I've spent most of the week in Redmond for a series of Microsoft meetings, so I'm a little bit out of it. I woke up Wednesday morning to discover that my rental car has a flat tire, and the company won't fix it unless I'm there, which is ridiculous, but I've been in all-day meetings each day. So the car is just sitting there, and I've been bumming rides from the friends I'm staying with—unfortunate but appreciated. The whole situation has just been tiring, but I need to figure out the tire eventually. I apparently have 15 minutes of free time this afternoon, so I'll shoot for that.
I can't discuss most of what I've seen so far, but I did finally get some hands-on time with Windows Phone, which I'll write about this weekend or very early next week. Not that I'll suddenly have a lot of time then, either: I'm flying from here to Las Vegas on Sunday for MIX'10, where Microsoft will discuss web and Windows Phone development. I'll be live blogging the keynotes Monday and Tuesday with Ed Bott, Mary Jo Foley, Ben Rubenstein, and Kip Kniskern. Based on my lack of sleep so far this week, I'm sure I'll be in quite a mood!
And finally, let's not forget that I'll be speaking about Windows 7 Annoyances at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on Wednesday morning at 9:00am. And yes, there are some annoyances. It's OK—when it comes to Windows problems, I'm the cure.
Leo and I recorded the Windows Weekly podcast early this week, on Wednesday, because Leo is heading to SXSW. But you can expect the new episode to be posted by the weekend, as usual, and on the SuperSite on Saturday.
Apple iPad Goes to Preorder
Apple is allowing customers to preorder the iPad today, and the arrival times for the device versions are as confusing as the pointlessly confusing six models the company is offering. Wi-Fi-based versions of the iPad in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities will ship April 3 (and be available for in-store pick-up at some Apple Store locations), and 3G-enabled versions in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities will ship at some unspecified time in late April. There are various accessories available as well, including some Apple hadn't previously announced, such as VGA out. Anyway, if you're so inclined—and heck, no one has ever been burned by buying a first-generation Apple release on day one—go for it. I recommend reserving one for in-store pickup. It's your only guarantee of getting it that day.
Windows Phone 7 Will Support Two-Device Resolutions
I heard about this news during my Windows Phone meeting this week, but apparently Microsoft just blogged about it as well: The company's upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform will support two display resolutions, 480 x 800 (called WVGA), which will ship on all initial devices, and 320 x 480 (HVGA), which will become available on a second set of smaller devices. And no fears about weirdness between the two resolutions, which has been a problem on Windows Mobile devices to date: Each device type will include scaling hardware capabilities so that an application or game written for one will work—and look good—on the other.
Microsoft Loses Word Appeal. Again.
Microsoft lost its second appeal in the i4i judgment, in which the software giant was found to have infringed on an i4i patent for XML usage and ordered to pay $240 million. Microsoft removed the offending code from various versions of Word and Office back in January, so aside from having to write a check now, this doesn't really affect its business all that much. And congratulations to i4i: Sometimes being a patent troll really does pay off. Now get back under your bridge.
Bio-Shocker: Xbox 360 Sales Outpace Wii for First Time in 2 Years
The last time Microsoft's Xbox 360 outsold the Nintendo Wii in the United States, Nintendo couldn't make its own console fast enough to meet demand. But this time, Nintendo has no excuses: Microsoft's console actually outsold the Wii in February and it did so without any artificial outside help. The software giant sold 422,000 Xbox 360 consoles in the month, up 8 percent, compared with 397,900 units for the Wii, which was way down—as in 47 percent down. The big game of the month was BioShock 2, which sold 750,000 units, 75 percent of which were on the Xbox 360. To date, of course, the Wii still dominates, with 67.5 million units sold overall, compared with 39 million for the Xbox 360 and 33 million for the Sony PlayStation 3. That the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are so close—with the Xbox 360 being in the market for a full year longer—is, I think, interesting.
Browser Ballot Complaints Continue
In the wake of Microsoft's historic decision to allow a regulatory body to direct the creation of a user interface in Windows with the pointless browser ballot screen, some of the smaller browser "makers" (some of them are simply building off of IE, go figure) are still complaining about the design. The concern is that browsers you've never heard of—Sleipnir, Maxthon—aren't getting the primary placement that bigger, actually-used, browsers such as Firefox and Chrome get. Obviously. And this is what happens when you give an inch. I have a simple solution for this problem: They shouldn't be on the browser ballot at all. So just get rid of them and provide a link that will let users with too much time on their hands discover these ridiculous alternatives. It can link to a website that just plays a cricket chirping.
Gates No Longer World's Richest
Finally, it wouldn't be a Short Takes without some mention of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his recent fall from atop the list of the world's richest men. Gates is actually worth a whopping $53 billion, which is amazing when you consider his earlier pledge to give away his wealth. But he was surpassed by Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, who is worth $53.5 billion. Hey, what's .5 billion between billionaires, right? Plus, I'm guessing Slim never said he was giving away a cent. (Fun fact about Gates' fortune: His net worth actually went up $13 billion in the past year, thanks to Microsoft's climbing stock price.)