Who Are Those Guys?

A holographic image on the Windows Vista Business DVD caused a bit of a stir among some users.

No, it wasn't the unexplained appearance of the Blessed Virgin. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a microscopic photograph of three men (nope, not the Three Wise Men, either).

Actually, the three men in the photo are members on the Windows Vista DVD hologram design. It seems Microsoft's anti-piracy team has put together a counterfeit-resistant digital "watermark" on the surface of the non-encoded surface of the DVD. The photo is just one of several images contained within the hologram design. Some of the other images in the hologram include images of classic works of art.

These images represent only one element of a number of other security measures that have been embedded into either the media or packaging of Microsoft's products. The images are less than 1 mm in size and can only be seen using optical magnification.

New Study Says Windows Preferred Over Open Source
Microsoft continues to campaign hard to drive home the idea that Windows is still a better buy than open source technology solutions, this time traveling to Europe to make its point.

A report just released by Wipro Technologies, entitled "ICT in European Schools: A Value and Cost Analysis of Microsoft and Open Source Technology Solutions," found that among students and teachers in 73 schools located in six European countries, Microsoft's products were clearly preferred over their open source equivalents.

The study also determined that Windows products are better suited to the information and communication technology needs of primary and secondary schools.

Among other findings, the study concluded that students and teachers found Windows products easier to use, believed they had richer functionality to support more self-directed and creative learning, and are much better integrated and so can work more effectively in a collaborative environment.

The report also states that Microsoft's products are significantly less expensive to manage and maintain, compared with similar open source technology.

Not surprisingly, the report was commissioned by Microsoft, and conducted by Wipro.

Microsoft Slips Down a Peg
In the latest Fortune 500 rankings released yesterday, Microsoft has dropped to the 49th position, one rung down from a year ago, despite its revenues growing 11.3 percent over the past year. The company had revenues of $44 billion with profits growing 2.6 percent in the past 12 months.

Microsoft remains easily the largest software-only company on the list, with no other software company finishing in the top 100.

The usual host of high-tech companies populated the list above and below Microsoft. Those above included Hewlett-Packard, now the largest computer company in the world, at No. 14 with $91.6 billion in revenues. Earlier this year, HP projected it would surpass the $100 billion revenue mark in the current fiscal year, thereby becoming the first IT-related company to pass that mark.

IBM is a whisker behind HP at No. 15, with $91.4 billion.

After the big two was Dell in 34th place, finishing with $57 billion in revenues. Intel at $35.3 billion and Cisco with $28.4 billion were 62nd and 77th, respectively, and were the only other IT-based companies to make the top 100.

Mailbag: Microsoft, Google and How Not To Be Evil; More
Lafe reported yesterday on the ongoing Google-Microsoft antitrust battle. Here's what one reader thinks about the whole thing:

I think that Microsoft is slowly (but more quickly than it appears) losing its place at the top. Google is gunning for its market shares and just might get enough to displace MS as the biggest kid on the block. Part of Microsoft's problem is it is still behaving like it has no competition -- in every facet, from Vista to Windows/Xbox Live -- and is starting to turn some loyal customers (like myself!) a little off. It needs to remember that you stay at the top the same way you get there: by providing great services and products, not by trying to bleed your customers dry of every last cent.

Google, frankly, scares me (and yet I am e-mailing you from a Gmail account). I think that if it does achieve its goal of overstepping Microsoft, it will become even more of an "evil" corporation than Microsoft has ever been. It has already been demonstrated to have questionable practices when it comes to maintaining privacy. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess.
-David

YouTube announced recently that it's testing a new technology that will block users from posting copyrighted material. Two readers share their thoughts:

Here's what I think: YouTube's blockage process will make it impossible to do reviews of movies by "little people." Current law allows small parts to be incorporated into a "review." However, I think that this software will not distinguish between such a use for a review and publishing the whole thing. How could it?
-Nathan

The free advertising value on YouTube is worth more than the copyright violation by amateurs not out there for profit. People see stuff they wouldn't pay for, anyway, and sometimes follow-up to purchase content. Tell the lawyers to take a break and stop killing everyone's fun -- they are breeding a generation of corporate-haters.
-Bob

Last week, Lafe asked readers what they think about the growth of online advertising. One reader says there are worse things:

We may get annoyed at the proliferation of online and search engine ads. However, we also take it for granted that we can just type in a few words and a wealth of information is available to use -- free.

I, for one, would rather have the ads -- which, by the way, I can choose to ignore -- for the ease in which I can acquire the information I need. The alternative is to pay for the use of the search engine or not have it available. No choice there.
-Anonymous

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About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.

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