An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Non-Event of the Week, Part 1: Will Bill Gates Return to Microsoft?
There's a funny rumor making the rounds this week that Bill Gates will swing in from sort-of retirement to once again assume control of Microsoft and lead it to a further decade of grand success. This is as fanciful as it is dumb, and it ignores the fact that it is Gates—and not current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer—who is most directly responsible for Microsoft's current ills (whatever they may be, given the record revenues and whatnot). Gates led Microsoft when it first ran afoul of US and EU antitrust laws, and one might say that these events bookmarked the software giant's previous decade. And let's be serious: Gates ain't coming back. The source of all this fluff is a line in a Fortune blog post
that reads, "One prominent chief executive told Fortune
he'd heard from someone close to Gates that he might be considering ... a comeback to the iconic company he founded." So ... a third-hand source said that Gates was thinking about it. Sigh.
Non-Event of the Week, Part 2: Microsoft Can Remove Apps from Windows 8
As part of its Windows Store revelations this week, Microsoft revealed that it will have the technical ability to remove Metro-style apps and their associated data from users' Windows 8-based PCs. And as you might expect, reading that sentence, some people are up in arms over this because, you know, it's Microsoft. But here's the deal. Every modern app store on Earth features this capability, including Apple's App Store, Google's Android Market, and even Amazon's Kindle Store. On Windows 8, it's being done for security reasons, since an errant app could possibly make it through Microsoft's stringent curation process, and one of the things Microsoft is promising with this app store is that users' safety is Job One. Sorry, but this just makes sense.
Eric Schmidt Denounces Carrier IQ
This week, the Mouth of Sauron—er ah, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt—was in The Hauge, not to be held accountable for crimes against humanity (yet?) but rather to speak at a tech industry event. And he had some interesting things to say about the controversial Carrier IQ technology that's been the subject of heated debate for the past few weeks. (See my article Is Carrier IQ a Serious Security Threat?
for more information.) And if I'm parsing his comments correctly, he's washing his hands of this thing, even though the very open nature of Google's Android OS is what makes the spread of Carrier IQ so rampant. "Android is an open platform, which means people can make software for it that's not very good for you," he said, apparently not in an ironic way. "[Carrier IQ] appears to be one [example of that kind of software] ... We certainly don’t work with them, and we certainly don’t support it." I'm sure that's very reassuring to the hundreds of millions of Android users who are being silently tracked by the technology without their consent. "Do not bandy words in your insolence with the Mouth of Sauron!" he then cackled. "Surety you crave! Sauron gives you none."
Mobile Industry Ban Silliness, Part 1: Apple Loses a Round vs. Samsung in Australia
I'm not sure if you've been following the weird legal cage match that's been going on between Apple and Samsung over the past few months, but basically Apple accused Samsung of copying the physical look of its iPhone and iPad in various Samsung products, and has sued the company in various countries in order to halt the sale of those products. Curiously, Apple has actually been pretty successful at this, and there are several pending court cases all over the world. In Australia, however, Apple was finally dealt a legal setback this week when Australia’s High Court ruled against—pay attention now—an Apple appeal to overrule a previous decision by an Australian court to un-ban sales of Samsung tablets. That is, the court is now allowing Samsung to sell its tablets in Australia, despite Apple's plea. The Samsung Galaxy Tab was originally banned in Australia back in July, sparing tens of Australian consumers from buying an iPad lookalike of little or no value. So I'm sure there will be a line out the door now. Or Apple will just release the iPad 3 and put an end to this silliness.
Mobile Industry Ban Silliness, Part 2: Motorola vs. Apple in Germany
But wait, there's more. Motorola Mobility has won a wireless patent case against Apple in Germany, and now a Germany court has ruled that the company's dominant iPhone and iPad products could actually be blocked from being sold in that country. Although such an outcome warms the cockles of my heart (I had to look that one up on Wikipedia myself, so don't feel bad), it's also possible that Apple could simply win a stay on appeal, and given the topsy-turvy nature of this stuff, I'd expect that to happen any minute now. Because if Apple has ever taught me anything, it's that... Actually, I've never learned anything nice from Apple.
Twitter Redesigns Site. Wait For It. No, Really. Wait For It.
Twitter redesigned its website this week in a bid to make the service more user-friendly and thus more competitive with Facebook, a social networking service that actually does make sense for consumers. However, the company decided to employ the Microsoft model for the upgrade, unveiling it over time to users, and not deploying it all at once. (So as of Friday morning, I'm still waiting to see the change.) The point behind this redesign, I'm told, is to make Twitter less frightening to normal consumers, since it's perceived as a techie hangout, with weird symbols (@ and #) that perhaps make it a bit too reminiscent of the "Reveal Codes" mode from Word Perfect 5.1. (If you're under 40, you might need to look this up on Wikipedia or whatever the kids are using these days. Yes, I'm the Dennis Miller of the Internet, I get that.) Anyway, I'm told that using the new Twitter app on iOS or Android will "jumpstart" you, letting you get the new site on the web too. So I'll waste some time on that today. Because if Twitter has taught me anything, it's that my time has no value.
Analyst Sees Huge Increase in iPhone Sales ... iPad? Not So Much
Tech industry analysts are falling all over themselves to out-predict each other with regards to how many iPhones that Apple will sell in the current quarter—20 million? 25 million? No, damn you, it's 30 million, says someone I've never heard of (Maynard Um) from a company that shouldn't be involved in this kind of discussion (investment bank UBS). But it's Apple, so let's write about it. I'm more interested in a related story that's gotten considerably less play than this one, however: Another tech industry analyst (Shaw Wu)—and yes, they're everywhere, like cockroaches—says that sales of Apple's hypetastic iPad will be (get this) much lower than expected in the current quarter. And he's cut his estimate of iPad sales from 15 million for the quarter to 13.5 million. Now, this seems shocking. But the truth is, in three of the past four quarters, iPad sales have actually fallen below expectations. I know this is something I'm not allowed to communicate, but there you go. I'll be careful around buses and falling pianos over the weekend, I promise. I know accidents can happen.
Google's Android Racks Up 10 Billionth App Download
Google this week announced
that users of its Android mobile OS have now downloaded more than 10 billion apps for the platform and that they are doing so at a rate of more than 1 billion per month. Celebrating this market dominance, Google is now offering a number of popular apps for only 10 cents each day. So check in at the Android Market
each day through December 16 to see the deals. And then right your wrong with your God(s), according to the traditions of your people. Remember, folks. Friends don't let friends use Android. And there, I've said too much.
Microsoft to Give 2011 a Grand Send-Off
Microsoft's final Patch Tuesday of 2011 will be a big one: The software giant will issue a whopping 14 security bulletins, fixing 20 vulnerabilities in various products, including Windows, Office, Internet Explorer (IE), and Windows Media Player, next week. Three of the 14 updates are rated "critical," which I believe translates to "Duck and Cover" in the Homeland Security Threat Index. (They've stopped using colors, right?)
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Mary Jo, Leo, and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on the usual day and time (Thursday, 2pm ET), so the new episode 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
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