WinInfo Short Takes: Week of March 12 - 09 Mar 2001

Windows XP Beta 2, IE 6 Preview Due Next Week
If Microsoft keeps its schedule (ahem), we'll finally see the Beta 2 release of Windows XP next week, along with the first public preview of Internet Explorer (IE) 6. Windows XP Beta 2 is an almost feature-complete look at the most exciting version of Windows since Windows 95. IE 6 is Microsoft's first post-trial Web browser, and it should be interesting to see how it's received. In Windows XP, IE 6 adopts the Whistler look and feel, but the browser will look very similar to IE 5.5 on older versions of Windows. New features in this release include Personal Bars (called Explorer Bars in older versions of Windows) such as Search, News, and Media, along with optional Personal Bars for Expedia Travel, MSN Calendar, Slate, and iHarvest. Explorer Bars first appeared in IE 4.0, and many people have incorrectly accused Microsoft of ripping off a similar feature in Mozilla/Netscape 6. Not so; IE had 'em first. IE 6 also has new privacy features, but Microsoft might not implement these features in time for the public preview, which the company will likely target at developers.

Intel Issues Revenue Warning, Cuts 5000 Jobs
This week, Microprocessor giant Intel had some bad news--a warning of lower-than-expected revenues for its first quarter and the attrition of 5000 jobs from the company during the next 9 months. Intel last cut positions in 1998, when 3000 people lost their jobs. Intel says that sales are off 25 percent from the fourth quarter, which is significantly more than the expected 15 percent drop. As the supplier of 90 percent of the world's microprocessors, Intel's health, of course, is a major indicator for the rest of the industry. So despite Alan Greenspan's comments to the contrary, we're not out of this mess yet.

Yahoo! has Bad News, CEO Takes Flight

You know this is just a Web site, right? Yahoo! is, perhaps, the ultimate example of dot-com craziness, but the company manages to make money, presumably through Web ads or something. But this week, Yahoo! warned that the company's earnings for the first quarter will be significantly lower than expected. Coupled with this news was the revelation that the company's CEO will step down so that Yahoo! can find some new talent to run the show. The Yahoo! Web properties received 55 million unique visitors in January, making them the AOL of the Internet. Or something.

SEC Investigates Amazon's Bezos
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating a stock sale Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made; the sale occurred just before Amazon received a stinging financial warning in February. Bezos dumped 800,000 shares of Amazon stock--worth $12.2 million (what the heck is wrong with this planet?)--on February 2 and 5, a week after Amazon executives received an advanced warning about the company's future. That report went public on February 6, warning that the company will run out of money by the end of 2001, and Amazon's stock has since lost 20 percent of its value. I'm sure it's all just a coincidence.
MacWEEK Bites the Dust
Publishers of the once-proud MacWEEK Magazine (which publishers decommissioned into a Web site in 1998) have folded the magazine into the Mac news-oriented MacCentral Web site. I used to actually subscribe to MacWEEK, which was a high-quality publication in its day, and it's sort of sad to see it end up as background material for a Web site. Maybe we could roll the back issues of Windows Magazine into the SuperSite while we're at it. Welcome to the new world, baby.

Kawasaki: I'm No Turncoat
Speaking of the Mac, ex-Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki says that last week's use of an IBM ThinkPad during a speech at IBM was simply a misunderstanding. IBM asked Kawasaki to use a ThinkPad instead of his usual PowerBook, so he complied. Kawasaki, who complained that "the guys who reported this in the first place never even bothered to contact me to find out what happened," might be reminded that the reverse also is true. I happened to read about this update on the MacUser Web site.

Microsoft Pipes In on Napster, P2P Sharing
It's nice to see Microsoft take a stand on the issues; I think we all look up to this company as the stalwart of truth, justice, and the American Way. This week, in a publicly issued statement about Napster and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) data sharing, Microsoft's Will Poole defended the decision against Napster as a good thing for copyright holders. You might remember that Poole works for a company that doesn't provide the public with the copyrighted and protected source code to its products, if that helps put the mindset in perspective. Poole further explained that he expects a future of "sharing with rules"; in fact, this scheme is exactly what his company is working on. The next version of MSN Messenger will institute a Napster-like P2P file-sharing scheme that will be tied to .NET subscription services.

Judge Issues Ultimatum to Napster
And speaking of Napster, this week, fans of the service were probably surprised to finally discover that many copyrighted songs are, indeed, now blocked from free downloads. The decision from a federal judge came down Tuesday, effectively preventing Napster users from trading unauthorized files. Wednesday, users started leaking a way around the block, and it's only a matter of time before this whole free music thing is back to full force, whether or not it includes Napster. What's funny is the stories I'm hearing from long-time Napster users, who now find themselves at least temporarily banned from the system because they shared music. Now that's one subscriber list you better hope doesn't get out.

Visual Studio.NET Open Tools Platform Unveiled
Microsoft unveiled the company's plans to make Visual Studio.NET the center of its .NET development strategy with a model that extends and integrates the suite with third-party tools. Dubbed the Visual Studio.NET Open Tools Platform, pieces of the initiative will come together by the end of the year. God only knows what the average Visual Basic (VB) developer thinks of all this, but I think we can finally kiss all of those ugly, Mom-and-Pop-style VB applications goodbye.

Maxtor Drops Open Source, Signs with Microsoft
Here's an interesting example of open-source success in the real world: Drive-maker Maxtor recently announced that the company will drop open-source OSs such as FreeBSD from its Network Attached Storage (NAS) product line and go with Win2K instead. Maxtor chose Windows because of its support for large file sizes, Macintosh and Novell environments, and backup and management software. Maxtor's press release specifically dissed Linux, which probably netted the company another million or so from Redmond. One can only picture Linux enthusiasts around the world, angrily ripping their Maxtor hard drives out of their PCs and hurtling them through the nearest window.

Ex-IBM Exec Joins Microsoft; Is Whistler Windows.NET?
And another ex-foe joins the Dark Side; the circle is now complete. This week, 30-year IBM veteran Cliff Reeves joined Microsoft as vice president of marketing for the Windows.NET Server Product Management Group. Wait a minute, does that say Windows.NET? Why, yes, it does. "It's my job to continue delivering enhanced business solutions to our customers and partners through the Windows.NET Server family," Reeves said, suggesting a name change is coming for the next version of Win2K Server. "The server is the lynch-pin of our businesses, and we will continue to provide the industry's most scalable, reliable, and manageable standards-based solutions--solutions that are laser-focused on making our customers and partners successful."

Microsoft Releases IE 5.01 SP2
Thanks to everyone who wrote me about this quiet release. Microsoft has released the latest collection of bug fixes for those enterprises that have standardized on IE 5.01, the version of IE that shipped with Win2K. You can find IE 5.01 Service Pack 2 (SP2) on the Microsoft Web site.

First Live Internet Image to Shut Down
And finally, the very first live image ever displayed across the Internet will come to a sad end this summer. The Trojan Room Coffee Camera, a Web camera that has focused on a pot of coffee at the Cambridge University computer laboratory since 1991, will cease transmitting this summer when the lab moves to a new location. Started on a lark, the coffee cam has become a piece of Internet history. See it now--while you can--on the Cambridge University Web site.

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