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Microsoft Spies a Whole New Market

A columnist for the U.K. tech site The Register offered a different take about the future of the spyware fighting market. "The anti-virus companies are making billions in subscription fees, and they're slowly starting to address spyware as well. Today anti-spyware companies all offer real-time, proactive detection, just like MS Anti-Spyware. This is generally effective. But isn't this simply the wrong approach to the problem? It's like selling people a toaster that could catch fire at any time, but then offering a free fire extinguisher to put out those fires as required. Is this the best they can do? Perhaps the new MS Anti-Spyware application is just a stop-gap solution until Longhorn comes out in a few years. But I'm not holding my breath. Instead, let's all follow Microsoft's lead: admit defeat now, and then figure out how to profit from the epidemic you helped create."
The Register: Microsoft Anti-Spyware?

Redmond's Reach

Microsoft's mega-presence in Redmond. Wash. is poised to get even larger, the Seattle Times reported today: "Microsoft is not saying exactly how much it plans to grow in the region, but it's expected to ask the city to approve a development agreement that would serve as a blueprint for future expansion."
The Seattle Times: Microsoft Planning Major Redmond Project

_____Filter Archive_____
An Apple a Day (washingtonpost.com, Jan 10, 2005)
Tech Giants Double Down in Vegas (washingtonpost.com, Jan 6, 2005)
Vonage Phones in Hot WiFi Plans (washingtonpost.com, Jan 5, 2005)
CES 2005: Form, Function and Stylin' (washingtonpost.com, Jan 4, 2005)
Tsunami Prompts Online Outpouring (washingtonpost.com, Jan 3, 2005)
More Past Issues

In other Microsoft news, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an interesting read on how a small group of Microsoft workers helped create the Portable Media Center, a key multimedia device for the company. "Two years ago, hours before Bill Gates was to publicly unveil the hand-held Portable Media Center audio and video player, Microsoft's Brian King and Marcus Ash were walking to the Las Vegas exhibit hall when they realized that they had left their best prototype sitting in a public restroom. They ran back and, to their great relief, found it still there. Disaster averted, the company was able to show the prototype that evening, during Gates' keynote address at the 2003 Consumer Electronics Show. The positive reception helped Microsoft solidify deals with hardware makers and build to the release of the first varieties of Portable Media Centers a few months ago." See yesterday's Filter for details of Microsoft's latest plans, outlined by Gates at the current CES show.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: The Story Behind Microsoft's New Handheld Multimedia Device

For those of you who can't enough of the beast, CNET's News.com has a package of stories highlighting Microsoft news from 2004.

From the Floor...

The Post's Yuki Noguchi is posting periodic blog posts and audio files from the CES trade show in her "Gadget Gab" feature. She shadowed Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell yesterday and offered up some interesting tidbits of what's in his closet of tech goodies. "This week, for example, he got TiVo software to transfer recorded television programs to TVs around his house, but he couldn't offer a personal review. 'I'm trying to figure it out. I'll do that Saturday.' He now has two TiVos at home, he said, so his kids don't hog his. Powell loves HDTVs, too, and has been on a campaign to convince Americans to buy them. He owns a 42-inch Sony Direct View HDTV."

CNET's News.com has more on Powell's official remarks from CES.

In other CES news, News.com reported that the ongoing DVD format fight is intensifying. "The battle over next-generation DVD formats heated up late Thursday as groups supporting two incompatible and competing technologies introduced new partners and revealed further details of what consumers and manufacturers can expect to see from them in the coming year. Groups representing the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD--both of which are blue laser formats aiming to become the technology to replace DVD--made their announcements at the Consumer Electronics," CNET said.
CNET's News.com: Next-Generation DVD Formats Rally Support

A Moment Captured in Time

TiVo is getting a lot of ink at CES, especially because of its alliance with Microsoft. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reminded us that Microsoft may be a TiVo friend, but that the companies remain competitors. "In addition to announcing a deal to link Windows-based portable devices to video content from TiVo boxes, [Bill] Gates showed a new stand-alone digital video recorder containing Microsoft technology, signaling the company's decision to start offering software to makers of such devices. Afterward, however, TiVo's [CEO Mike] Ramsay said he wasn't concerned about Microsoft's move, even though it could create new competition for the popular TiVo service." He told the paper: "We live in a competitive environment," he said. "I don't get paranoid about other devices. I just compete." Diplomacy in action?
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: TiVo Chief Unworried About Microsoft Rivalry

The New York Times wrote about another challenger breathing down TiVo's neck: DirecTV. TiVo "received a serious challenge to its business on Thursday when DirecTV, the satellite provider, announced that it would begin offering its own brand of digital video recorder later this year. The move ends an exclusive relationship between the companies that supplied TiVo with two million of its three million subscribers. The satellite company hopes that many of its customers who now use machines with TiVo technology will switch to DirecTV's machine," the Times reported.
The New York Times: DirecTV Machine Will Compete With TiVo (Registration required)

David Pogue of the Times reviewed TiVo's new TiVoToGo product. "It lets you watch recorded TV or movies on the nice big screen of your laptop. And here's a pleasant surprise: it's free, more or less, to those subscribing to TiVo. The new technology, called TiVoToGo, is neither a product nor a service. It's a software feature that TiVo, in a phased rollout, is beaming into existing TiVo recorders. TiVo intends for TiVoToGo to be one of several perks that give it a new advantage over the less sophisticated recorders offered by cable and satellite companies for lower monthly fees," Pogue wrote. "So what can you do with a show that you've liberated from your TiVo? First, you can watch it on your PC, using Windows Media Player 10 as the playback software. Few people watch TV at their desks, so unless you have an unusually comfortable desk chair, this option is primarily interesting to laptop owners. Second, you'll soon be able to burn the transferred show to a blank DVD, which will thereafter play in any ordinary DVD player."

TiVo also announced plans for a combo TiVo and cable converter box.
The New York Times: TiVo Adds Portability to the Mix (Registration required)

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com. (Yes, those spammers have been having a lot of fun with my e-mail address lately.)

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