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

No Windows 8 Tablet Until 2012?

Bloomberg "reported" this week that Microsoft won't have a credible competitor to Apple's iPad until Windows 8 ships in 2012. Um, right. That's what many of us have been reporting for a while now, so I'm not sure why this was considered news. I reported over a year ago that Windows 8 would ship in mid- to late-2012, and in January I wrote that the OS would include a tablet variant with a Windows Phone 7-like UI. "Not news" doesn't even begin to describe this story.

Reactions to Apple's Cockiness

Several readers have forwarded me a classic Conan O'Brien clip in which he lambasts Apple for being cocky during its iPad 2 announcement. It's funny, yes. But there's something much funnier, and much more biting than the Conan clip out there. With the understanding that this following clip is not safe for work (NSFW), please do enjoy the uniquely British stylings of Charlie Brooker. And please explain to me why we don't have a word that's equivalent to "wanker" in US English. It's badly needed.

Did a Microsoft Executive Really Just Recommend Macs? Nope!

Speaking of non-news, many tech news outlets are reporting that a Microsoft executive this week recommended that PC users use a Mac instead of a traditional PC. Sounds far-fetched? Well, it is. What Rahul Sood—who was the founder of Voodoo PC, was a former CTO of HP's gaming PC business, and is currently a general manager for Xbox at Microsoft—really said was that PC makers should all buy Apple MacBooks in order to study them, because Apple's products are designed with both "business and process" in mind. What he is recommending is that PC makers rethink the way they design, build, and sell PCs. This is so far from recommending Macs to PC users, I don't even know where to start. In fact, it's credible, real-world advice that these companies should in fact follow. Moving on ...

Microsoft to IE 6: WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!?

Microsoft has done a lot over the past few years to get businesses in particular to move away from the now-insecure Internet Explorer (IE) 6 web browser and onto more secure products such as newer versions of IE. One gets the feeling the company is tired of asking. This week, Microsoft launched an IE 6 deathwatch website, called the Internet Explorer 6 countdown, at which it will track the disappearance of this 10-year-old product. "Our goal is to get \\[IE 6's usage\\] share under 1 percent worldwide," Microsoft's Roger Capriotti wrote in a blog post. "We will update the site’s stats on a monthly basis and celebrate as countries dip under the 1 percent mark!" Sounds like a lot of fun. But I have to wonder. It's 2011, guys. How could any IT department in the world think it's OK to keep using IE 6? That's ridiculous.

Report: Microsoft Still on the Smartphone Map. Unfortunately, It's Rhode Island.

According to the Nielsen Company, which just released a nice US smartphone usage-share "map," Microsoft is still very much in the game, with 10 percent of overall usage. That's not too shabby, I guess, but of course most of that is for Windows Mobile, not the newer Windows Phone, and Microsoft's overall share is still on the decline. So the hope is that Windows Phone sales eventually stem the decline and even experience an upturn. It's going to be hard: Google's Android is dominant in the United States, as it is worldwide, with 29 percent of usage, followed by Apple and RIM, both of which have 27 percent. Still, would you have ever thought that Microsoft smartphone market penetration was over one-third the size of Apple's? Admit it, you didn't.

XP, Vista Users Pushed to Disable Auto-Run

A month ago, Microsoft released an optional patch for Windows XP and Windows Vista that disabled the auto-run functionality on removable media, mostly USB drives, and caused those OSs to act as Windows 7 does today. The rationale behind this change is simple: Many famous malware disasters, including Conficker and Stuxnet, were transmitted in this fashion, and it's safer for PC users if it's just disabled by default. Well, now the patch is no longer optional. As part of this week's regularly scheduled security patch update cycle, Microsoft reissued the patch as a high-priority automatic update. The only oddity is that the software giant didn't communicate the change in advance. No matter, I think: This is important enough that it just needs to be the way things are configured by default.

Bring Your Xbox LIVE Avatar to Life, Sort Of

Microsoft recently unveiled a new service called Unleash Your Avatar whereby you can bring your cartoonish little video game alter ego—or what Microsoft calls an avatar (and what I call an avatard)—to life, sort of, in three different methods. You can get a Fathead wall-sticker version of your avatar in sizes up to 4 x 6 feet, for example. There are FigurePrints 3D figurines. And you can get your avatar etched onto the back of a Zune HD. That's actually pretty cool, even if the avatars themselves, well, aren't.

This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast

Leo and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly on Thursday, as usual. The new episode is now available on the Zune Marketplace and iTunes, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.

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