WinInfo Short Takes: Week of May 3

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

Windows XP SP2: Late Summer?
   Microsoft sources are now placing the Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) release in "late summer," which will likely be significantly later than the July time frame that Microsoft was foisting around yesterday. The new date is also about a year later than XP SP2's initial estimated ship date and about 6 months later than Microsoft arguably should have released SP2, given all the much-needed security improvements it will contain. No one has said so, but I think that the May Release Candidate 2 (RC2) date is also definitely off, although I suppose Microsoft could add an RC3, if necessary. In short: XP SP2 is the most important Windows client update Microsoft will ever release. But you still can't get it. And now the situation is just getting silly.

Microsoft's April Super Patch Has Problems
  This is what happens when you patch a gajillion problems at once. Microsoft, if you want to see how your credibility goes down the drain when you screw up, pay attention now. WinInfo Daily UPDATE readers might recall that in early April Microsoft released a massive security patch that addressed 20 security vulnerabilities in various Windows versions. The release caused a bit of controversy because it clearly showed that Microsoft had been sitting on some of those fixes for several months, leading security researchers to wonder why the company hadn't released separate patches earlier. Now we have another reason to wonder: The massive security patch is now causing problems with some Windows 2000 systems, and they're the lovely kind of problems that prevent you from logging on to the system, booting the system, or actually using the system because the CPU meter is pegged at 100 percent. But at least you're secure, right?

Virulent Windows Exploit Code
   And speaking of Windows security fun, hackers have turned recently released exploit code for two of the security flaws Microsoft detailed in the April security patch into real-world worms--virulent computer code that can spread across the Internet and look for infected systems. So here's an interesting little catch-22 for you Win2K users: Which would you prefer--a nonbooting, nonworking system or a worm-laden disaster? Pick your poison, thanks to the world's largest software company, which, by the way, can't ship XP SP2 any time soon. We love Microsoft to death, don't we?

Here Come the Weirds: Google's IPO Plans
   Google is the closest thing that today's computer industry has to a dot-com company. Unfortunately for potential shareholders, Google is also the closest thing we have to a cult. And the weirdisms at Google were on full display this week as the company's nonbusiness-savvy executives unleashed the most peculiar set of IPO documentation I've ever seen. "Google is not a conventional company," the company's "Owner's Manual" for shareholders reads. "We do not intend to become one." But, alas, you will become one, Google. That's the point of going public.

Linux Company Licenses Windows Media
   Linux distribution maker Turbolinux was "thinking different" this week when it licensed the code for Microsoft's proprietary Windows Media 9 technologies. In response to consumer requirements, Turbolinux will ship a media player in its Linux version that can stream Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV) content. The company says that a lot of online content is in Windows Media format, and its customers require compatibility. Turbolinux 10F, which is aimed at the Japanese market, will go on sale in late May and will include the Windows Media playback functionality.

Microsoft and the EU at Odds Over Recent Court Ruling
   In an interesting example of how two groups can summarize the same information in two completely different ways, Microsoft and the European Union (EU) both believe that a recent European court ruling backs their respective opinions about the Microsoft antitrust battle. Here's what happened: The EU's highest court made a ruling in a German pharmaceutical case that determined guidelines under which a company could be said to be abusing a dominant market position. According to the EU, Microsoft clearly meets the guidelines outlined in the German case. But Microsoft offered a different interpretation, noting that its actions haven't hindered competition. "This decision is a fatal blow to the \[European\] Commission's compulsory licensing case against Microsoft and forms a very solid basis for part of our appeal," a Microsoft spokesperson said. You know, I'm getting tired of the EU antitrust case.

GNOME and Mozilla Fret Over Longhorn
   Boys, let me tell you something: You have a reason to be worried. Leaders from the GNOME project and the Mozilla Foundation, two of the leading open-source groups, are forming a cartel of sorts to combat the technological advances Microsoft is planning for Longhorn, its next major Windows version. They're specifically worried about XAML, an XML-based markup language that Microsoft will use to create Longhorn UIs and which third-party application developers can use to create Longhorn applications and add-ons. XAML is particularly scary to these groups because major Web sites such as Amazon are already testing XAML-based versions of their services, which would integrate deeply into Longhorn, locking out third-party Web browsers such as Mozilla and Windows alternatives such as Linux, on which GNOME runs. The groups are considering cloning XAML for Linux or creating a new XAML-like technology that will better compete with Microsoft's offerings.

Gateway: Profitability Next Year--Seriously
   At beleaguered PC maker Gateway, the bad news just keeps on coming. The company just reported a larger-than-expected loss for the most recent quarter and now expects to lay off an additional 1500 people, dropping its total workforce to just 2500 people. The company lost $166 million on revenues of $868 million, $104 million of which was associated with the closing of the Gateway's 188 retail stores. Now the company hopes to gain a presence with retail stores such as Best Buy and Circuit City, thanks to its recent purchase of eMachines, which already sold machines in those stores. But Gateway won't return to profitability until at least next year. And at this time last year, the company had more than 7500 employees. Yikes.

Next Week: WinHEC and the Road to Longhorn
   Followers of my "Road to Longhorn" series on the SuperSite for Windows will be happy to hear that next week is the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2004 trade show, and I'll be in Seattle all week sucking up all the technical information I can about Longhorn. Microsoft is expected to ship a new Longhorn build next week and release a slew of new information, so I'll have a lot to write about. See you then.

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