An often irreverent look at some of this half-week's other news, including a holiday weekend break for WinInfo, a Word appeal lost, a cybersecurity czar, a Yahoo! shutdown, smartphone shenanigans, OLPC, an Apple TV service, and a partridge in a pear tree...

WinInfo Blog

With Christmas bearing down on us, bringing with it the disturbing possibility of increased exposure to relatives, I begin to retreat ever farther into my home office, hopeful that I won't be spotted among the piles of electronic junk and debris. But like a small animal that can be tricked by a morsel of food, I will likely venture out at some point and succumb to the season's requirements. Pray for me as I do for you. :) And happy holidays, seriously.

Leo and I will record a special holiday episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday at the usual time (2pm ET), and it should be available sometime by the end weekend as usual, pending the usual holiday scheduling madness. Note that the podcast is now available in high- and low-resolution video as well.

But wait, there's more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog.

Short Takes

Microsoft Loses Word Appeal, Chicken Littles Make Much Out of Nothing
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal District this week ruled that Microsoft's previous legal defeat at the hands of never-heard-of-'em Canadian developer i4i was correct. As a result, Microsoft must remove a little-used feature from Word 2007 and 2003 that allows enterprising users with too much time on their hands to create custom XML elements in Word documents, whatever that means. This, of course, led to delicious headlines on anti-Microsoft sites, stating that now the Evil Empire will have to—get this—actually take Word off of store shelves by January 11, 2010, just two weeks from now. Sorry, guys, but I have bad news for you: In the time it took the appellate court to issue its ruling, Microsoft already made a patch that strips out the offending code. It's available publicly now, and Microsoft says it will be able to remove any remaining retail copies of Word replaced with updated versions. I know, that's so boring.

Ex-Softie to Become US Cybersecurity Czar
Because if anyone "gets" security, it's a guy from Microsoft. US president Barack Obama this week appointed former Microsoft Chief Security Officer Howard Schmidt to the new post of Cybersecurity Coordinator. Schmidt previously served on the Bush administration's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board after the 9/11 attacks, so I'm sure he knows what he's doing. I can't help but think there is a better person for this job. Someone more qualified. Someone more respected. And I think I have just the man for the job. That's right, I'm talking about Frank Stallone.

Yahoo! to Shut Down for a Week. You Know, If You Want to Really Save Money...
Ailing online giant Yahoo! this week confirmed that it will be closed the week between Christmas and New Years and that virtually all employees will need to take the week off. They can use vacation time or simply go unpaid, the latter of which I'm thinking Yahoo! employees should probably start familiarizing themselves with. To be fair to the struggling company—and yes, it's difficult—this isn't actually the first time they've shut down during the holidays to save money. And according to the company, it's a fairly standardized industry event. You know, if you're getting ready to shut down for good.

iPhone Most Popular Smartphone of 2009, But Only If You Screw with Statistics
According to Nielsen, Apple's iPhone was the most popular mobile device in 2009. But that's only true if you ignore the entire planet outside of the United States and don't count different Blackberry devices as being part of the same product line. In other words, it wasn't really the most popular smartphone of 2009, but since everyone loves Apple we're going to say it was, and eventually the sales will catch and meet our expectations. As the number one smartphone of 2009, the iPhone was responsible for just 4 percent of all mobile device users in that year, well ahead of number two player RIM Blackberry, which accounted for just 6.3 percent of the installed base. Yes, that's seriously what Neilsen reported. In other news, the iMac is the number one PC (if you don't count PCs that aren't all-in-ones), and Yahoo! is the top website (if you're on drugs).

They're Baaaaack ... OLPC Promises Sub-$100 PC
But they're cagey on whether it's going to suck as hard as the first one. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) rose from the grave this week to reveal that a) they're still around and, b) they're planning an XO 3.0 laptop that will sell for "well under" $100. But that's when the hilarity starts. The sub-$100 PC isn't happening any time soon, in fact it's not due until 2012, by which time, of course, the planet could be ruled by apes. Between now and then, the company will ship two other interim laptops, the XO 1.5 and 2.0, that will cost more than $100 and, if my guess is correct, be as successful and competitive as that first piece of junk they shipped last year. Put simply, I've pretty much given up on them.

Apple Quietly Shopping Subscription TV Service to Networks
After badmouthing subscription services for years, Apple is doing what it does best by doing exactly what it previously said was wrong, and then sitting back while its fans praise it for doing the right thing, again. In this case, I'm talking about subscription services: Apple is allegedly trying to get TV networks to sign on to a subscription plan by which iTunes users will pay some insane fee per month (say $30), drop their cable plans, and simply watch TV on their computers. (Or, in the case of the 17 Apple TV users out there, on their TVs.) I'm no media seer, but I think we can expect Disney (which owns ABC, ESPN, and other networks) to be among the first to sign on, given their close ties to Apple via Steve Jobs. And I think we can expect the goons who frequent Apple rumors sites to be among the first to jettison their wallets in the direction of Cupertino. Again.

And That's All Folks...
The Penton offices are closed Thursday and Friday this week for the holidays, so WinInfo will be back next week. I'll still be updating the SuperSite for Windows over the holiday weekend, however. See you next week! --Pau