Microsoft’s Spyware Gate

Microsoft have launched a new version of their Antispyware application, now rebuilt and renamed Windows Defender. Initial reports are favorable, including Paul Thurrott, who is good on these kind of things:

Windows Defender Beta 2 combines the best-of-breed spyware detection and removal functionality from the old Giant Antispyware product and turns it into a stellar application that all Windows users should immediately download and install. Lightweight, effective, and unobtrusive, Windows Defender is anti-spyware done right, and I still consider this to be the best anti-spyware solution on the market. Highly recommended.

Expect this program to become part of the next Windows operating system, meaning that spyware is going to be kept out of most computers by default. This is a good thing. What is less good is that it lets Microsoft decide what is and what isn’t spyware, giving them one more gate to control. Also, spare a thought for all the companies that have been selling antispyware software for the past few years; I can’t see many of them surviving past Windows Vista.

The Hazards Of Being Mike Row

From the Proof That Microsoft Has No Sense of Humour, Is Appallingly Cheap, But Eventually Gets It Dept:

Paul Thurrott of Windows and .NET Magazine tells the story of a Canadian teenager called Mike Rowe who brought down the full wrath of Redmond’s lawyers when he set up a website called They sent him a 25-page letter demanding that he hand over the domain name. Rowe goes to the press, his site gets massive interest, his case gets lots of support, and suddenly, Microsoft has backed down, issuing an
apology in which the company admitted that it had acted improperly.

As Paul points out, they probably had to go after Mr. Row. According to trademark law, trademark owners are required to defend their trademarks against infringement or risk losing the mark. But, Paul says, few people could argue that Rowe doesn’t have a valid claim for the domain name. “It’s not [Microsoft’s] name,” Rowe recently said. “It’s my name. I just think it’s kind of funny that they’d go after a 17 year old.”

Mind you, the lads at Redmond have a point: If you type MikeRowSoft into Google you get the inevitable question: ‘Did you mean microsoft?’ But did they have to be so grizzly about it? Newspapers say that when Rowe demanded compensation the lawyers offered him US$10 in U.S. funds — what it cost him to register the domain. That was when the 17-year old got mad and asked for $10,000.

Me? I’m going to see whether the following are registered:, microwsoft,,, etc etc.

Bill’s Vision Of Our Home Future

Bill Gates gave his big speech at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) yesterday, and there’s been plenty of commentary on it. Here’s a view from WinNetMag’s by Paul Thurrott, that helps explain why the computer is more likely this year to make its way out of the den and into the living room. It all revolves around the Media Center PC, a PC running a new version of XP that works as a kind of hub for all your other entertainment devices. (Yes I know this doesn’t sound new, but it seems more likely to happen this than before, apparently):

With a Media Center PC connected to a TV signal in the home office, you’ll soon be able to pump content to other devices around the home. These devices will include set-top boxes that look and act like stereo components and be able to connect to a home network through a wired or wireless connection, a new generation of portable media devices, shipping this year from several companies, playing music, running movies, downloaded material, that are “small enough to fit in your pocket, has a big enough screen to enjoy movies, and is about the same weight as a wallet”, according to one of the Microsoft guys.

As Paul points out, a lot of this could actually happen because Microsoft has involved a vast number of partners to build the machines, make content, sell the stuff to you, movie companies to make the specially formatted DVD movies you could download. Concludes Paul: “The level of cooperation Microsoft engenders with its partners stands in sharp contrast to the digital-hub strategies that some of the company’s competitors have proposed and highlights the true diversity and choices we expect from the PC industry. Seeing this business model coming to the consumer electronics industry is exciting. If Gates’s keynote address is any indication, 2004 is going to be a milestone year for home computing.”

I’m more conservative: I haven’t seen this stuff in action, and given past experience I’m not 100% convinced that folk can be persuaded to buy new hardware that is not compellingly better (folk will buy a DVD player because it’s clearly better than VHS; the same was true with CDs and vinyl; tape Walkmans and MP3.) But buying a lot of new hardware just so you can beam material from your PC to the rest of your house? Are we really going to do that? I’m skeptical, but ready to stand corrected.

Update: Some Positive Thoughts on MusicMatch

 A positive early review of Musicmatch’s new online music store, from Paul Thurrott of WinInfo Update. “Musicmatch Downloads also has some unique advantages over competing services, such as higher-quality downloadable songs,” he says. Musicmatch Downloads currently offers more than 200,000 songs for download, and the company says that more than 500,000 songs will be available by the end of the year. Like the competition, the Musicmatch service doesn’t require a subscription fee.
(I can never find WinInfo stories on the website, so to read stories like this, it’s best to subscribe to their newsletter.)

News: Netscape Is Dead, Er, Long Live Mozilla

 AOL has effectively killed off Netscape, the browser that started the whole WWW thing, laying off 50 developers and moving what is left of the project — an open source version of the browser called Mozilla — to a non-profit basis, Paul Thurrott of WinInfo writes in its latest newsletter. 
AOL purchased Netscape in November 1998 for a $4.2 billion (no, really) but last month signed a 7-year contract with Microsoft to use its Internet Explorer as the underlying technology in its AOL software, which pretty much signalled the depth of faith it had in its own browser. It really is the end of an era, or else the end of a very long funeral. IE now controls 95% of the browser market, pretty much reversing the situation about seven years ago.
Wired puts a more positive spin on the development, quoting Mozilla folk as saying this is the beginning of a new chapter, and saying that the Mozilla browser has “surpassed IE in terms of features and standards compliance. For example, the latest versions of Mozilla support tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and junk-mail filtering — none of which is provided by IE.” This is Mozilla’s own version of the event.