WinInfo Short Takes: Week of June 5

Short Takes, an irreverent look at this week in computing...
THEY'RE NOT EXACTLY advertising it, but Microsoft is expecting to release the Outlook 98/2000 security patch that fixes the "Love Bug" virus sometime today. Stay tuned to the Office Update Web site or subscribe to the company's AutoUpdate service to be informed when the patch is ready. For all you people still holding your breath waiting for the release, your time is near (so to speak). UPDATE: I've just received word that the Outlook patch has been delayed yet again until next week. Go figure.

WHY MICROSOFT WOULD release its Microsoft Reader software in PocketPC format first is beyond me, but fear not book lovers, the company will soon release an eBook reader that we can all use. One interesting prototype that the company carts around to trade shows like an unwelcome house guest is the "MiPad," an 8.5 by 11 inch Windows CE-based flat panel device that uses speech recognition, natural language processing and wireless technologies to provide its imaginary users with relief from the stylus and kiddie keyboards that dominate CE devices today. Will we ever see this device? I'm not sure, but I'm still waiting for the "Office of the future" that Bill Gates promised five years ago.

IF YOU COUNT yourself among the crowd of people that thinks that the Microsoft certification process is way too easy (I'm right there with you), then take heart: The company has just upgraded its MCSE certification for Windows 2000 and, like the OS itself, it's now a lot harder. And get this--it actually includes "rigorous testing for real-world skills." Apparently, the previous version was simply a wink-wink way for Microsoft to get as many people certified as quickly as possible. But with utter world domination only an appeal away, the company apparently decided that maybe its certification candidates should actually know how to use the products. It's about time.

THE ONLY REASON I can joke about this is that no one got hurt. A Microsoft office in South Africa (that is, an office building, not Office 2000) was rocked by a bomb blast this week in what police call a terrorist-like attack. Fortunately, only some windows were damaged and Microsoft reports that it didn't receive any threats before the blast. I assume this to mean that Microsoft didn't receive any threats about the bomb before the blast, actually.

AMD WILL UNLEASH its next-generation Athlon microprocessors--code-named "Thunderbird"--next week. The new chips will run at speeds of 750 MHz to 1 GHz and feature a 200 MHz bus speed and 384K of on-chip cache, finally besting its Intel competition in a final crucial area. The company will also introduce a Celeron-level chip, the Duron, which will run at 600, 650 and 700 MHz.

MY REPORT LAST week about the death of OS/2 was, perhaps, a bit premature. After a couple of emails, I checked with IBM and... nope, it's still alive. It's not alive in the sense that Warp 5 will be coming out any time soon, if ever, but the company has plans to keep updating and bug-fixing the current version of the product, and it even has plans for future thin-client products that will be based, at least in part, on OS/2. One thing I should make clear: OS/2 (especially 2.11 and beyond) was a product ahead of its time and I'm not a critic. I think it's pathetic the way that IBM gave up on this thing when Windows 95 was released.

JUST A REMINDER: I'll be in Florida through next Thursday for TechEd, so my email access will be sporadic at best. If you do write me during the week, don't expect a quick reply, as I'll be spending most of my time ducking from the heat and sitting in on technical conferences. Fun in the sun, indeed

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