Windows XP SP1 Technical Beta Kicks Off
Microsoft sent out invitations for the Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) beta this week. Potential testers can choose a standalone Windows XP Home Edition upgrade, a standalone Windows XP Professional Edition upgrade, or an integrated XP SP1 beta that you can use for clean installs of the full OS. XP SP1 will ship sometime this fall.

Microsoft Not Canceling .NET My Services ... Sort Of
People are confused about the cancellation of Microsoft .NET My Services (formerly code-named HailStorm). Microsoft claims the service is still happening, albeit in a drastically changed scenario in which individual corporations, rather than Microsoft, will store user data. Well, fine. But Microsoft controlling the central repository of user data was the whole point behind .NET My Services. The company now says that the services will likely appear as part of some future .NET Enterprise Server and won't ship for at least 18 months.

Exclusive: Microsoft Preps New Management Console
At TechEd this week, I overheard the news that Microsoft will soon replace its Microsoft Management Console (MMC) with a new HTML-based console dubbed the Microsoft Management Portal (MMP). MMP's big advantage over MMC is that Microsoft is finally standardizing the UI bits so that third-party management-tool UIs will be identical, helping users move more easily from tool to tool. And because MMP is based on Web technology, you can view MMP consoles over the Internet. I'm still waiting to hear when this tool will debut; inclusion in Windows .NET Server is a possibility.

Microsoft Reaffirms Mac Commitment
As expected, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to the Macintosh this week, although the company said that it doesn't need to sign another agreement with Apple to guarantee continued support. Kevin Browne, general manager for Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MBU), said that the company will create new versions of Internet Explorer (IE), Microsoft Office, and various .NET client services for Mac OS X (Microsoft won't create any future Mac OS 9 applications). Although it's nice to see Microsoft supporting the Mac, it's hard to escape the idea that the company is artificially propping up a competitor to look like less of a monopolist. On the other hand, the company's Mac products rock, so maybe that strategy is forgivable.

HP Merger Battle Not Over Yet
The nasty battle over the Hewlett-Packard (HP)/Compaq merger isn't over, despite the fact that HP has apparently won enough shareholder votes to approve the merger. Apparently, Walter Hewlett, who led the battle to prevent the merger, has come up with some interesting evidence that indicates that HP CEO Carly Fiorina might have used improper means to secure votes from shareholders who might otherwise have voted against the merger. Fiorina says that the company simply went to great lengths, using personal presentations, to persuade these shareholders and didn't blackmail them, as Hewlett suggests. Nevertheless, the debate is heading to court soon. I guess that's the HP way.

Microsoft Remedy Hearings: Professor Disavows Microsoft Claims About Modular Windows
Is it modular or not? Princeton University Professor Andrew Appel said this week that Microsoft could easily modularize Windows XP as the nine nonsettling states and District of Columbia have requested. He also questioned Microsoft's assertion that a modularized Windows would create more than 1000 possible Windows configurations, noting that using the same logic, the current version already has more than 70,000 possible configurations. I think it's only a matter of time before Microsoft's defense against this modularization breaks down to "but we don't wanna!"

Microsoft Remedy Hearings: Judge Denies New Testimony
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied a request from the nine nonsettling states and District of Columbia to freely present transcripts and video of interviews with 18 Microsoft executives, including Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates. Timing seems to be the issue; Kollar-Kotelly told the states' lawyers that they should have made this request weeks ago. The lawyers thought they had more time, which they explained to the judge to no avail. Maybe next time they can use the "my dog ate my deposition" excuse.

TechEd: Microsoft Pushes Web Services
This week, Microsoft launched its first major developer-oriented show since the company released Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework. As expected, the message was all about .NET. The company says that it has distributed Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework more than 1 million times, although how Microsoft breaks down that figure (.NET Framework is a free download, and Visual Studio .NET is a fairly expensive product) is unclear. But more important, in my mind, is the fact that the company held TechEd in New Orleans, scheduled several late-night parties and get-togethers, then held the keynote addresses at 9:00 in the morning. Guys, seriously ...

TechEd: Microsoft Releases MapPoint .NET 2.0 Demo
Microsoft has shipped a beta version of MapPoint .NET 2.0, a Web-services-compatible version of its location and mapping software that third-party software developers can access programmatically. Expected to initiate a new generation of "if you lived here, you'd be home" jokes, MapPoint .NET 2.0 is a cool example of a real-world, up-and-running .NET service. And if you're a programmer, you can access this service for free during the beta; a licensing fee will, of course, apply in the future.

TechEd: Microsoft Ships First True .NET Server Product
This week, Microsoft announced the availability of its first true .NET Server product--Microsoft Commerce Server 2002--which includes built-in support for the .NET Framework and amazing Visual Studio .NET integration that makes programmatically accessing the server's features far simpler. Commerce Server 2002 also integrates with .NET Passport so that programmers can create e-commerce sites that take advantage of .NET Passport's single sing-in (SSI) and express purchase (EP) services. But if you want to use the new product to make money on the Web, you'll need to spend some money: Commerce Server 2002 Enterprise Edition costs $20,000 per CPU.

TechEd: Microsoft Ships .NET Interoperability for SQL Server, Exchange
Now that Microsoft has shipped Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework, the company is shipping a series of interim toolkits designed to prop up the current generation of enterprise server products while it races to complete the next generation, which will offer pervasive .NET features. The company released two such toolkits this week. The first release includes the Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server XML Web Services Toolkit, which features the latest Exchange software development kit (SDK), an Exchange-based XML Web services white paper, sample code, developer presentation videos, and a self-paced training course. The second toolkit includes the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Notification Services beta, which provides an easy-to-use programming model and a highly scalable server engine for generating and formatting notifications based on personal subscriptions.

Microsoft: Seriously, Xbox Is Selling Well
Stung by news that the Xbox isn't selling as well as expected, Microsoft announced this week that its Xbox game Halo has sold more than 1 million units. That number means that Microsoft sold one copy of the game every 6 minutes since the Xbox first became available on November 15, 2001. Microsoft announced other key statistics, including the fact that Xbox owners have purchased, on average, four games per system, or 1.2 more games per system than PlayStation 2 users, helping the Xbox achieve 82 percent more software sales than the PlayStation 2. So, although the PlayStation 2 is beating Xbox in retail sales, Xbox is winning where it matters most. Remember, it's all about the blades, not the razors