An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Microsoft Now Powers All Bing Searches with
Microsoft this week revealed that its Bing search engine now uses the Release Candidate (RC) version of Windows Server 2012 as its sole back end, a stunning example of the “eating your own dogfood” mantra that software developers like Microsoft so often take to heart. According to a blog post, Bing adopted Server 2012 early on because of four key new features in this OS release: integrated .NET Framework 4.5, improved startup performance, the ability to collect call stacks for 64-bit .NET JITted applications, and Hyper-V 3.0, which brings Microsoft’s virtualization platforms to new scalability heights. “What began as exploratory evaluations of the impact of a migration quickly led to a full-scale deployment,” Bing’s Mukul Sabharwal wrote in the post. “All Bing.com search results worldwide are [now] being served by Windows Server 2012!”
Microsoft Demos What Desktop Applications Will Look Like in Windows Store
If you’ve been following the whole Windows 8 thing, you know that Microsoft’s next OS will include an online app store called Windows Store that is modeled on other mobile app stores. But Microsoft’s store will be different in many ways from the competition. And one is that it will allow developers to advertise, but not sell, desktop-based applications in its store alongside the more typical Metro-based apps. And this week, Microsoft provided a landing page for its Microsoft Office suites of applications to show what a desktop application listing will look like in Windows Store. It's predictably bland. Because you can’t buy the applications from the store, it just provides a single (and horrible) screenshot with a link to “the developer’s website”, which is of course a page on Office.com where you can actually buy the software. Nothing to see here, basically.
Google (Sort of) Responds to “Do Not Track” Silliness
You might recall that the advertiser-based industry group responsible for developing the “Do Not Track” specification—akin to letting cereal and dessert snack companies determine health guidelines—scuttled Microsoft’s plans to enable this technology by default in Internet Explorer (IE) 10. (See New “Do Not Track” Specification Kills Microsoft’s Plans for Protecting Users with IE 10 for the gory details.) And you might be curious about Google’s take on this. After all, Google is in the odd position of making a browser and also making 99 percent of its profits on online advertising. Where does the company fall in this little argument, you ask? According to sources, a Google representative on a “Do Not Track” conference call said this week that advertisers should ignore IE 10’s setting and that Google would “do whatever it wants,” regardless. Ultimately, Google, like other advertising-focused companies, simply wants to minimize the use of “Do Not Track.” Which makes me believe that installing as many anti-ad plug-ins as possible in Google’s Chrome browser might not be such a horrible strategy.
Google Prepares a Metro Version of Chrome for Windows 8
Google’s open-source Chromium Project this week announced that it will soon deliver a pre-release version of its web browser that will work in both desktop and Metro modes on Windows 8. The release will give testers a first peek at what Google’s coming Metro-based version of Chrome will look like, though as the organization notes, this product will work only on Intel-type Windows 8 PCs, and not on ARM-based Windows RT tablets and devices. To see the new browser, you need to install the Windows “dev channel” version of Chromium. Here’s the link for the brave. (Note, however, that the current Chromium dev channel version does not provide a Metro-based browser. That will come in the next update. To see it, you will need to make Chromium your default browser and, of course, be using the Windows 8 Release Preview.)
Barnes & Noble Opposes DOJ Settlement with Publishing Industry Co-Conspirators
Bookseller and NOOK maker Barnes & Noble this week issued a statement of objection to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement with three of the country’s biggest book publishers on charges of price fixing and collusion. The company said that the settlement would result in “higher overall average ebook and hardback prices and less choice, both in how to obtain books and in what books are available.” But then this news shouldn’t be shocking: The reason that five of the top booksellers and Apple colluded to fix pricing and prevent rivals from discounting books at non-Apple retail stores was to break Amazon’s legally obtained near monopoly on ebooks. And Amazon is, of course, Barnes & Noble’s chief rival, not just in the sale of books but, alas, also in the sale of ebook readers. So although it’s cute that the company would take such a stand, it’s also fairly obvious: Barnes & Noble wins anytime Amazon loses. Which apparently can only happen when other companies act illegally.
HP Showed Off Touch-Based Computing … in 1983
In 1983, representatives from Hewlett-Packard showed off the future of computing on The Computer Chronicles, the seminal technology TV show, demonstrating a touch-based HP computer called the HP-150 in that show’s first year on the air. And although touch capabilities are quite common today, the 1983 HP demo isn’t just interesting because of how long ago it happened but also because the PC itself uses CRT-based hardware and a command-line MS-DOS-based UI. “We’re really focused on developing a technology and total approach for intuitive use of a computer,” HP General Manager Cyril Yansouni notes in a video clip of the show. “What we have embedded in the HP-150 is what we call touch-screen capability. You can interact with the personal computer directly, without accessing the keyboard, by using the most intuitive tool you have: your finger.” (By the way, the host of The Computer Chronicles was Stewart Cheifet, and that’s Gary Kildall sitting next to him, as cohost. Kildall, of course, was the creator of CP/M, which was the “inspiration” for MS-DOS.) Thanks to Daniel D. for the link.
HTC Reportedly Shut Out of Windows 8/RT Tablet Development
According to reports I can’t verify—and, honestly, only sort of trust—smartphone maker HTC allegedly wanted to make ARM-based Windows RT tablets but was “locked out” of the development process by Microsoft. The official reason? Microsoft was concerned that HTC doesn’t have enough experience making tablets. But there’s a side concern that I think points to the real reason this didn’t happen (assuming this story is true): HTC also wanted to make a customized Start screen for its tablet, similar to how it makes an HTC Sense home screen for its smartphones. But Microsoft is allowing only small customizations to Windows 8 and Windows RT, and would have none of that. Or so the story goes. HTC, meanwhile, says this never happened and that it's committed to both Windows Phone and, in the future, Windows.
Apple to Seek Ban of Samsung Galaxy S III
Well, if you were looking for evidence that Samsung’s coming Galaxy S III was a big deal, look no further than this: iPhone maker Apple is trying to halt the sales of the Android-based handset in the United States. In a hearing in San Jose on Thursday, Apple lawyers asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order that would prevent sales of the device in the United States. “Once sales are made, the harm is irreparable,” an Apple lawyer claimed. It might be irreparable already: According to Samsung, it has rung up more than 9 million preorder sales of the eagerly awaited Galaxy S III already, and the device is set to hit store shelves, if briefly, on June 21 in the United States. The judge declined to issue a ruling.
Judge Kills Motorola/Apple Patent Trial
In other legal news involving Apple and Android-based smartphones, a US district court judge this week tentatively cancelled an Apple/Motorola patent trial because neither side could provide actual evidence of damages. The move comes after the number of patents at issue in the case had been trimmed by half, from four to two. "I have tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because neither party can establish a right to relief," Judge Richard Posner wrote in his order. "I tentatively conclude that [Apple’s] admissible evidence of damages with respect to those claims do not create a genuine issue of material fact enabling it to withstand Motorola's motion for summary judgment." He will now prepare his opinion and final judgment, which could actually reverse the dismissal, he said. Just in case you thought this one was over.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
Leo Laporte, Mary Jo Foley, and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday at the regular time, but the What The Tech podcast was cancelled this week because of Blog World in New York; we’ll be back next week. The new episode of Windows Weekly should be available soon, generally in both audio in video formats, on the web, and via iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found. You can also find all of my podcast activities on the SuperSite for Windows.
The Paul Thurrott Mobile App: Is That a Paul in Your Pocket?
The Paul Thurrott: Pocket Tech app is now available for both the iPhone and Windows Phone, bringing all of my technical content to your favorite mobile device in a fun, on-the-go format. We'll have an Android version available soon as well, I'm told. And who knows? A Windows 8 app would make plenty of sense too. Download for Windows Phone - Download for iPhone
But Wait, There's More