WinInfo Short Takes: Week of November 13 - 10 Nov 2000

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

Microsoft to offer huge Win2K discounts to ISPs, ASPs
A report in InfoWorld says that we can expect some interesting news later today when Microsoft senior VP Brian Valentine addresses ISPCon. Valentine is expected to offer ISPs and ASPs free copies of Windows 2000 Advanced Server along with other discounts on training and support when they switch to Microsoft's platform. Microsoft spokespeople are characteristically vague on the speech, though they caution to expect some surprises. Maybe this will include a new open source model for Windows 2000? Probably not.

Microsoft looks to the long-term in annual meeting ...
Microsoft conducted its annual shareholders meeting Thursday, with chairman Bill Gates stating that "software is alive and well," a pretty obvious statement if it weren't for the recent contrary opinions from big iron makers such as Sun and IBM. But Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer were quick to point out that the form and function of PCs was likely to change in the near future, though this wouldn't affect Microsoft's core businesses, such as determining who gets into heaven, er ah, producing mass market software (thanks to Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, of course, for that one). The annual meeting drew about 2500 shareholders, some of whom questioned the yearlong dive in the company's stock, but Microsoft simply told them to think long-term. Most shareholders didn't seem that concerned, which suggests that they have day jobs.

... as shareholders vote down proposals
In related news, one conspiratorial event did occur at the shareholders meeting: A proposal to force the company to detail its political contributions and take a vocal stance against the human rights violations in China was thrown down in a vote. Microsoft's board, interestingly, opposed both measures. This was the first time Microsoft's shareholders have ever attempted to exercise their rights in this fashion and its nice to see the majority shareholders on the board rush in and squash any chance of that happening. Viva la revolucĂ­on, indeed.

Appellate Court allows AOL to file brief in MS case
The U.S. District Court of Appeals has agreed to allow American Online (AOL) to file a brief supporting the government in the Microsoft antitrust case. This is interesting on a number of levels, considering that the government is, right now, determining whether it should approve AOL's purchase of Time Warner. I'm sure the two events are completely unrelated, but AOL now has until November 27 to file its 25-page "friend of the court" brief explaining exactly why Microsoft is a big bad bully. Perhaps AOL will take this time to also explain why it wants to cut off cable access to the rest of the planet, assuring itself of its own monopoly in broadband Internet and Interactive TV. Or maybe Microsoft will get to file its own "friend of the court" brief in the AOL/Time Warner merger. You never know.

VA Linux sinks dramatically as growth slows
Almost a year ago, I began railing against the insane IPOs occurring in the Linux community, most notably that of white box PC-maker VA Linux, which at one time was somehow worth an amazing $9.5 billion. This company, which basically installs a free OS on its PCs, rocketed to some insane valuation last December when it went public. Well, reality bites: The company, which basically has no clear business model other than "selling PCs with Linux on them" saw its stock fall to $17 this week. Looks like whoever was asleep at the switch finally woke up and figured out that adding the word "Linux" to a business plan does not a success make.

Play Dot Com Monopoly!
The makers of the classic board game Monopoly have created a "Dot Com" version of the product, changing the familiar board locations to famous e-businesses and driving up the prices dramatically. The coveted "Boardwalk" location, for example, goes to Yahoo!, but now it's worth millions. And when you pass Go, you collect $200 million! Sounds like fun, though we'll probably look back at this in a few years and find it quaint. Dot Com Monopoly is currently available at retail for about $30.

Dell meets expectations
PC maker Dell Computer met its financial expectations for the current quarter, allowing shareholders to draw a breath as the Wall Street crowd hovered, waiting for bad news. Dell, which had issued an earnings warning a month ago, is suddenly the local poster child for PC growth, which analysts have misplaced in doom and gloom mode for the past few years. But PCs keep selling like hot cakes, and Dell's revenues rose 22 percent to $674 million. Dell says it is on track to meet its expectations for the year as well. Go figure.

Microsoft releases Exchange Server 5.5 SP4
Microsoft has released its latest set of bug fixes for Exchange Server 5.5, dubbed Service Pack 4 (SP4), which is a cumulative release that includes all of the fixes in previous service packs. Exchange 5.5 SP4 is a recommended upgrade, please refer to the Microsoft Web site for more information.

See you at Comdex!
Comdex/Fall 2000 opens this weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada and I'll be there as usual, checking out the latest products and trends. This particular trip is my busiest one yet, with back-to-back meetings for most of my time there, so I hope I actually get to spend some time on the show floor. In any event, I'll have some live updates from the show, so stay tuned to the WinInfo Daily UPDATE Web site for the latest news Monday and Tuesday

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