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

WinInfo Blog

As I mentioned in last week's Short Takes, I'm in Europe this week for a Microsoft launch event. It happened Thursday in The Hague, where I gave a Windows 7 presentation with Danny Burlage of Wortell, a Microsoft partner in The Netherlands. The talk seemed to go over well, and I certainly had a great time. I'll be in Paris for the weekend, then home late Monday.

Leo and I were unable to record the Windows Weekly podcast this week because we were both traveling. We'll be back next week.

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

Short Takes

Windows 8 to Be 128-Bit? No. Good God, No.
People can be so silly sometimes. Writers at PC World, Ars Technica, Slashdot, and many other publications fell for an obviously faked LinkedIn profile from a supposed Microsoft researcher who claimed he was working on a 128-bit kernel for Windows 8. There's just one problem: This guy doesn't exist. No one with his name has ever worked at Microsoft Research. His job title is fake. Microsoft isn't working on a 128-bit kernel for Windows 8. And, best of all, the guy's listed university is an "online supplier of academic degrees," according to Wikipedia. OK, that's five problems—or four more than those geniuses on the web should have needed to figure out that this rumor was fake.

Microsoft Reveals Office 2010 Starter Edition
Microsoft this week announced that it would finally retire its Works software and replace it with a super-low-cost version of Office 2010 that would ship only with new PCs. Dubbed Office 2010 Starter Edition, this version of Office will be ad-supported and include only the Word and Excel applications. "It is a replacement for Works," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Takeshi Numoto said. "It is not a mere renaming of Works. It is an Office product." Office 2010 Starter won't be free per se, but it will essentially cost just a couple dollars—a cost that customers won't actually see when they purchase a PC.

Exchange 2010 Heads to Manufacturing
Microsoft on Thursday announced that it had completed development of its Exchange 2010 messaging server. "We are happy to announce that Exchange 2010 is Code Complete!" a posting on the Exchange Server blog reads. "Our senior leadership team has signed off on the final code, and it has been sent to our early adopters for one final look before its public release. This Release to Manufacturing (RTM) milestone means we are on our way to general availability and the launch at TechEd Europe 2009 in early November." Like its predecessor, Exchange 2010 is 64-bit only (sorry, no 128-bit rumors here either). It includes new features such as email archiving, text previews of voice mail, a new Outlook Web App client, and integration with Outlook 2010, which is itself due sometime in early 2010.

Amazon Drops Kindle Price, Adds International Wireless Network Support
Amazon this week dropped the price of its Kindle eBook reader from $300 to $260 and added a new model for $280 that includes wireless 3G content downloads that work in more than 100 countries. The current Kindle (like its predecessor and the large-format Kindle DX) utilizes Sprint's 3G network in the United States. But the new version, which is otherwise identical to the current Kindle, will utilize the AT&T 3G network, which is compatible with numerous roaming partners around the world. "We regularly ship millions of English-language books to non-English-speaking countries, and people have to wait for the delivery," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. "Now they can get books in 60 seconds. That is a pretty exciting part of what we are announcing." It sure is. Also exciting, for people like me who bring their Kindles overseas: Now it will work when I'm on the road.

Want an eBook? Grab a PC, You Lout
Speaking of eBooks, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said this week that if you're shopping around for an eBook reader, you're basically a chump. "We have a device for reading," he said. "It's the most popular device in the world. It's the PC." Um, no offense, Mr. Ballmer. You're great, really. But if you think a PC—any PC—actually substitutes for a Kindle, then you've clearly never seen a Kindle. That said, Ballmer's other eBook-related comment—that he would like to work with Amazon to bring Kindle content to the PC—makes sense. Not because people should "replace" a Kindle with a PC, but rather because they could augment their main reading device with a PC (as you can now with Amazon's Kindle app for the iPhone).

Microsoft and Google Looking to License Twitter Data
Microsoft and Google are reportedly looking to license data from Twitter so that they can feature Twitter posts (called "tweets," an absolutely abhorrent name) in their search results. I'm trying to figure out why this is a good idea. And when you consider that one of Microsoft's big claims to fame with its Bing search engine is credible sources instead of the "popular" (but often Wikipedia-esque) baloney that regularly appears on Google, it kind of stops making sense. I could see Google doing it, however.

Microsoft: We Have a Six-Year Halo Plan
Hopefully, the plan involves more than cancelled movies and an add-on that was packaged and priced as if it was a full-blown sequel. Microsoft this week said it's taking the long view with its lucrative Halo video game franchise on the Xbox 360. (Read: Yes, the company is milking the heck out it.) "We do have a plan that goes out at least six years," said Microsoft Creative Director Frank O'Connor. "Eventually it will become very apparent that there is a plan for the way the canon ties together and the way the comic books and the novels all tie together." Hey, it worked for George Lucas. Or did it?

DOJ Investigating IBM for Antitrust Violations
I had to look at the calendar to make sure it wasn't 1975 again. Then check a second time, because this is why IBM is being investigated: The DOJ wants to make sure that IBM isn't abusing its monopoly position in mainframe computers. "IBM intends to cooperate with any inquiries from the Department of Justice," the company noted in an odd third-person statement about itself. This whole thing is insane.