WinInfo Daily UPDATE, April 24, 2002

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April 24, 2002—In this issue:


  • Microsoft Remedy Hearings: States Drag Key Concessions Out of Gates
  • Microsoft Rereleases Windows XP PowerToys


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(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])


  • After an impressive and reserved first day on the stand, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates returned for a second day of cross-examination yesterday. And on day two, Gates couldn't resist a few verbal barbs, punctuated by nervous laughter, evasive answers, and condescending technical comments. Yes, that's the Gates I expected to see on the stand.

    The best news for the nonsettling states and District of Columbia was that they were able to drag a few key concessions out of Gates, who has latched onto his company's "chicken little" defense with a death grip. According to Microsoft and, specifically, Gates, it's impossible to implement the nonsettling states' plan, which would require the company to create a modular Windows version, giving PC makers and consumers more choices. But after a bruising series of exchanges with states' attorney Steven Kuney, Gates finally dropped the rhetoric and grudgingly admitted that the plan for a modular Windows is feasible.

    When Kuney confronted Gates with the infamous "Internet Tidal Wave" memo, in which Gates warned Microsoft employees that Java and Netscape could "commoditize" Windows, Gates then admitted that these technologies were indeed threats to the Windows platform and that his company treated them as such. However, in his written testimony in the original antitrust trial, Gates said that Java and Netscape were "supposedly" competitors. After much badgering from Kuney during cross-examination, Gates said he'd be "glad to strike the word 'supposedly'" from the testimony.

    "I'm always interested in hearing ways you want to change your sworn testimony," retorted Kuney. The Java and Netscape concession is important because a key Microsoft argument is that these technologies never posed a serious threat to Windows.

    Finally, Gates said that the company's bailout of Apple Computer in 1997—which occurred when that company was experiencing what Gates called a "'near death' experience"—would have been more favorable to Apple had the states' restrictions been in place at the time. At the time, Microsoft financially bolstered Apple with an undisclosed amount of cash (alleged to be in the $1 billion range) and pledged continued support for the Mac version of Office in exchange for Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) software being the default Web browser on the Mac, plus other concessions. Apple also dropped a pending UI look-and-feel lawsuit against Microsoft.

    Gates' most compelling comments regarded fairly mundane details of the Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement and the nonsettling states' plan. He reiterated again and again that the language of any agreement had to be specific so that Microsoft would know what it could and couldn't do. His comments about discerning which applications are middleware, for example, are correct: If such important terms aren't concisely defined, agreements won't be able to stand and, as Gates noted, competitors will second-guess his company every time it releases a new Windows version.


  • Thanks to Bob Stein and the other readers who told me about the rerelease of Microsoft's PowerToys for Windows XP, a set of utilities for power users that was inexplicably unavailable for a few months. Sadly, the 2-month absence didn't result in any new features, although Microsoft removed several tools, including the ISO Recorder and the Super Fast User Switcher, that were available previously. Also, the PowerToys now are individual installs, rather than one integrated install. The PowerToys include:

    • Alt-Tab Replacement, which adds a visual representation of each active window on your screen as you use the ALT+TAB key combination to switch tasks. This PowerToy is much slower than the usual ALT+TAB function, however, even on high-end hardware.
    • CD Slide Show Generator, which gives you the option to add a slideshow application to a CD-ROM on which you've burned pictures and other images (using XP's shell CD-burning capabilities). The slideshow works in any Windows 9x (or later) version and provides efficient autorun functionality when you insert the CD-ROM in a PC.
    • Image Resizer, which lets you right-click an image or group of images and resize them to other sizes more suitable for email or the Web.
    • Open Command Window Here, which lets you right-click a folder in My Computer and choose a new "Open Command Window Here" option. The command line window you open points to the selected folder.
    • Power Calculator, which is a full-featured graphing-calculator application.
    • Slide Show Wizard, which walks you through the process of creating Web-based slideshows of your digital photographs.
    • Taskbar Magnifier, which magnifies part of the screen from the taskbar.
    • Tweak UI, which is a one-stop shop for accessing hidden system settings. TweakUI is a must-have for every XP user.
    • Virtual Desktop Manager, which lets you manage up to four virtual desktops from the Windows taskbar.
    • Webcam Timershot, which is a WebCam application that lets you take WebCam pictures at specified time intervals and upload them to a Web site or local folder.

    This week, I'll update my PowerToys review on the SuperSite for Windows ( to reflect these changes. For more information and the free downloads, visit the Microsoft Web site.



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