WinInfo Short Takes: Week of December 1

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...

Is Microsoft Shifting Concentration from .NET, Web Services?
   No. A curious "Computerworld" report this week says that Microsoft is moving away from Microsoft .NET and Web services in the Longhorn wave, a curious misreading of the company's plans. If anything, Longhorn is the .NET release Microsoft promised us 3 years ago, with deeply embedded Web-services technologies, including a .NET-based communications and collaboration infrastructure called Indigo. Indeed, Microsoft is shifting the software-development layer away from API-based Win32 libraries to the .NET-based WinFX framework, meaning that .NET will be the core method for accessing Longhorn's programmatic features--for the first time in any Windows version. Anyway, don't believe the report: .NET is still very much at the core of everything Microsoft is doing.

Lindows Trial Delayed
   This week, the US District Court in Seattle rescheduled a trial that pits Linux-maker Lindows.com against Microsoft; the trial is delayed another 3 months to March 2004, the second time this year the court has delayed it. Lindows.com argues that Microsoft's ownership of the trademark for the word "Windows" is bogus because windows is such a generic term. Earlier, Microsoft sued Lindows.com over its use of the term "Lindows," which Microsoft argued was too close to Windows and would cause consumer confusion. Lindows.com's abrupt about-face and countersuit cast doubts on the validity of Microsoft's Windows trademark, which Lindows.com court documents say that Microsoft procured mysteriously in the mid-1990s after multiple failed attempts.

Former Microsoft Employee Sentenced for Theft
   A former Microsoft employee who was arrested earlier this year for stealing software and selling it for personal gain was sentenced this week to 17 months in jail. Kori Robin Brown, a former administrative assistant in the Xbox Division, ordered more than $6 million worth of database software by using Microsoft's internal ordering system, then sold the software to third parties, often through the mail, which is a violation of federal mail-fraud laws. Let's hope that Brown uses his incarceration to pursue more fruitful skills, like software hacking or music downloading. But seriously, folks: Did the people who stole software at Microsoft that way honestly believe that they'd never be caught?

Server Market Grows Faster Than Expected
   Although the wider IT industry still seems to be stuck in a never-ending no-growth phase, last quarter the server market actually grew 2 percent--faster than analysts had expected. The growth, thanks largely to high sales of low-end server systems, represents the second straight quarter in which server sales have improved. And some server sales are dramatically better: According to IDC, volume server sales are up 19.5 percent--a dramatic improvement. IDC also notes that the top-four server makers--Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun Microsystems--accounted for more than 80 percent of all server revenues in the third quarter.

Dell DJ: An iPod Killer?
   Apple Computer's tenuous hold on the portable audio-player market might soon fall thanks to a predictable foe, Dell, whose Dell Digital Jukebox (Dell DJ) is off to a strong start. The Dell unit is a bit bigger than Apple's elegant iPod, but it features a more intuitive scrolling navigation wheel and support for Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, which all online music services except Apple use (even staunch Microsoft competitor RealNetworks, which has its own audio and video formats, uses WMA--a telling decision). The Dell DJ, which I previewed at COMDEX last week and will review soon for Connected Home EXPRESS, also features dramatically better battery life than the iPod, lower prices, a built-in audio recorder, and--gasp--a simpler interface than the iPod. As the owner of two iPods, I've long expected the PC world to catch up with--and surpass--Apple's entry. My only surprise is that it's taken this long. After all, Creative Labs, a PC company, not Apple, first innovated the hard-disk-based portable media player.

Linux 2.6 Due in December
   Open-source developers will ship a new version of the Linux kernel, version 2.6, as soon as mid-December, providing Linux users with major new functionality compared with the earlier "stable" Linux kernel, version 2.4. Linux 2.6 will help the open-source sensation scale well beyond four CPUs, a major stumbling block for rolling out Linux in large servers today. It also includes better support for the embedded products on which Linux will likely be quite popular, faster interaction with mouse and keyboard clicks, and overhauled interfaces for storage devices. Expect a slow burn to the 2.6 kernel, however: Most major Linux distributions probably won't switch over until the kernel has been extensively tested, perhaps as late as 2005.

See You Monday!
   This week is a short week; we'll be on hiatus tomorrow and Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, but if anything dramatic happens over the long weekend, I'll post it to the WinInfo Web site. Have a great weekend; see you Monday!

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