Microsoft Cancels 2007 Professional Developers Conference

Microsoft announced that it has cancelled (or is "rescheduling") its Professional Developers Conference (PDC), originally set for the beginning of October in Los Angeles. A notice on the Microsoft Web site explains that as "upcoming platform technologies including Windows Server 2008, SQL Server code-named 'Katmai,' Visual Studio code-named 'Orcas' and Silverlight will already be in developers' hands and approaching launch," the traditional PDC focus on future technologies isn't needed at this time.

Microsoft Watch, a site for Microsoft-oriented news and rumors, speculates that this announcement means that Windows Server 2008 will be delayed.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has moved the PDC, so I ascribe less drastic motivations. The PDC is typically loaded with technical topics, and requires a great deal of time by key Microsoft engineers in preparation and delivery. If the workload becomes overwhelming for these key people due to other commitments, the company would rather stick to building software than explain that software -- especially since that software won't be released for another year or two.

Do you think the cancellation of the October PDC heralds a significant delay in the release of one or more upcoming Microsoft platforms? Do you depend on the PDC to prepare for future Microsoft technologies? Send your thoughts to me at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Details of Microsoft-Novell Agreement Now in the Public Domain
As a part of its annual report and SEC 10K filings, Novell has included access to the agreements signed with Microsoft on the distribution of SuSE Linux free of any potential Microsoft patent claims. These documents are of significant interest to those in the open source community who are suspicious of any purported open source company in such a relationship with Microsoft.

In particular, open source advocates will be scouring these documents for evidence that Novell has agreed in any way with Microsoft patent claims. The open source community in general believes that instead of publicly stating its patent claims and giving open source developers the chance to refute those claims or change offending code, Microsoft is using FUD to damage the credibility of open source.

Novell's 10K filings can be found in PDF format here.

'Halo 2' Has a Wardrobe Malfunction
Microsoft's "Halo 2" Xbox game has been recently released...or has it? Because of a brief (and apparently unintended) glimpse of partial nudity in the original release, some retailers have declined to offer it for sale. For example, Best Buy still has it listed for prerelease purchase only, while Circuit City is offering it in its full original release.

While the partial nudity is described as obscure and inadvertent, Microsoft is likely under greater scrutiny and therefore has less leeway than, for example, Take-Two, the publisher of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," which included X-rated content that could be unlocked by downloading a hack of the game. "Halo 2" has an M rating, designated for mature audiences (over 17 years of age). More graphic games have an AO (adults only) rating.

Microsoft is offering a patch (oddly enough, at a full 341KB) on the "Halo 2" Web site that removes the offending image. The company is also hurriedly removing the content from the master version for subsequent production runs of the game. If you have a version that includes the nudity, you may have a collector's item on your hands.

No Landlines by 2013?
Former telecommunications and Microsoft executive Tom Evslin claims on his blog that traditional landlines will completely disappear by 2013 in favor of wireless (cellular and WiFi/WiMAX) and fiber to the home. He makes a tightly reasoned argument that the growth of both wireless and fiber are making copper wires less important and their maintenance more expensive.

However, others argue that the investment already made in copper lines is so massive that these lines will not disappear any time soon. And in the vast rural areas of the country, copper continues to be the only practical means of communications. Wireless towers and repeaters are unlikely to be able to cover the entire country in the next six years. Furthermore, fiber is, in fact, a type of landline, and fiber is unlikely to replace copper to all homes in such a short period of time.

Do you see landlines going away any time soon? Give me your opinion at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Dealing With Dell, Freedom of Speech and the Internet
After last week's news that the New York attorney general is suing Dell for allegedly misleading its customers, Lafe asked readers to share their experiences with the Texas computer maker -- both good and bad. Here's what some of you had to say:

Being the "computer guy" in the family, I have purchased and set up in the past two years six desktops and one laptop for family members. Ordering from Dell is easy, prices are right and only once did I have a problem with a machine (desktop) out of the box. Called the overseas help desk, and in 20 minutes the problem was fixed and all was good. I don't have a beef with Dell at all.
-Steve

Glad to see someone other than me is fed up with Dell. I used to buy Dell -- even paid extra for the "gold" support, next-business-day on-site service. Hah! What a joke! After 400 systems, with over 30 percent hardware failure rate in the field and not one single on-site visit (not one, ever), I switched over to HP/Compaq and haven't looked back.

Good riddance to Dell. Hope the attorney general of N.Y. flushes it down the toilet.
-Rick

And what do you think about groups like The Army of God, which -- as Doug reported last week -- is posting some questionable material online? Is it freedom of speech gone too far? Two readers (both, coincidentally, named Bruce) share their thoughts:

Some people think that joining the U.S. Army (or Marines or Navy or Air Force) and going to combat is the price we have to pay for freedom. The real price is putting up with The Army of God, Eric Rudolph essays and anyone else who wants to post extremist material. The real price is taking the time to teach our children what we believe is right and wrong, and why we believe these people are wrong. The real price is putting up with the results of postings, elections and court rulings even when we do not agree with them.
-Bruce

Freedom of speech in the Internet -- it is a double-edged sword. When used in moderation to provoke thought, it's a wonderful thing. When used by fanatics to promote sick and twisted thoughts, it is at it's worst. The problem is different people have different ideas about what's moderate and what isn't. Where do we as a society draw the line? I don't think society should.

I agree: Children should not have unrestricted access to "thoughts" in any form of print. At the same time, supervised access can be a wonderful teaching tool. We can't isolate children or anyone else from what is really out there and then, at maturity, expect them to be able to understand the issues. The biggest threat to hate and extremists is education. Expose hate and extremism for what they are through education. Parents, spend time with your children and talk about the good and the bad. Show them what is out there and how it is being used so they are prepared for life.
-Bruce

Got something to add? Let us know! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

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