Vista SP1 coming early after all!

winlogo Well you can’t say that Microsoft doesn’t listen. Last week they announced that Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista was released to manufacturing, but that it wouldn’t be available until mid-March for anyone. Today, they essentially backtracked on that strategy:

We’ve heard the feedback and I want to update you on our plans and progress for making SP1 available to our beta participants, our Volume Licensing customers, and our MSDN/TechNet Plus subscribers…

Mike Nash, the author of the post, goes on to explain that Volume Licensing customers will receive SP1 on Friday, and that MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers will have access “later this month.” Broad availability is still slated for mid-March.

It would have been better if they had just put the download up already, but this is a step in the right direction at least.

Read: Windows Vista Team Blog

Windows Vista SP1 RTM

winlogo This is very, very strange. Microsoft announced today that Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) has been released to manufacturing, which should mean that it’s ready to go. Yet for some reason, they have decided to not make SP1 available until March:

In mid-March, we will release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update (in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese) and to the download center on microsoft.com.  Customers who visit Windows Update can choose to install Service Pack 1.

The post talks about some driver issues, but as Long Zheng mentions, it doesn’t sound like they are going to use the extra time to fix those issues. You would think they could at least put the download up at the Download Center. I’m really hoping that SP1 will have a positive impact on performance and battery life and I’m eager to install it!

In other "RTM news" today, Windows Server 2008 was also released to manufacturing! That’s about on schedule. Don’t forget the launch events are happening later this month.

Read: Windows Vista Team Blog, Windows Server Division Blog

Maybe Microsoft should buy Amazon instead

The Microsoft-Yahoo deal continues to be the hot topic in the blogosphere right now, with Techmeme still dominated by related discussion. The latest news is that Google has posted an official response to the proposed takeover. In general, discussion has moved from “can you believe what just happened” to “this deal with fail/succeed because…” If you read only two posts on the topic, read this one from Fake Steve Jobs and this one from Henry Blodget.

I really have no idea how this is going to play out. Based on what I’ve read, it seems pretty likely that Microsoft will successfully acquire Yahoo. Many think the deal is as good as done. Far less certain, however, is whether they can make the acquisition a success. It could go either way.

I think what’s clear is that this is a strategy change for Microsoft. A bold recognition that they need to succeed on the web. They trail Google in both search and advertising, and it makes a certain amount of sense that combining with Yahoo will create a stronger competitor.

Microsoft is a platform company. Their cash cow is Windows, the most widely used technology platform in history. They are good at platforms. If the strategy shift is to the web, shouldn’t it be slanted towards a great platform?

amazonawsSuch as Amazon’s Web Services platform. On Wednesday Amazon announced their fourth quarter earnings, and shared this tidbit about Amazon Web Services (AWS):

Adoption of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) continues to grow. As an indicator of adoption, bandwidth utilized by these services in fourth quarter 2007 was even greater than bandwidth utilized in the same period by all of Amazon.com’s global websites combined.

ReadWriteWeb has a good discussion of what this means.

Obviously Microsoft isn’t a retailer, and owning Amazon.com itself probably isn’t in the company’s best interests. It could acquire the company for AWS and spin off the rest, however. I suppose Microsoft could just try to duplicate what Amazon has already accomplished with AWS, but why bother? Grab the early market leader and take it to the next level.

I think AWS is an indication of what the platform of the future will look like. Microsoft would be wise to pay attention.

Microsoft bids $44.6 billion for Yahoo!

Post Image This is no longer just a rumor, this is the real deal. I’ve never seen so many articles on the same topic so fast on Techmeme, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This is big, big news! Here’s what they had to say in the press release:

The combination will create a more efficient company with synergies in four areas: scale economics driven by audience critical mass and increased value for advertisers; combined engineering talent to accelerate innovation; operational efficiencies through elimination of redundant cost; and the ability to innovate in emerging user experiences such as video and mobile. Microsoft believes these four areas will generate at least $1 billion in annual synergy for the combined entity.

Microsoft has developed a plan and process that will include the employees of both companies to focus on the integration of the combined business. Microsoft intends to offer significant retention packages to Yahoo! engineers, key leaders and employees across all disciplines.

The offer is a combination of cash and stock. Microsoft thinks they can have regulatory approval and a completed deal in the second half of 2008.

Look out Google!

Read: Techmeme

Outlook 2007 on Vista with RDC is driving me crazy

I have written about Outlook 2007 here before, usually in relation to performance. The hotfix that was released back in April has mostly fixed that problem for me, but I have a new problem.

Outlook 2007 on Windows Vista is a piece of shit when it comes to accessing it through Remote Desktop.

I haven’t been able to take a screenshot of this yet, but essentially it renders the computer (or at least the remote desktop session) unusable. Outlook 2007 works fine for a while, but minimize it one too many times, and the next time you try to bring it up the screen is washed out with windows appearing all over the place and everything is just garbled. You can’t see the start bar either, so figuring out how to close it or get rid of it is problematic. I have to close the session and sometimes restart Outlook on the actual computer before it’ll work again.

I don’t understand what the problem is. I have tried messing with all of the RDC settings, and I am running the latest version. All the updates are installed, on both machines. The only application I have this issue with is Outlook 2007. A search on Google for ‘why does outlook 2007 on vista suck using remote desktop‘ didn’t return anything helpful either. Heh.

It’s driving me crazy. I love Outlook, but the latest version has been a real pain in the ass at times.

Any suggestions on this one? Any softies out there reading this? Help!

One Messenger Account, Multiple Computers

Post ImageMy favorite Skype feature appears to be coming to the next version of Windows Live Messenger! According to a cached LiveSide post, Windows Live Messenger 9 will get something called "Multiple Points of Presence Support". Essentially that means you can sign in using the same account from multiple places. Currently, if you sign in on your desktop and then try to sign in on your laptop, your desktop gets disconnected. Skype has had the ability to sign in from multiple computers for quite a while, and I absolutely love it!

I can’t believe it has taken Microsoft so long to add support for this feature. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has created multiple Live accounts just so that I can be signed in on multiple computers. That means you have multiple contact lists though, which kind of sucks. With this feature, and the ability to link Live accounts (released last month) I expect there will be a significant drop in the number of accounts in use.

Another obvious feature coming to WLM9 is support for hyperlinked status messages. Basically that means you’ll be able to click the Twitter link I always have in my status 🙂

Read: ZDNet

Two Years of Xbox 360, Five Years of Xbox Live

Post Image It was two years ago today that I lined up at Best Buy very early in the morning to be among the first to snag the Xbox 360 gaming console. So, happy birthday Xbox 360! Kind of hard to believe it has been that long.

Last Thursday was another anniversary – the fifth for Xbox Live! It’s even harder to believe the service has been around that long – it launched exactly a year after the original Xbox console. My latest article at last100 examines Xbox Live:

Xbox Live started out as a multiplayer gaming network, but today the 8 million users with Live accounts do much more than just play games. Users can download movies and television shows, chat with friends, and more. Even Microsoft now describes the service as a “comprehensive unified online entertainment network”. Marketing-speak at its finest, but it’s true – Xbox Live is a key component of Microsoft’s connected entertainment vision. In this post we look at the state of Xbox Live today, and explore some of the ways Microsoft will likely enhance it in the future.

Give it a read, and let me know what you think!

Read: last100

Microsoft and Yahoo…again

Post ImageAs the saying goes: where there’s smoke there’s fire. Perhaps that axiom should have a time limit though. I mean, there can only be so much smoke before you have to wonder…is there one fire? Multiple fires? Any fire at all? Is that even smoke?!

The reason I bring this up: Microsoft buying Yahoo was in the news again. Still a rumor. How many times are we going to hear this?

"It’s just speculation at this point. But there were rumors this past weekend that Microsoft offered $80 billion for Yahoo. Yahoo was said to have rejected the bid as too low."
Microsoft Watch, 1/3/2006

"Microsoft has been in talks with Yahoo! about potentially acquiring a major portion of the company, according to a report published Wednesday."
CNNMoney.com, 5/3/2006

"Microsoft should buy Yahoo! to give its struggling MSN Web unit a much-needed boost, according to a report issued by Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post."
TheStreet.com, 6/23/2006

"Microsoft can afford Yahoo! and a combined MSN/Yahoo! would certainly be a stronger competitive player against Google, something that is clearly on Ballmer’s mind right now. That seems the most likely deal to me."
Fred Wilson, 10/15/2006

"Should Microsoft buy Yahoo? UBS analysts Heather Bellini and Benjamin Schachter raise the question in a report issued this afternoon about the troubles in Microsoft’s online business."
Barron’s, 3/1/2007

"While Microsoft and Yahoo! have held informal deal talks over the years, sources say the latest approach signals an urgency on Microsoft’s part that has up until now been lacking."
New York Post, 5/4/2007

"Microsoft Corp.’s plan to buy AQuantive Inc. for $6 billion increases the likelihood that the software maker will also buy Yahoo! Inc."
Bloomberg, 5/18/2007

"In a TV interview, Microsoft’s Chairman and CEO Steve Ballmer wouldn’t answer whether the company continues to mull buying Yahoo."
PC World, 8/20/2007

"A Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo would be disastrous for Yahoo…But what such an acquisition would do to Yahoo is irrelevant. If Microsoft comes in with a Murdoch-like offer, Yahoo won’t be able to refuse."
Henry Blodget, 11/16/2007

There’s certainly been other times that I haven’t listed above (a quick search reveals millions of results). The point is that we’ve heard this rumor many times, and nothing has come of it. Will the next time be any different? I’m thinking no, but who knows.

Acquisitions of this size take time. Maybe the strategy is to have it mentioned multiple times for a few years so that it is less shocking (and thus easier for everyone to swallow and for the Feds to approve) when it actually happens?

Or maybe it’s just such a fascinating combination that it’s hard not to speculate.

Read: Techmeme

Windows Live Writer 2008

Post Image I just downloaded and installed the latest update to my blogging tool of choice – Windows Live Writer. This version is the first to drop the "beta" moniker, but I don’t like the new name. I was kind of hoping that Microsoft could avoid the "year names" with their Windows Live products.

MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger have never used the year in release names, and I hope it stays that way. If we can’t have more creative names, then I’m happy with a version number. A version number conveys the same information as a year (which release is newer) while at the same time not sounding out of date the following year (when it may still be the latest release).

I know some people don’t like it, but Apple’s use of codenames in the actual marketing for OS X is pretty cool. Anil’s point is good – the name "Leopard" should appear in the actual product itself. Still, "Leopard" is much more creative than "10.5". Of course, version numbers shouldn’t disappear, as they do serve a useful function.

Separating the product name from the release name could do wonders for Microsoft’s notoriously horrible product/release names. The product is "Windows Live Writer" or "Office", the release could be so much more than "2008" or "2007". They’ve started to do this with consumer editions of Windows it seems, with XP followed by Vista. Why not for other products?

Read: Writer Zone

Get your @live.com address now!

Microsoft opened up registration for their @live.xx domains today! You can head over to the Live.com site to register for your local address (in Canada that would be @live.ca). Of course, if you’re like me, you want an @live.com address too. You can sign up for that one here (click the “Get it free” button).

I can’t imagine how much Microsoft spent on the “live” domains, but they’ve got a ton of them. You can sign up for many more by following the links here, if you’re so inclined. The new “Linked IDs” feature will definitely come in handy now!

I just registered mastermaq@live.com and mastermaq@live.ca and linked them. Wicked!

Also, if you’ve got a Hotmail account that you want to transition to Live.com, check out this page. You’ll have to do a bunch of migration steps, and not everything can be transferred. Personally I like the @hotmail.com address, so I’m keeping mine.

There you go, enjoy!

Read: LiveSide