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May 7, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Remedy Hearings: WMP Comes to the Forefront
- Microsoft Plans $1.33 Billion Software Company Purchase
- New Pentium 4 Processor Offers Raw Speed Boost
- Microsoft Completes Project 2002
- Mobile and Wireless Solutions—An Online Resource for a New Era
- Need 24 x 7 Availability?
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Under cross-examination during her company's remedy hearings, Microsoft executive Linda Averett testified that to meet the letter of its proposed settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the company considered simply hiding the applications it bundles with Windows. According to lawyers for the nine nonsettling states and the District of Columbia, this admission emphasizes the problem with the settlement: As with past agreements the company has made with the government, the settlement's wording lets Microsoft technically meet its requirements while willfully betraying its actual purpose.
Averett made her comments during a discussion about Windows Media Player (WMP), which Microsoft says is now more integrated than ever in Windows XP, the latest Windows release. WMP competitors such as RealNetworks complain that Microsoft is simply following the strategy it took with Internet Explorer (IE) and commingling code to shut out competition.
States attorney John Schmidtlein asked Averett about this contention. If Microsoft integrated WMP functionality with Windows so that the player worked without actually opening, would the company need to give competitors access to that functionality, as the settlement requires? "If this function were presented as an integrated feature," Averett said, "then there would not be a requirement to disclose it." She said Microsoft is looking at exposing functionality in this way so that it can meet the settlement requirements. "It is one of the areas we are constantly looking at," she said.
In another bizarre exchange, Schmidtlein asked Averett how Microsoft would determine which WMP functionality to reveal to partners and competitors—another settlement requirement. "Microsoft decides which functionality it deems appropriate?" Schmidtlein asked Averett. "That's correct," she answered. The nonsettling states say that this policy ensures that the Microsoft-bundled WMP gets new features before the competition does, ensuring that users continue to use the Microsoft product. However, Averett says that third-party developers will have access to beta Windows builds and can "work hard" to add the newest features before Microsoft releases the final version.
Microsoft announced this morning that it will purchase Navision, Europe's fifth-largest software company, in a deal valued at $1.33 billion. The purchase further diversifies Microsoft's software offerings and increases the company's presence with small and midsized businesses. Navision is Europe's leading supplier of end-to-end business solutions, a role Great Plains plays in the United States. (Microsoft purchased Great Plains last year for about $1 billion.) Navision's products include Attain/Financials, Axapta, and XAL.
"The combined vision, business strategy, and product offerings of Microsoft and Navision will provide great benefits to small and mid-market customers and will create strong growth opportunities for Microsoft," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "Many business processes in these companies are not yet benefiting from the efficiencies that technology offers. Microsoft and the Navision team together are committed to delivering compelling and powerful solutions and products to this important and large market segment, through our partners, that will enable businesses to be more competitive, agile, and productive."
After Microsoft completes the purchase, Navision will become part of Microsoft's Business Solutions Division and Navision's Denmark headquarters will become the center of development and operations for Microsoft Business Solutions in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Intel releases speed-bumped microprocessors on a fairly regular basis, but this week's introduction of new Pentium 4 processors represents a more significant performance gain than usual. Yes, the clock speeds are faster (the new chips run at 2.53GHz, 2.26GHz, and 2.4GHz), but the release's big gains are a new 533MHz system bus and support for 1066MHz Rambus RDRAM memory. These advances edge Intel's offerings beyond rival AMD and distance the PC world dramatically from the Macintosh's aging Power PC designs, which are mired with top CPU speeds of 1GHz and lowly 133MHz system bus and memory speeds.
"The latest Pentium 4 processors deliver the versatility to improve everything from gaming to the use of cutting-edge business tools," said Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group. "For example, PCs based on the new Pentium 4 processor at 2.53GHz can convert songs into MP3 format almost six times faster than the quickest PCs of 3 years ago—a tremendous time savings for end users."
How fast are systems based on the new Pentium 4 processor chips? According to Intel, such systems can encode MPEG-4 video five times faster than typical Pentium III systems and can achieve seven times the frame rate in popular 3-D games. And compared to the top system of a year ago, the 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor, the new systems are 40 percent faster in both these areas. After testing the new CPUs against AMD's fastest offering, the Athlon XP 2100+, hardware-performance site Tom's Hardware gave the nod to the new Pentium 4 processors as well, noting that in all 25 benchmark tests the Intel came out ahead of the AMD. PC companies such as Compaq, Dell, and Gateway are already selling systems based on the new chips.
At the NetWorld+Interop 2002 trade show this morning, Microsoft announced that it has released Project 2002 to manufacturing. The company has extensively updated and restructured Project 2002 into a new product family, which will become publicly available in June, the company says.
"We're excited to report that Microsoft Project 2002 code is now final, and we are set to deliver a complete project and resource management solution for our enterprise customers," said Chris Capossela, general manager of the Microsoft Project business unit. "We believe that Microsoft Project 2002 will enable organizations to make project management a critical business application throughout their enterprise."
The Microsoft Project 2002 product family includes Project 2002 Standard, Project 2002 Professional, and Project 2002 Server. All the products include dynamic task scheduling; improved charts, calendars, and task sheets; a new Project Guide; an Office XP-style UI with task panes and Smart Tags; better integration with other Microsoft Office family products; and new resource pooling, leveling, and availability tools. Project 2002 Professional and Project 2002 Server add other unique features such as Web-based Project views, timesheets and status information; email notifications; a document library; load balancing and clustering; and more.
For more information, visit the Microsoft Project Web site.
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