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

It's semi-official: Office 10 will be called Office 2002
In a mailing made to potential beta testers this week, Microsoft refers to the upcoming version of Office, now known simply as Office 10, as "Office 2002." The mailing regards the Developer Edition of the product, which will include new Visual Basic for Applications productivity tools, new workflow tools, Web Parts and Digital Dashboard tools, and more.

Make your current system look like Whistler
Thanks to Thomas Banks for the tip: The WindowBlinds utility, which can make your Windows system skinnable, now offers a "Perfect Whistler" skin, which can make your current system look just like the next version of Windows 2000, currently known as Whistler. If you just can't wait to get tomorrow's look and feel, head on over to the WindowBlinds Web site and take a look.

New MSN subscribers get WebTV for free
In an effort to lure customers to its flailing set-top box, Microsoft is offering free access to WebTV for its new MSN subscribers. But wait, there's more! New MSN subscribers can also get the WebTV Plus hardware for free, along with a free wireless keyboard, which isn't too shabby, as this combination will normally set you back about $250. If you're interested in signing up for MSN to take advantage of this offer, you're going to have to hurry, as the promotion ends on September 30th.

Ellison: Salary? Who needs a stinkin' salary?
Controversial Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has decided to forego his yearly salary and will instead receive options to purchase 20 million shares of the company's stock. So Ellison made only $208,000 this year, compared to $3.75 million the year before. But don't feel bad for Larry, as he will probably make out just fine. If he could exercise the options today, they'd be worth almost $1.4 billion.

Microsoft secretly updates Data Access technology
Why bother releasing something if you're not going to tell people about it? Maybe because it could be dangerous: Sean Chappell wrote in with information about MDAC 2.5 SP1, the latest version of Microsoft's data access technology. But Sean also cautions that anyone hoping to install this software should be careful to read the install procedures carefully because a botched MDAC install could render your system unbootable. Head on over to the Microsoft site for the latest software, and be sure to check out the new Component Checker tool, which will tell you what version of MDAC you have. http://www.microsoft.com/data/

We all get the Choco-Banana Shake Hang sometimes
Microsoft removed an excellent Knowledge Base article from its support site this week called "Kitchen Selecting Blendolini Causes Choco-Banana Shake Hang." I was hoping to tell you all about it, but now its gone. I think it related to some sort of children's interactive title, but even the title alone is pretty funny. The old Knowledge Base article number was Q157668.

Allchin returns?
When Microsoft senior VP Jim Allchin went on an extended vacation earlier this year, analysts assumed that he was gone for good. But I'm hearing rumors that Allchin may have actually returned to his post as head of the new Platform Products Group, which was created in an early August reorg. Sources tell me that Allchin's return was timed to blunt the blow made when VP Paul Maritz announced his own retirement.

Intel preps faster notebook chips
Intel will up the ante in the mobile arena with the release next week of faster microprocessors for portable computers. The company will debut Pentium III chips running at 800 and 850 MHz, along with a new Celeron design that will hit 700 MHz. I'm sort of amazed that Intel would wait so long to deliver these faster chips: After all, I bought a 750 MHz laptop over a month ago. Generally speaking, any purchase that I make is the kiss of death for that product.

Apple computer rolls out Mac OS X beta, new iBooks
Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced new hardware and software yesterday, causing yawns around the industry. First up is a new iBook that features, yes, two new colors and a slight speed bump. And Apple's Mac OS X, while admittedly impressive, is now approaching a development time of over four years, if we only count the time Apple's been working on it, making the Windows 2000 development look like brief weekend fling. And Apple is actually charging for the beta, which should dampen enthusiasm considerably. Apple, here's a head's up: Make it free, and make it for Intel. We're waiting.

Woo! We lost money!
Linux wunderkid Red Hat Software posted an "adjusted" loss of $1.9 million for the quarter ending August 31, curiously prompting cheers from financial analysts. One has to wonder about the highly overvalued Linux market, but then the loss was far less than that from the same quarter a year ago, when the company reported an adjusted loss of $4.3 million. At this rate, they'll only be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a quarter by 2002. Or maybe they won't: The actual net loss for this quarter was $15.7 million, compared with an actual net loss of $4.8 million a year ago. The company won't comment on the reasons for the adjustment