An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...

Windows 8 “Ekes Out” 2.2 Percent Market Share. No, It Hasn’t.

I’m getting tired of my cohorts in the tech blogosphere reporting usage share incorrectly as market share. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Market share is unit sales. Period. And when you have a firm like Net Applications, which measures which OSs people use when they visit websites, that is not market share. It’s usage share, and it’s actually a subset of usage share: It’s usage on certain websites only. So when CNET reports that “Windows 8 ekes out 2.2 percent market share,” or ZDNet likewise reports that “Windows 8's market share remains low, but continues to rise modestly month on month,” what they’re really telling you is that they have no idea what they’re talking about. Usage is not sales. Usage is usage. And just because Net Applications calls it “market share” doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t think for yourselves. (And by the way, the number is 2.26, which is simplified to 2.3, not 2.2. This gives you another negative clue about CNET in particular.)

Net Applications: Windows 8 Usage Rises to 2.26 Percent

With that in mind, Net Applications this week reported that usage in Microsoft’s latest OS, Windows 8, has risen to 2.26 percent of all desktop OSs. That sounds like a small number, so let me put it in perspective: Just one month after releasing a new version of Windows, that version of Windows is in use by almost exactly the same number of people who are using the very latest version of Mac OS X, which has been on the market for a long 18 many months. Meanwhile, Windows still controls about 92 percent of the desktop market, according to Net Applications, led by Windows 7 (45 percent usage share), Windows XP (40 percent), and Windows Vista (5.24 percent), the latter of which, by the way, still beats out any single version of Mac OS X by a wide margin. Mac OS X, overall, has 7 percent usage share and Linux, amazingly, has 1.2 percent. And not to be a jerk about it, but why hasn’t CNET reported that Mac OS X 10.8 has only “eked” out 2.4 usage share after being in market for several months? Is that a “question mark” for you folks?? Eh? Nothing? Exactly.

Related: Now HP Confirms Slow Start for Windows 8

Windows Phone Team: Silence Is Not Good Strategy. Heck, It’s Not Even Strategy!

Microsoft silently started delivering the long-delayed Windows Phone 7.8 release this week, though it’s unclear which phones are getting it, and when. So why hasn’t the Windows Phone team thought to explain what’s happening? Because that’s what the Windows Phone team does: Over-promise and then under-deliver in a cloud of silence. In June 2012, the team announced two initiatives aimed at appeasing understandably upset early adopters. It would create an interim release of Windows Phone 7.x called Windows Phone 7.8 that would provide a Windows Phone 8 style Start screen to older devices that can’t be upgraded to the next-gen OS. And it would start an “enthusiast” program so that users could sign up to receive software updates more quickly—an issue that has dogged Windows Phone users since day 1. And then the team spent the rest of 2012 ignoring both promises as well as repeated inquiries about them. After I wrote a fairly scathing editorial about this silence in late November, Microsoft finally revealed that Windows Phone 7.8 would ship in early 2013. But it has still never commented on that enthusiast program. And, irony alert: The firm released its first Windows Phone 8 update, “Portico,” without providing it to enthusiasts first. Same old, same old.

Microsoft: Unlock Those Xbox Apps

One thing that has always bothered me about the Xbox 360 (and it always will) is that to actually use any of the useful apps on the device—Netflix, Xbox Music and Video, Hulu, HBO GO, and so on—you need to pay for a $60-per-year Xbox Live Gold subscription in addition to whatever subscriptions or fees you’re paying to access the services behind the apps. That’s inexcusable because rival devices like Roku and Apple TV do not charge this kind of additional fee, and it severely limits the appeal of the Xbox 360 as a general-purpose living room entertainment solution. Plus, paying subscribers aren’t even spared from the many annoying Xbox display ads either. Shame on you, Microsoft. But this week, the firm is giving Xbox 360 users a tiny peek at what a subscription-free console could look like if more reasonable people were simply in charge: It is “unlocking” the Netflix app though the weekend so that everyone with an Xbox 360 (and a Netflix subscription) can watch the new Netflix series “House of Cards.” And you know, that’s great. It really is. It’s so great, in fact, that it should simply be the way it is, for all apps on Xbox 360, forever. Mr. Ballmer, unlock those Xbox apps. It’s time.

Google Presents Antitrust Settlement Plan to EU

And I don’t think I’ve seen a proposal like this since Josef Stalin secretly agreed to carve up Poland with Adolf Hitler. Too extreme? Too soon? Actually, I’m just imagining things, since no one has actually seen Google’s proposal outside of the antitrust regulators in the European Commission (EC). But this is sort of how I imagine the world’s biggest advertising company, which has fooled some into believing it’s a technology firm. The European Union (EU), God bless ‘em, has been investigating Google for three years and unlike in the United States (where antitrust regulation apparently involves nothing more than looking the other way), they’re expected to receive significant concessions from Google related to how they conduct business. The EU says it will analyze the proposal and then determine whether to accept it or to charge Google with sweeping antitrust violations and, potentially, a massive fine. Needless to say, I await the outcome with some anticipation.

Related: Google Gets an Antitrust Holiday Reprieve from United States, European Union

A Sony PlayStation 4 Announce in February?

While gamers are eagerly awaiting a presumed E3 launch for the next Xbox—shh!! It will happen months before then—Sony this week stoked interest in its own next-generation video game console by announcing a “major” PlayStation event for February 20. So naturally everyone is presuming that the firm will discuss the PlayStation 4, which everyone further presumes will be available for sale, alongside the next Xbox, in time for holiday 2013. Whatever happens, both Microsoft and Sony are in good shape for the next generation: Nintendo’s Wii U is off to a very slow start and the firm cut its sales target for the device for Q1 2013 to 4 million units, down from the previously expected 5.5 million.

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