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Short Takes Blog

Short Takes

- Microsoft Ships RAW Image Viewer for Windows XP
- Dell Thinks Differently
- Microsoft Buries BitTorrent in an Avalanche
- HP Separates PC, Printer Businesses
- IE 7.0 Details Emerge
- Microsoft Censors Chinese Bloggers
- Windows 2000 Still Number One?
- Apple Trademarks MacTel
- Microsoft Declares Quarterly Dividend
- Sun Opens Solaris
- Sun on Linux Applications Running on Solaris: Just Kidding
- Microsoft Trade Group ... Backs Microsoft

==== Short Takes Blog ====

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

New England is anything but predictable, but this year has been crazy. After one of the snowiest winters in history and a wicked May, summer finally took hold, and for almost a week we hit 90 degrees (or near 90 degrees). I even went swimming a few times in a local pond, which is a first for this early in the season. Then this week arrived. Every day temperatures have been in the 50s--more than 20 degrees below normal and more than 35 degrees lower than the previous weekend. My heat came on the other day. This is no way to run a climate.

Next week, I'm going on yet another pilgrimage to Seattle. I have several things planned, so the trip should be interesting. I usually triage the equipment I take on trips on my blog ( http://www.internet-nexus.com ) but, for the record, I'm in the middle of a "less is more" kick and am trying to travel with the smallest number of items possible. Doing so is tough for me because I don't travel light as a rule, although I'd like to. I'll get there.

I finally have the hardware I need for over-the-air HDTV (via a Media Center PC), which will be interesting to test when I get back from my trip. The concept of free over-the-air TV shouldn't be so confusing to me because that's how all TV was delivered when I was a kid, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the notion that I just stick an antennae on my house and it works. Has anyone else tried this yet?

Quote of the day: "I've got my 20-sided die, and I'm ready to roll."

==== Short Takes ====

An often-irreverent look at some of the week's other stories, by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

Microsoft Ships RAW Image Viewer for Windows XP

As promised, this week Microsoft shipped the Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP, a new PowerToy that lets you view, organize, and print certain RAW image formats. The PowerToy will be especially useful for photographers because high-end digital cameras can optionally produce uncompressed RAW images, but each camera maker uses a format that's incompatible with other manufacturers' formats. If you aren't using RAW images, don't bother with this download. The PowerToy appears to do some screwy stuff with file associations, and I didn't like the way it killed the image-document icons on my system.
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=d48e808e-b10d-4ce4-a141-5866fd4a3286&DisplayLang=en

Dell Thinks Differently

Credit Dell Chairman and Founder Michael Dell with thinking differently. This week, he told "Fortune" magazine, "If Apple decides to open the Mac OS to others, we would be happy to offer it to our customers." Dell is one of the few PC companies that has enough sales volume and clout to stick something like this in Microsoft's eye: In addition to Windows machines, Dell also sells PCs that are loaded with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell SUSE LINUX and NetWare. The company even sold Linux on notebook computers for a while, then stopped doing so because the market was so small. Interestingly, Dell infamously said a few years ago that Apple should pack its bags and close up shop. "We all know how this story ends," he said at the time. The makings of a happy ending notwithstanding, Apple has publicly said that it won't let the upcoming Intel-compatible Mac OS X versions run on non-Apple hardware, so this speculation is all academic. Remember, Apple makes more money from computer hardware sales than it does from anything else it sells, including iPods. If that situation changes, well, I guess we'll see how savvy Apple CEO Steve Jobs really is.

Microsoft Buries BitTorrent in an Avalanche

Microsoft researchers have created a new peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing system that's similar--but superior--to the widely used BitTorrent system. Microsoft researchers say that the system (code-named Avalanche) is 20 percent to 30 percent faster than BitTorrent. Like BitTorrent, Avalanche breaks large files into tiny chunks, which are distributed to the users who want the file. As users complete the download, Avalanche uses their systems in a distributed manner as servers, and other users download chunks from a variety of systems simultaneously. This process speeds downloads for many users. The Microsoft white paper "Network Coding for Large Scale Content Distribution," which explains the technology, is available on the Microsoft Research Web site.
http://www.research.microsoft.com/~pablo/papers/nc_contentdist.pdf

HP Separates PC, Printer Businesses

You might recall that HP combined its printer and PC businesses 5 months ago, apparently in a bid to hide the PC business losses amid the piles of cash that the printer business makes. Try to scratch that memory out of your head: This week, HP split the two businesses again and put ex-PalmONE CEO Todd Bradley (who also worked for Gateway at one time) in charge of the new PC group. This type of change is what passes for dramatic at the stoic HP that boring Uncle Mark Hurd now runs. I assume you recall him taking charge of the company in March, but I don't remember him doing anything, either. After the acrimonious exit of "rock star" CEO Carly Fiorina, however, the company naturally wants to seek a lower profile. But how low can you go? I'm getting ready to attach a heart monitor to HP.

IE 7.0 Details Emerge

As the days turn into weeks and finally months, we wait and wait for a public (or, heck, even private) beta version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0, the browser that will turn the tables on Mozilla Firefox and reignite the excitement about IE, a product that Microsoft, quite frankly, has ignored for several years. Or something. Instead, we've been treated to dribs and drabs of information about IE 7.0. And this release clearly isn't going to be hugely important. This week, we learn that Microsoft will engineer IE 7.0 to resist common spyware and phishing attacks. Eh? That sounds cool, but there's just one problem: Microsoft will release that feature only in the Longhorn version of IE, not the version that will ship later this year for XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Ugh.

Microsoft Censors Chinese Bloggers

Bloggers who use Microsoft's MSN Spaces service in China now face restrictions on the topics they can write about, thanks to new Chinese laws that forbid the use of certain words and phrases. MSN, in particular, is coming under fire for bowing to these laws, but let's be fair: That's how things work. The company can't simply ignore the European Union (EU) because it doesn't agree with EU antitrust policy, and it can't ignore the Chinese government because of a squabble over basic human rights. Some of the blocked words and phrases would be humorous if this subject weren't so serious: "Democracy," "demonstration," "freedom," "human rights," and even "Taiwan independence" are among the no-no's. "Microsoft is a multinational business and, as such, needs to manage the reality of operating in countries around the world," a Microsoft spokesperson said. I hope the Bush administration isn't inspired to issue a similar ban in this country. Phrases such as "accountability" and "international respect" come to mind.

Windows 2000 Still Number One?

By any measure, XP is selling like gangbusters. Since XP's late 2001 release, Microsoft has sold at least 500 million copies of the OS worldwide, and the most recent service pack (XP SP2) has been installed on more 200 million machines in medium and large businesses alone. Sounds like a great success, doesn't it? Not according to a study by AssetMetrix, which claims that XP's penetration into corporations has been slow. The study notes that Win2K use still outpaces XP use in companies (48 percent to 38 percent), despite the fact that Microsoft will never update Win2K to the level of security that XP SP2 enjoys. So what are we to make of this survey?

Apple Trademarks MacTel

Because the Windows/Intel duopoly is often referred to as Wintel, Apple followers have been trying to decide whether they should refer to the new Intel-based Macintosh computers as Macintel or MacTel machines. Well, Apple has spoken, albeit quietly: The company recently trademarked the term MacTel, which I assume ends that little debate. The company also trademarked Numbers (which will likely be an iWork spreadsheet application; the company's word processor is called Pages) and Jam Box.

Microsoft Declares Quarterly Dividend

This week, Microsoft announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.08 per share. The dividend is payable September 8, 2005, to shareholders of record as of August 17, 2005. Exciting stuff.

Sun Opens Solaris

Sun Microsystems announced this week that it has "opened" the UNIX-based Solaris OS. A new version of Solaris, logically called OpenSolaris, includes a single source base for SPARC and x86/x64 machines. "OpenSolaris features all the key innovations that we recently delivered in the Solaris 10 OS, including unparalleled features like DTrace and Containers and Predictive Self-Healing," a Sun spokesperson said. Future versions of the commercial Solaris release will be based on OpenSolaris, Sun says, just as the commercial StarOffice productivity suite is based on the open-source OpenOffice.org project. You can find more information about the OS at the OpenSolaris Web site.
http://www.opensolaris.org

Sun on Linux Applications Running on Solaris: Just Kidding

Speaking of Solaris, you might recall that last year Sun predicted that future versions of Solaris would natively run Linux applications and services. The company was just kidding, apparently. Instead of offering the Linux-on-Solaris technology (code-named Janus) to the public, this year Sun is pushing an open-source technology called Xen that lets multiple OSs run simultaneously on the same computer hardware. It will be interesting to see what Sun pushes next year.

Microsoft Trade Group ... Backs Microsoft

This news is a shocker, I know, but a trade group called The International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners has elected to support Microsoft in its antitrust battle with the EU. Now, when a group uses your company name in its own name, you might expect them to be friendly. But the name isn't enough of a clue. So I investigated this mysterious group, and it turns out that it represents companies that develop software exclusively for Windows, Microsoft's monopoly OS and the subject of the EU sanctions. "It's not a matter of principle," a trade group spokesperson said. "It's a matter of our bread and butter." Well, duh.

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