An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Julie Larson-Green Speaks
Microsoft’s new Windows chief has finally come out of her cocoon, speaking with MIT Technology Review. And she had some interesting comments to make about why touch is better than using a mouse ("The mouse is more like puppeteering than direct manipulation”), the company’s insistence than Windows 8 isn't a reaction to the iPad (“We started planning Windows 8 in June 2009, before we shipped Windows 7, and the iPad was only a rumor at that point”), Microsoft Surface ("as a long-term product,” and not an experiment), and even Steven Sinofsky (whom she describes as “an amazing leader and an amazing brain and an amazing person") But the most telling bit, sadly, is what she says about how things are going to change now that she’s in charge. “Not a whole lot. I’ve worked directly with Steven for seven years but have known him for the whole 20 years I’ve been at Microsoft. We think a lot the same about what the role of Windows is in society, what computing looks like, and getting people on board with that point of view.” Hooray?
NORAD’s Santa Tracker Picks Bing Over Google
And all I’m saying is, thank God NORAD didn’t pick Apple Maps.
Microsoft: So Many Windows Phone App Submissions, We’re Actually Going to Work This Month
One of my biggest pet peeves with Microsoft in general, but with Windows Phone specifically, is that these guys seem to take most of December off, disappearing into parts unknown like ghosts. Why is this a problem? For three years in a row, Microsoft has launched a new version of Windows Phone right before the holidays, and if there was a time of year when these guys needed to be hard at work, fixing the many problems in their also-ran mobile OS, it’s during that exact time period. Windows Phone is so far behind, is so woefully incomplete, that I cannot imagine giving anyone on that team any time off, let alone right after a launch when people are actually buying the devices and running into all kinds of problems. And yet, that’s what they do. Every. Single. Year. It’s irresponsible, and I think it shows an amazing lack of credibility on their part that they would simply disappear like that. This year, thankfully, things might be a little bit different! Microsoft has actually announced that the team behind Windows Phone app submissions, at least, would be working throughout the holidays. As they should be. All of them. Until this thing is successful or gone.
Nokia Engineer Cracks Windows 8 Apps and Games, and Should Be Fired
Justin Angel, a controversial Nokia engineer (and ex-Microsoftie), has done it again, writing a controversial blog post in which he describes how to hack several specific Windows 8 (Metro) apps and games, using very specific instructions. There’s some debate over whether his post is insightful about whether Windows 8 apps are insecure, or hackable, or whatever, but the experts I’ve spoken to say these concerns are overblown and that the apps he picked are simply poorly written and not suggestive of platform flaws. But that’s not the problem, in my view. My problem is that a Nokia engineer (and ex-Microsoftie) actually described how to hack several specific Windows 8 (Metro) apps and games, using very specific instructions. And no offense, but there are internal channels he could have used to communicate this information to both Microsoft and the developers responsible for those apps—whom he’s just screwed over, publicly. I think this guy should be fired. It’s that serious. It’s just unbelievable.
Microsoft Goes Adult to Make Store More Appealing
When Microsoft announced its Windows Store for Windows 8, the firm was very clear that it was going to keep things clean and not allow adult games to sully its family-friendly image. But with Windows 8 not off to the best of starts, Microsoft has decided to sell out—or, as it calls the decision, “expand its commitment to Windows Store games.” By which I mean that Microsoft will now allow developers to submit adult-themed PEGI 18 games to the store. This “flexible and confident” decision will result in the appearance of games like The Witcher—which includes both nudity and sex—and Grand Theft Auto IV, which I assume I don’t need to explain. I’m no prude. But I think I’d give this store a chance to breathe before jumping into this small market.
Microsoft Confirms Commitment to Do No Track
On the flipside, one of the things Microsoft got right this year was to support Do Not Track in Internet Explorer (IE) 10 in a very aggressive fashion by enabling it by default. This decision has been criticized by trade organizations that, get this, want your online activities tracked for advertising purposes. But Microsoft this week reaffirmed its decision, which I wholeheartedly support. “Fully 75 percent of consumers we surveyed in the United States and Europe said they wanted [Do Not Track] ‘on’,” Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote in a post to the Microsoft on the Issues blog. “Similarly, a recent Pew Research study found that 56 percent of consumers decided not to complete an online transaction because of the data they were expected to share.” Smith then called on the W3C, the slowest moving standards body on Earth, to adopt a “final and effective” Do Not Track standard and for advertisers to be transparent when they're persisting data in a web browser. Good luck on those, Brad. But you’re doing the right thing. Cheers.
Dell Abandons Android, Will Focus Solely on Windows
After a few years of lackluster Android tablet sales, Dell will drop the products and focus solely on Windows going forward. The firm also revealed that it has no further plans to create its own smartphones. (Dell briefly fielded its own smartphone designs, including a nice Windows Phone unit two years ago.) “We believe Windows 8 brings a lot to the tablet market,” Dell Vice President Jeff Clarke said this week at the Dell World Conference. “It allows us to put tablets in the hands of our customers with a form and a set of management tools they are very used to using.” Windows also allows Dell to stick to what it does best, device-wise, which is to build PCs. The firm is currently the world’s third-largest maker of PCs, after falling behind HP and Lenovo. So doubling down on this system makes sense for the company, and perhaps it can make up some lost ground.
The Pope Writes His First Tweet
And in case you missed this on Twitter, please tell me it was “Macs rule, Windoze drools.” :)
Microsoft Should Diss Google Back
As I discussed earlier this week, Google says that it will not be creating any more Windows 8 or Windows Phone apps because the demand just isn’t there, and it will instead focus on Android and Apple iOS. (Google does make a Google Search app for both platforms.) I can’t believe that Microsoft has missed this golden opportunity to reveal that it will not be developing any web apps for Google’s Chrome OS until that thing sells more than 17 copies. No offense to Google, but there are already tens of millions of people using Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and many millions more will be onboard this coming year. The same cannot be said of Chrome OS. So why support that waste of time?
But Wait, There's More