An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including WinHEC 2006, Windows Vista Beta 2, Longhorn Server Beta 2, Office 2007 Beta 2, Symantec vs. Microsoft, Expression public beta, Dell and AMD, IE usage, Amazon's one-click, and so much more...

WinInfo Blog

Short Takes

- Beta 2-O-Rama on Tap for Tuesday

- Find Out Whether Your PC Is Worthy of Vista

- Symantec Sues Microsoft, Attempts to Halt Vista

- Microsoft Previews Dreamweaver Competitor

- Dell Finally Jumps in Bed with AMD--Sort Of

- IE Usage Slips Somewhat in 2006

- Xbox 360 Drives Strong Video Games Uptake

- Amazon Faces "One Click" Patent Challenge

- Right Back at Ya: Apple Countersues Creative

WinInfo Blog

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

You might have heard that parts of New England have been flooded after a week of rain (or, as the meteorologists put it, two month's worth of rain in five days). We've been lucky in our neck of the woods, and despite the fact that our house sits at the bottom of a hill, it's never had water in the basement. (I imagine a glacial boulder underground blocking the water's path.) In any event, we should keep the flooding in perspective. Although New Hampshire and Massachusetts have declared states of emergency, and indeed some areas have been flooded pretty badly, this is just a normal spring around these parts. It's certainly not like what happened in New Orleans.

Here's a strange request for help, but what the heck. My son's second-grade class is trying to collect postcards from every state in the country, but with only a month left in the school year, they're still missing four states: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, and Utah. If you live in one of those states and wouldn't mind sending a postcard to an eager classroom full of 8-year-olds, please send me an email at thurrott@gmail.com. Thanks!

I'll be in Seattle most of next week for the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC--see below). Email me if you're going to the show. It promises to be a big one.

Short Takes

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

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

Beta 2-O-Rama on Tap for Tuesday

It's been a busy week at Maison de Thurrott, a rare week home after weeks of travel, but the impending Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) looms over me. Why is that, you ask? Because at next week's WinHEC we will see the beta 2 release of three major Microsoft products: Windows Vista, Longhorn Server, and Office 2007. I've been scurrying around trying to finish up the reviews for each product, which I'll release next week. Oddly enough, going to the show itself will seem relaxing compared to the preparation work. Stay tuned to the SuperSite for Windows (and the WinInfo Web site) for ongoing coverage of WinHEC 2006 and--of course--some heavy-duty beta 2 reviews. Speaking of which: The Vista Beta 2 build candidate is up to build 5384.3, but you never know if a last-minute change could cause it to jump to the build 5385 range.

http://www.winsupersite.com

http://www.wininformant.com

 

Find Out Whether Your PC Is Worthy of Vista

I've been telling people for several months that the Windows Vista system requirements are going to be lower than the naysayers were suggesting. Aside from a decent video card, there's nothing complicated required to run Vista, and most PCs will handle the new OS. Still not convinced? Well, Microsoft released the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor that you can use to test your PC to see how compatible it will be with Vista. The Upgrade Advisor goes beyond simply hardware compatibility, however. Check it out--it's a valuable resource.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/default.mspx

 

Symantec Sues Microsoft, Attempts to Halt Vista

Talk about whether Windows Vista is going to be a big release has been much in evidence, but one sure way to measure the impact of the new OS is to count the number of companies that sue Microsoft to try and halt its release. This week, Symantec slapped an intellectual property misappropriation and breach of contract suit on the software giant, alleging that Microsoft violated the terms of its storage product license by incorporating the product into Vista and Longhorn Server. Symantec says that Microsoft licensed VERITAS Volume Manager for use in a Windows application called Logical Disk Manager (LDM). (Symantec acquired this technology when it purchased VERITAS.) Volume Manager helps OSs manage and protect data in the event of hardware failure. Microsoft says it's done nothing wrong. "We believe the facts will show that Microsoft's actions were proper and are fully consistent with the contract between Veritas and Microsoft," Microsoft wrote in a statement. Symantec's complaint is a bit stronger. "Over the course of nearly a decade, Microsoft has deliberately and surreptitiously misappropriated Symantec’s valuable data storage technologies, misled and thereby convinced the United States government to issue patents to Microsoft based on technologies invented by Symantec," the complaint reads. Yikes.

 

Microsoft Previews Dreamweaver Competitor

Microsoft lifted the veil of secrecy on its Expression line of products this week, offering users the ability to download a beta version of Microsoft Expression Web Designer, a Microsoft FrontPage-based Web editing tool for producing standards-based Web pages. Expression Web Designer is one of a trio of Expression products, which also includes Expression Graphic Designer and Expression Interactive Designer, that help creative professionals design Web pages, graphics, and application UIs, respectively. I'll be looking into these products for a possible review soon. Expression Web Designer bears more than a passing similarity to Microsoft Office 2007 SharePoint Designer, and not to Adobe's Macromedia Dreamweaver, as I'd previously heard.

 

Dell Finally Jumps in Bed with AMD--Sort Of

We'll never know what took them so long, but Dell is finally, if tentatively, beginning to move away from its Intel-only strategy and adopt the superior microprocessors made by Intel rival AMD. After announcing its quarterly earnings yesterday, Dell revealed that it would begin offering AMD's Opteron microprocessors in certain high-end server configurations. Dell didn't rule out also using AMD's desktop and mobile processors, but it didn't say it would definitely use them. Still, any move toward AMD is a good sign. The company's multi-core desktop and server chips are better than anything Intel offers, and AMD is the only chip company to offer a 64-bit mobile chip. News of Dell's partial defection to AMD chips sent Dell's stock soaring 13 percent.

 

IE Usage Slips Somewhat in 2006

According to Web analytics firm OneStat.com, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) lost a bit of ground in first quarter 2006, dropping 0.65 percent, to 85.17 percent of the market. Mozilla's Firefox browser, meanwhile, lumbered ahead 0.56 percent to snag 11.79 percent of the market. Other browsers, such as Apple Computer's Safari, Opera Software's Opera, and Netscape, own insignificant shares of the market. What's most interesting about OneStat's figures is that Firefox has higher market share in the United States and Canada than it does in Europe or other parts of the world. I would have expected the opposite to be true.

 

Xbox 360 Drives Strong Video Games Uptake

After months of dragging down the video game market because of lackluster supply, Microsoft's Xbox 360 might finally be having a positive effect. According to industry sales data from April 2006, video game sales surged 16 percent to $603 million, largely because of the increased availability of the Xbox 360. Software-wise, "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter" was the big winner on the Xbox 360, while a PlayStation 2 title, "Kingdom Hearts II," also posted strong sales.

 

Amazon Faces "One Click" Patent Challenge

The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has agreed to reexamine a patent for one-click shopping it granted in 1999 to online retail giant Amazon, citing possible prior invention. A New Zealand motion-capture actor who worked on "The Lord of the Rings" says he decided to investigate Amazon's one-click technology after the company delayed a book shipment to him. He discovered a 1998 patent that appears to cover the same methods and asked the PTO to investigate. After reviewing the matter, the PTO has agreed. Amazon says it welcomes the challenge, but the reality is that the PTO moves pretty slowly, so we might be enjoying Amazon's one-click monopoly for quite some time.

 

Right Back at Ya: Apple Countersues Creative

Earlier this week, MP3 player maker Creative Technology sued Apple, noting (correctly, I believe) that Apple ripped off the UI for its iPod devices from patent-protected Creative NOMAD Jukebox MP3 players. Well, Apple will have none of that. The Cupertino company has filed a countersuit against Creative alleging that Creative is infringing on four Apple patents for MP3 players. I haven't seen many details yet, but at least we can expect a good fight.