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

Microsoft releases Whistler build 2287
Microsoft released yet another pre-Beta 1 interim build to technical testers this week, build 2287. One of the big concerns I've heard from people involved with the beta is that they're not getting access to these builds or the technical newsgroups, and since Microsoft doesn't seemed interested in providing you with any information, here's the scoop: If you were invited for Beta 1, you will get access right before Beta 1 begins. And remember that Beta 1 has slipped from its original date until early November, so you've probably still got a few weeks to go. So hang tight, it's coming.

Exclusive: Gates, Eisner to launch new MSN next week!
The launch of the new MSN (MSN 6), along with the new MSN Explorer next Wednesday, will include Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, along with special guest Michael Eisner, the CEO of Disney. Eisner will be on board to help launch the MSN Kid's channel.

And then there was one
CNET Networks completed its acquisition of ZDNet this week, introducing a new infrastructure that encompasses media services, channel services, market intelligence, consumer services, and international media. Previous to the $1.6 billion deal, ZDNet spun off Comdex, Networld+Interop, and the Seybold Seminars.

Bush can count on Microsoft's vote
So I guess George W. Bush can count on about 37,000 votes from the Redmond, Washington area: The presidential candidate noted this week that he prefers "innovation over litigation," and he questioned whether customers have been harmed by Microsoft's actions. On the other hand, if he supports innovation like he says, we might read that as "break up Microsoft," depending on how you feel about the matter.

Microsoft tries to buy support of Palm OS users
A report in ZDNN tells an interesting tale about Microsoft inviting Palm OS users to Redmond so that they could try and convert them to Windows CE-based Pocket PC users. Apparently, Microsoft bribed these people with $1400 worth of free Pocket PC devices and associated paraphernalia. The Palm OS users, who include Webmasters of Palm Web sites, consultants, and other Palm advocates, called the move a cheap publicity stunt. "It was a cheap tactic to bring Palm users into the fold with freebies," one of the victims told ZDNN. "And I think they did that because the device doesn't stand well on its own." Yikes.

Gates: Third world needs health care, not PCs
Uber-geek Bill Gates addressed the Creating Digital Dividends conference this week and surprised the heck out of a lot of people when he showed the type of basic understanding of human needs that so often escapes those in power. Noting that the world's 4 billion poorest people have far bigger problems than computer literacy, Gates said that these people need "health care and literacy" before they can even think about getting PCs. "Let's be serious, let's be serious," Gates told a stunned crowd of high tech executives. "Do people have a clear view of what it means to live on $1 a day? There are things those people need at that level other than technology. About 99 percent of the benefits of having (a computer) come when you've provided reasonable health and literacy to the person who's going to sit down and use it." Bravo.

In rare move, Microsoft stock moves up
Microsoft's stock has taken a beating this year, but the company's better-than-expected financial results for the historically weak third quarter, along with positive expectations for the next quarter, have bolstered shares in the software giant. Shares of Microsoft rose almost $10 to $61 in a single day, helping push the Dow Jones Industrial Average into positive territory for the first time in two days. This might be the first really good stock-related news that the company's gotten since last year.

Sometimes, the truth just hurts
What do you do when you combine Unix with the Mac OS? Well, you get a cool new OS named Mac OS X, and you get some pretty confused Mac users. The Unix Review is hollering over comments made in MacWeek, stating that Unix is "not an operating system," but just a kernel that sits under the OS. This is an interesting, and wrong, observation, probably made by looking at Mac OS X, which does its best to hide Unix from the, ahem, graphically-minded Mac populace. But it also betrays a certain lack of technical sophistication, and Unix Review is decidedly cruel (if correct) in its breakdown of the MacWeek assertions. If you yearn for the OS wars of old, head on over to UnixReview and enjoy what is essentially a good Web-based flame war. There's nothing like a little napalm in the morning.

Stephen King's eBook experience a success so far
Author Stephen King will release the fourth installment of his successful online eBook experiment, "The Plant," Monday. King said that he would continue offering new installments of the book as long as most people paid for it; each installment costs only $1, and King notes that over 75% of the people that downloaded part three did pay for it. "Honest readers should be proud," a recent email announcement for part four read. "For those of you who haven't been paying, you know who you are -- the blind newsboy is watching." For more information, please visit the official Stephen King Web site.

New York, New York
I'll be heading to the land of the Subway Series next week for Fall Internet World, which is about as irritating as it gets for a Red Sox fan. While attempting to avoid what will likely be a Gotham-wide celebration of sporting (and financial) superiority, I hope to experiment a bit with some interesting mobile technologies, visit with friends and co-workers, and try, try, try to forget that both the New York Mets and Yankees are in the World Series.... AAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH... Sorry