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September 7, 2008

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Paul McDougall at InformationWeek explains what’s wrong with Microsoft’s $300M Seinfeld reruns.

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August 22, 2008

What’s the deal with Microsoft? It’s not micro. It’s not soft.

In an effort to counter Apple’s must-see Mac vs. PC ads, Microsoft is paying Jerry Seinfeld $10M to appear in Vista ads.

Yes, nothing proves you’re hip like hiring a retired, 1990s sitcom star.

Sure, I love Seinfeld repeats. But re-read my lips: Reeeee-peats. I think maybe the problem is that Microsoft, in its irked ire, is unable to see that on the Apple ads, even the PC guy — John Hodgman — is hip. Hodgman’s book, The Areas of My Expertise, is brilliant. Apple even gets cool guys to play the uncool guys.

On the other hand, Microsoft has hired Michael Gondry to direct the ads. Expect the Eternal Wait-times of the Spotless Mind?

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Microsoft has launched a blog about the development of Windows 7

Windows 7 codename: “Do-Over”?

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July 3, 2008

Tim Bray on ISO’s ladidah-ing OOXML challenges

Tim Bray blogs about the head of ISO pooh-poohing the concerns about the way that Microsoft’s OOXML document format was strong-armed through his organization.

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June 30, 2008

Favorite Microsoft instructions of the day

My Windows Vista Ultimate 64 installation is now telling me that my license will expire in 14 hours. This is confusing since the Control Panel tells me that Vista is activated and gives me a product number.

I tried to use the Windows support chat, but when I entered the n-digit product number, it told me the support period was up…yet another indication that my product is indeed activated.

So, I called telephone support, hoping they wouldn’t charge me the required $59. After asking me too many questions, they transferred me to Windows Activation, with the instruction — and this is the part I like — to answer the telephonic robot’s questions:

Yes
Transfer me
Transfer me
Transfer me anyway

That worked fine, except after telling me that it was transferring my call, the robot hung up on me.

Sigh.

So, I tried to get the Activation Support center’s phone number, but for that you have to use the Windows Activation program on your PC … which isn’t where it’s supposed to be … because I already activated my product.

Another call to Windows Support, another round of answering questions, and they actually gave me the number for U.S. Windows Activation: 866-740-1256.

Unfortunately, that group was unable to help. They gave me the phone number for the first tech support group.

I only use my Vista machine for home accounting and for games. Is Microsoft purposefully trying to discourage casual users like me?

Eventually, a tech support person told me that the problem is that I installed Service Pack 1 in January or February. If you did, you have to uninstall it (find Windows Update and click on Installed Updates. Select the service pack and uninstall it. Then, when that doesn’t work, you’ll have to uninstall it by hand.) I’ve spent two hours uninstalling and trying to reinstall:


– Don’t forget to run the System Update Readiness Tool.
– Don’t forget that the System Update Readiness Tool doesn’t have a file name that’s intelligible by users
– Don’t forget that when you run the System Update Readiness Tool, it will call itself something else. I think.
– Don’t forget to run sfc /scannow. (Didn’t work? Run it as admin.)
– Don’t forget to run msconfig and turn off the right start-up programs.
– Don’t forget to yes, transfer me, transfer me, transfer me anyway.

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The next day, someone called from Microsoft to make sure that my problem was resolved satisfactorily. Ten minutes later, his manager called to make sure that the guy who checked on whether my problem was resolved was himself courteous and thorough. I told both of them that Naveen – the tech support person who solved my problem – was fantastic, but the first five people I talked with ought to be taught what Naveen knew about diagnosing my problem.

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June 20, 2008

Microsoft says ODF has won

From Slashdot:

“At a Red Hat retrospective panel on the ODF vs. OOXML struggle panel, a Microsoft representative, Stuart McKee, admitted that ODF had ‘clearly won.’ The Redmond company is going to add native support of ODF 1.1 with its Office 2007 service pack 2. Its yet unpublished format ISO OOXML will not be supported before the release of the next Office generation. Whether or not OOXML ever gets published is an open question after four national bodies appealed the ISO decision.”

Of course, Open Document Format winning isn’t exactly the same as OOXML — the 6,000 page standard Microsoft pushed through ISO — losing. Slashdot commentators are right to be plenty skeptical. Still, this is a good thing since it opens a practical path to document interoperability in a public, open format. [Tags: ]

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June 19, 2008

Microsoft the good sport

The Microsoft Internet Explorer team sent a nice cake yesterday to the Mozilla Firefox team, congratulating them on the shipping of version 3.0, as they did when Firefox 2.0 shipped. Nice. Seriously.

Here’s an idea from one of the comments that’s funny but would be unnecessarily not-nice to actually do:

I reiterate what someone said when the last cake appeared – Mozilla should send a cake back, include the recipe, and ask for advice on how to improve it. ;)

: )

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May 6, 2008

Market bullying

I wanted to find out what Microsoft Expression Media — or, as Microsoft puts it, Microsoft® Expression® Media — is, so I did what any red-blooded Netizen would do: I googled it. The top hit is Microsoft’s home page for it. It wants to show me videos, but I don’t want to sit around while being slowly pummeled with Microsoft’s marketing messages. If I’m going to be marketed to, at least let me skim. So, I clicked on the “Why Buy?” link, thinking I’d get a features list. I just want to know what the product does.

Nope. That loads a popup that asks me to install Silverlight (oops, I mean Microsoft® Silverlight®)The popup conscientiously informs me that once installed, Silverlight “updates automatically,” where “update” means I am giving Microsoft the right to load stuff onto my computer without asking or informing me. In addition, the privacy statement says Microsoft will only transfer information it gathers about me and my computer to third parties if it really wants to. (The privacy statement puts it a little more formally than that.)

So, here I am, trying to find out about a Microsoft product, yet I’m being required to install software I don’t want in the first place, and that has the right to mutate itself without my knowledge. And to get this authorized virus, I have to agree to a privacy-violation agreement that scares me.

Can you imagine the snorting that would occur if a start-up company insisted on this?

So, take this as an example of either inept marketing or implicit bullying by a dominant force. Or both. [Tags: ]

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April 13, 2008

The Microsoft open document format, slashdotted

ISO’s taking over of Microsoft’s 8,000 page specification of the “open” standard based on Word’s document model has been slashdotted with typical, um, vigor.

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April 7, 2008

Norwegian demonstration against Open XML’s acceptance

Steve Pepper is calling for a demonstration against Norway’s flaky acceptance of Open XML as an ISO standard, AKA Caving in to Microsoft. Here’s a list of the “irregularities” of the process.

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February 4, 2008

Buying Yahoo is the Vista of business plans

There are lots of reasons Google is not only the most important single company on the Internet, it is in many ways the defining Internet company. Among the most significant reasons: It’s got the creative rhythm of a BS session among the five funniest people you know. Think it, say it, top it, move on. Except with code, not jokes.

Want to slow this process down? Acquire another company. Especially a really, really big company. Especially a really, really big company that is in strategic disarray.

I’d say that I don’t know what Microsoft is thinking, but I actually think I do. Microsoft is thinking about the economics of consumers. Google is in an economy of creators.

We all want healthy competition for Google. But it now feels more like we’re watching evolution than competition.

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