Windows 7 Slips Out

The Windows 7 beta has leaked out beyond the small base of testers Microsoft originally intended, and I for one don't think Microsoft is the least bit upset.

In fact, Microsoft seems to be talking more about Windows 7 than about its shipping products. And its Vista commercials mention Mojave (the code name for Microsoft's Vista taste test) way more than Vista itself. Let's face it: Vista is the Blagojevich of the PC market. Everyone wants to steer as clear as possible.  

So far, the beta reports for Windows 7 are pretty positive -- all the more reason for Microsoft to want broader distribution. If you're jonesin' for Windows 7, check out BitTorrent now, or just wait a bit for when Microsoft itself has a broader release.

Have you tried the beta? If so, how's it going? Reports welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Supercomputer Playtime
I have a great interest in supercomputers. I'm not smart enough to really use them or completely understand all the ins and outs, but I'm fascinated by just how much power can be jammed into a single box. And nowadays, you don't have to pay millions for this horsepower. Commodity chips, memory, storage and operating systems mean these puppies are affordable to the average shop -- or even the average yuppie.

That's right: Supercomputing may now be in the realm of the average cheese-eating, pimply-faced, yuppie teenager. Thanks to Dartmouth College, the Playstation 3 (actually, eight of them) can form a single supercomputer. Pretty cool.

You could actually argue that a single PS3 is already a supercomputer, as is an Xbox 360. The PS3 uses an IBM cell processor which is already (as I understand) eight-core, while the Xbox has a custom three-core Intel Xeon. Both of these consoles make a basic -- and more expensive -- PC look like a Radio Shack TRS-80.

The coolest part of the PS3 supercomputer? Like an old Heathkit, you can build it yourself!

Chinese Pirates Pulling Hard Time
Software counterfeiters in China have long been a thorn in the side of Microsoft bean counters (who never actually saw a lot of beans coming from China). Years ago, one could argue that few Chinese could pay for legit copies of Windows and Office anyway, so what's the harm? But now that the balance of trade with the U.S. is tilted so far in China's favor, you could argue the Chinese can better afford these prices than debt-ridden Americans.

This all serves as a bit of context for the news that Chinese authorities have sentenced 11 software pirates to up to six-and-a-half years in prison, an event that Microsoft celebrated with a congratulatory press release.

I felt a bit nauseous thinking of six years in a Chinese hoosegow and initially thought it bad taste for Microsoft to gloat over these sentences. On the other hand, there's a massive economic impact from all this copying: Microsoft claims that up to $2 billion in potential revenue was lost.

What do think? Sentences too harsh? Too soft? Your judgments welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Apple for the Masses, Microsoft and Multi-Core
Doug recently called out Apple for not doing enough to expand its market and asked readers how they would bring Apple products to enterprises and low-income consumers. Here are some suggestions:

Why, license OS X to hardware vendors, of course. But that would kill Apple's moneymaking proprietary hardware business, so it'll never happen until it has profitability problems -- at which point it would probably be too late.
-Ed

I would do one thing that would immediately expand the Mac market: drop the whole company in a waste basket and set it on fire. Mac has never been a user-friendly OS or company and should fall to the wayside. Just my thought on the matter.
-Joe

And Mark thinks that when it comes to multi-core, Microsoft comes up a little short:

We have been working with multi-core server and desktop systems from the moment they were available. While no single application becomes dazzlingly fast, we have noted how much more consistently software on all-multi-core systems tends to behave. Single-core systems exhibit too many long user interface pauses as more recently developed software, primarily from Microsoft and Adobe, puts too much demand on very limited processing resources.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the Microsoft OS kernels that is mitigated by the presence of multiple CPU cores. Process management should be Kernel Architecture 101 by now, but for some bizarre reason, Microsoft just doesn't get the fact that users expect real-time software interaction at all times. If the interaction is not real-time, users tend to think that their computers and software are broken. To be fair, Apple's OS X, Sun Solaris and Linux also present dysfunctional user interface pauses and even go out to lunch when sufficiently loaded. The threshold is just much higher than we experience with all versions of Windows.
-Mark

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or sending an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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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