An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...
Join Me in New York, Redmond, or Las Vegas
OK, my late October/early November travel plans are finally coming together. And if you’re interested in meeting up, and possibly getting a signed copy of Windows 8 Secrets, I think I finally have some times, dates, and locations. Mary Jo Foley and I will co-host a Windows 8 launch tweetup/meetup at the Social Bar Irish Pub and Lounge (2nd floor) in New York City on October 25 from 8 to 11 p.m.: This one is open to anyone who can get there. On Tuesday, October 30, from 7 to 10 p.m., I’ll be co-hosting the Build Blogger Bash 2.0 with many other tech bloggers at the LUXE Room in the Lucky Strike in Bellevue, Washington; this one is currently full, but you can visit the site to get on the waiting list. And on Thursday, November 1, I’ll be appearing (again with Mary Jo Foley) at Windows Connections in Las Vegas. We don’t have an official meetup scheduled quite yet, but I think we’re planning to hang around and talk to people and sign books after our panel session, which is from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Bellagio Conference Center. If you’re not registered for Connections yet, you can get $100 off by using the discount code EDT100. But you don’t need to sign up for Connections to meet me (or Mary Jo) in Las Vegas. We can make that happen easily enough. See you there!
Windows 8 Preorders Go Live
Microsoft announced this morning that you can now preorder the retail Upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro for $69.99 at select US retailers, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, and the Microsoft Store. (The firm also privately revealed to me that those without Windows on their PC or Mac will need to buy the System Builder/OEM version of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro instead.) I recommend, however, waiting until October 26 and using the electronic, web-based installer at windows.com, since that will cost only $39.99—a $30 savings over the retail upgrade. Note that you can also preorder new Windows 8 PCs and devices from PC makers such as Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Samsung, and Sony, starting today. They ship October 26, naturally. You can find more information in my article "Windows 8: Pricing Revealed."
Report: Microsoft to Spend “Hundreds of Millions of Dollars” Marketing Windows 8
My take: That’s all? This is, after all, the future of the company, and one might argue that Microsoft's very viability hinges on Windows 8 not just performing but being a huge success. A Wall Street Journal report describes Microsoft’s coming marketing blitz for Windows 8 as “no small push,” with the firm and its hardware partners collectively spending “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Teaser ads for Microsoft’s Surface tablets can be seen now in New York and San Francisco subway systems, and grass-roots-style graffiti drawings of the devices are popping up on buildings in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, the paper says. A big component of the ad blitz will of course be TV, where Microsoft has apparently purchased every bit of space that isn’t already claimed by Apple. I’m curious to see whether this stuff resonates with customers: Microsoft has never needed a successful marketing campaign more than it does now.
TIME: Apple vs. Google Is the Biggest Fight in Tech
Someone should alert Microsoft that it's off the hook. A report in TIME claims that “the struggle for the Internet”—whatever that is—has shifted to the mobile space. And that means that this apparently epic struggle of our time is a battle between just two players. And one of them is not Microsoft. In fact the word “Microsoft” appears in this article just once—in a sentence that starts, “In the 1990s, Microsoft Internet Explorer battled Netscape Navigator”—willfully ignoring anything that the software giant (excuse me, “devices and services maker”) has done in the 17 years since. According to TIME, today’s “high-stakes tech conflict” is between Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android mobile operating system. If that’s true, Apple just lost, and oddly enough, the TIME article conspicuously fails to mention how badly Android is killing iOS, the system behind the iPhone. Curious, since the rest of this waste of time was so on-target with reality.
No, Seriously, This Is Nokia’s Waterloo
Any time a high-tech firm is struggling, tech and news writers smell the blood in the water and start writing obituaries. Sometimes, the results aren’t quite as expected, with the key example being Apple, a company that was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy but is now one of the biggest companies on Earth. But with Nokia, Microsoft’s ne’er-do-well smartphone partner, one gets the idea that things will never be right again. And with the firm ready to announce yet another loss amidst an embarrassing sell-off of corporate assets (including even its corporate headquarters), the obituaries are appearing yet again. Maybe those obituaries aren’t so premature. It’s hard to imagine a Windows Phone handset lineup doing much more than delay the inevitable for Nokia at this point, and although that’s about as gross a definition of “success” as is, say, New York Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez’s recent performance in back-to-back losses, you get the idea. Eventually, the losses simply overwhelm the vision and the rhetoric. I would like to see Nokia succeed. But I’m having trouble imagining that happening right now.
Amazon CEO Says Firm Is Breaking Even on New Kindles
With previous Amazon Kindle devices and tablets, there’s been a debate about whether the online retailer was taking a slight loss, breaking even, or earning a small profit on each unit sold. (Reality check: They weren’t previously loss leaders.) But let there be no doubt about the new generation of Kindle devices and tablets, which are about as cheap as such hardware can be: Amazon is breaking even. In a rare disclosure, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos admitted this week that it is selling its new Kindles “at cost,” and will now profit instead on the sale of content to device owners. Bezos admitted as much at the launch event for these new devices, of course, contrasting Amazon with Apple by stating that his firm made money by people using the devices, not by buying them (whereas Apple relies on the same customers just purchasing every single device version that they release).
Apple Hires Key Samsung Chip Designer
Riddle me this, Batman: If Apple’s claims that Samsung does nothing more than copy Apple’s designs are true, then why on Earth would Apple hire a Samsung chip designer? Actually, chips have little to do with hardware design, and the theory is that Apple is currently plotting a move away from Intel that mimics its earlier move away from the PowerPC platform. I’m sure that will happen just in time for the Mac to switch over to iOS, which of course doesn’t run on Intel anyway.
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
After a few weeks of disruptive travel, I was home this week for both podcasts. So I recorded What the Tech with Andrew Zarian on Tuesday as usual, and Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte and Mary Jo Foley on Thursday. 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.
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
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