Hugh Pickens writes writes: "David Pogue writes that with Windows 8 Microsoft has made a billion-dollar gamble that personal computing is taking a new direction and that new direction is touch. Using a series of fluid, light finger taps and swipes across the screen on a PC running Windows 8, you can open programs, flip between them, navigate, adjust settings and split the screen between apps, among other functions. It's fresh, efficient and joyous to use—all on a touch-screen tablet. But Microsoft expects us to run Windows 8 on our tens of millions of everyday PCs and although touch has been incredibly successful on our phones, tablets, airport kiosks and cash machines, Pogue says touch will never take over on PC's. The reason? Gorilla Arms. There are three big differences between tablet screens and a PC's screen: angle, distance and time interval. The problem is "the tingling ache that [comes] from extending my right arm to manipulate that screen for hours, an affliction that has earned the nickname of gorilla arm." Some experts say gorilla arm is what killed touch computing during its first wave in the early 1980s but Microsoft is betting that Windows 8 will be so attractive that we won't mind touching our PC screens, at least until the PC concept fades away entirely. "My belief is that touch screens make sense on mobile computers but not on stationary ones," concludes Pogue. "Microsoft is making a gigantic bet that I'm wrong.""
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Guardian reports that in a shocking move move that comes just two weeks after the launch of Windows 8, Steven Sinofsky, the head of the Windows division at Microsoft is to leave the company. Sinofsky had been at the company for 23 years and had been seen by some as a future chief executive of the software giant but according to reports, there had been growing executive friction between Sinofsky and other top executives at the company. "This is shocking news. This is very surprising," says Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities. "Like a lot of people, I thought Sinofsky was in line to potentially be Ballmer's successor." Sinofsky's place will be taken by Julie Larson-Green, another Windows executive who has been at Microsoft nearly as long as Sinofsky – joining in 1993 – and will be in charge of hardware and software for Windows. "If this had happened before Windows 8 shipped, I would have worried about potential delays," says Al Hilwa, program director for application software at the research company IDC. "The strategy of folding PC, tablet, phone and set-top into a single platform and ecosystem is the right strategy, and likely will continue to be the strategy of record.""
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The NY Times reports that like a couple who stays together for far too long, the breakup between NBC and Microsoft has been a long time coming but now MSNBC.com and its associated sites, recording 50 million unique visitors a month in the United States, will be renamed NBCNews.com, signifying the end of a relationship between NBC and Microsoft that dates back to the earliest days of the commercial Web. For now, MSNBC.com will automatically redirect browsers to NBCNews.com, and the site will initially look the same, save for a new logo but it will be owned and operated by NBC, which will make changes more nimbly in the future. Production of the site will shift to New York, though some engineers and other technical employees will stay in Washington State, where NBC will set up what it calls the NBC News Innovation Center. “The whole news organization will benefit,” says Vivian Schiller, the chief digital officer for NBC News. Microsoft’s stake in the cable channel was dissolved in 2005 but NBC came to feel handcuffed by the Web arrangement as an increasing number of advertisers wanted to buy ads both on its TV newscasts and its Web sites, a strategy called cross-media sales, but it could not respond effectively because Microsoft ran the ad sales part of the business. Under the joint venture, NBC News was the exclusive news provider for MSN.com, which now will be able to negotiate partnerships with other news organizations and MSN.com has begun hiring for a new news operation — as yet unnamed — that will launch in the fall. "We're talking about using technology and using data to solve information delivery and news delivery in new and innovative ways," says Bob Visse, general manager of MSN.com. "It's really difficult for us to do that when we have an exclusive, single-source relationship with one news provider.""
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "PC Magazine reports that journalist Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, has stirred up quite a controversy in tech circles with his off-the-cuff remarks that history will remember Bill Gates fondly while Steve Jobs slips into obscurity, likening Gates' charitable work to the German armaments maker Oskar Schindler's famous efforts to save his Jewish workers from the gas chambers during World War II and adding that there will be statues of Gates across the Third World and because of Gates there's a reasonable shot we will cure malaria. "Gates, sure, is the most ruthless capitalist. And then he decides, he wakes up one morning and he says, 'Enough.' And he steps down, he takes his money, takes it off the table... and I think, I firmly believe that 50 years from now, he will be remembered for his charitable work.," said Gladwell. ""And of the great entrepreneurs of this era, people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. Who's Steve Jobs again?" For all his dismissal of Jobs' legacy, however, Gladwell remains utterly fascinated with him. "He was an extraordinarily brilliant businessman and entrepreneur. He was also a self-promoter on a level that we have rarely seen," said Gladwell. "What was brilliant about Apple, he understood from the get-go that the key to success in that marketplace was creating a distinctive and powerful and seductive brand." Gladwell concludes that the most extraordinary moment in the biography of Jobs is when Jobs is on his deathbed and it's over and he knows it. ""And on, I forget, three, four occasions, he refuses the mask because he is unhappy with its design. That's who he was. Right to the very end, he had a set of standards. If he was going to die, dammit, he's going to die with the right kind of oxygen mask. To him it was like making him send his final emails using Windows.""
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "NPR reports that since a coalition of liberal and civil rights groups went public with a campaign to undermine the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, which has advocated controversial legislation—including voter suppression efforts and “stand-your-ground” self-defense laws like the one that drew national attention after an unarmed black teenager was shot to death in Florida — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars, Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Wendy's and the software maker Intuit — say they have dropped their memberships in ALEC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says it will not make future grants to ALEC although liberal activists want the foundation to go further and stop payment on a 22-month grant for $376,635 that it awarded to the council in November to educate lawmakers about school finance and teacher effectiveness. “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation cannot claim to be socially responsible while cutting checks to a voter-suppression and union-busting group like ALEC for the next 17 months,” says the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Chris Williams, a foundation spokesman, defended the grant in a blog post in December. “We feel strongly that we can’t just engage one political party or type of organization in order to improve America’s schools." However, Williams says that the foundation has now decided not to provide the council another grant because “it’s tough to do good work with an organization that’s under the kind of fire that they’re under.” Williams says the present award is “narrowly focused” on the education issues and had “nothing to do with ALEC’s other agenda, which is not something we’re interested in and we don’t support.”"
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The long and stormy relationship between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs has been chronicled in Jobs’s biography, but, until now, Gates has said little about their divisions — and their bonds. Now the Telegraph reports that some months before Jobs died, Gates paid him a long visit. “We spent literally hours reminiscing and talking about the future.” Later, with his old adversary’s death imminent, Gates wrote to Jobs. “I told Steve about how he should feel great about what he had done and the company he had built. I wrote about his kids, whom I had got to know.” That last gesture was not, Gates says, conciliatory. “There was no peace to make. We were not at war. We made great products, and competition was always a positive thing. There was no [cause for] forgiveness.” After Jobs’s death, Gates received a phone call from his wife, Laurene. “She said; 'Look, this biography really doesn’t paint a picture of the mutual respect you had.’ And she said he’d appreciated my letter and kept it by his bed.”"
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "PC World reports that Windows XP lost more than 11 percent of its share from September to December 2011 to post a December average of 46.5 percent, a new low for the aged OS as users have gotten Microsoft's message that the operating system should be retired. Figures indicate that Windows 7 will become the most widely used version in April, several months earlier than previous estimates. Two months ago, as Microsoft quietly celebrated the 10th anniversary of XP's retail launch, the company touted the motto "Standing still is falling behind" to promote Windows 7 and demote XP and in July, Microsoft told customers it was "time to move on" from XP, reminding everyone that the OS would exit all support in April 2014. Before that, the Internet Explorer (IE) team had dismissed XP as the "lowest common denominator" when they explained why it wouldn't run IE9. The deadline for ditching Windows XP is in April 2014, when Microsoft stops patching the operating system. "Enterprises don't want to run an OS when there's no security fixes," says Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner Research rejecting the idea that Microsoft would extend the end-of-life date for Windows XP to please the 10% who have no plans to leave the OS. "The longer they let them run XP, the more enterprises will slow down their migration.""
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Remember WorldPerfect? Bill Gates took the witness stand to defend his company against a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit that claims Microsoft duped Novell into thinking he would include WordPerfect in the new Windows system, then backed out because he feared it was too good. Gates testified Monday that Microsoft was racing to put out Windows 95 when he dropped technical features that would no longer support the rival's word processor and that in making the decision about the code, he was concerned not about Novell but about one element of the program that could have caused computers to crash. That code, technically known as "name space extensions," had to do with the display of folders and files. Novell attorney Jeff Johnson concedes that Microsoft was under no legal obligation to provide advance access to Windows 95 so Novell could prepare a compatible version but contends that Microsoft enticed Novell to work on a version, only to withdraw support months before Windows 95 hit the market. "We got stabbed in the back.""
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "PC World reports that AptiQuant, a "psychometric consulting" firm that provides hiring exams for businesses, gave online IQ tests to more than 100,000 people and found that if you use Internet Explorer, your IQ might be below average. Visitors arrived at the site either through organic searches or through advertisements on other sites, and Aptiquant made a note of which browser each test taker was using. On average, Internet Explorer users fared the worst, with IE6 users at the bottom of the pile with an average IQ of about 82 and IE8 users performing slightly better at about 94 while Firefox, Chrome and Safari fell in the middle with little difference between them at about 110. IE with Chrome Frame and Camino landed on top, along with Opera, whose users scored the highest with an IQ of about 128, "The study showed a substantial relationship between an individual's cognitive ability and their choice of web browser," AptiQuant concluded. "From the test results, it is a clear indication that individuals on the lower side of the IQ scale tend to resist a change/upgrade of their browsers." Interestingly enough AptiQuant provided data from a similar 2006 study showing that Internet Explorer users performed well with average IQs about of about 102 (PDF). "I wouldn't take [the tests] too seriously," writes Jared Newman. "They are, after all, comprised only of people who feel compelled to take IQ tests. But if you ever want to argue that Internet Explorer 6 users are too stupid to upgrade, at least now you've got some empirical evidence.""