"It's yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility." - Chris Knight

Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

What’s Microsoft Really Buying With Yahoo?

February 4th, 2008 by iDunzo

It’s a tough question, isn’t it? Is Microsoft buying Yahoo because of its long-term and broad-scale expertise with open source? If so, to what end?

Well, I thought, maybe what they’re really buying is the expertise of the Yahoo programming team, akin to what I felt was happening with Sun and MySQL.

Unfortunately, the theory doesn’t seem to work here.

Microsoft’s current stance on open source is, from what I can tell, to provide a compelling case to run open source packages on Windows — that is, as long as we’re leaving the Linux patent issue entirely out of the picture.

How they feel about open source on something the size and scope of Yahoo isn’t clear at all — and maybe that’s why they want some existing experts in that field.

Perhaps what they’re looking for are teams from Yahoo’s side that they can put to work creating online applications — to gussy up Windows Live?

The incoherence of Windows Live is about as bad as the incoherence that swarmed around .NET when Microsoft unleashed that way back when.

So, perhaps the thinking goes, why not bring in people who seem to be natural experts at this sort of thing?

The problem, again, is one of clashing corporate cultures: Microsoft and Yahoo do not look, act, or think remotely alike. This is a far deeper problem than I think Microsoft is willing to admit, retention incentives aside.

If Microsoft is doing this to get their hands on experts, there’s nothing that says the very people they want most are not going to jump ship and head somewhere friendlier.

Perhaps Microsoft will jettison its existing online unit wholesale and simply swap Yahoo in for that — well, maybe not all at once, but over enough time to allow some kind of transition from Microsoft’s services to Yahoo’s.

Maybe the best way to approach this is just to leave the question open: What is Microsoft really buying?

The more I think about it, the more I’m wondering if even Microsoft knows by now.

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Windows XP Service Pack 3 Looks Like OS Life Extender

January 4th, 2008 by iDunzo

Way back in 2004, Microsoft released a little OS upgrade they called Service Pack 2. Windows XP owes much of its current popularity to the changes made in SP2.

Although Vista is grabbing all the front page attention with its soon-to-be-released Service Pack 1, XP hangers-on are hopeful that the upcoming Service Pack 3 can solve the nagging problems of software middle age.

Early results show that SP3 might even provide a performance boost. So Vista may be hip, but XP is getting a hip replacement.

The XP SP3 Release Candidate is available now, with the final version set to ship in the second quarter of this year. Whatever the actual date, you can bet that Vista SP1 will ship before XP SP3)

XP SP3 adds four new features. Only two seem really significant, one for corporate environments and one for the small-business/consumer side.

For the corporate world, XP SP3 will support the Network Access Protection (NAP) feature that is already available in Vista and Windows Server 2008.

It allows IT managers to deny a PC access to network resources based on whether they are configured according to company policies.

For example, if a PC does not have the latest antivirus signatures installed, NAP can limit its access so that it can only contact a remediation server that contains up-to-date signatures to be downloaded.

Given the concern that many companies have about security, the NAP feature could have been one that pushed them to upgrade to Vista. Now, they can stay put with XP and still reap the benefits.

It seems so much like the right thing to do that I can hardly believe that Microsoft has done it. Perhaps the goal is to sell more Windows Server 2008 licenses?

Consumers get a Vista feature transplant in XP SP3 with the ability to install without the need to enter a license key during setup.

Within 30 days of installation, the user needs to enter a product key or XP will go in to a reduced-functionality mode similar to Vista.

The final two XP SP3 features seem relatively trivial: additional cryptographic providers, and enabling black hole router detection by default.

XP already has the ability to detect black hole routers with a single change in the registry, so the feature here just seems to be that the setting will be enabled by default in SP3.

So if these are the only new features and the rest of the changes are patches, why would SP3 be faster? It’s a bit of a puzzle.

Maybe the tests were anomalous, or perhaps there is a benefit from several non-security-related patches rolled into SP3 that haven’t been previously released.

Whatever the reason, it actually leaves me looking forward to this mid-life OS boost.

tag Posted in Microsoft + Security Patches + Software + Technology | comment 1 Comment »

AOL Kills Netscape’s Future, Leaves Firefox To Battle IE

December 28th, 2007 by iDunzo

Netscape LogoAOL earlier today stopped development of the Netscape browser, saying the respected brand that launched the commercial Internet in 1994 had little chance of ever regaining market share against its archival Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

The Web portal, which took over Netscape Navigator in the $4.2 billion acquisition of Netscape Communications in 1999, said development on the browser had recently devolved into a “handful of engineers tasked with creating a skinned version of Firefox with a few extensions.” Firefox is the open source browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation.

While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

-Tom Drapeau, director of development

While once commanding 90% of the browser market, Netscape Navigator now accounts for less than 1%, and AOL had no interest in spending what it would take to revive the brand.

Instead, the company, which was once a subscriber-supported portal, preferred to spend its resources on its transition into an ad-supported Web business.

The change left “little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be,” Drapeau said.

Instead, AOL said it would leave it to the Mozilla Foundation to do battle against IE. When AOL acquired Netscape, the latter company was working on converting its browser into open source software that was later called Mozilla and became the foundation of Firefox.

Mozilla also was the underpinning of version 6 of the Netscape browser released in 2000. The Mozilla Foundation was formed in 2003 and AOL continued to develop versions of Netscape based on the work of the foundation.

Given AOL’s current business focus and the success the Mozilla Foundation has had in developing critically acclaimed products, we feel it’s the right time to end development of Netscape-branded browsers, hand the reins fully to Mozilla, and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox.

As of November 2007, IE accounted for 77.35% of the market, and Firefox 16.01%, according to Internet metrics firm Net Applications. Netscape had 0.6%.

AOL planned to release security patches for Netscape Navigator 9, the latest version of the browser, until February 1, 2008. After that, all active product support would end for all versions of the browsers.

AOL, however, planned to post a Netscape Archive link for people who wanted to download versions of Netscape without support.

Besides the archive, two other sites offering information would continue to exist: UFAQ and the Netscape Community Forum, AOL said. Netscape.com would also remain live as a general use Internet portal.

The Netscape browser made the commercial Web possible by providing a ubiquitous platform to view and interact with Websites.

The browser was based on the Mosaic browser developed by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina at the University of Illinois. Andreessen and James Clark, former patriarch of SGI, founded Netscape Communications in 1994.

The Web software maker was among the stars in the dot-com era of the mid- to late 1990s, becoming the most successful public stock offering of its time. Netscape Communications forced Microsoft to restructure its entire product line to become Internet compliant.

Microsoft’s tactics in grabbing market share from Netscape Navigator with IE was one of the main issues in the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust cast against Microsoft.

Microsoft was found to have abused its Windows monopoly and was forced to make changes in its business practices.

For any users feeling nostalgic for the days of old can install Netscape’s theme and extensions pack for Firefox.

Source: Netscape blog post

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Better Living Through Open Source: The Directory

December 28th, 2007 by iDunzo

Open Source Living is a recently-established directory of open-source software.

Basically it’s stuff you can use without having to pay for it and without worrying about proprietary software issues.

Most of the criteria for inclusion in the Open Source Living revolve around the nature of the licensing for the product — it has to be freely redistributable, not discriminatory in its licensing, with source code available, etc.

To that end, the programs already listed in the Open Source Living Directory are something of a “who’s who” of open-source success stories: Firefox, OpenOffice, 7-Zip, and so on.

A fair number of Mac-specific open-source programs are also featured: Camino, Vienna, and NeoOffice.

The layout and design of the site are friendly and clean; it doesn’t look like something that was thrown together in an afternoon.

The Open Source Living was originally derived to list free programs regardless of their source or licensing provisions, and so there are still a few programs listed in the Open Source Living catalog that are free without being open source like Irfanview.

Over time, though, they will be dropped in favor of applications that are entirely open and since I’m an Irfanview user I’m curious to see what could eventually replace it.

I like resources like this for two reasons. One, even someone like me can remain unaware for a long time of a well-developed and highly useful open-source project, and it’s a pleasure to stumble across such a thing in a forum where other people have already vetted it for quality.

A listed project that I’m now curious about, Haiku, picks up where BeOS left off, and if done right could be a serious desktop contender. That’s a long way off and won’t come without major hurdles, but my attention has definitely been captured.

Two, it’s a way for newcomers to open source — people who simply don’t know what’s out there — to get introduced to the available applications without having to dig through an installation repository or just stumble around.

They can find out relatively quickly what’s worthwhile, what other people are using and benefiting from, and what applications cover what sort of duties like the difference between OpenOffice or Scribus.

Perhaps in the future we’ll see features like detailed community feedback or comments on each entry, but for now the forums on the site are handling that job.

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Mac Users Pay For Music, PC Owners Steal It

December 21st, 2007 by iDunzo

According to market researcher NPD, PC owners are too cheap to pay for music downloads, while Mac users have an Apple-shaped halo when it comes to piracy: 50% of them have paid to download music versus just 16% of PC users.

Side note for the fanboys, Macs are PC’s too – Personal Computer’s. Maybe I should have said Mac verses Windows? Arrrg!

PC Pirate Mac Guy

The report also tries to claim that Mac owners are buying more CDs than their PC brethren, but the figures are so close – 32% against 28% – it seems statistically insignificant.

The difference between 50 and 16, though, is big.

Who knows why? Are Mac people more honest? Higher earning? Or are they just too stupid to work out BitTorrent?

tag Posted in Apple + Microsoft + Music + Technology | comment 1 Comment »

Google-DoubleClick Deal Gets FTC’s Blessing

December 20th, 2007 by iDunzo

After eight long months, the Federal Trade Commission finally approved Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick in a 4-1 vote, concluding that the deal is “unlikely to substantially lessen competition.”

In its public statement, the FTC explicitly said privacy concerns are not its problem. Privacy issues are “not unique to Google and DoubleClick,” the FTC statement said, and even if they were, the agency denied it could do anything about it.

“As the sole purpose of federal antitrust review of mergers and acquisitions is to identify and remedy transactions that harm competition.

The FTC lacks the legal authority to block the transaction on grounds, or require conditions to this transaction, that do not relate to antitrust.”

The DoubleClick acquisition, announced in April, comes on the heels of a few similar deals from competitors: Yahoo has spent nearly $1 billion building up its advertising arsenal in the last six months.

In July, it closed on its acquisition of Right Media ($650 million) and in October it closed on BlueLithium ($300 million), an online behavioral ad company. Meanwhile, Microsoft bought online ad company aQuantive for roughly $6 billion in August.

The FTC didn’t take nearly as long to approve any of Google’s competitors’ deals. Yahoo closed on BlueLithium in a month, and on Right Media in about three months. And it only took Microsoft roughly three months to complete the aQuantive acquisition.

Privacy groups were quick to chastise the FTC for not probing the privacy angle harder. Jeff Chester, executive director, Center for Digital Democracy, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the deal, is already calling for Congressional oversight hearings into the FTC’s probe of the merger.

“The FTC is supposed to protect the privacy of Americans in the digital age. The excuse offered by the majority of the commission–that consumer privacy can’t be addressed by current antitrust law–reveals a lack of leadership and determination to protect U.S. consumers.”

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