Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dell to sell Linux on systems

If Mikey thinks that this is the way to get back on top maintain #2, he is sorely mistaken.

According to the number of yobs posting on the Dell Ideastorm web site, Linux, instead of crapware-free Windows installs, seems to be the numero uno problem users have with his systems.

Mick, step away from that IT crack pipe and shake the wax offa your head! OK?

If you take that totally unscientific sampling as gospel, what you will find out, to the detriment of DELL holders, is that you have just been had by the most vocal group of biped a$$wipes on Terra.

Listen Mike, what you need to do, is meet with forward thinkers, internal to Dell and without, and create an extraordinary OOBE for your users.

And I don't mean the crap loaded on your systems for a vig from the companies. All those time-bombed pieces of crap just serve to piss users off. Not to mention the 3-versions late software as well.

What you want to do is get Bruce Kasrel and the Live group from Microsoft to deliver an experience worthy of your name. And it is your name on the company, Mikhail!

And make those vendors give your users a year's worth of software for placement with your users. If they believe in their products, then they should believe that there is enough of a valueadd in their products for users to re-up at the end of a year.

Right now, what separates you from anyone else?

  1. Everyone else is also as cheap.
  2. You all deliver the same crappy sales experience.
  3. Your customer service does a disservice to the phrase.
  4. And your technical support is both useless and utterly incompetent.

So just what is your differentiator?

The pittance you get from each crapware vendor cannot be worth the dilution to your brand, Mickey!

As for the default installs, remember, Windows Vista. And with a concession to your software ho's, add a menu asking users if they want the software installed on their systems. Give them the option to install the crap.

BTW, you would find out that after the 10,000 or so Linux fans who might order from you, the spigot would dry up; then what are you going to do? What about the investment in certifying your systems for Linux? For what amounts to less than a rounding error?

There is a reason Linux has 1.5% or so of client computers: outside of the IT 'ivory towers': no one, but no one, gives a fu*k about it. They want Linux, have them do what what they have done so far, download, compile and whatnot.

Please return to the astute guy who ran PCs Limited, and please, pretty please, don't pick up the stupid Linux crystal meth that Linux fanboi is trying to get you to smoke or whatever they do with that illegal substance.

If not, Dude, nobody will be getting a Dell!

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dennis Johnson, R.I.P.

A true gamer, and one of the few Celts that ever made me curl up in fear back in the Showtime Lakers days.

Rest in peace, DJ.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Microsoft calls out Blue

In this post in The Hive, member Waggler comments on IBM's underhanded, yet increasingly vocal opposition to Microsoft's Open Office XML document specification.

IBM's moves in this regard make the cowardly lion in Alice in Wonderland seem most fierce.

How insidious is this wink-wink, FUD-FUD campaign?

However, the following is my reply to the post.

(Edited to allow language not allowed in The Hive.)

Why should we blame IBM?

The culprit here is Microsoft.

Yes, Microsoft!

Listen, you do not go to a gunfight with a Taser®.

Where has Microsoft been all this time?

Even now, the letter and the problem, does not seem to be addressed at the highest levels. I know those guys are, by all indications, very important to the Office dev/mktg team and Microsoft, but to everyone else outside their locus of authority, just who the fuck are they?

For this, you need Bill Gates. You need Steve Ballmer. Heck, I’ll even take Margo Day (Have you listened to that woman speak? After a speech from her, you just want to get out there and move a whole lotta Microsoft stuff!)

You need someone to take a Martin Taylor-like position and slam those donkeys at IBM.

I think Microsoft’s counter attack has to come from the very highest levels; with the executive at Microsoft taking the fight to the leaders of those countries that are trying to lead their cattle people down that path.

It was this sort of belated lukewarm response that allowed the open source tossers the opportunity to gain a foothold in the EU and LDCs because those same asswipes could point to the lack of a fierce response from Microsoft as either arrogance, or worse, indifference.

Every time I come across those same arguments, I kick them down by asking, when was the last time the head of technology assessment for the country looked at source code or expressed a wish to do so. However, the inclusion of such source code as been sold to those fools as a way of equalizing technology. Go figure!

Moreover, the counterattack has to be swift, sufficiently sarcastic, loud, coherent, consistent, and long-lasting.

It is one thing to stand and attack with Apple, since the charisma delta between St Steven Paul 1 and Bill G. is pretty wide to the general public, though not to us in the industry.

It is another thing entirely to lose a PR battle to that invisible, creepy Palmisano.

Are you fuckin' kiddin’me?

That guy is so bland, even CPAs don’t want to hang with him.

So, Microsoft, MSFT has been doing well, please keep it that way and get the VITOs out.

And in full force!

My blog post about IBM’s deceptively named ‘Open Client’ is here.

Notes:

  • LDC: Less-developed country, the PC name for 3rd World country.
  • VITO: Very Important Top Officer
  • Martin Taylor: Where is this dude?

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dell: When it rains, it pours.

There seems to be no better time to pile on than when a lion is wounded.

If 2006 was the Mother of All Bad Business Years for Sony, guess what 2007 is shaping up to be for Dell - the company and stock?

Let's see:

  • Stock: Doldrums
  • Market share: down
  • Profitability: down
  • Reputation for customer service: in tatters
  • Stock option accounting: 'investigating'
  • CEO: out, after kiss-of-death vote of confidence from chairman.
  • Bill Lerach & Co: lawsuit filed/amended to include Intel's under-G payments for exclusivity.
  • Reputation for technical support: what technical support?

Now comes a class-action suit filed by employees at an Oregon call center accusing the company of short-changing them.

I sincerely hope that it is not the case!

How jacked would it be that the CEO get $$$ for efficiency while simultaneously shafting the working stiffs who were your first line of contact with customers?

I hope Mikey fixes things, and fast, because, at the end of the day, no one would remember that former placeholder: it is your name on the building, Michael!

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Epocrates: Don't Install Vista

Add Epocrates to the list of the absurdists.

In a missive sent out via email yesterday, Epocrates, the budding online and PDA-based physician and healthcare provider formulary software ISV, asks users not to install Vista due to installation or synchronization problems with Vista.

Are you freakin' kiddin' me?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't these yum-yums see Vista approaching?

Then they send out a memo 2 weeks after the public release of Vista?

It took the fu*kers 2 weeks after public release! And nearly 3 months from RTM!

You can imagine how pissed I was, getting a number of calls from physician clients whose practices are slated for upgrading to Vista asking me to explain the memo to them. (After all, they are just doctors, speaking or writing English is foreign to them!)

Looking into my own Epocrates account - got to stay abreast as well - I found the email, and flipped.

I asked all of them a simple question: since when have I been notifying them about Vista; inventoried their hardware and software for Vista, and generally prepped them about the advent of Vista?

Since January 2005, that is when!

So, what is the value of a company that makes a widely-used program cannot either engage Microsoft at a level that would produce dividends for them, or get into the beta test program in order to produce a shim for current programs while developing a Vista-class product?

I am undertaking a personal quest to find a replacement for this product as all credibility they may have had with me, and by proxy, Logikworx or any related companies just went bye-bye with that idiotic email memorandum.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Office 2007 sales up 109% out the door

Where's Gartner?

I'm sure they have an explanation for this 'aberration'.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Secrets of a clean Vista install

Ed Bott is showing why he's much respected and a very good read in this article which shows how to do a clean install of Vista on a partition already occupied by a previous-generation Windows installation.

Thanks, Ed.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Happy St. Valentine's Day

To

  • Wifey
  • John & Trevor
  • My parents
  • My sibs and their families
  • Friends and their families
  • All

Microsoft settles Iowa Suit

What a land grab!

Now Microsoft can go on without this distraction from a bunch of country-bumpkin Playa' wanna-bes.

The morons running the antitrust department in Des Moines have absolutely no clues about monopolies.

If they did, they should have brought a suit against AAPL for being a monopoly as well.

EDIT:
I am reminded by Royce that Mississippi still has a pending antitrust action against Microsoft.

To which I answer, "Mississippi? Pfeui!"

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Monday, February 12, 2007

Moto has 3 phone OSs?

Could there be any more clearer sign of the impending doom for MOT (the stock) and Motorola?

They are supporting 3 phone OSs: Their crappy OS, Symbian, and Windows Mobile.

One question:

Why?

Isn't it hard enough doing the GSM, CDMA, IDEN shuffle?

Two in a row from Dan Lyons at Forbes.com

IBM Open Client

How does that moniker strike you?

Same here. As a whole bunch of B$.

Dan Lyons of Forbes.com beat me to it with his article here.

From the article:

What do you do when you're trying to put a fresh look on a 20-year-old e-mail system? Well, if you're IBM, you start calling it "Open Client"; you hype it as being Linux-related; and you throw in a bunch of smack-talk about helping poor, oppressed customers throw off the yoke of Microsoft.

[...]

So what, exactly, is it? Scroll down through the press release and you find out it's basically a combo of Lotus Notes (e-mail and collaboration), Lotus Sametime (instant messaging) and a couple of other pieces that can all run on Windows, Linux or the Mac.

The Linux part of the equation comes from Red Hat and Novell, which will team up with IBM.

[...]

Maybe you're wondering, as I was, whether the name "Open Client" means that the software IBM is shipping is open-source, meaning its underlying instructions are available for users to study, share and copy. Er, no. The Lotus stuff remains closed-source. But the Open Client runs on top of a program called Eclipse, which is open-source.

While it might be great to run the same client software on every desktop regardless of operating system, the one time this rule does not apply is when the client software is Lotus Notes.

Lotus Notes is far and away the most horrible software on the planet. Sure, people grumble about Microsoft products. But that's nothing compared to how people feel about Notes. People hate Notes. As in, they want to change jobs just so they can stop using it. ....

......The only virtue of Notes is that often, IBM will throw it in at no cost if you buy a bunch of its other stuff.

[...]

Is there anyone left in the world who really believes Linux is cheaper than Windows? (Red Hat on the server actually costs more.) Does anyone think the way to make life easier is to go from dealing with Microsoft to dealing with Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat and Novell?

[...]

Remember one thing: As much as you may hate Windows, the reason Windows became popular in the first place was because it saved the world from IBM's attempt to monopolize the desktop with OS/2 and Presentation Manager.

But maybe you really believe that IBM has changed, and that it really wants to save you money and make you free and empower you with loads of choice and help you simplify your life. In which case, this no-list-price, non-open "Open Client" installed by consultants and delivered by three vendors working at cross-purposes may be just the thing for you.

Whew!

Even I, with both a flensing knife, and a Ginsu knife for close-in work, could not have filleted that incredibly misleading and moronic IBM press release as did Daniel Lyons.

Now you know why Forbes remains the best business magazine out there.

Goes to show, no matter how much you perfume a pig, or put lipstick on it, it still is a P-I-G, pig!

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Windows Home Server

The Microsoft Windows Home Server group is about to open this wonderful new experience to a larger group.

As a current beta tester, I can assure you that it is such a required product for multiple-PC homes that it's obviousness should have smacked the powers-that-be at Microsoft square on the forehead before now!

Anyway, the link to register for an invite is here. (Connect account and Windows Live ID required)

My friend Mauricio Freitas, Editor and founder of Geekzone, and a Microsoft MVP for mobile devices, has a couple of nuggets for prospective testers:

  1. Read the manual. For this device more than at any other time, and also because,
  2. It reformats ALL hard drives connected to the server, since the Windows Home Server is a dedicated device.

Thanks Mauricio.

Remember, this device is headless, and just does assigned tasks.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Why Vista matters

Got Vista on your brain?

Read this article by Darryl K. Taft in eWeek.

(Link edited at 3.28pm Pacific to point to longer version of article.)

Excerpts:

  • "So building Windows applications just got easier and much more exciting,"
  • "I'm not just talking about the new Aero look and feel, but Vista itself has superior rendering capabilities due to its new WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) to leverage the power within the video graphics cards,"
  • "However, it's now clear that smart application developers and technology product marketers will build killer applications using Vista's advanced graphics and communications technology,"
    Schadler said. The New York Times' Times Reader, a Vista-based beta application, is one such application, he said.
    "It's the visuals and the underlying capabilities made manifest in killer applications that will convince consumers to upgrade," Schadler said. "It took only one application to convince me: the Times Reader."

Read the entire article.

Now I ask again: Got Vista?

Go get it, now!

Better yet, ask me how - only if you are/represent a small to medium-sized business.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Thursday, February 08, 2007

V.O., Rest in Peace.

My friend ChiChi lost her dad today in Nigeria, the victim of a hit-and-run accident in the capital city of Lagos.

Mr. O., was a God-fearing man, who, by all indications, raised a family of achievers and Christians.

He will be missed, by all.

May his soul rest in the Peace of The Eternal Loving God.

Amen.

The end of (the Live) branding madness

A while back, Microsoft decided to rename Hotmail, that most-used of all email services in the known universe, Windows Live Mail.

Why?

This was at a time when the adults were more concerned with bigger fish and the kids were allowed to play with scissors.

Now, thankfully, that is reversed.

Windows Live Mail will henceforth be called Windows Live Hotmail, leveraging the humongous amount of brand capital in the name.

Also helping the ginormous numbers of spammers continue plying their trade.

BTW, the adults reach into Windows Live continues, with the absurdly-named Windows Live Local being renamed Windows Live Maps.

Thanks, adults.

Edit: I see I'm not alone: Mary Jo Foley, Sidebar Geek, and Dare Obasanjo all concur.

The announcement is here.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Have mercy?

The world has truly gone mad!

The former 1st General Secretary of the Communist Party and leader of the Pr├Žsidium of the Supreme Soviet, Mike Gorby, asked Bill Gates to show leniency to a 'teacher' convicted of piracy.

All of a sudden, everyone, including man+dog, are asking for Microsoft's pardon.

Well, excuuuuse me!

Now, I've got to go to another rule-of-thumb: if the price seems too good, it probably is! Stolen, pirated, or worse.

Moving ahead, my question is, "Is this prosecution for piracy in line with the laws of the land in Russia?"

If so, when Yakov/Ivan/whatever his name is, got the software distribution media from the back of the truck/in an alley from Igor, wasn't that a clue that the provenance of the purchase was suspect.

Now you have all these gooders going around saying, "Have mercy".

Have mercy?

Why don't you stop pirating stuff? OK?

And you, General Secretary Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachyov, why don't you concern yourself with the humongous amount of a penance you should be observing? For all the souls that were at the gulags when you ran the joint.

Talking like if Bill G. invented the gulag!

Serge, if you were so gung ho about clemency, why didn't you shut the gulags when you were the head monkey at that asylum?

And don't wave that stupid Nobel prize at me; if the racist dictator of South Africa can get one, how exclusive is it?

(I'm still waiting for them to award posthumous prizes to Sadaam and Idi Amin for saving lives by dying!)

Mercy my a$$!!!

Project Glidepath Windows Vista Spotlight Launches!

If you're into MicroISV applications, you cannot afford to miss this.

Plus, the site looks fab! (Or whatever name is currently hip.)

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Jobs: No DRM is good.

Is it now, Stevie?

When did you get religion, SJ?

For years, you had the option of licensing your DRM to others in order to create seamlessly-interoperable storefronts.

Did you, Steveski?

The coming flap over the closed DRM in your iPods in the EU has you sweating, eh, Stevorino?

What, the 20 iTMS songs bought for iPod sold, which has held steady did not make you do it, Steven.

This is not for the consumer, you smug-faced hypocrite, it is to protect your iPod sales, S.

Have you forgotten, Stephan, that you are on record as saying that iTMS is just there to facilitate more iPod sales and not the reverse.

Shake yourself, and get offa the "high road", dude!

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Astronaut arrested for kidnapping love rival

This story is just so incredibly annoying to me!

Just what the fuck is this world coming to?

An astronaut?

A once-in-a-lifetime gig?

I'll eject now before I immolate myself in anger!

Bill Gates on Trustworthy Computing

If you think security and trustworthy computing do not have the attention of the executive branch at Microsoft, think again.

From his email newsletter, Bill Gates writes:

During the last decade, digital technology has changed the world in profound and exciting ways. Today we communicate instantly with the people we care about without worrying about traditional limitations of time and location. At work, we collaborate with colleagues in distant cities. Global supply chains enable businesses to manufacture products and move them to market with incredible speed and efficiency. Mobile devices ensure that we are productive no matter where we are.

But these changes are just the beginning. As more and more of the world's information, commerce, and communications moves to digital form, it will open the door to a new world of connected experiences that link our interests and our communities into a seamless whole that extends across home, work, school, and play.

Already, a new generation of technology is transforming expectations for how we will conduct business, communicate, access entertainment, and much more. Increasingly, people envision a world of anywhere access - a world in which the information, the communities, and the content that they value is available instantly and easily, no matter where they are.

Of course we're not quite there yet. But whether we get there or not is no longer a question of the power of our devices and the speed of our connections. The real issue today is security. Ultimately, anywhere access depends on whether we can create and share information without fear that it will be compromised, stolen, or exploited.

The answer lies in trust - in creating systems and processes that are always secure so that people and organizations have a high degree of confidence that the technology they use will protect their identity, their privacy, and their information. This is an imperative that transcends any one company. Success will require hard work and extensive cooperation between companies, governments, and organizations from around the world.

Trust and security are critical priorities for Microsoft. Because you are a subscriber to the Microsoft Executive Email program, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about the changing nature of security and the work that is being done at Microsoft to advance trust in computing and to help pave the way for future connected experiences based on secure and easy anywhere access.

Connectivity and the Evolving Threat Landscape

Today, connectivity - the basic foundation for anywhere access - can be a double-edged sword. Connectivity that streamlines the flow of information and communications can also open the door to malicious users. Meanwhile, where publicity once motivated many digital attacks, criminal financial gain is behind most security threats today. So in addition to viruses and worms, we must contend with spyware that logs keystrokes; rootkits that are used to hijack computers; and social engineering threats where criminals try to trick people into divulging the personal data needed to exploit digital information.

How widespread is the problem? In the United States last year, security breaches - some inadvertent, some purposeful and criminal - exposed the personal information of more than 100 million people. In 2005, 46 percent of fraud complaints filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission were Internet related. A 2006 report from the Cyber Security Industry alliance noted that 50 percent of Internet users are afraid their credit card information will be stolen. No company is immune to the danger. Malware targets products from virtually every software vendor. Every business is vulnerable to the risks that come with unauthorized access to corporate information.

In this changing threat environment, striking the right balance is extremely difficult. Easy access speeds communications but increases the danger that confidential information will be exposed. Stringent security measures reduce risk, but can make it too difficult for employees to access information or communicate with customers and partners and too complex for IT professionals to deploy and manage solutions.

The Road to Trust

Achieving the levels of trust needed to make connected experiences based on anywhere access possible will require an industry-wide effort to change the way we approach digital identities, build networks, and protect information.

The evolution of identity: The proliferation of identities and identity systems is a significant problem and a difficult challenge. We all struggle to remember an ever-growing number of user names and passwords as we move between systems at work and home. Because it is unlikely that a single digital identity system or technology will be universally adopted, a different approach is required - an approach based on creating a system of systems that provides the interoperability needed to link all identity solutions and technologies. This "identity metasystem" will be able to take advantage of the strengths of existing and future identity technologies while enabling the creation of a consistent and straightforward user interface. Solutions built on top of this metasystem will enable digital identities to be managed and protected effectively and easily.

The evolution of networks: To resolve the tension between providing access and maintaining security, new technologies for managing the way people and information move between corporate networks and the Internet are essential. In the face of a rapidly evolving threat landscape, the firewall - the fundamental tool for managing network security today - is no longer adequate. A better approach is security that is based on policy. With policy-based security, the rules that govern access to networks, resources, and information can be enforced seamlessly across platforms and devices.

The evolution of protection: It is impossible to overstate the importance of providing the right levels of privacy and information protection so that users can trust that their information is secure. To achieve this, we must be able to protect information not only when it is in transit, as we do today through encryption, but also on the server, the desktop, mobile device, and wherever else it may reside. Policy will also play an important role in the evolution of protection. By applying policy when information is created, we can enable information to flow freely and safely across systems and networks while maintaining appropriate control over how it is used, and by whom.

Security, Reliability, and Privacy: Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft

At Microsoft, Trustworthy Computing provides the foundation for the work we do to create trusted computing experiences. Announced five years ago, Trustworthy Computing is a core principle that places security, reliability, and privacy at the center of all of our efforts. One example of the impact of Trustworthy Computing is the Secure Development Lifecycle, a rigorous software development process that makes security a critical focus for every line of code that we write.

Trustworthy Computing is an important reason why Windows Vista is the most secure operating system that Microsoft has ever delivered. Developed from the ground up using the Secure Development Lifecycle process, Windows Vista includes new security features that help computer users protect sensitive information and give IT administrators new ways to protect corporate networks and preserve data integrity and confidentiality.

Windows Vista also offers new controls that enable parents to manage exactly what their children can do on the computer. These controls allow parents to restrict computer use to specific times and determine which games their children can play, which programs they can use, and which Web sites they can visit.

The 2007 Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 were also built using the Secure Development Lifecycle, and they include a wide range of new security features that help protect against phishing scams and other threats to privacy and information security.

Together, Windows Vista, the 2007 Office system, and Exchange Server 2007 represent an important step forward in Microsoft's efforts to deliver tools to help protect information and privacy. And we continue to focus on developing comprehensive security solutions for consumers and businesses that provide more secure, controlled access to information and network resources. Examples include:

Windows Live OneCare: A comprehensive service for consumers, Windows Live OneCare automatically manages important PC maintenance and security tasks.

Microsoft Forefront: Designed for businesses, Microsoft Forefront is a family of security products that provides advanced protection against the latest threats and enables secure access across client operating systems, application servers, and the network edge, with a focus on simplified management and integration with existing IT infrastructure.

Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007: Building on Microsoft Identity Integration Server, Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007 adds new capabilities for managing strong credentials such as smart cards while providing an integrated approach that links certificate and password management and provisioning across Windows and enterprise systems.

Windows CardSpace: An important component of Microsoft's efforts to create an identity metasystem, Windows CardSpace enables any Windows application to provide users with a common way to work with digital identities so that people can use their digital identities on any machine, running any operating system.

Achieving Trust Through Industry Partnership and Collaboration

Before trust can become a reality, systems, processes, programs, and applications must work together reliably and securely. That is one important reason why Microsoft is committed to interoperability: before digital identities and information protected by policy-based security can move seamlessly between platforms and devices, systems must be able to interoperate. Today we are working closely with governments, organizations, and partners to create and implement industry-wide standards that will enable systems and applications to work together so that connectivity can be seamless and pervasive, and people can access digital information more securely no matter where they are or what device they have at hand.

Examples of industry partnerships and initiatives aimed at enhancing interoperability and improving trust and security include:

Interop Vendor Alliance: Launched in November, 2006, this global group of software and hardware vendors is working together to enhance interoperability through scenario-based testing and by sharing information about interoperability solutions with customers.

Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP): This policy enforcement platform built into Windows Vista and Windows Server "Longhorn" helps ensure that only safe devices can access networks. More than 100 technology partners in the networking and security industry have joined the NAP ecosystem and have products that work with NAP.

SecureIT Alliance: This Web-based community was created to enable companies across the industry to develop, enhance, and promote applications that interoperate with the Microsoft platform. A central clearinghouse for security technology professionals, the SecureIT Alliance includes more than 100 members from countries around the world.

In addition, during the development of Windows Vista, Microsoft worked closely with leading security companies including Symantec and McAfee to provide technical support resources, access to application testing and compatibility labs, and developer training. Our goal is to ensure that our partners have the information they need to provide consumers with a broad range of security and safety software and services that can help to make computing experiences safer from the moment they begin using Windows Vista.

Today, nearly 1 billion people use digital technology in their day-to-day lives to communicate, connect, and create. As we continue to work together as an industry to create trust, we will be able to deliver incredible new connected experiences that transform the way people explore ideas, exchange goods and services, teach and learn, and share experiences with the people they care about. In the process, we have the opportunity to bring new levels of value and excitement to each of those 1 billion people, and hundreds of millions more.

Bill Gates

Putting their money where their collective mouths are, right?

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Monday, February 05, 2007

Thank you for innovating with Zune, Microsoft.

I don’t give Microsoft enough credit for design and innovation!

I am sorry, Guys.

Case in point: Zune.

Yes, Zune.

A little backgrounder.

When Apple created the iPod, everyone was asleep at the wheel.

Microsoft was approaching the CE space from where they generally do that from, the platform side, with Xbox and Media Center PCs.

As we all now know, the iPod became the cultural phenomenon it is today and Microsoft had to do something since Apple was not only getting face time with consumers, but was on the way to extending the iPod brand in a way that would have severely marginalized the Media Center PCs and extenders, and by proxy, Microsoft.

As usual, Microsoft did what they were best at, and created a product. Microsoft delivered a platform, Plays-for-Sure (hereafter known as P4S) for those yum-yums to build on, in order to compete with Apple. A universal media format for both audio and video, windows media, encoders, DRM, compatibility built into every Windows-based computer system, a marketing program for devices, a media player with embedded links to the music stores operated by P4S, etc, etc.

What did they do with it?

NADA.

These idiots totally abdicated their collective gifts and ceded the portable media player (PMC) throne to the loops at 1, Infinite Loop, in Cupertino. For goodness sakes, the only company that tried to do anything sorta innovative and different with their offerings was Real Networks. Real Networks! And you know how I feel about their crapware! (Will this post get me a snottogram from them…Hmmmmmm?)

Where do I start?

Hardware. Frankly, the P4S hardware sucked.

  • Naming was horrible. For all of them, the only device that had a, ahem, hip name, was the holistic-sounding Creative Zen and the funky iRiver Clix. You had the YEPP, and so on. Even iRiver, suffered from the perception that the company name was an imitation of iPod.
  • Design. Don’t get me started about design! They all sucked
  • Extensibility. What extensibility? The device manufacturers all bought into the Apple and CE trap of non-improvable systems.

Software. “Build it, and they will come.” Well, Not this time, for they stayed away!

  • P4S Vision. The only thing the device manufacturers did was stay within the bounds of their license for Plays-for-Sure.
  • Music store interoperability. None whatsoever. There wasn’t any adherence to interoperability at all. They all had their little fiefdoms and the only one beating the unity drum was Microsoft.

Why all this old news?

I had just been reading through the list of revelations that have come out of the idiotic Iowa antitrust case, when I realized that I shared the angst the executive at Microsoft must have felt back when they wrote those memos.

BTW, doesn’t it say a lot about Jim Allchin that his memos always seem to describe the feeling of the troops on the ground, so to speak, in very plain language? To wit: the description of the crop of P4S devices as “pieces of crap”, or something to that effect. Not PC, but painfully descriptive!

As a result, Microsoft was in dire straits, and they needed to do something, and fast, else they would have handed the living room to that smug, mock-turtle-wearing philistine.

Microsoft just had to do something. And they did.

To their credit, they took the easy road and didn’t try to redefine the status quo in hardware design because of the lengthy lead-in time. Moreover, just like J Allard and the crew did with the first Xbox, they took an off-the-shelf design (small form-factor pc case) and modified it enough to suit version 1.0, while they work on getting the backend stuff worked out. For hardware, they went for the Toshiba GigaBeat. My first thoughts on the then-rumors of the GigaBeat can be found here.

For Zune, they tweaked the backend, added Live Points functionality, and also a bunch of stuff that is in the Zune we know and love today. Live Points is Microsoft’s nascent implementation of a global micropayments platform.

Also, Microsoft has already added value to Zune since its release by already making firmware improvements as needs arise. Furthermore, all P4S content can be played on Zune! That alone, totally obliterated one of the problems I thought I was going to have with Zune, since I had content from Napster and URGE on my previous PMCs, which have all been given away to unsuspecting victims.

Folks, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

In addition, Microsoft really, truly understands that the winner of this battle will control the spigot through which digital content is streamed into tomorrow’s homes.

© 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jim Allchin's last post on the Vista Team Blog

Full text:

As most of you know, today is my last day as a fulltime employee at Microsoft. It’s been an exciting 16+ years and all I can say is that I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be in this industry and at Microsoft. What an incredible chance to work with such a great set of people. I was also very fortunate to be in an environment that allowed me to work on a team that was able to have such a positive and significant impact on the way people play and work with technology.

What’s truly amazing to me is that we are just at the beginning for what technology will be able to do. The next 50 years are going to be much more exciting than the last 50 (and that’s saying a lot!) when you consider the potential impact technology advances will have on people and businesses.

Lots of people have been asking me what comes next. In the long term, I can tell you honestly that I don’t know. While the term “retire” has been used to describe people at all stages of their lives as they leave a job, for a guy my age it’s a pretty strange term. I’m not exactly the golfing type. I am looking forward to spending time with my family and frankly getting some rest.

While I don’t know what I will be up to in the long term (although charity will be one key focus), I have a pretty good sense of what I will be doing in the near term, so I thought I would share what I think a typical day might look like.

It might go something like this:

  • 7:00 AM: Breakfast with my sons. Ended up doing a product comparison review of the various cereals we had in our pantry. Sugar does beat the natural stuff and my suspicions about the impact of packaging on the post purchase experience were spot on. It turns out the box does matter.
  • 7:40 AM: Kids off to school.
  • 7:45 AM: Went to check email. Only two pieces.
  • 7:46 AM: Checked network connection to see why I am not getting any email. Everything working perfectly.
  • 8:00 AM: Went to clean up the playroom so that it’s organized for when the kids get home. Ended up building an application to sort the Legos using a SQL Server backend and a Windows Presentation Foundation front-end on Windows Vista. Can’t decide whether the primary index of the database should be color or size of the piece. While searching the web discovered that Lego means “I put together” in Latin.
  • 9:30 AM: Spent 45 minutes looking around the house for the big refrigerator with the free soda just like Microsoft – was unable to find it.
  • 10:15 AM: Worked on my Windows logo latch hook rug – another couple days and I’ll finish the red.
  • 11:00 AM: Watched Rachel Ray – god is she engaging. Maybe she should do the launch of the next version of Windows.
  • 11:30 AM: Checked mail again. No messages.
  • 11:31 AM: Turned off Spam filter.
  • 12:00 PM: Went out to lunch with my wife. Was surprised to see so many other people out for lunch during the week. I wonder if they have been buzzing around for all of these years that I have been in building 26.
  • 1:30 PM: Went to check out the Apple store at University Village to see what all of the hype was about. Ended up demoing Windows Vista for all of the employees (and a few customers). All they could say was “Wow.” Ended up leading a group of them over to BestBuy to help them pick out new PCs with Windows Vista pre-loaded. Need to go to the Bellevue store tomorrow.
  • 3:00 PM: Checked email. 150 unread messages. Unfortunately, 149 of them were spam.
  • 3:10 PM: Turned Spam filter back on.
  • 3:15 PM: Went to drive the afternoon carpool run. Spent 20 minutes waiting in line behind other parents whose kids weren’t even outside yet. Need to write paper about Next Generation Carpool Queuing solution (NGCQ) that integrates Windows Live Presence with the driveway scheduler. Must get appointment with school principal when it’s done.
  • 4:00 PM: Home with the boys. Went to the playroom to help them build a train layout. Ended up doing interoperability test to study compatibility issues related to using Thomas trains on Brio track. Turns out while they work, the trains perform better on their native platform. Need to try Brio trains on Thomas track tomorrow.
  • 4:30 PM: After a phone call with my Mom, I decided I needed to configure her account as a standard user for Windows Vista. This gives new meaning to “parental controls”, but a son has to do what a son has to do.
  • 5:00 PM: Dinner with the family. After they finished asking who was this strange man sitting at the dinner table, we had a great conversation about the kids’ day. May have spent too much time asking them “how they would have done things better” and “what do they see as their key areas for growth.”
  • 6:45 PM: Read kids a bedtime story. They seem to be recently interested in “chapter books.” I was amazed by how quickly they feel asleep when I read them one of my favorite classics, “The Theory of Recursive Functions and Effective Computability” by Rogers.
  • 7:30 PM: Checked email. Again. No new email.
  • 7:31 PM: Turned Spam filter off again.
  • 8:00 PM: Went down to my music room to play my guitar. Dozed off on the couch.

Anyway, on a serious note, a few months ago, when I decided to start blogging, a lot of people thought I was crazy. It was certainly an experiment, but in the end it’s been very rewarding for me, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed it as well. I’m about to walk out the door, so clicking “post” on this blog will be my last official act as a Microsoft employee.

I love this company, and I have the utmost confidence that the great people here will continue to bring their creativity, passion, and drive to building world-class software that help our customers do amazing things.

See you on the Internet,

jim


From the Windows Vista Team Blog