Windows 7 vs. the World: Change is in the Wind

 As Windows 7 moves through the beta process, you'll see a number of complaints that typically fall into two classes. Those that feel it hasn't changed enough and those that feel it has changed too much. This same problem plagues Windows Vista and has plagued every OS Microsoft has released.

Up next for OS X: An Apple-branded gaming console?

Among all the things that Apple trademarked you wouldn't have thought that the company would had applied for the "OS X" trademark as well. Note: "OS X", without the "Mac" prefix. If it were the "Mac OS X" trademark, it would hardly file as news: It is a norm for companies to protect their respective trade names. What Apple's OS X  filing reveals though, is an intention to distance the operating system from the Mac realm, indicating Apple's desire to use OS X on a much broader array of gadgets in the future. Some Apple watchers are convinced we will see more OS X software platforms beyond current desktop and mobile OS X. Like a game console, for instance.

A world free from DRM, copyrights and patents

 What would it be like to wake up tomorrow and have the ability to take everything that exists and recreate it as needed absolutely free from royalty or limitation? If people and companies could copy anything in existence, rolling it into whatever product they can design, and then attempt to sell it to others ... what would that world look like?

Why the DRM-free iTunes Store is a rip-off

When Phil Schiller, Apple's chief of worldwide marketing, took the stage yesterday morning to deliver the Macworld 2009 keynote, DRM-free iTunes was one of  three key topics on the keynote agenda. The announcement was met with cheers and viewed as a big win for Apple. But was it Apple that ultimately won? 

Google Chrome is not ready for prime time

Opinion – Google surprised us all yesterday with Google Chrome 1.0 and the suddenly concluded beta phase of the browser. And usually, a “final” version makes certain promises, which we aren’t sure Chrome 1.0 can keep. Our conclusion: Just because Google says Chrome now deserves the “1.0” label and is now final, does not mean that Chrome is final. In fact, we would hope that Google would update its browser right away again and put it “back” into 1.5 beta.

UPDATE: Microsoft on course to Moneyville at WARP10

 Opinion - Earlier this week, Microsoft announced its new WARP10 DirectX extension which enables raster operations to be carried out on the CPU when no GPU is available. This will become part of the standard Windows 7 platform. This latest software extension seems like a notable step backward when considering how parallel compute hardware today is everywhere and growing because it's extremely cost effective. It's had me scratching my head all week trying to figure out what Microsoft's plans are because surely this extension is a large software effort for Microsoft. I think I've finally nailed it, though:  Money.

Microsoft moves to take back the antivirus market

Analyst Opinion - Microsoft just announced it will be discontinuing OneCare and roll out out a free antivirus product soon. I believe the company made a huge mistake by not owning all aspects of primary security for Windows from the start. I applaud this move, because it corrects a problem Microsoft created itself. Apple should learn from Microsoft's lead here, because if Microsoft is successful, virus writers and Bots Masters may shift to Mac OS X. Some are already reporting that this shift has begun. 

Why Apple does not want Flash on the iPhone

Opinion - Adobe says it is working on a version of its Flash player for the iPhone. But realistically I doubt that you will ever get to use it, at least not in why you are used to Flash on a regular PC or Mac. The reason? Simple: The terms-of-service agreement on Apple’s iPhone does not allow Flash to run on the iPhone.

OpenID becomes more available, but its concept remains a mystery to many

Opinion - The Internet could be a much simpler place. Utilizing one password, one log in to keepg a close eye on all of your contact information is actually possible. You can even make decisions as far as how much information a website has access to, and which websites you share with. We’re getting closer and closer to employing this technology utilizing OpenID. OpenID allows you to minimize your passwords and account user names to one. The problem is that the concept is still too complicated for the masses and few actually know how to apply it.

Microsoft's cloud push: Too little too late on purpose?

Analyst Opinion - Few topics among economists and business leaders engender the same enthusiasm as productivity. Doing more for less seems the universal balm for individuals, businesses and markets. If we all have growing productivity, well, then everything practically takes care of itself. You'll find few dissenters. Cloud computing may hold a massive new opportunity for the IT industry and we recently saw Microsoft taking this topic more seriously. But why is Microsoft tepid in its march to the cloud? Why is it "software plus services," not just services? Dana Gardner looks at the implications of cloud computing and Microsoft’s role, opportunities and risks in this new arena.

Windows vs. Mac ads: Negative isn’t funny anymore

Analyst Opinion - We seem to be awash in both negative campaigning and stupidity this fall season. I am sure that, at least here in the U.S., there is little on all our minds other than how this historic election will turn out. There a better opportunity to weave that into this week’s column and draw comparisons to the IT world. 

Top 5 Windows 7 features Apple should copy

Opinion - As long as we can remember, Apple has always been viewed as being much more creative and innovative than Microsoft. If there was a new feature in Windows, you could bet that the comparison with Apple would follow almost immediately – and allegations that Microsoft simply copied what Apple had already. There is an ongoing argument, even if many Mac OS X "innovations" are borrowed from the open-source community. Expose windows manager? Borrowed from a long list of Linux UI add-ons. Spaces? Linux has had virtual desktops for years. Windows 7 came out of almost nowhere with some new features we believe Apple not only should take serious, but integrate in OS X as well.

Thoughts about Windows 7: What to look forward to

Analyst Opinion - Windows 7 is the next big jump for Windows after Vista, Scheduled for a 2009 release, the software is driven by a largely new team, the organization building the product is significantly reorganized, and the processes used to create the offering are substantially revamped.   The end result is that this effort is unlike any that has preceded it.

Microsoft aims for clouds with Azure's programming model

Opinion: This morning in a public webcast, Microsoft announced its upcoming Windows Azure tier-based operating system. Designed to take enterprise-level server systems where they could not previously go, this massively distributed cloud computing OS brings several technologies and products together through shared services and direct interaction. Presenter Ray Ozzie called it, "the Windows of the next 50 years." So, is this truly a blue letter day in history (in honor of Azure's name - which ironically means 'cloudless sky,' or 'blue')? Or is it the beginning of another 50 years of blues song about the Windows operating system?

Windows 7: Will it be good enough?

PDC 2008 Preview – Microsoft will give us a first glimpse at Windows 7 this week and will introduce developers to core components of the new operating system. So far, Microsoft used every opportunity to underwhelm customers when talking about its new software. Is this part of a carefully crafted strategy to surprise us with a great new Windows or is 7 just what many expect – Vista, take 2? Will Windows 7 be good enough to bring Microsoft’s client OS back on track? We know quite a bit and it is clear that Windows 7 may have a least one secret ace up its sleeve: GPU acceleration.

VMware: Potentially the world's most powerful low-level debugging tool

Opinion - For low-level software developers, having a machine emulator is an absolutely essential tool. It is often a necessity to step through lines of code one by one via a debugging process in some way that can't always be done easily or economically on a physical machine. One such example is developing software for mobile devices. These are typically developed and tested completely in an emulator, only to eventually be deployed to the real device. In the past few weeks, I've spent some time migrating old 80386 code to now run inside of VMware Server. In the process I've discovered a serious limitation in the debugging capabilities of the software API. These limitations exist because of business practices and not because of hardware or software limitations.

Is Chrome an indication of what to expect from Android?

Analyst Opinion - Google recently released a new browser set to compete directly with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Firefox Mozilla. Chrome is supposed to provide a more compelling, easier to use and faster browsing experience, with a look and feel that “Googl-ites” should find familiar (and others may not). Google’s goal, or course, is to capture as much of the search and homepage market as it can to increase its revenues (it doesn’t make any money on the browser, which is free). But is providing a new browser the best way to establish more dominance, or an indication of its hubris?

Microsoft’s first Seinfeld ad: Overloaded, like Vista

Opinion – How would shopping for shoes compare to using a Mac. Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates try to play such a scenario in a first episode of a series of commercials to ridicule the tight grip Apple has on its users.    

Google Chrome aims for Windows, Apple may help

Analyst Opinion – Microsoft’s business is built on four main software pillars - Windows, Office, Windows Server and IE.  The two most important, because they have the greatest number of related offerings, are Windows and IE. Windows has been struggling for some time and IE as been losing ground slowly to its rivals, especially Firefox. But Firefox against IE is kind of like Switzerland against the U.S. The resource mismatch is massive and you’d think Firefox would have failed given this massive disadvantage.   It didn’t and has become a poster child the power of viral product growth. But now Google is joining the party – with funding levels that rival Microsoft.    

IE8 Beta 2 has a surprise for Windows XP SP3 users

Opinion – Ok, I get it: Beta software isn’t software that should be run on computers you rely on every day. Betas are merely previews of products we can use to get a glimpse of the future and should be treated with care as bugs and hiccups are almost certainly part of the deal. Microsoft’s latest IE8 Beta surely has bugs as well, but there is one surprise that is a bit beyond my comfort level: Some users may actually not be able to uninstall this beta anymore.