Short Takes, an irreverent look at this week in computing...
THANKS TO GUIDO Robben for the tip: Microsoft has finally released the oft-delayed Outlook Email Security Update, which fixes and prevents problems caused by the "Love Bug" virus. You can download the fix at the Office Update Web site.
DURING BOB MUGLIA'S keynote this week, I noted his comment that SQL Server 7.0 was in use on 96% of Fortune e50 Web sites, which sounds like a pretty impressive figure. And it was just as impressive when I heard that same figure touted again, that night, in an Oracle TV ad: Oracle claims that its database products are also in use on 96% of Fortune e50 Web sites. Which figure, if either, is correct? I'm not sure, but I'm positive that 96 + 96 does not equal 100, and I'm equally sure that most of those Web sites aren't using both databases.
REGARDLESS OF YOUR feelings about the guilt of Microsoft and its impending punishment, you have to kind of agree that a little less arrogance could have gone a long way. All throughout the trial, from Steve Ballmer's infamous "to heck with Janet Reno" line to the smiling Bill Gates explaining why the final ruling wasn't anything to worry about, I've had the same feeling about this company: Smug. And this is going to come back to haunt them, if it hasn't already.
LOST IN THE hoopla of TechEd was Sun's JavaOne conference, which occurred at the same time on the opposite coast. And though the company behind that conference wasn't in the middle of an antitrust trial, it had problems of its own, including developer revolts over the language, an unclear future, and a little bit of vaporware called Jini. Say what you will about Microsoft, but the company's plans are pretty obvious. With Sun, it's kind of hard to say how Java is ever going to matter, as the thrust for the product changes on an almost daily basis. Is this the year of the Java platform or the Java-enabled handheld device? I forget.
I GUESS THE bubble has burst. As Linux vendors lay off people in record numbers and Linux stocks finally head toward the wastebasket, I can only wonder why this process took so long. Companies such as VA Linux, which makes PCs for crying out loud, should never have been valued so high. Meanwhile, we can look for traditional tech companies, such as Microsoft, which has hundreds of millions of actual customers, and billions of dollars of actual sales every quarter, to make a big rebound soon. It's not enough to hate Microsoft: You have to offer some sort of actual value. And the value proposition for Linux just isn't there, I'm sorry. Don't get me wrong: Linux is good technology. But the business model is going to have rise above "IPO! IPO!"
WINDOWS PC MAKER Gateway made an interesting announcement last week about upcoming Internet appliance that will run on Transmeta's low-powered Crusoe chips. Developed in concert with America Online (AOL), the new devices will run Transmeta's Mobile Linux operating system and utilize Netscape "Gecko" browser technology. Funny, I don't see the word "Microsoft" in there anywhere. Maybe the antitrust trial has returned choice after all.
ONCE UBIQUITOUS CP/M vendor Kaypro is actually still in business, I was shocked to discover this week, only now the company sells PC-compatible computers and products, none of which it actually manufactures. The company was infamous in the early 1980's for its 25 pound "luggable" computers, which featured Zilog Z-80 CPUs, up to 64 KB of RAM, and a suite of software that including WordStar, MicroPlan, and SuperTerm. Ah, the good old days.
THANKS TO ANDREA Borghi for the tip: MSDN Universal and Professional subscribers can now download a host of new products from the MSDN Subscriber Download site, including Windows Me RC1, Exchange Server 2000 RC2, and Office 2000 Developer SR1. Head on over to Subscriber Downloads and check it out