WinInfo Short Takes: Week of May 17

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...


Here Come the Lawyers (and You Thought the Feds Were Out to Get Microsoft)
   The California lawyers who settled the state's antitrust case against Microsoft for $1.1 billion are asking Microsoft to pay as much as $3000 an hour for their services, an amount the company correctly describes as ridiculous. One lawyer who charges $3000 an hour is billing Microsoft for almost 6200 hours of work, and another 34 lawyers assigned to the case are charging the rate of $2000 an hour. The lawyers are also asking Microsoft to pay $1000 an hour for administrative work. "Extraordinary deeds warrant appropriate recompense," Lead Attorney Eugene Crew said in his request for the fees. You know what I think? People hate lawyers for a reason, and sometimes stereotypes are true. These particular lawyers are jerks.


Tomfoolery of the Week: Microsoft Cancels Broadband Networking Hardware
   And speaking of questionable business practices, Microsoft acknowledged this week that the company is canceling its broadband networking hardware products, despite the fact that Microsoft makes some of the simplest, most secure products on the market. The company will support the products for another 2 years, which is nice, but ... The products were excellent. Between this most recent product cancelation, last year's decision to drop PC-based game controllers, and foolishly changing the layouts of its keyboards, Microsoft has made me doubt whether I can trust the company's hardware anymore. What's next?


Eolas vs. Microsoft, Round Three
   Just when you thought the Eolas Technologies patent battle with Microsoft was ebbing, Eolas filed a response to the preliminary findings of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which questioned the Eolas Web browser patent's validity. Eolas, you might recall, sued Microsoft for violating Eolas's patent but that suit seemed to be in doubt after the USPTO stepped in. Eolas says that its patent is valid and that it expects the courts--and the USPTO--to support that claim. Remember what I said about the lawyers in Microsoft's California antitrust case? Ditto.


Yahoo! Responds to Google Email Threat
   In a bid to better compete with the Google Gmail service, Yahoo! has upgraded its free email accounts to 100MB of storage, a far cry from the 4MB the service previously offered (but also a far cry from Gmail's 1GB of storage). Yahoo! says that the 100MB limit constitutes "virtually unlimited storage," and the company hopes it's enough to prevent a mass exodus of customers to Gmail. Still, the question remains: What will MSN Hotmail, the world's largest email provider, do to respond? And when, exactly, will it happen?


Microsoft Continues Lindows Attack
   Although Lindows recently decided to avoid legal battles with Microsoft by changing its corporate name to Linspire in certain European countries, Microsoft isn't giving up its trademark-infringement quest. According to Microsoft, Lindows has yet to halt the use of its company name as a trade name and is thus still violating Microsoft's Windows trademark. As a result, Microsoft says, the Lindows name still appears in Linspire ads, boxed products, and literature, if only in the fine print. Anyone else tired of this baloney?


SPOT Watches Get Baseball Access
   This week, Microsoft announced that the company is adding Major League Baseball (MLB) content to its MSN Direct service, which supplies constantly updated, user-configurable data to Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) watches. Baseball-loving SPOT watch wearers will be able to get per-inning game-score updates, standings, statistics, and other information. Microsoft also announced that it's giving 3 months of free access to all subscribers who sign up for a year. Frankly, sports data was one of the primary selling points for the SPOT watch, although Microsoft didn't start adding sports information until March. Ah well... Better late than never.


Dell Posts Record Revenues
   PC powerhouse Dell announced this week that it posted record revenues for its first quarter 2004 results, with an income of $731 million on sales of $11.54 billion. Sales outside the United States were much stronger than expected, but Dell suffered a bit because of April's increased component prices, which cost the company about $30 million. Most interesting, perhaps, was the performance of Dell's consumer electronics products. Sales of flat-panel TVs were up 70 percent from fourth quarter 2003, the company said. Dell also sold more than 800,000 printers in the first quarter, just a year after introducing the product line.


Intel to Ship New 64-Bit Chips in June
   Itanium who? This week, Intel said it plans to ship its new Pentium 4-based 64-bit chips in June, along with support for a new security extension that will help make Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) systems more secure. The new microprocessors, which are based on what Intel calls Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T), will also support Intel's Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology, which makes one processor perform like dual processors. But Intel has a way to go before it catches up with AMD, which pioneered the AMD64 platform that Intel is now copying. What an interesting turn of events.
 

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