Yesterday I got into a discussion with Aral Balkan on Twitter over whether or not it was appropriate to call it Silverlight video as the video is displayed using the <video/> HTML 5 tag. In order to better defend my stance that it was, I decided to investigate the matter further to gain a proper understanding of what was going on. In the process, I had to do an about-turn on my position, and conclude Aral was right. Continue reading ““Silverlight on the iPhone”: poetic license, or just plain dishonest?”
There is a class of dialogue though that really riles me: the sort that says “You cannot do that”. Continue reading “I hate arrogant software!”
Microsoft: Big evil monopoly with closed, proprietary systems that exclude competition.
Apple: Fun loving small guy, fighting the big evil Microsoft.
Does the above sound about right to you? If you answer “yes”, then you are likely an Apple “fan-boy” living in cloud cuckoo land. Whilst these statements may have been true in the past, events this week reinforce the idea that they are no longer even remotely true.
I use iTunes. I started using it because its podcast support is second to none. I didn’t have an iPod when I started using it though. iTunes only supports iPods. So I had to indulge in a complex process of downloading the podcasts in iTunes, then running an application that dragged them out into a standard mp3 format, loading them into Media Player and finally downloading them to my mp3 player. Windows Media Player, incidentally, supports just about every music player on the planet, except for iPods of course as Apple blocks them from talking to anything bar iTunes. These days I have an iPhone, so my iTunes experience is more pleasant. It’s still horribly slow, difficult to use and ugly, but it makes syncing my music and podcasts to my music player a breeze.
Apple only wants iPods to work with iTunes. Palm had other ideas, and used a hack to enable the Pre to work with it. Since then, Apple and Palm have indulged in an update war with each other as first Apple blocks the hack, then Palm uses a new hack to get around it, then Apple … ad nauseam. When this will end, I don’t know, but Apple have just released their latest attempt at blocking the Pre. No doubt Palm will respond in a couple of weeks.
A few years back, Palm made PDAs. One essential feature of a PDA is that it syncs its email data with your email servers. Palm made valiant efforts to get their PDAs to work with Outlook and Exchange, but Microsoft didn’t want this and put many hurdles in Palm’s way. Microsoft were roundly – and quite rightly in my view – condemned for such practices. The EU even fined Microsoft for anti competitive practices and ordered it to open up its proprietary systems to others. This resulted this week in them announcing plans to reveal full details of the .PST file format and allowing anyone, on any OS, to write software that can read and write to these files.
So at present, we have Microsoft continuing its recent move toward openness and (sometimes begrudging) cooperation with alternate OS and office application suppliers, and we have Apple (ab)using its music player dominance to exclude Pre owners from using iTunes. So perhaps its time to update the stereotypes. I propose:
Microsoft: Old toothless ex-empire that’s learned to share the world with others (though it’ll no doubt throw its weight around occasionally).
Apple: A small, but rapidly growing, evil monopoly with closed, proprietary systems that exclude competition.
Perhaps, when the EU has finished with its current distraction of imposing an unelected president on the people of Europe, it can get back to the serious matter of fighting evil business empires…
By far the least interesting Wave, Microsoft Wave is a UK-based advertising portal for new-ish Microsoft products and services. As ars technica puts it, “Microsoft Wave: yet another Microsoft site about Microsoft”.Not very interesting at all therefore.
Adobe Wave is a still-in-beta product that bigs itself up thus:
When a friend posts a status update or there’s new content on your favorite site, be the first to know. Adobe® Wave™ software gets the information you care about right to your desktop. Click on the Adobe Wave badge on a website you want to follow and you’re ready to go. Best of all, you’re in control: you choose which sites can contact you. If you’re no longer interested, turning it off is a click away — Adobe Wave does not share your email address with websites.
Now it might occur to you, as you read the above, that RSS already does this. Such thoughts certainly occurred to me. Even the idea of having a central server that aggregates all updates seems nothing new as feed aggregators have been around for a while too.
Unlike RSS though, content publishers have to sign up with Adobe to get their content published. If this service can persuade the likes of Facebook and Twitter to join up, along with news websites, blogs etc, then one might be able to do away with multiple readers and just use the Wave desktop client. That would be a great step forward.
I’ve signed up to be an Adobe Wave publisher. If approved, I’ll write another piece later going into far more detail on Adobe Wave.
If Google’s plans with Google Wave take off, then it is safe to predict that this wave will swamp the competition and become the de facto wave of the future. In a potentially classic case of disruptive innovation, Google Wave seeks to re-write the rules on electronic communication. It seeks to be what email could have been if invented now, rather than 40 years ago. It aims to be email, instant messaging, social networking, blogging etc all rolled into one communication channel.
To play the devil’s advocate, Google Wave will not likely replace email. Email remains the dominant electronic communication medium because its standards are completely open (despite Microsoft’s best efforts) and anyone can set up an email server. Whilst Wave looks brilliant, it is likely to need the involvement of Google’s servers. As history shows us with the likes of instant messaging, such restrictions are like a red rag to a bull to many and fragmentation is likely.
Google Wave is something to watch, and hopefully I’m going to be eating my words in a few years. Email is past its retirement date and we need a replacement. Maybe Google Wave will be that replacement.
Last week, Microsoft were awarded a patent on what they claimed would be an open standard, namely OXML. OXML is an XML based file format and the patent is intended to protect the formatting and editing of Word documents that use XML. Fast forward five days and this time a judge in Texas rules that Word documents that use XML are in violation of an XML-related patent held by i4i.
In an ideal world, this ironic turn of events will cause people to wake up to just how broken and stupid the American patent system is. In a perfect world, everyone would then look at XML and wonder what sort of insanity caused humanity to think XML was anything other than possibly the most idiotic way of storing data ever imagined. We don’t live in either an ideal or perfect world though.
More likely, the i4i case will drag on through the courts before a settlement is reached and Microsoft’s patent will be used in any future stand-off with the EU over open standards and word processing. And the insanity of software patents will continue unabated.
The question was a suggestion for a question to put to the Speaker Panel at last year’s Remix UK. Whilst I never asked it, it looks like someone at Microsoft has – metaphorically speaking – answered my question in the best way possible. And that answer is Gestalt.
<span style="color: #800080;"><script language="ruby"> some code </script></span>
<span style="color: #800080;"><script language="python"> some code </script></span>
tags directly within the HTML. As Gestalt uses the DLR, this need not be limited to Ruby and Python either.
Not long ago, it was widely reported that Microsoft were planning on shipping Windows 7E in Europe, which would be a version of Windows 7 with no browser installed. This was to get around and EC ruling regarding Microsoft’s near-monopoly of the browser market. Yesterday though they did an about turn and dropped the plan. Laughably, this decision appears to have been taken in isolation by Redmond, with Microsoft UK finding out about it no sooner than the public.
Of course all this “will they/ won’t they?” debacle over the “E” addition of Windows 7 could simply be a distraction away from plans to charge us more than twice as much as US folk for some Windows 7 upgrades. And let’s not forget that Apple are offering an equally major upgrade to OS X for just $29/ £19, making the Windows 7 upgrades a rip off for just about everyone.
Enter Windows 7, with its promise of an improved UAC. From my perspective, it is still as broken as ever. I created a folder in Program Files and suffered a barrage of UAC dialogues as it created and renamed the folder. So I promptly turned it off again. However it has left me wondering whether I was hasty. How were others faring with it? If Peter Bright’s analysis is anything to go by, it looks like the claims of improvements are less than honest.
Microsoft made a huge mistake with UAC. It was the wrong solution to a very real problem. They should just have admitted they got it wrong, scrapped it and tried a new a approach with Windows 7. Instead, they seem to feel that they can turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse by sowing an ass’ ear to the side of it. UAC seems to stand for Unwanted Assinine Cludge these days. It’s a great shame, as they seem to have addressed most of the other annoyances of Vista with WIndows 7. So why couldn’t they have fixed UAC properly too?
The big question is: what happens to all those crappy programs that ignore the user’s default browser settings and just launch IE when handling a link? Will they crash? Fail to do anything? Or will Windows 8 intelligently re-route such calls to the default browser? Hopefully it will be the last option, but I guess time will tell.
If you want to take control of the update of IE on your machine:
- Download the installer exe.
- Run the installer and extract the command to a suitable folder.
- Start a cmd window, cd to your chosen folder and type:
<span style="color: #993366;">IE80Blocker.cmd /B</span>
If you later change your mind, either find it is the optional updates via Windows Update, or start a cmd window once more, cd to your chosen folder and type:
<span style="color: #993366;">IE80Blocker.cmd /U</span>