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

Whistler release dates revealed!
According to a source close to Microsoft, the company will release Whistler Beta 1 on October 11, 2000, followed by Beta 2 on December 6, 2000, RC1 on February 14, 2001, RC2 on March 21, 2001 and the final release build on April 18, 2001. Interestingly, these dates place the release of Whistler about 6 months closer than the company's publicly stated release schedule, and more in line with previous projections.

Supreme Court ruling could come as early as today
After a trial that seemed to last an eternity, Microsoft may have a very short wait before it hears whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its appeal or turn the case over to the appellate court. According to reports, the higher court may announce whether it is taking the case today, in a scheduled release of an order list, which it publishes on a regular basis. Order lists are used to announce which cases the court has agreed to hear; the Supreme Court returns to the bench in early October.

Apple tech support site switches to Windows 2000
This is the type of thing Mac aficionados like to gloat about when the shoe is on the other foot, so what the heck: It turns out that Apple Computer's tech support site, the Apple Knowledge Base is running on Microsoft Windows 2000. The site seems to revolve between using the Microsoft IIS Apache Web servers, but either way, it's using Windows 2000, and not UNIX. What makes this really hilarious, however, is that Apple is trying to hide it: The company removed the "(Win32)" text normally returned to programs that check OS and Web server usage. Thanks to Eli Allen for the tip.

Microsoft reveals Interactive TV strategy
After getting stung by reports this week that it was late in delivering the first version of its Interactive TV set-top box software, Microsoft made an official announcement about the software, due later this year, specifically noting that it has wrapped up over 15 million licenses. However, the vast majority of these licenses are in question, as the respective companies--AT&T and Europe's UPC--have both cast doubts about whether they still plan to use Microsoft's solution. Nonetheless, the Microsoft TV platform is on the way, along with related technologies that will be integrated into Whistler, the next version of Windows 2000.

Philips chooses Microsoft software for set-top boxes
And speaking of Microsoft TV, electronics giant Philips announced this week that it would be licensing Microsoft's Interactive TV software for its own devices, and will integrate it with TIVO-like hard drive digital recording functionality. Philips says that its devices will be available sometime in 2001, which is probably a more honest assessment of the time frame than other companies are making.

Intel Timna to debut in early 2001
Intel's next-generation low-end chip, code-named Timna, will debut in early 2001 and feature low power usage and "system on a chip" functionality. The Timna, which is based on Intel's Celeron processor, includes a graphics engine and memory controller right in the chip with the microprocessor, lowering costs for system makers and consumers alike. A mobile version of the Timna, which will run at 700 MHz, is due in Q2 2001. The Timna is designed to compete with Transmeta's Crusoe, which offers low power consumption as well and compatibility with Intel designs.

Sony to be first to ship Transmeta-based portable
And speaking of Transmeta, systems based on the company's Crusoe chip will be released first by consumer electronics giant Sony, which will have a VAIO laptop available by October. Sony says that its Crusoe-based VAIO PictureBook will run for up to 20 hours on a single battery and weigh only 2.2 pounds. Sony's small form factor mobile machines set the standard in this category and industry analysts are very interested to see how the Transmeta version holds up in the market.

Microsoft settles email lawsuit, will allow spam in Hotmail
Microsoft announced this week that it has settled its lawsuit with Harris Interactive, which had sued the software giant because its spam filter was preventing the online market research firm from reaching Hotmail users. Harris, which also has suits pending against America Online and Qwest, says that Microsoft put it on its blacklist of over 3000 companies that send out unsolicited emails. And now that Microsoft isn't automatically blocking them, you know enough to block them yourself manually. Geesh.

CBS succumbs to the lure of WebTV, why we'll never know
CBS TV has agreed to supply enhanced TV services using Microsoft's WebTV during the 2000-2001 season. Microsoft offers two WebTV products coming out this fall, WebTV Plus and UltimateTV, which will work with the service. Though WebTV products have sold poorly, analysts estimate that interactive TV will be fairly pervasive by the end of the decade. One can only hope that reading and family interaction will become as pervasive during the same time frame.

AMEX to offer disposable credit card numbers
I generally just dispose of AMEX credit card offers, but now I can dispose of the actual cards as well: American Express announced this week that it will begin offering disposable credit cards that can be used to make online purchases, answering concerns about online privacy and security. This "virtual card" will supply users with a single-use card number that can be used to make a transaction online. AMEX will offer the service to its cardholders for free beginning in October