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

WinInfo Blog

As I write this, the Bink family is in the air, on their way to Dedham to swap homes with the Thurrotts. We'll show them around the area tomorrow, then fly to The Netherlands on Saturday night. So it will be a busy couple of days to end a stressful week of getting the house ready and cleaning up. But we're ready to roll.

Leo and I took the week off from the Windows Weekly podcast this week because of Leo's ongoing trip to China. But we should be back on schedule next week. I'll be recording from the road, as usual. See you next week!

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

Short Takes

Windows 7 Business Shipment Prediction Is Bogus, Analyst Says
This past week, Microsoft carted out an IDC whitepaper that noted the analyst firm's expectations that Windows 7 would be installed on 177 million PCs by the end of 2010. The company also noted that it had already pre-licensed 51 million copies of Windows 7 to its volume license customers. Big success story, right? Not according to ex-Microsoftie Rob Horowitz, the founder of Directions on Microsoft, who says that the software giant is stretching the truth. "When Microsoft says it has 51 million seats already for Windows 7, that's probably 51 million PCs covered by \[pre-existing\] enterprise agreements," he said. In other words, these licenses aren't related to excitement over Windows 7. But I'm curious about the word "probably" there. You don't know this is the case, Rob? What this really boils down to is the same tired discussion of Microsoft's volume-licensing scheme that comes up every time a new Windows version comes out. Yes, we get it: Microsoft's business customers essentially subscribe to Windows licenses and get automatic upgrades to new versions, but there's no way to know which version of Windows these companies are really running. This was the case when Windows Vista shipped, it was the case when Windows XP shipped, and, yes, it's the case with Windows 7. Big news story. What's next? A debate over what the removal of Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) from Windows 7 in the European Union (EU) "really" means? (Hint: It means the IE executable, and only the IE executable, is removed.) Come on, guys. Learn a little a history.

Windows 7 Pre-Sale Disaster in Europe
Speaking of Microsoft punishing its customers in Europe (well, we were, sort of), here's a real news story: On Wednesday, Microsoft's limited-time pre-sale of Windows 7 began in Europe and if my email is any indication, it's been a complete disaster. Demand for the product was so high that online retailing servers crashed (including, apparently, Microsoft's) and by the time they came back up for many customers, the promotion was over because stock had run out. Those in the UK who struggled for hours to get through were eventually met with a message noting, "Promotional pricing no longer available." How immense was the demand? According to Amazon UK, it sold more copies of Windows 7 in the first eight hours than it did for Windows Vista during its first 17 weeks of availability. (Yikes.) No word yet on whether Microsoft will allow customers in Europe to have a second go-round, but I wouldn't expect any good news here. Sorry.

Finally, an Imminent Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal
And I was worried that the "Microhoo" logo I made would never get used! According to sources close to the companies, Microsoft and Yahoo! are finally close to a deal. But it's not about selling Yahoo! to Microsoft, or selling Yahoo!'s search business to Microsoft. Instead, the two companies are going to collaborate on Internet advertising and offer a much bigger market to potential advertisers than they could do separately. Of course, given how things have gone between the two companies so far, I wouldn't get my hopes up. Except that the "Microhoo" logo is pretty sweet.

I'd Call for a Boycott of Opera, but Let's Face It, No One Uses that Stupid Browser Anyway
Yes, I know that headline will trigger email from the six people who actually use Opera, but you know what? I'm just tired of this company. Opera, which commands less than 1 percent of the web browser market and yet somehow convinced the EU to launch a ridiculous antitrust investigation against Microsoft, said this week that the software giant's "minor technical tweak" to Windows 7 doesn't satisfy its complaint. To be clear, this "minor technical tweak" involves three things: allowing customers to completely remove the IE 8 executable from Windows 7, being more explicit about not making IE 8 the default browser when first installed, and selling special versions of Windows 7 across Europe that don't even include IE 8. Wow, what a minor change. Addressing such a weighty complaint.

Microsoft Kills Popfly
No, I don't know what it was either. (Or care, frankly.) But as long as Microsoft keeps that hip and cool "3 Degrees" thing going, I'm good.

And You Thought RROD Was a Thing of the Past
Just when you started to dream about a future in which Microsoft's video game consoles are reliable and silent, the Xbox team rises up out of its secret, undisclosed new location and dashes our hopes. Sorry folks, it looks as if you'll need to wait another four years, at least, before the company actually makes a better product. "We believe we're less than halfway through this \[video game\] generation," Microsoft Group Product Manager Aaron Greenberg said this week. So instead of actually making a console that doesn't sound like a jet engine and doesn't fail like a 1970s-era Alfa Romeo, Microsoft is instead extending the life of the Xbox 360 via software updates and vaporware future interfaces like Project Natal. Now that sounds like a plan.

We're Still Number Three! Or, Putting Bing in Perspective
There's been a lot of talk about Bing's success in the market, and I've certainly done my share to contribute to that. But web analytics firms are starting to throw a little cold water on the usage stats for Microsoft's fledgling search engine (excuse me, "decision engine"), noting that, at the end of the day, Microsoft is still a distant third in this market. Worse, it doesn't appear to have stolen any usage share from market-leader Google at all. Instead, Bing's modest gains seem to be coming out of second-place Yahoo! So, the big question is about the long term: Will Bing keep growing slowly over time? Or will people simply get over their curiosity and go back to using Google? I will say this, speaking of perspective: Many people are very condescending about Bing's 8.4 percent usage share. I'd note, however, that that figure is almost three times higher than the Mac's worldwide usage share in the PC market. And man, people can't talk up Apple enough. I'm just saying.

PC Sales Fall Less than Expected, Apple Takes a Hit
Speaking of Apple, let's see how the media darling is doing in that PC market I just mentioned. According to IDC and Gartner, PC sales fell in the second quarter of 2009, year over year, but not nearly as badly as expected. Averaging out the figures, Apple fell from fourth place to fifth in the United States (it doesn't rate internationally), while the other top players remained relatively unchanged. The key to this data is the rise of the netbook. It's the fastest-growing PC type on the market, and Apple doesn't make one. Heck, Apple doesn't even make a viable computer for less than $1,000, so it doesn't play in the volume PC market either. (The average selling price of a PC is $555, compared with $1,500 for a Mac.) What this all adds up to is obvious: When the economy goes south, so do sales of unnecessary and expensive gadgets. And that, dear reader, is pretty much Apple's core business, when you think about it.