If you get invited to a big news conference by Microsoft and Novell, you read from the script and maybe even throw in an extra nod to the...

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If you get invited to a big news conference by Microsoft and Novell, you read from the script and maybe even throw in an extra nod to the guys across the lake.

“OK, first of all, let me say that Seattle is just a suburb of Redmond, Washington, from a technology point of view,” said Bill Schrier, the city of Seattle’s chief technology officer, at the Thursday announcement of agreements between the two companies that shook the open-source world.

Schrier made a quick plug for the city’s Web site, www.seattle.gov, which took first place in the Center for Digital Government’s 2006 contents. He went on to describe how Seattle would benefit from the Microsoft-Novell pact, since it would make it easier for businesses and organizations to run both Windows and Linux servers.

The city’s Web site is based on Microsoft technology, so Seattle could only buy applications for citizens to pay bills and taxes and other things from companies that write software for the Windows environment.

“With this agreement, we’ll be able to get the other half of those Web applications, the ones that run on Linux, because Linux will also now run on our Web site,” Schrier said. “So we’ll have twice as many applications and services available for the citizens and constituents of Seattle.”

Monopoly play?

The Zune billboards and commercials have been out for a while now, and Microsoft’s marketing types seem to know what they’re up against in facing the Apple iPod, which controls 77 percent of the U.S. market for digital media players. Or do they?

Hot spots

The number of commercial Wi-Fi

hot spots is expected to increase by 47 percent worldwide to 143,700 this year, with three-fourths of them in North America.

Source: ABI Research

“Apple is an incredible brand,” Chris Stephenson, general manager of Zune marketing, told Bloomberg. “It’s a hard challenge even for a company with the resources we have. But we do believe people want a differentiated device. No one brand is going to control a market this size.”

Well, maybe, but let’s review another market that’s considerably bigger. Take operating systems, for example, where Microsoft owned 78.5 percent of the market in 1995 and 92.8 percent in 2005, according to IDC.

Computer Eden

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is opening an exhibit devoted to the birth of the personal-computer industry and Albuquerque’s place in it.

Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen launched Microsoft in Albuquerque to be closer to MITS. Their first product was the BASIC programming language for the MITS Altair 8800, widely regarded as the first personal computer.

The exhibit, called STARTUP, boasts “one-of-a-kind artifacts, video and interactive displays, including ‘Rise of the Machines’ (Wasn’t that the subtitle of Terminator 3?) — an immersive multimedia theatre experience.”

Sponsors include Allen, who is scheduled to attend an invitation-only opening event Nov. 16; his sister, Jo Allen Patton; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft.

We love Wi-Fi

A survey of adults who have broadband access at home — sponsored by a pro-Wi-Fi group — came to some interesting conclusions about how much we love our Wi-Fi:

Nine out of 10 Americans surveyed said they would rather go without Starbucks for a year than give up their Wi-Fi connection (89 percent vs. 11 percent).

But what if you get your Wi-Fi at Starbucks? Could you give up Starbucks for a year then? Apparently the survey did not ask.

About 83 percent agree that using someone else’s Wi-Fi without that person’s knowledge is stealing.

Eight out of 10 said it would be worse to lose their Wi-Fi for a week than for their team to lose the big game this weekend. (81 percent vs. 19 percent).

We find this final data point particularly hard to believe and question who, exactly, were the participants in the survey.

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 biztech@seattletimes.com.