Category: Microsoft

EU rules against Microsoft

I heard the breaking news on RTE this morning that the EU upheld the decision that Microsoft abused its dominant position to “freeze out rivals in server and software products”.

At the end of the audio report, RTE’s Europe correspondant Sean Whelan added that Microsoft may appeal this decision.

What is amazing to me about this is that the original finding against Microsoft came in 2004. After a five year investigation. So, we have Microsoft abusing its position to crush rivals, a five year investigation resulting in a decision against Microsoft, an appeal, three years later the decision against Microsoft re-affirmed and now the chance of another appeal?

I’m far from familiar with all the ins and outs of this process but eight years after the investigation started, with two decisions against them, they may appeal again? How much longer is this process going to take to reach a conclusion?

I wouldn’t like to be one of the affected companies looking for justice.

Update I see Dennis Howlett has written this up too and the BBC are now covering it as well.

Is $60 too much for Microsoft Office?

I see that, according to InsideMicrosoft, Microsoft are offering Office 2007 Ultimate 2007 to students for $60!

According to the Microsoft press release the

limited-time promotion for college students starting today in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and starting Sept. 20 in Spain, Italy and France

No word on when, or indeed if, this promotion will be rolled out in Ireland.

Roping students in is potentially a clever tactic – the thinking being that they will get hooked on Office and remain loyal to it as a piece of software long after having left their studies. It costs Microsoft very little to do this as the cost to Microsoft of a copy of Office is essentially just the cost of the media (it is not clear if the $60 includes tax and shipping).

With credible, free alternatives like OpenOffice, Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Zoho office Microsoft really need to win hearts and minds.

Even if Microsoft succeed in getting students to buy-in to Office Ultimate, it is painless to leave Office because the alternatives are free! With that in mind, even $60 seems a lot to ask – Microsoft are going to have to change their business model eventually.

Microsoft give up on trying to fix Windows Live OneCare

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how slow Microsoft’s Support people were in getting back to me to resolve an issue I have with Windows Live OneCare.

The other day they sent me an email which said:

Case Reference Number: 1039327169

Dear Mr.Raftery,

Unfortunately we have been unsuccessful in resolving your issue at this time; therefore I can confirm I am closing this case as unresolved.

I’m sorry, what? That’s it?

Microsoft are just giving up?

Windows Live OneCare is such a piece of junk that Microsoft themselves can’t even support it?

This doesn’t auger well for the rest of their Windows Live offerings.

Incredible.

SilverLight 1.0 launched

Back in May when Microsoft first announced SilverLight, there was quite a bit of hoopla. And, in fairness to Microsoft, deservedly so – the demos I saw of SilverLight at the launch were pretty amazing.

What is SilverLight? SilverLight is similar to Flash – it is a browser plugin which allows for stunning interactivity and video play in a browser (for example, check out the Halo 3 sample). If you want to know more about SilverLight, check out the podcast I did with Brad Abrams, SilverLight program manager.

Today Microsoft have announced that the SilverLight 1.0 plugin is available for download.

Silverlight

Because of the ability to write managed code for SilverLight, I’m looking forward to seeing what developers do with this!

Information Cards now working on Live.com (sort of!)

Interesting, I noticed today that you can now log into Windows Live sites (and all sites which accept Live ID credentials ) using an Information Card. This is in Beta currently.

Information Card on Windows Live

This could be a major step forward in federated identity. However, it only works on IE7 with .NET Framework 3.0 for now – hopefully that bug will be fixed soon.

via Chris

How long is 5 minutes in Microsoft Support time?

Four weeks ago tomorrow I contacted Microsoft about problems I was having with their OneCare product. I spent two hours on the phone (after trying to get it working for the previous two hours) with a Sam in tech support and we failed to get it working.

Sam had me uninstall Norton (which came installed on the computer but which I never setup). He had me download a tool to uninstall OneCare (!). I uninstalled and re-installed it 5-6 times during the call. Each uninstall or install requires a re-start of Vista, hence the length of the call.

Eventually Sam said he’d have to escalate the call and I’d be contacted by senior techs to get it resolved “within the hour”.

No-one called.

Until today that is, when Sam called back to see if everything had been resolved ok and could he close out the call!

After I told Sam that no-one had bothered calling back and the machine was still in the state we left it four weeks ago, he said sheepishly that he’d see what had happened and call me back “in 5 minutes”.

Well, we know that 1 hour in Microsoft Support time = at least 4 weeks in real time, so any bets on just how long their “5 minutes” really is?

Microsoft post Vista fixes

Microsoft has released two significant fixes for Windows Vista today. One is a performance related fix and the other is a reliability related fix.

These fixes have to be manually applied for now although according to Mary Jo Foley:
Microsoft is promising to make the two new Vista fix packs available via Windows Update at a “later date.” The full statement, provided by a Microsoft spokeswoman:

“The two updates will be available on Microsoft’s download center today, and will be available through Windows Update at a later date.”

I downloaded and applied these patches to my Vista machine this morning but I haven’t noticed any significant difference to it yet. Probably because I don’t use the machine that much because of Vista’s performance and reliability issues!!!

This is a step towards the release of Vista Service Pack one (SP1). This will be the point where Vista comes out of what most companies would call Alpha and goes to Beta-equivalent quality. As I have said previously, Vista won’t approach production quality, at least until it reaches SP2.

Could Microsoft tackle piracy through Open Source?

Tom’s on holidays, I’ll be your host for today. My name’s Frank P, you might remember me from such blogs as “BifSniff.com”,” FestivalShirts.net/blog” and “Aonach.com/chatter”.

Updated due to lateness of the hour when posting originally 😉

Well, despite being on holidays, Tom is not completely cut off from things technical – when I was talking to him today he had heard about the huge piracy bust in China today.

It seems Microsoft are chuffed with themselves for their part in the busting of two pirate software groups in China… the piracy groups were “in possession of illegal software with an “estimated retail value” of close to $500 million.”

“This case represents a milestone in the fight against software piracy—governments, law enforcement agencies and private companies working together with customers and software resellers to break up a massive international counterfeiting ring,” said Microsoft senior VP Brad Smith in a statement.

Lovely, says Tom, but if Microsoft really want to have done with people pirating their software Operating System they should just open source it.

Tom reckons battling piracy on a case by case basis like this is much like the little Dutch Boy sticking his finger in the dam – except in this case while the Dutch Boy celebrates, the dam is destined to burst in any case…

Open sourcing the software OS would indeed make pirating the software it redundant – if it’s freely available for a cost of zero, who’s going to go to the trouble of pirating it?

This is not the first time Tom has brought up the possible benefits to open sourcing for Microsoft.

Unfortunately, here’s where this post stops… this isn’t really my area of expertise, and Tom doesn’t have proper internet access going at the moment… this story really bugged him though, and while we were chatting about it, I said I’d get something up on his behalf – however I don’t know enough about the area to make a meaningful contribution.

I’m sure Tom will revisit on his return… but in the meantime, it’s over to you – what do you reckon? Should MS look at Open Sourcing their software OS? What would the benefits be? How would affect profits? How would any negative impact on profits be offset?

I look forward to being educated 🙂

Windows Live OneCare is crap

I have talked about what a piece of sh*t Windows Live OneCare is previously.

OneCare is Microsoft’s entry into the security arena. I have serious reservations about the ethics of Microsoft selling OneCare. It suddenly gives Microsoft a financial incentive to write buggy software. You can just imagine if, up to now, there was a financial dis-incentive for Microsoft to write buggy software and the quality of the software was poor just how bad the software will be now that they are selling OneCare.

That may go some way to explaining the many bugs in Vista!

Having said all that, I was contacted by Microsoft yesterday to tell me that they were sending me a new version of OneCare to install on the Vista laptop they sent me earlier this year.

I’ll give it another go, I said. Just to try it out and see how effective it is. Silly me.

I spent four hours today trying to get this piece of crap to work on the laptop. The last two of those four hours I was on to Microsoft tech support. They eventually gave up at 3:30pm and said they’d have to escalate it and I would get call back in an hour. That was eight hours ago. I’m still waiting for the call.

OneCare Startup Error

The number of re-starts required for this was completely ridiculous. It seemed like any time any change at all was made to OneCare, a re-start was required.

When nothing else worked, I had to uninstall Norton Internet Security. Restart required.

Onecare Cleanup Tool

To install OneCare, if you have a previous version installed (working or not) you have to uninstall the previous version. To uninstall OneCare, you have to download something called OneCare Cleanup Tool! You find this out after you do a normal uninstall and it still doesn’t uninstall properly. Seriously! How bloody difficult would it have been to build the Cleanup Tool into the installer?

Even Microsoft don’t know what the errors OneCare throws up means. At one point I received the error “No plans available”
Onecare- No Plans Available

Of course, copying the error text and putting it into a search box on OneCare support yields the helpful answer “We did not find any results for ….”
no plans available?

Windows Live OneCare is unusable. Don’t even bother wasting your time trying it.

UPDATE: It is now 30 hours since Microsoft tech support told me they would ring me “in an hour” and still no-one has called me back.