WinInfo Short Takes: Week of April 17

THIS I DON'T understand: If you ask the average Joe whether he's heard of Windows 2000, chances are he has. But if you ask him about Microsoft's upcoming consumer Windows product, Windows Millennium Edition ("Windows ME"), I bet he'd look at you like you had a hole in your head. I realize that Microsoft makes way more money on any given copy of Windows 2000 than it ever will on Windows ME, but guys, come on, throw us a bone here. Windows ME is actually pretty good, but almost no one outside of Microsoft seems to even know it exists. Stupid.

AND SPEAKING OF Windows ME: I'm not sure where it started, perhaps with id Software, but one of the most famous quotes in the industry regarding software release dates goes like this: "We'll release when it's ready." If only that were true for Microsoft products, which are frequently released with a number of known "issues". People, if you're not up on this yet, Microsoft products are on a schedule, a very specific schedule. So they will release products when the schedule says so, not when they're ready. Windows ME is just the latest example, but if you ever hear anyone from Microsoft say, "we'll release it when it's ready," just laugh and walk away: They're lying to you.

THE WEB SERVER in FrontPage 98 has a secret password that allows users to gain access to the thousands of Web sites still using the software, says a report in the Wall Street Journal. There's even a cute note for one-time competitor Netscape Communications buried in the code ("Netscape engineers are weenies!") which makes this all the more humorous. Microsoft says that the codes are a "firing offense" and they're apparently trying to track done who could have done such a thing. Thankfully, there's an easy fix that will solve the problem: If you're using the FrontPage 98 server extensions, just delete the file dvwssr.dll and all will be well.

PCWEEK IS CHANGING its name to "eWeek" to reflect a change in focus from PC-based computing to Internet-based computing. That's a fine idea, I suppose, but isn't all Internet-based computing--especially in the business market that PCWeek targets--done with, ahem, PCs? That's 16 years of marketing down the tubes, folks. Thankfully, Microsoft would never screw with the "Windows NT" name like that. Oh wait.

IN THE BOWELS of Intel Corporation, work continues on a product that is described as a "system on a chip." Code-named "Timna," the chip will target low-cost computing devices (the "value market" in Intel-speak), offering a 700 MHz CPU with integrated graphics and memory controllers. The goal is to cut down on the number of chips needed to run a computer, and thus cut down on the price. Timna chips are based on Intel's Celeron CPUs.

ON A RECENT trip to New York, I began playing around with Digital Dashboard, Microsoft's Outlook 2000 customization kit, which provides an HTML-based "Outlook Today" screen that you can setup to your liking. Not coincidentally, MSNBC recently released its own Outlook 2000 Digital Dashboard, called Personal Update, which provides a highly customizable Outlook Today screen with live links to MSNBC content. It's cool, if you're into that kind of thing. Head on over to the MSNBC Web site and check it out

ZDNET READERS RECENTLY discovered with WinInfo subscribers have known for weeks: That Microsoft's Office 2000 SR-1 update was released with some major bugs and will be re-released soon as SR-1a. But this time, they actually got an ashamed Office program manager to explain why it wasn't a big deal. Shame!

AMD's ATHLON HAS been a huge success story for the company, placing the company, which was previously best known for its low-end chips, in sudden contention for the CPU speed crown. How successful is the Athlon, you ask? Well, AMD just reported sales of over $1 billion for the most recent quarter, a record for the company we all wrote off a year ago. Bravo, AMD.

THANKS TO CHRIS Walker for the tip: The number one reason to not upgrade to Internet Explorer 5.5 Beta on Windows 2000 was quietly fixed this week when Microsoft finally added Windows Update support to the release; previously, Windows 2000 users that upgraded would be unable to access the Web-based update system. The IE 5.5 Beta install weighs in at 4.7 MB for Windows 2000 users (it's browser only on that platform) and, not coincidentally, you can now grab it from Windows Update.

SUN MICROSYSTEMS ALSO posted some impressive numbers for the most recent quarter, as its profits surged 94% on sales of $4 billion. Folks, that's huge. Sun expects to maintain a 25% growth rate for the rest of the year: Not bad for a company fending off Microsoft and Linux.

IT'S NOT WINDOWS ME related, but it should be: According to a report in the ever-quotable Daily News, New York City will not be sprayed with the controversial pesticide malathion if the city is hit with another outbreak of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. But that's not the good part. The title of the article is: No Malathion vs. Skeeter Virus. I think I've finally answered the question about "Skeeter" that's been bugging me since the Windows ME beta began

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