An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including the resumption of the five-day work week, my Windows 7 release date predictions, Microsoft: car maker, Microsoft's new online business chief, IBM and Ubuntu waste time and money, and more...

WinInfo Blog

There's nothing quite like returning to work after four days off. It's just not natural. In fact, they should have made this week a four day work week just to ease us back into a normal schedule. On Monday, the alarm clock was like an unwelcome booming beacon of doom, and I've had this weird, low-level, not-quite-sick thing going on ever since. Yes, it's the holidays again. And it's time to get your cheer on.

I'll be in the Redmond area most of next week to visit Microsoft. More news on that as it develops, I guess.

Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday, right on schedule. Because of my trip next week, we'll record the next episode next Friday
http://www.winsupersite.com/article/Paul/windows-weekly-podcast.aspx

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

Short Takes

My predictions on the Windows 7 release date
There's been a lot of speculation about when Microsoft would ship Windows 7, its eagerly awaited follow-up to Windows Vista. So far, I've suggested that the company would ship Windows 7 far earlier than most people thought. But now I'm ready to make a number of more specific predictions myself, and add to the speculation. It's pretty widely known that Microsoft will ship a beta release (and a public one at that) of Windows 7 in January. This beta will be the only beta and it will be followed by a single release candidate build, and then the final version, all in quick succession. I expect Windows 7 to be finalized by April 2009 at the latest, and to be completed simultaneously with Windows Vista/Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2), which is also due in April. (Windows 7 and SP2 share more code than people realize as well, by the way.) Windows 7 will be made broadly available to consumers and business customers no later than June 2009. And those, folks, are my predictions for the release of Windows 7.

What if Microsoft really did make cars?
One of the longest-running jokes in the tech industry is, "can you imagine what it would be like if Microsoft made cars?" The joke is intended to lampoon Microsoft's design aesthetic (or lack thereof), of course, and the punch line always involves vehicles that blue screen and the like. Hardy-har-har. But what if Microsoft really *did* make cars? I'll tell you this: That company would be fiscally solvent, would have quickly embraced innovative technologies like alternative fuel, and would never have had to go to Washington, hat in hand, looking for a multi-billion-dollar handout to keep it from going out of business. In other words, if Microsoft really did make cars, it wouldn't be anything like GM, Ford, or Chrysler. It would be successful.

Microsoft makes brilliant choice for its Internet unit
Microsoft has left its position of President, Online Services Group open since the genius behind the Yahoo! takeover left the company. But now they're ready to fill that position. And as you might expect, the software giant has picked someone with the experience and success needed to take its struggling online business to the next level where it can finally compete with Google. I'm referring of course to Qi Lu, the Yahoo! vice president most recently in charge of that company's online search and advertising technology. Wait, what? You picked a person who has already proven he can't defeat Google? Really? Apparently, I'm not the only one confused by this pick. Former aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews, who was a senior executive in Microsoft's Online Services Group and one of only a few candidates who could have gotten Lu's new job, immediately left the company when the decision was announced.

IBM and Ubuntu team for Microsoft-free PC
Which was fun and all back in 1999, but I'm just curious: Were any business customers actually asking for such a thing? Former tech industry heavyweight IBM has unveiled a new virtualized desktop environment called, uh ... well. Hm. It doesn't actually have a name. They just call it a "Linux-Based, Virtual Desktop," a "Linux-desktop solution," and a "virtual desktop," the first two of which are grammatically questionable. Basically what we're looking at here is a server-based solution since, you know, IBM only sells servers these days. It runs Ubuntu Linux, which is fine, and a bunch of old-school IBM solutions like IBM Lotus Symphony and IBM Lotus Notes. I'm sure it will be a best seller, guys. Nice work.

Expect a smaller CES next month
This will be the third year in a row that I won't be going to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January. In the past, I've justified this decision because CES has gotten too big, loud, and complicated to be valuable, but maybe it's time to reassess that position. Apparently, CES will be dramatically downsized this year because of falling attendance. It's gotten so bad, in fact, that the impossible has happened: Some Vegas hotels are actually lowering their extravagant room prices for the week of CES in a bid to lure business travelers. So will I change my mind and head out to Las Vegas next month? Absolutely not. I already booked a vacation in Florida.