Vaporware or real deal? Channel Nostradamus with the Microsoft Product Predictor
"Say, Em," said Fabio to your faithful columnist the other day,
"did you hear the latest about Natalie Portman?" The dear boy
was leafing through a copy of National
(one of those lovely tabloids that beckon to you from
the other side of the supermarket checkout counter) at the time, so I
didn't pay him much mind.
After all, this noble ex-cowpoke is far above that sort of day-to-day
gossip and rumor-mongering, right? Leave that for the plebes; we sysadmins
and top-notch developers have better things to do with our time.
It was only when I turned back to reading Slashdot
http://slashdot.org that I had second
thoughts about this glib dismissal. We might not care about the latest
Hollywood hoo-hah, but let someone mention a rumor of a new product from
Microsoft or Apple and we're all over it. News sites will make up news,
bloggers will start flame wars, and discussion sites will heat up as soon
as the napkin from a software engineer's lunch is discovered in the trash
basket with a few cryptic notes scrawled on it.
Now, the problem with rumors is that so few of them are true. You don't
want to be casually telling your coworkers that Microsoft is getting ready
to ship a full management application for the restaurant industry only
to have the announcement be that they're dropping copies of Windows XP
SP2 into kiddie meals instead. A few gaffes like that will ruin your credibility,
and you'll have all the solitude you could ever want in the lunchroom.
Fear not! At great personal danger (I had to take some Microsoft
people out to lunch, and they prefer to eat at the strangest places),
your dear Auntie has developed the Microsoft Product Predictor. Just apply
these simple rules to the next Microsoft product rumor you happen to run
- +1 point if the project has a geographical code name that refers to
either an exotic locale or a ski resort
- -1 point if the project has any connection whatsoever to an object-oriented
rewrite of the Windows file system
- +1 point if Google already has a Web application in the same space
- +1 point if the latest delay is explained by the necessity for a "security
- +1 point if the product can be construed as an attack on Linux or
open-source software in general
- -1 point if the product involves music or video without some sort
of rights management scheme
- +1 point if the product has already generated at least one dubious
- -1 point if allegedly leaked screenshots show obvious Photoshop tampering
- +1 point if the product will require people to upgrade to a new version
- +1 point if the product has the MSN or Xbox branding
- -1 point if the product uses a completely open and license-free file
- -1 point if the product runs on an operating system other than Windows
- -1 point if the product is hardware and looks sexy
- +1 point if the product attempts to bring Windows to a new device
such as a toaster oven or cordless hedge trimmer
- +1 point if the product was acquired by buying a small company instead
of being developed in-house
- +1 point if the product requires three different servers to function
- -1 point if the product is supposed to be free when it releases
Just add up all the points and refer to this handy key to determine whether
you should pass on the rumor or sneer at it knowingly:
- 0 points or less—This product may ship from Cupertino,
but it won't come from Redmond.
- 1-3 points—If this ever ships, it will be after three
years of schedule slips, and the final product will bear no resemblance
whatsoever to the original announcements.
- 4-6 points—Microsoft will likely ship this one, if another
security patch for Windows doesn't distract their attention.
- 7 points or more—If you don't already have this one, you're
not on the A list at Microsoft.
Well, I hope that's of some help for your next after-hours bull session
with your officemates. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go find out
just why Fabio was reading about Natalie Portman in the first place.
Got any juicy rumors of your own to pass on? Or are you ready to
hide in a hole and ignore the news sites entirely? E-mail her at Auntie@mcpmag.com
and, if your comments make it online, you'll earn yourself a nifty MCPmag.com
Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.