WinInfo Short Takes: Week of January 22

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

Ashcroft: No opinion on Microsoft antitrust case
George W. Bush's choice for Attorney General apparently has no opinion on the Microsoft antitrust case. In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, Ashcroft was asked how he would handle the case, and while he had no opinion on what he'd do about the software giant, he did note that Judge Jackson's decision had "substantial consequences." Ashcroft added, "I would look very carefully at this case, relying on the expertise of the department in deciding strategy for the case. And I'm not in a position to assure you that I would do anything other than that, at this time." In other words, no comment.

Access hidden features in Whistler 2410
Thanks to Sean Kovacs for the tip: If you've managed to get your hands on Whistler build 2410, you can unleash a hidden feature that was later added to the UI in build 2416. The new Whistler Start Menu (previously called the Start Panel) allows you to cascade certain menu items, such as the Control Panel and My Documents. To add this feature to build 2410, open up regedit, navigate to the key "HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced", and create a DWORD entry called "Start_CascadePlaces", giving it a value of 1. When you reboot, your cascading options will be available. Again, this feature will be available in the UI for later builds and, presumably, Beta 2.

Bugged by the Outlook 2000 Security Update? Here's a workaround
Donn Edwards sent in a nice tip for people that are befuddled by the Outlook 2000 Security Update, which prevents Outlook users from accessing certain types of attached files. What you do is create a folder in Outlook called Rescue and then copy the offending message with the attachment into it. Close Outlook, open Outlook Express, and then import the "Rescue" folder. Ta-da! You'll be able to access the attachment. Maybe the version in Outlook 10 will offer something a little more elegant.

Intel buys Xircom
Microprocessor giant Intel Corporation purchased PC card maker Xircom this week in a deal valued at about $748 million. Xircom will apparently continue to operate with its own name, and will continue to sell its range of wireless and mobile products. Frankly, it's nice to see one of the better third party hardware makers retain its identity in this ever-consolidating world we live in.

Even the Ginger inventor says this is too much
Last week, I mentioned "Ginger," the ridiculously over-hyped mystery product that briefly set the world on fire. Well, as many of you discovered, Ginger is nothing more than a motorized scooter, though there are some questions about the power source for this device, which might see the light of day next year. But the Ginger inventor has come out of the shadows to decry the publicity (yeah, right) for his invention, saying that, "we have a promising project, but nothing of the Earth-shattering nature that people are conjuring up." No kidding.

Sony to double PS2 production; we're waiting for Xbox
Sony vowed to double production of its sold-out PlayStation 2 gaming console once the parts shortage that screwed over holiday buyers ends within the next three months. But by that time, no one will care, because unhappy buyers will simply wait for the ever-more impressive Microsoft Xbox, which will ship in Q3 2001. After finally comparing the two at CES earlier this month, I think I can state unequivocally that it's all Xbox, baby.

BackOffice release date
Thanks to Ray Sumperl for tipping me off to the fact that online retailer CDW is already selling Microsoft BackOffice 2000. Ray called them to see if they have any in stock, and CDW noted that January 19th (today) is the official release date.

Citrix comes on strong
Citrix, makers of the MetaFrame application server software, Nfuse application portal software and Independent Computing Architecture (ICA), a core application-server technology, announced solid earnings for the quarter ending December 31, with net revenues at $123.4 million and yearly revenues coming in at $470.4 million. Not bad for a company that was staring death in the face a few years back when Microsoft announced that it would bundle its Terminal Services software--based on MetaFrame technology--in Windows for free. But the small Florida company stood up to the software giant and didn't blink, earning a licensing agreement rather than a swift death. Nice to see they're still doing well. NT most vulnerable Web server
Thanks to Dave Abbott for the tip: According to security Web site , Windows NT is the most vulnerable server software available. A survey posted on ranks Windows NT as the most vulnerable to crackers, with 60% of December's Web site defacements running this OS.  There are couple of reasons why this might be the case: The site suggests that Microsoft is targeted because it is so widely known, or because it has a reputation for rapidly releasing new software, allowing security to take a back seat. But maybe it's because Windows is the software used by most of the people in the world: I suspect that Linux hacks will increase nicely as usage of that OS rises.

It's payback time: Hackers begin inevitable wave of Linux attacks
Speaking of which (ahem), an Internet worm targeting Red Hat Linux boxes has been making the rounds this week. Described as a hack that takes advantage of the lackluster default security settings in the latest versions of Red Hat Linux (sound familiar, Windows fans?), the worm consumes large amounts of Internet bandwidth, effectively bringing those systems down. The reports of this hack read like an old NT 4.0 security alert, with the word "Windows" replaced by "Linux." It was only a matter of time.

U.S. PC market has slowest sales in seven years
Well, the bad news for the U.S. PC industry is finally in: Growth in 2000 was the lowest in seven years, with PC shipments growing just 6.4 percent, or 13.2 million units, over 1999's figures. And that seven-year figure may be a bit conservative, as 1993 is the first year that sales figures are even available. Worldwide, things were a bit better, with PC sales rising 10.1 percent; analysts had expected growth to be in the 17 percent range worldwide. Individual companies performed quite differently, based on their target markets: Dell Computer grew 37.7 percent, while HP grew 20.7 percent. But both Compaq and Gateway sales fall, 8.7 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. So where are those sales we were promised?

Learn more about Windows CE for Automotive
My mention of Microsoft's Windows CE for Automotive products at CES earlier this month garnered a lot of interest, and if you're looking for more information, please head over to Chris Walker's thorough report about the various CE Automotive-related products and announcements that were made this year at CES.

A couple of corrections from yesterday's WinInfo:
- Microsoft licensed NetIQ's Operation Manager, not AppManager.
- Fred Anderson is Apple's CFO, not CEO.
My apologies for the mistakes, which were unintentional.

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