Articles from Predictions

Toshiba Announcement == More Zune Storage

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:01 AM :: 2149 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, En Español :: Digg it!

Zune 80 -- will it be the Zune 120?

First off, I have to say this is completely off -the-cuff. I have no insight into the Zune team or its plans. This is one of those teams that keeps a lot to themselves. While I hate this because I'm just as curious as other consumers are, there's a time and place for any announcement, and it seems some teams are leaning towards less transparency than others to avoid over-promising and under-delivering. Anyway, Toshiba just announced the availability of 120 GB 1.8" hard drives. Seeing as tho Toshiba manufactures the Zune, I can only imagine this means we'll be seeing 120 GB Zunes this holiday season. Of course, there's always an option for those of us who are less patient. At first I was hoping this meant smaller Zunes, but it looks like they already use 1.8" drives.

Anuncio de Toshiba == Más Almacenaje de Zune

En Español

Antes de que proceda, tengo que decir que no tengo ninguna penetración en el equipo de Zune o sus planes. Éste es uno de esos equipos que guardan secretos. Mientras que odio esto porque soy apenas tan curioso como otros consumidores, hay una época y un lugar para cualquier anuncio, y parece que algunos equipos están anunciando menos a evitar prometiendo demasiado y la entrega de demasiado poco. Toshiba anunció los discos duros de 1,8 pulgadas con 120 GB de almacenaje. Desde entonces Toshiba crea el Zune, creo que Microsoft va a lanzar el Zune con 120 GB de almacenaje este año. Por supuesto, hay una opción para la gente impaciente. Inicialmente, esperaba para un Zune más pequeño, pero usan discos duros de 1,8 pulgadas ahora.


What to Expect with Open XML

By Michael Flanakin @ 3:29 AM :: 1540 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

If you're not familiar with the story behind Open XML to date, Rob Weir Syndicated feed of IBM has a decent overview. I'd be remissed if I didn't say he was somewhat biased, tho. An example of this is a comment he made about how he believes Microsoft will drive change in Open XML with every release of Office. This, in itself, shows how little he understands about the Open XML format and why its proponents believe in it as a superior format to ODF. I have no doubt Microsoft will try to push modifications as more and more customers ask for new and innovative features, but that's exactly why Open XML is better -- it was built with extensibility in mind, unlike ODF.

Here we are, waiting for the last leg of the process to kick off at the end of this month and some skeptics say, "While you're waiting [for the ISO decision on standardization], don't save in OOXML format." Should you listen? Probably not. There are some seemingly logical arguments behind the comment, but the position is flawed. He states that you should use the legacy binary formats to ensure a truly "open" experience. To word that another way, you should use a proprietary binary format instead of one based on open standards, such as ZIP and XML. I'm sorry, but I'll stick with my Open XML file formats, which I have full control over and can get data out should I need it, unlike formats like the legacy DOC and PDF formats, which require binary interpreters. I can get my data out of Open XML files without any document reader. I simply need a tool to extract the content and read text files -- not that I expect everyone to feel this way. Also, with more and more format converters out there, I fail to see the importance of constantly saving to a format your tool of choice doesn't natively support without translation. You'll get a much better experience working in native formats and only converting to another when you need to publish or share your content externally.

We're not looking at all bad news, tho. With the 3522 comments made on the original specification, most overlapping on similar concerns, 662 responses have been made. I don't know if there was truly that much overlap that would support 662 answers to 3522 comments, but you can browse the comments and responses online. In another attempt to ease the community into the new formats, Microsoft has also published the legacy binary formats.

What's perhaps more interesting is the fact that, in a truly independent study, the Burton Group Syndicated feed found Open XML to be a superior format. You can get that report online, but I doubt most people will see it. Perhaps developers at traditional Open XML opposing companies like IBM and Google read it, tho, seeing as their products seem to support the new formats. Of course, I think this is a must-have. You can't have a tool that neglects the native file format for the de-facto standard when it comes to productivity applications.

What do I expect? I expect the format to be approved. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a doubt in my mind, but the evidence is there that it's a superior format. The fact that these open source companies are so up-in-arms about Microsoft wanting to push its own formats thru the standardization process says something about their motives. Microsoft wants options and, with that, extensibility. If the format is judged on the merits, like all good arguments, the answer is clear. If you ask me, the worst thing about Open XML is Microsoft's name on it. If that weren't there, it'd already be a standard.


Mac vs. Windows: Vulnerabilities of 2007

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:01 AM :: 1254 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, En Español :: Digg it!

Just wanted to share some vulnerability stats from 2007 for Mac and Windows. Mac had 12 times the number of vulnerabilities that Windows Vista had and 5.5 times the number of combined Vista and XP vulnerabilities. At first I was surprised, but then I thought back to rumblings of insecurity and talk about Windows Vista being more secure than Mac OS before that. It's been nice to see the Mac security myth begin to fade away and watch as Microsoft's credibility around security grows. I expect this trend to continue thru the year; especially as more and more users are exposed to Mac's. And, yes, I do see Mac use growing this year. While I'm making predictions, I think I feel pretty comfortable saying Vista won't see the widespread adoption people seem to expect. This is ironic, considering it's truly the best version of the OS to date. Nevertheless, the reason I say that is because I expect to hear more and more talk of Windows "7" this year. I'm guessing that people who've hesitated to upgrade might prefer to see what's next, since there's talk about it being released in 2009. Microsoft is good at learning from its mistakes, so I think we'll see a very big boom when Windows "7" hits the streets.

Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X vulnerability stats for 2007
  XP Vista XP + Vista Mac OS X
Total extremely critical 3 1 4 0
Total highly critical 19 12 23 234
Total moderately critical 2 1 3 2
Total less critical 3 1 4 7
Total flaws 34 20 44 243
Average flaws per month 2.83 1.67 3.67 20.25

Mac contra Windows: Vulnerabilidades de 2007

En Español

Quiero compartir algunos estadísticas de vulnerabilidades para Mac y Windows en 2007. Mac tuvo 12 veces el número de vulnerabilidades que Windows Vista tuvo y 5,5 veces Vista y XP combinados. Al principio, me sorprendió, pero pensé de discusiones de la inseguridad y sobre Window Vista que es más seguro que el Mac. Ha sido agradable ver el mito de seguridad de Mac comience a desaparezca y mira el credibilidad de Microsoft alrededor seguridad crece. Espero que esto continúe este año; especialmente como usuarios se exponen cada vez más a Mac. Sí, veo Mac utilizar el crecimiento de este año. Mientras que estoy haciendo predicciones, no pienso que Vista verá la adopción extensa este año. Esto es irónico, porque Vista es la mejor versión de la OS. Espero oír cada vez más la charla de Windows "7" este año. Pienso que gente que ha esperado para aumentar esperará ver lo que es nuevo, puesto que la gente ha hablado sobre la lanzaba en 2009. Microsoft es bueno en el aprendizaje de sus errores, así que pienso que veremos un auge muy grande cuando Windows “7” golpes las calles.

Estadísticas de Vulnerabilidades para Windows XP, Vista, y Mac OS X en 2007
  XP Vista XP + Vista Mac OS X
Total extremely critical 3 1 4 0
Total highly critical 19 12 23 234
Total moderately critical 2 1 3 2
Total less critical 3 1 4 7
Defectos totales 34 20 44 243
Defectos medios por mes 2.83 1.67 3.67 20.25


Mac vs Windows UI Comparison

By Michael Flanakin @ 7:14 AM :: 10770 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, User Experience :: Digg it!

Here's an interesting comparison of the user interfaces for Mac and Windows over the past ~13 years. I found it somewhat interesting, so I put a little more effort to see which ones came out first, hence the timeline below the UI comparison...

Mac vs Windows UI comparison

Mac vs Windows UI comparison

In the timeline, I marked the significant releases in red. This is just my opinion, of course, and others may think otherwise. The first thing I have to say is they should've included Windows 3.x, which is fairly similar to MacOS 7. Also, I want to say MacOS 7 is relatively similar to previous releases, visually, but I'm not 100% sure. Aside from that, if you compare it to the above UI comparison, you notice that Apple did a good job of pumping out releases fairly quickly, but Microsoft beat them to the market with Windows 3.0. Windows 3.1 was the release that really caught on, tho. Of course, the big story was Windows 95. I want to say Windows 95 had the largest release in the history of personal computers. The 7 year stagnation between MacOS 7 and 8 is probably the worst thing Apple could've done. I don't know about the promises at the time, but this was worse than the Vista release! Beyond that, MacOS 8 wasn't even much of an improvement. In my mind, Windows 95 leap-frogged MacOS, who wouldn't come close to catching up until 5.5 years later, with MacOS X. To say that another way, Apple couldn't beat Microsoft until they dropped their main code-base and started with Unix. I think that says a lot about the quality of Apple's code. Ok, maybe that's a low blow, but whatever. 9 months later, Microsoft released Windows XP, which gave Windows a bubbly/cartoony UI... which I have always hated. Finally, Windows Vista hits the streets in 2006 with a lot of big improvements, arguably the biggest upgrade since Windows 95. Of course, with such a huge market behind Windows, Microsoft can't survive without its vendors, which is the biggest reason Vista isn't on every desktop... well, the Windows users' desktops, at least. Lastly, the next incremental release of MacOS X was released last month. "Leopard" has a few very nice features, but isn't really a huge upgrade. Honestly, since MacOS X, Mac users haven't seen any big changes. So, we're coming up on 7 years since the last major Mac upgrade. Don't you think it's about time we see something big? Don't expect it, tho. I'd put my money on the next version of Windows coming out before a major upgrade to MacOS. Of course, Windows "7" may not be as big as I was hoping. Those changes may be reserved for the Windows 8.0 release, which I'd guess would be around 2012. Man... that's forever!


Windows "7" Wish List

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:32 AM :: 1840 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions :: Digg it!

A supposed wish list of features for Windows "7" has been brought to light. I can neihter confirm nor deny the list, but I do think it's worth sharing. The key features in this list I'm interested in are the multi-monitor taskbar, virtual desktop, and CD/DVD image support, reopen closed tabs in IE, and integrated IE instances.

I'm not sure how much can be done to improve the taskbar for multiple monitors besides having the option to span both, which I don't like, but it'd be interesting to see. On the other hand, there are rumors that "7" (or maybe "7"+1, whether that be 7.1 or 8.0) will include a new UI, which doesn't include the start menu or taskbar. This is what I'd truly like to see; and, given the potential removal of the taskbar, the question of multi-monitor improvements comes up once again. Of course, this new UI might be built around that concept, so maybe it won't be an issue. With any major UI change, however, there are some supportability challenges Microsoft will face. Look at Office 2007 and how much ruckus came with that. Luckily, the change was well-accepted in the end. This is a gamble, tho.

A virtual desktop would be absolutely awesome. I just hope it's better than Microsoft's last foray into the virtual desktop space -- a power toy for XP, which was simply horrible. My current virtual desktop app has been commercialized, so it'd be nice to see something built into the OS.

Having the ability to mount a CD/DVD image will be nice. Microsoft had a Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel application (mentioned here), but it wasn't as integrated as I'd have liked. Oh, and it only works in Windows XP. If you're interested in this functionality in Windows Vista, check out MagicDisc.

There are a number of IE features in the list, too, like reopening closed tabs, which I currently have with IE7Pro; and, allowing you to drag tabs from one browser instance to another. I'm somewhat concerned with/interested in how session state will be managed in this scenario, since new tabs in the same IE instance are currently working with the same server session. I don't think I'd group these into the Windows "7" wishlist, tho, because I expect IE8 to be released before Windows "7." I'm expecting us to start hearing about betas in 2008 with an early 2009 release. Granted, I have no basis for that timeline, but a 2008 release date seems a bit too soon, given the lack of information we've seen. Either way, IE8 will be an exciting release. I'm expecting some game-changing features.

There were also a few features for Windows Mail and Calendar mentioned. I wonder how much Microsoft will be putting into these products. Currently, Microsoft has four actively supported desktop mail/calendar clients: Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail/Calendar, and Windows Live Mail. Obviously, Outlook Express has been deprecated. I have a feeling Windows Mail will be deprecated, as well. The only thing stopping that, in my mind, is potential legal problems. I see Windows Mail and Calendar as apps necessary for the Windows Vista release. With the Windows Live suite, there's no reason to keep them around.


YouTube Going HD

By Michael Flanakin @ 7:55 PM :: 1223 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

Looks like YouTube is planning on switching to HD quality videos. I'm curious how they plan on attacking this. Currently, the site uses Flash, which isn't capable of supporting HD quality videos. They could go with direct file streaming, but the concern there is portability across platforms. What's left? Silverlight. Do I really think this will happen? No. Let's face it, Google isn't a big supporter of Microsoft. Of course, if Silverlight was implemented, that'd be a huge win for Microsoft. Google won't let that happen, tho. I'm thinking they'll probably stick with Flash and just deal with a less-than-HD experience.


TFS Offline Capabilities

By Michael Flanakin @ 3:48 AM :: 1110 Views :: Development, Predictions, Tools/Utilities :: Digg it!
I love TFS for everything it provides, but one of my top aggravations is its horrible support for disconnected users *grumble, grumble* Subversion was better *grumble, grumble* I saw something that made me put 2 and 2 together, tho. Will TFS be introducing better disconnected support a la Microsoft Sync Framework? It's too late to tie this into the TFS 2008 release, which is coming out at the end of November, so I'd say we should definitely see something in Visual Studio "Rosario," which I'm expecting to see in early 2009, at the latest. Of course, this is something I imagine they'll want to get out to people a lot sooner, so I'm actually leaning more towards the possibility of a power tool. The TFS team has done a good job of getting power tools out. It'll be very nice to have the current tools integrated into the core platform, but I still look forward to what else is coming down the road. I don't know about you, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one. Despite the fact that I think this was a horrible oversight on the TFS team's behalf, better late than never.

Microsoft Gunning for Google Gears?

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:02 AM :: 1599 Views :: .NET, Development, Microsoft, Predictions, Tools/Utilities :: Digg it!
Microsoft recently announced the Microsoft Sync Framework, which keeps disconnected users connected. Those familiar with it might wonder how this relates to Google Gears. There is a key difference, however; Gears is a browser plug-in, while the Sync Framework is, well, a framework. Don't get me wrong, this is a step in the right direction, but Google definitely showed Microsoft up on this one. I imagine we might see something from Microsoft in the way of a browser plug-in, but that's not Microsoft's typical style. Actually, I'd put my money on sync integration built into Silverlight 1.1. Coding in .NET and built-in sync? Silverlight's sounding better and better. Eat your heart out Flash.

Windows "7": UX, Consumers, and the S+S Vision

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:30 AM :: 2208 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, User Experience :: Digg it!

Anyone who knows about the history of Microsoft knows the company works best when challenged. While I can't imagine many reasons people would question XP vs. Vista, nobody can argue Microsoft has made a lot of stupid mistakes with this release. I foresee a change with Windows "7," tho. I'm expecting Windows "7" to be more focused on user experience and consumerisms than some of the previous releases. If not "7," then the follow-on release. Why? Because Apple is picking up steam.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Apple gets user interface design. Microsoft needs to take this to heart a bit more and strive to innovate on how users interact with the OS. I see this being the key differentiator in years to come. We've grown accustomed to the same old thing and I think we think there has to be a better way. I'm not saying today's computing experience is flawed. I merely think there's probably a better way to make the computer act like we do and predict our actions more than it does today... which is none. Microsoft started with Office 2007, so now it's time to do it with Windows.

Usability is one thing, but there's more to the equation. Let's face it, consumers have different needs than enterprises and Microsoft has seemingly put more effort in meeting enterprise needs than those of the consumer. How will Microsoft seek to improve on this? Today, I think the answer to that question is easy: Windows Live. The itch of the consumer is scratched with what comes in Windows Vista, but there's still much to be desired. What's the answer here? The growing suite of Windows Live products, of course. We're starting to see a one-to-one mapping of core Windows apps (i.e. mail and photo management) to Windows Live apps. Coincidence? I think not. Microsoft is treading new territory with the Windows Live suite, tho. It'll be interesting to see how things pan out over the next year or two; especially with the next release of Windows. With or without Windows Live, Windows is what needs to change to keep people from switching. Perhaps the Windows Live suite will replace what's built into Windows, perhaps not. I have to admit I can see that being a possibility. My only concern would be antitrust issues. Then again, most of the Windows Live apps I've used work with other services, as well, so maybe that won't be a problem. I imagine we simply need more of a plugin model or standardized service interfaces to augment that more for other service vendors. Hmm... maybe I'll stick with that. Windows Live being part of Windows just seems to make sense. With this, the software plus services (S+S) vision could almost be fully realized within Windows "7."


The Vista Catch 22

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:55 AM :: 1771 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions :: Digg it!

I feel like I've been hearing more and more about how Vista is a flop lately. Some even say Microsoft should abandon Vista. I honestly have no idea what these people are talking about. I've switched myself and others on every machine I've had the opportunity to, 7 at last count, and nobody's looked back once. The only valid concern I've heard from people about upgrading is the fact that some hardware/software doesn't work or has problems. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to belittle the value of these things. I'm merely saying this isn't Microsoft's fault. Vista has been no secret. Microsoft is pretty good about letting its partners know what's coming. Heck, over the past 3-5 years, they've been getting better and better about letting us all know what's coming. Granted, all this one-sided effort to prepare vendors for the upgrade doesn't mean much if the vendors choose not to upgrade their software. Speaking of which, I have to say that the vast majority of the upgrade issues come from bad practices, including insecure software design from lazy developers. If you have an app that doesn't work, I'd question how secure it is and possibly the stance and effort the vendor has on and puts into security altogether. The bottom line is there's nothing Microsoft can really do at this point -- it's in the hands of vendors, now. With that, I'm going to say there's a catch 22 for those who've chosen not to upgrade/fix their software. Vendors won't put effort into fixing their products for Vista if users aren't migrating and users won't migrate unless their products are supported. What's everyone to do? Sure, Virtual PC can solve some problems, but not all. Besides, the idea of VPC boggles the minds of most end users, so I wouldn't even try to suggest that.

I have no idea what the right answer is, but it's an interesting problem Microsoft faces. This is a problem they've faced before, but never so drastic. Clearly, this is a key opportunity for other OS vendors to benefit as they offer potential migration paths for those not willing to migrate to Vista, but there's faulty logic there, too. Linux is still not an option for most users; and, Mac is more appealing than it's ever been -- especially with the latest release -- but we're starting to see it gravitate to more of a power user base -- especially with the latest release -- which doesn't make sense for the vast majority of users. On the Mac side, they suggest virtualization to solve any Windows-specific needs, which I'd argue is still too complex for most users.

Just to touch on the "abandon Vista" thought, I will say I think Microsoft should speed up it's plans to migrate off the Win32 platform. Well, let me clarify by saying I don't know if that's actually a plan or not. If it isn't, it should be. I've seen it coming for a while, but that's mostly in vague directions Microsoft has taken with different tools/technologies. I'd like to see a solid effort to dump the crap that's plagued Windows users for years. Not all at once, perhaps, but there needs to be a migration strategy. I think I've made my desires known: I want to see a .NET-based OS. There will be a platform shift, the question is when will it hit?