Weekend news roundup: death of Windows Live, is social killing innovation?

28 May 2012

Looking back over some of the international newspaper stories about tech, including Microsoft’s decision to kill the Windows Live brand, how UK cookie law might be out of step with the rest of Europe and how the skeptics may be proven wrong about evolution, thanks to the acceleration of scientific discovery.

The death of Windows Live

The New York Times wrote pretty much what can be summed up as an obituary for the Windows Live ecosystem.

Randall Stross describes Microsoft’s dalliance with Windows Live as a “strange marketing episode” that endeavoured to trade on the instinctive success of Xbox Live but failed miserably.

“I bring this up because Microsoft acts as if its customers have a strong affection for all things Windows. For the last seven years, it has tried to make Windows the anchor brand for software that is not an operating system.

“An array of products, with no natural connections to one another, have received the ‘Windows Live’ moniker. Windows Live Essentials, for example, was the name for a suite of software products that could be installed on a PC, and included photo management, video editing and instant messaging. Windows Live Mesh provided file synchronisation among one’s personal computers, including Macs. And the list went on: Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Search, Windows Live Toolbar, Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Writer, and others.

“It was folly.

“Windows Live Essentials turned out to be less than essential after all. The company is effectively leaving behind the Windows Live brand name as it renames the products that currently feature that two-word phrase.”

Is social media killing Silicon Valley?

The San Jose Mercury News had an interesting story about how social media actually may be killing Silicon Valley and the steps some people are taking to remedy the situation.

It reported how Stanford professor and Silicon Valley investor Steve Blank fears investors’ views have been distorted. Blank, one of the valley’s most influential voices on entrepreneurship, worries that venture capitalists and angel investors – and he doesn’t exclude himself – have become too obsessed with the quick returns promised by social media. It just doesn’t make the same financial sense to pour money into companies that might be more innovative but take longer to pay off in fields like medicine or robotics.

By distorting investment priorities, Blank fears that social media is killing Silicon Valley.

“I think it’s pushing real innovation outside of our country,” Blank said. “And it might be the demise of what we actually do in Silicon Valley.”

Skeptics will soon be left in no doubt about evolution

USA Today had an interesting interview with noted paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, who predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history.

Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born Leakey expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the skeptics can accept it.

“If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it’s solid, that we are all African, that colour is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive,” Leakey says, “then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges.”

UK could be left out of step with EU cookie law

The Guardian reported that changes to cookies law changed at 11th hour to introduce ‘implied consent’ in the UK may leave the country out of step with EU law in implementation of continent-wide directives.

Charles Arthur reported Saturday that in an updated version of its advice for websites on how to use cookies – small text files that are stored on the user’s computer and can identify them – the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said that websites can assume that users have consented to their use of them.

The advice was only updated on Thursday, 48 hours before the deadline for implementing the new rules, and published the next day.

“This is a striking shift,” said Stephen Groom, head of marketing and privacy law at the law firm Osborne Clarke. “Previously, the ICO said that implied consent would be unlikely to work. Now it says that implied consent is a valid form of consent.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years