Consumers will be able to purchase the first major update to Microsoft Windows Vista OS starting on Wednesday, March 19th if Internet retailer Amazon.com is to be believed. Amazon’s Web site shows that both the full and upgrade versions of Vista SP1 are currently available for pre-order and will ship on March 19th.
Microsoft recently made Vista SP1 available to some developers and commercial users as a download from its business Web site, but the software has not been widely available to date.

It’s expected that a number of retailers in addition to Amazon will start offering Vista SP1 this week. Microsoft will also likely make it available as a public download in the coming days. The download version is free to users already running a licensed copy of Vista.

Vista SP1 contains a number of features designed to enhance the OS speed, performance, and stability. Among other things, it offers a patch that will allow users to run the BitLocker encryption tool on multiple hard drives. It also improves the speed at which the OS wakes up from “hibernate” mode.

SP1 will also remove from Vista the “Kill Switch” — a feature that deactivated key components of the OS if Microsoft detected users were not running a properly licensed copy of Vista. The feature was plagued by false alarms that flagged thousands of legitimate Vista users as software pirates.

Vista SP1 itself isn’t without problems, however. Microsoft has yet to finish ensuring that the service pack will work properly with the thousands of models of keyboards, printers, mice, and other peripheral devices commonly attached to personal computers.

The problem is that Vista SP1 won’t install some device drivers correctly. Microsoft says the issue is confined to “a small number” of drivers and that it’s working on the problem.

Microsoft is hoping that Windows Vista SP1 will quell some of the disappointment that greeted the operating system’s initial rollout early last year. Many corporate and home users complained about its resource requirements and lack of compatibility with existing applications.

Windows Vista Ultimate with SP1
Price: $299.99

Sorry Mitch, I guess I’m going to be talking about the same thing as you. I had it half written when I noticed yours went up and I really don’t feel like choosing another topic and researching that one too. I guess if we have to write on the biggest news of the week there will be some overlapping anyway.

So the big news I’ve been hearing about is AOL’s purchase of the social networking website, Bebo. The price? $850,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros. Especially when AOL is slowly dying a painful and horrible *potential* death. I’ll go into a little more depth on both companies.

AOL (formerly America Online) was once mainly in the Internet Service Provider industry, with 30 million subscribers (down to 10.1 million as of Nov. 2007). Due to the dramatic decrease in dial-up (resulting in a decrease in their subscribers) the company has been trying to change their image to an Internet Content Provider rather than a service provider. As of February 2008, there was an announcement that AOL would split into two different sections: internet access and advertising. This is where the acquisition of Bebo comes in.

Bebo (Blog early, blog often) is a social media network (much like MySpace, Hi5, and Facebook) that has a substantial claim on the market. Although they aren’t quite as big as Facebook or MySpace in North America, it is extremely competitive in other countries, such as Britain and Ireland. It is actually the 66th most popular English-language website (MySpace = 5th, Facebook = 6th, Hi5 = 8th) according to Alexa Internet. *Sidenote: There are a few porn sites in the top 100, as well as Google having a bunch there too).

What makes this such a dangerous merger for other social networks is that AOL has the software that Bebo needs to grab top market share. AOL has the 10 million subscribers that could extremely benefit Bebo’s population, as well as the advertising software that Facebook has been struggling so much to make effective. With AOL’s AIM and ICQ potentially growing Bebo, and with Bebo a great site for mass advertising, this could be a great way for AOL to rebound and become one of the star online advertising companies.

A problem with this merger is that Yahoo runs the display advertising for Bebo in the UK and Ireland. If Microsoft is successful in the bid for Yahoo, what will be the outcome? Microsoft has put heavy support behind Facebook with their 1.6% purchase, so how can they justify a part of their company (if Yahoo is purchased) supporting the rival of their Facebook? Can Microsoft support two social networks?

Also, with Yahoo running the advertising display for Bebo, Google running the advertising of MySpace, and Microsoft running the advertising for Facebook, it makes the market pretty competitive. If Microsoft purchases Yahoo, then it gives Microsoft a great deal more advertising power, controlling both Facebook’s and Bebo’s advertising. Will this finally make Microsoft competitive with Google’s advertising power? I guess we will see in the coming months.

*UPDATE* Facebook has just announced that it will be having an instant message service built right into Facebook.  This is announced right after AOL has been talking about combining their AIM service to Bebo. *

Cheers,

David McKenna

Digg Users Up In Arms

March 10, 2008

The past two years have been fairly active with regards to the purchasing of popular websites. There have been rumors about Yahoo buying Facebook, talks of Microsoft buying Yahoo, and Microsoft buying Digg (although everyone is denying it).

In Mike Arrington’s post, he talks about how Digg’s users are going nuts over this “Potential Acquisition”.

Could it be possible that the masses could stop a website from being purchased? Many of the comments regarding Digg’s “Potential Acquisition”, threatened that they would simply leave the website if it was to be purchased by Microsoft. Which leads to a question. What if it was another company buying Digg? Would that raise as much of an outcry from the masses if it had been Apple to purchase Digg? From many of the comments from the users of Digg, many of which dislike Microsoft greatly.

This could just be the most perfect “story” to get those Digg members that dislike Microsoft to be able to feed off each other’s anger in a combined effort to stop the acquisition from taking place. Neither party has come out to confirm whether the two companies are talking about a transaction, but the rumors are so thick, that it could very well be true.

Could it be that they want to keep it a secret because there has been so much uproar over Microsoft buying Digg?

Power of the People. Its amazing that outcrys from users could stop a transaction from taking place.

I was just reading Mano-a-mano with Steve Ballmer by Guy Kawasaki that had a video from the MIX08 conference held in Las Vegas from March 5th -7th. It is a conference for developers, designers and business professionals, or so the website says. The video was of the Keynote speaking with Guy Kawasaki as host, interviewing Steve Ballmer. Incredible. It was over an hour long, and I watched all of it. I think anyone who has the slightest interest in Microsoft vs. the world, then you should watch this.

One of the things that made this keynote so good, and why I watched most of it, is because of the bantering going back and forth from Kawasaki and Ballmer. Steve Ballmer is now the CEO of Microsoft and was one of the original Microsoft guys (starting in 1980), whereas Guy Kawasaki was one of the original Apple guys which leads to much playful banter. In some cases, it is absolutely hilarious, one of which Ballmer threw Kawasaki`s Mac AIR on the ground (timing in video is given later). I laughed nearly the whole time.

Here are some of the topics (and the times they played) that was discussed:

Yahoo potential merger @ 2:30

Google competitor @ 4:30

Microsoft is an underdog @ 7:18

Anti-trust @ 7:35

Apple (Ballmer gives Cudos) @ 7:48

Facebook @ 9:28

Microsofts millions @ 10:40

Receiving mass email (or not) @ about 15:00

Bill Gates leaving microsoft @ 16:45

Hiring at microsoft @ 18:40

Silverlight @ 24:35

Vista (dodges topic by throwing Kawasaki`s Mac AIR on the ground) @ 26:45

Microsoft losing focus @ 28.30

Firefox vs IE @ 32:40

I think anyone who is interested even slightly in Microsoft, or even if you hate Microsoft and want to see their views on Google and Apple, you should watch this video. It is long, but well worth it.

After watching over an hour worth of video, I could write for forever on this topic, but I guess I can only put so much. Maybe I`ll make another 10 posts all dealing with this video. Thats all for now.

Cheers,

David McKenna

EU fines Microsoft

March 1, 2008

Microsoft was fined a record 899 million euros ($1.35 billion) by the European Commission for using high prices to discourage software competition in the latest sanction in their long-running battle.

The executive arm of the European Union said the U.S. software group defied a 2004 order from Brussels to provide the information on reasonable terms. Microsoft has now been fined a total of 1.68 billion euros by the EU for abusing its 95% t dominance of PC OS through Windows.

Microsoft said $1.35 billion fine imposed by the European Commission concerned “past issues” and that it was now looking to the future.

“We are reviewing the Commission’s action. The Commission announced in October 2007 that Microsoft was in full compliance with the 2004 decision, so these fines are about the past issues that have been resolved,” Microsoft said in a statement.

“As we demonstrated last week with our new interoperability principles and specific actions to increase the openness of our products, we are focusing on steps that will improve things for the future,” Microsoft said.

Article link or Microsoft must pay $1.4bn to EU!

Microsoft and Yahoo

February 1, 2008

I was just surfing the net and I came across an article stating that Microsoft has made an offer to buy Yahoo. It’s from Digital Home Canada. Heres’ what it says.

Microsoft today announced that it has made a proposal to Yahoo to buy the company for $44.6 billion dollars. Microsoft is offering Yahoo shareholders the equivalent of $31 a share in cash and Microsoft stock.

Yesterday at closing their stock(Yahoo) was valued at $19.18. But has a result of the announcement  Yahoo’s stock price his increased by almost 50%. Microsoft’s stock has decreased by 6%. Is this a good deal for Microsoft?  According to a writer from the Scripting News , they say,”Nahh. It’s like the dead leading the blind.” However, one of our required readers,Scoble, who coincidentally is an ex-employee of Microsoft, says this,

This gets Microsoft back into the Web game in a big way and puts a defense around Microsoft’s Office cash-generating-machine. I bet that some of Yahoo’s smartest engineers get moved over to the Office team to help build an online Office that’ll keep Google’s docs and spreadsheets from getting major marketshare inroads.

I agree with Dave Canvin’s post, this also has the potential to put some pressure on Google and may cause a “Web War”. We finally have two of the biggest heavyweights in the modern world possibly going toe-to-toe. What will happen next? Stay tuned, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

by

Tony Elliott

After reading Scoble’s post on the latest technological war between Toshiba’s HD-DVD(Microsoft) and Sony’s Blu-ray. It appears Microsift was throwing their weight(plus the 150 million dollars each alleged to have changed hands to woo Universal and Paramount) to the HD-DVD supporters. However last week before the CES last week in Las Vegas, Warner dropped a bombshell and announced that they were going to switch support in favor of Blu-ray exclusively. This caused Toshiba to cancel their press conference last Sunday and was mentioned very little in Bill Gates last opening speeech at CES. IMHO I don’t think Microsoft was really wholeheartedly supporting Toshiba, they(Bill) always appears to be ahead of everyone else and could see theat the future would be with digital downloads. If they were a staunch supporter they would have a contingency plan if something like this happened and would have tried to keep Warner on the fence to prolong this further so they could be the one to offer this world wide. Although there are still some concerns with the download speed, price and the ability to make a backup copy have to be addressed. I believe that the XBOX already provides the ability to download movies. Although I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and declared Blu-ray the winner, I own a PS3. Oh well, I hope I picked the right side but who knows a few years down the road HD movies may  die the death like so many other before it such as; vinyl, 8 – track (for those who know what that is), casette, cd, VHS(who remembers the loser Beta) and DVD. Technology advances so quickly and there is always something out there that makes previous mediums obselete, just the nature of the beast that we know as technology.