WinInfo Short Takes: Week of May 1

WHISTLER, THE FOLLOW-UP to Windows 2000 that Microsoft will ship in the first half of 2001, includes a technology code-named "Fusion" that I mentioned yesterday in WinInfo. One thing I forgot to mention about this technology, which will essentially isolate applications from the OS and from each other, is the excellent slogan for Fusion, which was clearly ripped off from Java's "write once, run anywhere." It goes like this: "Run once, run forever." Nice.

THIS ONE HAS the makings of a TNT movie of the week: PKZIP creator Philip Katz (get it? "Philip Katz ZIP") died last week of complications from chronic alcoholism. Sadly, Katz had a strange history of problems, including a 1997 incident in which the software developer was found living "knee-deep in garbage and decaying food" at his luxury condo after neighbors complained of odors, insects, and mice. But though Katz obviously had personal issues that should have been a warning to friends and family, his legacy at least will live on since his compression software is a ubiquitous part of computer users' lives everywhere. Anyone else remember the legal problems with PKARC that caused Katz to create PKZIP in the first place?

ORACLE CEO LARRY Ellison, who has been playing second fiddle to Microsoft uber-geek Bill Gates since the beginning of time, may have finally delivered his final comeuppance, surpassing Gates as the world's richest man. This is due largely to the tanking Microsoft stock, to which Gates owes much of his wealth. And unlike Gates, maybe Ellison is someone we can all rally around: He's good looking, outgoing, races a yacht, and flies his own plane. In other words, he's actually cool. We haven't had a rich guy like this since the early days of Howard Hughes.

THIS ONE CRACKS me up: I've been reading since last year that Microsoft was supposedly renaming Windows CE to "Windows Powered" or, more recently, "PocketPC Powered by Windows." Folks, it ain't true. It's still called Windows CE. It's always been called Windows CE. And to drive home the point, Microsoft announced a new version of the product just this week. Guess what it's called? Yup, you guessed it: Frank Stallone. Actually, it's called Windows CE 3.0. Go figure.

THERE HASN'T BEEN a love of mediocrity this obvious since the Ford Escort was the number one selling car in America a decade ago: Our latest answer to Packard Bell, eMachines, surpassed IBM this month to become the number five seller of PCs in the United States. That places the company right behind Dell, Compaq, and HP but well ahead of IBM, Sony, just about every other PC maker on the planet, and Apple Computer, which makes Macintosh computers. I guess there's no accounting for taste.

LIKE MANY OF you, I eagerly downloaded Stephen King's first eBook, "Riding the Bullet," when it became available last month. This download requires software called the Glassbook Reader, which I've narrowed down as the culprit in some shutdown-related problems I've had with Windows 2000 on three separate machines. The short story is this: The version of the Glassbook Reader that is currently available prevents Windows 2000 from restarting or shutting down properly and, in the case of my laptop, it destroyed its Standby capability as well. The company has admitted the problem exists and will apparently address it in a future release, but I wish I had known about this a month ago.

AND SPEAKING OF Windows 2000 incompatibilities, Ion Storm finally released Daikatana, a game that's been delayed so many times it makes Windows 2000 look like a product that shipped on time. But the Daikatana demo that's out now has a not-so-subtle bug: It won't install on Windows 2000. While this is sure to infuriate anyone who sat through the 36 MB download, fear not, there's a solution: Simply extract the downloaded file instead of executing it; then run Setup from the extracted set of files. Then, it will install and run fine on Windows 2000. For the download, I recommend Planet Daikatana.

ANYONE WHO WROTE about the "Austin Gates" video shown at WinHEC this week is a bit behind the times, as this video was first shown at Fall Comdex last year and has made the rounds at every Microsoft event since as well. Microsoft often prepares humorous videos starring Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and this isn't even one of the more recent ones. Get with it, guys! Besides, Steve Ballmer as Mini-Me was far funnier anyway.

I'LL BE IN Phoenix, Arizona this week for the first time since we moved from there to Boston last August. But it's not all fun and sun: I'm going to be attending Windows 2000 Connections for five days of cutting edge Windows 2000 and Windows NT presentations by industry luminaries such as Mark Minasi, Sean Daily, Christa Anderson, and more. OK, I'll be hanging out with old friends and quickly visiting the old haunts too, what the heck. And while I'll be in Phoenix from Saturday until Wednesday, I don't expect this to affect the publication of WinInfo. See you there!

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