An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news, including the end of 11 straight days on the road, a Microsoft confirmation of my Windows 7/R2 SP1 reports, a nice change for Virtual PC, a Google migration tool for Exchange, and so much more...
After a week in Redmond for Microsoft meetings, I've spent the past week in Las Vegas for MIX'10 and a series of Penton shows. I'm ready to go home. It's been fun, and interesting ... And I've had enough. Friday morning, I'll finally get to do just that. And sorry if this Short Takes is a bit, um, short. But it's 2:00 am Friday my time as I write this and I need to grab at least a couple of hours of sleep. See you on the other side.
Leo and I recorded the Windows Weekly podcast at the regular time this week, though I was in the Bellagio hotel for the recording. It should be posted by the weekend as usual, and on the SuperSite on Saturday. New this week: The video version of the podcast is now available via iTunes.
Microsoft Confirms My Earlier Comments on Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1
WinInfo readers know that I've been writing about the plans for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack (SP) 1 since last fall. Well, now Microsoft has confirmed what I've written: The Windows 7 version of the service pack will add no major new features and will instead include an aggregation of previously-released fixes and some very minor updates. Meanwhile, the Server 2008 R2 version of the service pack will be a very big deal, and will add a key missing feature from its Hyper-V virtualization platform: dynamic memory. Microsoft isn't saying when SP1 will ship, but that's OK, I've written about that too: It's due in Q4 2010.
Microsoft Lowers the Bar for Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode
When Microsoft released its free backwards compatibility tools—Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode—for Windows 7 last year, they were seen as welcome additions to the OS, but for one major gaff: These products required a PC with hardware-based virtualization support in the CPU and BIOS, and since many Intel CPUs inexplicably don't have this functionality, it was hard to figure out whether it would work on certain PCs. This week, Microsoft removed that limitation. Now, you can install Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode on any Windows 7 PC (XP Mode required Windows 7 Professional or higher), and while it will run better on hardware virtualization-equipped PCs, it's no longer a requirement.
Google Offers Exchange Migration Tool
In case it wasn't obvious that Google was deadly serious about stealing share from Microsoft, the online giant this week released a server-based tool for its Google Apps customers that will help them migrate Exchange 2003 and 2007-based customers to its cloud-based services. The tool requires a paid Google Apps Premier account, and can migrate Exchange email, contacts, and calendar items. (There's a migration tool for Lotus Notes/Domino too.) Sounds like an obvious thing to me. I'm just surprised that Microsoft doesn't yet offer a more competitive payment plan for its hosted Exchange services, which could mitigate a lot of the impact of this Google tool.
HTC Will Fight Apple Suit
And good for them, because I'm sure most of those Apple patents are invalid anyway. Mobile device maker HTC launched a defense against Apple's patent infringement lawsuit this week, noting that it "strongly disagrees with Apple's actions." HTC said that it planned to not just defend itself aggressively in court but to also "set the record straight" about Apple's so-called patents. You know, I was hoping for something like this. It's about time Apple's patent claims were held up to some scrutiny.
Opera Sees Gains from Browser Ballot Screen. But What About Sleipner??
Web browser also-ran Opera this week said that downloads of its flagship PC browser have "more than doubled" in the wake of Microsoft implementing the browser ballot screen in Windows XP, Vista, and 7. I assume that means that 14 people downloaded the browser last week. And good thing it wasn't any more, since the company's latest browser ships with a nasty vulnerability that could lead to a hacker taking over your PC remotely. I'm sure it has other nifty features too.
Google Heads to TV
And just when you thought that Google had entered every conceivable market, the company was this week found to be working on a new TV initiative with Intel and Sony. According to people close to Google, the online giant is developing a TV-based platform for its web-based services so that people can do things like launch searches and read Gmail email from the couch. It could be bundled with future TV sets, Blu-Ray disc players and other set-top boxes. Honestly, haven't we had enough of these guys yet? I mean, seriously.
Pair o' Xbox 360 Rumors
You thrilled when Microsoft was going to add Blu-Ray to the Xbox 360 and then didn't, so here are two more similar rumors that will never come to pass. The first involves a supposed "Slim" model of the Xbox 360, which would provide a competitive, sleek new enclosure for Microsoft's five-year-old console. This one makes particular sense when you realize that all of the Xbox 360's reliability problems were caused by heat related issues, and the new slim design console would have even more restrictive air flow. Second, we have news that Microsoft is about to implement USB-based storage for its console, allowing Xbox 360 users to utilize low-cost USB hard drives and thumb drives instead of Microsoft's overly-expensive behemoth hard drives. There is a catch, however, since the storage limit for USB on the 360 is reportedly just 16 GB, which should nicely dull any enthusiasm for this plan. Assuming its real, of course.