Windows XP is still pretty cool

Twelfth in a series. Here’s a dirty little secret: I’m still using Windows XP.

That’s right. A technology analyst — independent, mind you; not working for a firm that requires a specific load — and I’m voluntarily using XP. In fact, I’m writing this article on it. I’ve been using it so long, I almost stopped noticing, and as XP crossed the 10-year anniversary of its official launch this week, I thought some about my own experiences with it.

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Now, before you condemn me as a total luddite, let’s be clear: I’ve got lots of Windows 7 and even Vista machines running around the office (and a couple of Macs, for that matter), and I use them as well, all synched up with SugarSync (the one they never mention these days when they’re talking about how cool DropBox is).

But the old AMD desktop powering two big monitors is still my base system. It’s odd, in a way, because I have not one, not two, but three Win7 desktops piled up next to this one, ready to go when it dies.

So, why do I cling to XP when most others have moved on? Here are a few of the reasons.

I like to have each folder view retain its own setting. So, in the My Documents view, I prefer to see midsize icons in alphabetical order. Down at the My Documents\vendors\Chip Companies\Intel level, I can see files in Details view in reverse chronological order (newest first). In the My Pictures view, I like thumbnails. I prefer the subfolders to stay out of the way when I’m viewing by chronology.

In Win7, all folder views change at once whenever I change any of them, which means I am constantly having to adjust my view — every time I want to see anything. Extra steps. Why can’t the folder just remember how I viewed it last time and stay that way? As it does in XP.

When I want to launch Word in XP, I hit two buttons: Start and the letter “w” and up comes a blank doc. In Win7, the sequence is Start, “w,” and Enter — three buttons. Extra steps.

In XP, I use the My Documents folder as my desktop. Sometimes I put files or folders in a certain order for specific reasons. A folder containing my work in progress may be on the bottom right, separated from the other folders, because I’m working on it. Files that I’ve saved out for further study are in the order I want to read them. In XP, these items stay where I put them.

But Win7 is much smarter than me, and it thinks they should be in whatever view I last told all my folders to be in. I cannot move things around on my desktop. Win7 has a death grip on all my stuff.

And while we’re on folder views, what the heck is the difference between arrange, sort and group? In Win7, I have all these “choices” and within each, more choices: arrange by author, sort by name, group by date modified. Who has time for all these extra steps? And anyway, once I’ve spent all this time (which I can’t bill back to Microsoft) setting my view just right, it simply changes next time I adjust my view somewhere else in the file system. Why go to all that trouble just to have the OS throw my work out?

Why break things that work? Why bother with extra steps? Why is Microsoft still developing software that is convenient for the company rather than for its users?

It’s not like there are no improvements in Win7. Maybe people, including me, have praised it extravagantly.

Windows XP takes a lot longer to boot, but it’s been years since I established a protocol of powering on before going into the kitchen to make coffee and coming back when SugarSync is finished scanning my hard drive.

Win7 has cooler utilities and media handling, but many of these apps are available through Windows Live, making XP still pretty cool.

If I may observe, the process of continuously developing software and obviating older software seems analogous to the process that movies go through. In 1969, Henry Hathaway made a John Wayne classic called “True Grit” that embodied Wayne’s persona as a tough, dry wrangler trying to do the right thing. Why, in 2010, should the Coen brothers remake the same movie, a retread which, while fine in its own right, will never be a classic? Why downgrade a work of art that was already all it could be?

Because living artists need to eat. Plain and simple. John Wayne is done eating, but the Coen brothers need to put that new pool house on the side deck near the recreation area. In the Maslovian hierarchy of needs, the Coen brothers are way beyond needing to eat. But you get the idea.

Microsoft brings out new editions of Windows because it needs to eat, not because users need better software.

I leave you with this YouTube video, a lovely low-production-value musing on the nature of operating systems and their continuous frenzied development:

Bill Gates: Being very rich is ‘the same hamburger’

Let’s talk money and hamburgers.

Sometimes you can spend a lot of money on a hamburger, sometimes very little. For example, at the Four Seasons in San Francisco, you can pay $18 for a very nice hamburger with exquisite french fries.

It is spectacularly better than the ones at the Golden State Warriors games, where, please believe me, the burger and fries are almost the same price as the Four Seasons and of a similar quality to the team in 2002. (And 2003. And 2004.)

These–and several other–thoughts on the finance/hamburger axis have been occupying my mind because of a fascinating speech and Q&A session yesterday at the University of Washington featuring Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The way the Seattle Times records it, one enterprising listener asked Gates how she could become as blindingly rich as him.

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Gates explained that money hadn’t been his goal. He just loved what he was doing. Even better, he could involve his friends in this thing he loved. Soon, he had more money than he knew what to do with. Which he described as “a responsibility.”

But here’s the meat of it.

“I can understand about having millions of dollars. There’s meaningful freedom that comes with that, but once you get much beyond that I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger. Dick’s has not raised their prices enough,” Gates said.

Not having eaten hamburgers in Seattle very often, I assumed he was, oddly, referring to Dick’s Sporting Goods. But, no. Dick’s Drive-In seems to be a fine place that actually won “The Best Cheap Eats in Western Washington.”

It so happens that Dick Drive-In is very keen on offering its employees financial assistance with college funding. So it’s a hamburger joint where you can begin your journey to becoming a billionaire.

But is there really any such thing as “the same hamburger?” Anyone who’s been to McDonald’s and then popped into In-N-Out knows that they’re a little different. You can’t get McDonald’s “Animal Style,” though there is some animal-style behavior at McDonald’s occasionally.

So isn’t the truth that when you begin to amass your billions, you have some interesting choices to make? They might be between one hamburger and another. But they’re still different.

Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs mentions that when Gates came to Jobs’ relatively modest house he wondered how on earth the whole Jobs family could fit into such a place. Perhaps this, to Gates, just wasn’t a big enough Mac.

However, as Gates himself has proved, you can use your billions to attempt to do good. You just have to choose to do that. Most, though, will never have that choice. Most will never get to try the $5,000 FleurBurger created by suave pony-tailed chef Hubert Keller at his restaurant in the Mandalay Bay in Vegas.

I wonder if Gates has tried it.

Office 2007 SP3, another Mango phone event and more Microsoft news of the week

Now that Nokia World is over, I’m grabbing a pint (and a planned weekend of fun in London) before heading back to the states.

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the Microsoft tidbits I didn’t get to write up earlier in the week:

Office 2007 and SharePoint 2007 Service Pack (SP) 3 is out and downloadable. Here’s a Microsoft blog post with the download links. Here’s some background on this cumulative update that includes a couple of minor new features. SP3 is available via the Download Center as of this week, and will be pushed out as an Automatic Update in 90 days Microsoft execs said.

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Microsoft delivers new test builds of a number of System Center 2012’s components. Even though the official launch for the entire System Center 2012 family isn’t until some time in early 2012, Microsoft is continuing to roll out new Release Candidates (RCs) and betas of the point products before then. This week, the Softies made available for download near-final RCs of Orchestrator, Configuration Manager, and Endpoint Protection; and betas of Service Manager and App Controller. (App Controller is the private/public cloud-management dashboard app formerly known as “Concero”).

Microsoft is planning another Windows Phone Mango event in New York on November 7. Some of us press folks got invites to the “Backstage” event that will include appearances by Windows Phone President Andy Less and Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore. While the team didn’t share many details, the invitation featured a picture of three Windows Phones that looked like the HTC Radar, Titan and the Samsung Focus S, all bearing AT&T logos, making it seem that this will be the “launch”/general availability of these already-announced devices. The invitation also includes a mention of “a unique experience in the middle of Herald Square at 12 PM following this VIP event.” (which may have something to do with this?)

Microsoft’s biggest OEM partner isn’t quitting the PC business after all. In the company’s latest about-face, Hewlett-Packard officials have decided not to sell off the company’s PC business, after all. HP is Microsoft’s largest Windows PC OEM and is onboard with selling/support Windows 8 tablets. There’s no word as to whether HP will retrofit the TouchPad to be a Windows 8 machine or not. Meanwhile, there’s also no word as to whether HP will remain committed to webOS, going forward. I guess that is one reason the head of developer relations for webOS at HP just jumped to Nokia to head up developer relations….

Microsoft updates its view of the future of productivity: The Office Labs’ “Envisioning” team has made available its latest version of its regularly produced “Future of Productivity” videos. The “2021″ version doesn’t look a whole lot different to me from the 2019 one that Microsoft has been showing off until now. Computing devices will be lighter, thinner and more flexible. Touch, voice and gestures will figure more, but keyboards and stylus/pens won’t have entirely disappeared. And sensors/big data will allow users to interact more intelligently with their environments.

Pre-registered testers are getting the Xbox Live dashboard preview next week: The Xbox Live Dashboard update due “this fall” is going to preselected testers the week of October 31. The update includes support for Kinect voice search powered by Bing, as well as the promised Xbox Live TV service capability, among other new features. WinRumors has reported the coming update is codenamed “Madrid” and also will feature support for a marketplace for applications.

Is Microsoft Firefox’s last, great hope?

Mozilla has faced considerable criticism for its decision to release a customized version of Firefox in which the default search engine and home page is Microsoft’s Bing. But if Mozilla is going to survive, that’s exactly what it needs to do, because with declining market share and a potential rift with Google, Microsoft may be Mozilla’s last, best hope.

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The version of Firefox, called Firefox with Bing is based on Firefox 7.1. Neither Microsoft nor Mozillas is commenting on the financial terms of the deal, but you can be sure that Microsoft is paying Mozilla a pretty penny.

The non-profit Mozilla Foundation receives almost all of its revenue from contracts with search providers — 98% of all of its revenue in 2010 came that way, according to Computerworld. And most of that money comes from Google. Computerworld says that in 2008, 88% of search provider revenue for Mozilla came from Google.

That heavy reliance on Google represents a serious problem for Mozilla, potentially a near-fatal one. Mozilla’s three-year contract with Google expires next month. Given that Google competes against Firefox with its Chrome browser, the renewal of that contract is not a sure thing. And even if it does get renewed, Google will likely play hardball on the financial terms.

Google needs Firefox less than ever before, because Chrome is fast gaining on Firefox, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the world’s number two browser. Back in September, 2010, Firefox’s market share was 23.69%, and Chrome’s was 8.24% according to Net Applications. By September of 2011, Firefox’s market share had dipped to 22.48%, and Chrome’s had jumped to 16.2%, says Net Applications.

There are even worse problems for Firefox ahead, having to do with mobile. Google’s Chrome-like browser is the default for Android phones, Apple’s Safari is the default for iOS devices, and Internet Explorer is the default for Windows Phone 7. Few people bother to download an alternative browser on their mobile devices, which leaves Firefox out in the cold for the next great wave of browser growth.

So where does this leave Firefox? Between the proverbial rock and a hard place. This deal with Microsoft was the right move for Mozilla. It’ll likely lead to a solid revenue stream. And it may give Mozilla some leverage in the contract renewal talk with Google. So Mozilla deserves no criticism — it was only doing what it needs in order to try and keep Firefox a popular browser.

Nokia Tiptoes Back Into Smartphone Market but Steers Clear of US

The Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 are what Nokia calls its very first Windows Phone devices. The company hopes to begin selling them in Asia in Russia by the end of the year, afterwards expanding into other markets. The U.S. likely won’t see them for sale soon, or perhaps at all — Nokia’s stateside push may come in the form of a completely different line.

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Nokia announced its first smartphones running Windows Phone at Nokia World 2011, being held in London through Thursday.

The Nokia Lumia 710

These are the Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710.

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Both have social networking capabilities and 1.4 GHz processors, hardware acceleration and graphics processors. They will have access to a personal navigation device and a global music streaming application.

Nokia will release the Lumia smartphones in Asia and Russia toward the end of the year and expand to other markets next year.

The mobile phone giant will release new smartphones in the United States in early 2012, but it didn’t say whether they will be part of the Lumia line.

“While we cannot speculate as to which, or even if either, of the models introduced at Nokia World will be available in the U.S., many of the exciting elements that you have seen at Nokia World will be well represented in the U.S. portfolio,” Nokia spokesperson Karen Lachtanski told TechNewsWorld.
Illuminating the Lumias

Both the Lumia 800 and 710 include the Nokia Drive feature, which offers free turn-by-turn navigation and has a dedicated in-car user interface.

Both are roughly the same size and weight — about 4.5 inches by 2.5 inches by 0.5 inches and between 4.5 and 5 ounces.

Both smartphones use the 1.4 GHz Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) MSM8255 processor and are 3G devices using WCDMA.

The usual sensors, cameras, access to social networks and extended battery life are offered, perhaps to a greater or lesser degree than in the iPhone and Android smartphones, but the difference doesn’t seem enough to be truly distinctive.

Both devices run Windows Phone 7.5, a.k.a. “Mango.”

The Lumia devices are “generally a little better than their Android counterparts, particularly in terms of finish and ease of use, but [the iPhone’s] iOS still remains unchallenged at the top of the stack,” remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
The Sound of Music

Taking a leaf out of Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes book, the Lumia 800 and 710 both offer excellent capabilities for music lovers.

Both have the Nokia Music MixRadio application. This is a free global mobile music streaming app that delivers hundreds of local music channels.

Nokia Music includes Gigfinder, which lets users search for live local music and share discoveries on social networks.

Later this year, Nokia will deliver an update to Nokia Music that will let users create personalized channels and buy concert tickets through their Lumia smartphones.
Where the Lumias Fit In

The Lumia smartphones are the first Windows Phone devices offered by Nokia following their strategic partnership announced in February.

They may be the partners’ last chance at being players in the smartphone market. Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) fortunes have waned since Windows Mobile’s heyday, and Nokia’s getting its pants beaten off by the iPhone and Android smartphones.

Further, Nokia closed some of its factories earlier this year.

“If this doesn’t work out, Nokia is done and Microsoft will have another Zune,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

Zune was Microsoft’s attempt to take on Apple in the MP3 player market. After several iterations, it was finally withdrawn from the market earlier this year.

However, Vishal Jain, an analyst at the 451 group, contended that the launch of the Lumia line “marks the culmination of a highly anticipated Nokia reemergence.” Everything now depends on consumer demand, he added.
Coming to America?

Nokia appears to be staying away from the U.S. market for now because “Nokia is stronger in Europe and Apple comparatively weaker,” Enderle stated.

It’s likely that Nokia will introduce a different line of smartphones to the U.S. market, Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

“The U.S. market is crowded with many strong players and phones,” Hilwa elaborated. “To make an impact, a spectacular product riding on a strong ecosystem is needed, with near-flawless execution.”

Nokia has very little presence in the U.S., having closed its online stores in the country as well as in the UK earlier this year as part of a restructuring.

Microsoft and Nokia will miss the holiday sales season, when demand is traditionally strongest.

“It’s no great loss anyway,” Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research, told TechNewsWorld.

“You need to be in the market by September to make a brand new platform work,” Lopez added.

Free cooling lures Facebook to Arctic’s edge

Data center in northern Sweden will use outside air year-round to cool machines, draw on renewable hydroelectricity for powerIn a move that will further bolster Facebook’s green data center credentials, the social networking giant plans to build an enormous new 120MW data center in Luleå, Sweden, just 62 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The company will make the official announcement Thursday, according to the Telegraph.


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The allure of the locale is three-fold: First, it’s a prime location for taking advantage of free cooling — that is, using outside air to chill machines instead of running costly CRAC (computer room air conditioner) units 24/7. Second, dams on the Luleå river generate an abundance of renewable electricity — enough so that half is exported — so Facebook needn’t worry about an energy shortfall any time soon. Third, Sweden has a dense fiber-optic network, which means data can flow reliably and easily through Finland and on into Eastern Europe and Russia.

For the past few years now, organizations have struggled with strategies to cut costs and energy consumption within their data centers. Free cooling has proven a paricularly desirable technique as the cost of generating artificially chilled air can be quite considerable. Facebook employs free cooling at its data center in Prineville, Ore., for example, though the AC sometimes needs to be turned on during the summer. That contributes to the facility’s remarkably low PUE (Power Utilization Effectiveness); Facebook claims the figure is 1.07.

This new Luleå facility — the first Facebook data center to be built outside the United States — could be cooled freely throughout the year: The average temperature in the region is around 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Telegraph, and the temperature has not exceeded 86 degrees for more than 24 hours for the past 50 years. ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) recommends operating data centers at a temperature range of 64.4 to 80.6 degrees.

Notably, server vendors are taking note of the growing trend toward using outside air to cool datacenters. Earlier this year, Dell began to warranty servers running in temperatures as high as 133 degrees.

The abundance of renewable energy is another boon for Facebook, as it earns the company eco-points by reducing its overall carbon footprint. Other data center operators, too, have turned to alternative energy to cut operation costs and to improve cut emissions. Google, for example, has a huge solar installation, while Fujitsu installed a hydrogen fuel cell at its Sunnyvale, Calif., campus.

Microsoft CRM App Update Adds Social Networking Features

Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) has delivered an update for its Dynamics CRM on-premise and cloud applications, adding new social networking features and a way to administer the CRM Online applications in conjunction with the Office 365 cloud application set.


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The on-premise Dynamics CRM and cloud-based Dynamics CRM Online are currently used by some 30,000 customers with 2 million users, said Seth Patton, senior marketing director for Dynamics CRM, in an interview. More than 1,200 solution providers are now certified in the CRM competency within the Microsoft Partner Network program.

Dynamics CRM Online has been gaining “huge market momentum among customers and partners” since Microsoft made it available worldwide earlier this year, Patton said, with two out of three new customers choosing the cloud-based applications and one-third going with the on-premise version.

Microsoft is in heavy competition with in the market for cloud CRM services, as well as with Oracle (NSDQ:ORCL), SAP (NYSE:SAP) and others in the CRM arena.

When Microsoft launched the 2011 release of Dynamics CRM earlier this year the company committed to updating the software twice a year and the November 2011 service update fulfills that promise, Patton said.

Microsoft’s strategy for adding social networking capabilities to Dynamics CRM includes integrating it with other Microsoft collaboration applications, such as SharePoint and Lync, and adding new capabilities directly into the CRM applications. Patton said that approach is more productive for users than Salesforce’s Chatter social networking application.

“It’s not about being more social. It’s about creating better customer interactions,” Patton said.

The November 2011 update includes a new activity feed capability that provides configurable, real-time notifications on significant relationships and business events. And those activity feeds can be seen on Windows Phone 7 devices through a new application developed for that mobile operating system.

The new Dynamics CRM release also offers new micro-blogging and conversations capabilities, the latter for posting questions, observations, suggestions and status updates.

While Dynamics CRM is already integrated with Office 365 from a user standpoint, the Dynamics CRM November 2011 update is based on the same administrative, provisioning and billing platform as Office 365, simplifying those chores for IT administrators. Patton said the unified administrative interface should make it easier for channel partners to sell the Dynamics CRM Online service.

Also new in the November 2011 release are improved disaster recovery features with in-region replication for data protection and business continuity.

Why Google would want Yahoo: A few opportunities could make it worth the effort

Google is reportedly in early talks about a bid for Yahoo. Can these opportunities make the likelihood of regulatory scrutiny worth it?

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That “person familiar with the matter” is talking to the Wall Street Journal again – and this time, that person is whispering tales of early-stage discussions between Google and some potential partners to make a bid for Yahoo.

Now, before anyone starts hollering “antitrust” in a building filled with government regulators, remember that there’s still no formal proposal yet and it’s very possible that Google might not pursue a bid at all. Instead, it seems like we’re at the stage where the key players are just scribbling out their lists of pros and cons about a possible deal.

Imagine the advertising possibilities, what with those hundreds of millions of faithful Yahoos who check in several times a day. But consider the sort of scrutiny that the deal would experience. Are the growth possibilities or the potential dollars-and-cents for the long run worth the efforts of defending the deal to regulators?

Maybe. If I were scribbling some thinking points on a Google bid for Yahoo, here’s what some of those random thoughts might look like:

Search: Google walked away from a search advertising deal with Yahoo once before – almost three years ago – after the Department of Justice said it would file an antitrust lawsuit against it. They went big, pared down and still couldn’t shake the feds – and so they walked. A year later, Microsoft inked a 10-year search deal with Yahoo. Certainly, regulators will be interested in search and how a Yahoo-Google-Microsoft love triangle impacts it. In terms of Google taking out a search competitor in Yahoo, that feels like less of an issue. Yahoo hasn’t been a search powerhouse for years and Carol Bartz, before she was shown the door, had been pushing the “Don’t compare us to Google” message at every opportunity.

Content: The other half of the We’re-not-Google mantra was a “We’re a media company” message that Yahoo backed with partnerships and acquisitions. Going after the likes of AOL, Yahoo stepped up its game in original content – not just YouTube style snippets that Bartz was fond of – but also original news. Remember that news has always driven advertising and Yahoo has millions of eyeballs visiting the site daily. Bartz wanted to make sure that the content they see – both news and advertising – on login and logoff pages, as well as other strategic locations, kept them on the site as long as possible. That’s counter to the Google experience that most people have – where they find what they were looking for and then click away to another site.

Advertising: Speaking of advertising, it’s always been funny to me that most observers still refer to Google as a search engine when, in fact, Google is an advertising company. Sure, search drives advertising. But Google execs have been saying for years that Google makes money when people spend time on the Web because that’s where they’re exposed to the advertising. Yahoo’s advertising strategy has struggled to compete against a giant like Google, but there’s still some value there. In fact, regulators should probably spend more time looking at how a deal might change the advertising business – and industries that are tied to it – rather than focusing their energies on the search issue.

Brand Loyalty: You really can’t downplay the significance of the value of the Yahoo brand and the power that comes with hundreds of millions of daily visitors, many of whose loyalty goes beyond what other Web companies experience. (Between email, finance and news, I’ve already visited a dozen or more Yahoo pages today – all before lunch.)In part, that “stickiness” is due to the company’s long-standing presence on the Internet. It was one of the first to offer Web-based email – and, as such, signed up people before Google could. Still, it’s kept the offerings fresh and relevant in a changing landscape for communicating with others and sharing information.

Other opportunities: The first thing that popped into my head when I thought about Google getting its paws all over those content relationships that Yahoo has established was how it could impact the efforts around Google TV. Like Apple TV, Google TV is still a work-in-progress. I’ve long said that I’m a fan of the concept – making both broadcast content and Internet content searchable for a more customized TV watching experience – but Google had a tough time getting the content providers on board. With Yahoo’s content offerings, Google TV – and Google News, as well – could get a boost in inventory. Now, if only they could work on that technology.

Some might argue that the time is right for Google to make a bid for Yahoo. The competitive landscape has changed, the technology has evolved, the global economy is in a different state and the political climate in Washington has shifted since the last time the mutterings of a Google-Yahoo deal were heard. Others might argue that the many tentacles of both businesses could prompt a long review of the deal while regulators sift through it all.

I wouldn’t be quick to place any bets on a deal happening – but it’s good that Google is at least exploring the possibilities. Yahoo has been through a lot in recent years and while it’s future might not appear to be so rosy, there’s a lot of life left in the company. And if Google (or Microsoft) could get their hands on it – or key pieces of it – the landscape in the tech industry could have some interesting twists and turns on the road ahead.

Windows 8 Tiles Metro-Style UI on Windows 7

Windows 8 would ditch the Windows 7 Aero interface in favor of Metro UI,  which exists on Windows Phone today. If you love the MEtro style tiles and interface, you can get the Metro UI on windows 7 using Zetro UI.

Zetro UI is very simple to install and configure. Extract the zip after downloading the theme from the link below. When done, follow the below two simple steps:

Opening the Extras folder, running the Theme Patcher, and clicking on all three “patch” buttons contained within.
Opening the Theme folder and copying both of the files inside it to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.

When finished, Open the Control Panel and “Change the Theme” under Appearance and Personalization. The Zetro theme should be available in “Installed themes”.

The look and feel of the theme makes you windows 7 look simple with white all over the place, which might look a bit odd for the first few minutes. You can tweak it using the extra tweaks available in the readme file that comes along with the zip.

Extending the tweak further, feel free to blend it with something like the Metro-inspired Omnimo 4 theme for Rainmeter.


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Microsoft signs Android licensing deal with Samsung

Microsoft has signed a cross-license patent agreement with Samsung Electronics that grants Microsoft royalties from Samsung’s Android-based smartphones and tablets, Microsoft said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Microsoft didn’t disclose details on how much money Samsung will have to pay Microsoft for every Android-based device it sells. Last year, HTC, which together with Samsung dominate the market for Android-based smartphones, also signed a licensing deal with Microsoft.

In the past three months, Microsoft has signed Android deals with Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron, Microsoft’s general council Brad Smith and deputy general council Horacio Gutierrez wrote in a blog post.

That leaves Motorola Mobility, with which Microsoft is currently in litigation, as the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license, they said.

It seems unlikely that Microsoft and Motorola Mobility will agree on a licensing deal without litigation. Motorola Mobility is in the process of being acquired by Google. “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” Google CEO Larry Page said about the $12.5 billion acquisition.

Smith and Gutierrez had this message for Google in their blog post: “We recognize that some businesses and commentators — Google chief among them — have complained about the potential impact of patents on Android and software innovation. To them, we say this: look at today’s announcement. If industry leaders such as Samsung and HTC can enter into these agreements, doesn’t this provide a clear path forward?”

Samsung signing a deal with Microsoft makes more sense. The company is already busy battling with Apple in courts around the world. Samsung did not reply to questions about the deal.

Also, earlier this week, Samsung announced the Omnia W, its first smartphone based on Windows 7.5, also known as Mango. In addition to the licensing deal, the companies also agreed to cooperate in the development and marketing of Windows Phone, Microsoft said on Wednesday.

Samsung and HTC are close partners to Microsoft, so signing licensing deals make their lives easier, according to Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC.

But, on Tuesday, Samsung joined Intel to help develop Tizen, a new OS that merges MeeGo and Limo. So the company is keeping its options open when it comes to OSes.