takes, April 20, 2012

An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...

News You Never Heard About: Oracle Is Hammering Google in Court Over Android Infringement Case

And the most amazing thing about this case is that no one is writing about it. Imagine that a major tech company hauled Microsoft into court for extensive patent-infringement claims that threatened the legal standing of Windows. Now imagine that all of the major news organizations on Earth, as well as virtually every tech blog, are ignoring this story, or at least burying it. And they’re doing it even though the situation involved such amazing events as the CEO of the accused company actually appearing on the stand and then blundering his way through what was clearly an admission that his company did exactly as charged: steal technology from the accuser company and then give that technology away for free in order to dominate a new market. I mean, imagine that. And now realize that that’s exactly what has happened. It's a case in which Google has been charged with stealing the intellectual property of Java, which is now owned by Oracle. A case that has incriminating email. A case in which Google has clearly done exactly as charged. And a case in which Google CEO Larry Page appeared on the stand in court. And actually, you’ll still pretty much have to imagine it. Because even though it really happened, it’s somehow not the biggest tech story on Earth this week. Inconceivable!

Will Microsoft, the Handset Makers, or Microsoft Support Upgrades to Windows Phone 8? Duh. No.

There were some dueling stories about whether it would be possible to upgrade any existing Windows Phone handsets—including first-generation Windows Phone 7 devices and newer Windows Phone 7.5 handsets like the Lumia 900—to the forthcoming Windows Phone 8. Allow me to set the record straight. No. It won't happen. Not for the Lumia 900, and not for any other existing phone. It won’t happen partially, through an update that will deliver just some features, and it won't happen for those who wish to pay for such an update. It simply isn't happening. Sorry. But please don’t email me about this; I’m just the messenger. That said, please consider the following logic behind this decision, which doesn’t explain why I can be so emphatic about this topic—sources at Microsoft confirmed this for me anonymously after the company’s infamously hard-to-reach Windows Phone PR team belatedly offered up a “no comment” after repeated queries. First, there’s no economic imperative; Microsoft’s partners have sold very few Windows Phones, and supporting a new platform on legacy hardware would be expensive. Second, the experience would be terrible; Windows Phone 8 is based on Windows 8, not Windows Phone 7.x, and requires headier, higher-end hardware with two or more core processors. Third, handset makers and wireless carriers would never support this upgrade; they want to sell new phones. And finally, wireless carriers would never, ever, ever, ever deliver this update to users. There is just no way this will ever happen. And that’s true even when you factor out that I know for a fact that this isn't happening. Again. Sorry.

Hardware Makers Prepping Dozens of Windows 8 Tablets

Say what you will about Windows 8 (and if you spend any time on Twitter, you know it’s a bloodbath), but Intel is now working with numerous PC makers and hardware companies on dozens of different Windows 8-based tablets. In fact, there could be more than 30 by the end of the year, and that’s before we start counting ARM-based tablets that run the Windows RT variant of Windows 8. That would be an amazing start for Windows 8, and a nice hedge against yet another holiday season dominated by Apple’s iPad. Will it happen? Stay tuned, we’re aligning stars here.

Microsoft’s Amazingly Positive Financial Results Stun Wall Street

In the wake of Microsoft’s record revenues report for the most recent quarter, financial analysts are finding out the dark side of undervaluing the company they gave up on years ago. A few things are amazing about Microsoft’s results. First, Windows was up, and it hasn’t been in five of the past six quarters, so everyone assumed a flat or downward trend. Second, Microsoft posted record revenues despite a steep falloff in video game sales that, frankly, more people should have seen coming. Office? Up again, despite the pending release of Office 15. And even the Online Services division, which seems to exist to hemorrhage cash, nearly halved its loss, year over year. All in all, it was a very dramatic statement from a company that is literally on the cusp of overhauling its three major platforms—Windows, Server, and Office—within 6 months. This is a time period in which Microsoft could be logically expected to see a slowdown. That it didn’t happen was, as one blurry-eyed analyst noted, “a positive surprise.” And it’s helping to trigger a renaissance in Microsoft’s long-dead stock: Shares are up 20 percent this year so far and now trading above $31.

Tired of Losing Money on iPhone, Verizon Eyes Windows Phone as Industry Savior

Verizon users know that the network’s Windows Phone selection is slim—well, more than slim, as there’s only one model: the year-old HTC Trophy. Verizon infamously skipped out on the Windows Phone 7.5 launch wave, grumbling about wanting LTE phones only, but I think the real stinker there was that its chief rival, AT&T, got a limited-time LTE exclusive and Verizon was just pouting. But now Verizon is back, baby! And Verizon Wireless wants Windows Phone bad. And the reason is simple: Carriers pay huge subsidies on Apple’s iPhone, which means that only Apple profits on that device. So now Verizon wants a new alternative, one that's more economical for the company and not a loss leader. “It is important that there is a third ecosystem that's brought into the mix here, and we are fully supportive of that with Microsoft,” Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said this week. “We created the Android platform from the beginning and it is an incredible platform today. We're looking to do the same thing with a third ecosystem.” He then added a timetable to this discussion: late 2012. “We're really looking at the Windows Phone 8 platform because that's a differentiator,” Shammo added. “We're working with Microsoft on it.” An Android-style push for Windows Phone on Verizon? My opinion is that it can’t happen quickly enough.

Apple Dramatically Better than Microsoft or Google ... at Releasing Insecure Products

If I were to ask you which company—Apple, Google, or Microsoft—made the most secure software platforms, I suspect most would guess it was Apple. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with the highly regarded company, the public perception of Apple bears no resemblance to reality. Instead, Apple is by far the most vulnerable platform maker in technology, and so far ahead of number-two Oracle that it’s almost astonishing. In March alone, Apple fixed a stunning 91 vulnerabilities for its various platforms (OS X, iOS, and Safari), giving it yet another claim to the number-one spot ... of something. Number-two Oracle fixed 78 vulnerabilities, compared with 73 for Google and—sorry, haters—just 43 for Microsoft. The thing is, given how secretive Apple is, and how lax the company is with reporting and fixing security problems, I bet the delta between Apple and the rest of the industry is much higher than this. In fact, we all know that’s an amazingly safe bet.

Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!

Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available soon, generally in both audio in video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.

The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?

If you haven't seen them, we're now offering Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech apps for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too.
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But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on TwitterFriendfeedPaul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows, and the SuperSite Blog. Windows 8 Secrets is coming soon: We’re about 75 percent of the way through the primary writing phase!

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