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

Windows Phone Usage Soars Thanks to Nokia Lumia 900

Kantar WorldPanel (whatever that is) reported this week that Windows Phone market share has, as expected, jumped sharply in the current quarter thanks largely to the release of Nokia’s stunning Lumia 900 handset. The firm reports that Windows Phone now controls between 3 and 4 percent of the market in the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy, and over 6 percent of the market in Germany. As recently as the first quarter of 2012, worldwide market share for Windows Phone was just about 2 percent, so these are meaningful improvements. (Apple’s vaunted Mac, for example, never saw growth like that in the PC industry, not once.) “The reception to the Lumia [900] launch has actually exceeded our expectations,” AT&T Wireless CEO Ralph de la Vega said recently, bolstering Kantar’s statements. “I am really pleased with what I am seeing out of Microsoft and Nokia coming out with their first product.”

AT&T Expects Windows 8 to Boost Windows Phone Sales

Hey, that’s what I said! Speaking of the AT&T Wireless CEO, Mr. de la Vega this week said that the launch of Windows 8 later this year would almost certainly drive sales of Windows Phone. “When they come out with Windows 8 in the fourth quarter, I think it will actually add to the value that that OS brings to the marketplace, in that that will be the first time that you can truly have a similar experience on your PC, on your tablet, and on your smartphone from Microsoft,” he said this week at a technology conference. “From what I have seen and the previews that I have been given, I think it is going to be exceptionally good. I am very upbeat in what they are bringing to the market.” Ralphie boy left out the Xbox 360 in that little mix of products for some reason, but I think that’s a key part of the strategy too: that Microsoft is providing similar attractive UIs across its PC, tablet, phone, and living solutions. I love it when a plan comes together.

Nokia Might Be Burning Through Cash Reserves Too Quickly

In the bad news department, some financial analysts are beginning to question whether Nokia, which is in the middle of a switchover to Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS for its handsets, is burning through its cash reserves too quickly. The worry is that Nokia will simply run out of money if its finances don’t stabilize in the months ahead. Apparently, Nokia has spent $2.7 billion of its cash reserves over the past 5 quarters, so if this spending rate continues, it will burn through its remaining cash in just 2 years. No offense to the financial analysts, but 2 years of cash seems pretty good to me for a company that is making such major changes. It’s not as if Nokia is going to run out of money in September, for crying out loud. But I might be in the minority on that one, and certainly I’m not a financial wiz. “The company is in a negative spiral that will be hard to reverse,” one credit strategist said of Nokia. “[The company’s problems] even bring into question Nokia's very survival,” another analysts opined.

Microsoft Relaunches Successful PC and Xbox Offer for Students

Microsoft this week announced a new rendition of its successful offer that allows students buying a qualifying Windows 7-based PC to also get a free Xbox 360 4GB video game console. The offer is available to current students who purchase a qualifying PC (Dell XPS 13, HP ENVY15, and Samsung Series 5 ULTRA, among others) from participating retailers in the United States starting May 20, or in Canada starting today, May 18. These retailers include Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, Dell.com, HPDirect.com, Microsoft Stores, and NewEgg.com in the United States, and Best Buy, Dell.ca, Future Shop, Staples, and The Source in Canada. Check with the retailer in question for details.

Report: Expect Windows 8 Crapware. Paul: Duh.

Preston Gralla this week writes about his fears that PC makers will sully the pristinely designed Windows 8 with crapware. But that’s like complaining that it will be dark and gloomy in Seattle for much of the year. Despite Microsoft’s continued efforts to somewhat restrict what PC makers can do to modify Windows 8, it’s fairly obvious that these companies will pump as much crapware onto their PCs as they can. That’s the business model, as well as the other side of the double-edged sword that is Microsoft’s partner program. There’s just no way around it … well, unless you buy a PC directly from Microsoft via its Signature PC service. In fact, that’s not such a bad idea.

Twitter to Join “Do Not Track” Initiative

Social networking giant Twitter this week said that it would join the many major tech companies—including Microsoft, incidentally—that support the “Do Not Track” initiative being pushed by privacy advocates and the US government. Under this scheme, Twitter will respect the “Do Not Track” setting that users configure in their web browser and will not receive or collect users’ web page history, as apparently it’s been doing so far. The change, it says, will happen effectively immediately. But I’m a bit curious that “Do Not Track” is an opt-in thing for websites. If you configure your web browser to not enable tracking, it seems like that should be all you have to do. It’s not called “Please Don’t Track,” or “Maybe You Could Not Track Me Behind My Back.” It’s called "Do Not Track." That’s what it should do.

HP to Reportedly Cut More Than 30,000 Jobs Next Week

According to reports, PC giant HP will slash more than 30,000 jobs next week as part of an efficiency campaign under CEO Meg Whitman. That sounds like a lot of employees—heck, it is a lot of employees—but to put this in perspective, HP currently employs an incredible 324,000 people. According to sources close to HP, Whitman is trying to “build a new company,” one that will jumpstart growth at a company that, while still a behemoth with revenues of $127 billion last year (!!), can’t seem to earn much in the way of profits. It’s unclear yet where the cuts will come from exactly, but I’ll venture a guess. Everywhere.

Verizon Wireless Is Killing Off Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans

I hooked up with an unlimited data plan with AT&T when I bought the first iPhone, but then AT&T—like other wireless companies—woke up to the fact that unlimited data was bad for the bottom line, so it killed the plan and grandfathered in existing customers for some indeterminate amount of time. I never expected it to be “forever,” but when I switched to a tethering plan recently, I had to give up the unlimited data. And now Verizon is working to even more aggressively get rid of its own grandfathered unlimited-data-plan customers: Those who wish to upgrade to modern LTE-based cellular data capabilities will now have to give up their unlimited plans too. Fortunately, the change won’t happen until mid-year, when the company rolls out its data-share plans, which will allow families and others to share from a monthly pool of bandwidth.

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 Iyaz Ahktar and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday. (Leo was out of the office, and Mary Jo is on vacation in Japan for 2 weeks.) As always, these episodes should be available soon, generally in both audio in 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.

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