Microsoft Clears Up Multicore Processor Licensing Concerns 

In a bid to avoid confusion over Windows licensing concerns regarding a coming generation of multicore microprocessors from Intel and AMD, Microsoft revealed this week that it won't require customers to pay twice when running Microsoft products on such chips. Microsoft's corporate customers have expressed fear that Microsoft will treat the multicore chips as multiple processors and charge the appropriate per processor fees which is common practice with enterprise software.

"We don't believe that charging for chip processor improvements is in the best interest of the industry," Director of Marketing and Readiness for World Wide Licensing and Pricing, Cori Hartje, said. "Because the initial generation of multicore processors will target servers and high end workstations." Microsoft's current policy applies only to enterprise software, such as Windows Server and Microsoft Exchange Server. However, when multicore processors filter down to PCs and consumers the company says it will likely use the same licensing policy. No additional charge for running software on multicore chips.

Microsoft's decision allays fears about the new chips and will likely spur other companies to adopt similar policies which should help multicore chip adoption proceed more quickly than would otherwise be the case. Although multicore processors aren't expected to provide linear performance improvements over single core chips a dual core processor will likely provide a 60 percent to 70 percent performance benefit. Intel expects to ship its first multicore chip a dual core Xeon processor in first quarter 2006.

Microsoft Announces Plus SuperPack for Windows XP 

Microsoft this week announced the Plus SuperPack for Windows XP available at US retail outlets for $29.95 Plus SuperPack for Windows XP combines the features from Plus for Windows XP and Plus Digital Media Edition.

"Plus for Windows XP and Plus Digital Media Edition have received consistently high ratings from our customers and Plus SuperPack takes the value of these products to a whole new level," Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division, said. "With its wide range of features from amazing screen savers to the ability to do more with digital photos and music Plus SuperPack is truly the ultimate companion for Windows XP."

Plus SuperPack for Windows XP includes the amazing Plus Photo Story 2 which lets you easily stitch still photos together with music or narration to create compelling animated photo slide shows. The pack also includes more than 10 screensavers and themes 50 additional transitions and effects for Windows Movie Maker 2 and several games. For more information about Plus SuperPack for Windows XP visit the Microsoft Web site. 

If you want to learn more about the tools in this product check out my reviews of Plus for Windows XP Plus Digital Media Edition and the Plus Digital Media Edition 2003 Update on the SuperSite for Windows.

Dell Gains Market Share Remains Number One in PC Market 

Dell, the world's largest computer maker, actually gained market share on rival HP in the most recent quarter, according to both Gartner and IDC. Shipments of Dell PCs rose more than 20 percent over the same quarter a year ago. The company now owns 18.2 percent of the global PC market up from 16.9 percent last year.

"Dell completely blew its competitors away again IDC," analyst Roger Kay said. "HP retained the number two spot with 16.2 percent of the market down from 16.6 percent a year earlier IBM was number three followed by Fujitsu and Toshiba.

Although Gartner and IDC use slightly different methods for obtaining their market share figures, the firms reported that PC shipments totaled about 45 million to 46 million units worldwide in the quarter exceeding expectations. That jump up almost 10 percent from an unexpectedly solid quarter a year ago points to positive growth for 2004 and a healthy holiday season the firms said.