An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...
Here Comes Microsoft's EU Appeal
Next week, Microsoft will likely issue its appeal of the European Union (EU) decision that labeled the company a monopoly that abuses its power and harms the media-player and server markets. The company is expected to ask the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg to suspend the sanctions that the EU's March decision imposed. And if you were worried about the differences between US and European court systems, fear not; they have one major similarity. Although a European court hearing on the sanctions suspension should happen in a mere couple of months, Microsoft's entire appeals process will probably drag on for years. Ah, you can just smell the fresh scent of justice in the air, can't you?
Microsoft: Brazil's Use of Linux Is Making the Country 'Irrelevant'
The president of Microsoft Brazil fretted this week that his country's decision to adopt Linux for use in public-use computers will set back Brazil for years. "If the country closes itself off again as it did when it protected its information technology, 10 years from now we will wake up and be dominant in something insignificant," Emilio Umeoka said this week. "Irrelevance is the beginning of the end." Umeoka is referring to a decision Brazil made 20 years ago to protect its IT sector with high tariffs, a decision that cost the country dearly because it couldn't attract foreign investment during a time that should have been high growth. "I don't know if this is the best way to attract investment into the country," he said. "I know this is not the best way to create a base of development from which to export because there's no revenue from something that's free." Umeoka said that the Brazilian government's decision won't hurt Microsoft's sales in the country; he's just concerned that Brazil will miss out on yet another enormous economic opportunity.
Intel Expects Better Revenues in Current Quarter
This week, microprocessor giant Intel revised its earnings forecast for the current quarter, alerting investors that its earnings will be higher than previously anticipated. The reason? Intel is experiencing higher-than-expected demand for the flash memory chips that manufacturers use in cell phones. Meanwhile, demand for Intel's microprocessors remains in line with its earlier estimates, the company said.
Intel Preps New 64-Bit Pentium 4 Chips
And speaking of Intel, the chipmaker will soon unleash a bevy of new PC microprocessors, including the long-awaited 64-bit version of its best-selling Pentium 4 processor. Five of the upcoming chips, which are part of the Prescott family of Pentium 4 processors, will debut June 21 alongside new chip sets and will feature speeds ranging from 2.8GHz to 3.6GHz. Later in the summer, Intel will release three other new Pentium 4 processors, which will include the 64-bit extensions; those chips will run at 3.6GHz, 3.4GHz, and 3.2GHz and will initially target the workstation market. Intel says it will also ship 64-bit-enabled versions of its Xeon processors sometime this summer. All of Intel's 64-bit Pentium 4 and Xeon chips will support the so-called No Execute (NX) processor technology, which works in tandem with a software feature in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) to pervasively prevent buffer-overrun errors, which attackers often use to compromise Windows machines.
Microsoft Scraps Another Game
In another strange setback for Microsoft's gaming plans, the company said this week that it has instructed game-maker LEVEL-5 to cancel production of "True Fantasy Live Online," an eagerly awaited Xbox title that's been perpetually delayed since it was first announced more than 2 years ago. Stating that it can't deliver gamers a "novel" experience with the title, Microsoft finally decided to pull the plug. "True Fantasy Live Online" was intended for the Japanese market and would have been the first Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) for the Xbox. Earlier this year, Microsoft canceled its entire 2004 lineup of XSN Sports titles, citing an inability to compete with market-leader Electronic Arts (EA). EA, perhaps not coincidentally, then unexpectedly announced that it will support Microsoft's Xbox Live online gaming service, reversing an earlier decision to ignore the service.
AOL Settles with Former Subscribers
Everybody's favorite online service for newbies announced this week that it's settling a class-action lawsuit with a group of former subscribers who complained that their subscriptions were canceled for no reason. AOL, now the smallest province in the Time Warner empire, denied liability in the case and was able to settle for an undisclosed amount. Presumably, the former subscribers have been without Internet access for the duration, but I'm sure AOL would be happy to give them back their old screen names, which no doubt include references to favorite pets and TV sitcom characters. Somehow, everything is right with the world again.
SCO Is at It Again, Seeks More IBM Code
This story would be funny if it weren't so sad. After spending more than 2 months reviewing the AIX source code that IBM supplied, litigation-loving SCO Group is apparently having trouble finding all those examples of stolen source code (similar, I suppose, to the problems that the United States has had finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) that it complained about in its $1 billion lawsuit against IBM. So SCO is ... get this ... asking the court to require IBM to give SCO even more source code so it can keep looking. Now, I'm not a legal expert, but shouldn't SCO put up or shut up? And remind me again: What, exactly, is the penalty for mounting a frivolous lawsuit in this country?
DOJ vs. Oracle: Now It's Ellison's Turn
On Monday, database giant Oracle will face off against the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in a federal court in San Francisco during the opening of a lawsuit designed to prevent Oracle's hostile takeover of PeopleSoft. But unlike a certain other lawsuit involving a huge software company and the DOJ, this case is expected to conclude fairly quickly. Each side gets 2 weeks to present its case, and a verdict is expected shortly thereafter. The DOJ is going to argue that an Oracle takeover of PoepleSoft will leave the market with only two companies--Oracle and SAP--that supply the high-end human resources and financial-management software that enterprises use to run their businesses. Presumably, Oracle will argue that, if it had its way, only one supplier of such software would exist. And Oracle CEO Larry Ellison would be the richest man in the world.
Microsoft Announces "Does Your Code Think In Ink?" Contest Winners
This week, Microsoft announced that the winner of its "Does Your Code Think In Ink?" contest, which rewarded innovative software design for the Tablet PC, is Philip Lanier. Lanier won for his cool MyOwnFont tool, which lets you submit samples of your handwriting, then replaces the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition system font with a font that matches your handwriting. For his efforts, Lanier won $15,000 in cash; runners-up received $2500 each. For details about the winning entries and free downloads of the applications, visit the "PC Magazine" Web site.