'

Microsoft heads to the Supreme Court and other news of the week

Microsoft takes its patent plea to the U.S. Supreme Court this week; IE 9 starts being pushed (in earnest) to Windows users via Windows Update; and the Windows Intune beta ends -- all happening this week.

Here's a quick round-up of Microsoft-related news for the coming week, as well as a couple leftovers from last week.

Microsoft takes its i4i patent fight to the Supreme Court

Monday, April 18, is the day when the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Microsoft's argument as to why the courts should make it easier for companies to challenge the validity of patents. Apple, Cisco, Intel, Google, Verizon and other tech companies are in Microsoft's camp on this one, while a number of pharmaceutical makers, General Electric and a handful of others are against the proposed changes. Citing the i4i case over a Microsoft Word-related patent (which Microsoft lost), the Redmondians are trying to make it tougher for patent trolls to sue companies with deep pockets. A ruling isn't expected in the matter until June 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Windows Intune beta expires on April 18

The beta for Microsoft's Windows-management service, Windows Intune, is being phased out as of Monday, April 18. Testers may opt to enroll in a 30-day free trial, to license the final version of the service or to have their Intune beta software and services come to an end.

Microsoft: April 18 is when IE 9 starts being pushed to Windows users

While a number of Windows users began noticing that the final version Of Internet Explorer (IE) 9 was showing up in their Windows Update queues a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft is touting April 18 as the first day that its newest browser is being made available to those who didn't download a beta or release-candidate test build. (The discrepancy in the timing revolves around one's definition of "offered" and "pushed.") But according to a (somewhat) clearer blog post from the IE team, the company is planning to begin delivering IE 9 to Windows users via various updating mechanisms as of this Tuesday, through the end of June. The final version of IE 9 will be pushed via Windows Server Update Services in June, officials added.

AT&T users inch closer to Windows Phone 7 updates

On April 15, Microsoft notified users of LG Quantum and Samsung Focus Windows Phone 7 devices on AT&T that they were "a big step closer to getting updates." Microsoft officials changed the "Where's My Phone Update" chart to say that these two phones are now in the "scheduling" phase (as opposed to the "testing" phase). That means the first update-the-updater (February) and the NoDo cut-and-paste (March) updates could begin any time in the next 10 days or so. Microsoft also will be pushing two AT&T features -- WISPr protocol support and AT&T address book support -- as part of the update, according to an April 15 "Windows Phone Blog" entry. Microsoft officials noted that the HTC Surround still is in testing, however, and has not yet moved out of the AT&T testing stage. One of the third-party software "packages" for the HTC Surround still needs more testing, the Softies said.

And, in spite of rumors last month that Verizon might be announcing its WP7 plans on April 15, that date's come and gone. The new rumored Verizon launch of WP7 is May or June -- seven or eight months after the initial WP7 launch. Sigh.