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

Windows Phone Secrets Hits Crucial Milestone (For Me, Anyway)

Some time late today (Friday), or certainly by tomorrow morning, I will complete the initial writing phase of my next book, Windows Phone Secrets. I mention this only because writing this book has dominated my schedule for the past four weeks, and I'm eager to be over the hump. Of course, this doesn't mean I'm "done"—far from it. But the next few weeks, spent dealing with edits and revising and adding text, will be almost a vacation by comparison. In fact, I will be on vacation, or what passes for vacation for me: My family will be in Germany for the next three weeks, doing our annual home swap, this time somewhere southwest of Frankfurt. I'll be working each day, however, so WinInfo and the SuperSite will be updated on the regular schedule. But again, without the book hanging over me ... it's going to be relaxing. If you're interested in the book, and in the writing process, I've been blogging (and will continue to do so) over at Windows Phone Secrets. See you in Germany.

Microsoft Promises Slate PCs Again

At his company's annual financial analysts meeting yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the software giant "has a push" with its PC maker partners to deliver iPad-like slate PCs in time for this year's holiday season. He predicted that Microsoft would quickly wrest the slate market away from Apple, "like we did with netbooks" (from Linux, in that case). He also reiterated that the Windows Phone OS isn't headed for tablets: "Windows is the OS, and Intel is the processor \\[for our slates\\]," he said. Yawn. More intriguing to me is his admission that the iPad is selling better than expected. "They've certainly sold more than I'd like them to sell," he said. Of course, selling three would be more than they deserve to sell.

Ballmer: Don't Buy a Slate PC This Year; Wait for 2011

In a classic Steve Ballmer/Microsoft moment of "wait until you see what we do a year from now," Microsoft's CEO noted that the slate PC market will "get a boost" with the release of the Intel Oak Trail processor architecture coming in 2011. These chipsets can run cool without fans and will therefore be a better bet for the confined space in slates. Plus, they get much better battery life. The message being, of course, that Microsoft might not be ready with a new lineup of slate PCs for the holidays yet, but even when they are, you should just wait. Another marketing win for the geniuses from Redmond!

Microsoft: Cloud Isn't New; We've Been Doing This for 15 Years

Ballmer also had some choice words about cloud computing and the incorrect assumptions out there that Google is somehow winning this market. "Right now, 70 percent of Microsoft’s 40,000 engineers work on cloud-related products and services," he said. "By next year, that number will grow to 90 percent." That's what Ballmer means when he says Microsoft is "all in" on cloud computing, but don't confuse this for a new trend at the software maker. Ballmer noted that Microsoft entered the cloud computing business 15 years ago with Hotmail. And its Exchange Server software has been available online for a decade, he said.

Microsoft: 8 Core Businesses?

Also at the financial analysts meeting, GM Bill Koefoed outlined what he called Microsoft's eight core businesses: Xbox and TV, Bing, Office, Windows Server, Windows Phone, Windows, business users, and SQL Server. I can't imagine that anyone would have divided the company's product lineup into that list. In fact, if you look at Microsoft's financial statement, the company has exactly three businesses—Office, Windows, and Windows Server, in that order—and everything else the company makes, combined, is about half the size of the Server business. And some of that is losing money. One statistic Koefoed supplied does jive with reality, however: Today, the enterprise is Microsoft's biggest business, generating 36 percent of its revenues, compared with 20.5 percent for small-to-midsized business (SMBs), 17 percent for consumers, and 27 percent for OEM (PC maker). So. The OEM PC is split 65/35 between consumers and businesses (that's about right; consumers buy more). So, doing the math, businesses account for 65 percent of Microsoft's revenues overall, compared with about 35 percent for consumers.

Internet Explorer 9 Public Beta in September

Microsoft also announced this week that it would deliver a true beta version of IE 9. As you might recall, the software giant had originally targeted August internally for this beta. No word yet on what UI changes are coming. Cross your fingers that they're substantial.

iPhone 4 to Drop More Calls, Be Generally Unreliable in 17 More Countries Today

If you live in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland, and you just can't wait to see what the excitement is all about, well, good news! The iPhone 4 goes on sale today in your country! Yep, the buggiest product Apple has ever made will soon be yours. And then maybe you can join in on whatever your country's version of a class-action lawsuit is. I'd say, call me. But you can't.

Apple's Tragic Macpad Says All You Need to Know About This Company

Apple this week released a bizarre new peripheral called the Magic TrackPad that basically provides a laptop-style, touch-tastic trackpad for desktop Macs. Mac pundits are tripping all over themselves to figure out what it "means." As in, is Apple developing a touch-based UI for a future Apple TV that no one will want? I can tell you what it means. It means that Apple is a much smaller company, both internally and conceptually, than most realize. And this insular little company simply can't handle too many different projects at once, and thus can't innovate at the heady pace for which many blindly give it credit. Why? Because if Apple really "got" multi-touch, it wouldn't make users of its palatial 27" iMac touch a tiny trackpad, it would simply add multi-touch support to the screen and to the underlying OS. Think about it. With an iPhone, the tactile response is direct. But second-class Mac citizens have to do the mental gymnastics to figure out the correlation between gestures on the trackpad and events happening onscreen. So don't even try to tell me Apple gives a damn about the Mac market anymore. The company has clearly stopped trying. Unless of course by "trying" you mean "trying to fleece their buy-anything customers with yet another pointless doo-dad." That it still does.

This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast

Leo is away, but I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast with Tom Merritt this week. It should be available by the weekend on iTunes and the Zune Marketplace, in both audio and video formats. By the way, we've apparently had some issues with the hosting company with regards to the video versions of the podcast lately. Hopefully, that will be sorted out soon.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog. Also, follow along as I write my next book, Windows Phone Secrets!