An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Windows 8 Upgrade Offers Could Begin as Early as Next Month
My Windows Weekly co-host Mary Jo Foley has an interesting scoop this week: She says that Microsoft will start an upgrade program for Windows 8 in June that's aimed at preventing PC sales from dropping off a cliff in the months before this new OS rolls out. The deal will work as in the past: If you buy a new PC running Windows 7 during whatever time period, you will qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 8 whenever that version of the OS ships. This offer—logically enough called the Windows 8 Offer—comes with a twist: Apparently everyone who buys a PC with even the lowly Windows 7 Home Basic will qualify for Windows 8 Pro, which is basically the high-end version of Windows 8, and which contains more features. So this won’t just protect PC sales, it might actually jump-start them because consumers could save some serious cash by buying early and getting a cheap, lower-end version of Windows 7. Or, as Mary Jo supposes, there could be a fee for the upgrade given the more sumptuous Windows 8 Pro feature set, which would of course be sort of a wash. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Will Microsoft Finally Provide a Web Browser on the Xbox?
The rumor of the week is that Microsoft is working to port its Internet Explorer (IE) web browser to the Xbox 360 video game console, which appears to make all kinds of sense until you really think about it. First, it’s clear that Microsoft has thus far pursued an apps model on the Xbox 360, which lets it control whether online experiences require a paid Xbox LIVE Gold account, as so many of them do. So what happens when people start accessing services like Netflix for free through a browser? Second, as any Xbox 360 user will tell you, those apps that are already on the console are a disaster, and most seem to require a non-optional update every time they’re launched. When you combine this unfortunate reality with the coincidental need to keep a web browser not just up to date but also somewhat on par with its desktop cousins, you can see how the user experience of IE on Xbox will be simply terrible. All this said, I can see Microsoft providing such a browser just to muddy the waters and silence those critics who claim that such a thing is necessary. I don’t see it: A web browser on your TV is silly.
Xbox 360 Is Number One Again
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 continues to dominate an ever-weaker market for video games, with the console selling 236,000 units in the United States in April, giving it the number-one spot for the 16th straight month. That’s 47 percent of all console sales, kids, and it sounds like great news until you look past the numbers Microsoft is touting. As has been the case for about a year now, the video game market continues to drop and April software sales were off 42 percent from the same month a year ago. Hardware sales, meanwhile, were off 32 percent. As for the Xbox 360, Microsoft sold 297,000 consoles a year ago. Hooray!
Google Preps for Massive US Antitrust Case
With the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) expanding its antitrust investigation of Google recently, I am rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation of a much-deserved drubbing in court. But Google is preparing for this future in a different way: It’s stepping up a public-relations campaign aimed at proving that its “Don’t be evil” corporate mantra isn’t meant to be ironic. So far, Google has financed the publication of two whitepapers in which supposedly independent economists and lawyers defend the company’s business practices and criticize the federal government for attempting to beat down one of the country’s greatest drivers of the economy. Legal experts say these efforts are simply a peek at Google’s legal strategy for a presumed antitrust case, a way of testing the waters on its defense to see how others react. You know, if Google really was concerned about not doing evil, it wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.
Nokia’s Reading App Hits Windows Phone Marketplace, Just Not in the United States
One of the best things about owning a Nokia Lumia 900 is that Nokia—in addition to making the best overall handsets on the market—also makes some pretty incredible apps. But one of the worst things about owning a Lumia 900, in the United States, is that many of Nokia’s best apps aren’t available in this country yet. And so it is with Nokia Reading, a new book reading app and service ... which is available only in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Obviously, we already have some great ebook choices in the United States, especially with Amazon’s Kindle, but I’d like to see Nokia share the love a little bit.
Amazon Will Deliver a Color Kindle This Year
Speaking of Amazon and Kindle, the e-tailer giant will release a color Kindle device this year, sources say. Not to be confused with the Kindle Fire (which does feature a color screen but is a tablet device), the new color Kindle will utilize a color e-ink screen for superior text rendering but will also provide capacitive multi-touch capabilities. So I suppose it’s fair to say that this device will straddle the line somewhere between traditional Kindle devices and actual tablets like the Fire. And given the price of the Kindle Fire—$200—I think it’s fair to believe that the new color e-ink Kindle will be pretty inexpensive, perhaps in the $150 range. It wasn’t so long ago that the grayscale Kindle devices were selling just south of $400.
Oh Good, Another App Store
Facebook this week revealed that it would soon be opening its own app store, albeit with a twist. Instead of supporting only one mobile platform as is common with today’s app stores, the Facebook app store will provide apps for various platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows. (No word yet on how this is possible since iOS apps are pretty much only available through Apple’s own App Store.) Looked at logically, this thing appears to be more of an app store aggregator than a real app store—something that curates apps and provides only a listing of a subset of the full list of available apps. And since it’s from Facebook, you just know it’s going to be totally safe, with no privacy issues whatsoever.
Yahoo! CEO Gets Caught with Fake Educational Experience on His Resume
As if Yahoo! didn't have enough to worry about these days, news surfaced about a week ago that it’s new CEO, Scott Thompson, doesn’t actually have a degree in computer science. Which wouldn’t be a huge problem, except that this “fact” was listed on his official corporate biography and in filings with the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). So now some Yahoo! shareholders are calling for his ouster, which is understandable but hardly the type of distraction the company needs while it’s trying to plot a comeback. This issue hasn’t been resolved yet, but apparently Thompson has argued internally—and effectively—that he never actually provided a resume to Yahoo! and thus never lied about his background. So he’s apologized and is crossing his fingers while a review by the Yahoo! board finishes up. I think the bigger question is how this inaccuracy got past Yahoo!’s CEO search time. I mean, this isn’t as serious a vetting issue as, say, someone as unqualified as Sarah Palin getting on the Republican ticket in 2008. But still.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast on Tuesday, and Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday. As always, these episodes should be available soon, generally in both audio and video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?
If you haven't seen them, we're now offering Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech apps for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too. Download for Windows Phone - Download for iPhone
But Wait, There's More
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows, and the SuperSite Blog. I completed the main writing phase of Windows 8 Secrets this past week. On to edits and, of course, the inevitable (and ugly) Release Preview changes/additions.