WinInfo Short Takes: Week of January 10

MICROSOFT CORPORATION HAS begun beta testing its first major upgrade to Office 2000 for Windows, Office 2000 Service Release 1 (SR1). Office 2000 SR1 is expected to integrate more efficiently with Windows 2000; I'll have more details as soon they become available.

YAWN. NEW YEARS eve is generally a sleeper, especially when you have kids, and this time around, the eve of a new millennium, was more boring than ever. But that's a good thing, given the alternative: Chicken Little was running amok warning of serious computer disaster and even terrorist attacks. Thankfully, nothing bad happened. Now we can go back to debating when the new millennium *really* begins, not that there's much of a debate: We're in it already. Discuss. :)

I EASILY SPEND a couple of thousand dollars a year online, and I must say that my experiences thus far have been overwhelmingly positive. Until this past Christmas, that is. Somehow, I only ordered a few items online this season, but both orders were totally screwed up. The worst offender is, about which I cannot say enough: They screwed up a $100 "email" gift certificate to a friend by snail mailing it to my house. It arrived this week. And the five copies of Quake III Arena that I preordered from never made it out the door either. At least that company had the decency to warn me of the problem ahead of time: I've yet to hear a thing from despite several emails. If someone like me can't figure this out, how are my parents going to handle shopping online? Answer: They aren't.

"IT'S LIKE RIDING a bike, Craig." At least two countries are supposedly in an uproar over Windows 2000 for various reasons, including Germany and China. The issue in Germany is the inclusion of Executive Software's Diskeeper Lite 5.0 software, which is called Disk Defragmenter in Windows 2000. It seems that Executive Software is helmed by a scientologist who rose to riches and fame by following the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology, as you may know, is under investigation and constant scrutiny in Germany, so it sounds good, but this one is a red herring invented by a German magazine. In another interesting but equally untrue development, there were stories all over the Web this week that the Chinese government was going to ban Windows 2000 in deference to a Chinese version of version of Linux. These reports, which got big press on over-eager Linux Web sites (that is, all of them), are untrue, however, and were based solely on a single mention in a single Chinese newspaper. China and Microsoft have both denied the rumors.

IF YOU ACTUALLY sat through the two and a half hour Steve Jobs MacWorld keynote this week, I suspect that your butt is still sore: Jobs spent a half hour talking about the existing product line (nope, no new or even updated hardware) and a full hour talking about new sections on the Apple Web site (boooorrrriiinnggggg), before getting to Mac OS X, a cool-looking product that doesn't even exist yet, and won't until the end of 2000 at the earliest (Apple calls this a "12 month rollout"). I realize it's just too damn easy to pick on Apple, but color me stupid: Why does a company with so little marketshare and virtually no strategy at all ("we'll make money, however") continue to get so much coverage in the mainstream press? It makes me feel like I'm the last human left in "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers."

FREE FREE, SET them free. The oft-owned but little loved Amiga has been set free from corporate parent Gateway months after the company fired Amiga loyalist Bill McEwen, who had dared to talk openly with Amiga enthusiasts about his plans. Gateway then tried to kill the Amiga, but gave up and sold the name and remaining product inventory to, yup, you guessed it, Frank Stallone. Actually, they sold it to Bill McEwen, who now runs a company called Amino which, yup, you guessed it, will soon change its name to Frank Stallone. OK, actually, they're going to change the name to Amiga. And lest you 6 remaining Amiga fanatics fear otherwise, the company plans on resuscitating the Amiga hardware and software sometime soon. Of course, we've been hearing that since 1994.

I RECEIVED SEVERAL emails this week about a minor point update to Netscape Communicator that doesn't seem to be available from the normal channels yet. But it's true, says Netscape, Communicator version 4.71 will be available any day now. And if you head over to the Netscape FTP site, you'll see a nice new 7.71 directory, which is currently off limits. If you just can't wait, however, try doing a file search (I recommend the excellent Copernic 2000) for cc32e471.exe, an 18.1 MB download.

QUOTE OF THE week: "I have long had a love affair with my little TEAC 6-pack CD-ROM player." -- Jerry Pournelle on There is absolutely no way to follow this one up, other than to quote Austin Powers' Dr. Evil: "Rrrriiiiiigggghhhttttt.

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