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

PC Makers Now Making It More Convenient Than Ever to Get Malware

Mac users try to shore up their delicate egos and justify their huge levels of debt by claiming that their favorite computers get fewer viruses and other malware than do Windows-based PCs. And while that’s always been true, PC makers are now “fighting back” and making the malware gap between PCs and Macs as big as the gap between the poor and the wealthy in the United States. And the way they’re doing that is by actually bundling their PCs with malware, saving consumers from the time-consuming process of actually going out and finding malicious websites or opening suspicious email attachments. It’s like a valet service for idiots. Now, I know what you’re thinking: This can’t possibly be true. But it is. Microsoft reported this week that it has discovered brand-new computers for sale in China that include a voracious new rootkit called Nitol which—go figure—infects millions of PCs worldwide. Four PC makers are shipping this malware, including unnamed “major manufacturers.” I can’t wait to discover which ones they are.

Heads Up: Microsoft Was Never Going to Use “Modern” for Windows 8/RT Apps

We live in a world in which a random blogger writing for a random tech/gadget blog can essentially make something up, and it gets repeated across the Internet as fact, like some tech version of the telephone game. Such was the case recently when a report stated, pretty emphatically, that Microsoft would be renaming its Metro user experience as “Modern,” which, by the way, was the original internal code name of Metro. But it was never true. And this week, with Microsoft revealing (not for the first time) that the phrase “Metro-style” (as in “Metro-style app”) would be renamed “Windows Store” (as in “Windows Store app”), I hope we can finally put an end to this nonsense. As for the Metro interface, Microsoft is simply calling that Windows, because, in their words, “it’s just Windows.” Fair enough, I guess. Just stop calling it Modern, people. That was never going to be the name.

Yes, Microsoft Will Protect Windows 8 Users with Latest Flash Patch. Duh.

Speaking of Bloggers Gone Wild, another bit of stupidity foisted on us by my less-than-credible cohorts was that Microsoft was somehow endangering Windows 8 users by not delivering a critical patch to Adobe Flash quickly enough. The issue is that Internet Explorer (IE) 10, part of Windows 8, now includes a built-in Adobe Flash component with an associated site white list, so that users can access websites that would otherwise be cut off to the Metro version of the browser, which lacks plug-in support. But with Adobe recently issuing a critical update for Flash, lazy tech bloggers noticed that the version in Windows 8 wasn’t updated as quickly. Thus, Microsoft is endangering Windows 8 users. Which is interesting since, you know, Windows 8 isn’t officially out yet. So Microsoft’s official word is that, duh, Windows 8 will be updated before that release. "Ultimately, our goal is to make sure the Flash Player in Windows 8 is always secure and up to date, and to align our release schedule as closely to Adobe’s as possible,” a Microsoft spokesperson said this week. And now the update will ship before the general availability of Windows 8. Crisis averted.

Office 2013 Now Due in November?

Microsoft confirmed this week that Windows RT devices would initially ship with a preview version of Office 2013 Home & Student 2013 RT, an ARM-based version, and that it would be updated over time to the final version electronically. But the new information is that this update will occur in November or December 2012, a full couple of months earlier than the expected release of Office 2013. Does this mean that Microsoft will complete and then deliver its next Office family of products before the end of the year? I think it might, and that’s good news given the vast array of products and services that the software giant intends to deliver in this release.

Visual Studio 2012 Update Cycle Hints at How Microsoft Will Update Windows 8

Visual Studio 2012 has shipped in incomplete form this year, just as Windows 8 will. And Visual Studio 2012 will be updated regularly over the next year …. just as Windows 8 will? It’s a valid question, given that multiple sources have told me that Microsoft won't let Windows 8—especially its incomplete Metro environment—sit still for three more years. And though I’ve heard a few versions of the story about how Microsoft intends to update Windows 8 (yearly, more than yearly), the company’s plans for Visual Studio 2012 are, I think, instructive. My Windows Weekly cohost Mary Jo Foley this week reported that Microsoft will deliver updates to Visual Studio very quickly going forward, in “a regular cadence,” with the first such update—called Update 1—due by the end of 2012. These are not service packs but rather a collection of both fixes and actual updates. And yes, folks, I think this is pretty much exactly the plan for Windows 8 as well. Windows 8 Update 7 has a great ring to it. Make it so, Microsoft.

All Microsoft Employees Are Getting New Surface Tablets, Windows Phone 8 Handsets, and New PCs

If Microsoft employees seem even more pro-Microsoft than usual after the firm’s annual employee meeting this week, there’s a simple reason: They’re basically the same human saps as the rest of us, and the thought of getting a goody bag full of toys for free is irrationally important. That’s because Microsoft told its employees this year that all 90,000 of them would be getting a new Surface RT tablet, a new Windows Phone 8 handset, and a new Windows 8 work PC. A typical Microsoftie tweet exhorted after the event:“Best. Company meeting. Ever.” Uh-huh. This reminds of the TV show House Hunters, in which a couple is spending $500,000 on a fully furnished home, and the thing that puts it over the top for them is the 27" Chinese knock-off HDTV in the living room. “Does the house come with the TV?” the eager buyer-to-be asks. Of course it does. It’s just sad.

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

I recorded What the Tech with Andrew Zarian on Tuesday but had to bow out of Windows Weekly on Thursday because I was traveling yet again. That’s OK: The show went on without me, and Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and Peter Bright recorded on Thursday at the normal time. 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.

The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?

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