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WinInfo Short Takes: Week of March 4

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

Windows .NET Server Delayed Until Late 2002
I'm pretty sure I already reported this story, but in case it wasn't already evident, Microsoft has officially delayed the upcoming release of Windows .NET Server--once set for late 2001 but recently expected as soon as mid-2002-- until late 2002. Microsoft says that its recent Trustworthy Computing initiative is the key reason for the delay. The company says the first Windows .NET Server Release Candidate (RC) is due this summer, with the release to manufacturing (RTM) vaguely set for the second half of 2002.

Microsoft: Get 'Em While They're Young
Sensing that developers will be lost to Microsoft forever if it doesn't attract them while they're young, the company is expanding its targeting of educational institutions with a special academic version of Visual Studio .NET, which will ship later this year. The academic version will let students purchase the normally super-expensive programming suite for only $100, which is exactly how much it would cost if Microsoft had any competition.

Raymond: Cheap PCs to Doom Microsoft; Thurrott: Windows to Doom Raymond
And speaking of inexpensive software, open-source guru Eric "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" Raymond says that Microsoft is doomed because lower PC prices will squeeze out the Windows market. "When the price of a PC falls below $350," Raymond says, "Microsoft will no longer be viable." You mean the way the Xbox got squeezed out, Eric? I have a news flash for open-source central: People have been predicting Microsoft's death since the Lotus 123/WordPerfect for DOS days. Falling PC prices won't cause the company's demise.

Critics Not Impressed with Microsoft/DOJ Settlement Clarification
The meager clarifications that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Microsoft made this week to their proposed antitrust settlement aren't going over big with the company's critics, including the nine nonsettling states and the District of Columbia. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal accurately referred to the changes as "cosmetic" and "fundamentally flawed," although Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller grudgingly referred to a change that dropped a controversial provision involving PC makers' intellectual property rights as "significant." No matter how you look at it, the settlement is largely unchanged and will probably be ratified, which will lead to the 7 years of torment and thousand years of bliss the Biblical book of Revelation predicts.
MSN: Switch From AOL
In a bid to gain control of one of the few markets it hasn't been able to take over by leveraging its Windows monopoly, Microsoft is offering AOL users an interesting choice: Switch to MSN, and we'll pay you. AOL users who sign on for at least 3 months of MSN access will receive a $50 refund, and, if rumors are correct, one Get Out of Jail Free card. You know ... assuming the company has any cards left after the antitrust trial.

Next Star Office Won't Be Free
If you were looking for evidence that Sun Microsystems just doesn't get it, this news might provide that evidence. This week, the company verified that its upcoming Star Office 6 office productivity suite won't be free, unless, of course, you're one of the eight lucky people who use Solaris as a desktop solution. Windows and Linux users will have to pay an undisclosed amount for the product, which will lead to absolutely no one using Star Office. Why? Because Windows users already have an Office suite they get for free with new computers, and Linux users refuse to pay for desktop software. So, please, describe to me the market for this product. (For the record, a free version of the suite, called Open Office, will still be available, which further diminishes the value of Star Office, as far as I can tell).

Oh-Oh, Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh, Here Comes the Hammer!
Please, Hammer, don't hurt them! Microprocessor maker AMD announced this week that its next-generation, 64-bit, Pentium/x86-compatible microprocessor--code-named Hammer--will ship by the end of the year. The announcement accompanied the chip's first public demonstrations, which occurred in a hotel room just blocks from rival Intel's big annual developer conference in San Francisco. You have to admire AMD's pluck and grasp of what customers want. Intel's 64-bit solution, the Itanium, which is only partially backwards-compatible with the Pentium, has had zero penetration into the market after almost a year.

Intel Launches Xeon DP Processors
But don't count Intel out yet. The company announced several new advances at its developer forum; one cool new product is a server-oriented microprocessor called the Xeon DP. Intel says the new chip will eventually scale to speeds of 10GHz, although current models top out at 2.2GHz. But the chip and its corresponding chipset are important to Intel because they finally bring the server line up to speed with Intel's desktop products, which have received most of the company's focus. A multiprocessor version, the Xeon MP, will ship later this quarter.

AOL Accused of Overcharging
As if $23.95 a month wasn't already too expensive for a dial-up account, AOL has found itself on the receiving end of a bogus-billing lawsuit, in which customers accuse the company of unlawfully charging them for merchandise they didn't order. AOL, known for spamming nonusers with coaster-like sign-up disks and for spamming members with annoying pop-up ads, says it's done nothing wrong. But a California law firm quickly received more than 200 complaints from users about the practice after it announced a suit and now has thousands of potential complaints. Class action, anyone?

Windows CE .NET Updates Due in Late 2002
By the end of the year, Microsoft will upgrade its recently released Windows CE .NET product, which will form the basis for the next generation of Pocket PC devices, with a Service Pack 1 (SP1) release that will add several new features. CE .NET SP1 will include a Systems Management Server (SMS) client, IPv6 support, full Microsoft Office document-viewing support, the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework, and other features. After SP1 ships, Microsoft will target the next CE .NET, code-named Macallan.

Microsoft to Offer IM-Archiving Capabilities
This week, Microsoft licensed Imlogic's instant messaging (IM) archival technology, which it will include in an upcoming server product that will work with Windows Messenger. The technology lets companies archive, search, and report on IM traffic, an important email-like function that's glaringly missing from current IM products. With IM becoming more and more important to businesses (remember the days when we thought this feature would only benefit teenagers and college students?), the need for IM archival technology is also growing. And so is the need for people to get up, back away from the PC, and get outside every once in a while. Yeah, I'm talking to you.

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