An often irreverent look at this week's other news ....
Next Week: BUILD Blogger Bash 2.0 and Connections!
We had a wonderful meet-up with listeners and readers in New York this week—thanks to everyone who showed up! Next week, Mary Jo Foley and I will be doing it again. Twice, in fact. First up is the Build Blogger Bash 2.0, as I call it, where we’ll be joined by an all-star cast of tech bloggers and reporters at the Lucky Strikes in Bellevue, Washington, near Microsoft’s Redmond Campus, on Tuesday, October 30. Sadly, that one is sold out, so if you’ve not yet signed up, be sure to get on the waiting list. Rafael Rivera and I will be giving away and signing copies of our book, Windows 8 Secrets. A couple days later, Mary Jo Foley and I will be appearing at Windows Connections at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on Thursday, November 1. I’ll be signing copies of Windows 8 Secrets there, too, after our session.
Microsoft Launches Windows 8 at a Gala New York City Event
As noted in "Microsoft Launches Windows 8, Surface in New York," Microsoft—yes—launched Windows 8 and its Surface line of Windows RT-based tablets in New York City this week. (My headline writing skills are what get me the big bucks.) I was on scene, as you’d expect, and if you’re curious what the day was like, be sure to check out "Windows 8 Launch Event Photos," "Microsoft Surface Launch Event Photos," "Windows 8 Launch Event Photos: New PCs and Devices," and "Surface with Windows RT First Impressions + Photos" for my visual representations of the day’s events. Suffice it to say, it was a busy, crazy mess. Fun was had by all.
Windows 8 by the Numbers
Microsoft plowed through its Windows 8 launch event keynote at a speed that was almost breathtaking. It was akin to listening to an audiobook with the speed turned up to 2x. But if you were really paying attention, the company dropped a lot of statistics on us. Some of the important ones: 670 million—the number of Windows 7 licenses sold in three years ... 1.3 billion—the number of active PC users in the world overall ... 1.24 billion—the number of hours spent testing Windows 8, a record ... 650—the number of “pages” Microsoft employees wrote on the too-wordy Building Windows 8 blog ... 400 million—the number of PCs analysts expect to be sold in the next year (this is likely high) ... 14 petabytes—the amount of data stored on SkyDrive ... 2 petabytes—the amount of data added to SkyDrive every month ... 231—the number of markets supported by Windows 8’s Windows Store ... 109—the number of languages supported by Windows Store.
Microsoft Posts Windows RT Disclaimer
Microsoft hasn’t done a good job of explaining that its just-released Surface with Windows RT tablet offers a version of Windows 8 that doesn’t include some of the key functionality that consumers will expect from any modern Windows version. And although a new disclaimer, available on the firm’s website, does include further omissions, it’s a lot better than the market fluff the company previously provided. According to this disclaimer, Windows RT will only run apps from the Windows Store (which is a confusing way of saying that it can’t run any externally available desktop applications, such as Chrome, iTunes, and Photoshop); doesn’t include CD and DVD burning, HomeGroup creation, integrated tools for faxing and scanning, location-aware printing, domain join, Windows Media Player, Windows Journal, system image restore, Sticky Notes, offline files, or Sync Center (or WordPad, which isn’t mentioned); is compatible only with Windows RT-certified hardware devices; and doesn’t support IE add-ons of any kind. That’s a lot of stuff. But there are other limitations to Windows RT generally, and to Surface with Windows RT in particular. So stay tuned to the SuperSite for Windows for an ongoing examination of these issues.
Tim Cook Is Running Scared, Thanks to Windows 8
I find Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments about Windows 8 this week to be quite telling, and contrary to the poised and fearless persona he’s trying to communicate to the press, he’s clearly nervous that Microsoft might in fact be on to something. During a conference call related to the firm’s quarterly financial performance (which was amazing, see below), he pulled out a bizarre metaphor that was both clueless and curiously familiar to a comment he had made previously about Windows 8. “I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do all those things very well.” Two things, Tim. One, that’s too similar to your last dope-slap put-down of Windows 8 (“You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user”). And two, a car that flies and floats sounds like something James Bond would have. And James Bond is pretty damn cool.
Samsung Posts Final Financial Figures for Previous Quarter, and They’re Good
Samsung this week announced its fourth straight quarter of record profits—in this case, $7.4 billion—thanks to strong sales of its Android-based smartphones, which make it the largest maker of such devices in the world. Samsung sold more than 53 million smartphones in the quarter ending September 30, over twice as many as Apple, its closest competitor. But there is a financial bump coming, unless the firm is saved by a miracle: It has to set aside as much as $1.7 billion in the current quarter to cover costs related to its US federal court loss against Apple. Something tells me the company can afford it.
Apple Posts Record Profit and Revenues, but Lower-than-Expected iPad Sales Disappoint
This is starting to be a recurring theme with Apple. The firm posts amazing quarterly profits and revenues—in this case, $8.2 billion and $32 billion, respectively—but somehow manages to disappoint Wall Street. This time around, the disappointment was two-fold. First, the firm’s financial numbers were lower than expected, thanks to increasing manufacturing costs. (Those Chinese factory workers better step it up, eh?) And second, quarterly iPad sales—a pretty astonishing 14 million units in the quarter—were down, quarter over quarter, from the previous figure of 17 million units. (And let’s face it, we expect nothing but bigger and bigger numbers with this company.) Sorry, folks, but there’s no way to paint Apple’s quarter as anything other than a major blockbuster. In addition to those iPad sales, it sold 27 million iPhones, almost 5 million Macs, and 5.3 million iPods. Apple also now has over $107 billion in cash assets. Yikes.
Apple Also Posts Notice that Samsung Didn't Copy the iPad Design
In a public posting on its website that has the same dejected and hurt tone of a forced apology from a big brother to a kid sister, Apple has complied with a UK court ruling and posted a notice on its website admitting that Samsung didn't copy the design of the iPad. Skipping past all the self-serving nonsense, this notice amounts to the following: “The High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet Computer, namely the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7, do not infringe Apple’s registered design." It’s like pulling teeth.
Amazon Posts Rare Quarterly Loss, and It's Time for This Company to Come Clean on Kindle Sales
Amazon posted its first quarterly net loss in over eight years this week, losing $274 million on revenues of $13.8 billion. The loss was mostly related to a charge for its investment in LivingSocial, an online service offering local deals. But I don’t care about any of that. With the world turning increasingly to tablets and other highly mobile devices for daily computing needs, I think it’s time for Amazon to come clean on how its Kindle Fire HD tablets are really selling. Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak said demand for the devices is “fantastic.” And CEO Jeff Bezos claims the Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Paperwhite, and base Kindle are now the top three best-selling products on Amazon, based on unit sales. That’s cute. How many, Jeff? Exactly how many?
Listen to Paul. No, Really Listen. Or Watch. Or Both!
I recorded What the Tech with Andrew Zarian on Tuesday, and Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte and Mary Jo Foley on Thursday, where we did a live unboxing of the Surface with Windows RT. 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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