Does Vista Delay Mean Higher Prices?

Microsoft disclosed this week that Vista won't make it to retail shelves in time for the holiday season but will make it to corporate desktops. This is strange and troubling news, and points to what I believe are flaws in the many versions of the Vista strategy. If there was just one version, one main SKU, this problem would've disappeared. It's also strange that what should be the lowest-end version is the one delayed.

But what gets my goat is the effect this might have on PC prices. A strong, competitive holiday seasons puts pressure on prices, as do the fire sales afterward, neither of which we'll see, unfortunately.

My guess is that retailers will sell Vista-ready boxes, but with no free upgrades. Consumers will say thanks, but no thanks, and will wait to buy a real Vista box.

Mix-ing It Up
Microsoft execs are in Sin City this week showing off some new wares and trying to add sizzle and spice to these new bits and bytes. Late last week Redmond announced its People-Ready initiative and then promptly spoke about software we already knew about. At the Mix06 event, the company talked about reinventing the Web experience and then promptly spoke about software we already knew about.

In the Mix case, Redmond pushed IIS, ASP.NET, SQL Server 2005, along with the tried and true Xbox, XP Media Edition and even Office. Then the company released a couple of betas…er, CTPs of IE 7 and the Atlas Ajax development tool.

Blogs vs. PR: And the Press Wins!
Microsoft's Robert Scoble may not be as famous as Gates, Ballmer or Allchin, but among blog freaks, he's a bit of a hero. Scoble has also, apparently with Redmond's full permission, changed the way Microsoft discloses product plans.

For the better part of two decades, Microsoft and its PR firm have worked to carefully control access to executives and information. The company has taken the concept of message discipline to heart, and one can sense a real paranoia sometimes when execs are caught off-guard, terrified of saying the wrong thing.

Scoble is a rebel in this world of message conformity, and the blog SiliconValleyWatcher.com has taken notice. Check out the link -- it's an interesting read on the role of PR in a world changed by blogs. Of course, being blogs, they think blogs are taking over the entire world, killing off print pubs, Web sites (unless they're blogs) and eventually I guess TV and movies (I can see bloggers dominating the Tony's, Emmies, and Oscars).

What do you think? Are blogs changing the world, the media? What are your favorite blogs? What would you want from a Redmond magazine blog? Send your thoughts to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Cisco's Amazing Completely Non-Original Idea
There's a pretty cool piece in Newsweek about Cisco chief John Chambers wanting to control how we use technology in the home. Hmm…isn't this the same goal Microsoft, Sony, Apple, Intel and AOL have been pursuing?

Here's Cisco's brilliant idea: Through the power of ubiquitous broadband, entertainment that streams into your home can stream into those of friends and family. This way you can watch the Superbowl with friends, even though they live miles away. I don't mean to brag, but Redmond Report was talking about this in January 2005, and we from the old Amiga days were talking about this in the early '90s. In his blog, Ray Ozzie explained his take on the same concept over a year ago. Here's an excerpt from my Redmond Report column back then:

"The part that killed me is his mention of an idea I used to bore people with 15 years ago. At that time the Amiga was a pretty sweet video computer. Beyond being able to do what today's TiVos can do, like digitizing everything on your TV, computers like the Amiga made it feasible to have real-time hookups between homes. This way you can drink with your friends and not get arrested driving home.

Ozzie was talking about what he calls 'tele-presence' so he can be with his wife in Boston while he's in Redmond. I don't mind a bit if it's Microsoft that makes this dream come true."

Seems like Cisco is either reading Ozzie's blog or this newsletter. Or maybe Chambers is an old Amiga fan!

What's your favorite old computer? Let us know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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Betas Going the Way of the Dodo?
Redmond columnist Mary Jo Foley, editor of Microsoft Watch, is reporting that Microsoft may do away with old-fashioned betas entirely in favor of Community Technology Previews (CTPs), which as far as I can tell are different because they come out more often. Hey, I'm not an expert on CTPs, so you might as well just go over and see what Mary Jo has to say.

I Love My Free TV
When AOL merged with Time-Warner, I envisioned an Internet media powerhouse offering great content culled from its many fine publications, amazing entertainment driven by broadband connections and a handsome stable of television and film properties. It never happened, the stock tanked, and Steve Case and Ted Turner, mavericks both, split. Years later, AOL is finally taking a baby step in this direction with the announcement of free Internet TV. So far they have some real duds, like "Falcon Crest" and "The Scarecrow and Mrs. King." But they do have "Kung Fu" and "F-Troop" -- count me in for those!

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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