Latvians see funny side of Vista

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By  Published  September 22, 2006

Microsoft has been so busy tying up loose ends and bugs in its much-hyped Windows Vista operating system (OS) that it may have overlooked a problem staring it in the face.

That is the actual name of the program itself, according to various news reports. It appears that in Latvia, the term Vista refers to ‘chicken’ and, ahem, a ‘frumpy’ woman.

Being the global giant it is, obviously Microsoft would have its team scouring all four corners of the globe to find a universally acceptable moniker for its OS. But they forgot Latvia.

The folks at Microsoft Latvia are putting a brave face on it. “The name of the new operating system is well known in international communication and means vision, a view, a perspective,” asserted Ilze Nagla, public relations manager at Microsoft Latvia.

“When Latvians learn of the technical opportunities the system offers, they will pay more attention to its advantages not its name,” she claimed.

Arvis, a Latvian IT manager, said the country has got behind the name, after having a chuckle that is. “My people giggle about Vista. But I think its positive because there are not many computer-related things that make you laugh.”

Now if only they would tell us what Linux translates as…

Apple’s new pie

Apple announced a new video download service with much fanfare this month. Steve Jobs and co are probably wishing it will have the same effect on video content as Apple’s iTunes has had on the music download and digital devices — totally revolutionise it and give Apple a big slice of the digital download pie in the process.

The download service is mooted to go international in 2007, reported newswire computeractive. But the firm threw a curveball at those folk that had assembled at the press conference, with the announcement of the iTV. This device, claimed Jobs, was “the final piece of the picture”, allowing users to play the same files on computers, iPods and TVs.

Brushing aside ‘Apple bombs’ such as the rockr iPod phone and the videoiPod, Jobs clearly sees the iTV as the future of digital video, but is iTV — fine looking device as it is — already out of date in an already crowded video streaming market?

Download duel

Internet retailer Amazon has also introduced an online video service — the unbox. Amazon will offer downloads of film and TV shows as well as digital movie rentals from major studios including Warner Bros and Universal — but nothing from Apple’s pal Disney.

If the customer so wishes, a hard copy DVD can also be purchased. As with Apple, the huge customer base available to Amazon should ensure a readymade audience and boost the popularity of video downloads.

However, the big difference is that Amazon is not trying to sell a box which is propriety-controlled. Will this make a difference? It will come down to price — whether Apple’s pricing can competitively match Amazon’s rate.

After all, the internet retailer is offering US$3.99 to download a film. And with US online music store Emusic opening up in Europe to offer unrestricted downloads for just a few cents in comparison to Apple, the giant has a battle on its hands.

Firewall of China

To the eyes of many in the West, China represents the archetypal red menace, where individual rights are erased by a faceless beaurocratic machine.

Well, that could well be closer to the truth after news emerged that a court in the country has used a software program to determine more than 1,500 criminal cases, Reuters reported.

The Zichuan District Court in Zibo has pioneered the procedure, along with software developer Qin Ye who claimed,

“The software is aimed at ensuring standardised decisions on prison terms. Our programs set standard terms for any subtle distinctions in different cases of the same crime.”

Not so, claim Chinese newspapersm pinpointing the ‘laziness of the court” and judicial corruption as being more worthy of reform, particularly as many judges in lower courts have not attended law school.

And, as trial committees consisting of judges and Communist party officials normally decide Chinese court rulings, it is difficult to say what role the program will have on cases.

Mario fights on

As we have seen in the electronic market place, it is not always the device with the highest spec that will win out. Take Microsoft’s Xbox360 for example.

This next-generation gaming console with PC capabilities, has been stealing a march in the US and other territories — thanks to Sony delaying its much-vaunted PlayStaion3 console. But in Japan it’s a different story as sales of the Xbox360 have been outsold by — Nintendo’s obsolete GameCube, according to a report on

So the Xbox360 is being beaten by an aged console, all but abandoned by its manufacturer in other parts of the world.

Although the report goes on to say that the Xbox 360 is slowly gaining ground it has a lot of work to do, especially as Sony and Nintendo intend to release their next-generation consoles in time for the holiday season.

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