An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Microsoft, Google Spar Over the Future of Office Productivity
Microsoft's release of Office 2010 this week was a nice chance for the software giant to strut its stuff and make its case for continued dominance in the office productivity market. Curiously and surprisingly, Google took this opportunity to do the same. "If you're considering upgrading \\[to Office 2010\\], we'd encourage you to consider an alternative: upgrading Office with Google Docs," a posting to the Google Enterprise Blog reads. "Fortunately, Google Docs also makes Office 2003 and 2007 better, \\[so\\] there's no need to uninstall them."
Microsoft responded, and in fine fashion. "Google Docs does not make Office better," a rival blog post by Microsoft Director Alex Payne reads. "Office has over 500 million users around the world and has been serving customers' productivity needs for over 25 years. Just for a moment, think about how many files created by a version of Office exist. Now, what if I told you that every time you opened one of these documents in Office, it converted this document to a different file format for viewing/editing and that this new converted document actually was missing some of its components (which were there before the conversion). Well, the good news is that Office doesn't do this. But, this is exactly what loading an Office document to Google Docs does."
You get the idea. Clearly, Google has an answer to that little bit of reality.
"There will certainly be people who will stay with Microsoft because they know them, but those people will fall further and further behind," Google President Dave Girouard said in an interview this week. "They have to find a way to go from the traditional software licensing model to a cloud computing model, and there has not been a company that has done that yet to date."
I guess he's never heard of Office Web Apps. Pwned!
Microsoft Warns of Windows XP with SP2 Support End
Microsoft this week reminded users that it will cease supporting Windows XP with SP2 on July 13, 2010. After this date, XP users will need to be on SP3 to receive support. Or better yet, upgrade to Windows 7. The weird thing is that Windows XP with SP2 is almost certainly the most frequently deployed version of Windows ever released, though many now forget what a huge headache this update was when it was first released. SP2 was the first result of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, and it brought several Longhorn-era security technologies—including Windows Firewall, hardware-backed Data Execution Prevention, and Windows Security Center—to XP. But times change, and users who were reticent to upgrade to SP3 (let alone more modern Windows versions like Windows Vista or Windows 7) are going to have some decisions to make.
Adobe Fights Back at Apple with New Ad Campaign
Taking its fight with Apple over Flash to the people, Adobe this week unleashed a new advertising campaign called "We Love Choice." The ads, which have appeared on the web and in newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, start out on a positive note, listing the things it loves—things like Apple, creativity, innovation, apps, the web, Flash, and developers. And then the other shoe drops. "What we don't love is anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it, and what you experience on the web." If you're curious to find out more about Adobe's position—and, really, as bad as Flash is, it's kind of hard to argue against them—you can find out more on the company's Freedom of Choice website.
SQL Server 2008 R2 Ships
Microsoft announced this week that its latest database server, SQL Server 2008 R2, is now available to volume license customers (and to MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers). You either need it or you don't, I guess. Here's where you can find out more.
Video Game Sales in the Toilet in April
Market researchers at NPD said this week that video game sales in the United States nose-dived 26 percent in April to $766 million because of a lack of major new game titles. Hardware sales were particularly hard hit, with console sales falling even harder, by 37 percent. The number-one selling video game machine, the Nintendo DS, sold 441,000 units in April, but that was down over 50 percent from the million-plus units sold in the same month a year earlier. Sales of the Nintendo Wii were also down 19 percent to 185,000, but it still sold well enough for a second-place finish, and first overall for non-portable consoles. The Xbox 360 sold 181,000 units, up 6 percent, while the Sony PlayStation 3 sold just 66,000 units but was up 43 percent year over year. So, how do these companies explain away these results? By making lemonade, of course.
For Nintendo, the month was a success since it has the top two best-selling systems. Microsoft, meanwhile, saw the best-selling video game title, Splinter Cell: Conviction, an Xbox 360 exclusive. And Sony, despite a dismal month overall, can claim to have the only system that has experienced double-digit growth for nine months straight. (Which is easy when you start from a lousy position; just ask the Mac.)
Microsoft, of course, is also pointing toward the launch of its Natal motion controller, which will happen next month at E3. And the company isn't being that blasé about it, either: In Microsoft's words, it will be "making video game history" at E3. Should be interesting, regardless of your taste in hyperbole.
Listen To, or Watch, the Windows Weekly Podcast
Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast this week, and as always there will be versions on both iTunes and the Zune Marketplace, in both audio and video formats, in the coming days