Short Takes: Week of March 20

WITHIN DAYS OF my last Windows Millennium (Windows ME) report, a bunch of follow-up articles appeared on a variety of news sites; some of the articles included quotes from IT professionals bemoaning the fact that Windows ME won't include some of the more obscure business-oriented features they want. Folks, get a clue: There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it--Windows ME is clearly designed for consumers only, in the same way that Windows 2000 (Win2K) is designed solely for businesses. Microsoft has been clear about this issue ever since the first Windows ME announcement last year, so you can't blame them.

AUTHOR STEPHEN KING brought the Net to its virtual knees this week as unprecedented demand for his new 66-page e-book, Riding the Bullet, brought Web sites down and slowed traffic to a crawl. The book went on sale Tuesday, but by midweek, heavy-hitters such as had to remove it from their sites temporarily so that the rest of their business could proceed normally. Most Web sites are selling the electronic novella for $2.50, but is offering it for free, assuming you can find the download. By the time you read this, things might have calmed down a bit: For a look at the future of book distribution, head over to your favorite online bookseller and check it out.

MANY APPLE IBOOK users are raising a stink over cracks in their colorful little laptops: It seems that the plastic used to create these translucent little wonders is stressed at certain places, causing consistent cracking. Although manufacturing creases that are more visible on the iBook than on opaque PC notebooks explain some of the cracks, most of the cracking is the result of poor design. As such, it's a problem, and users are up in arms over the structural defects. I guess this is what happens when you choose form over function.

OKAY, I NEVER discuss politics in WinInfo, but this one is too funny to pass up: U.S. presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush exchanged some pretty sarcastic email this week, but the zinger award goes to Bush (or more precisely, one of Bush's speech writers), who concluded his note to Gore with, "Thank you for your email. This Internet of yours is a wonderful invention."

MICROSOFT PLANS TO spin off its HomeAdvisor Web site from MSN, the latest in a long list of content sites that the software giant has ejected from the mothership. In 1996, when Microsoft formed its Web strategy, the company figured that content sites such as Mungo Park were just what the doctor ordered. But who really wants to get real estate advice from the company that makes Windows?

EVER SINCE MICROSOFT announced the X-Box, things just haven't gone right for Sony, which recently launched its PlayStation 2 (PS2) gaming console in Japan. First, it was a memory card problem. (And why doesn't the company use its Memory Stick technology for that anyway?) But late this week, the company admitted to a second PS2 flaw, which violates the copyright the company has with DVD makers. It was an embarrassing problem for the company because it also competes in the DVD content market, and the news sent Sony stock heading south. Windows everywhere indeed.

BE INCORPORATED WILL ship BeOS 5 Personal Edition, a free downloadable version of its next OS on March 28. BeOS 5 Personal Edition is designed for first-time users; it installs as a file on an existing Windows system and doesn't require partitioning of the hard disk. A full- featured version, BeOS 5 Professional Edition, will be available at retailers shortly thereafter. For more information, visit the Be Web site

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