Microsoft bets the company... again

How many times can Microsoft say its "betting the company" before we all stop listening? It's funny, but the company's fairly radical .NET strategy makes the "bet the company" slogan for Windows 2000 seem a little hackneyed. I mean, let's face it, Windows 2000 is just another version of NT. What are they going to bet the company on next, Motocross Madness 2? I can picture the press release: "Motorcycle simulation games clearly represent the future growth of the company, and coupled with our latest motion sickness hand controller, we feel that we have a compelling solution for the enterprise."

Microsoft reveals its Mac Entourage

Microsoft has finally given a name to the Outlook Express-based email and PIM client that will ship with Office 2001, Macintosh Edition later this year. Dubbed "Entourage," the product is being developed under the code-named "Alpaca." It will include email, address book, calendar, and task management functionality similar to Outlook 2000 on the PC. But the company is also working on an update to its Outlook product for the Macintosh, which confusingly is a separate program designed as a client for Exchange environments. Separating the two, Microsoft says, was done because the Mac Office market consists largely of single users, not corporate Exchange types. Thus, Entourage won't ship with all the digital baggage that PC users put up with.

Yahoo releases WMP-based Net music player

Yahoo! has released a new media player, based on Microsoft Windows Media Player technology, that lets users play MP3s, CDs, and video clips. Like the million other media players out there, it features a skinnable UI, Internet radio stations, and a CD lookup service. If you've somehow managed to keep away from the plethora of other options out there (I recommend Winamp, personally), or you're just a dedicated Yahoo! person, you can check it out on the Yahoo! Web site.

Why laptops and planes don't mix

One of the things I really like about going to New York is that I get to take the train, which supplies huge seats, plenty of room and, best of all, power ports so I can keep my laptop going. Contrast this with planes, which offer tiny seats, no room, and no power. Until recently, actually: I was heartened by news that some airlines were adding power ports for laptops and other devices. But this week, United shut off power to the ports, citing the potential for fires and other electrical problems. While I will never believe that there's any good reason for me to turn off a laptop or cassette player when the plane is landing or taking off, I take this threat pretty seriously. Flying is scary enough as it is, thank you very much: I'll just read a book when the battery poops out.

It's only a matter of time

Every time I see people like Bill Gates or Scott McNealy speak, I'm startled by the sheer lack of security. At Comdex, for example, anyone can basically walk into an auditorium and sit directly in front of the world's richest man. There's no security at to speak of, no metal detectors (think about it: Half of us are carrying laptops, cell phones and other gadgets too geeky to even speak of), nothing. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, however, has hired a secret service agent-like bodyguard who tails him at every public event he attends. Ellison says the security even extends to his house, so that he can fend off any attacking paratroopers from Microsoft. But I've often noted that it's only a matter of time before one of these guys faces something serious. In a way, it's nice to see someone actually confronting the problem.

Pentium 4? I don't need no stinkin' Pentium 4!

While we all wait for the 1.4 GHz Pentium 4 (code-named "Willamette") to appear this fall, Intel isn't standing still. The company announced this week that it will release a 1.13 GHz Pentium III chip in late July, which offers a small but meaningful step up from the 1 GHz chip it unveiled this Spring. Intel has made a lot of product announcements this year, and I think we can thank AMD, with its Athlon and Duron processors, for that. We can also thank the healthy competition between these rivals for the amazingly low prices we now pay for blazingly fast chips. Ain't life grand?

Sun lashes out at C#, Microsoft

Sun Microsystems, angered by Microsoft's introduction of C# ("C sharp"), an obvious competitor to Java, slammed the programming language and company this week. "It's not even comparable to Java," said Sun engineer Tim Lindholm. True enough: But that's because Microsoft is going to make C# an open standard, something Sun has consistently backed off from with Java. And instead of attempting to control C#, as Sun has done with Java, Microsoft has proposed five meetings of the technical committee that standardized ECMAScript (nee JavaScript) so that the language can be fleshed out by a group, not a single company. In your face, indeed.

Microsoft releases Commerce Server 2000 beta

Microsoft this week released a public beta of its Commerce Server 2000, which it describes as the "offspring" of Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition. Commerce Server 2000 reduces the complexity and time needed to bring an e-commerce site online, something that Site Server user will tell you was sorely needed. The company expects to ship the final version of Commerce Server 2000 this fall.

Microsoft unveils Terminal Services Advanced Client

Thanks to Raymond P.L. Comvalius for the tip: Microsoft has released its Terminal Services Advanced Client (TSAC), a group of updates to the Terminal Services feature that ships with Windows 2000. TSAC adds an ActiveX control that allows administrators to host TS sessions inside a Web page, a new TS management console, and some other tools. TSAC is a must-have upgrade for all TS users: It will also be included on the Windows 2000 SP1 CD-ROM. You can downloads TSAC now from the Microsoft Web site