Since it’s a short week, here’s a collection of brief updates about stories you thought I had beaten to death already.
Apple postpones CSAM features
After criticism and pushback on its plans to scan photos for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), Apple said last week that it is postponing the rollout of the new features for some unspecified number of months. Apple’s statement said, “We have no idea what we’re going to do. We thought our ideas were really good and a lot of people unfairly pissed all over them. This is why we can’t have nice things.”
That is not a direct quote. Apple actually said it intends to “collect input and make improvements.” But I’m pretty sure my restatement is exactly what they meant.
No one at Apple or in the lamestream media bothered to credit my explosive expose for Apple’s turnaround, which is frankly just petty.
Windows 11 arrives on October 5, kind of
On October 5, Windows 11 will begin rolling out to Windows 10 computers – maybe yours! – as well as shipping on new computers. Here’s Microsoft’s announcement. I gave you the big Windows 11 picture here and went through the details here.
Still have questions? Of course you do. I have all the answers as long as these are your questions.
Will you be able to get Windows 11 on October 5? Oh goodness, is that what you thought just because that’s what Microsoft said? Almost certainly not. Microsoft is crystal clear that you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 11 (a) sometime around October 5, or (b) by mid-2022, or (c) never. (Seriously. This is the exact quote: “The upgrade will then roll out over time to in-market devices based on intelligence models that consider hardware eligibility, reliability metrics, age of device and other factors that impact the upgrade experience. We expect all eligible devices to be offered the free upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022.” Microsoft is still mucking around with hardware requirements and some older PCs won’t ever get Windows 11.)
Why October 5? If they don’t get Windows 11 out in early October, then they’ll likely miss whatever tiny bit of extra sales it might generate during holiday shopping. Later in October the world will be distracted by the latest shiny objects from Apple and Google, and after that it’s too late.
Worth keeping in mind: Windows 11 isn’t ready. Microsoft is pushing out an upgrade that still needs testing. (See below.) Since it’s obvious that Windows 11 will have exactly zero effect on PC sales, why the rush? Ah, that was your question. I guess I don’t have all the answers.
Will this be a hard sell like the attempt to jam Windows 10 down our throats? My god I hope not.
Do you care about getting Windows 11? Absolutely not. It’s the most minor of facelifts for Windows 10. There will be advertising to convince you that you’re missing something. You’re not.
Windows 11 was killed last week by a Microsoft ad
Windows 11 – the operating system that Microsoft says is ready to roll out around the world in four weeks – crashed on many testers’ PCs last week until Microsoft rolled out an emergency fix. The Start menu and taskbar stopped working, making the computers effectively unusable.
What caused the crash? Why, I’m glad you asked. It was a f***ing Microsoft advertisement – a promotional message about how cool it is to use Windows 11 with Microsoft Teams. Something about the ad broke the whole operating system.
It reminds me of when Microsoft broke the entire Windows search system by screwing around with a behind-the-scenes connection to Bing.
Windows 11 will not include Android apps
When it announced Windows 11, Microsoft mentioned one brand new feature that it promised would be swell: Windows 11 will be able to run Android apps, using Intel technology that no one has ever heard of before. Not all Android apps; Microsoft is accomplishing this through a side deal with Amazon, which has its own limited Android app store, not the full selection available thru the Google app store on Android phones.
I was the teensiest bit skeptical. “Fairy tale,” yes, that’s what I called it. Google hasn’t even been able to make Android apps work very well on Chromebooks. It is impossible to imagine that Microsoft & Intel will succeed in making them work smoothly on Windows PCs.
As of today, the alleged Intel technology has still not seen the light of day and there has been no public testing. Microsoft finally confessed that the Android feature will not be ready when Windows 11 is released. Maybe sometime in 2022. Maybe never.
Do you care about Android apps on Windows? Oh my god no no no. Is there a burning need for any of us to run TikTok in a phone-shaped window on a computer screen?
Google will likely face yet another DOJ antitrust lawsuit
The antitrust war against big tech companies will heat up even further when the Department of Justice files another antitrust lawsuit against Google later this year, this time aimed at “Google’s power in the digital ad market, looking at how the company uses its dominance in auctions and ad technology to maintain its power,” according to sources who spoke to the New York Times.
It’s the second antitrust lawsuit against Google in less than a year. The DOJ and eleven states accused Google of abusing its monopoly power in online search in a lawsuit filed last October, just before the election.
Antitrust is complicated and the law is full of nuances and legalisms. But if you’ve been attending all the lectures, then you’ve heard me say over and over that current antitrust law is ill-suited for application to the tech companies.
Take online search. We choose to use Google for search because it works better than the alternatives – and Google has neither unfairly induced us to use it for search with, say, lower prices (that theory doesn’t apply to free services), nor has it erected unfair barriers to competitors.
The advertising market has some of the same characteristics. Advertisers choose to place ads through Google’s ad platform because they’ve decided they get the best return for their money there. Online advertising prices are set in auctions; advertisers bid for ad placement based on the performance of the ads. It’s hard to overcharge or manipulate prices in an auction, especially when advertisers have many other choices.
The antitrust lawsuit against Facebook was refiled after being tossed out of court
Meanwhile the Department of Justice refiled its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook after the first draft was tossed out of court because it didn’t stand up to even a moment’s scrutiny. The judge asked for some evidence – any evidence – that Facebook is a monopoly or that advertisers or consumers are harmed by Facebook’s market power.
Here’s one analyst making the point I just mentioned above – Facebook’s ad network really can’t overcharge advertisers since it’s running an auction. And can you really claim Facebook is a “monopoly” in an advertising market where it’s competing against Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, with Snap and Twitter generating nice profits for their own ad networks, and Apple positioning itself to join in?
Ben Thompson of Stratechery doesn’t think the DOJ’s amended complaint cures any of the problems that got the lawsuit tossed last time. The article is behind a paywall but this is the gist of it: “There are two major problems with this argument: the FTC’s own definitions, reasonably understood, don’t reflect reality, and second, the definitions themselves have no relation to the actual market for online services. . . . Facebook clearly can’t exclude competitors, and, it should be noted, doesn’t even have the means to raise prices; the FTC, frustratingly enough, doesn’t appear to understand how Facebook’s digital ad market works.”
Other than that, nothing is new this week. Hope everyone in the US had a relaxing three-day weekend!