Entries in Microsoft (2)


Apple, Microsoft in Mobile Phone scandal. Film at 11.

I don’t really see why people are so surprised that Apple approved Opera for the App Store. Various tech pundits were convinced that, since it duplicates functionality in Safari, by being a web browser, it would be rejected. And yet, if one looks in the App Store, and searches for “Web Browser”, there are actually a number already available. Including iCab, a browser I used for some years on the Mac, and a variety of others promising “Full Browsing” or “Private Browsing”. (After all, the web experience is nothing if you can’t watch porn.) One wonders why not one pundit or journalist reporting on the story noticed this. Did none of them look? (Maybe it’s a self-selecting thing. The only people who thought it worth remarking on were the ones who couldn’t be bothered checking their facts before publishing.)

So it seems that Opera really had nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s probably a bit of a let down in marketing terms. They can’t claim to be a champion of the people oppressed by the almighty Jobs.

Of course, the question remains, which browsers have been rejected, and why? I suspect there was a reason other than “duplication of core functionality”. (Security, perhaps? Or it was just crap?)

In other news, you have no doubt heard about the big mobile phone announcement in the last week. Sure the critics have had a lot to say, but I’m sure the lack of features will be made up for by the ease of use and smooth interface.

I am, of course, referring to the finally announced, long anticipated “Pink” project from Microsoft. Microsoft announced this week that they were releasing a “social” phone platform, with two MS branded handsets, the compact Kin 1, and the Sidekick-reminiscent Kin 2.

No doubt, the blogosphere, and the pundit-verse, are full of the hate already. After all, neither device runs Flash, or even MS’s own Silverlight, there’s no e-mail, and 3rd party apps aren’t supported. Also, as I can’t find reliable technical specs online, the battery life must suck, and it must be really slow. We know from experience, that these are the things people care about in a mobile phone.

Or maybe it’s just what people expect from an Apple branded mobile phone. Still, it’s interesting that less than a week after the much anticipated announcement of multitasking on the iPhone, MS have announced two “feature phones” (ie phones with very few features). It’s an interesting move from Redmond. While not a direct competitor to Windows Mobile Phone Seven Series Phone Series 7, it does compete against products made by companies that manufacture Windows Mobile handsets.

Perhaps more intelligently, it’s also not a direct competitor to the iPhone. Apple make one handset with one set of features. The iPhone is a smartphone, and is designed to do many things. It seems that “Pink” or “Kin” or whatever, is aimed at the sort of people who used to have a Sidekick (before the...unpleasantness), who aren’t necessarily after the functionality of an iPhone or a Blackberry.

Of course, the lack of features will be the kiss of death. Plus tying it to one carrier in the US, and not even one that uses the same network as the rest of the world (thus requiring two sets of hardware, a CDMA one for the domestic market, and GSM/3G for the rest of the world).

I look forward to further developments in these stories. Just not very enthusiastically.

Macworld, CES, VMWare Fusion, and Windows 7

Of course, the big news this week has been the two huge tradeshows. The last Apple attended Macworld, and the first post-Gates CES. The big question is: Was the Phil-note better than the Monkeynote?

In previous years, I have attempted to watch both the Steve-note and the Bill Gates Keynote. Usually, the difference was clear. Steve has on-stage presence which Bill doesn't. Plus, in 2007, everyone was agog over the iPhone, while watching Bill demonstrate a Windows Bus Stop was hardly thrilling. (It's a bus stop! And it runs Windows!)

I dare say if Steve had given the keynote at Macworld, he would have clearly given a better presentation than Ballmer could hope to. (Or is that my bias showing? Maybe it is.) But it was not to be a battle of the Steves. Perhaps Steve was worried about being compared to Monkey-boy. Maybe he felt that Apple didn't have the product to compare with news on Windows 7. Or perhaps he was, as they said, ill and just not up to it this week. (Although, in a bit over a week I expect to see him on stage at Cupertino. Probably wanted to conserve his strength.)

Anyway, I haven't actually watched either keynote (although I have seen the edited highlights), and I will thus reserve final judgement until I finally get around to it. I'm in no rush. I often feel that you should actually be at a keynote, or at least watching live to make it worthwhile. If it's actually going to be worthwhile. I regret I will never have been to a live Steve-note, and will never get the chance now (unless I maybe get to WWDC, but I'm not actually a developer, so not much point in spending the money).

Anyway, what I did do as a direct result of the announcement at one of the keynotes, was download a copy of VMWare Fusion and install the Windows 7 beta on my iMac. As an IT Professional, I have some experience installing copies of Windows on PCs, even Virtual PCs. I have to say that Microsoft have been (slowly) getting better at the OS install process. Windows 95 was horrid. You had to sit there and constantly reassure it and pick things from menus, then wait for it to fall over, reboot and recover. (Well, we did because of a hardware issue with our PCs, but it was still a pain.) XP wasn't nearly as bad. (I don't remember 2000 much, and never had anything to do with 98 or ME.) It seemed with XP they'd finally realised that you could collect all the information up front, then let the user go away for a bit. Plus we started using disk images to deploy instead of having to run Setup every time.

The Windows 7 install, as it now stands, seems to be fairly straightforward. It possibly ran slower than normal since I was installing on a virtual machine with limited resources, but it ran without much interference on my part. And what I've seen of it so far looks to be an improvement on Vista.

Anyway, it's getting late, and I need to work in the morning. I wish to examine the whole Windows upgrade paths and installation issues thing further. Maybe I'll remember to do that soon-ish.