WinInfo Short Takes: Week of June 6

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a true New England spring, the new WinInfo format, Frank Stallone, IE 7 and Windows 2000, AMD vs. Intel, iPod rebates, XXX sites, fun with Dell, and so much more...

Short Takes Blog

You might recall that I complained about the rain last week. This week, the spring sun has returned to New England. I'm finally spreading mulch in abundant quantities. I watched a come-from-behind Red Sox victory yesterday in the blazing sun at Fenway Park. And we even went to the beach over the Memorial Day weekend. Finally.

No, we didn't go in the water. This is Massachusetts, not Florida.

Speaking of Florida, I won't be at TechEd next week, unfortunately. I will, however, be at the Gnomedex 5.0 trade show in Seattle toward the end of the month. Drop me a note if you're going.

It's been a short week, so I'm a bit short on news. I considered posting a few of today's short takes earlier in the week, which brings up a question. It seems that most of the people who read WinInfo Daily UPDATE enjoy Short Takes. I collect these blurbs throughout the week. Does it make sense to publish them online as they happen, so to speak, or should I continue saving them for Friday? Put another way, the Short Takes you see in Friday's newsletter could be largely culled from shorter posts that I make to the WinInfo Web site during the week (along with whatever new happens on Friday). If a big enough story breaks on a Friday morning, I'll still separate it from Short Takes, although that doesn't seem to happen all that often. Drop me a note if you have an opinion.

Aside from that lingering question, I seem to be settling into the new format, and I hope it works for you as well. I had a lot of requests to bring back the news blurb titles--and, really, shame on you for skimming over this fine piece of journalism, so they're back. I don't have a wisecrack to make about everything that happens, but I still wish I could intersperse comments between the blurbs. Ultimately, the problem boils down to the dual-publication nature of WinInfo: The versions of WinInfo you see on the Web site and in the email newsletter can look different because the newsletter is text-based and the Web is more visual. It's hard to emote with ASCII. Ah well.

I've been legally threatened twice: by a lawyer representing Frank Stallone and, more recently, by Apple Computer. Neither threat amounted to anything, but the coincidence begs the question: Why isn't Stallone doing TV ads for Apple?

Microsoft's support of raw digital camera images in Longhorn and Windows XP is a lot more interesting than you might think, and I'll have more to say about the subject next week. And Microsoft's decision to move to pure XML document types is raising the hackles of certain open-source supporters. I hope to have more to say about that next week as well.

This Week's Other News

No IE 7.0 for Win2K Users
   Microsoft has confirmed that Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 won't be available for Windows 2000 but will instead run only on Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows XP with SP2, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. When the company initially announced IE 7.0, it noted that the release would be only for XP but apparently wrestled with the possibility of adding Win2K compatibility after customers complained. Your complaints have fallen on deaf ears, people. Please upgrade.

South Korean Hackers Steal Passwords from MSN
   In a major embarrassment to the software maker, Microsoft's MSN unit revealed today that malicious hackers electronically attacked its South Korean Web portal, making off with an unknown number of user passwords. Microsoft said that MSN's English-language versions weren't affected, which makes sense. Unlike MSN's other services, a non-Microsoft company hosts the South Korean MSN portal. Microsoft and law enforcement officials are examining the attack and will try to determine who might have been affected.

Gentlemen, Start Your Benchmarks
   AMD and Intel have unleashed their mainstream dual-core processors on the world, so the benchmarking has begun. Not surprisingly, AMD's chips have a slight performance lead, albeit at a dramatically higher cost. I'd like to see AMD rein in the price and kick some butt. How about it?

Apple Settles with iPod Complainers
   In an unexpected move, Apple Computer has agreed to replace iPods for some customers or provide cash or credit toward other Apple purchases as part of a settlement over iPod battery-life problems. Although the iPod is hugely successful, claims that the device's battery loses power remarkably fast, rendering many iPods useless after just a year of use, have tarnished the device's image. Most of these claims involve the first three generations of iPod devices (the current generation is the fourth), which posted dramatically poorer battery-life scores than their competitors. As you might expect, Apple reacted in a less-than-customer-friendly manner when it first heard about the problem by telling disgruntled customers that they would need to buy new iPods if the batteries in their existing devices failed. Then, in the face of numerous legal threats, Apple started offering a $99 iPod battery-replacement program. Two years of continuing legal problems later, Apple has settled. You can read the details on the Apple iPod Settlement Web site.

HP to Sell iPod Minis
   HP revealed this week that it will sell iPod Minis. No, I don't really find this news particularly interesting either.

Adult Sites Go XXX
   In my latest attempt to ensure that as many spam filters as possible catch WinInfo, I must report on a new development in the world of adult entertainment. This week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit entity that oversees Internet addresses, approved the use of the suffix .xxx to denote adult entertainment sites. These sites will be able to purchase yournamehere.xxx Internet domains by the end of the year, setting up a virtual combat zone (as we call a red light district here in Boston) on the Web.

Sun Buys StorageTek
   I promised you that I'd spare you the snoring "dullarity" of storage, but this news is actually interesting. You probably know that Microsoft continually says that it's "betting the company" on whatever product it's discussing at the time. You're probably also aware that this "bet the company" claim is about as bogus as a $3 bill. So what would you say if some company spent half of its available cash--to the tune of $4.1 billion--to acquire another company, even if the acquiring company's own stock price is nestled in the paltry $3 zone? I think you'd have to say that the acquiring company is betting the company. That's just what Sun Microsystems did yesterday by purchasing Storage Technology (aka StorageTek). The purchase will triple Sun's commitment to storage and virtually ensure that it will sink or swim based on the success of the storage market. Will it work? Analysts are unconvinced.

Ah, the Perils of Dominance
   I love Dell. I really do. But I have to smile a bit about two developments this week regarding my favorite PC company. First, Dell plans to create a new line of high-end PCs and notebook computers that it refers to as its Lexus line; a final name has yet to be announced. That's cute. I've always believed that people will pay a bit more for better merchandise and services, but the name is also a bit out of sync with Dell's blue-collar roots. Second, Dell said this week that it plans to take disciplinary action against a Dell salesperson who sent an email message to IBM customers, warning them not to purchase Lenovo Group PCs because doing so would "directly support/fund the Chinese government." Yikes. It's OK to be scrappy and competitive. But fears over Lenovo's purchase of IBM's PC business notwithstanding, it's not OK to be xenophobic.

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