WinInfo Short Takes: Week of January 27

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

NT Doesn't Stand for New Technology
During a trip to Microsoft's Redmond campus this week, I had the opportunity to meet with Mark Lucovsky, one of the original architects of Windows NT. We had a long discussion about NT's development and evolution; one of the more fascinating tidbits he revealed was that NT doesn't, in fact, stand for New Technology, as documented in books such as "Showstoppers" and "Inside Windows NT" (Microsoft Press, 1992). Instead, the name comes from the earliest days of the product's development, when Microsoft designed NT to use the Intel i860, a RISC processor. In those days, Intel's chip was behind schedule, so Microsoft had to use an i860 emulator called the N10. NT was so named because it worked on the "N-Ten." In the days ahead, I'll present more information from my meetings with Lucovsky and others involved with Windows Server 2003.

Microsoft Reveals Hardened IE Version for Windows 2003
Microsoft announced yesterday a new Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) version for Windows 2003, code-named IE Hard. Dubbed IE Enhanced Security Configuration in the real world, this new IE release is a locked-down version of IE 6.0 in which the default security configuration is set to High and users must add many sites to the IE Trusted Sites list to navigate around the Internet. Inside Microsoft, the mantra for this product is, "It's a server, not a surfboard." In other words, IE should be locked down as everything else in the OS is. Makes sense to me.

SPOT Devices Aren't Based on Windows CE .NET
I incorrectly reported in WinInfo Daily UPDATE and on the SuperSite for Windows that Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) devices use a version of Windows CE .NET, but Microsoft tells me this isn't the case. Instead, the company says, SPOT-based devices are built on a completely new computing infrastructure developed from scratch at Microsoft Research. "This new platform extends \[Microsoft\] .NET tools and architecture to the smallest devices and is modeled after the desktop version of \[the Common Language Runtime\] CLR but highly optimized for small devices," the company told me this week. "The TinyCLR includes a realtime microkernel. In order to bring a true value proposition to consumers, Microsoft needed to look at new technology solutions--a new platform, new software, and new hardware--to specifically address power requirements, greater miniaturization, and an excellent UI, all at a price that makes it feasible to develop consumer devices." Sorry about the confusion.

Windows Trademark Lawsuit Headed to Jury
The Microsoft versus trademark suit is headed to a jury. The US District Court in Seattle has denied's Motion for Summary Judgment on Genericness and has decided to let a jury rule on the question of whether the Windows trademark is too generic. CEO Michael Robertson saw some good news in the ruling, however, noting that "the Court rejected most of Microsoft's legal arguments and simply concluded that the issue of genericness is a fact issue to be decided by the jury." The case began in December 2001, when Microsoft sued because its name was too similar to Windows, a name for which Microsoft owns a trademark. turned the suit around, however, by charging that Microsoft's trademark was invalid because the term Windows is too generic. The case heads to court in April.

Microsoft Asks For Delay, Appeals Java Decision
And speaking of ugly legal fights involving everyone's favorite software giant, this week, Microsoft asked a federal appellate court to delay Judge J. Frederick Motz's order that required the company to distribute Java in Windows XP within 120 days. Microsoft argued in its filing that Java maker Sun Microsystems faces no "immediate, irreparable harm" that would require Microsoft to bundle Java in XP so quickly. As expected, Microsoft also appealed Judge Motz's decision that required Microsoft to bundle Java in the first place.

EU Expected to OK Passport
The European Union (EU) will likely announce next week that the Microsoft .NET Passport authentication system will be compliant with EU data-protection rules after Microsoft makes only minor changes. Microsoft launched the .NET Passport system in 1999 as a way for consumers to centrally store site passwords and credit card information; the company says that more than 100 million customers use the system, although I suspect only five or six of them use its eWallet feature. However, users must supply personal information to obtain a .NET Passport account. This information, and the way it's obtained, apparently, is in line with EU recommendations. The EU started looking at .NET Passport last summer, an investigation that's unrelated to the EU's wider antitrust investigation into Microsoft.

Gates Says Trustworthy Computing Is on Track
In an email message to customers, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates noted the first anniversary of his company's Trustworthy Computing initiative and said that although the initiative has had some successes the company needs to do more work. Honestly, I have to give the company some credit, as all its upcoming products, including Windows 2003 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 (formerly code-named Titanium), are shipping in a secured, locked-down mode, eliminating what Gates called "the weak links" in previous releases. In an almost patronizing way, however, Gates offered some commonsense guidelines for protecting your personal and system security: 1. Stay up-to-date on patches. 2. Use antivirus software, and keep it up-to-date with the latest signatures. 3. Use firewalls. Hey, thanks, Bill! Any advice about automating back ups?

Microsoft Issues First Security Bulletin of 2003
This week, Microsoft issued its first security bulletin of the year. Locator services that XP, Windows 2000, and NT use have a crucial flaw that could open up systems to attack. Windows Update will clear up the problem for you, but I recommend regular follow-up visits to the site just in case future security flare-ups occur.

Apple's Presentation Program Has a Problem
This item is barely worth mentioning, but I can't help myself because it presents such an obvious dig. In a bizarre and unnecessary move, Apple Computer recently released a presentation package called Keynote that Apple designed for, you know, the millions of people who use Mac OS X and need to give presentations on a regular basis. Anyway, Keynote has a few problems. Here's how Apple describes them: "Apple has identified a bug in the driver software for certain ATI graphics chips which can affect a small number of systems when used with Keynote." My only question is, does "small number of systems" mean the total number of people who use Mac OS X or the even smaller subset of those people who would need Keynote? \[duck\]


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