Microsoft Changes Its Own Rules
It's not illegal to be a monopoly, but it is to leverage one monopoly to gain an advantage in another market. That's why so many governments have attacked Microsoft for bundling browsers, media players and other bits of software, and for tightly controlling what can run on the Windows startup screen.
Hoping to avoid this mess with Vista, Microsoft last week pledged to abide by 12 self-imposed rules designed to level the playing field. After years of telling us that IE and Windows are inseparable, Microsoft promises easy disablement of IE and Media Player. Competitive search engines are now fully welcome and OEMs have more control over what they install. Microsoft also promises truly open APIs for Vista -- something that should have happened 20 years ago.
These promises are all well and good, but it doesn't change the fact that Microsoft plans to go after markets pioneered by third parties and won't stop until it owns them. And its application developers will always know the OS plans better than outsiders.
A New Reason to Hate PowerPoint
I've never been a fan of PowerPoint. Maybe it's because I stink at using it; maybe because I've sat through thousands of tedious robotic slide presentations; or maybe because PowerPoint has single-handedly ruined our ability to speak extemporaneously.
In any event, news of a new virus that attacks through PowerPoint has me hoping that it can't be patched, and the only solution is to wipe PowerPoint off of every hard drive.
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The mPod Is Coming
The iPod is so successful, is it any wonder that Microsoft now plans to copy it? The only question is: What took you so long? After all, it's really just a portable storage device that plays music files. Redmond's long-awaited answer is called "Zune," which as far as I can tell is not a word (although it was a GUI toolkit for what is left of the Amiga toolkit; maybe the old Commodore crowd should sue over the name).
As easy as it sounds to build an iPod-like device, plenty of vendors have managed to fumble. I bought my daughter a non-Apple music player for Christmas. After getting it to only half-work, she shoved it in a drawer and used her own cash for a Nano.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.