MICROSOFT IS BETA testing a new Web camera hardware/software combination code-named "Oscar." While Microsoft hardware betas are fairly exclusive, the company has recently been adding to its stable of add-on devices. Look for the Oscar device to debut in time for Christmas.

IDG Books is looking for a COM+ programmer to co-author its "COM+ Bible" title. If you're interested, please contact me and I'll send your name along to the appropriate person. Thanks!

IT TOOK THEM long enough, but Microsoft will finally release its first MSN client for Windows 2000 in March. If you'd like to preorder the code on CD, head on over to the MSN Web site and do the deed.

MICROSOFT HAS RELEASED a bug-fixed version of IntelliPoint 3.1, creatively titled IntelliPoint 3.1a, which fixes some bugs in the original release. You can find the 4.4 MB download on the Microsoft Hardware Web site. Like the original 3.1 release, this version is Windows 2000 compatible, though it does require a reboot when you install it. (grr...)

THANKS TO ED Manning for the tip: Qualcomm has released the final version of Eudora 4.3, the excellent PC/Mac email client that now works in three modes: A free but limited "lite" mode, a sponsored full mode with advertisements that is otherwise free, and a full mode that costs about $40. I tested the new version over the weekend (heck, maybe I wouldn't have lost all that mail if I had been using it Sunday) and found it to be an excellent program with some serious advantages over Outlook 2000 or Outlook Express. I'll probably write up a full review soon, but in the meantime, check it out on the Eudora Web site.

INTEL CORPORATION IS slashing prices on its Pentium III, Pentium III Xeon, and Celeron microprocessors in anticipation of faster new models that will debut in March. The company is expected to debut 850 and 866 MHz Pentium III processors and 600 MHz Celerons within the next thirty days. And before mid-year, expect to see 933 MHz Pentium III and 700 MHz Celeron systems.

VETERAN Macintosh writer Don Crabb passed away last weekend after a three-month battle with a disease of the pancreas. The author of over 4000 articles and a syndicated newspaper column, Don was an advocate for all users. He will be remembered fondly