Bill Gates has a birthday coming up, but it doesn't look like his staff will be getting him a new operating system. Windows Vista is nearly...

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Bill Gates has a birthday coming up, but it doesn’t look like his staff will be getting him a new operating system.

Windows Vista is nearly done and should be in the hands of businesses in November and consumers in January, according to the company’s schedule.

That’s not soon enough to give the Microsoft chairman and co-founder an operating system that’s been a long time coming. Windows XP launched Oct. 25, 2001, several days before Gates turned 46.

Gates, a Scorpio, turns 51 Saturday. So if not a new version of his company’s flagship product, just what do you get the richest man in the world?

Amazon body slam

Add ThinkEquity Partners to the healthy list of analysts unhappy with The firm gave Amazon a “sell’ recommendation last week and predicted a 10 percent share-price drop.

“Glitches, frustrations and outright goofiness remain all too common on Amazon’s site … and in its distribution,” wrote two analysts about Amazon’s new video-download service, called Unbox. They added they were “too trusting” of Amazon management.

Mobile on a roll

Worldwide sales of mobile handsets and devices are expected to top 1 billion by the end of the year.

Source: ABI Research

“We are almost embarrassed to admit that we would have expected something substantial to emerge from the current ‘investment’ cycle,” they wrote.

Not a good note for the company on the cusp of the holiday-shopping season.

Hanging up

A growing number of Americans are getting rid of their landline phones, and Seattle is in the top 10 list of cities where this trend is happening the fastest.

The top city was Detroit, with 19 percent of its households now wireless-only. Seattle ranked seventh, with 13 percent of households going wireless.

Interestingly, bleeding-edge San Francisco, hip to all the latest trends, showed only 5 percent of households going wireless.

“For topology and zoning reasons,” speculated Kanishka Agarwal, vice president of new products at Telephia, the market-research company that conducted the survey, “mobile networks in San Francisco are not as reliable as compared to other top cities, and it’s a less attractive substitute.”

Out of steam

Starbucks is ending its four-episode podcast series this week, a moment that couldn’t come soon enough for some people who checked out the promotional effort.

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Johnson roasted the company’s podcasts in a column last month, particularly the speakers’ overuse of the word “coffee” (82 times in 13 minutes) and the lack of passion and spontaneity.

Marketwatch columnist Frank Barnako wondered in a blog last week if the podcast’s host, Scott McMartin, was even interested in the conversation. Come on, could it be that bad?

We tuned in to one and found McMartin spoke too fast and used drab sentences like this:

“You may not realize it, but when you buy a bag of coffee, or even a cup of coffee, there’s a big story behind that cup of coffee and it really begins in coffee-producing countries — origin countries, if you will.”

OK, so the podcasts are more like steamed milk than Espresso Macchiato, but they’re not much worse than others out there.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or