An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Internet Explorer 9 Beta 1 on September 15?
Microsoft has sent out invitations for a September 15 event in San Francisco, at which the company will promote "the beauty of the web" and "unlock the native web." Considering the Internet Explorer (IE) 9 logo on the invite, many are taking this to mean that the event is an IE 9 launch event. But it doesn't actually say that, and the language on the invite I received suggests it's more about highlighting new and upcoming websites that will be utilizing IE 9's new standards support and hardware-accelerated rendering. Of course, Microsoft did say that it would deliver an IE 9 beta in September, so maybe it will happen on that day. But I've seen enough to wonder about that, and if I were a betting man, I'd bet that it happens after September 15. I'm not a betting man.
Microsoft: Vista Gets No Respect, but It Made Windows 7 Possible
Microsoft has been so busy trying to distance itself from the unfairly maligned Windows Vista that I was surprised to see that a Microsoft executive this week finally said what I've been saying all along: Windows 7 is neat and everything, but it wouldn't have been possible without the innovations that occurred first in Vista. Microsoft Senior Program Manager Crispin Cowan was in Washington DC this week speaking at the Usenix Security Symposium, where he noted that Vista (Microsoft's most hated OS, supposedly) brought the world User Account Control (Windows' most hated feature, supposedly), which finally jumpstarted the application market away from requiring administrative privileges. "The purpose of UAC was to move applications away from using administrative privileges," he said. "\\[UAC\\] caused a massive decimation of the population of ill-behaved programs. The number of programs asking for admin rights dropped precipitously ... If you are running as administrator, security is fairly hopeless."
Microsoft: Windows 7 Is as Secure as UNIX
Speaking of Mr. Cowan's appearance at the Usenix Security Symposium, he also made the interesting claim that Windows 7 was now as secure as UNIX. It all started with Microsoft's Trustworthy Security initiative, which resulted in Windows XP SP2, and then Vista, and now Windows 7. "UNIX had a very large security lead," he said. "Since then, Microsoft has closed the gap on every front and in some cases exceeded UNIX security." Of course, being secure in isolation is one thing, but Windows is used by the masses and is installed on more than 1 billion computers around the world, compared with UNIX, which might be found on 17 or 18 computers. (Kidding, kidding.) It's impressive to approach UNIX's security levels. It's far more impressive when you do so on a system that's almost as widely used as air, water, and food.
Microsoft to Create Gaming Studio for Windows Phone
Moronic bloggers jumped all over news that Microsoft is creating a new studio internally called MGS Mobile Gaming that will apparently target Windows Phone. Oh my goodness, these clueless children shrilled, what if Microsoft's entry into mobile gaming kills the market for third-party developers?? Just as a heads-up of sorts, Microsoft also has studios that make games for Windows and the Xbox 360, and the last time I checked, those gaming markets were thriving for third-party developers. And when Microsoft announced Windows Phone in February, it was pretty clear that the platform—backed as it is by a high-end processor, GPU, and the Xbox Live service—would be one of its premier game systems, alongside Windows and Xbox 360. So this isn't a surprise in the slightest. Let's not pretend otherwise.
Xbox 360 Is the Number-One Console for a Change
Microsoft's Xbox 360 was the best-selling video game console in the United States in July—the first time in almost three years that the software giant could make that claim. Its leapfrogging of perennial market leader Nintendo Wii can be explained by two statistics: Microsoft released a beautiful (and quiet) new version of the console, and the video game industry, in general, suffered from a down month overall. Microsoft sold 443,500 Xbox 360s in July in the United States, according to NPD, more than double its tally from the same month a year ago. In second place was the Wii, with 253,900 units sold (flat from last year), while the Sony PlayStation 3 brought up the rear with 214,500 units sold, though that was up a whopping 76 percent. Maybe Microsoft needs more big events like this: The Wii has consistently outsold the competition—killed them, actually—and the last time Microsoft outsold Nintendo, in 2007, was when Halo 3 launched. The release of Halo Reach and the Kinect add-on could provide a boost later in the year. Comeback?
Microsoft Tries to Bring Xbox 360 to China
Microsoft is in discussions to sell the Xbox 360 video game console in China, a country it has avoided in the past because of piracy concerns. China has the largest population in the world, but it also has the largest gamer population in the world as a result, and to date, it's been living an Xbox 360-less existence—or possibly finding the console and its games overseas and in the pirate markets that litter the country. Will it succeed? It's hard to say, and even if the console does reach official status in China, it's likely that pirated wares will continue to outsell it anyway.
Breaking: Oracle Sues Google Over Android's Use of Java
There isn't a lot of information as I write this, but Oracle (which purchased Sun Microsystems and thus now owns Java) has sued online giant Google, accusing the company of violating patents and copyrights surrounding its Java technologies. (Android is based on Linux, and its applications are programmed in Java.) "In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly, and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property," an Oracle statement reads. "This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement." This could develop into something juicy, though I wouldn't be surprised to see Google simply settle: The company can afford to buy all of North America, after all.
Shareholders Sue HP Board for Hurd's Dismissal
Shareholders have launched a lawsuit against HP's board of directors for violating their fiduciary duties while ousting ex-CEO Mark Hurd. The suit seeks to reclaim the enormous severance package—estimated at over $35 million—that the board awarded to Hurd and force the board to reimburse HP for whatever damages its actions caused the company. What's most interesting about this lawsuit, perhaps, is that any money recovered would be given to HP, not the plaintiffs. Now, that's my kind of lawsuit, and it flies in the face of the frivolous nonsense that more typically ties up our judicial system.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
I'm in Germany, but Leo and I (barely) recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week. There were some audio issues that I eventually tied to my inadvertent use of a wireless network, but it should be edited and available by the weekend on iTunes and the Zune Marketplace, in both audio and video formats.
But Wait, There's More!