An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...
Longhorn Faces More Delays
I've been visiting the Microsoft campus this week. And based on some unrelated bits of information I gleaned this week, I'm now convinced that Longhorn, the next major Windows release, will be delayed beyond even the dates that speculators have been throwing around. This news raises the specter, once again, of a possible Windows XP Second Edition release as an oasis between XP and Longhorn. Don't scoff. Contrary to official denials, Microsoft has indeed investigated an interim XP release and is now looking into it again.
Windows XP SP2 General Release Starts Monday; Why You Had to Wait
On Monday, so-called typical XP users will gain access to the Automatic Updates version of XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Readers have sent me a lot of questions about the wait. Specifically, they want to know why Microsoft opted to stagger XP SP2's availability when so many people are anxious to get the update. The reason might surprise you, and it has nothing to do with bandwidth concerns. Microsoft's support lines have been relatively quiet, but the company's partners are afraid that SP2 is going to unleash a torrent of support calls--calls that will go to them, not Microsoft. Therefore, out of deference to its partners, Microsoft decided to deploy the XP SP2 rollout in stages.
Microsoft Lets Corporate Users Block Windows XP SP2 Downloads
Speaking of XP SP2, Microsoft's corporate customers will be able to block the Automatic Updates download to their desktop users, thanks to a new tool created by--yep, you guessed it--Frank Stallone. Actually, Microsoft created the tool in response to requests from companies that want to enable Automatic Updates but don't want to deploy the XP SP2 upgrade until they can test it. The tool disables the download for 120 days, Microsoft says.
Microsoft Drops Next-Generation Terminal Services Update from Windows 2003 R2
As expected, Microsoft has quietly dropped a key feature from the upcoming Windows Server 2003 Release 2 (R2). The feature--a next-generation version of Terminal Services that's code-named Bear Paw--will now ship in a later Windows release, probably Longhorn Server, which is currently due about 60 years after the president of Earth launches a surprise attack on Alpha Centauri's alien race or in 2007, whichever comes first. Microsoft has also delayed Windows 2003 R2. Originally due in early 2005, the release is now scheduled for mid-2005, which I take to mean October.
EU Judge Asks Microsoft for More Information
According to an anonymous source, Judge Bo Vesterdorf, president of the European Union (EU) Court of First Instance, has asked Microsoft for more evidence to back up its contention that its intellectual property rights will be threatened if the company has to give competitors technical information about its server products. The request came during a closed-door meeting in which the company asked that the court delay Microsoft's EU-inflicted antitrust punishments until it has a chance to appeal the decision.
Microsoft Japan Head Questions Company's JFTC Approach
Michael Rawding, president and CEO of Microsoft Japan, admitted this week that his company's stance in a disagreement with the Fair Trade Commission of Japan (JFTC) will hurt Microsoft's image in that country. The disagreement concerns the JFTC's charges that Microsoft's licensing provisions violate the country's antimonopoly code. "It's never a good thing to be involved in this sort of activity," Rawding said. But, hey, Microsoft's behavior has never gotten the company into trouble before, has it?
After Short Stall, Munich Continues Linux Migration
Yesterday, the city of Munich, Germany, renewed its 14,000-PC migration to Linux, continuing the effort after a short politically related delay. The mayor of Munich has called for the bidding process to begin on the potentially lucrative project, which is valued at about $30 million and will eventually result in one of the largest open-source deployments on the planet. However, even this news doesn't mean that the migration will move ahead anytime soon. The mayor has pledged to delay the migration until a controversy over EU patent law is resolved. Even Boston's Big Dig, the tunnel project that was 5 years behind schedule, happened more quickly than this project.
HP Falls Short as Dell and IBM Surge
HP announced lower than expected profits for the quarter that ended in July, and the company warned investors that its current quarter will also be disappointing. Carly, say it isn't so. Surely the blue HP-branded iPod (the so-called hPod) will turn things around. No? Rivals Dell and IBM, which posted strong sales and market growth during the same period, trounced HP's results. Imagine how successful Dell and IBM could be if they sold iPods.
Google's "Playboy" Interview Raises IPO Concerns
It's not unusual for someone to bare it all in "Playboy" magazine. But this month's issue is unusual because Google's founders bare their souls in a "Playboy" interview, right in the midst of the so-called cooling-off period before the company launches its initial public offering (IPO). The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is allegedly investigating the interview, which appears in the September issue of the magazine, presumably between a cartoon and a list of the playmate of the month's favorite books.
Roxio Sells Software Division to Sonic Solutions
This week, Napster owner Roxio sold virtually its entire consumer software division to Sonic Solutions for $80 million so that Roxio can change its name to Napster and concentrate solely on getting the music service off the ground. And, contrary to charges by Apple Computer fanatics, Napster has been making money and is now poised to make even more. The Napster division has been earning $7 million to $8 million a quarter and will likely make about $40 million in its first year, according to Roxio. "With the news today, we are on a path to becoming a very well-funded pure play in one of the hottest sectors in the consumer technology market," Roxio Chairman and CEO Chris Gorog said. Indeed, the Napster division has about $130 million in cash, all of which will now go toward promoting its music service.