A new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast should be available sometime today. This week Leo Laporte and I discuss the Windows Vista release to manufacturing RTM and the recent Vista licensing changes.

In other news this week was a big week for Xbox 360 fans. A list games such as Call of Duty 3, Gears of War and F.E.A.R. shipped this week as did the HD DVD player add-on. I've been playing all three games and will review each of them soon, but my early analysis of the games will contradict some prerelease hype. Call of Duty 3 is vastly superior to Gears of War, although both have comparable graphics. I've tried to play both online, but curiously there was no one available online to play against mid-week. I guess the games are just too new. I'm sure there will be armies of people online this weekend, however. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until next week to play against them because I'm in Stowe Vermont for a long weekend with my wife. In some ways, coming as it does right after the Vista RTM, this getaway is poorly timed. I've got a lot of review work to finish up as well as several installation guides. Vista feature focus articles and other articles. In other ways the weekend is well timed. I ended up not sleeping very much this past week while getting my Vista RTM articles prepared for the SuperSite and I could use a few days of rest. As I write this I'm looking out over Mountain Road up the street from Stowe's tiny downtown. We've been coming here for years--decades actually. Come to think of it, we got engaged here about 19 years ago. Yikes!

Anyway I apologize that this Short Takes is shorter than usual. I've got some serious relaxing to do!

Gates Rivals Tried to Castrate Vista 

I have to admit I have a soft spot in my heart for companies that talk tough. That said, Microsoft has been surprisingly cuddly and fuzzy since its US antitrust slapdown. But this recent Bill Gates quote just makes me smile. Complaining about competitors efforts to convince antitrust officials in the European Union (EU) to force Microsoft to cut crucial Vista features, Gates said competitors were trying to castrate the next generation Windows version and dog Microsoft every step of the way. Gates did note, however, that antitrust regulators never asked Microsoft to remove any Vista security features which suggests that some common sense still exists. But seriously, Microsoft customers and shareholders expect you to compete fiercely with competitors. Surely you can act a bit tougher than you do.

Straight Talk about Vista SP1 

This week there's been some bizarre speculation about Vista Service Pack 1 SP1 suggesting that some people aren't paying close enough attention or are willfully ignoring their colleagues. As I first revealed several months ago, Vista SP1 will ship concurrently with Longhorn Server in late 2007. SP1 will include a new kernel version, a first for a Windows service pack, which will bring the Vista kernel up to date with the kernel changes that Microsoft is introducing in Longhorn Server. There's always been a strong wait until SP1 mantra when it comes to enterprises adopting new Windows versions, and given the kernel upgrade, that's never been truer than it is with Vista. But hey, we knew all this months ago. No reason to speculate about it now.

Microsoft to Pay Novell 240 Million or 308 Million or Something

This week conflicting reports state that Microsoft will pay Novell at least 240 million in upfront payments as part of the recent Microsoft Novell collaboration toward Windows and Linux interoperability. The money will net Microsoft 350.000 Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support and maintenance coupons which Microsoft will presumably use to wallpaper the reception area of the company store in Redmond. And maybe I'm reading too much into this news, but isn't this one of the biggest Linux deals of all time?

Sysinternals Tools Hit Microsoft.com

After Microsoft purchased Winternals and received the papers on Mark Russinovich's soul earlier this year his beloved Sysinternals utilities disappeared temporarily from the Web. Well they're back now and available on the Microsoft Web site. As the site notes these tools can help you manage, troubleshoot and diagnose your Windows systems and applications, and any Windows IT administrator will tell you that the Sysinternals utilities are crucial components of any administrator's toolbox. Enjoy!

Microsoft Releases Vista Security Guide 

Speaking of IT administrators (you know who you are. Gustav, put down that donut and sit up straight for a second). Microsoft this week posted its Windows Vista Security Guide which is a must read article about how to best secure Vista in an Active Directory (AD) based domain. The guide also ships with a Group Policy Object (GPO) accelerator tool that automatically creates all the GPOs you need to apply the guide's security guidance. That news should send shivers down the spines of the geekier members of the readership. Get the guide today on the Microsoft Web site

Apple Working on iPod Phone 

With Microsoft set to ship its already quaint Zune portable audio player next week you might wonder whether Apple has anything up its virtual sleeve. There are rumors of a widescreen video iPod with virtualized controls built into the display to maximize the display size, but a more concrete rumor about Apple's purported iPod phone work crystallized a bit this week when two Apple patent applications were revealed. In the applications Apple shows off a cell phone form factor as the container for that virtualized control system and suggests that such a form factor is the optimal one for such an interface. Interesting indeed. But will the iPod phone get Apple invited to the Social? And when will such a device actually appear?