WinInfo Short Takes: Week of February 17

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

Windows Server 2003: From NT to Gold
I'm working on a multipart series for the SuperSite for Windows called "Windows Server 2003: The Road to Gold," a behind-the-scenes look at the history and development of the Windows NT/Windows Server product line. The first two parts are available now and feature exclusive interviews with NT pioneers as well as the first-ever look at the Windows Server War Room, in which bugs are triaged daily during development. I'll post new parts leading up to the Windows Server 2003 launch. If you're interested in how Microsoft internally plans, develops, and tests its enterprise-ready products, "The Road to Gold" has it all. Check it out on the SuperSite for Windows

What Happened to IE 7.0?
I've received a lot of questions about Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 and the possibility that this product simply won't happen--that Microsoft will replace IE in Windows with the next version of MSN. Although I haven't heard any definitive news to support this rumor yet, a recent report on a Macintosh-oriented rumor site has me wondering. Think Secret , which has one of the better records for predicting what's happening with Mac OS X, recently published a story that stated that the next IE release for the Mac is "in question" and that Microsoft is holding back the product so that the company can ship an MSN 8 version for that platform. Given the relatively small size of Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, this report could simply mean that the company wants to concentrate on MSN 8 before it returns to working on IE, but the article could also bear out rumors that Microsoft is discontinuing IE across the board, despite the fact that the browser now controls more than 95 percent of the Web-browser market. Could this rumored move be an effort to thwart antitrust complaints by decoupling IE and moving all browser development to the MSN camp? Could be.

Netscape's Browser on the Way Out?
And speaking of Web browsers that might never be updated, an internal AOL memo reveals that Netscape's parent company is considering halting Netscape Web-browser development. The memo, which revealed, states that future Netscape versions will likely be "maintenance releases" only, which could mean that the organization, which makes the Gecko browser rendering engine and other technologies behind Netscape's browser suite, will carry forward the unofficial Netscape flag. Netscape's recent releases, Netscape 6.x and Netscape 7.x, are warmed-over Mozilla releases, anyway. On the other hand, AOL is secretly testing a new Gecko-based email client called AOL Communicator, and the company is reportedly working on a new Gecko version, code-named Apollo, that might become yet another middleware threat to Windows.

Internal Sun Memo Disses Java, Gets Press
A lot of publications, both print and electronic, are making a big deal out of an internal Sun Microsystems memo that rips into the company's Java technology, calling it inadequate for delivering reliable applications on Sun's Solaris platform. The memo is a compelling and interesting read, albeit with one little problem: A Sun executive wrote it more than 2 years ago, and the company has since addressed most of the complaints the memo reveals. As Sun itself noted in a statement this week, "The issues mentioned in the memo are irrelevant at this point." But I like the way that Sun CEO Scott McNealy addresses the problem. In a discussion about the company's Solaris platform, McNealy recently said that the OS "runs Java like the wind." So there you go.

New Media Center Version in Beta Testing
According to reports, Microsoft has started beta testing an interim upgrade to Windows XP Media Center Edition, the OS that debuted in October 2002. Set to ship sometime mid-year, the new XP Media Center release likely will natively support faster wireless adapters and will include Internet radio functionality and a tweaked interface for recorded TV shows. Questions remain about whether the company will offer XP Media Center separately from new Media Center PCs, and I hope to see Microsoft do so with this release. But for now, all we have is rumors.

Microsoft Preps Exchange Compatibility for the Mac
Responding to a long-standing complaint about its Mac wares, Microsoft announced this week that the company will deliver a Microsoft Exchange Server client for Mac OS X through an add-on for Microsoft Entourage X, the company's consumer-oriented Microsoft Outlook-like application. Entourage currently ships as a standalone application and as part of Microsoft Office v. X, the company's office productivity suite for Mac OS X. The add-on will let Entourage users access Exchange email, address books, contacts, and other related server-based folders. The product will be available sometime this summer, the company says.

DOJ Mulls Aiding Microsoft in Battle Against US States
I guess antitrust makes for strange bedfellows. After pursuing Microsoft for several years in court, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly considering helping the software giant fend off the US states that continue to fight Microsoft's antitrust settlement. If the DOJ joins Microsoft's face-off against Massachusetts and West Virginia, the agency would argue that the stricter sanctions the states seek are unfair and unwarranted. But really--what company has done more for competition than Microsoft? Yeah, that's a joke. Back away from the email application.

Dell Earnings Set Records
Dell announced record quarterly earnings this week, meeting or beating expectations. The company earned $603 million in its fourth quarter on $9.7 billion in revenues, both of which were records for Dell, and the company says that it will continue beating earnings records, despite the economy. You have to admire Dell's bravado while most of its competitors continue to struggle with demand and prices. Consider the stats: Dell's server shipments are up 28 percent, laptop shipments are up 33 percent, and desktop shipments are up 24 percent. External storage? Up 87 percent. Overall, unit shipments were up 25 percent in the quarter, and that number compares with just 1 percent average growth in the industry. Yikes.

Intel Eyes Cell Phone Market
Apparently unsatisfied with its stranglehold on the PC microprocessor market, CPU giant Intel has moved into logical new markets during the past few years, including high-end servers, ultra-mobile notebooks, and PDAs. But now the company is entering a market in which Intel might not be entirely welcome: cell phones. Intel's new PXA800F chip, code-named Manitoba, is based on the XScale platform that powers all current Pocket PCs. The company's innovation is integrating flash memory with the digital signal processor (DSP) and the primary processor, creating an all-in-one design that takes up less space, consumes less power, and offers more functionality than the competition. What a unique concept. But will Intel meet the same resistance that Microsoft met in the entrenched cell-phone market? I don't think so. Intel has a way of working with other companies that somehow eludes Microsoft, and Intel hasn't burned bridges with most of its partners.

Microsoft Appearance at Open-Source Conference Might Draw Protests
Open-source advocates are considering protesting an upcoming open-source conference in Washington, DC, because a Microsoft representative plans to present a speech. The conference, which is geared toward open-source adoption by US and European Union (EU) governments, seems to have little to do with Microsoft, which makes proprietary software and has been battling the open-source community for years. Whatever happens, the conference should be interesting. I just hope the Microsoft speaker wears his tomato-proof suit. But isn't it just a bit hypocritical of the open-source community to try to stop Microsoft from appearing at the conference? Aren't these people all about freedom?

Register to Get Office 11 Beta 2
If you're interested in participating in the Office 11 beta evaluation, Microsoft now has a public sign-up sheet on its Web site where you can register. If Microsoft accepts, you'll receive Office 11 beta 2, which includes all the usual suspects as well as the new applications Microsoft InfoPath (formerly code-named XDocs) and Microsoft OneNote (code-named Scribbler). Visit the Microsoft Web site for more information. 

Mobility Tour Marches On to Miami, Atlanta, New York, and Chicago
You've probably been inundated with email about the Microsoft Mobility Tour, but if you haven't had a chance to attend, we still have a few cities left: Miami, Florida next week, then Atlanta, New York, and Chicago during the next several weeks. I'll be talking about Microsoft's mobility software and hardware platforms, including XP, Office XP, Windows 2003, the Tablet PC, the Pocket PC, the Windows Powered Smartphone, and even Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT). If you're interested in some hands-on time with a lot of this technology or just want to drop by to say hello, the events are fun, free, and just half a day long. For more information, visit the Windows & .NET Magazine Web site.

No WinInfo Daily UPDATE on Monday
Because of Monday's President's Day holiday in the United States, we won't be publishing WinInfo Daily UPDATE. See on you on Tuesday, February 18!

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