An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Some Thoughts About Microsoft's CES Exodus
I never thought Microsoft made sense for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The company has only ever made one successful consumer electronics product, the Xbox, and that device has its own set of video-game-oriented shows throughout the year already. Meanwhile, people are moving away from PCs and toward consumer electronics devices for casual computing and online services usage; no one uses a PC in the living room; Microsoft's other consumer electronics products have all tanked; and the only parts of Microsoft's business that are truly exciting these days are business-oriented. It's almost as if there should be an industry show, something that focuses on business computing. We could call it, oh, I don't know, COMDEX. And host it at a time of the year that actually makes sense. Instead of in January, when absolutely no one feels like traveling.
Xbox LIVE Glitch Is Keeping Some Offline
After hearing about an apparent Xbox LIVE glitch, I nervously booted up my console to make sure I could get on Modern Warfare 3. And relax, people, I'm all set. But I guess some people aren't so lucky: Microsoft is investigating a glitch in its recently released Fall 2011 Dashboard Update that is still preventing some customers from getting online. You'll know you're affected by this glitch if you see an error code like 801540B7 or 80070571, according to reports, but I'd think the simple fact that you're not getting online would be the first tipoff. "We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused to our loyal Xbox LIVE members and are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible," a Microsoft statement reads. Knowing Microsoft, some monthly online credits are in the mail as well.
Microsoft Asks for Dismissal of Novell Lawsuit
And I think the argument boils down to, "Seriously, this happened almost 20 years ago and one of the guys who ran WordPerfect actually wrote a book describing how that company's focus on hurting Windows was in fact what killed the product—not anything Microsoft did." You know, just in the interest of fact-checking.
Nokia Kills Symbian. Well, Sort Of.
I've always sort of decried Microsoft's inability to communicate effectively. And it's apparently found the perfect partner in Nokia, which is collaborating with the software giant on Windows Phone while silently maintaining its previous handset OS, Symbian. And this week, Nokia pulled a Microsoftian communications coup when it casually mentioned in a blog post that it would no longer be using the name Symbian but would instead call this system Nokia Belle. Confused by the subtle way in which the company revealed this, bloggers and actual press members asked Nokia for clarification. And they received this statement: "We are still using Symbian Belle with some audiences like developers but now we also have the flexibility of using Nokia Belle when referring to our greatest and latest Symbian software update." So there you go. Clarity. Microsoft Clarity.
Congratulations, Now T-Mobile Is Screwed
With the AT&T/T-Mobile link-up permanently scuttled by US antitrust regulators, privacy and consumer advocates have popped open the champagne bottles and declared victory. But I'm unclear why they're celebrating, unless they're on Verizon Wireless' payroll. Because from what I can tell, T-Mobile is screwed thanks to this action, and the United States might soon have only three major wireless carriers as a result. Lost amid all the back-slapping is the fact that T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom literally has no Plan B for the wireless carrier, hasn't invested in the slightest in next-generation wireless networks and has no plans to do so, and still wants to dump the carrier at the first possible opportunity. T-Mobile doesn't make money and is hemorrhaging subscribers—two things AT&T could have turned around rather nicely. So congratulation, guys! You really won that round. I can't wait to hear what your plan is now. Oh right, it involves drinking champagne and then moving on to the next faux outrage against humanity. Idiots.
Google Saves Mozilla ... So It Can Screw Microsoft
Remember when Microsoft made a $150 million investment in Apple and promised to keep the Mac market alive by continuing development of Mac Office back in 1997, just months before the Cupertino company dissolved into bankruptcy? Microsoft didn't rescue Apple from certain oblivion out of any goodness in its corporate heart; it did it to keep its only ostensible desktop OS competition alive so that it could prove to antitrust regulators that it wasn't so dominant after all. The strategy didn't work all that well, I guess—Microsoft is still suffering from the after-effects of antitrust regulation over a decade later and of course Apple has rebounded perhaps a little too nicely—but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good strategy. In fact, it's so solid that Google is doing something similar today: This week, it renewed its bizarre search deal with Firefox maker Mozilla, promising to inject an astonishing $1 billion in the struggling browser company over the next three years. (And by "astonishing" I mean, "this is THREE times what it was previously paying, back when Firefox still mattered.") Why would it do this? First, it keeps Mozilla kicking around, even while its browser market share nosedives, thanks largely to Google's own browser, Chrome. And second, it keeps competitors like Microsoft and Yahoo! at bay: By overpaying for the search partnership with Mozilla, Google has prevented Microsoft and Yahoo! from securing a similar deal. So it's even better than Microsoft's bailout of Apple. In fact, it's a win-win!
VW Gets It. Now Learn the Lesson!
German automaking giant Volkswagen this week agree to stop sending employee emails to BlackBerry devices when its workers are off-shift, following predictable complaints that the steady tide of email coming in while they were at home and play was getting, well, annoying. This is a great start. I recommend we all do this. No, seriously.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
Andrew and I recorded a "Worst Tech of 2011" episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Mary Jo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast with Iyaz Akhtar on Thursday. So both new episodes should be available by the end of the weekend on iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.
But Wait, There's More
This Short Takes is a bit shorter than usual, but forgive me for being distracted. With Christmas bearing down on us this weekend, I've got a house to clean, presents to wrap, and preparations to make for the holidays. We're off Monday because of the holiday, but stay tuned to the SuperSite for Windows over the long holiday weekend; if anything of note happens, I'll be writing about it. Have a happy and safe holiday!