I mentioned last week that working on Windows 7 Secrets is going to sap a lot of my time this month, but it just got worse: Sensing that other publishers were going to ship their Windows 7 titles a lot earlier than previously expected (i.e., mid-September), Wiley decided that we needed to do the same, so my schedule was cut short, and now Rafael and I have less than two weeks to finish the first draft. This isn't good news, no matter how you cut it, and the next 10+ days are going to consist of a marathon writing session, during which I still have to do everything else I normally do. The good news is that it will be over quickly. That is good news, right?
Leo and I recorded the Windows Weekly podcast Thursday on the normal schedule, and the new episode should be available by the end of the weekend, as always.
But wait, there's more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog.
Windows 7 Faster than Its Predecessor? Not So, Um, Fast
Virtually everyone who has used the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) has come away impressed, especially with its performance. There's just one problem: Although people actually using the new OS claim that it's dramatically faster than Windows Vista, PC World has published the results from the first credible performance benchmarks of the Windows 7 RC and come away with an unexpected conclusion: "While Windows 7 was slightly faster ... the differences may be barely noticeable to users." PC World noted that Windows 7 was never more than 5 percent faster than Vista in any of its tests. I'd point out two things here. First, Vista isn't the stink bomb that so many people have made it out to be. Second, benchmarks like the ones PC World performed don't measure the real world; they measure benchmark tests—benchmark tests that, in this case, measure how applications run on the OS, not the OS itself. Put simply ... nothing to see here.
Mozilla Not Impressed by Windows 7
Speaking of people who aren't impressed by Windows 7 (there have to be at least three or four of them, I guess), Mozilla Chairperson Mitchell Baker, whose company is involved in the European Union (EU) antitrust case against Microsoft, noted this week that Windows 7 doesn't really solve the problem of Windows/IE bundling in any meaningful way. "This is a blatant use of the Windows operating system to change the market dynamics of browser usage," she said of Windows 7. She must have missed the finding that 50 percent of Windows users in the EU use IE solely to download Firefox, Mozilla's browser. It's funny how statements like this look so silly when viewed in the correct light.
Microsoft: Get Windows 7 RC from Us, Not the Hackersphere
Microsoft is warning customers that they should not be downloading the Windows 7 RC build from anyone but Microsoft. "It's so important for customers to get their copies of Windows from a trusted source," Microsoft General Manager Joe Williams said. "In the last few days, we've seen reports of illegitimate distributions of the release candidate of our latest Windows operating system, Windows 7, being offered in a way that is designed to infect a customer's PC with malware." In case you're not aware, or are at least playing innocent, the Windows 7 RC—like many other software titles—is available via so-called torrent sites online. These sites, shall we say, aren't necessarily as trustworthy as Microsoft. And let's not forget that you can get the RC from Microsoft, for free, and at high speed, through the end of June. Why the heck would anyone go to the trouble to get a version from an untrusted, unknown source?
Microsoft to Cite Google in EU Antitrust Defense
When Microsoft presents its oral arguments next month in its Windows/IE bundling antitrust case in the EU, it will pull a new rabbit out of its hat: Forcing the software giant to remove IE from Windows or, heaven forbid, bundle competing browsers in the product, would simply strengthen rival Google's dominance in the online search market. Competing browsers from Google and Mozilla derive all their income directly from Google-based online ads that are clicked by people using Google's search engine. By bundling these browsers with Windows, the EU would, in effect, simply be bolstering Google's core market, because every time a user makes a search from Chrome (or Firefox), money ends up in Google's pocket. It's a fair point.
Google Dismisses Its Own Antitrust Troubles
Meanwhile, over in Google-land, Google CEO Eric Schmidt says he's not about to give up his seat on the Apple board just because a pesky FTC investigation is seeking information about the antitrust implications of the ties between two companies that are supposed to be competing with each other. (Both Apple and Google make web browsers—those products are based on the same underlying technology—and sort of compete in online services.) "From my perspective, I don't think Google sees Apple as a primary competitor," Schmidt said this week. Um, that's pretty cagey given that you're the CEO of Google, bud. To reword that quote for accuracy, it would then read, "Google does not see Apple as a primary competitor." And ... you know, that's pretty accurate. Both companies give away their browsers, and they both do so to improve the experience that users get with their respective online services, which (at this point, at least) don't really compete that much either. Case closed, from what I can see: You can't complain now that it might be possible for these companies to be more competitive in the future.
Oops ... A PR Misfire Reveals that Dell Is Looking at Google Android for Netbooks
Speaking of Google, a mis-released press release from a company called Bsquare revealed that PC maker Dell is investigating the use of Google Android for an upcoming line of netbook computers. Bsquare says the release was issued "in error," but it caused some scrambling over at Dell, which wasn't ready to discuss the news. However, Dell didn't deny the news, which is telling. Google has long said that its Android platform was always designed to run on computers as well as the smart phones on which it is currently available, so it's not really shocking that a company like Dell would at least investigate the system. But if Dell were to ship such a system, it would be a shock of sorts to Microsoft, whose upcoming Windows 7 OS is expected to dominate the netbook market.
Open-Source World Rallies Around Microsoft, Thanks It for Adding ODF Support to Office 2007
Just kidding. Can you imagine such a thing actually happening? In the wake of Microsoft's release of Office 2007 SP2 last week, which added support for the open-source ODF document formats to the software giant's dominant Office productivity suite, you'd think the open-source world would at least back off on the rhetoric for a few days. Not so much. Instead, complainers are whining far and wide that Office 2007's ODF spreadsheet support is broken. Microsoft, however, says the problem is with ODF itself—not with Office's support of the format. The concern, apparently, will be addressed in the next version of the ODF spec, which is on a vague schedule. "We want our ODF implementation to work and be interoperable, and we also want to conform to the standard," a Microsoft representative said. "Today, the only way to do that is to fully understand what every ODF implementation has chosen to do, and compensate for that." In other words, Microsoft has simply worked around a limitation in ODF in a manner that is consistent with other ODF implementations. Boring!
Microsoft Ships What Is Likely the Final Standalone Storage Server Version
Microsoft this week shipped Windows Storage Server 2008, which the company says is likely the final standalone version of the product. "This will be the last separate engineering release of Windows Storage Server," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "Instead of shipping a separate storage-branded product variant of Windows Server, a storage workload edition for use in appliances will ship along with Windows Server during the normal release cycles. This is not a change in functionality or focus but simply a streamlining of delivery vehicles and timing." Storage Server is currently sold via Microsoft's server hardware partners.
Amazon Goes DeluXe with New Kindle
Amazon.com this week unveiled an upcoming new model of its Kindle ebook reader that's aimed largely at the education market. Dubbed the Kindle DX (for "Deluxe"), the new device looks almost exactly like the Kindle 2 but is dramatically bigger, with a 9.7" screen that features automatic display rotation, a la Apple's iPhone. The Kindle DX also sports more RAM than the Kindle 2 and native PDF display capabilities, but like its stable mate, it's steeply priced, at $490. I love the Kindle, but I don't get why these things have to be so expensive. I'd almost rather pay a monthly subscription (coupled with a few free books per month or whatever) and have a lower upfront cost. These things are so desirable for readers, but they're just too expensive.