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Paul Thurrott’s Short Takes: March 8

Paul Thurrott


Typical Pennsylvania driver

Because Punxsutawney Phil is a lying liar who lies, this edition of Short Takes looks Windows 10 stumbling to 800 million active devices, an open source Windows Calculator, Microsoft’s two new datacenters in Africa, and so much more.

Windows 10 is used on 800 million active devices

As I reported over on, Microsoft this week announced a new milestone: Windows 10 is now in use on over 800 million active devices (almost all of which, yes, are PCs). That’s a pretty big number. But it’s worth remembering that Microsoft’s Terry Myerson foolishly claimed that Windows 10 would be installed on over 1 billion devices with “two or three years” of January 2015. By that point, Windows 10 was installed on just 700 million devices and here, over four years later, we’re just hitting 800 million. So … yeah. Things certainly haven’t panned out the way Microsoft expected. Which makes sense, since the math was always wrong anyway.

“Microsoft is getting close to its goal of 1 billion Windows 10 devices”

And by “close,” we mean “off by 200 million units” and “1-2 years late and counting.” So, yeah. “Close.”

Microsoft is open sourcing Windows Calculator for some reason

Microsoft announced this week that it is open sourcing the Calculator app in Windows 10. And while I had heard about this months ago—I was told that Notepad and other apps would be open sourced as well—I’m still curious about the rationale behind this decision. Not because Calculator is some kind of state secret or whatever. But because a calculator app is just about as simple an exercise as there is for budding programmers—it’s like chapter 1 in “beginning programming”—and because it’s such a weird one-off thing to do. Of which there are too many examples in Windows 10, like the one-off “feedback” link that appears in the menu in Notepad, and only in Notepad. I don’t honestly believe that more than a few people will ever learn anything from this, nor do I see any benefit to Microsoft. It’s like they’re throwing spaghetti at the wall, but they don’t even care what sticks. As long as it has “open source” in the name, it’s good.

“Facebook Announces Plan to Curb Vaccine Misinformation”

It’s going to shut down Facebook.

Microsoft opens two datacenters in Africa

Microsoft this week became the first enterprise-grade cloud services provider to open a datacenter in Africa and to celebrate, it opened not one datacenter but two, in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. “With 54 regions announced worldwide, more than any other cloud provider, Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure will connect the new regions in South Africa with greater business opportunity, help accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and Internet services across Africa,” Microsoft corporate vice president Tom Keane announced. The datacenters will eventually serve the entire Microsoft Cloud set of offerings—Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365—though only Azure is online now; it should be fully functional by the end of 2019. And the datacenters will be linked to other parts of Africa—like Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and, soon, Angola—by an ever-expanding terrestrial fiber and subsea cable system. Amazon expects to have its first AWS-based datacenter in Africa by the end of 2020.

“Microsoft’s new Skype for Web no longer supports ChromeOS or Linux”

Mission accomplished.

Huawei sues the U.S. government

Huawei this week sued the U.S. government for its baseless ban of Huawei networking equipment in the country. Which is beautiful because this will force the government to reveal the evidence it has against Huawei. And there is no evidence. Yes, Huawei is closely aligned with the Chinese government, just like all big Chinese firms. And yes, that’s scary because that’s just not the way we do business here in the U.S., and China and the U.S. have been involved in a sort of escalating cold war of sorts for years now. But here’s the thing: As other governments have pointed out in the wake of the U.S.’s China scare histrionics, it would be fairly easy to detect governmental spying over networking equipment that’s deployed within any given country. And Huawei simply has to meet the same quality and security requirements as any hardware supplier. Regardless, I can’t wait to see the evidence dump on this one. I’m expecting it to be as thin as a pamphlet.

“These Microsoft Employees Think They’re Brilliant Heroes, But They’re Really Quite Foolish”

Guys. They can’t help it if they work on Bing.

Google reveals zero-day exploits in Mac, Linux, Android, and now Windows

It’s been a busy week of security revelations from Google, which discovered that a serious problem with its cross-platform Chrome web browser was being exploited by hackers. So Google has patched Chrome and has started disclosing the issues.  Windows was lucky enough to be subjected to two zero-day exploits, which were being exploited together. But it also appears to be relegated only to Windows 7 for some reason, which is good news. And it also led to the irony of Google recommending that users upgrade to Windows 10 to be more secure. I’m surprised they didn’t use this event as an opportunity to market Chromebooks. Oh, and go update Chrome: You want to make sure you’re up-to-date.

“Microsoft Has a Bold Plan to Reach More Gamers”

Oh, is it buying Sony?

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