Saturday, January 30, 2010

Microsoft deadlines approaching - Are you ready? (Updated)

By most accounts, millions of tech-saavy people as well as curiosity seekers downloaded the Windows 7 Release Candidate, and, there's a good chance that millions are still using it.

I suppose it was generous of Microsoft in a way to give this pre-release version away but at the same time, the Beta then RC testers were the people (unpaid) that helped the company debug Windows 7 or bring up other issues in forums and on their own blogs.

Technically (or officially?), at this time, there is no upgrade pricing for RC users. Whether it should have been a 'gift' or have a price, that, to me, seems like a mistake.

Here's the current timeline for Windows 7 RC users:

While Microsoft's earnings this past week showed that lots of copies are being sold, the question becomes how many and to whom .... and .... Is the rest of the world ready for the end-of-support for both Windows XP AND Vista?

Windows XP support and Vista support are both set to expire on July 13, 2010.

Despite the fact that Microsoft has extended XP support several times, there are still millions of enterprise XP boxes out there.  Probably more. 

Is it enough time?

Is it fair to end Vista support at the same time?  Something seems terribly wrong with this approach as Vista was supposed to be what Windows 7 IS and appeared on the scene much later than Windows XP.

Reality.  Windows 7 is simply the best operating system that Microsoft has ever put out there.  I've been using it since day 1 of the Beta release and, well, it just works .... and offers numerous improvements in many environments.

My advice to Microsoft.

Make it friendly and easy.

There are probably millions of individuals (and more significantly enterprise users) that would LOVE to upgrade. Whether it's 'people resources', time, or waiting out an economic recovery, there are A LOT of companies that aren't going to make the latest deadlines set by Microsoft.

It could be a fantastic boom for hardware manufacturers as well but it's simply too soon.

In any event, now you know the FACTS as we know them today.  There is some fine print that will allow some to escape these cutoffs, but for the most part, unless Microsoft makes a change (which I'm betting they will), your support ends in July and/or your RC goes dark on June 1.

Are YOU ready?

Update: Feb 1, 2010:
Clarification from Microsoft.

After numerous e-mails (and the comment below) we were able to verify the following:

Current Microsoft OS end-of-support dates -
Windows XP2 - July 13, 2010 - Customers need to upgrade to Windows XP3 or switch to Windows 7.
Vista RTM - April 13, 2010 - Customers need to upgrade to Vista Service Pack 2 or switch to Windows 7.
The MSL (Microsoft Support Lifecycle) ends July 13, 2010 for Windows 2000 Professional SP4 and Windows 2000 Server.

Google's Chrome Browser updates to New Level 5

It wasn't that long ago that Google threw a shock wave through the  tech world by announcing their own web browser, competing directly with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and others, including the recently upgraded Opera.

Google Chrome debuted as a lightweight (meaning small program size with a very low drain on system resources.... rendering it quick) piece of software that many embraced right out of the box.

The biggest complaint at the time came from Apple users who didn't get their own version (since rectified).

Chrome essentially comes in three flavors.  For the general audience, a 'stable' channel.  For the braver bunch,  a 'beta' channel, and for developers, yes, a 'developer' channel.

Late today, after numerous upgrades and numerous feature additions over a VERY short timeline, several of us noticed something significant in the numbering sequence.

The developer channel, late today, moved above 5.0.

Typically major upgrades are marked by a new number 'at the front'.  The Chrome Releases blog notes the following changes among those in this update:

Although these changes don't appear mind-boggling, there was plenty of room left in the '4' series?  

In keeping with our new 'message' of making these posts not just for techies anymore ... If you've completely missed the Chrome mini-explosion, you can check it out here, or check out the Chrome YouTube channel here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Experiment in (Free) Blog Syndication

Unless you enjoy talking to yourself, I think it's a pretty safe bet that bloggers want someone to read what they write ?? ....

Over the past year, my advice has generally been a mix of SEO, PPC and active participation in social media (in particular - Twitter, Facebook and YouTube).

The larger technology blogs ... TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOM, CNET and Mashable have all made huge strides in 'crossing-over' and syndicating their content to newspapers and other online (and offline) media.

What about the medium and smaller blogs?

For the most part, the days of Newsburst and seeing your stuff on Reuters and Fox are over .... and the position / return wasn't that great anyway. It was more about knowledge and credibility.

Enter 2009.

A few months ago, a young guy approached me about using content from this blog for his start-up experiment.

Sam Apple runs an active and growing online publication called The Faster Times.

At first read, my reaction was ... "I really don't belong with this group?". Beyond that, Sam wasn't offering ANYTHING in return.

Sam was not only persistent .... he's just a great salesman.  Honest and to the point.

Worked for me.

Isn't it easier to ask than scrape ????

Apparently he now only won me over but Jeff Jarvis (CNET), Fred Wilson (A VC), Craig Newmark (Craigslist) and a host of well known personalities both from the web and entertainment world.  Simply a fascinating mix and done over a very short timeline.

In all honestly, for me, it was yet another experiment in online marketing.
Would I see more uniques visitors (here?).  More comments, e-mails, etc??

The answer (after green lighting 5 or 6 pieces to the 'other publication' over the past few months) is a resounding YES.

While we all know that every social network, bookmarking site, etc is another marketing channel, direct syndication to smaller, growing publications as an adjunct to aggregators and other distribution platforms .... very simply may be the next step. While there has been blogging co-ops for many years, this is a different approach.

So, for now, Kudos to Sam and the MANY writers at the Faster Times, young and old, well-known and not-so-well-known.

You may be on to something.

updated Jan 27 2010  10 PM ET

Friday, January 22, 2010

Important update re Firefox 3.6 Release (and yesterday's post)

Firefox users are NOT currently being automatically updated (or prompted to update) from Version 3.5.7 or 3.6 Release Candidate 2 .... despite the fact that RC2 users will see 'Firefox 3.6' in the 'about' tab:

To get the final version (at least as of today, Fri Jan 22), you need to go to the Firefox home page and download the update.

At that point, at least in Windows 7, it's a simple matter of running the .exe file and overwriting your existing version.

I currently have Firefox, IE8 (patched), Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari running on various boxes and hope to have a brand-new comparison next week (with some surprises).

As far as our mention of Seesmic's new Twitter interface yesterday, it's not at all what we expected.  Watch for a walk-through and review this weekend.

Windows XP and Windows 7 users can try to new program out here.

Have a great weekend all ... and always, thanks for dropping by ...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Firefox, Seesmic to drop new products today

Both Mozilla and Seesmic are dropping new products later today.

Seesmic Look will be introduced in New York City at 9 AM at a mini-conference to be located at the Times Center.  The launch will be "live everywhere in video" as well.

The new product designed 'to help Twitter go mainstream' and touted as 'very close to watching TV' not only sounds interesting, but may be monetized already as apparently a variety of partners, media and brands are already onboard according to an e-mail sent a few days ago.

Numerous speakers are on hand for the launch of Seesmic Look and you can watch the conference at the Seesmic website here.

Also confirmed for release later today is the long-anticipated final version of Firefox 3.6 Final.  Currently in Release Candidate 2, this latest version of Firefox will mostly likely become an automatic upgrade for users using the current stable version 3.5.7.

Mozilla's Firefox website will no doubt have the details in a few hours here.

Update: Jan 21, 2010 - 9 PM ET:  Details on the new Firefox Version 3.6 can now be found here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Java SE quietly moves to Version 6 Update 18

Users visiting are still being greeted with a download link that reads "Version 6 Update 17".

In reality, those that have automatic updates turned on have been receiving a new version over the past two days that not only contains significant performance improvements but also fixes for  LOTS of other issues .... as well as providing support for Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition,  SLES 11,Windows 7 support and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3.

The update is not a security update.  Those running version 17 are up-to-date on security issues.

Generally, SE Version 6 supports Solaris SPARC, Solaris x86, Sun Java Desktop System, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows 2000.

Users of Firefox 3.6 must be running at least Java SE Version 6 Update 10.

If all of this sounds a bit confusing, you can find this latest version of Java here.

Most Windows users will probably want to uninstall their current version (from the Control Panel) before installing this version.  (This avoids the ongoing problem of having two versions of Java on the same computer).

Release notes for Java SE Version 6 Update 18 can be found here.

updated Jan 17,2010 10 AM ET

Thursday, January 14, 2010

UPDATED: That Map? - There May Be A New Price For That

Verizon is holding a webcast tomorrow morning which, according to reports, may be to announce new pricing that 'could' result in many paying more for their wireless service.

The question becomes:

Is Verizon concerned about maxing out their network as they continue to roll-out smartphones? 

The new pricing plan that was posted earlier to BGR seems to unfairly target voice and text users using  advanced devices that don't quite make it to the so-called smartphone category.  If the story turns out to be the actual plan tomorrow, existing users will be grandfathered, but those who make changes and/or start new contracts could see new data fees that didn't previously apply to them.

It seems to us that those who have remained loyal to the carrier but don't choose to upgrade are being forced to unfairly subsidize those who begin to use the network to access the Internet on a frequent basis (and help pay for any needed expansion).

UPDATE: (Jan 15 9:30 AM ET)  Despite headlines this morning of Verizon lowering prices, it appears that the original post to BGR is accurate. While some rates will go down (unlimited voice/text plans), smartphones and web-enabled phones will see the new data charge, all pricing is being streamlined while existing plans are being 'grandfathered'.

UPDATE 2 (Jan 15 10 AM)  Verizon will be not only simplifying it pricing plans on Monday but also (confirmed) will be dropping the amount of phones offered from 80 to approx 50 according to a company spokesman.  "All of these changes are intended to reduce the load on our customer service staff while continuing to provide the kind of service that people have become accustomed to from Verizon Wireless".

The Verizon Press Release has now been posted online here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's not a new TV series - Google vs. China - It's very real

In what only can be characterized as another HUGE chapter in online and corporate transparency, a post earlier today on the Official Google Blog pitted the search giant against the Government of China (while potentially forfeiting, for now, one of the fastest growing markets in the world).

The announcement which has been covered by numerous publications at this point was simply unprecedented to the general public.

Google (as well as numerous other corporations) were attacked by Chinese hackers apparently seeking information on Chinese dissidents over the past months. Google outlined much of this activity in their post.

The company's response? No more censorship of search results in China (as often requested by the Chinese Government), willingness to talk, as well as willingness to shutdown altogether should it become necessary.

Google just last week reaffirmed it's commitment to 'open' with the hiring of Chris Messina.

With the company's continued growth (as well as challenging both Apple and Microsoft in a much bigger way), there's also no doubt that Google is keenly aware it doesn't want to cross the line of the company's mantra ... "Do no evil".

Millions already trust Google's various online services, and it is that trust that must be preserved as one of the ingredients looking forward to cloud computing and the upcoming release of the Google OS ..... not to mention the mobile operating system that is gaining steam by the day, Android.

While some may perceive 'trust' and 'open' differently, one thing is certain.

While global cyber-warfare is nothing new, Google just took awareness to a whole new level.

Reactions from governments, companies, and most-importantly, the citizens of the world over the next few days should be fascinating to watch.

Links updated 1/12/10 11:40 PM

Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting Real about Smartphones and Media Delivery

I've been reading a lot more 'Daily Patricia' (Patricia Handschiegel) lately and while I share her excitement and tend to agree with many of her predictions in this post, I'm betting her timelime is off a bit.

The same can be said for all the excitement surrounding Google's Nexus One and the ongoing 'smartphone wars' (although the various carriers' advertising has been a boon to regional TV stations that had been lowering ad rates all of last year).

Those of you that know me .... know that I'm far from a snob and maintain friendships at all ends of the economic spectrum.  I enjoy this interaction with many of you immensely.

There are two obstacles to all of this techie excitement and the so-called 'next chapter', and both seem pretty obvious.

One: Contracts.

Whether it's your cell company or TV satellite provider, most users won't be willing (or able?) to pay earlier termination fees.  It's no coincidence that Verizon recently doubled theirs

Two: The economy.

While it's probably safe to say that smartphones have already, or are definitely in the process of going mainstream ..... many simply can't yet afford the tab of unlimited web access.  While it's smart for these companies to position, it's unlikely that the upgrade curve will be dramatic ... for a while.

The worldwide economy has a long way to go before smart cellphones or Internet-delivered-everything is in everyone's hands.

3G, 4G and Broadband in the US still have a long way to go as well.

Very simply, while many have abndoned their old credit habits, others remain unemployed. 

The worldwide economy has a long way to go as well and should be simmering on the front burners of our governments' priorities. Hopefully a short-term solution to the still huge unemployment problem in the US can be addressed soon.

When perceived value enters the picture for these devices and wholesale changes and/or much lower prices, the Internet connected world will be on it's way.

That may be a good thing as with any luck, some standards will emerge and everyone can get on the same platform.

edited Jan 11 1:30 PM

Update 2 : Firefox unleashes 3.6 Release Candidate

As Google's Chrome continues to take center stage as the 'next challenger' in the browser wars (and potentially part of the engine for the upcoming Google OS), Mozilla subtly moved again on Friday and pushed Firefox version 3.6 to 'Release Candidate 1'.

At this hour, there appear to be a few glitches in the various Firefox intro pages .... as Mozilla apparently is preparing to update the pages to formally announce the RC as well as make it more readily available.

The RC is posted to the Mozilla FTP server (and accessible at this time) and can be found here.

Update 2: Jan 11, 2010 5 AM ET: The full announcement (as well as pretty some significant improvements) can now be found on the Mozilla blog here.

Update 3: Jan 11 12 PM ET: Firefox users that have been testing Version 3.6 Beta 5 will be autodownloading the Release Candidate today and be prompted to update automatically.  You can
check your progress by tapping 'Help' then 'Check for Updates' above the address bar.

Update 4: Jan 11 11 PM ET:  The 'official' multi-language, multiple platform download page for Firefox Release Candidate 1 is now online here.

Update 5 - Jan 17  8 PM ET: Firefox RC2 has just been released and is delivering automatic updates to those running Firefox Beta 3.6 and Firefox RC2

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Firefox quietly updates to new version

Mozilla quietly rolled out an update to the stable (non-beta) version of Firefox earlier this evening.

This latest version addresses a common stability issue and fixes a problem with how updates are presented to users.

The new official release is version 3.5.7.  If you use the browser, you should be prompted to upgrade or you can hit 'help' at the top of the address bar, then 'Check for Upgrades'.

(The older Firefox 3.0.16 has also been upgraded to 3.0.17)

Firefox recently delayed their upgrade schedule but did release a second 3.6 Beta and continues to update nightly builds of beta version 3.6b6 (still code-named Namoroka) at their FTP site.

Mac OS X, Windows and Linux Versions of Firefox 3.5.7 are now available for download here.  There is a large selection of localized language versions, in addition to several new beta language versions (which may still exhibit some translation errors).

Firefox maintains the No. 2 spot in the current field of web browsers behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Google's Chrome Browser has been seeing fast adoption and recently passed Apple's Safari to take the No. 3 user spot.

Some testers have also noted an improvement in recent weeks in Google's new Public DNS, particularly when used with Chrome and / or when directed to Google owned websites.

Chrome-based direct desktop icons to Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar are also now part of the latest selection of free software at Google Pack.

Monday, January 4, 2010

CBS is missing a simple mark

The ongoing consolidation of computers, music, newspapers and television apparently has more than a few executives confused.

I suppose it's easy.

With 'real-time' (being driven mostly by Twitter) becoming hotter every day and 3 services now dominating the so-called Web 2.0 landscape - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

While the original formula is still (for now) the best to 'grab eyeballs' on the Internet (SEO + PPC + Social Media engagement), the multi-media mix continues to have a huge effect on what people do.

A look at Google Trends or Twitscoop (both at right) on any evening in prime-time and it becomes more than obvious that TV still very much drives search.

So what's with the title?

It's been some time since CBS bought CNET Networks.

For a LONG time, CNET has owned the web address NEWS.COM.

The URL is still a redirect to the CNET Technology News homepage.

This isn't rocket science.

If YOU were CBS and had a large NEWS organization, wouldn't you LOVE to own NEWS.COM?

You might even be tempted to pay big money for it??

Maybe it's in their playbook but what's taking so long?

While Google News, Alltop, PopUrls and other headline aggregators are stealing the thunder of pageviews .... and everyone's busy Twittering for the 'first read' on breaking stories, CBS is losing a lot of action here.

Technology pundits everywhere hit TechMeMe several times a day.  I doubt the same can be said the any of the CNET sites.

How many people would you guess just type in

I'm guessing the number is high.

Maybe it's me ... or the holidays .. but shouldn't land at ?... or even a brand-new  'centralized Internet News Site' powered by CBS?

Just another thought as we enter this decade of hyper-change ...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Watch the Enterprise - It IS the next chapter

The world wide financial mess has created an opportunity.

Walk into any Fortune 100 company and you'll find hundreds (if not thousands) of underpowered PC's, embedded workstations and servers, most of them still powered by Microsoft Operating Systems. 

Many, believe it or not, are still running Windows 2000. The upgrade path was delayed numerous times for financial reasons.

Pent-up demand to upgrade hardware is not only here, but it's becoming a necessity.

Most embedded systems (and there are lots of them) can't be changed dramatically via software.

Cloud computing is still a tough sell and probably will be for some uses ... for some time.

While Windows 7 may help some companies save a few bucks in the IT department (it's much better at fixing things itself and networking), workstations still need an upgrade to keep pace with the next chapter of the interconnected company.

The opportunity is in the operating system of these devices and in today's world, the formula becomes fairly simple.

The company that delivers a package that works well, covers the bases, and delivers what is needed  will win.

Will it be Mac OS X? Windows 7?  .. a magical new front-end for Linux? ... or ... something we haven't even read about yet?

We never really know do we.

Happy New Year all


edited for content Jan 3, 2009 10:30 pm et