An irreverent look at some of the week's other news
Microsoft posts new Whistler build
Microsoft provided its Whistler beta testers with a second preview release, build 2257, last night. Whistler 2257 ships in Personal, Professional, Server, and Advanced Server editions, while offering a number of new features including a new Start Panel replacement for the Start Menu, a new-look "Professional" skin and more. Microsoft hopes to ship the first beta of Whistler, which will replace Windows 2000 sometime late next year, later this fall.
Best take yet on the Office/Linux rumors
Since breaking the news that Microsoft was secretly trying to port its Office apps to Linux and other versions of UNIX, I've been amazed to see the reactions and stories that have sprung up around the Net. Most of these were written without even a cursory email asking what happened, but some people actually took the time to research the story, and I appreciate that. Chief among these are InfoWorld's Bob Trott, who was very gracious, and CNET's Joe Wilcox, who wrote what I consider to be the ultimate take on this story.
Nintendo finally announces plans for Dolphin
Once dominant video game console maker Nintendo finally unveiled plans for its generation machine, which will be marketed as the GameCube when it's release late next year. The GameCube, which was developed under the code-name Dolphin, will go head-to-head with the PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox in a suddenly crowded field. But Nintendo has a number of marketing plans up its digital sleeve, including integration with its next-generation GameBoy device, whose predecessor was a runaway success.
Microsoft releases new FrontPage Server Extensions
Thanks to Allen Harkleroad for the tip: Microsoft has quietly released a major upgrade to its FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions, which will run on Windows 9x, NT, and Windows 2000. Microsoft FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions SR1.2 is a recommended download for anyone using these extensions of Windows-based Web servers, as it fixes a number of security problems and other issues. For more information, please visit the Microsoft Web site.
Microsoft quietly re-adds text-based HCL
Back when Windows 2000 first came out, you could check out a text-based version of the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) from the Microsoft FTP site. This was nice if you needed to, say, head down to Best Buy and pick a new NIC, and you wanted to be sure that you got one that worked with the then-new OS: You could just print out that section of the HCL. But the company soon switched to a nasty Web-based version of the HCL, killing the FTP-based text one. Well good news for those that missed it, the FTP-based HCL is back! You can find the Win2K HCL, along with Microsoft's other Windows HCLs (including one for Windows Me) on the MS FTP site where it belongs.
A possible explanation for the Windows Me release date?
I've gotten a lot of feedback on my wondering about the Windows Me release date, which is a good three months after its RTM date; typically, Microsoft releases products to retail about 6 weeks after RTM. James Champlin has what I consider to be the best guess: "Microsoft has pledged to update Consumer Windows every year, so if they released Windows Me in July, there would have been quite a bit longer between its release, and the projected release of Windows.Net in October 2001," he said. "And seeing how Microsoft has never been on time, they may be trying to keep the interval as close to a year as possible." A couple of readers noted that Microsoft probably wanted to give hardware makers enough time to get their Windows Me-compatible drivers ready, and I guess that makes sense too. But I really enjoy the conspiracy version better myself.
Microsoft releases new Speech SDK beta
Thanks to John Carnell for tipping me off to a new version of the Microsoft Speech SDK, which includes a newly redesigned COM-based Win32 speech API, new samples, source code, documentation, sample engines, and the Microsoft Speech Recognition and Microsoft Text-to-Speech engines. If you're a developer looking to get into speech interfaces, head on over to the Microsoft Speech SDK Web site and check it out.
Differences between the OEM and MSDN versions of Windows Me
Thanks to Kevin Glatz for this intriguing link: The folks at TackTech have compared the OEM and MSDN versions of the Windows Me CD-ROM to see what the differences are, effectively ending a debate that's been raging in the newsgroups for weeks. For the decidedly techy results of this comparison, check out the TackTech Web site