January 8, 2009
Windows 7 Beta To Be Generally Available Tomorrow
Windows 7 beta will be available to the general public for ISO image download on Friday. More here. Most of the pre-release testing sounds positive compared to Vista. Aside from quibbles about the interface, Windows 7 doesn't consume nearly as much power as Vista and can run comfortably on older machines. That's the best positive that can come out of this, if true, in the wild.
CNN's take on the announcement of availability is a little misinformed. Is Microsoft giving up on Vista? That's the headline from the main site, and similar sentiments are buried in the story. Microsoft was pretty up front that they weren't going to wait much more than three years between Windows releases. Somehow, the span from late 2007 to late 2009 or early 2010 seems to fit generally within that plan. I wonder if Microsoft gave up on Windows 98 or Millennium when they came out with XP?
Note here that some individuals with access to the Beta are having problems with license keys. Microsoft is working on it. [MG]
January 7, 2009
Another Upgrade Coupon Program from Microsoft?
Another report suggests that Microsoft will introduce a program to offer free Windows 7 upgrades to those who purchase Vista machines after July 1. The economy is precarious enough without stifling computer sales in anticipation of a new operating system. Microsoft must really mean to deliver the OS in 2010 if this comes to pass.
iTunes Going DRM-less
One announcement from MacWorld yesterday is that the iTunes store will remove DRM from the entire catalog. Apple will also introduce variable pricing, though the price points are fixed at 69 cents, 99 cents, and $1.29. As with any number of things Apple said it wouldn't do, this is another turn around. This should help take the pressure off Apple with the European Union. More from Information Week.
RIAA Gets It's Man in the Justice Department
The new number three man in the Obama Justice Department is Tom Pirelli. His clients in private practice included the RIAA and he litigated several file sharing cases on behalf of the trade association. He also defended the Copyright Term Extension Act which was ultimately held Constitutional by the Supreme Court. More from Declan McCullagh at CNET.
FTC Interested in DRM Implementations
The Federal Trade Commission is requesting comment, due by January 30th, on DRM technology. This in in conjunction with an FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies. The comment form is here.
From the press release:
The Federal Trade Commission and the Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law will host a conference on the use of digital rights management technologies, a widespread practice that is expected to become increasingly prevalent in the U.S. marketplace in the coming years.
Digital rights management (DRM) refers to technologies typically used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders to attempt to control how consumers access and use media and entertainment content. Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations.
January 6, 2009
A Little Bit of Sony in Every Xbox, and Thoughts on Blu-Ray
Recent news is that Microsoft's XBox is outselling Sony's Playstation 3 by over 8 million units worldwide. That's a whole lot of XBoxes. What makes this competition ironic is an article in Ars Technica about the development of the chip that powers both consoles. Sony apparently paid about $400 million to IBM to develop the Cell processor that powers the Playstation 3. IBM then made design changes to the chip suiting Microsoft but keeping the the essential core (or in this case, multiple cores) intact for the XBox. IBM, Toshiba, and Microsoft were committed to commercializing the chip and IBM did. One has to wonder if lawyers think about these things when they work up these contracts.
Speaking of Sony, one of the "compelling" reasons to buy a Playstation 3 (from a marketing perspective, at least) is that it doubles as a Blu-Ray player. Sony used the game system as a trojan to get the hi-def player into the home and win the battle of formats with Toshiba. Full speed ahead then? Not quite. The end of the format war helped get more standalone players into homes, but widespread adoption hasn't happened. Standard DVDs played on upscaling players sold for as low as $40 seem to be good enough for most people. The least expensive Blu-Ray player is about $200 and doesn't sport the Internet capabilities Sony is counting on to spur adoption. Movie watching could be a social experience where people comment to each other in real time about what's happening on screen. Blu-Ray discs could also link to the web for exclusive content not on the disc such as another trailer. These features may appeal to some, but I suspect that most people simply want to watch a movie.
LG is doing one better by putting Internet capabilities directly into its TV sets where consumers can download hi-def films from Netflix without any additional equipment. This plays into the more likely market where renting a film is cheaper than buying it. One marketing ploy is to ask how many times will someone actually watch that DVD? When Blu-Ray discs are premium priced over standard discs, that question becomes more significant. More competition for hi-def programming will come when television broadcasts go all digital. There will be a point when cable, satellite, and broadcast will offer alternatives. Sony and the studios need to lower prices on this format. It's going to be a niche otherwise.