An often irreverent look at this week's other news, including a recap of a crazy travel week, a more plausible rumor about Microsoft’s smart phone plans, some thoughts about developer excitement at BUILD, Microsoft’s inept handling of the Metro naming flap, Jimmy Kimmel slams Apple and fans for iPad mini silliness, and FTC staffers recommend that the US government sues Google for antitrust violations.
Not Home Yet, But the Worst is Over
My crazy travel week allowed me to escape from the wind and wet of Hurricane Sandy but I had my own adventures on the west coast this week. I flew into San Francisco Sunday night and arrived, via cab, at the intersection in front of the Giant’s stadium just as they won the World Series (in Detroit) and pandemonium broke out with thousands of fans rushing the streets, rocking cars, and causing trouble. After the Windows Phone 8 launch on Monday, I flew to Seattle (via Long Beach, which, no, is not on the way). And then spent Monday in a 20 hour wake-time frenzy, taking in BUILD day one and co-hosting the Build Blogger Bash that night and doing a nice “Windows 8 Secrets” book give-away. After another day at BUILD, I flew to Las Vegas on Thursday, appeared at Connections with Mary Jo Foley, gave away some more books, and then finally ran out of steam. This morning was the first time in a week I was able to just get up of my own volition. And while I still have more travel coming—back to Redmond tonight and then home next Wednesday, the tough part is over. I’m looking forward to relaxing.
WSJ: Yep, Microsoft is Testing a Surface Phone
In the “rumors that won’t quit” department, I offer up a new report from the Wall Street Journal that claims Microsoft is now testing its own smart phone design and has signed up component suppliers to make it happen. Rumors of a “Surface phone” have been circulating for months, and of course Microsoft hasn’t been shy about telling people that its two announced Surface products are only the start of a wider range of devices. The Microsoft phone will run Windows Phone 8, of course, and has a screen size of 4-5 inches, neither of which is particularly interesting or surprising. Frankly, given the quality of the current crop of Windows Phone 8 handsets, Microsoft’s entry into this market isn’t just unnecessary, it’s unwelcome.
Not-So-Random Thought About BUILD
This week’s BUILD conference had sold out in less than an hour, and the packed, excited crowd at the developer event should erase any doubts regarding whether Microsoft’s latest Metro platforms—Windows 8 and RT, Windows Phone 8, and, soon, the Xbox—have any pull with an audience that matters quite a bit. Think about it this way. A year ago, when Microsoft announced Windows 8 and the Metro developer platform, developers had no idea what was going to happen, and I’m sure many were surprised and confused by what was announced. A year later, however, these people knew exactly what was happening. And not only did they show up in huge numbers, but they’re enthused. Sessions were over capacity, with people piling out into the halls, and the developers I’ve spoken to at the event feel great about it all. This stands in sharp contrast to the ivory tower bloviating you see from tech bloggers who can’t put down the script where Windows 8 is some kind of disaster or another Vista. Sorry guys, it’s not really working out that way.
Microsoft Can’t Escape Metro Naming Flap
After coming up with one of its greatest technology names ever, Metro, Microsoft was forced to abandon it suddenly (and very late in the Windows 8 development process) when an unnamed company (cough, Metro AG) threatened to sue for trademark infringement. Rather than do the right thing—keep using the name Metro and tell Metro AG to stick it where the sun don’t shine—Microsoft just capitulated. And rather than just rename Metro to something reasonable—MX and WinRT are two obvious choices—it’s spent the intervening months fumbling around using different names. So Metro apps are sometimes called Windows 8 Store apps, Windows 8 apps, or Windows Store apps, and the Metro technology itself is sometimes, but not always, referred to as the Microsoft Design Language. Microsofties use the term “modern,” not like a name (e.g. “Modern”) as some bloggers mistakenly write it, but as a description, as in “Metro apps are modern apps that run on a modern platform.” And … it’s all just a big mess. Microsoft’s inability to even name something as core to its future as Metro is arguably the most distressing thing I’ve seen happen to this company in a long time. Get this fixed, people.
Kimmel: iPad mini Buyers are “Suckers”
And so are all repeat customers of Apple products. In a beautiful-because-it’s-true video parody, late night host Jimmy Kimmel lays out exactly what I’ve been saying forever, that Apple simply releases the same stuff over and over again in slightly different packaging. (I referred to it as “Mexican food,” where it’s just the same few ingredients presented in different ways.) But Kimmel’s video—which you must watch—is even harder-hitting, and as he notes, alluding to the damage from Hurricane Sandy, “anyone who waits in line for an iPad mini in New York this week should be punched in the throat … if you have that kind of time, go volunteer.” Exactly. That line is the line of shame, as it always should be. You people aren’t just suckers. You’re clueless.
Report: FTC Staff Has Recommended Antitrust Suit Against Google
Bloomberg reports this week that FTC staffers have recommended that the regulatory agency submit a formal antitrust suit against online advertising giant Google for trying to block competitors’ access to key smart phone technologies. A final decision is expected next week, but if the staffers’ recommendation is carried out, Google will finally be the subject of major US antitrust action. My only question is what took so long. The issue here is Google’s repeated attempts to block the sale of devices and products made by Microsoft and Apple, which Google says infringe on patents owned by its Motorola Mobility subsidiary. But since these are so-called standards essentials patents, Google isn’t allowed to over-charge for them, nor can it seek to prevent the sale of infringing products. With patent litigation between firms in the smart phone industry becoming more and more common, the government appears ready to finally step in and put a stop to some of the madness. This is a great place to start.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
I recorded What the Tech with Andrew Zarian on Tuesday, and will record Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte and Mary Jo Foley from Las Vegas on Friday at 2pm PT. Both podcast episodes should be available soon, 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.
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