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Office 2007 Delayed, and six other stories

Creative Commons Now For Microsoft Office

Microsoft released on Wednesday a tool that allows people to attach a Creative Commons license to documents made in Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel. The add-in, which is free and available for download from Microsoft’s site, enables users to click a new menu to select a license, and generates a CC logo, a summary of the license and a link to Some great publicity for CC (especially if Microsoft decides one day to add it to the retail product), and another attempt by MS to appear a little more open source friendly.

Vista’s User Account Control No Fun
Ed Bott has a really good article on Windows Vista’s User Account Control and why it is driving everybody nuts. He also shows some ways to make your life a hell of a lot easier.

See, if you tend to use Control Panel or Windows Explorer a lot, you can create a shortcut to that, change the properties of the shortcut to run as administrator, and you won’t see any UAC dialogs while running the program. This also works for any program that you trust that gives you UAC issues. He’s also got some solid suggestions how Microsoft can improve the feature.

Ballmer Doesn’t Matter?
Business 2.0 has its list of 10 people who no longer matter, and one of them Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. They rule him a lame duck, with Gates leaving and two others he has no history with taking over Gates responsibilities. Also on the list: Ken Kutaragi, the President of Sony and Rob Malda of Slashdot.

102 Days Left For XP SP1
Now is a good time to remind everyone that support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 will end on October 10, 2006. Microsoft policy supports 24 months for the lifecycle of a Service Pack, and they extended it by a month earlier this year. If you are running SP1, it’s high time you moved on to the far superior SP2 (which has a lot of security improvements). Of course, some people will just avoid the hassle and wait for Vista.
(via Digg)

Microsoft Hopes To Benchmark Industry Privacy
Microsoft plans to release in August its internal privacy policy for application developers, hoping to provide the software industry with a yardstick of best practices. Considering Microsoft has been taking a leadership position on malicious software, it makes sense for them to be doing this.

We’ll find out how good their policies are, and if they are well received, maybe MS should think about publishing a “bible” of best practices for developers. Hell, make it free with some of the more expensive Visual Studio packages.

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3 Released
Microsoft has released beta 3 of Internet Explorer 7, now available for download. IE7 Beta 3 includes over a thousand bug fixes, as well as a few new features. The new features include, according to CNet:

Feature changes between the beta 2 and beta 3 releases include giving users the capability to add an e-mail button on the toolbar, reorder tabs and scroll horizontally while zooming in on a Web site, Microsoft said. Users can also update all RSS feeds at once, the software maker said.

This is likely the final IE7 beta, although a “release candidate” version or two may be released. Sadly, this is only the XP/2003 version, and the new features will not be released for Vista users until a future release. Damn. I really want to be able to reorder tabs.

The IE blog and RSS Team blog detail the changes.

Office 2007 Delayed Again
Microsoft has yet again delayed Office 2007, pushing the release date beyond January of next year. Originally, volume licensing customers were supposed to get it in October, with a retail release in January. Now, MS says it will be done at the end of 2006, with broad release sometime in “early 2007″, whenever that is. If anything made you worry that Vista could be delayed eventually, this is it.

To be honest, while Office 2007 is one of the best products Microsoft has ever developed, it is not stable enough for release. Office needs to be as rock-solid stable as possible, since no one will tolerate losing documents on a consistent basis. Right now, Vista is more stable than Office, so hopefully, Vista can avoid this delay.

June 30th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Security, Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, Word, Corporate, Vista, XP, Developers | no comments

Microsoft Closes Vista Beta, and six other stories

Microsoft Closes Vista Beta
Due to enormous demand, Microsoft is closing application for the Windows Vista Beta tomorrow. Yeah, you have to get in and get your product keys right freakin’ now, or you will have to wait till January like a sucker. Trust me, Vista is worth it, so pay for the DVD if you have to. Otherwise, you need to sign up by tomorrow, and have until mid-July to complete your download.

Please note: The Customer Preview Program will close to new orders on Friday, June 30. For registered customers who have received a Product Key the download sites will remain open until Friday, July 14.

Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility Update
A bunch of new games have been added to the list of original Xbox games that now work on the Xbox 360. They are:

  • 4X4 EVO 2
  • Amped 2
  • Bad Boys 2
  • Big Mutha Truckers
  • Doom 3
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
  • Fatal Frame
  • FlatOut
  • Grabbed by the Ghoulies
  • Intellivision Lives
  • LEGO Star Wars
  • Minority Report
  • MLB SlugFest 2004
  • RalliSport Challenge
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room
  • Spawn Armageddon
  • Spider-Man
  • Star Wars Battlefront
  • State of Emergency
  • The Punisher
  • Zapper

There are still plenty of games that I’m dissapointed at being absent from the list. I think most people have lost trust that Microsoft will deliver and please everyone.

Windows XP SP3 and SP4 Coming
The Hotfix reports that Windows XP Service Pack 4 is in the works. Due to the delays for Windows Vista, Microsoft is feeling pressure from corporate IT departments to keep supporting XP while they go through the long process of upgrading. Thankfully, Microsoft understands how vital it is for them to respond to the needs of their biggest customers, so the already planned SP3 (mid-2007) looks like it will be followed by the development of SP4.

Microsoft’s Top Ten Biggest Flops
Mary Jo Foley, to coincide with Bill Gates’ big announcement, has put together a list of Microsoft’s ten biggest mistakes. The list includes SPOT watches, Tablet PCs and Windows ME, and is topped by Microsoft BOB. In reality, Microsoft’s biggest mistakes are the ones that continue to plague the company today, the ones that created the corporate culture that depresses some of the most talented. If Microsoft had found a way to avoid becoming Big Evil, if they had not taken on Netscape, they’d be a much stronger company for it.

Microsoft Loses Office Appeal
Microsoft has lost an appeal in a case it lost over how it links Access and Excel. The original ruling had Microsoft losing $6.1 million, and lawyers for the plaintiff are now looking to claim more of the 65 million dollars lying in an escrow account.

Windows Live Blog Aggregator
Niall Kennedy has thrown together MSReadr, a collection of Windows Live product blogs, letting you keep up on all the news in the Live division. Since most of those teams don’t use the standard Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) blogs that I subscribe to, this creates an excellent source to subscribe to. Get the meta RSS feed. Also available at RoboScoble, a nod to Valleywag and talk about Niall replacing Scoble

Microsoft Haters Have Cool Ideas
Microsoft must not be evil enough lately, since the MS haters are resorting to making up bad things for the company to do. From Valleywag:

“You get a letter with an unbranded CD,” shouts a writer at about a supposed Microsoft entrapment campaign. The story’s making the rounds again on social bookmark sites like Reddit.

“…and a post it letting you know all the software is on the CD and the serials are enclosed. When opening the CD you get a surprise Windows blue screen of death and the effect of the monitor shutting down. Then you get a message from Microsoft, that you are lucky time this is just a DM, but next time your machine can crash for real if you use bootleg software.”

June 29th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Law, Windows, Humor, Xbox, Office, Xbox 360, Corporate, Vista, XP | one comment

Gates Following Scoble Out The Door

Well, I’m not going to pretend there is going to be up-to-the minute news at this blog, not for about three more weeks. I got married a week ago today, and tonight I leave on my honeymoon. I will be paying through the roof to guarantee an internet connection during my honeymoon downtime, so I will be posting as much as possible. It won’t be quick, but it will be chock full of links you may not have already seen.

And, as I’ve said before, the best wedding present I’d like is if my readers stayed on and all kept reading when I return full-time (and more dedicated than ever) following my honeymoon.

Okay, so Bill Gates announced he will be stepping down from his full-time duties at Microsoft over the next two years. Ray Ozzie, and enormously talented man who was essentially bought to give Microsoft a great pillar of vision, will be taking over as Chief Software Architect.

TDavid asks the excellent question of what this means for Tablet PCs. Gates was the pioneer and pushed Microsoft’s major support of the form factor, a money-losing embaressment that was ahead of its time. Without him, there is a good chance Microsoft will drop support and the Tablet and UMPC platforms may die out for a half-decade or so.

The real question is if Microsoft will turn away from difficult and innovative technologies, like the Tablet or SPOT Watch, or even the Xbox 360, all of which were big risks and investments in a future that may never arrive.

Microsoft’s stock isn’t doing so well. Luckily, Ozzie isn’t the type to play it safe and not try to win. He won’t try to crush competitors, so Microsoft will be friendlier, but they will be doing everything they can to be hugely competitive.

Brian Benz jokes that Gates is joining Scoble at Good one.

Speaking of Scoble, The Enquirer says Scoble is slowly but increasingly burning his bridges via his blog. I say he’s just getting his edge back, and feeling his way back to being vicious to those that deserve a good whacking.

Scoble was on the BBC. Mary Jo Foley did an exit interview.

And, for a little bit of fun, The Microsoft Code (a MS version of The Da Vinci Code) begins here. (via Mini)

June 21st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Corporate | no comments


I’ll be telling the full story afterwards, but I have a nice pre-wedding thing tomorrow, getting my Xbox 360. Thankfully, my very-soon-to-be wife is excited at getting to play video games finally, so this won’t be a distraction, but a fun thing to do as a married couple (although not the most fun thing, wink, wink).

Anyway, I’ve got until 10 am to figure out which games I want to buy. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Project Gotham Racing 3
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • Fight Night: Round 3
  • Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
  • Amped 3
  • Uno
  • Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved

The last two are Live Arcade games. I may not get Uno, since it will eventually come bundled with the Xbox 360 camera. The first five games cost currently $270 at Best Buy (where I’m getting the 360), a ridiculous sum dangerously close to the cost of the console itself. Used, at Gamestop, they cost $215. Maybe I’ll use GameFly till I find a game I really love.

If you’d like to suggest a game, comment below. You’ll need to register to comment, at least until we fix some database errors.

June 13th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Scoble Leaves Microsoft

Congratulations are in order for Robert Scoble, Microsoft’s extremely well-known geek blogger, who is leaving MS to join an startup. Scoble joins, a podcasting and videoblogging network.

While I’ll be sad to not see Robert at Microsoft events here or there, he’s got a great opportunity here. You should always be using your successes to move to a bigger and better platform, and Scoble has a chance at something big if he can make PodTech a success (and if anyone can, it is him). In fact, Scoble’s new job is a lot like his old one, except that he’ll be able to run around anywhere with his video camera to expose all the great things we should know about.

I just have one question (assuming the big guy has time to answer any): Does PodTech plan to pay to send him to all the conferences and geek events he frequents? I would assume that it was a condition of his hiring, and I’m sure a lot of us would like to keep running into Scoble at all those random events.

I am glad to hear that Scoble’s new job pays a good amount more, and lets him spend more time with his son. Looks like he came out the winner here. Sure, Microsoft is losing someone who made obvious contributions to the company, and probably helped make it a better place to work, I think they’ve learned their lessons well from the master, and the progress he made will continue.

I’ll leave with one final thought: This proves that Scoble was Mini-Microsoft the whole time… :-D


Scoble corrects some myths that he is leaving because of something Microsoft did
Scoble’s reasons for leaving

The conversation on Techmeme

Others seem to look at it a different way:
Dave Winer seems happy, because he says Microsoft was a stifling organization, and Scoble isn’t going down with the ship
Tom Foremski blames Microsoft entirely, basically saying Scoble isn’t going somewhere better, but leaving a place that was frustrating and used him for a long time

Chris Pirillo says you’d have to be crazy to think Scoble would stop supporting Microsoft, since he was doing it well before they even hired him

Niall Kennedy says now is the time for Microsoft to put some serious effort into internal corporate development. Niall is my pick as the next big Microsoft geek blogger.
Doc Searls says:

Meanwhile, many of us will look for Niall to fill Scoble’s shoes. Won’t happen, because they’re different guys. Niall will make big footprints fersure; but they’ll be his own.

TDavid seems impressed that Scoble is basically proving that he has the guts to take the big risks for the big payoff.

Loren Heiny wonders if someone is going to try to acquire PodTech. What if Microsoft buys PodTech, and Scoble gets right back into his old job at his new salary?

Jeremy Wagstaff asks if Microsoft is going to try to recreate Scoble, or if it will revert to Evil Empire status without him.

June 12th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Blogs, Corporate | no comments Getting Facelift

The Windows Live folks sent out a notice that they are pushing out some improvements to and the user experience, sometime early next week. Note that these are changes to, the personalized homepage, not the whole of Windows Live, although many of the graphical changes are expected to be made to all the services.

The most obvious change is the addition of the “Vapor” header, featuring a Windows Vista-like Flair to give more color to the page. White space is all well and good, but there’s no reason the page can’t get a little more exciting, and that’s what they’re doing. Some Windows Live services already sport Vapor, mainly the desktop clients of Live Messenger and Live Mail Desktop, and expect to eventually see it everywhere.

There are other changes being made based on user feedback to improve the user experience. Included in that is that will present just a search box on first run, for users who want that super-clean page with the short URL. Users will then have the option to personalize the page or learn about more Windows Live services.

Clean home.png

Also, to make it easier to start customizing, users will be presented with four templates as jumping-off points, letting them start off with some installed Gadgets, but something a little less generic than if there was just one for everyone.

The update will hit next week, likely early in the week. You may have to click “Start over” to see the new bits.

Click on the screenshots to view them full-size at LiveSide.

June 9th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Live | no comments

Microsoft Purchases Evil

BBSpot has a funny article titled “Microsoft Purchases Evil From Satan”, explaining how Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates negotiated a takeover of evil from Satan. Microsoft made the purchase because it was not satisfied with the slow buildup of market share in evil over its three decades, and with the purchase it becomes the clear market leader.

Analysts suggest it was increasing pressure from Google that threatened Microsoft’s status as an evil innovator, and spurred the bold move. Or, as Robert Scoble would put it, “I’ve been telling my friends that two kids from Stanford stole our evil and we want it back, damn it!”

“Evil is a real growing market,” market strategist Frank Dresgan of Merrill Lynch explained. “Microsoft is a little late in the game, but even when they enter a market late they still tend to dominate. I think we’ll see the same results with evil.”

The purchase digs deep into the capital fund designed to combat Google, putting $2.7 billion in the pockets of the dark lord. No, not Bill Gates, the other dark lord!
(via Digg)

June 9th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Humor, Google | no comments

Microsoft Also Readying “Haiku”, A Smaller Origami

Lots of people are writing about how Microsoft is still doing development work on “Haiku”, the code-name for an even smaller PC form factor than the “Origami” Ultra Mobile PCs. In some ways the Haikus are what the UMPC was supposed to be, and are still being targetted at a $500-700 price point and with all-day batteries, but in a smaller package with smaller screens.

It almost seems like Microsoft is readying an new form factor to accelerate the work to actually make the UMPC what it was always supposed to do. The Origami sacrificed battery life and pricing to keep to Microsoft’s form factor specifications, when they would have been better off sacrificing screen size and some features to keep pricing and battery life at reasonable levels (which they certainly were not). Maybe Microsoft hopes that the Haiku will force them to actually get it right the second time around.

The article at InfoWorld reveals some of the backstory.

“We’d like to see them out in the $500 to $700 range. The closer to $500 the better,” said Otto Berkes, general manager of Microsoft’s Ultra Mobile PC operations, on the sidelines of a conference in Taipei on Wednesday.

The Haiku device he showed off at the Via Technology Forum was basically a display screen about the size of a paperback book.

The original Haiku device was shown off by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) last year. At the time, the company projected it might ship in 2007.

But this year’s launch of the ultra-mobile PC, code-named Origami, prompted speculation that Origami was the portable PC of choice for Microsoft, and it might drop other such projects. That’s not the case, according to Berkes.

“We don’t think [the Haiku] is feasible today, but we’re very excited about the roadmap [Via Technologies] shared that will make this possible in a few years,” he said.

More coverage at:
Ars Technica
Loren Heiny (who suggest the form factor could make a killer digital camera, rather than a mini-PC)

Engadget has Haiku haikus:

When was the last time
Microsoft got something right
Don’t believe the hype

big and expensive,
origami disappoints.
now wait for haiku

Don’t like this version?
We’ll do better the next time!
Just wait a few years

Don’t you buy this thing
Something better will come out
Surely in a year

June 9th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Tablet PC | no comments

Windows Live OneCare: Just $19.99 On Amazon has the boxed version of Windows Live OneCare for sale for just $19.99, a 60% savings off the $50 retail price. Add an additional $5.01 to your offer and get it with free shipping. Wunderbar!
(via Joris Evers)

June 9th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Security, OneCare | no comments

Windows Live Search Adds Instant Answers


MSN Search has for a while had instant answers, the boxed results that include facts or other information above search results. Window Live Search, with its cleaner interface, launched without them, but the MSN Search blog has announced that they have finally added them.

For now, the only boxes are those with news or local results shown above the search results, letting you know that there might be things in the other tabs you want to check out, but it is safe to assume they might consider adding in the stock market, sports statistics and other information that MSN Search currently has, at some point in the future.

Part of the goal with Windows Live Search is to provide a slick, next-generation interface, while still holding the perception of minimalism that Google has made a requirement. The instant answers do add a bit of clutter, but you can see that they do not get in the way much, and they anyway dissapear as you scroll down. However, since Live Search lets you maximize and minimize the amount of detail in each search result, why not let users specify if they want instant answers or not?

June 8th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Search, Windows, Live | no comments

Windows Vista Beta 2 Goes Live

Windows Vista beta 2 is now available for download. Get it now!

You need to use a download manager, or at least a browser that supports resuming downloads, since it is a gigantic download, or you can use Microsoft’s provided manager from Akamai. You should expect 3.2 gigabyte download (4.4 GB for 64-bit), so free up some space. Do not bother downloading unless you can burn it to a DVD. You can also order a DVD, and pay for shipping.

You need to free up 11.23 gigabytes before attempting installation. No, that is not a typo. Vista installation will refuse to upgrade your machine with even one megabyte less, and will insist on a clean install. Be prepared to move some stuff to other hard drives.

Vista Beta 2 expires on July 1, 2007.

There is a more detailed download page here.

June 8th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | no comments

Four Settle Bogus Spyware Case

Four people, all of whom were accused of promoting a fake and malicious software product that claimed to protect computers from spyware, have agreed to pay fines after a lawsuit by Microsoft and the Washington State Attorney General. The software, Secure Computer’s Spyware Cleaner, was advertised on Google AdWords for search terms like “Microsoft spyware cleaner,” and “Microsoft antispyware”, but not only didn’t remove spyware as it claimed to do, it actually made computers less secure.

In most of the cases, the accused made large percentages of the $49.95 cost of a copy of Spyware Cleaner, by referring users to purchase it. Microsoft was right to be irked when it saw that Google’s advertising platform was being used to generate those referrals. However, they earn my respect in showing the intelligence and restraint to sue the advertisers, not Google.

God knows there are many at Microsoft who would love to shove a lawsuit up Google’s collective, uh, something, but those sort of lawsuits do nothing but try to take advantage of poorly knowledgeable judges. Companies like Google, who run an automated system, should not be sued as service providers, and going after the users who abuse the system for their illegal means is the way to do it.

You hear that, Geico? American Blinds?

June 8th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Law, Security, Google, AntiSpyware | no comments