THE INTERNET EXPLORER-related "Mars" project has been postponed by Microsoft Corporation for reasons unknown, but insiders suggest that this is related to the recent merging of "Neptune" and "Odyssey" into "Whistler," the next version of Windows 2000. Beta testers received an email from the Mars team this week asking for patience and continued secrecy. In fact, the entire "Mars" project is being kept pretty hush-hush: Some have theorized that it is related to some sort of Dial-up Networking/Network Wizard technology, but I'm getting vibes that Mars is, in fact, the version of Internet Explorer that will enable HTML user interfaces in future versions of Windows. If so, the delay makes sense, as Microsoft recently cancelled "Neptune," the first version of Windows that would have used this new interface. When you combine this revelation with news of Microsoft working on an "extensible" user interface for the next version of Windows, this all starts to make sense.

MICROSOFT IS PREPARING to unveil its Office Auto-update Web site on February 15th, the same day that Office 2000 Service Release 1 (SR1) is due to become available. Mark Rapp sent along a hyperlink to the as-yet unreleased site, which you can check out for your viewing pleasure. UPDATE: Since first publishing this, Microsoft has removed the link, go figure.

MICROSOFT IS TAKING a decidedly non-traditional route when it comes to advertising Windows 2000. The company has covered at least one New York City subway cars with the orange, blue and green Windows 2000 logo and multiple slogans, preaching such things as: "Windows 2000 is coming," "Online or off, a standard in reliability," and "Arrives February 17th."

LAST WEEK, I mentioned Apple's release of QuickTime 4.1 but was unsure of the changes in the new release. Ed Stanisz was nice enough to send along a link to Apple's Web site that does, indeed, provide a list of the updates. Head on over to Apple's Developer Web site to check it out. Speaking of QuickTime 4.1, I received a number of complaints from people about Apple's lame Internet download scheme. Well, the company has relented and offered a standard download for QuickTime 4.1 and all future versions.

MICROSOFT HAS FINALLY released Windows 2000-compatible versions of its IntelliType and IntelliPoint software, which works with Microsoft keyboards and mice, respectively. If you've got one of those cool new Microsoft Internet keyboards, head on over to the Microsoft Hardware Web site and download the new version. IntelliMouse users can grab their new software as well.

THE MOZILLA PROJECT has officially hit the "alpha" stage in its bid to create a next-generation Web browser suite based on Netscape technology. Mozilla "Milestone 13" was released this week to the public. You can check it out today on the Mozilla Web site. Thanks to Beta News for the tip.