WinInfo Short Takes: Week of May 31

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

Muglia Discusses the Future of Windows Server Products
   The massive transcript of my May 11 talk with Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia is now available on the SuperSite for Windows. In this wide-ranging interview, Muglia discussed the future of Windows server products, including Windows Server 2003 Release 2 (R2), Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Longhorn (the next major Windows release) Server, and Blackcomb (the Longhorn successor). We also discussed several topics you'll find online in any other Muglia discussion, including Microsoft's plans for Windows 2003 SP2 and Windows 2000 SP5. Check out the interview on the SuperSite for Windows.

Microsoft to Release Standalone Search Product Before Longhorn Ships
   Integrated desktop and Internet search engines might be one of Longhorn's key features but Microsoft is apparently preparing a standalone search tool that will debut well before Longhorn does. The company is hatching the plans for this standalone search product, called MSN Search, through its MSN division; the product will incorporate email, database, file-system, and Internet searching. "As far as the consumer is concerned, \[MSN Search will\] be an end-to-end system for searching across any data type," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Yusuf Mehdi said during a speech at the Goldman Sachs Fifth Annual Internet Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week. "I think it's fair to say that we will tackle all of the things that you expect, including PC search, as part of the MSN effort." A beta version is expected this summer, and the final release will ship next year, Mehdi said.

Rumor Alert: Microsoft Isn't Going to Sell a $50 iPod Competitor
   And speaking of Mehdi, during his speech Mehdi also discussed Microsoft's plans for digital music, which set the rumor mills churning. According to reports posted all over the Internet, Microsoft will soon release a $50 digital-music player that will "look and feel as good as the \[Apple\] iPod." Actually, that's not what Mehdi said. Microsoft isn't releasing such a player--its hardware partners are, along with a slew of other devices that will attack the portable-audio-player market from every conceivable angle. "I've spent time with a bunch of hardware manufacturers who will launch hardware products when we ship our \[online music\] service that will look and feel as good as the iPod product," Mehdi said. "And they will undoubtedly be a little bit less expensive, and so head-to-head against Apple we'll have a device that will be available to the consumer. We won't produce it, but  ... we gave a lot of input. \[Portable Media Centers\] are for people who want to look at music videos and not just \[listen to\] music, which is very powerful; we'll have that offering. And then \[our partners will release\] a bunch of devices in between--little ones that cost 50 bucks and that you can go running with." End of story.

Buffalo Spammer Sentenced
   This week, Judge Michael D'Amico of Erie County, New York, sentenced Howard Carmack, the so-called Buffalo Spammer, to 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison after a jury convicted Carmack of illegally sending more than 850 million junk email messages through ISP accounts he opened using stolen identities. "I obviously regret this whole involvement," said Carmack, although astonishingly he admitted no wrongdoing and said his crime was victimless. "I don't see any victims," he said. Judge D'Amico disagreed. "I'm having a heck of a time figuring out why you think everybody is unfair to you," he said as he dropped the maximum possible sentence on the recalcitrant spammer. "You think it's OK to take somebody's identity and use it for whatever purpose you want. You caused a great deal of harm to a lot of people." According to Earthlink, Carmack created almost 350 email accounts using stolen identities, then used those accounts to send out mountains of spam. Separately, Earthlink has already won a $16.4 million civil judgment against the spammer, who--in my opinion--can't be put on ice long enough.

Dutch Court Says Lindows Can Keep Its Name
   In another blow to Microsoft in its trademark battle with Lindows, a judge in the Netherlands ruled this week that the Linux distribution maker's use of the corporate name Lindows doesn't violate Microsoft's trademark. Lindows was forced to change the name of its Linux product to Linspire after a court in the Netherlands ruled that the Lindows name was a violation of Microsoft's Windows trademark. Microsoft sued Lindows a second time in the Netherlands, however, because the company continued using Lindows as its corporate name. Meanwhile, the US court case involving Lindows and Microsoft, which could ultimately lead to Microsoft being stripped of its Windows trademark, will reportedly start by the end of 2004.

Rare Won't Ship Nintendo DS Titles
   Microsoft has denied reports stating that the company's Rare subsidiary will publish game titles for the dual-screen Nintendo DS handheld game system, which will debut this fall. Microsoft says that Rare will continue to concentrate on creating game titles for Windows and the Xbox. What a shame. Before Microsoft purchased Rare, it was one of the more innovative Nintendo developers.

NT 4.0 Support to End Despite New Support Policy
   Windows NT 4.0 supporters who were excited to hear about Microsoft's new 10-year corporate product-support policy will be disappointed to learn that the new scheme won't apply to NT 4.0, which will fade into the sunset at the end of this year, as planned. The news means that, as of December 31, Microsoft probably won't ship any more security hotfixes for that OS, although the company might still occasionally fix problems on a case-by-case basis.

Exchange 2003 Message Filter Now Available to All Exchange Customers
   Last fall, Microsoft controversially made the Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter for Exchange Server 2003 available only to Software Assurance (SA) customers, causing grumbling in other circles. Well, grumble no more: The Intelligent Message Filter is now available for free to all Exchange 2003 customers as part of Exchange 2003 SP1. The Intelligent Message Filter uses the same antispam SmartScreen Technology that Microsoft first rolled out in MSN Hotmail and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003.

TechEd 2004: Hackers Attempt Several Thousand Network Attacks
   At this week's Microsoft TechEd 2004 trade show in San Diego, attackers repeatedly attempted to disrupt Microsoft's wireless network, which the company set up to provide connectivity for attendees. By Tuesday, the network had experienced more than 8000 hack attempts, according to one Internet news report, and one enterprising attacker even attempted (unsuccessfully) to unleash a worm from within the show. "What they don't realize is this is the most closely watched network in the world," a technician at the show reported. Unbelievable.

TechEd 2004: SQL Server 2005 to Get Encryption, Decryption Features
   At TechEd 2004, Microsoft revealed that Microsoft SQL Server 2005, which is due next year, will include native support for encryption, decryption, and key management. The idea is to provide a strong level of security directly in the product so that customers won't have to turn to third parties or rival database vendors. With this feature, even someone who successfully hacks into a SQL Server 2005 database won't be able to get data out of the database, Microsoft said. SQL Server 2005 will also undergo the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS) certification, which will ensure that the system is fit for use in the most secure government installations.

TechEd 2004: Microsoft to Ship Team Version of Visual Studio 2005
   This week, Microsoft also revealed that Visual Studio 2005, the upcoming software and Web development suite, will ship with a new set of team-development versions under the name Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Confusingly, the platform will consist of four separate products: Visual Studio 2005 Team Architect Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Team Developer Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Team Test Edition, and Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation. I guess Microsoft thought that its Visual Studio product line wasn't confusing enough.

Microsoft Employees Freak Out Over Benefits Cuts
   After Microsoft--a company with more than $55 billion in the bank, by the way--recently revealed that it will cut employee benefits to save a few million bucks a year, those employees--not expectedly--started freaking out. And because we live in a connected day and age, their histrionics are becoming increasingly public. "Microsoft's benefits used to somewhat make up for what is a difficult place to work," one employee wrote in a memo that was posted to a blog this week. "Are we now going in the direction that it will be both difficult and unrewarding?" For its part, Microsoft's official stance is that it welcomes employee feedback. Sure it does.

Microsoft Owes Opera More Than $12 Million
   And speaking of ways in which Microsoft could treat people better, this week browser-maker Opera Software revealed that Microsoft owes Opera $12.75 million. Apparently, in a previously undisclosed settlement, our favorite monopolist agreed to pay the Norwegian company that sum to fend off a lawsuit that arose when Microsoft redesigned MSN so that it wouldn't display correctly on Opera's products. But Microsoft never paid the fee. Maybe the company was just waiting for a check to clear. After all, we know how cash-strapped Microsoft is these days.

No WinInfo Monday
   Because of the Memorial Day weekend in the United States, we won't publish WinInfo Daily UPDATE on Monday. So have a great long weekend, and we'll see you again Tuesday.

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