Monday, January 30, 2006

Can Google Compete with iTunes?: "

Recently it has been confirmed that Microsoft is working on a product that will directly compete with the iPod. However, given the current quality of the iPod product lines, Microsoft would have to produce a near perfect MP3 player if they hoped to take away any of iPod’s market-share. Of course,…"

Booting Windows XP On MacBook Pro - A Theory: "Rox writes 'According to this page it looks like someone has finally gotten WinXP to boot on an Intel Mac — in this case, a MacBook Pro. It takes a lot, including Acronis, a fresh install of XP, a Windows Vista DVD, and hacking the Darwin boot loader, but apparently it works. It's far and away from the simple dual-booting we can look forward to with Vista, but it lays the groundwork for now. There's also a hardware hacking method, though it remains untested. So I guess that prize money will no longer be up for grabs.'

by Trollaxor: I updated the title to reflect the fact that the instructions are only theoretical and that the writer does not own a MacBook Pro."

Microsoft would delay Windows Vista for quality: "Microsoft has completed Windows Vista development and expects to ship it by the end of the year.

Norway consumer champs act against iTunes: "They claim the terms of service offered by iTunes violate basic contract law. Norway’s Consumer Council has delivered a formal complaint to the Consumer Ombudsman against Apple, claiming that the terms of service offered by iTunes violate basic contract law. It criticises the service because its terms allow the company to change a consumer’s usage rights for music they have acquired after the purchase takes place. The consumer group also argues that as iTunes Norway runs through a Norwegian domain in local currency, the company should be subject to Norwegian law. (In its terms of service, iTunes claims it runs under the aegis of UK law in Europe).

Analyst downgrades Apple stock target price: "Analyst Keith Bachman notes a new $82 target, is concerned that Apple has 'reduced manufacturing levels for iPods' for the current and the next quarter.Bachman also reduced his estimates for Mac sales to 1.19 million from 1.22 million, mainly because the new MacBook Pro doesn't ship until February.

News: New ESPN/ABC programming prompts complaints. : ""

Apple’s iTunes Music Store has been updated with new programming from ESPN and ABC Sports. The new content includes “Best of the X Games” highlight clips, “SportsCentury Shorts” with famous athletes, “Streetball” episodes, “The 2006 Winter X Games” highlight programs and six quick SportsCenter television advertisements.

The pricing on ESPN’s “This Is SportsCenter” commercials irked some iTunes users. “Seriously? $1.99 for 30 second or less commercials. Come on now. With the exception of the ‘Card Sharks’ one, you can watch them streamed in the preview. There has to better content from ESPN than commercials,” said one user in the customer reviews section. “ESPN and ABC should be ashamed for charging this much for so little. Yes, the commercials are funny, but not worth $2 for 30 seconds of video,” said another user.

Is Microsoft making a iPod killer?: "We've heard this all before but really, are the guys over at Microsoft busy with their own version of the iPod music player? Well Paul Thurrot of WinInfo in a recent post says he 'can confirm reports that Microsoft has..."

Google tests enhanced toolbar: "

(InfoWorld) - Google plans to release on Monday an improved test version of its browser toolbar whose functionality can be extended with custom buttons.

With these buttons, users can search Web sites directly from the new Google Toolbar 4 Beta. The buttons can also be used to link to Web sites and display syndicated feeds.

'By letting them personalize the toolbar, we're putting power in the hands of users,' said Sundar Pichai, a Google product manager. Google plans to have about 50 such buttons available on Monday at

Users will be able to create their own search buttons by right-clicking on a Web site's search box and selecting the 'generate custom search' option.

Publishers can also put a custom button on their Web sites for users to add to their toolbars. Developers can use an API (application programming interface) to develop custom toolbar buttons.

The custom buttons featured in Google's gallery have gone through a process of quality assurance by the Mountain View, California, company, but those located elsewhere haven't, he said.

The custom buttons bring to the Google toolbar the increasingly popular widget concept and strengthen the toolbar's use as a control panel for navigating the Web, said Allen Weiner, a Gartner Inc. analyst.

Another new feature in Google Toolbar 4 Beta is the ability to create and label Web site bookmarks. Users only need to click on the toolbar's star icon to add a Web site to the toolbar's 'bookmark' section, Pichai said.

Google Toolbar 4 Beta also has an improved search box which now generates suggestions as users are typing in queries. The suggestions can be based on popular Google queries, spelling corrections and the users' own search history and bookmarks, he said.

The toolbar also lets users share Web pages via e-mail or SMS (short message service) with its 'send to' command. Another new feature is the ability for users to sign in to their Google account right from the toolbar, and thus access services such as Gmail

Google Toolbar 4 Beta is available only for Internet Explorer 6.0 and up on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Google also plans to release a version for the Firefox browser later, he said.

Google would do well to add more features to the toolbar to let users tag, annotate and share Web content, Gartner's Weiner said.

Gates to unveil Microsoft's strategy for government IT: "

(InfoWorld) - Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is planning this week to unveil the company's strategy for the government IT market, an intensely competitive area that has seen open-source software gain a strong foothold.

On Tuesday, Gates will discuss the company's Public Services and eGovernment Strategy at a government event in Portugal. The following day, Gates will further discuss the initiative during a keynote speech at Microsoft's Government Leaders Forum Europe 2006 in Lisbon, a two-day event with government leaders from across Europe and high-ranking Microsoft officials.

The strategy will focus on the 'core capabilities' of government IT administration, including identity management, customer relationship management and case management, document and forms management, Microsoft said. The strategy, part of the Microsoft Connected Government Framework, is billed as a way for governments to build less expensive IT systems with better service for citizens, according to a company news release Monday.

Microsoft said it is working with its partners on the eGovernment strategy. Those partners include WISeKey  for digital identification of citizens. Accenture and Avanade are working with Microsoft on software to replace paper forms and automation technologies.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Apple, Intel Clam Up on Macworld: "We've no idea what's up for the expo, but the tea leaves point to Intel's Viiv. Efforts to find out what the new digital-entertainment platform is all about reveal that Intel's just as secretive as Apple. By Pete Mortensen."

(Via Wired News.)

Apple Not Answering to Audio Flaws In Latest PowerBook: "Anyone who owns the most-recent high-resolution PowerBook G4 (and that would be the LAST PowerBook, folks!) are experiencing a defect with their system's audio. At apparently random intervals, audio from the system starts looping for about five seconds with increasing volume. This Apple Discussion thread was the first time any documentation of the issue appeared, and was followed later by an official (albeit unhelpful) response from Apple. Now, there is this Web site documenting the defect, as well as taking names for an online petition. As an owner of this PowerBook myself, I put my name on the list. Let us know if you have this problem, and what, if anything, you've been able to do to get around it."

OS X Less Secure Then Windows: "

Looks like all those Apple users teasing Windows users that Microsoft is the least secure operating system might find some egg on their face. ‘In my opinion, things could be a lot worse on Mac OS X than they currently are on other operating systems, regarding security vulnerabilities,’ said Neil Archibald, senior security researcher at software security specialists Suresec, told ZDNet, it’s Down Under edition. Ah-oh. That’s not good. So what’s the deal? Well according…

OS XWindowsSecurityVulnerable

EarthLink, Motorola, Tropos Formalize Municipal Networking Relationship: "EarthLink has signed a five-city deal with Motorola for services, equipment: Motorola has already been contracted to build out Philadelphia's wireless network for EarthLink using a combination of Motorola Canopy gear for backhaul and Tropos mesh access points for Wi-Fi access. The five-city deal formally extends the relationship. It's to EarthLink's advantage to leverage the Motorola name, especially as competition increases for building city networks....

Google CEO on censoring: 'We did an evil scale': "It took Google Inc. more than a year to make the decision that offering a censored version of its search services in China would be a lesser evil than boycotting business in the country altogether, according to CEO Eric Schmidt. JANUARY 27, 2006 (IDG NEWS SERVICE) - It took Google Inc. more than a year to make the decision that offering a censored version of its search services in China would be a lesser evil than boycotting business in the country altogether, according to company CEO Eric Schmidt.
"We concluded that although we weren't wild about the restrictions, it was even worse to not try to serve those users at all," Schmidt said. "We actually did an evil scale and decided not to serve at all was worse evil," he said, referring to the company's famous "don't be evil" creed.

Allchin willing to delay Windows Vista for quality: "

(InfoWorld) - Microsoft Corp. has finished development on Windows Vista and expects to ship the product by the end of the year, around the same time venerated Windows development leader Jim Allchin said he will retire from the company. But Allchin said Friday he is willing to put off both of those events if Windows Vista doesn't reach a standard of quality with which he is comfortable.

'Where we sit today, things are going according to plan, and we’re feeling very good,' Microsoft's Co-President of the Platforms, Products & Services Division said during an interview in San Francisco. 'But I always like to preface that as I did with Windows 2000, Windows XP: quality is the thing that will dictate if we’re ready to go. So if we have any problems in quality, I'll slip this product. It's the thing that is at the top of my mind.'

Microsoft Corp. will release a feature-complete test version of Window Vista this quarter as planned, a move in line with the company's aim to produce the highest-quality release of Windows ever by the time it ships, he said. Microsoft expects Vista to be available on computers in time for the major holidays in the U.S., which begin at the end of November.

Microsoft has completed internal development of Vista and has no plans to add new features once the next Vista test release, called a Community Technology Preview (CTP), comes out sometime before March. Allchin would not give a more specific time frame than this calendar quarter for when the full-featured Vista CTP will be out, though some Microsoft-watchers have blogged that it will drop on Feb. 21.

Microsoft has been releasing CTPs, or interim builds, of Windows Vista since September in an attempt to get feedback on the product earlier and more often than any previous Windows releases. By getting a feature-complete version of the product into the hands of beta testers so soon, Allchin said the company can focus now until its release on what has been its top priority for the product -- its quality.

'In the past... it wasn’t uncommon for us to add a pre-planned feature after beta 2, before Release Candidate Zero,' he said. 'Now we said we’re not doing that—the features are in, we’re just going to work on quality, quality, quality until we ship this product.'

Microsoft has often been criticized in the past for offering first versions of new products and major updates that have as many bugs and inconsistencies as beta releases. Allchin and Microsoft are hoping to avoid that kind of user experience with Windows Vista.

'We want to make sure we drive the quality up very high,' he said. 'When we do something like Windows that’s literally going to [have] hundreds of millions of users using it, we want to build the highest-quality piece of software we can within a reasonable time frame. But at a certain point we make a determination: is this good enough for hundreds of millions or not? And if you rush something like that, then you end up harming everyone—our partners, us, our customers, so it has to be top of line.'

In fact, the quality of the final version of Windows Vista is what inspired the entire CTP process, Allchin said. Whereas in traditional Microsoft product cycles, software would have two beta test releases with quiet periods in between them before the product would ship, Vista has been in the midst of a three-phase beta 2 process that began with a CTP code drop in December and will end with another CTP release in the second calendar quarter of 2006, he said.

Microsoft also plans to widen the beta testing pool over the next two CTP releases. By the final beta 2 phase release in the second quarter, several million users will likely have tested Windows Vista, and Microsoft plans to take their feedback very seriously before it makes the final version of the product available, Allchin said.


Security: Security Enhancements in the .NET Framework 2.0: "Security support in the .NET Framework got a lot of love in version 2.0. Here, Keith Brown takes you on a whirlwind tour of the goodies you'll find there."

Version 2.0 of the Microsof ®.NET Framework has been released. A year ago, when I first got my hands on the Beta 2 bits, I hacked together a little program to dump all of the public members of all public types in the entire Framework and ran it on version 1.1 in addition to version 2.0. I then used WINDIFF.EXE to compare the two text files, and spent a few hours paging through the changes taking notes, paying special attention to anything that was security related.
Security support in the .NET Framework got a lot of love in version 2.0, and this column is going to take you on a whirlwind tour of the goodies you'll find there. I won't be able to cover everything, but you'll know where to start looking to stay on top of the new changes. I'll take this a namespace at a time.

JoT #780, Google in China... search no evil. Now this is a lot of fun! This and the Lenovo! They keep calling it ThinkPAD. It is not! It is owned by the Red Commies of the Chinese Government! Will we ever wakeup?: "