WinInfo Short Takes: Week of October 30

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

Everybody's an Office 10 beta tester
Virtually everyone who applied to test Office 10 was accepted for Beta 2, apparently, if the emails I've been receiving are any indication. I had heard that Microsoft was ramping up for a huge test with Beta 2, but I had no idea it would be this big. Office 10 Beta 2 should ship to testers in the next few weeks, and I'll be writing a massive review of the release for the SuperSite for Windows as soon as it arrives. Office 10 includes a variety of new features and Beta 2 will run fine on Windows 9x, Me, NT 4.0, and 2000.

Internet World a snore
When did the Internet become so boring? This week's Internet World show in New York required just a quick drive-by for me to realize that there is absolutely nothing going on. Microsoft had a several MSN "bees" rollerblading around outside the conference hall, handing out the new MSN 6, and they were kind of humorous, but overall the show just seemed like a warmed over version of PC Expo with fewer (and sometimes different) companies. Maybe I'm just becoming jaded to the whole tradeshow thing.

Hint, hint, Microsoft: AT&T breaks itself up
AT&T did something beautiful this week, showing that the company understands the market and cares about its shareholders. It kind of makes you wonder why Microsoft doesn't, ahem, cop another innovation and do the same thing: AT&T announced this week that it would break itself up into four separate companies that could focus more intently on their particular markets. The resulting companies will include AT&T Broadband (cable modem Internet access), AT&T Wireless (cell phone services), AT&T Consumer (DSL and phone line-based Internet access), and AT&T Business Services. Microsoft might wait for the stock to go up a bit, but I recommend Microsoft OS, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Internet. And here's another tip: If you do it yourself, the resulting companies get to work together.

Microsoft launches SQL Server 2000 for Windows CE
Microsoft announced this week the worldwide availability of SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition. What, you say? You thought they weren't calling it Windows CE anymore? Well, as I've been saying all along, the name has never changed, only the way that they market the devices. In any event, SQL2KCE, as I like to call it, features some pretty powerful relational database capabilities in just 1 MB of space. For more information, please visit the SQL Server Web site.

Microsoft settles with FTC over WebTV
Microsoft settled an embarrassing legal case this week, but unfortunately I'm not talking about the antitrust trial. This time, we've got a charges from the FTC that Microsoft's WebTV unit exaggerated speed claims and deceived consumers. The company settled the case with the FTC and agreed to pay back existing customers for any long distance charges they may have accrued while using the service. Microsoft says that the ads in question, which promised to "turn your television into a powerful rocket ship," are no longer running anyway.

Sega to sells games for rival consoles
In what can only be seen as an oddly timed admission of defeat, videogame maker Sega Enterprises announced today that it would shift from hardware to software sales because of its fourth straight quarterly loss. The company had recently reduced the price of its Dreamcast console to combat Sony's release of the PS2, but now says that these moves won't be enough to turn things around financially. So Sega will begin porting its Dreamcast software lineup to other consoles, reportedly including the PS2. But fear not, Dreamcast fans, the company says that it intends to continue selling and upgrading its own console for the foreseeable future. Indeed, the company hopes to license the technology to a variety of other companies, for use in PCs, consumer electronics devices, and cellular phones.

Microsoft break-in an opening for Linux
Here's a thought: Some enterprising Linux firm should offer free copies of their software to Microsoft so that they can make their internal network more secure. In the old days, Apple surely would have risen to the moment with a similar deal, and I expect no less of our Linux compatriots. Come on Red Hat or Caldera, do the right thing

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