WinInfo Short Takes: Week of February 13 - 09 Feb 2001

Microsoft: IE 6 Is Not for Windows XP Only
While visiting Redmond this week, I was able to clarify a confusing rumor that's been floating around the Internet. The next version of Internet Explorer (IE), IE 6, will indeed be available for free download for Windows OSs such as Windows 2000, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), and Windows 98; IE 6 isn't intended for Windows XP (Whistler) only. Microsoft officials I talked to this week seem to believe that the company made a public statement to that effect, but I haven't seen it yet. Expect a public beta sometime this quarter, probably around the time that Windows XP Beta 2 ships.

Windows Branding Not That Confusing
A report in ZDNN suggests that Windows branding is getting confusing, but I don't see it that way. Yes, we had Windows Me, Win98SE, and Win9x  as part of the same family, and then Win2K and Windows NT 4.0. So now we have Windows XP, which only refers to the client versions (branding for the Windows Server refreshes hasn't been determined yet, I'm told). Windows XP Home Edition will replace the Windows Me/Win9x line and Windows XP Professional will replace Win2K Professional. So XP is the new name for all desktop Windows versions. What's confusing about that? If anything, the new naming scheme is simpler. Looking ahead to the next-generation Server products, I've heard that the name will simply be called Windows Server, with the possibility of year suffixes (e.g., Windows Server 2002). Does anyone other than a few journalists really find this approach confusing?

Analyst Downgrades Microsoft Stock
This week, an influential Merrill Lynch analyst downgraded Microsoft's long-term rating from "buy" to "accumulate," a move that questions whether the company can dominate the Internet the same way it dominated the desktop. Henry Blodget noted that 95 percent of the company's operating profits comes from desktop software sales, leaving the company open to a slowdown as that market matures. Microsoft stock responded to the report accordingly, falling almost $3, to $62, dragging down a lot of other tech stocks with it. Is this guy's job to predict or cause problems?

Dell To Ship Linux, Oracle Servers
This week, Dell reported that the company will ship servers bundled with Red Hat Linux and Oracle's 9i database and application server. A close Microsoft partner, Dell is the most prominent of the many PC makers that have made strides recently with non-Windows OSs, a situation that wouldn't have occurred just a few years ago. As part of the deal, Dell will open a Linux center at its corporate campus in Austin, Texas.

Microsoft Hits the Road to Teach Technology to Minorities
Microsoft will launch a 14-city workshop tour to promote technology to minority US business owners, although some people question the tour's timing, coming as it does just a month after past and present employees hit the company with a class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination. But Microsoft says the tour is designed to drum up new business and educate small business about its technology. You make the call.

Netscape 6.01 Released
Responding to the universal criticism that greeted the release of its Netscape 6.0 browser (does anyone actually use this dog?), AOL Time Warner has released an upgrade--version 6.01. Netscape 6.01 features enhanced stability and reliability and a number of fixes for frequently reported problems. You can download the 32MB installer from the Netscape FTP site.

Microsoft: Remove Judge Jackson
This week, after learning that later this month the US Court of Appeals will review Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's conduct, Microsoft wasted no time. The company informally requested that Jackson be removed from the case, citing a similar case as precedent. Microsoft has been critical of Jackson for speaking to the media during and after the antitrust trial.

McNealy Continues Anti-Microsoft Jihad
Speaking of Microsoft criticism, this week, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, who isn't one of Redmond's biggest fans, had a few choice words for the software giant. McNealy said he would be satisfied if Microsoft settled its antitrust case, but that the case's goal should be to return consumer choice to the mix. "I believe anybody who sits down and rationally takes a good hard look at this comes to the same conclusion that the judge came to," he said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington. "This is clearly anticompetitive behavior that is bad for the consumer. This is not an emotional issue, this is not a political issue. It's not a financial issue. This is absolutely about putting competition and choice and innovation into, I think, one of the most critically enabling technologies." McNealy says that Microsoft is continuing its monopoly leverage by pushing its way into set-top boxes, computer games, and server products. In Microsoft terminology, this is called "leveraging."

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