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

500 Million Windows 8 Users by the End of 2013? I Never Said That!

This week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was widely reported (including right here in WinInfo) as having said that he expected to see as many as 500 million Windows 8 users by the end of 2013—a fairly impressive feat given that the product will have been on the market about 15 months by that time. Microsoft PR contacted me to explain that he never actually said that, but wasn’t able to provide a video or transcript of his speech, nor tell me exactly what he had said. But the basic gist of it—since, again, no one seems to be able to provide this very basic information—is that Ballmer was simply reiterating a statement the company had made previously in its Windows Store blog, that there would be more than 500 million Windows 7-based PCs ready to upgrade to Windows 8 by the time Windows 8 ships. And the credible Todd Bishop says that Ballmer actually said the following in his speech: "With something like 400 million to 500 million users expected in the next year, the best economic activity for people building machines, and the best economic opportunity for people writing applications, will be around Windows." Point being, Ballmer was talking about Windows generally, not Windows 8 specifically.

Google Transparency Report Highlights Microsoft’s Battle Against Piracy

Google issued an interesting online report this week, its so-called Transparency Report, which shows “requests from copyright owners … to remove search results that link to material that allegedly infringes copyrights.” More interesting, perhaps, is that most of the tech news sources and blogosphere has latched on to the fact that Microsoft is the top copyright-owner complainer in the past month, by far, with more than 536,000 complaints, compared with number-two complainer NBC Universal, with about 166,000 complaints. Indeed, they’ve also latched onto the same language, stating repeatedly that this report shows Microsoft’s “piracy problems.” The AP asked Microsoft about this and got the following response: “Each month, Microsoft requests the removal of links to web pages that infringe Microsoft's copyrights so that customers are not deceived into purchasing or downloading counterfeit software.” I guess this is Microsoft’s version of the classic xkcd cartoon in which a person is furiously typing at a PC and saying he can’t come to bed because “someone is wrong on the Internet.” I’m just happy to see that Microsoft’s lawyers are keeping busy.

Microsoft Integrates Nokia Technologies into Bing Maps

When Microsoft and Nokia signed their historic collaboration agreement for Windows Phone last year, we were promised that, among other things, various Nokia technologies would be making their way into Microsoft solutions—for Windows Phone, of course, but also for the wider Microsoft ecosystem. This, I believe, is the first major example of that promise coming to fruition: This week, Microsoft announced that it was now incorporating Nokia’s excellent back-end services for traffic and geocoding into Bing Maps, and doing so in 24 different countries, including the United States. The change means that many countries are getting traffic coverage from Bing Maps for the first time. But here in the United States, Bing Maps’ traffic coverage is improving from just freeways to side streets as well. “Together we have enabled a stronger Bing Maps experience, and we hope Bing users in these respective countries reap the benefits of our partnership, notice an increase in address search relevance, and enjoy the addition of traffic information,” the Bing Maps team notes.

Rumor Busting: Desktop Development not “Dead” on Windows 8

More than one person has accused Ars Technica’s Peter Bright and me of being the same person, a rumor I refuse to dignify with a response, but I do find myself disagreeing with Mr. Bright’s latest editorial, No-cost desktop software development is dead on Windows 8. His argument? “You won't be able to use the free Visual Studio [11] Express to develop desktop apps.” Right. But you can still use the existing Visual Studio 2010 Express tools (as he notes in that article), so I’m not really sure what the problem is. It’s not like the Win32-ish SDK stuff is changing in any material fashion. But my Windows Secrets co-author Rafael Rivera—arguably the strongest independent developer in the Windows world—takes things even further: He notes in his own short post, No-cost desktop software development is not really dead on Windows 8, that it is indeed possible to use the free Visual Studio 11 tools to write desktop apps in Windows 8. But seriously, are we really complaining that the free tools Microsoft supplies will only work with its new software, and that enthusiast developers who want to target yesteryear’s environment will need to use two-year-old (but still supported) tools? Come on.

Google Reportedly Shipping Tablet This Summer

Google will reportedly launch an in-house-developed, Android-based tablet this July in its latest bid to shake off the Android tablet cobwebs and provide the Apple iPad with some real competition. Aside from the Amazon Kindle Fire, which goes to great pains to hide its Android-ness, most Android tablets thus far have sold pretty poorly. (Which has to make you wonder why Apple bothers suing Samsung so frequently. Does Apple know something about the quality of Samsung tablets that has so far eluded consumers? Hmmm.) Anyway, the new Google tablet will reportedly carry the Nexus name that Google also uses for its “official” Google Android phones. But it’s unclear which hardware maker is manufacturing the device, what the sizes and specs are, and how much it will cost. The perfect rumor, in other words.

Apple Exec Whispers Product Rumor, Lemmings Swoon

Now that Steve Jobs is gone, Apple’s lemming-like legions of fans are hanging all of their self respect on two people at the company: Apple CEO Tim Cook, an affable but wooden guy, and Johnny Ives, the award-winning designer—who, I would remind all, was also responsible for the original iMac’s hockey-puck mouse, but hey, even the best batters only hit .400. This week, Mr. Ives noted that what Apple is “working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done,” causing the easily persuaded Apple lemmings to swoon yet again. But come on. What else would the guy say? “Hey, what I’m working on now is OK. But my best work is obviously behind me.” I’m sure whatever Apple does next will be wonderful. Relax.

Yahoo! Launches Interesting Browser Search Add-On

I’m not saying I recommend this per se, but it is interesting. Ailing online giant Yahoo! this week issued a new desktop web browser add-on called Axis that provides an integrated way to search and peek into other websites without leaving the site you’re currently viewing. (Because of limitations in mobile browsers, Axis is available as a standalone browser for iOS and, soon, Android.) I’ve not seen any indication which search engine is behind Axis—I assume it's Bing—but there’s little doubt that Axis’ inline and highly graphical display is an order of magnitude more interesting than the standard Google listing of blue text hyperlinks. Axis works with Internet Explorer (IE), Chrome, and Firefox on the PC, and it’s worth checking out. I think.

Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!

Because of an all-day work event Tuesday, my podcast schedule got a bit mixed up this week. Leo Laporte and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday at the regular time. (Mary Jo is still on vacation but should be back next week.) And then Andrew Zarian and I recorded the latest episode of the What The Tech podcast later in the afternoon, two days later than usual. 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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