WinInfo Short Takes: Week of November 29 [Exclusive: MS Drops Windows 2000 SP5]

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

Exclusive: Microsoft Drops Windows 2000 SP5, Plans Security Rollup Instead
A source close to Microsoft today sent me documentation about an Update Rollup for Windows 2000 that the software giant will release in 2005 in lieu of a Service Pack 5 (SP5). "The Update Rollup will contain all security-related updates produced for Windows 2000 between SP4 and the time when Microsoft finalizes the contents of the Update Rollup, and a small number of important non-security updates," the documentation reads. "Because Microsoft believes the Update Rollup will better meet the needs of customers than a new service pack, there will not be a Service Pack 5 (SP5) for Windows 2000.  Therefore, SP4 becomes the final service pack for Windows 2000." So there you go.

EU Judges Calls Unusual Meeting in Microsoft Antitrust Case As Rivals Drop Out

With both Novell and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) trade group dropping out of the European Union (EU) antitrust case, EU judge Bo ("Duke") Vesterdorf has called for an emergency closed meeting Thursday to determine how to proceed. Previously, both Novell and the CCIA had supported the EU's case against Microsoft, but Microsoft was able to settle its dispute with both organizations. (Previously, the company also settled with two other companies, Sun Microsystems and Time Warner, which were involved in the EU case, leaving only RealNetworks to stand against the software giant.) Now, Vesterdorf says he'd like to "figure out what the significance is" of the two parties exiting the case. While it's still unclear whether any evidence entered by Novell and the CCIA will be used in the case, Microsoft says it will not oppose the inclusion of previous statements made by either organization.


Microsoft Buys Silence of CCIA

And speaking of the good ol' CCIA, you may be interested to hear that the settlement between that previously anti-Microsoft organization and Microsoft earlier this month netted the CCIA $20 million, $10 million of which went to CCIA president Ed Black. The CCIA, you may recall, is an industry group comprised of Microsoft competitors such as Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Yahoo, and it figured prominently in the US antitrust case against the software giant and, until recently, the EU case as well. The CCIA refers to the Black payout as a "one time bonus"; it also extended Black's contract three more years, providing him with a $500,000 a year salary. I guess vindictively pursuing Microsoft can pay off. Perhaps I'm going about things the wrong way.


Microsoft: No IE Patch Outside of Monthly Updates

This week, Microsoft confirmed that it was investigating three reported security vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer (IE) but stated that it was unlikely to issue any patches for the problems outside of the company's normally-scheduled monthly security update cycle. Security firm Secunia first warned the software giant about the problems, which don't affect the version of IE in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), in early November. A representative from Microsoft's SecurityResponseCenter (the name of which might just be an oxymoron, by the way) noted that it was better to get it right than get it out early. "The most important thing in security responses is that, if you come out with a fix, it will be a quality fix that won't break applications or introduce more problems," the representative told Internet News. "How Microsoft's SecurityResponseCenter determines when a fix will be released is a function of testing. It requires a balance between time and testing."


OneStat: Mozilla Browsers Continue to Gain on IE

According to Web analytics company, Web browser products from the Mozilla Foundation, including the Mozilla Browser Suite and Mozilla Firefox, continue to gain on market leader IE. While all versions of IE combined still own a whopping 88.9 percent of the market, Mozilla-based products jumped to 7.4 percent in October. "People are switching from Microsoft's Internet Explorer to Mozilla's new Firefox browser," says cofounder Niels Brinkman. "The total usage share of Microsoft declined 5 percent and the total usage share of Mozilla increased 5 percent \[since May\]. It's a long trend, this IE decline. First it was very slow, but now it's accelerating rapidly." The sudden success of Firefox has been unexpected. The Mozilla Foundation reports that over 5.6 million copies of Firefox 1.0 have been downloaded since the product became available two weeks ago.


Microsoft Denies Linux Threats in Asia

Responding to reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer "warned" government leaders in Asia not to adopt Linux-based solutions because of possible intellectual property (IP) lawsuits, representatives of the software giant say that's not what happened at all. "This was not ... a 'warning'," a Microsoft spokesperson said this week, noting that the comments Ballmer made about Linux and IP lawsuits were just a tiny part of his presentation. "Steve \[Ballmer\] was referring to a study done by the Linux community group Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), a pro-free and open-source software organization. According to its ... August announcement, OSRM states that Linux could be in violation of 283 patents and, as such, could expose customers to undetermined licensing costs." So, I wasn't at this event, of course, but looking over his comments, it's pretty clear to me that Ballmer was, indeed, warning people about potential lawsuits for adopting Linux. I'm unclear about what the rebuttal here is.


Gates: 64-Bit Computing to Go Mainstream in 2005

Stating an opinion I've heard from numerous Microsoft representatives this year, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said last week at the IT Forum in Copenhagen that PCs and servers based on the 64-bit x64 platform will soon be mainstream, volume products. "This \[migration to x64\] will provide the ability to mix 32-bit and 64-bit \[code with\] a very simple recompilation for any application you might want to run, using the full 64-bit address base," he said. "Even the most expensive mainframe will not deliver the performance that industry-standard hardware running Windows will deliver. The work Intel and AMD do at the chip level means the 64-bit capabilities are going to come into your servers with no premium in price. The same type of pricing with the servers that you have today will be available with 64-bit capability." Today, you can purchase AMD-based x64 systems that utilize Athlon-64 and Operton chips (I'm currently testing an Athlon-64 based system), while Intel is shipping its EM64T-based Xeon chips, with x64 Pentium 4's expected soon.


Nintendo Ships DS Handheld

Video game giant Nintendo this week shipped its first batch of Nintendo DS handheld game systems to US customers in a bid to extend its dominance in the handheld gaming market. The $150 DS (for "dual screen") features a clamshell design, two LCD screens, and a unique stylus-based input system that, along with the embedded buttons, emulates the effect of using a mouse and keyboard on PC-based games. But the DS isn't just a game system. Targeted at the crucial market of gamers in their teens and 20's--a market that is far older than traditional Nintendo users--the DS also includes wireless multiplayer gaming and communications capabilities, a microphone, and stereo speakers. It's aimed at more sophisticated users than previous Nintendo machines, but is also backwards compatible with GameBoy and GameBoy Advance titles. My early experience with a DS has been overwhelmingly positive: My guess is that Nintendo will sell millions of these things.


So Server Sales Soar, Study Says; Sun Sinks (Sorry)

Tongue-twisting titles notwithstanding, research firm IDC reported this week that server sales continued to rise in Q3 2004, with Dell gaining ground on Sun Microsystems.  The market for servers jumped 5.5 percent in the quarter to $11.5 billion, marking the sixth consecutive quarter of growth. IBM retained the top spot, with 32 percent of revenues, followed by Hewlett-Packard (HP), which took 27 percent of the market. Sun was number three, followed by Dell.

Happy Holidays!
We won't be publishing the WinInfo Daily UPDATE newsletter Thursday or Friday this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. However, if anything dramatic happens, I'll post to the WinInformant Web site. Otherwise, have a great long weekend. See you on Monday ...

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