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

It's Official: Windows Phone Team Has Jumped the Shark

Microsoft's handling of Windows Phone software updates has gone from slow to frustrating to outright ludicrous in recent weeks, and with the so-called "release" this week of the first real Windows Phone software update, the company has officially crossed the line. Despite a newly posted Where's My Phone Update? page that seeks to calm customer nerves by providing a vague timeline about the delivery of said update via different carriers, what Microsoft has really communicated is that virtually no customers are getting this update right now at all, and it has no idea when the majority of Windows Phone users will actually get the update. Why? Well, let's not say that carriers are "blocking" the update; I mean, that would be just plain wrong. But those carriers are apparently still "testing" the update for some reason—more than three long months after it was formally completed. And now, finally, after months of this baloney, I'm not the only one who sees what's really happening here. Nick Eaton of the Seattle PI describes Microsoft's handling of Windows Phone updates in one word: "Fail." Well, more than one word: "Microsoft won’t give any guidance beyond the rambling blog posts and Wednesday's new charts." Business Insider's Matt Rosoff says the Microsoft schedule is "useless." And Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet notes that Microsoft's "drawn-out release process for updates is a mess, and leaves consumers in the dark as to when to expect their update ... a total and utter fail." Exactly. And exactly what I've been saying for months. Common sense prevails.

Good Thing We All Picked the "Premier" Windows  Phone Partner, Eh?

Speaking of the first Windows Phone software update, a commenter in my Windows Phone Secrets blog raised an excellent point this week. When Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 last year, it said that AT&T would be its "premier partner" without explaining what exactly that meant. Now that we have a chart, of sorts, showing when (sort of) the first Windows Phone update will ship to users, we can see what AT&T's role really is, given its non-alphabetical position at the bottom of the list: spoiler. It is still testing the update, and the pre-update, and will presumably be among the last to deliver these important changes to customers. I'm so excited I picked the premier Windows Phone (Samsung Focus) on the premier carrier (AT&T).

Irony Alert: Carriers Blame Microsoft for Windows Phone Update Delays

The ever-reliable Winrumors is reporting that two European wireless carriers have actually turned the tables on Microsoft and are blaming the software giant for all the delays in getting the first Windows Phone update out to customers. Vodafone UK says it has already approved the update but that it's up to Microsoft to deliver it "in due course." And Orange UK said that it, too, approved the update already, but that Microsoft won't roll it out until March 29. Just to be clear, Microsoft wasn't originally responsible for the delays here: Various wireless carriers were blocking—excuse me, "holding up"—the release for "testing" purposes for months before now. It's just that Microsoft's tiered release schedule now gives the impression that it's Microsoft that's now holding things up. So it's true, sort of. But not the real reason we didn't see this update in, say, January.

System Center Heads to the Cloud

Lost amid all the excitement over Windows Intune this week was Microsoft's announcement of its plans for the on-premises System Center 2012 product line, which includes adding cloud capabilities to the management servers. And there are three new System Center products coming: System Center Project, a self-service portal; System Center Orchestrator, for process automation; and System Center Advisor, for detecting server configuration problems. Let them eat System Center!

Google Book Deal Shot Down by Common Sense. Oh, and a Federal Judge.

US District Court Judge Denny Chin this week shot down Google's proposed settlement with book publishers and authors, declaring that agreement to be "not fair, adequate \\[or\\] reasonable." Google, as you may recall, began scanning books years ago in the hopes of building an Encyclopedia Galactica of sorts. But it forgot one little thing: In many cases, it never asked permission of the owners of those books. So they sued, formed a class action, and then settled. But that settlement has now been thrown out because it granted Google "significant rights to exploit entire books without permission of the copyright owners." Judge Chin recommends that the parties come up with a less pro-Google settlement.

US States Allegedly Eyeing Antitrust Probe of Google

Speaking of Google and the law, Ohio and Wisconsin are reportedly considering launching antitrust investigations of the online giant's business practices. Among the issues at stake are Google's much-disputed attempt to purchase airline flight information provider ITA, which is under review at the Department of Justice as well. The cases have obvious parallels to previous antitrust efforts against Microsoft—efforts that saddled the software giant with a decade of distractions, leaving the company pretty hobbled by the time it was over. Will regulation get the better of Google as well? A petty part of me sort of hopes so, I have to admit. This company is out of control.

Insane French Person Leaving Apple

Apple's sneering Bertrand Serlet, who has headed up the Mac OS X business since 1989 when the company was called NeXT and Mac OS X was called NeXTStep, is leaving the company to focus on "science." He should have spent more time working on his social skills: I will never forget this guy's sniveling attacks on Windows Vista and Windows 7, all while ignoring all-too-similar issues with his own OS. Good riddance. And no worries about the future, since he's been replaced by Craig "shaky hands" Federighi, who struggled to get through a demo of Mac OS X Lion last fall because he couldn't master Apple's simple new gestures using Apple's ergonomically challenged Mighty Mouse. Ah, the competition, how I love you so.

Firefox Kicks IE 9 Petoot in Day-One Downloads

Mozilla reports that its recently launched Firefox 4 web browser was downloaded 7.1 million times in the first 24 hours, handily beating Internet Explorer (IE) 9's day-one score of 2.35 million downloads. But don't shed a tear for IE 9: This is a long war, not a battle, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who actually believes that overall IE 9 numbers won't easily surpass those of Firefox 4 sometime down the road. And to put things in perspective, Firefox 4's day-one numbers are actually lower than the Firefox 3 day-one numbers from 2008: Then, Mozilla posted 8 million downloads in the first 24 hours. So, we'll see. In a related note, my Firefox 4 review will be available on the SuperSite for Windows later today.

This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast

Leo and I are recording the latest episode of the Windows Weekly today, on Friday, because I spent Thursday flying home from France. But the new episode should be available by the end of the weekend, as always, on the Zune Marketplace and iTunes, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.

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