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June 1, 2006

Microsoft’s China anti-piracy deals paying off?

Posted by David Hunter at 2:30 PM ET.

Microsoft’s gentle anti-piracy diplomacy may well be paying off in Communist China as Doug Young reports at Reuters:

The number of PCs sold in China containing legal copies of Microsoft’s Windows operating system doubled in the first quarter from the fourth, as major vendors joined a campaign to stamp out piracy, new data showed.

Some 48 percent of PCs shipped in China in the three months through March came with legal copies of Windows already installed, compared with 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, according to figures supplied to Reuters on Thursday by data tracking firm International Data Corp. (IDC).

The big jump came as the country’s major homegrown vendors, including Lenovo Group Ltd., Founder Group, Tsinghua Tongfang, and TCL Corp., signed a recent series of landmark deals agreeing to load legal copies of Windows onto most or all of their PCs sold in China.

We mentioned these agreements previously ([1], [2], [3]) and except for Lenovo, they didn’t start until April of this year, so perhaps even better news is yet to come. Economic statistics in Communist China have a history of mutability in response to government policy considerations, but the OEMs listed have already paid for a large number of licenses so why wouldn’t they be putting them on machines?

Filed under Coopetition, Founder, General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Lenovo, Licensing, Microsoft, Piracy

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March 9, 2006

At long last Origami

Posted by David Hunter at 3:44 PM ET.

But whether it’s love remains to be seen. There’s a lengthy video on Channel 9 and a Press Q&A, but here’s a summary:

- Microsoft calls them Ultra-Mobile Personal Computers (UMPCs) which is a hyphen more than Intel.

- Runs Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 with the addition of the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows XP which optimizes the touch screen user interface and also includes a thumb-based, on-screen keyboard that’s touch-optimized for easy text input. Will run Vista eventually.

- “Touch Pack software also helps keep you entertained with the introduction of Microsoft Sudoku, a highly entertaining touch and ink enabled game. ”

- As usual with Microsoft specifications for hardware, the exact designs offered by vendor partners will vary, but here are the ground rules:

- Pricing is determined by the manufacturers, but is expected to be in the range of US$599-$999.

- Availability also is determined by the manufacturers and that looks like:

- There’s a hint that some Independent Software Vendors are already on board to deliver specialized software, but if others want to play, they should check out the Ultra-Mobile section of the Mobile Developer Center.

- As for who’s running the wagon train:

Microsoft developed the concept for this type of UMPC based on our own research, combined with key new developments by industry partners. These developments include new low-power, high-performance processors, extended battery life and enhancements to Tablet PC software such as the Touch Pack interface tools. While Microsoft will continue to provide leadership in the development of this category, the creation and continued evolution of UMPCs will happen through a broad collaboration between Microsoft, Intel and a wide range of OEMs, ODMs, IHVs and ISVs.

OK, those are the mundane details, but what is the gadget good for? I may be suffering from a paucity of imagination, but I just can’t figure out how or why I would use an UMPC, especially the initial versions.

It isn’t a phone, it’s too big for a PDA (which is a dead category anyhow), and the battery life seems to be way too short to be very portable. I’m sure not going to plug it in, attach a keyboard and mouse, and prop it up on my desk to do ordinary PC work either, so what’s left? At a guess, it’s an oversized portable video player or gaming device if you don’t mind the short battery life. Frankly there’s not a heap of excitement there.

For a laugh, head over to the Intel Ultra Mobile (without a hyphen) PC web site and watch the video for a 1930′s Popular Mechanics Flying Car view of some future version. Just don’t expect to buy one in April.

Filed under ASUS, Coopetition, Founder, Hardware, Intel, New Form Factors, Origami, Samsung, Technologies, VIA

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