Month: May 2008

Microsoft denies Zune ‘piracy cop’ rumors

In a post on his “Zune Insider” blog, Microsoft’s Cesar Menendez says reports that the company will include content blocking filters in its media player. “I am setting the record straight in stating clearly that we have no plans to add content blocking features in Zune,” Menendez said.

We cited a New York Times article that claimed Microsoft would add software to the Zune that would prevent media from playing unless it could verify that it had been legitimately licensed for playback on the device.

“We know you guys are following this discussion closely, and wanted to be absolutely clear on this issue,” Menendez wrote. “We have no plans or commitments to implement any new type of content filtering in the Zune devices as part of our content distribution deal with NBC.”

In a comment on the same blog post, the Times’ Saul Hansell responded that although Microsoft did not say it had committed to implementing the filtering software, it had committed to “explore filtering.”

From Hansell:

Here is what Mr. Sohn, the Microsoft spokesman, told me yesterday when I asked him about what Mr. Perrette said: “I don’t think they are wrong, but we are not going to characterize those discussions.” Later he added, “We have agreed to work with NBC across a range of topics, and protection of copyrighted material is certainly one of them.”

It’s possible that Microsoft is just playing semantics here, but the indication that it understands the backlash that content filtering would cause among users is a positive one.

Macworld’s ‘New rules for buying a Mac’

In almost 20 years of purchases, I have never bought a “consumer” Mac for use at home. Since the first Mac I bought for my own use — a IIci with an obscenely generous 8MB of RAM, for those wondering — it’s been pro-level machines for me. The last couple of iMac revs have made me re-think that policy, though. They are more than fast enough for all but the most processor-intensive tasks and most expandability these days is accomplished through external USB ports, not internal cabling. The only time I’ve gone into the innards of my current PowerMac G5 is to put in an extra internal hard drive or add RAM. As the time draws nearer to consider replacing “new Betsy,” I am for the first time, giving serious thought to an iMac.

Macworld has been thinking along the same lines lately, too, it seems. Jonathan Seff and Jason Snell have put together a great piece that “busts the myths” of choosing a new Mac. If you’re in the market for a new Mac and have always eschewed the consumer side of the line (or always thought your primary machine had to be a desktop), the article is definitely worth a read.

MacJury 807: Microsoft v. Yahoo!; Office v. Everyone Else

MacJury 807I’m back on the MacJury for the latest session, along with Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica, Scott McNulty of The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Warren Williams of the AppleWorks User Group. We had a fun discussion on two topics: Microsoft’s abandoned attempts to acquire Yahoo! and “Can we dump Microsoft Office yet?” It was a lively discussion, with different points of view on both issues, which I always think makes for a better show. One of my biggest concerns on these panels (other than sounding like an idiot), is that everyone will be in complete agreement with each other — that makes for a really boring show. Luckily, we each had some good points to debate.

If you haven’t already subscribed, the show is listed in the iTunes store, or you can just follow this link.

By the way, I’m looking for recommendations for a decent podcasting microphone — preferably a USB condenser mic. Scott and host Chuck Joiner were both using Snowballs, but I’m looking for something a little less bulky and a little more old school.

‘Microsoft May Build A Copyright Cop Into Every Zune’

Yet another example of why Microsoft is no longer worth worrying about.

The idea that anything that can’t “prove” it’s legal is therefore presumed illegal is insulting, contrary to the American principle of law and potentially illegal itself. Microsoft’s willingness to hand over its users rights to Fair Use and essentially sell them out to accommodate its business partners makes them unworthy to survive in the marketplace. As I said in a recent MacJury podcast, they’re like a ponderous dinosaur whose brain is too small and weak to let the rest of its body know it’s already dead.

(via Ian Betteridge)

Bynkii goes stoopid-hunting

There are few things as satisfying to me as taking a really dumb argument and ripping it to shreds with logic and facts. If that stupid argument is delivered with pomposity and arrogance, it’s all the more fun.

Few people have elevated this to the level of sport as well as John C. Welch. A hunting analogy comes quickly to mind, but the more I think of it, the more I realize it’s not so much the hunter-with-rifle-tracks-deer kind of hunting as it is the lion-in-the-plains-gets-gazelle kind. It’s graceful, masterful and can sometimes make you wince at its brutality.

The clueless gazelle this time out is Matt Freestone of Windows Connected, who is clearly talking out of his nether regions in a post that creates a fiction presented as a comparative piece about the compatibility of Mac and Windows operating systems on older hardware. John breaks down his arguments and counters them with beautifully presented facts. Think of it as poetry without mercy.

The piece is worth reading just as a lesson in persuasive writing, but it’s also entertaining as hell. You can almost see Freestone’s arguments squirm under Welch’s attack. In fact, there’s really only one difference between this and a nature channel documentary: in the documentary, I sometimes feel sorry for the gazelle.

The must-read article is on

Microsoft gives up on Yahoo! acquisition

Microsoft announced it was abandoning its attempted acquisition of Yahoo!, according to a statement from Microsoft. Steve Balmer, Microsoft CEO, said “Yahoo! will never know how good they could have had it,” “We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for Microsoft, Yahoo and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a combination with Yahoo was to provide greater choice and innovation in the marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and employees.”

I think the marriage would have done more to hurt what had been Yahoo! than help the combined company. As I said in MacJury #802, there were too many not only cultural differences, but technology differences to overcome. Most Yahoo! developers probably didn’t even use Microsoft development tools, and it’s hard to see how Microsoft could have practically moved Yahoo!’s properties over to its development platform.

Apparently, now we’ll never know.

[Update: Yahoo! shares dropped over $4 a share to $24.43 in this first day of trading since the Microsoft announcement. Not too bad, though, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber notes, Yahoo! stock was trading at $19 when Microsoft began its takeover bid.]