Are Vista Discounts Enough?

Microsoft has a big problem: The holiday season is looming, and it only has good ol' XP to push. It's tough to get excited about a new PC running an old, still flaky and still insecure OS -- especially with Vista looming on the horizon.

Microsoft is considering something quite logical, and probably quite ineffective: It wants to offer consumers coupons so they can upgrade to Vista at a discounted rate. There are a few problems here: One, the new machine must be absolutely Vista ready. Two, the upgrade has to be 100 percent painless (forgive me if I sound skeptical). And last, the upgrade has to be FREE. I don't know anyone that would willingly pay to upgrade to an OS that should have been available in the first place! Corporations may fall for Redmond's Software Assurance tricks, but the average consumer, shelling out their own money, is a tougher sell.

But I Paid Good Money for Microsfttt.com!
Microsoft's lawyers -- and it has a lot of lawyers -- are going after cybersquatters, the folks that register domains that big companies don't know they want until they realize they don't have 'em. Microsoft, who itself has been accused of its share of copyright violations, is suing cybersquatters with domain names too close to Redmond (I mean Microsoft) for comfort.

To me, it's all a matter of degree -- and intent. If someone registers redmonddmagg.com, I may have a beef -- especially if it's a prison convict from Bulgaria. And if these sites are selling ads like the ones picking on Microsoft, I'd probably sue too!

I, Microsoft Robot
I never knew that Microsoft had software to support robotics, but here we are in August learning about Microsoft Robotics Studio, now in beta (actually it's a Customer Technology Preview, but I refuse to use this ridiculous made-up term).

What's just as interesting is the guy running the robotics group. Tandy Trower has been with Microsoft for two dozen years. I remember him being a key member of the Windows team in the early days and working closely with hardware vendors on plug and play.

My guess is that as a reward for such loyal service, Trower is allowed to have fun working with robots and other nifty inventions.

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Atlas Not Shrugged
ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX, also known as Atlas, might not be done, but that hasn't stopped a half million people from downloading this little beauty -- and a handful of powerhouses, like the BBC and MySpace, actually putting it into production. Look for finished code to ship in the next revs of Visual Studio and .NET -- if not sooner.

$100 Laptops Finally Shipping
Those long-awaited $100 Linux laptops for the Third World are finally nearly done, with some 500 of them making their way to Thailand for testing. The devices might actually save money in the long run, as they replace the need for books.

India declined to participate in this first round. I wonder if this has anything to do with the billions Bill Gates has poured into that country to fight disease and overpopulation? Nah!

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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