I want to be very clear about this, although I can't give you a good reason for my opinion. I can't stand the word "mashup." I've put up with tech naming silliness for a long time and suffered through such ridiculous names as "Pentium Windows Vista" and "Thurrott." But I can't take it anymore! Mashup, which describes Web based content from two or more sources that's presented in a single view is a stupid stupid name. They're not mashed up, they're combined or aggregated in intelligent ways. Surely the geniuses in this business can come up with something better than a name that calls to mind a baby's tray table after he's done making a mess of pureed carrots and peas. Hey, maybe it's just me.

US Intervenes in Microsoft EU Antitrust Case. Sort Of

I love the unwilling allies nature of this story, but apparently an unnamed group of US government officials has sent a letter to European Union (EU) regulators asking them to treat Microsoft fairly in its EU antitrust case. Microsoft has complained that the EU isn't providing them with the time and information they need to fully comply with its antitrust concerns and apparently there are those in the US government who agree. A letter sent to EU regulators expresses the substantial concerns the US government has with the way the EU is handling Microsoft. Ah yes, poor Microsoft. I think we can all safely rally around the misunderstood computer giant that's been diligently working to accede to EU demands for the past two years. Oh wait.

Microsoft Happy with EU Hearings 

In related news, Microsoft lawyers expressed their optimism at the start of the second day of hearings with EU regulators on Friday that the company's antitrust concerns could be resolved. Microsoft is trying to stave off EU attempts to fine the company as much as 2 million per day for failing to comply with EU antitrust demands, so why wouldn't its lawyers be positive?

"This type of constructive dialogue can in fact lead to a real solution," Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said at the beginning of Friday's hearings in Brussels. "I only wish we could have had that kind of dialogue sooner."

Indeed! There's some irony perhaps in Microsoft coming around to the notion of proper communication. After all, had the company properly communicated how its server products worked as the EU demanded Microsoft do by July 2004 the company wouldn't have been forced to enter into this round of silliness. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you just talk with people.

Microsoft Testing Desktop Version of Windows Live Mail 

This week Microsoft alerted me that it had begun a limited beta test of its upcoming client version of the Windows Live Mail service. Awkwardly dubbed Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta (WLMDB) the upcoming application will provide a way for Windows Live Mail users to compose and read email offline using an Outlook Express based client that mimics the look and feel of the Web client. According to a Microsoft representative, WLMDB will provide a free ad funded mail client to Windows Live Mail customers and offer additive features to Windows Live Mail made possible by bringing together client software with services including features like offline mail, Windows Live Mail, account aggregation, additional account aggregation for POP and IMAP mail accounts, RSS feed aggregation, more advanced photo sharing capabilities, more advanced search via integration with Desktop Search, additional safety, AV scanning, antiphishing, antispam protection across aggregated accounts for customers who don't have an AV product and additional integration with Windows Live Mail services including Spaces. I'm looking forward to checking out WLMDB soon.

Microsoft Appeals South Korean Antitrust Ruling

With all the excitement over Microsoft's EU antitrust battle it's easy to forget that the company is facing what feels like about 1700 other legal challenges around the world. One in South Korea involves the same sort of product bundling concerns that got the company in trouble with governments in both the United States and Europe. This week, Microsoft officially began the process of appealing its South Korean antitrust ruling.

"Microsoft continues to believe that its actions are consistent with Korean law and have benefited Korean consumers and the Korean technology industry," a Microsoft statement reads.

I wonder whether Microsoft just cut out US and American and replaced them with Korean to construct its appeal. Anyway, I'm sure no one wants Microsoft to limit, ahem, its innovative tendencies. Here's to another big legal win for everyone's favorite 800 pound gorilla!

Vista Delay Unlikely to Hurt Microsoft PC Sales Very Much

Last week, Microsoft unleashed a one, two whammy of bad news announcing yet another delay for Windows Vista and a major reorganization of its Windows division over the course of two days. Now that the dust has settled, so to speak, we can look at these events a bit more calmly. First, IDC analysts say that the Vista delay won't significantly harm Microsoft's bottom line for the fiscal year, which I'm sure the company seriously considered before announcing the delay. More surprising, IDC says the Vista delay will hardly affect PC sales for the 2006 calendar year. IDC reports that it expects PC sales to be only two percent lower than its previous estimates and now it says that PC makers will sell about 68.2 million PCs in the United States this year, down from 69.5 million in its previous estimate and up from 63.9 million in 2005. Global PC sales are almost unchanged for 2006: 229.4 million versus the previous estimate of 229.5 million, IDC says. And yes, IDC expects PC sales to jump in 2007 after Microsoft finally releases Vista. You know, in June.

Microsoft Wins Product Activation Suit

Microsoft has won an antipiracy lawsuit in which the software giant was charged with infringing on a software patent for detecting pirated software. Lawyers for an individual named Kenneth Nash said that Microsoft's Product Activation feature infringed on Nash's patent which describes a method for detecting pirated software through unique identifiers called activation keys. Microsoft argued that the system it used in Product Activation was fundamentally different from Nash's approach, presumably because Microsoft's version is so well liked that it turned into the marketing program Windows Genuine Advantage which has been widely trumpeted as the most beloved aspect of using Windows. Now that Microsoft has been cleared of all charges we can look forward to using a greatly enhanced version of Windows Genuine Advantage in Vista. And you thought Vista was going to be a disappointment.

Microsoft Joins Rival OpenDocument Group. But Why?

This one is kind of fun. Microsoft, you might recall, has resisted worldwide calls for a move to an open source document format called OpenDocument Format (ODF) and has instead pursued its own XML based formats which it will debut with Office 2007 early next year. However, this week Microsoft joined a group called the INCITS V1 Technical Committee which is playing a key role in ratifying ODF as an international standard. But wait, you say, this membership seems to be at odds with Microsoft's desire to squash ODF like the unnecessary and annoying bug that it is, and you might logically wonder why the company would want to join. The conspiracy theories are shall, we say, oddly believable. The legal Web site Groklaw reports that Microsoft has probably joined the committee to sabotage the ratification of ODF as a standard giving the company more time to establish its own format as a de facto standard. Groklaw amusingly refers to Microsoft as "a waiting spider" which I sheepishly admit led me to spew coffee all over my monitor this morning. Microsoft, however, says that it joined the group only so that it could get involved in the standardization of its own format. Geesh! How boring is that?

Microsoft Goes Public with IE Bug Database

 Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) is the buggiest, most insecure software application ever written. The sky is blue. Now that we're all in agreement, let's examine an intriguing development in the world of IE. And no, I'm not talking about tabbed browsing. This week, Microsoft revealed that it will be opening a public database of IE bugs so that its customers can give feedback and make suggestions about the much maligned browser. In my often visited fantasy world I imagine Microsoft admitting that it didn't have an IE bug database until recently because it required the memory capacity of x64 based server systems to contain such a collection. But seriously, this is a positive development. I guess. And to be fair, open source projects such as Mozilla Firefox have been publishing similar databases for years. I believe Mozilla's runs on dBase III.

MSN Cuts Dial up Access Price 

The six people who are still using MSN dial up will be happy to hear that the cost of the service has been lowered from $21.95 per month to $17.95 per month. Assuming, of course, that such people are ever happy.

Apple vs Apple: It's the Battle of the Decade of the Week

Looking for some hot Apple on Apple action? Who isn't? This week Apple Computer--the computer company that produces iPods and iTunes and Apple Corps, the music company that publishes The Beatles back catalog and apparently not much else--faced off in a London court to battle over a 1991 agreement in which Apple Computer apparently agreed not to enter the music market. You might think this is a cut and dried case because Apple Computer has clearly entered the music market. However, the case isn't so simple. It turns out that Apple Corps is actually upset only because Apple Computer uses an apple shaped logo in iTunes.

"If Apple Computer would simply remove the logo all would be well," says Apple Corps.

Apple Computer's response to this request is priceless. Noting that distributing music is well within Apple Compute' s field of use, a company lawyer said even a moron in a hurry could not be mistaken about the distinction between Apple Computer and Apple Corps. The lawyer is probably right. For starters, Apple Corps has the class to not refer to a moron in a hurry in a blockbuster legal trial.

Virtual Server Upgrade Slips to 2007

The next upgrade to Microsoft's Virtual Server product line, cunningly titled Virtual Server 2005 Release 2 (R2) Service Pack 1 (SP1), has slipped to early 2007 the company says. This update will include support for new virtualization features in Intel and AMD microprocessors, Microsoft says, and was originally expected some time in 2006. Compared to the delays in Windows Vista and Office 2007 this delay isn't exactly what we'd called big news but given the way the virtualization market is heating up these days it's a crucial setback. Microsoft says it's still on track to ship a beta version of the update by mid 2006.

Microsoft Will License Hardware Tech

For the first time Microsoft will begin licensing its innovative hardware technologies to third parties opening up such things as its U2 interface detection and switching technologies tilt wheel and magnifier tool to other mouse and keyboard makers. That's a pretty neat development and these nifty little technologies comprise one of many areas where Microsoft doesn't receive due credit. The U2 interface detection and switching technologies allow peripherals connected to a computer to automatically determine whether they're using a USB or PS 2 connection and the tilt wheel is a doodad Microsoft added to its mouse devices to allow for multiple direction scrolling. The magnifier tool lets mouse devices zoom in and out of images onscreen. Several manufacturers have already signed up to add the features to their own products.

Apple Celebrates 30th Anniversary 

Finally, on April 1, 2006 Apple Computer will celebrate its 30th anniversary (and no, that's not an April Fools joke). Famously started in a garage and less famously financed by a millionaire investor, Apple first opened for business on April 1, 1976 as a partnership between Steve Jobs, Steve Wosniak and Ronald Wayne, the last of which worked up Apple's first logo and then promptly disappeared into obscurity. Although Apple didn't start the home computer market, or even sell the most popular home computer of its day, the company can be credited with popularizing such things as the mouse, the GUI, and in later days, the portable digital music player. Today, Apple's tiny share of the PC market is belied by its market influence and its iPod and iTunes service are market leaders, dominating a consortium of products and services backed by Microsoft. I've made a point of always covering Apple in WinInfo because I believe the company is an important and iconic entity that Windows users too often misjudge or ignore. Here's to another 30 years.