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

Oracle changes its tune
A few weeks back, I noted that both Oracle and Microsoft were claiming that their databases were in use at 96% of Fortune e50 Web sites. This seemed kind of odd, since it was virtually impossible for that many companies to be using both products. However, Oracle has since quietly changed their tagline to read as, "96% of USA Today's e50 uses Oracle," so I guess everything is right with the world again. And that old mantra about lying through statistics is alive and well. Pick you poison, people.

Microsoft could learn a thing or two...
Justin Smith has updated his excellent Enhanced Windows UI Web site, which is full of user interface suggestions that Microsoft should use in future versions of Windows. If the Whistler preview (build 2250) is any indication, Microsoft is taking some of these suggestions to heart. But Justin's stuff is so logical--and dare I say consistent--that I wish Microsoft would pay a bit more attention to this site.

Dell quietly kills WebPC
Dell Computer has quietly killed its colorful little WebPC, an iMac competitor of sorts that offered a flat screen monitor, a colorful blue case, and ease-of-use options that the company says will continue into other products. Other colorful PCs that attempt to mimic the Apple iMac have been largely unsuccessful and even Apple's own machines have dropped dramatically in popularity in recent months. Only the Compaq iPaq, which eschews colorful designs for a small, business-like footprint, has been a runaway success. But the iPaq doesn't have an all-in-one design where the monitor is connected to the CPU. And that may actually be the problem for these other devices.

Gates donates $90 million to AIDS research
A foundation set up by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced this week that it was donating $90 million for AIDS research and treatment, a hefty gift from a man who has been dispensing a lot of cash lately. Much of the donation will directly benefit Botswana, which is one of biggest AIDS problem areas on the planet. Kudos to Gates for doing the right thing.

You know you're desperate when...
Here's a case of strange bedfellows: Inprise/Borland, fresh off its failed merger with Linux "juggernaut" Corel, has announced that it will support Apple's upcoming Mac OS X operating system, which is based on a UNIX kernel. Inprise will port its Jbuilder IDE for Java to the Mac when its released early next year. You know, it's always heart-warming to see a company support every platform but the one that made it money all of these years.

Linux sites caught in review embarrassment
According to TUCOWS Linux Webmaster Chad Simonds, all those positive reviews you're reading of Linux products on small Linux Web sites are... ta da... paid for. Chad says that these sites refuse to print anything negative so that they continue to get free products from companies such as RedHat, Mandrake, and others. And then Linux aggregation sites such as Linux Today and Slashdot can simply provide pointers to this wide range of positive Linux reviews. Sounds like a nice conspiracy theory to me. In fact, I'd like to take part in it. If you have any free products to hand out, here I am! (Just kidding).

Microsoft delays Exchange Server 2000 to October
Huh, they delayed a product, how unlike them: Microsoft quietly pushed back the release of Exchange Server 2000, original due last Spring, to October. "We took a look at some of the metrics out there, and we just weren't happy with the numbers as far as the effect the program was having on servers," said Stan Sorensen, a product manager for Exchange. In other words, it's late.

That's what you get for relying on UNIX, I guess
One of the ugliest little secrets out there is that Microsoft's HotMail servers don't run on Windows NT/2000, they run on UNIX. But that has more to do with the fact that Hotmail was purchased by a company that decided to use UNIX in the first place, and since UNIX-to-NT application porting isn't exactly world class, it's really not that big of a surprise. Unless you hate Microsoft, of course. UNIX lovers routinely pull out the tired "You know that Microsoft runs Hotmail on UNIX" line every single time an NT vs. UNIX debate fires up, as if the comment had some sort of relevance (like, for example, if Microsoft had actually chosen UNIX over NT themselves). And yet, I have to wonder aloud: Hotmail seems to have an awful lot of problems, doesn't it? Do you think this has anything to do with it running on UNIX? Just this week, Microsoft acknowledged that Hotmail was sending its users' email addresses to advertisers under certain conditions. Geesh, I hope they can get that thing running on Windows 2000 soon. The users of Hotmail deserve better.

Court throws out another Microsoft suit
Microsoft has won another small legal victory, as an Iowa court has thrown out yet another private suit against the company, stemming from charges that it overcharged consumers for Windows 98. Most states don't allow people to sue companies for this unless they purchased the product directly from the company. And since most people get Windows with a new PC purchase, the suits are usually invalidated. However, California does allow this kind of suit, and there are some upcoming cases against the software giant in that state. It should be interesting to see what happens if any of these cases actually make it to court.

Norton AntiVirus 2001 to feature Windows Me support
Symantec is beta testing a new version of its anti-virus software, Norton AntiVirus 2001, which features support for Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000, and Millennium Edition ("Windows Me"). If you're interested in testing the new software--hey, you might win a prize!--head on over to the Symantec Web site and sign up