12 Bets Gifts of Christmas From Microsoft

For holiday 2006, Microsoft offered up a big lump of coal, as in no Windows Vista. Is someone feeling guilty or what? This year, Microsoft has unloaded a bag full of gifts for the holidays. I pick the 12 best. And, no, no, no, no, no! I won't be setting these gifts to music. Please […]

For holiday 2006, Microsoft offered up a big lump of coal, as in no Windows Vista. Is someone feeling guilty or what? This year, Microsoft has unloaded a bag full of gifts for the holidays. I pick the 12 best.

And, no, no, no, no, no! I won't be setting these gifts to music. Please feel free to sing through the 12 gifts, but I won't help you. That parody approach long ago became a bad joke.

So, what were Microsoft's best gifts, from 12 to one? Here's my list:

  1. Connect 3.0 beta. The list begins with a little lump of coal in the Christmas stocking. Microsoft is testing a new Connect Web site. It's time for the Microsoft beta tester revolt, because the new site is butt-ugly. No thanks, Santa!
  2. Windows, code name 7. OK, so you haven't deployed Vista yet and loathe the prospect of testing. No worries, Microsoft has started dropping hints about successor Windows 7. It's a gift! In a Dec. 11 blog post, Microsoft's Hilton Locke wrote: "If you are impressed by the 'touch features' in the iPhone, you'll be blown away by what's coming in Windows 7." Did you get a gift receipt for that iPhone?
  3. The 11-cent reward. Yesterday, Microsoft announced an 11-cent-per-share dividend for stockholders. For all those Microsoft investors pining for the good old share growth days or Google's stratospheric share price, every little bit helps. I don't get anything. For conflict-of-interest reasons, I don't invest. Say, don't spend it all at once!
  4. Bill Gates' Office 2007 tutorial. Microsoft's chairman wants you to know how he uses his company's software. Sorry, I couldn't get past the dreamy description of Gates' gear: "Three large flat-screen displays ... synchronized so they work like a single very wide display." I also got a warm, fuzzy feeling about Gates' management style. He wrote, "Each year I do something called ThinkWeek where anybody in the company can submit a paper about an idea they have to change the way our company works or to pursue a new development project." Oh, yeah, and he uses Office 2007, too!
  5. Vista's disabled off switch. Microsoft will finally do away with one of Vista's most loathed features (c'mon, you hate it more than Universal Account Control pop-ups). Vista will no longer disable if not activated. This could have ranked as a bigger gift, but Microsoft still requires businesses with volume-license keys to use activation servers. OK, so it's not the present you really wanted.
  6. Internet Explorer 8's acid trip. IE7's first year of application-breaking mayhem has passed, and Microsoft execs are suddenly talking about its successor. Considering Microsoft has said nothing about IE8 for the first 11 months of the year, the sudden disclosure is quite the gift. Surely, everyone is so proud of how grown-up IE8 is. The browser passed Acid2.
  7. Server protocols. Yesterday, Samba licensed server protocols from Microsoft, as required by the 2004 European antitrust ruling. But developers should be careful what they ask Santa for. Microsoft may benefit more from the protocol program than licensees. Is this like when I give my wife a DVD that I want to watch more than she does? Happy Christmas!
  8. A ribbon for Popfly. Microsoft gave its mashup site and service a nice makeover, just in time for the holidays. The Popfly Web Creator now incorporates stylistic elements from the Office 2007 ribbon. Microsoft just wants you to feel as comfortable on the Web as when using desktop software. Santa says: "Begone with archaic browser motifs!"
  9. Office 2007 and SharePoint Server service packs. Microsoft knows that you really don't need them. But socks and underwear (ah, thanks, mom) are what someone gives when they don't know what else to give or they don't care to find out what you want. Microsoft checked a box on the gift list and, poof, Service Pack 1 arrived.
  10. Hyper-V. Microsoft even called the Dec. 13 Hyper-V beta a gift. Santa "developers, developers, developers" Steve Ballmer must have pushed the elves hard to get out the virtualization software in time for the holidays. Hyper-V testing is the perfect break from all that chaotic Christmas shopping. You've nothing better to do, right?
  11. Search visualization. For all those developers tired of boring, text-driven searches, Microsoft has a gift. This week the company released Windows Live QuickApps code for Tafiti search visualization. What happens when Silverlight meets Live Search? Tafiti! Developers, Microsoft wants you to feel young again, like when Santa brought you that first set of Legos or building blocks.
  12. Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate 1. You know you need it and maybe even want it. The world runs on Windows XP. It's Microsoft's most successful operating system ever. For the zillions of people waiting on switching to Vista or never going to it, Windows XP is their computing lifeblood. SP3 is that new transfusion. Say, why not celebrate the holidays with a Windows XP tattoo? Why should the Zune tattoo guy have all the fun?
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Source:→ Microsoft Watch