Microsoft's week involved the unveiling of still more Windows 8 features, the trumpeting of Internet Explorer 6's imminent doom, and prepping for CES.
week was relatively quiet as the company ramps up for the Consumer Electronics
Show, slated to kick off with CEO Steve Ballmer's Jan. 9 keynote address at The
Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
almost certainly offer CES attendees a glimpse of Windows 8, the company's
next-generation operating system slated for release in the latter half of 2012,
along with a variety of Xbox and Windows Phone products. It's a more open
question, however, whether Microsoft will acknowledge the decision to make this
CES its last, perhaps with some sort of public event.
things reaching the end of their life spans, Microsoft spent part of this week
trumpeting the imminent demise of Internet Explorer 6 in the United States.
research firm Net
, the use of IE6 in this country has dropped to beneath 1
percent. This is good news to Microsoft, which has been anything but private about
its all-consuming desire to have users switch from the 10-year-old browser to a
"IE6 has been
the punch line of browser jokes for a while, and we've been as eager as anyone
to see it go away," Roger Capriotti, a member of Internet Explorer's marketing
team, wrote in a Jan. 3 posting on The
. "We hope this means more developers and IT Pros can
consider IE6 a -low-priority' at this point and stop spending their time having
to support such an outdated browser."
A number of
countries have also dropped below that 1 percent mark, he added, including
Austria, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.
Early in 2011,
Microsoft even started a Website, The Internet Explorer
, which used data from Net Applications to detail
IE6 usage around the world. As of December, that total stood at 7.7 percent,
most of it in mainland China. In addition, Microsoft has encouraged users to
spread the word about upgrading to a new browser, and offered Website owners
code for displaying a "You are using an outdated browser" banner to visitors
In the run-up
to CES, Microsoft has also detailed additional features of Windows 8. In a Jan.
5 posting on the Building
blog, Rajeev Nagar, a group program manager on the
Windows Storage and File System team, broke down the two overarching themes
behind Storage Spaces: one, the ability to organize multiple physical disks
into storage pools, and two, the use of virtual disks.
In a separate
posting, the Windows team also detailed Windows 8's streamlined ability to
reset or refresh a PC experiencing issues. Resetting a Windows 8 PC will,
obviously, wipe out all the user's personal data while reinstalling the
operating system. Refreshing it, on the other hand, will preserve all that
personal data, along with key settings and any "Metro"-style applications.
As with many
things Windows 8, Microsoft is also emphasizing the security angle. "For those
of you who worry about data that may still be recoverable after a standard
reset, especially on PCs with sensitive personal data, we also will be
providing an option in Windows 8 Beta to erase your data more thoroughly,"
Desmond Lee, a program manager on Windows 8's Fundamentals team, wrote in a
Jan. 4 posting on the Building
blog, "with additional steps that can
significantly limit the effectiveness of even sophisticated recovery attempts."
also looking to ramp up its Windows Phone efforts. Windows Phone devices from
manufacturing partners such as Nokia will certainly make an appearance at CES.
This week, Microsoft
has updated its App Hub
so that developers can distribute applications and
games into new markets such as Argentina, China and Peru. Just as the company
needs Windows 8 to succeed in order to maintain its primacy in the realm of
desktop operating systems, it also needs Windows Phone to make a more robust
showing with customers in 2012, if it wants to maintain and expand a presence
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