Microsoft Antitrust Decision a Political One?
With the US Department of Justice (DOJ) suddenly announcing that it's OK not to break up Microsoft and, well, maybe that Internet Explorer (IE) and Windows bundling problem wasn't such a huge deal after all, pundits are beginning to spout off about the possibility that the Bush administration somehow influenced the decision in a bid to reverse the course of the most high-profile antitrust investigation that occurred under the Clinton administration. But the Bush administration says this speculation is hogwash, noting that although the DOJ notified George W. and Attorney General John Ashcroft after the agency made the decision, the Administration didn't do anything to influence it. I believe it. Don't you?

So ... What Could Happen in the Microsoft Case?
Microsoft partisans are jumping for joy at the news that the company won't be broken up, but the software giant still has some problems ahead of it. The DOJ and states allied against Microsoft are reportedly looking into several conduct-related remedies that could still prove tough to swallow, including possibly opening the Windows source code to competitors. Another option under consideration is a retraction of Microsoft's licenses with PC makers, which would let the companies install any OS they'd like, without having to worry about getting blacklisted by Microsoft. And Microsoft could be forced to loosen its rules about Windows, letting PC makers mix and match software components in the system according to users' wishes, not Redmond's. Whatever the DOJ ultimately decides, it's sure to be interesting. And confining, if you're Microsoft. So drop the party hats, and get started on a settlement.

Read the Windows XP Review...
Earlier this week, I posted a comprehensive review of Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional Edition to the SuperSite for Windows , alongside a preview of the Windows XP PowerToys and other release-to-manufacturing (RTM) articles. I also posted an exclusive interview with Microsoft Group Vice President Jim Allchin and "Windows XP: The Road To Gold," an exhaustive look at the new system's development history. In the coming days, I'll take a look at Microsoft Plus! for XP and will provide an XP Installation SuperGuide, which will include how-to explanations for installing, upgrading, and dual-booting XP. You can find these articles, and an updated XP FAQ, on the SuperSite for Windows .

...And Then Preorder Windows XP
If you want to get Windows XP as soon as possible, you can preorder Microsoft's latest OS from a variety of venues, including online e-tailers, brick-and-mortar retailers, and PC makers. "Consumers are eager to get a copy of Windows XP and don't want to wait until October 25," says John Frederiksen, Microsoft's general manager for Windows marketing. "You can preorder a copy of Windows XP today from one of several retailers or buy a Windows XP-ready PC from a computer manufacturer." Those manufacturers include Best Buy, CompUSA, Amazon.com, and PC makers such as Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, and Sony. So go nuts, people. The economy is in your hands.

iPAQ Owners: Get Your $30 Merlin Upgrade
If you're a Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC owner, here's some good news: You can upgrade your device to the latest OS version, Pocket PC 2002. The upgrade is also inexpensive--just $30. Compaq will take preorders for the OS beginning September 17 and will ship it to customers in mid-October. For more information, visit the Compaq Web site.

HP Introduces First Pocket PC 2002 Device
Surprisingly, Compaq wasn't the first company out the door with new Pocket PC 2002 hardware. Instead, erstwhile suitor HP was, with its new HP Jornada 560 Series , which will be available in two models--one with 32MB of RAM and one with 64MB of RAM. The HP 560 is elegantly styled and features the same 206MHz StrongArm processor that's available in Compaq's devices. I'm quite happy with my iPAQ, but the new HP is pretty sweet...hmmm...

IE 6 Roars Out of the Gates
In the first week since its release, Internet Explorer (IE) 6 use has experienced a sharp increase, according to Web research firm WebSideStory, which notes that 2.4 percent of Web users are already using the new browser. This news means that more people already use IE 6 than Netscape 6, and IE 6 use will probably surpass total Mozilla use within days or weeks. What's odd, of course, is that IE 6 is such a small upgrade compared to the previous version. It seems that Microsoft has to keep releasing browsers these days to dominate the market. I miss Netscape.

Microsoft CFO: Just Kidding
Microsoft Chief Financial Officer (CFO) John Connors was apparently surprised to learn that people thought he had confirmed Microsoft's financial expectations the other day when he gave a speech at a technology conference in Boston. Despite the fact that Connors had, indeed, verified the financial estimates he provided in July, when asked whether this statement represented a confirmation of said figures, Connors simply said, "No." So there you go.

ESPN.com Signs Pact with Devil, Then Wins Game
Following a path that AOL Time Warner first charted with partners such as Time, CNN, and Warner Bros., Microsoft's MSN Web portal has signed an exclusive deal with ESPN to host that company's Web site in return for cross-promotional content. ESPN.com now sports a cute MSN butterfly logo and will soon offer Windows Media Video- (WMV-) formatted movies; MSN.com will have access to ESPN's sports scores and stories. I guess I'm OK with this decision, but I draw the line at Bill Gates co-hosting Sports Center.

Sega Shoots for the Moon
Why not? The company was so successful selling video-game hardware. Video-game giant Sega announced this week that it plans to become the number-one video-game maker on the planet, selling 35 to 40 million video-game cartridges and CD-ROMs in 2002, for a variety of platforms. The company says it will focus on creating titles for the Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo Game Cube, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo Game Boy Advance, as well as the PC. Are the masterminds behind this plan the same people who handled the Dreamcast marketing? Let's hope not.