An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Reminder: Join Me (and Mary Jo) Next Week in New York!
As I noted last week, my busy travel schedule for late October and early November is finally coming together. If you will be in New York next week, please consider coming to a Windows 8 launch tweetup/meetup that I’m co-hosting with Mary Jo Foley. It’s happening at the Social Bar Irish Pub and Lounge (2nd floor) in New York City on Thursday, October 25 from 8 to 11 pm and is open to anyone who can get there. I’ll be giving away signed copies of Windows 8 Secrets, and hopefully we’ll have some other giveaways. After the event, you can join us for a little “midnight madness” silliness at the Microsoft Store pop-up location in Times Square, as well. See you in New York!
Three Events, Three Cities, Two Coasts: How Microsoft Made October Hell
I don’t agree with the premise of a recent Wired story—"Why Windows Just Can’t Win"—but as someone who is suffering greatly this month because of Microsoft’s inability to schedule its crazy back-to-back events with any kind of symmetry, I do agree with a brilliant point posited within. Over the course of just four days in late October, Microsoft will hold three major events—the Windows 8 and Windows RT launch, the Windows Phone 8 launch, and BUILD—and it will do so in three cities (New York, San Francisco, and Redmond/Seattle) that are separated by thousands and thousands of miles. Author Mat Hohan put it this way: “Four days. Three cities. Two coasts. One giant disaster.” He added, “By hosting events just a few days apart, especially when we’re talking about products with very similar names but with significant differences, Microsoft is as likely to create confusion as curiosity.” Yep. Which leads me nicely to …
With Windows RT, Confusion Reigns
If you’ve been faithfully reading the SuperSite for Windows, you know about the growing controversy and confusion about Windows RT and the coming Surface with Windows RT tablets. Put simply, Windows RT is an unknown quantity, a sort-of version of Windows 8 that isn't compatible, at all, with standard Windows desktop applications, some Metro-style apps, and much hardware. But Microsoft, engaged in an Apple-style secrecy campaign, just can’t seem to communicate what’s really happening with a product it’s already offering to consumers for pre-sale at expensive price points ($500 to $800, plus up to $130 for a keyboard cover). How can the software giant justify selling a product that it’s never adequately explained to potential buyers? That’s a great question. Follow along as this drama unfolds on the SuperSite, and if you’re not aware of what’s happening, "What is Windows RT? Redmond, We Have a Problem" is a great place to start.
Windows RT Confusion, Case in Point: Hardware Compatibility
Here’s just one example of how Windows RT will bite early adopters hard. Microsoft says that it has utilized a new generation of drivers that allow Windows RT (and 8) to work quietly and seamlessly with lots of keyboards, mouse devices, and printers. And sure enough, in my couple of days with a Windows RT tablet in New Zealand last month, the device handled every keyboard and mouse we threw at it. But what about printers? A report in PC World says this news is going to get ugly, with only 34 out of 200 HP printers working on Windows RT, and that’s just laserjets. As for Dell, only 32 of its 110 inkjet and laserjet printers support Windows RT. And I know what you’re thinking: Hey, that’s way better than iPad! But Windows RT looks and acts like Windows, and Windows RT devices look and act like PCs. Customers are going to expect this to work, and they're further going to expect to be able to download drivers that will make it work. That can’t happen because—wait for it—Windows RT is 100 percent incompatible with Windows desktop applications, including drivers. When it comes to compatibility, Windows RT is like Windows without the benefits of Windows. It will get better over time, of course. But it’s going to be tough for users at launch.
Stephen Elop Might Be Clinically Delusional
To date, I’ve supported and even cheered on Nokia’s decision to adopt the Windows Phone platform because I feel that this system is superior to the competition from both technical and usability perspectives. And I’ve tried to counter criticisms of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, whom I’ve viewed as pragmatic, generally, and correct in his declaration that had Nokia adopted Android, it would be dying even more quickly than it already is. But with a single statement this week, Elop has made me doubt his processing power. When asked about a rumored Microsoft Windows Phone handset that some are describing as the “Surface Phone,” Elop—whose company actually works hand-in-hand with Microsoft creating Windows Phone—said something more than a bit delusional. While claiming he had “no indication” that Microsoft would do such a thing, he said that a Microsoft entry into the Windows Phone hardware market would “certainly be a stimulant to the ecosystem.” Yeah, it sure would. It would stimulate Nokia to declare bankruptcy.
So Much for the Post-PC Era; Maybe We Should Call It the “Post-PC Error”
Microsoft reported less-than-stellar quarterly results ahead of the Windows 8 launch this month—see "Microsoft Reports Dip in Quarterly Profits and Revenues" for more information—triggering yet another round of “post-PC era” silliness. But wait. Google also announced less-than-stellar quarterly earnings this week, with profits of just $2.2 billion (half of what Microsoft made) and earnings failing to meet expectations. This “post-PC era” company is … wait for it ... struggling to adapt to the … seriously, wait for it … new mobile devices market that is supposedly poised to kill off Microsoft. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s how the New York Times described this debacle: “[Google] faces challenges as it tries to make money in a mobile world … it makes less money on mobile ads than on desktop ads.” But mobile ads weren’t Google’s only problem: “Motorola Mobility, the ailing cellphone maker it recently acquired, is bleeding money … And Google isn't alone. The problem is also stumping technology companies such as Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.” Weird how those post-PC companies aren’t all kicking ass too, huh?
Google Schedules Android Event for the Same Day as Windows Phone 8 Launch
Ah, I love the smell of aggressive competition in the market, and to be honest, I’m surprised this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often. Microsoft, as you might know, is launching Windows Phone 8 on Monday, October 29, in San Francisco. And we know Google knows this because Google is now holding a mysterious Android event on Monday, October 29, in New York City. The invitation for the Google event says, “The playground is now open,” suggesting that the online ad giant (and Android maker) will launch new Nexus-branded devices, including possibly a new smartphone and tablet, and possibly even a new Android version. Hey, I’m sure none of that will do anything to prevent press excitement over the Windows Phone 8 launch, right? Right? (And if I see anyone at the Windows Phone 8 launch streaming the live Google event on YouTube, there will be violence.)
Apple Forced by British Court to Admit that Samsung Didn’t Copy the iPad
Which sounds awesome and hilarious until you get to the caveat in this amazing ruling. You might recall that a British court previously ruled that Apple must admit in public that Samsung didn't copy the design of the iPad in its own tablet devices. Apple, of course, appealed this ruling, but a British Court of Appeals agreed with the original ruling, stating that Apple must publicize the ruling to make sure consumers are aware that Samsung did not infringe on its design patents. Hilarious, right? Not exactly. The original ruling also noted that the reason Samsung didn’t copy the iPad is because the Samsung devices are “not as cool” as the iPad—yes, it really says that—and that “the extreme simplicity of the Apple design is striking,” a beauty and clarity of design that the Samsung products lack. It’s not hard to imagine how Apple can contort this one into a great advertisement, to be honest. And this time, it will be an ad required by law.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
Both podcasts were on track this week, but things will get interesting once the 10-day epic travel schedule kicks in. I recorded What the Tech with Andrew Zarian on Tuesday, and Windows Weekly with Iyaz Akhtar and Mary Jo Foley on Thursday. Both podcast episodes should be available soon, 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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