Microsoft updates EULA to forbid class action lawsuits

Gavin Clarke, for The Register:

Under the new licence, US consumers upset with Microsoft’s products must pursue the company through a small-claims court or to arbitration. Where an arbitrator suggests damages greater than any settlement proposed by Microsoft, the company will pay whichever is largest: the higher damages or $1,000 for “most products and services”. Microsoft will also pay double the claimant’s fees.

The change was shuffled out the door on the Friday before the long Memorial Day holiday weekend in the US.

Nice.

Sandboxing and broken Mac apps

Apple is about to implement a new rule for Mac application developers who want their wares on the Mac App Store.  All programs submitted after June 1st must be “sandboxed,” which basically means that they have to be self contained the way iOS apps are.  When an iOS app crashes it has no effect on the system as a whole- you can just relaunch the app and keep working.  Apple is shooting for the same level of stability for the Mac.

This is a pretty controversial move amongst developers.  They have been writing code for the Mac since Day 1, 1984, pretty much any way they want.  There are plenty of arguments for why Apple’s strict new policy is bad news for developers.  Plenty of existing apps on the store now don’t meet these requirements and won’t be allowed to submit updates until they are “fixed.” Andy Ihnatko breaks it down nicely on his blog:

I will quickly categorize three standout types of “broken” apps:

1) An app that fundamentally can’t function in a sandboxed environment. Generally, system apps that do something Wonderfully Clever. It can’t work, so it won’t be updated.

2) An app that uses a Clever Trick as a shortcut. Developer will finally sit down and figure out how to make that function work within the new rules.

3) An app that’s simply old and in its “dividend” phase. Maybe it doesn’t work because of a shortcut, maybe it doesn’t work because it hasn’t been updated to completely use the modern framework. It’s not that there are any technical barriers to making it work under the new system, but at this point in the app’s life it generates enough revenue only to support simple bugfixes, and not top-to-bottom rewrites. Developer shrugs, thinks “Okay, my Austin Powers Talking Clock had a good run and now it’s time to move on” and the app dies.

With WWDC right around the corner, you can be sure to hear plenty more on this subject.  Some developers have already pledged to jump ship, but we’ll see how widespread this becomes.

Windows 8, now with reduced cheese

Gavin Clarke at The Register:

Microsoft must really love Windows 8, or hate its legacy install base.

The Aero interface introduced with the hated Windows Vista and perpetuated with the loved Windows 7 is being canned from Windows 8, the company has revealed.

In another achingly long Windows 8 blog post, Microsoft called the Aero interface it once championed and poured so much love upon “dated and cheesy”. Yes, Windows 7 peeps, it’s official: you’re using a cheesy-lookin’ piece of software.

Microsoft is attempting to move two disjointed interfaces slightly closer together, much the way Apple has been doing with iOS and OS X, so I’m willing to give them a pass on this latest round of tinkering.  It still remains a mistake, however, to bolt the traditional desktop metaphor onto tablets.

The unlimited data endgame

Wireless carriers are tripping over each other to end the unlimited data plans they used to lure customers in just a few years ago.  No new user can get one, and existing “grandfathered” ones are slowly being pushed off the ledge.  Verizon is the latest example.  After announcing that they were killing off unlimited data for everyone, they backed off a bit.  PCWorld:

Unlimited data users will have to give up an unlimited data plan only if they purchase a subsidized phone when renewing a two-year contract. In other words, if later this year you go into Verizon to upgrade to the latest iPhone and buy the phone for $200, you can kiss your unlimited data plan goodbye.

But if you shelled out the non-subsidized price for the device, about $650 for a 16GB iPhone 4S from Verizon, you keep your unlimited plan.

It’s not a bad deal, but most customers won’t go for that, and Verizon knows it.  Don’t think AT&T isn’t watching this one closely.

Will OS X Mountain Lion be free?

Computerworld ponders the possibility of the next iteration of OS X being free of charge:

After all, just how much does the world’s most valuable company need the comparatively paltry $200 million it can expect to realize from c.10 million sales of its OS? Moving to a free upgrade model would enable Apple to deploy major OS improvements to a wide audience extremely quickly, and with the goal clearly being that of a device-agnostic computing experience supported by iCloud, this might be exactly the way to ensure the level of market take-up an operating system needs to achieve that goal.

With iOS, we as consumers have come to expect annual software updates that are significant and free.  Why not follow the same course of action with the Mac?