Microsoft’s Azure xRM Play is Important

Read this through and you’ll see how Microsoft could be enabling a LOB platform in the cloud for ISVs.  Beware however, that this could also be a research asset for Microsoft to bolster it’s own CRM and other offerings and potentially take out, devalue or acquire (for a lucky few) a few LOB app ISVs like it is or is not (depending on your point of view) with application hosting partners.


Microsoft’s Cunning Plan to Get IE on Windows 7 in Europe – Part 2

So yesterday I explained how Microsoft’s plan to effectively keep IE on Windows 7 by removing it from copies sold in Europe was really is a great plan for Microsoft (i.e. not much change) and not so good for enthusiasts.

Today Mary Jo Foley reports as follows:

EC regulators said in a statement that they found a lot to like in Microsoft’s plan to strip IE out of Windows 7 and subsequently allow PC makers to add back in Microsoft’s or a variety of third-party browsers. But they were unhappy with the way Microsoft was removing choice for customers who bought Windows 7 at retail, by providing them with no browser at all. The EC regulators added that they had not been considering requiring Microsoft to remove IE from Windows 7 as one of the potential remedies in the case.

That can’t have it both ways.  First it’s claims of Microsoft’s browser ‘in your face’ in an anti-trust way, and now it’s concern of no choice.  From Mary’s summary the EU regulators sounds like a flustered parent that scolds a child about not doing a chore, only to find that the child has invented some other way to achieve the same thing, but the parent has to save face and so tells them off for not doing it the way they wanted it to be done, even if the child’s way is sufficiently acceptable or better than the standards originally expected.  Ahhh -  the petulant genius of Microsoft.

Mary further reports that Opera officials said:

“We note with intereste that Microsoft now seems capable of separating IE from Windows [Total historical dig there]. However, we do not believe that Microsoft’s move will restore competition for desktop browsers. Most users get their operating systems from the OEM channel and Microsoft will recommend that OEMs pre-install IE8. As such, users are unlikely to be given a genuine choice of browsers. [Which is exactly what I said]

“We believe that the idea of a ‘ballot screen’ is better [Do doubt – everyone likes free advertising]: when going online, users will be asked which browser(s) they prefer to use. The browser(s) of choice will the painlessly be installed and ready for use.”

Do they sound like sore winners? It sounds like Microsoft is likely doing what is required legally, but not want Opera officials want.  Could be too bad.

Microsoft’s people must be ROTFLTAO with arrogant back-patting glee 🙂 – they deserve to.

Microsoft’s Cunning Plan To Get IE On Windows 7 in Europe

It has apparently been revealed that Microsoft will not (directly) include IE with Windows 7 RTM in Europe.

This is clearly, on the surface at least, a plan to avoid litigation with EU authorities at the 11th hour towards Windows 7’s release.

This is different from making both Vista (inc. Media Player) and Vista N (no Media Player) available.  There will not be a version of Windows 7 with IE include available in Europe.

To be technically clear, Windows 7 will likely still have the underlying APIs available (I’m thinking WinInet, .NET framework, etc) to do Web interaction, but just no general-purpose web browser application for end users.  You can bet it will still do Windows/Microsoft updates for example and all other applications that talk to the Internet will still work (though any plain web-based help could have difficulties).  I bet the ActiveX IE web control is still in there. Will IE 8 be an optional install appearing in Windows Update perhaps? 😉

The real benefit/plan for Microsoft:

This is likely the best thing Microsoft could have done… for Microsoft (not necessarily the consumer and especially not the enthusiast), instead of for example confusing the poor user with a choice on power-up of one or more competing browsers to download (or have many install packages already bundled) and then install.

This way Microsoft can at least rely on a user’s expectation (from previous versions) that Windows should come with Internet Explorer.

In fact who are they fooling really – well the EU authorities most likely – because this critical initial choice (for the majority of innocent new computer buyers) now goes from the consumers to the computer OEMs if Microsoft is provided them with kits to bundle IE8.  Which major OEM is going to risk not putting at least Internet Explorer on their machines?  Also, if the OEM does it, there’s no browser choice window but there can be a default!  Which major OEM is not going to make Internet Explorer the default?

The likely end result – new machines in Europe go on sale with IE 8 bundled by the OEM as likely as the default browser.  Clever, isn’t it!

The competition moves from the consumer to the OEM and we know Microsoft’s… skills there.

The consumer really inconvenienced by this is the European user that installs a fresh copy of Windows 7 themselves.  However, a person towards the enthusiast end of the expertise scale will have no problem keep a copy of IE 8 handy.  I wonder what happens if you do an upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7?

Now Twittering…

I’ve taken the plunge into Twitter.

Within my first couple of weeks of tweeting Twitter has taken away the setting that allows someone to see @replies from the people he/she follows to people that he/she does not follow – I believe this is something which will slow down the discovery of new connections.  Twitter’s announcement seems to suggest that they think they know what’s best, but I imagine it is also a cost-control tactic to slow down the growth of one-to-many SMS transmissions they have to pay for.

I’ve also started a small project to create a new WPF-based twitter client, because I like stuff to work well in a certain context and the existing stuff just didn’t do it – perhaps more on this later.

Feel to follow me at

Pet Peeves around North American Grammar and Phrases

Completely random post here.  Here are grammar offences (or just irksome/lazy phrasing) that can regularly be heard on TV news, talk-shows and interviews in the US (some by prominent news casters), but occasionally in Canada too.

“We’ve already began”

That should be, “We’ve already begun,” or, “We’ve begun…”  Yes, scientists in commercials for unpopular oil companies lose whatever credibility they had left with me.

“I have went to….”

That should be, “I went to…,” or, “I have been to…”

“That’s a savings of….”

That should be, “A saving of..” – shame on voice-over artists of America

“Anyways, …”

That should be, “Anyway, …”

“The dog wants in.”

What, on a game of poker?  That should be, “The dog wants to come in.”

“Write me.”

No bite me.  Blame this on various non-English European languages for influence with reflexive syntax.  “Write me,” is short for, “Write for me,” like, “Write me a letter.” or, “Get me a shovel.” or, “Sing me a song.” which is why it doesn’t make sense on it’s own.  “Write me a letter.” is fine, but the lazy shortening of this pervades.

“I didn’t do nothing.”

Well then guilty as charged, because you logically did something if you didn’t do nothing.

“We did good.” or “We did perfect.”

Good is an adjective, not an adverb.  “We did well.” is fine.  You can often hear a famous female daytime host say, “Eat healthy.”  It should be, “Eat healthily.” but I think the incorrect one is a lazy devolution from, “Eat healthy food.” which is a correct use of a the adjective.  The incorrect use of adjectives instead of adverbs is hard to fight for because (like gender and conjugations in some languages) it seems redundant; it just doesn’t sound right to my English years when it’s used incorrectly.

“The exact same”

If it’s the same it is equal.  Being exact has become an overly used redundant emphasis – indicators of excessive lively? :-).  If it is less than the same then it may be similar, but once it’s the same, exactness adds nothing.

“Write a test”

This isn’t a grammar mistake, but more of an annoying colloquialism.  Surely the person writing the test is the author.  Admittedly the common English thing is to, ‘take a test’ (as in, “I’m taking my exam today.” or, “I’m taking my driving test.” with the latter being inconsistently the same in North America), but then one could ask where it is being taken.  An equally irksome related phrase is ‘Take up the test’ which is to be interpreted as to go through the answers in class and mark it or make corrections vs. the more literal image of it being collected for marking by the teacher, right before everyone takes up knitting perhaps – ok I’m mocking now and I wanted to round it off to 10 items.

And just to turn it up to 11 ;-):

Last week a saw an commercial for a lawyer on TV that said they had (in text), “Over 20 years experience.”  Not a lawyer into detail then.  For those that don’t get it – there’s an apostrophe missing.

Inauguration in an Adolescent Country

CNN’s coverages went on about their PhotoSynth effort, but never once (that I noticed) mentioned that it was a Microsoft product.  Perhaps Microsoft didn’t pay their product placement fee or legal said it was a bad idea?  US commerce at its ‘best’.

Aretha sang “My country ‘Tis to Thee”, but it isn’t her country’s song.  It’s the British National Anthem with other lyrics – so much for US innovation.

A CNN contributor said that the rest of the world is waiting for the US to take the lead.  This is the kind of thinking that means the US can’t take the lead.  I doubt any EU country has a majority that would agree with his claim.  Leadership is gained by being taken (not so well in Iraq), appointment or through evolution from a position as a role model.  The US has a long way to go in many areas before it would be considered a leader by many other nations.

The US needs to stop claiming national ‘triumphs’ in an over congratulatory way such as electing a president of African descent (old news in other nations) when the same nation also fostered the adversity being overcome.  It is indeed an achievement, to overcome one’s shortcomings, so well done US, but this is not the kind of thing you want to sing and dance about too much; not if you want to appear as a mature country to other countries.  Real triumph will happen if Barack Obama can show true leadership to the rest of the world in ‘welcome’ areas.  I suspect, “yes he can,” but it will not be through the old stereotype still being put out there.  Stop broadcasting to the rest of the world claiming that the US is the greatest nation on Earth – extremely short-sighted.  Recognise that capitalism with the desire for market growth (above population growth), leads to the use of money to place the balance of power in the hands of the few.  Money is currently a strangle-hold.  If a village full of people all found themselves out of work in a recession (or through some disaster), the logical reaction would be a switch back to basic self-sustaining bartering/trading of skills, basic needs and resources within that community, bypassing the ‘free’ market and money system.   This would be a loss of control for those with money.  The recession is a matter of national security for the US because it could mean not only a loss of control of assets to other nations, but a loss of internal control when people have become so accustomed to being led to use their credit cards, that they either don’t know how to work in a community potentially resorting (in small pockets) to more desperate measures or bypass the larger system of control in those communities.

Well done Barack.  Here’s hoping you tackle the issues that matter in the long run, eat some humble pie on behalf of your country, and show the US as a decent role model, demonstrating that money and profits are not as important as your residents have been led to believe.  Star Trek world here we come?

P.S.  Barack, you’re the president now.  Lead by example and have the schedule run on time 🙂

P.P.S. CNN said that the justice messed up Barack’s oath.  Actually, Barack jumped the gun on repeating the first time first, interrupting the justice.

Putting Your Eggs in the Live Services Basket

The PDC excitement is over.

The Azure Service Platform has been disclosed.

The Live Services are included in that and one of the Live Services is Web Authentication with Windows Live ID, meaning that you can use existing Live IDs to authenticate users to your service.

The Great News

From the current licensing terms of Web Authentication amongst the licensing terms for Live Services:

These services or applications have no user limits or fees.

The Concerning News

Amongst the Terms of Service for Live Services:

9. How We May Change the Contract.

If we change this contract, then we will provide notice as provided in section 20 below at least thirty (30) days before the change takes place. If you do not agree to these changes, then you must stop using the Services before the change takes place. If you do not stop using the Services, then your use of the Services will continue under the changed contract.

We may choose in the future to charge for use of the Services. If we choose to establish fees and payment terms for such use, Microsoft will provide advance notice of such terms as provided in section 20 below, and you may elect to stop using the Services rather than incurring fees.


12. Term.

This agreement will become effective on your first use of the Services or APIs. This agreement may be terminated immediately for any reason and without notice by Microsoft. If this agreement terminates, all rights granted to you by this agreement will automatically terminate and you will cease to have any rights to use the Services or APIs.

You could invest a lot of time making your site use Live ID for authentication only to find that you have no service with no notice or additional costs with 30 days’ notice – and 30 days’ notice means nothing if the service can be terminated without notice.

So how can plan to mitigate against this?  Well if you already have a service, chances are that you have your own authentication and that you would be adding Live ID, in which case you should make it a supplemental identity, not a replacement.  This does mean that once you’ve added it you should make it clear to users how they can recover their original service credentials in the event that Live ID needs to be removed (possibly without notice or because it would be too expensive).  In adding a secondary identity, you may as well go the whole hog and support multiple identity providers if appropriate.  Deep down in your database you may have a Users table.  This essentially becomes an Accounts table with a new Identities table allowing for the mapping of 1+ identities to each account.  Each Identity is a user claim from a provider you trust (e.g. Live ID) or provider claims you trust (e.g. the provider’s claim to be a government ID provider is trusted). 

If you are creating a new service than you need to give this some serious thought.  If you can stomach understanding the identity frameworks, then I’d suggest multi-identity support from the start.

Note that with Microsoft Federation Gateway, the owner of a domain (e.g. can now have all Live ID web-based logins to that domain (e.g., diverted to a web page they provide for login.  The web-based identity space is become truly federated.  For the wider Microsoft claims-based federation model, you can also check out things like Geneva, ADFS & Microsoft Services Connector CTP (which works with the Federation Gateway).

The change and termination clauses I mention above apply to all of the Live Services.  Many of the services are free up until a usage limit after which you need to enter into an agreement.  I haven’t looked into whether that commercial agreement includes  Service Level Agreement clauses or better change-management clauses.  If it does then I’m wondering if one can pay for the Web Authentication in order to benefit from such potential clauses.

Back when Live ID was Passport, this kind of Web Authentication was also possible, however there was a stiff annual fee deterring service providers from using it.

I suspect that many care-free hobbyists, micro-ISVs or larger are diving headfirst into support of Web Authentication using Live ID.  Caution is required…

PDC 2008 Is Not Sold Out – Is There a Virtual Option?

PDC starts in less than 4 days (or 3 if you include the pre-conference events) and it has not officially sold out yet.  They have reached their 10,000 registration goal (that’s $20M+ in revenue!) and plan to take registration up until the first day if it doesn’t go over capacity.

Some people may be surprised that it isn’t sold out at this point.  I’m wondering if the secrecy factor and the burn-factor from Vista’s first exposure at a PDC (WinFS anyone?) had an effect.

10,000 is a great achievement and there are carrots in place to encourage people to go to the event, including overtures of attendee-only content on free hardware.  I for one don’t have time to divert my attention to a week someone else right now.

While the bread crumbs have been laid out in principal about what will be talked about, it’s not yet clear what virtual attendees (that’s you and I observing from a far) will get.

Mix 08 was a great experience at a distance and my experience was that it was possible to keep up, if not stay ahead of those people immersed in-person.  Mix sessions were available on-demand a pleasingly short, though not impressively quick amount of time.

The first Keynote (of 4; 2 more on Tuesday and 1 on Wednesday) is at 08:30PT/11:30ET on Monday, but there’s no mention of a Live webcast.  I hope this is made available, as to not have it seems like somewhat of a cliquey shun, and they do have $20M+ in revenue to help cover it, plus I’d happy to pay $200 for full live access to a live keynote, live track switching, on-demand events and on-the-day download availability.  If they put together a Silverlight site of mammoth (albeit with underwhelming branding) streaming site for NBC Olympics, PDC should be a breeze.

A quick google search doesn’t reveal anything for a PDC keynote webcast.

In the meantime, if you like being teased, check out the PDC08 tagged videos on Channel9.

UPDATE 2008/10/24:  According to a response from Microsoft’s PDC logistics provider, they will be streaming the keynote and sessions within one to two hours of their completion at the PDC website.  I guess they are holding out for as many last-minute registrations as possible before publishing the details of live/on-demand resources.

Windows 7 Developer Resources off to a Worrying Start

Microsoft has a Windows 7 developer blog with its first post today.

With your help, this blog should evolve to become some sort of Windows 7 developer content index.

Ugh.  I certainly hope not.  Blogs are the worst places to look for information if you don’t know its there, having to rely on search engines to find the information, unless you want to get your content spoon fed to you as random prizes over time in your cereal box.  Microsoft needs to develop a systematic way of getting blogged knowledge, samples and tutorials into a central location.  Oh wait, that’s called MSDN, where sadly, the reverse it true.  Developer center sites point out to the blogs.  While this has made some at Microsoft into celebrities, it doesn’t do much for efficiency.

The number of grammatical errors in this new post are somewhat worrying too.

Playstation Network vs. Xbox Live – Who Is The Clingy One?

I received an email today about updates to the Playstation Network Terms of Service and User Agreement.

The following appears to be a new clause under “The violations that are prohibited…” section:

“You may not provide anyone with your name or any other personally identifying information other than your own Online ID, or the name, password or personally identifying information of any other person or business through any means, including messaging, chat or any other form of PSN communication”

I’d like to point out that this is a horribly ambiguous sentence following “other than”, but appears to say that you cannot let people know who you really are or how they can contact you by any other means.  I can understand why one should be warned not to do this, but I don’t think it should be prohibited – plus they reserve the right to monitor communications.  If this were a pay-per-view community, I could understand it, but it’s not, and if people form virtual friendships, this would appear to prevent them from taking them into real life.

I did a quick check of the xbox live agreement and couldn’t find anything quite so… possessive.