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

Whither SP1?
This is getting exasperating. After missing its initial June release date by a Microsoft Mile, the company promised that it was "on track" to deliver the first Service Pack for Windows 2000, SP1, "this summer." Well, they're not in danger of missing that date, I guess, but a few weeks ago, the Windows 2000 Web site started advertising the "imminent" release of this long-awaited product and I heard from two people at Microsoft that it was due any day. Two weeks later... I don't know. Well, I sort of know: Microsoft now says that it will be released on August 1st. I'll be holding my breath, of course. Oh, and Datacenter will be out on August 11th. Seriously.

Win Windows Me!
Microsoft has launched a bizarre promotion for Windows Me, the next version of Windows 98, which is due to ship in September. You can enter the "Win Me" sweepstakes to win one of 50 "limited Bill Gates editions" of Windows Me, a digital camera, or the ultimate prize, a "VIP trip to the Microsoft campus. If this has your geeky blood aboil, head on over to the Win Me Sweepstakes Web site and sign up! The contest ends August 30th.

Get a free IntelliMouse Explorer with Office 2000 SR1
Speaking of Microsoft promotions, the company is giving away a free IntelliMouse Explorer to anyone that buys Office 2000 Premium for a limited time. I'm not sure whether this is limited to purchasing the product from the Shop Microsoft Web site, but you might want to compare prices online first.

Microsoft quietly revs up the Windows Me marketing engine
And speaking of Windows Me, Microsoft seems to be whipping up a marketing frenzy for its next consumer operating system, with the aforementioned sweepstakes and a four part marketing push that explains the product's strengths to people like me so that I can explain them to people like you. Well, I think I already do enough of that, to be honest, so I'll just leave it at that, and you can sleep well at night knowing that Microsoft is finally promoting this product. Or something.

Stephen King heads to the Net again with new book
Best-selling author Stephen King has published the first installment of a new book, The Plant, online, bypassing the traditional publishing process. King, whose first eBook, sold over 400,000 copies, is off to an impressive start this time around, with over 41,000 downloads on the first day. The catch: King will continue to publish new installments as long as enough readers pony up $1 per installation. According to King's public relations firm, paying readers for the first installment have already surpassed expectations.

Microsoft continues to win class-action suits
All of those legal vultures hoping to feed off of the carcass of Microsoft's antitrust defeat continue to be disappointed at the local level. Microsoft has now won five of five class action suits that were brought against it, thanks largely to a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that prevents users from suing a company from which they didn't directly purchase a product. At issue is Windows, which these suits allege is overpriced. But since no one buys Windows directly from the company, the suits are getting dropped.

And I said Java was worthless
If you love classic arcade games, head on over to Norbert's Emulator Software (N.E.S.), where you can play Java-based versions of the classics, right in your Web browser. N.E.S. has got a slew of fun games, including Ms. Pac-man, Scramble, Galaxian, and more.

Compaq caught with its hand in the cookie jar
Compaq Computer was forced to pay more than $4.5 million to settle a case against it, charging that the company had--get this--overcharged the U.S. Department of Defense. With the DOD paying hundreds of dollars each for toilet seat covers and nails, Compaq probably tried to use the "but everyone else is doing it" excuse. But that didn't fly with the courts, which found Compaq-owned Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) had bilked the government in a variety of creative ways in the 1990's.

More stats from the Linux hall of shame
You know things are tough for the Linux crowd when the leading distributor of retail Linux products can brag about selling 28,600 units of software during a calendar year. That's a number even Be Inc. can chuckle over, but it isn't stopping Macmillan, which makes the Mandrake distribution of Linux, from crowing about it. In an industry where unit shipments are normally measured in the millions, Macmillan beat out second place Red Hat software by over 5000 units. I'm sure the Consumer Windows team at Microsoft is just shaking in their boots.

Microsoft to launch Xbox with $500 million campaign
One of the little tidbits that came out of Microsoft's financial meeting this week was that the company will spend $500 million to market and sells its upcoming video game console, the Xbox. Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said the money would be distributed between marketing, advertising and third party developer support