An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...
Java Judge Compares Microsoft to Tonya Harding
Could I make up anything funnier than this? US District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz compared Microsoft's behavior toward Sun Microsystems' Java to Tonya Harding hiring a thug to "kneecap" Nancy Kerrigan during the 1994 Olympic trials. He made the comments on the last day of hearings to determine whether Sun will take Microsoft to court over charges that the software giant illegally retarded the market growth of Java, a Sun-created cross-platform programming language and runtime environment, by bundling an incompatible Java version in Windows. Judge Motz probably won't grant Sun a preliminary injunction against Microsoft, however; such an injunction would force the company to immediately bundle Java in Windows. Judge Motz will rule on Sun's preliminary injunction request in 10 days, but he has already suggested that the company drop its injunction request and go straight to trial.
Java Hearings End on an Up Note. You Know, for Sun.
And speaking of the Java hearings, the mood in court this week was decidedly pro-Sun as Judge Motz obviously sided with the company in its fight against Microsoft. Judge Motz made several damning comments about Microsoft's behavior, which he says distorted competition in the marketplace. The stakes are high, too: Sun's Java is wrestling with Microsoft .NET for relevance in the emerging market for cross-platform interoperability with the Internet and Web services. Not coincidentally, .NET will probably see its biggest boost through bundling with Windows.
Joint Venture Proposes High-Speed Wireless Network
AT&T, IBM, and Intel announced today that they have formed a new company, Cometa Networks, which will create a nationwide wireless (Wi-Fi-based) network in the United States. Cometa's goals are impressive. The company will deploy more than 20,000 wireless Access Points (AP) across the country by the end of 2004, providing customers with wireless broadband Internet connections within a 5-minute walk or drive of most people in the United States. Cometa will offer the service through cellular and wireless companies and DSL- and cable modem-based broadband Internet suppliers. The idea is simple, if far-reaching: Customers who subscribe to the service will be able to open up wireless-equipped laptops, PDAs, and other devices anywhere in the United States and receive a seamless wireless connection to the Internet, without having to sign on or provide credit card information, as is the case now with the various ad hoc services. Cometa will offer service in the 50 largest US metropolitan areas first, then spread out to less-populated areas.
CPP Members to Get Win.NET Server 2003 RC2 Soon
As promised, Microsoft released Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) 2003 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) yesterday. If you're in the Customer Preview Program (CPP), you should now (or will soon) have access to the RC downloads.
Microsoft Has the Best Brand
Microsoft's brand equity surpassed that of General Electric (GE) in third quarter 2002; the software giant controlled $49.5 billion of brand equity compared with GE's $43.6 billion. So what's brand equity, you ask? (I asked the same question.) According to CoreBrand, the branding consultancy that formulated these numbers, brand equity is an assessment of a company's brand strength combined with financial performance. The final figure is the percentage of market capitalization that's attributable solely to the company's brand.
IDC Interview Addresses Linux vs. Windows
In response to the recently released IDC survey that Microsoft commissioned, LinuxPlanet interviewed IDC researcher Dan Kusnetzky, one of the principal authors of the report. Kusnetzky told LinuxPlanet that the total cost of ownership (TCO) figures mentioned in the report aren't always the most important factors enterprises should consider when comparing Linux to Windows and that, frankly, he was surprised Windows didn't outpace Linux by a wider margin. The story is an interesting read if you're into the whole Linux versus Windows debate.
More Signs of Tech-Sector Recovery ...
As we careen toward another holiday sales season, we can see some interesting signs of economic recovery in the tech sector. First, technology research firm IDC reports that 2003 worldwide PC shipments will jump by more than 8 percent to 136 million units; portable computers will be the star, jumping 14 percent, year over year. In addition, AMD and Intel have boosted their financial projections for fourth quarter 2002. AMD will see growth of 35 percent, up from its previous estimate of 20 percent, and Intel says it will hit $7 billion in revenue this quarter, up 5 percent to 8 percent from previous estimates. Finally, major US retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City are reporting huge quarterly sales gains in the most recent quarter. Both companies also experienced strong upticks during the crucial long weekend after Thanksgiving, which was a record-setting sales event for the overall retail industry.
... and a Few Signs That Suggest We're Not Out of the Woods Yet
But some companies aren't doing so great. PC maker Gateway continues to struggle; the company is eyeing store closings and other cost savings while noting that Thanksgiving weekend sales were lower than expected. Apple Computer danced around a similar concern by not discussing the long weekend's sales but claiming that foot traffic in its retail stores hit an all-time high; I'd argue that foot traffic in mall-based stores on the biggest retail weekend in history means little if sales don't happen as a result. The educational market is expelling Apple at an alarming rate, according to a recent survey that says that the company lost its dominance of the K-12 market years ago and now owns just 21 percent of that market, down from more than 65 percent a decade ago. Almost 80 percent of US school officials say they will buy Windows PCs this year instead of Macintoshes. Finally, struggling AOL Time Warner will probably start layoffs in its AOL online services division. If AOL does start layoffs, I think we all know where they should start. Yep, you guessed it--with Frank Stallone.
Mozilla 1.2.1 Released
You might recall my recommendation about Mozilla last week. Since then, programmers at Mozilla.org discovered a problem in version 1.2's rendering of Dynamic HTML (DHTML), and the developers fixed that bug in version 1.2.1. So if you downloaded version 1.2, you might consider upgrading to the latest release.