$1.5 Billion: To Anyone Else, That's Real Money

French company Alcatel is now about a billion Euros richer, having won $1.5 billion in a lawsuit against Microsoft. The court decided that the way Windows converts sound files into MP3s violated patents Alcatel gained when it bought Lucent.

How worried was Wall Street? It drove Microsoft stock down all of 3 cents!

Vista Apps List Growing
The list of "Certified for Vista" applications is now over 100, which sounds impressive until you think about how many apps exploit Vista versus how many are merely compatible. Our analysis is that it's going to take many months and perhaps several years before we see a groundswell of software that truly taps the power of Microsoft's latest desktop OS. Check out Redmond editor Ed Scannell's take on this issue here.

Meanwhile, Microsoft updated a whole host of tools to help you migrate to Vista. Check out the deets here.

The Mac: Cheap Vistas Need Not Apply
I am more than a mite dumbfounded over the news that only high-end versions of Vista will be authorized to run on Intel-based Macintosh computers. Through Boot Camp, Parallels and other forms of virtualization, there is nothing technical stopping you from running XP, Vista, heck, even Windows ME on a new Mac.

But Microsoft is putting its foot down on Vista, only allowing the $300 Business edition or the $400 Ultimate to run. That's a huge hunk of change for an OS you'll only run half the time.

Microsoft argues that the lower-end versions are a security risk in these virtualized environments. I wonder what Redmond has to say about running Vista Basic under its own virtual PC?

Doug's Mailbag: The IE7 Shuffle, System Wipeout Advice, In Defense of the Dark Side, More
So, is IE7 a deal or a bust? Ian Campbell from Nucelus Research is convinced it's the latter, saying that IE7 isn't worth using and, worse, is a pain to uninstall. Here are some of your thoughts:

So, I too got caught in the IE7 backdoor install. Strangely enough, it broke my Eudora e-mail -- specifically, it disabled the certificate function so I was unable to read any e-mails sent with certificates. I uninstalled the S-Mime plug-in and reinstalled it (from two vendors) several times to no avail. Since I was due to get a new laptop with Vista and Office 2007, including IE7, in a few weeks, I thought I'd wait for the new laptop and maybe have better luck then. I know you've already guessed the results: absolutely the same. No matter what I do, the S-Mime plug-in won't work. I could start using Outlook, I guess, but I've been avoiding it for so long, I don't want to give in yet. Still, no one -- MSFT, Eudora or our help desk -- has any solutions.
-Anonymous

I am the default sysadmin for a small nonprofit. While trying to add new users to Small Business Server 2003, there is a need to use the browser to reach the server to join the domain. If you attempt this in IE7, the program will hang and you need to reboot to do anything else. If IE7 is uninstalled, which is no fun to do, then IE6 will at least allow the script for joining the domain to run. Now, there may be a way to bypass this behaviour, but I don't have the time to learn a bypass for each oddity that MS decides that I need to have!
-Angus

My main complaint with IE7 is the unexplained load time increase if your start page uses https. Additionally, the migration away from security pop-up windows for certificate problems causes problems as a good number of developers don't have their certificates set up and the certificate error page looks very much like the "page cannot be displayed" page.

There is one thing I like about IE7, though: the "browser safe mode" option for startup. I've worked in a help desk environment for several years and most users don't like to be told their browser bar of choice is the reason they cannot visit whatever page or display whatever content. I can start using 'browser safe mode' and then demonstrate a functioning page and usually convince them they do not need to have whatever shopping assistant or search bar loaded.
-Michael

Personally, I find a lot of IE7's new features useful. It has taken a little getting used to, but I'm working better with it than IE6. I have had a few niggles, but no more than I have with previous versions. I have used Firefox and again it takes a little getting used to, but being a Microsoft centric user/engineer, I do tend toward MS offerings.
-Mike

Last week, a reader wrote in about a problem he encountered after patch installation: His computer was unexpectedly returned to its original default state. Frank offers one possible explanation:

In regard to a letter you ran last week from a user who thinks MS's updates changed his computer back to the default user state after patching, I would strongly suggest that he look over his event logs and system state events. I would bet you a T-shirt that he finds errors relating to bad sectors on his hard drive. Unfortunately, all it takes is to have a bad sector that contains his ntuser.dat file to prevent the system from reading an existing profile. If the OS can't read the information relating to an existing profile, it will create a new profile with the same name but with only the "default user" settings and icons to start it out with.

When he goes to Windows Explorer, he'll be able to see and possibly read all his files in his old profile because they haven't been affected by the bad sector (yet). If he lets it go long enough, though, he will eventually lose more and more of his data as the hard drive sheds. I've done many data recoveries for users that ignored their system logs and let their hard drives blow up on them without a backup.

I've also worked with computer users long enough to realize that many times the errors or problems already existed; it's just that they didn't realize the problems were there until someone/something other than them touched the computer. Then all of a sudden there are all sorts of problems that they "never saw before."
-Frank

I mentioned yesterday former independent analyst Michael Gartenberg's recent conversion to the "dark side": He now works for Microsoft as a product promoter. Unlike some of Gartenberg's critics, I didn't think there was anything wrong with his switch. Here's what some of you think:

I don't think you are necessarily wrong. However, I would argue that there are some things more important in this world than a fat Microsoft paycheck -- for example, honesty, integrity and impartiality, to name a few.
-NetaComm

You're right! It's a free country. I happen to like most Microsoft products. They brought the computing power to the people, after all. Before that, it was geeks pushing command line codes that made up the computing world.

If someone else out there has a better way, let them step forward and make their billions!
-Bernie

You're not wrong at all. Those critics are just some jealous-ridden idiots that are emblazoned with spite. I have always said that I work for the highest bidder, as long as the winner is not an immoral entity. I see no immoral practices going on at Microsoft, and what are being dubbed as such are only arguable at best. If the company is ever involved in immoral business practices, then there's plenty of lawyers to go around. I say, "Good luck to Michael!"
-Nick

No special treatment for the Gates children; Bill and Melinda strictly limit how much time their kids spend online. Here's how one reader keeps tabs on his kids' Internet habits:

We run Safe Eyes at our house and restrict computer game playing to10 to 15 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays for our children. I am thankful for the site blocking for myself as much as for the kids. The computers are in one location in the house. We would never allow anyone to have their own computer or TV in their room. Any parent that allows this and is not monitoring their children is simply asking (no, begging) for trouble. Obviously, when the children get to college, they will have the ability to do what they want, but like in other areas, we hope to train them.

With regard to the Internet, one must be "innocent as doves but wise as serpents."

-Tom

Finally, one reader questions why I'd want to boycott Vonage after I mentioned that the company's pop-ups keep, well, popping up in spite of Firefox's pop-up blocker. Readers had since written in, commending the company and saying that they haven't experienced a similar problem:

I thought your idea of the boycott was because of Vonage's pop-ups getting through. If so, then why publish all these happy customer letters? You aren't going to use Vonage because of its pop-ups getting past Firefox's pop-up blocker mechanism. Unless, you are aiming at getting a handout from Vonage.

After reading this, boycotting a company's product because its pop-up ads get through is rather immature and ridiculous. Isn't there snow to be shoveled?
-Steve

Got a bone to pick? Let me know by commenting below or sending me an e-mail at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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