An irreverent look at some of the week's other news
Maxtor drives and Windows 2000 SP1: A deadly combination?
I've received numerous reports from people that Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Maxtor hard drives (both SCSI and IDE, curiously) don't mix very well, with bizarre side effects ranging from Windows reporting incorrect drive sizes to actual data loss. I haven't been able to pin this one down as easily as the ZoneAlarm/BlackICE issue, but I can at least tell you this: If you use Maxtor drives and want to install SP1, make sure you at least enable the "uninstall" option just in case.
Windows Media Player 7 and Adaptec EZ CD Creator 3.5 don't mix
And speaking of bizarre incompatibilities, here's one I've actually experienced first hand on a system I recently built for my brother: Numerous readers have written in with horror stories about installing WMP7 on a Windows 2000 system, rebooting, and then being unable to get past the white progress bar startup screen. The one common element in each case is a copy of Adaptec EZ CD Creator 3.5 previously installed on the system. And the news here is very, very bad: Everyone I know that's had this issue has ultimately needed to completely wipe out Windows 2000 and reinstall: Safe Mode, the Recovery Console, and the Setup Repair option do not work.
Sun opens up StarOffice
Thanks to Nicholas Waltham for the tip: I should have mentioned this long ago, but Sun Microsystems has bitten the bullet and GPL'd its StarOffice productivity suite, meaning that the company will work with the Open Source community to improve the product going forward. For more information, please visit the Sun Web site.
MSN offers Office productivity pack
Thanks to Paul Britton Jr. for the tip: Microsoft has released an interesting update for Office 2000 called MSN File Cabinet, which adds a number of features that enable the suite to integrate better with MSN. MSN File Cabinet provides 30 MB of free online storage that can be seamlessly integrated with your Windows desktop. For more information, please visit the MSN Web site.
Windows 95 users get the shaft with Office 10
Microsoft is quietly dropping support for Windows 95 in its upcoming Office suite, currently dubbed Office 10. According to the Office 10 Beta 1 release notes, the product requires "Microsoft Windows 98 or later, Microsoft Windows NT4 with Service Pack 5 installed, or Windows 2000. This version of Microsoft Office will not function on Windows 3.x, Windows NT 3.5x, or Windows 95. We have done little testing with Windows ME, so we recommend against using this beta version of Office on that operating system." You were going to upgrade anyway, right?
Download the dictionary for Microsoft Reader
After mentioning that the public release of Microsoft Reader omitted the handy dictionary feature we saw during the beta, numerous readers (is that a pun?) pointed out that you could actually download the Encarta Pocket Dictionary for free from the Microsoft Web site. Head on over and download it today!
Carmack: Linux games not selling well
Id programming guru John Carmack has admitted what Linux pundits have feared: Sales of the company's Linux products were low enough that "they are certainly not going to provide an incentive for other developers to do simultaneous Linux releases, which was a good chunk of \[id's\] goal. The sales would cover the costs of porting, but they wouldn’t make a bean-counter blink." Carmack says that id's experience with porting products to Linux suggests that it may not be convenient for them to help "nurture" the Linux market.
Talk about jet lag
I write WinInfo in sort of a self-imposed virtual exile, but this week things got out of hand when I traveled to Israel for a non-magazine-related business trip. It's hard enough being two hours ahead of the people that do the real work to make this newsletter happen, but the nine hour difference became a real challenge, as I suddenly had a very small window during which I was actually available online at the same time as they were. But it all came together, despite some glitches getting the Web site updated at the beginning of the week. By the time you read this Friday, I'll be on my way home, I suppose. There's nothing like an eleven-hour flight when you need to catch up on email