Friday, April 30, 2004

Basic hits 40

Basic hits 40: "Forty years ago, at 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, two Dartmouth College professors -- with the help of two of their undergraduate students -- made computing history.
While the professors, John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz slept, the students successfully ran two simple Basic programs on two separate teletype terminals located in the basement of College Hall. "

Microsoft closing in on PalmSource | CNET News.com

Microsoft closing in on PalmSource | CNET News.com "PalmSource, the market leader, closed the quarter with a whopping 20.7 percent drop in market share, according to initial data released Friday by research firm Gartner.
The drop comes as global handheld devices shipments slumped by 4.6 percent, according to research firm IDC.
Gartner's report found that the market share held by Palm's operating system slipped to 40.7 percent, while the Windows CE market share grew by 5 percent to 40.2 percent. Microsoft licensees have been steadily chipping away at the Palm OS lead since 2000, when Microsoft accounted for 11 percent of the market for handhelds.
...
Another highlight of the quarter was the spectacular 352.5 percent growth achieved by Research In Motion, which saw its market share jump from 3.1 percent in the first quarter of last year to 14.8 percent this quarter. RIM's BlackBerry initially launched mainly as an e-mail device, but it now offers cellular service as well."

Gmail accounts go up for bid | CNET News.com

Gmail accounts go up for bid | CNET News.com "Beta testers invited by Google to take part in its new free e-mail service also received invitations to give to another person, but many are being auctioned on eBay, so far fetching bids as high as $61.
"Gmail is still in beta testing, so Google is strictly limiting how many people are using the service at this time," wrote one seller, who has five days left on the auction and six interested bidders. "This is an opportunity to get in 'on the ground floor' with this interesting new e-mail service."

Silicon Valley - Dan Gillmor's eJournal - GoogleMania: IPO Plan is Official

Silicon Valley - Dan Gillmor's eJournal - GoogleMania: IPO Plan is Official "Well, it's better than I'd expected: According to Google's fascinating SEC filing today, the company will a) sell shares in an auction rather than the rancid old-boy system that prevailed in Silicon Valley's bubble days; and b) have an ownership structure that lets the founders manage for the long term, not Wall Street's quarterly attention span.
This is great news, but it's going to mean big risks both for Google and for its prospective shareholders. Wall Street and the crony capitalists who run it will be furious. Watch them, after the IPO, as they take potshots every time Google hits any bumpy times. And anyone thinking of investing in this IPO should be very, very careful. GoogleMania could pump the stock price way beyond the company's intrinsic value.
One interesting tidbit in the filing is the number of employees -- about twice what I'd believed. As of March 31, the company had "1,907 employees, consisting of 596 in research and development, 961 in sales and marketing and 350 in general and administrative."
So Google will also have to manage its transition to Big Company, always difficult, while trying to retain the best parts of the small-company culture.
If they can pull all this off, they'll be doing good things for Silicon Valley, and for American capitalism."

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: McCaw building another venture

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: McCaw building another venture "Craig McCaw has formed a new company that could be the launching pad for his next business venture.
McCaw, the wireless mogul who started what is now AT&T Wireless, last month merged his Kirkland-based Flux Fixed Wireless company with Clearwire Holdings, based in Arlington, Texas.
Clearwire provides high-speed wireless Internet service and holds leases to broadcast spectrum allotted to schools in the 1960s for television programming."

IGM: Jobs: People Don't Want Microsoft's Music Model

IGM: Jobs: People Don't Want Microsoft's Music Model ""Here's the deal. Microsoft does not own the content, and the content owners do not think it's such a good idea. they do not want to license their content through a subscription model where it can be carried on portable players for maybe ten dollars a month. We speak to these people, and that's what they tell us," Macworld UK report quotes Jobs as saying.
Jobs also poured cold war on speculation - rampant for around two years now - that Apple will integrate color screens or video into its iPod. But Jobs sees music players and video devices as utterly different. Music success for Apple, he says, has been revolutionary because the company has delivered a one-stop solution to digital music.
Analysis: That's not to say Apple isn't prepping another digital device; it just means it's not an iPod. After all, why sell one unit when you can sell two? Works for the Mac and the portables, doesn't it?"

Via Watching Microsoft Like a Hawk

Apple Misses Music Sales Goals as Pepsi Promo Fizzles

Apple Misses Music Sales Goals as Pepsi Promo Fizzles "On the first anniversary of the launch of its iTunes Music Store, Apple announced that it has sold 70 million songs online, a tremendous achievement for such a nascent market, but far below the 100 million songs that CEO Steve Jobs promised. Furthermore, Apple's high profile song giveaway promotion with Pepsi has been a complete flop: Only 5 million songs have been redeemed, far fewer than the 100 million that have been circulated.
"iTunes has exceeded our wildest expectations during its first year," Jobs said, in a bit of hyperbole, given the 30 million song shortfall and the Pepsi debacle. Apple also quietly began retreating on its anti-Microsoft technology bent, adding support for Windows Media Audio (WMA) to iTunes 4.5, a new version of the player the company released yesterday. With the new version, iTunes users can't play WMA songs directly, but they can morph them into Apple's AAC format, and the resulting songs will play on Apple's hugely successful iPod (and iPod Mini, if you're on of the lucky few that got one).
...
Despite the missed goals, it's impossible to underscore the important and far-reaching effects that iTunes has had on the music and consumer electronics industries. In a way, it's a shame that Jobs had to brag about the success he expected to achieve with the service, because iTunes, in fact, been hugely successful with an amazing number of songs sold. That misplaced bravado, the Pepsi debacle, and Apple's downplaying of markets for which it has no solution, suggest the company isn't prepared to innovate the next big consumer electronics push. And that's a shame: A video iPod with subscription services capabilities would have surely kept the Microsoft camp on the sidelines yet again."

Today "Apple Misses Music Sales Goals as Pepsi Promo Fizzles"; yesterday "Palm Preps New Devices as PDA Market Plunges" -- Paul Thurrott wins my "accentute the negative" award for this week...

Microsoft PressPass: Americans Feeling Birthday Burnout

Microsoft PressPass: Americans Feeling Birthday Burnout "Americans are tired of celebrating birthdays, and it's not because they live in a society obsessed with staying young. According to a recent survey by MarketFacts, the majority of Americans say their birthday feels no different from any other day of the year, and a third of those surveyed say their lack of enthusiasm stems from the hassle of planning a party."

Uh, okay... There's a Microsoft Works quasi-informercial in the press release somewhere, but I thought the headline, on Microsoft Presspass, was weird enough to be blog-worthy.

The New York Times > Technology > Google's Sale of Its Shares Will Defy Wall St. Tradition

The New York Times > Technology > Google's Sale of Its Shares Will Defy Wall St. Tradition "The stock offering, which is intended to provide about $2.7 billion in cash when it takes place later this year, is expected to give Google a market value on Wall Street of at least $30 billion and perhaps $50 billion or more. It will transform the two former graduate students who founded it less than six years ago into instant billionaires several times over.
Virtually everything about Google's decision to go public is a departure from standard practice.
...
"Once again Google becomes the `nobody knows the answer' company," said Mitchell D. Kertzman, a longtime Silicon Valley executive and venture capitalist. "At first nobody knew when it would go public. Now no one knows what the results of their public offering will be."

WSJ.com - Letter From the [Google] Founders

WSJ.com - Letter From the Founders "Google is not a conventional company. Eric, Sergey and I intend to operate Google differently, applying the values it has developed as a private company to its future as a public company. Our mission and business description are available in the rest of the prospectus; we encourage you to carefully read this information. We will optimize for the long term rather than trying to produce smooth earnings for each quarter. We will support selected high-risk, high-reward projects and manage our portfolio of projects. We will run the company collaboratively with Eric, our CEO, as a team of three. We are conscious of our duty as fiduciaries for our shareholders, and we will fulfill those responsibilities. We will continue to attract creative, committed new employees, and we will welcome support from new shareholders. We will live up to our "don't be evil" principle by keeping user trust and not accepting payment for search results. We have a dual-class structure that is biased toward stability and independence and that requires investors to bet on the team, especially Sergey and me."

Line56.com: Tibco To Acquire Staffware

Line56.com: Tibco To Acquire Staffware "Enterprise application integration (EAI) specialist Tibco has proposed the acquisition of Staffware in a deal valued at roughly $217 million.
Staffware plays in business process management (BPM), a space close to EAI in some respects. In fact, EAI vendors were among the first to talk of BPM as a specific technology. More recently, pure-play BPM vendors (among whom Staffware was ranked as a leader by research group Gartner) have come into their own."

More workflow/BPM category consolidation -- full details on deal

Thursday, April 29, 2004

RealNetworks seeks Microsoft's help in portable music foray

RealNetworks seeks Microsoft's help in portable music foray "RealNetworks Inc., which is suing rival Microsoft Corp. for $1 billion, said it wants to use Microsoft's software to help it sell music over the Internet for play on portable devices.
RealNetworks wants to make its music files playable on devices that use the Windows Media Audio format, created by Microsoft, RealNetworks Chief Executive Rob Glaser, 53, said in an interview yesterday.
...
Glaser yesterday criticized Jobs for refusing to open up Apple's software and Apple's decision to leak his e-mail, joking that that he's "grateful" for Jobs' efforts to get him publicity.
"Steve leaked it in a way that one might say is not the apex of scrupulous business practices," he said."

IBM Press room - IBM Previews Virtualization Engine

IBM Press room - IBM Previews Virtualization Engine "Virtualization Engine is aimed at our customers' desire to focus less on individual operating systems and more on a complete operating environment with higher order impact and value," said Bill Zeitler, group executive and senior vice president, IBM Systems and Technology Group.
In addition to leveraging mainframe technologies, IBM's Virtualization Engine, for the first time, deploys basic provisioning and management tools from Tivoli, as well as open Grid capabilities in the WebSphere runtime environment across a range of IBM systems.
"IBM has unique expertise in software and systems that allows us to combine capabilities to make our customers' environments more flexible, automated and robust," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Software Group.
Virtualization Engine includes advanced "micro-partitioning" technology leveraged from the IBM mainframe and extended to other IBM systems. For the first time on UNIX and other server systems, customers will be able to run as many as ten servers per microprocessor, with the potential of turning a four-processor system, for example, into a "40-way" system running one or multiple operating system types or versions at the same time."

Hey, I wonder if they dusted off the VM codebase... Somehow I suspect we won't be reading about this stuff being open-sourced.

Clarification on Apple post

Clarification on Apple post below: of course the blades (songs) aren't free to consumers; they cost $.99 each -- but I don't think Apple is making a significant profit on the individual songs, so from Apple's perspective the songs are basically not-for-profit fodder to drive iPod sales, appease record companies, build relationships with consumers, etc.

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > State of the Art: Mixing and Matching, 2 New Palms Emerge

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > State of the Art: Mixing and Matching, 2 New Palms Emerge "Palm, the company whose ingenious 1996 Pilot organizer spawned the current age of palmtops and smart phones, has a long and complicated history. But if you want the general idea, go look at a lava lamp.
Inside, you'll see blobs of melted wax, colorfully separating and rejoining, splitting and recombining, as they float through illuminated liquid. Palm's founder, Jeff Hawkins, and his team were one globule, breaking free of Palm in 1998 to found Handspring, only to be reabsorbed into Palm last October. Palm itself was another bubble, absorbed first into U.S. Robotics and then into 3Com in the 1990's, spat out as an independent company in 2000, and then splitting itself in half last year along hardware-software lines. (The two resulting companies are called PalmOne and PalmSource. Confused yet?)
...
Even so, these two new Zires are carefully focused, nicely priced palmtops that will reward people who have waited this long (and frustrate people who bought only recently). The designers' achievement is all the more impressive considering that they labored during the chaotic period when Palm and Handspring were merging, and PalmOne and PalmSource were splitting."

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Playing Catch-Up on the Console

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Playing Catch-Up on the Console "Exclusivity has nothing to do with any decision to go with Microsoft for what we could get out of it," said Todd Hollenshead, Id's chief executive. "It was a technology motivation entirely."
Faced with years of game development costing millions of dollars, Id concluded that Microsoft's big black console had critical technology that its rivals - Sony's PlayStation 2, by far the industry leader, and Nintendo's GameCube - did not.
"All three consoles are really good," Mr. Hollenshead said by telephone from Id's base in Mesquite, Tex. "But as far as basic capacity, Xbox just wins out in certain areas. It flat-out offers more capability."

The New York Times > Technology > Apple Sells 70 Million Songs in First Year of ITunes Service

The New York Times > Technology > Apple Sells 70 Million Songs in First Year of ITunes Service "On Wednesday, the company released a new version of its iTunes software, available for Macintosh and Windows PC users, that offers several new features, including music videos and the ability for users to publish "playlists" of their favorite songs.
When it was introduced last year, the iTunes service was considered a breakthrough for the music industry in its battle against the illegal downloading of music. Mr. Jobs said that Apple had negotiated with the record companies several modifications of the use rights permitted with digital music downloaded from the iTunes store.
It is now possible to share iTunes songs among five personal computers instead of three. But the number of times a particular playlist can be burned on a CD has been reduced from 10 times to 7. "We don't think this will affect many of our users at all," Mr. Jobs said.
Apple has considered the idea of offering a subscription service, but does not feel there is sufficient demand, he said, noting that most users would rather own their music than rent it for a limited time."

Let's see -- 70,000,000 * 0 is... 0 -- that's the profit margin for Apple, from what I've read, although of course they sell more razors (iPods) because of their free blades (iTunes), and no doubt have many plans to "monetize" the blades as well...

WSJ.com - Nokia's Cellphone Lead Slips

WSJ.com - Nokia's Cellphone Lead Slips "Nokia Corp.'s share of the global cellphone market fell more than five percentage points to less than 30% in the first quarter, according to market-research figures to be published Thursday -- a sign that the industry giant's massive lead over the competition may be shrinking more than expected.
Nokia, based in Finland, accounted for 29.2% of the cellphones shipped in the first quarter, compared with 34.9% a year earlier, according to Strategy Analytics."

Palm Preps New Devices as PDA Market Plunges

Palm Preps New Devices as PDA Market Plunges "Tomorrow, palmOne will unveil two new consumer-oriented PDA devices in a bid to continue its recent track record of releasing innovative, hip high-tech accessories. Unfortunately, palmOne's offerings will debut on the heels of one of the worst quarters in PDA history. Despite two consecutive quarters of sales growth in late 2003, PDA sales fell almost 12 percent in first quarter 2004, year over year, to 2.2 million units.
palmOne's Palm OS-based devices retained the top spot last quarter, with 39.4 percent of the market. HP, which sells devices based on the Microsoft platform, was number two with 24.7 percent of the market. Sony, a Palm OS licensee, was number three with 9.3 percent. Dell and Toshiba, two Microsoft licensees, rounded out the top five with 7 percent and 2.2 percent of the market, respectively.
A few years ago, these numbers seemed a bit more important. But it's increasingly obvious that the PDA market is on the wane as consumers and knowledge workers move to more sophisticated multipurpose devices such as smart phones and Tablet PCs. Although palmOne still holds the number-one spot in its market, an obvious question arises: With the recent popularity of multifunction cell phones and smart phones and the rise of Tablet PCs on the high end, do traditional PDAs still offer unique value?
...
The Tablet PC--a step up from the PDA--is poised to explode, however. Tablet PCs got off to a slow start in 2002 but recent changes to the underlying platform--thanks to the Intel Centrino mobile technology--have dramatically enhanced the devices' battery life and processing power. And a free OS update, due in late June, will improve the Tablet PC's handwriting integration. The Tablet PC market is one area in which Microsoft will no doubt dominate but it's also a traditional PC market in which the software maker has obvious advantages. And if the Tablet PC is successful, its functionality will become the prototype for all mobile PCs."

Executive E-Mail: Managing IT for Business Value (Steve Ballmer)

Executive E-Mail: Managing IT for Business Value (Steve Ballmer) "I spend a lot of time talking with Microsoft customers around the world, and one thing I consistently hear is that the growing complexity of today's computing systems is driving up costs and limiting the potential of information technology to work on the toughest business problems. In fact, a study by the consulting firm Accenture [pok: of which Ballmer has been a board member since 2001] reported that IT professionals spend up to 70 percent of their time maintaining existing systems.
...
Specifically, DSI is about doing three things really well:
-- Building software development tools that help IT managers and software-development teams design computing systems that are inherently simple and inexpensive to manage. We call this "design for operations."
-- Enhancing the Windows operating system platform with powerful management technologies suited for complex and constantly-changing IT environments, such as automated deployment, configuration and monitoring.
-- Building easy-to-use, scalable solutions that cover every aspect of the management experience, with real-time feedback on system performance and a high level of automation."

InfoWorld: IBM to virtualize servers, storage

InfoWorld: IBM to virtualize servers, storage "The Virtualization Engine components that will be new to iSeries will include an embedded version of Tivoli's Provisioning Manager software, as well as a WebSphere-based grid computing toolkit that will allow customers to run distributed applications using the OGSA (Open Grid Services Architecture) standards.
The partitioning component of Virtualization Engine is similar to VMware's GSX Server and ESX Server software and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Virtual Partitions (vPars), wrote Jonathan Eunice, an analyst with industry research firm Illuminata Inc. in an e-mail interview. "VMware does not allow individual applications to use more than two CPUs worth of performance," he wrote, "Power partitions scale far higher than VMware can do."
IBM, like its other system vendor competitors HP and Sun Microsystems Inc., has done "pretty good" work with its virtualization technology so far, Eunice wrote. "The battle, however, is not just to do pretty good, but to do exceptional virtualization, to make it systematic, and to push its use throughout all the data center and IT processes," he added. "No vendor and no user is... there yet," he wrote."

Macromedia - Press Room : Macromedia Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2004 Results

Macromedia - Press Room : Macromedia Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2004 Results: "Macromedia (Nasdaq: MACR) today reported financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter and fiscal year ended March 31, 2004. Net revenues for the quarter were $102.0 million, a 22 percent increase compared to the $83.6 million reported for the same period last year. Net revenues for fiscal year 2004 were $369.8 million, a 10 percent increase compared to the $336.9 million for fiscal year 2003.
'Macromedia is all about empowering great digital experiences of all kinds so I'm especially pleased that we've broadened our reach to serve business users and consumers, in addition to designers and developers,' said Rob Burgess, chairman and CEO, Macromedia. 'Providing must-have solutions to these three key markets should fuel increasing financial results and help make the digital experience better for millions of users that we've never touched before.'"

Check out the Breeze-based overview for a nice practice-what-you-preach overview of the quarter.

Forbes.com: The Next Chapter In Electronic Books

Forbes.com: The Next Chapter In Electronic Books "The electronic book is one of those technological concepts from the 1990s that seems somewhat of a leftover. It's never really taken off the way it potentially could: It makes so much sense.
Books--especially the great beefy ones worth reading--are bulky. Their size makes them inconvenient. And with all this electronic equipment we lug around--laptops, personal digital assistants and the like--there's no reason they couldn't be used to carry the text of books.
Last month, Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people ) and Royal Philips Electronics (nyse: PHG - news - people ) teamed with privately held E Ink to announce the LibriƩ, which is set to go on sale in Japan this month. It looks a bit like a PDA but its display uses E Ink's electronic ink technology that it says offers a "paper-like" reading experience comparable to newsprint."

Too late for me -- I want a svelte Tablet PC for this usage scenario.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Mozilla, Gnome mull united front against Longhorn | CNET News.com

Mozilla, Gnome mull united front against Longhorn | CNET News.com ""What makes Longhorn dangerous for the viability of Linux on the desktop is that the combination of Microsoft deployment power, XAML, Avalon and .Net is killer," Ximian co-founder Miguel de Icaza wrote in a recent blog posting. "It is what Java wanted to do with the Web--but with the channel to deploy it and the lessons learned from Java's mistakes. The combination means that Longhorn apps get the Web-like deployment benefits: (You can) develop centrally, deploy centrally and safely access any content with your browser."

Offshoring foes protest at IBM annual meeting - Computerworld

Offshoring foes protest at IBM annual meeting - Computerworld "Sporadic chants of "Offshore the CEO!" punctuated a gray morning here in Providence, R.I., as about two dozen picketers representing a group of current and former IBM employees welcomed attendees to the company's annual meeting."

Meanwhile, in today's WSJ:
"In an apparent response to criticism by retirees and former employees whose jobs have been outsourced, Mr. Palmisano said that IBM "overinvests" in employees through spending $750 million a year on training programs, which he said is more than all competitors combined spend. He also said that "we were the only company in our industry that continued to increase pay and bonuses," during the industry downturn of the past two years.
Later, when a shareholder complained about IBM's cutbacks in retiree medical pay, Mr. Palmisano replied that only 35% of IBM's high-tech competitors pay any such benefits. He said, "There's a crisis in the health-care system in the U.S." that the government needs to solve."

There was a fairly lame episode of "The West Wing" last week in which a company called "JCN" (i.e., IBM + 1; "HAL" was already taken...) was the controversy of the week. I guess the world is 100% "reality TV" these days...

Linux seller licenses Windows Media technology | CNET News.com

Linux seller licenses Windows Media technology | CNET News.com "Turbolinux, a Japanese seller of the open-source operating system, has bridged a philosophical divide by licensing Microsoft technology for playing digital music and video.
Pragmatism led the company to combine products from the ideologically opposed open-source and proprietary software camps, Turbolinux spokesman Michael Jennings said. The Windows Media format support comes as part of an add-on package with several proprietary software components that Turbolinux announced Tuesday.
"The rationale was that the majority of Japanese Web sites are using Windows Media format. We've had (manufacturing) partners and large customers who have requested us to move that into our product," Jennings said. The technology is available in a plug-in module to the open-source Xine software.
...
"It obviously helps us for interoperability, (but) I still wish the standards were open," said Miguel de Icaza, a longtime desktop Linux developer and now a Novell technology executive. "That's the biggest the problem we have now for Linux adoption. Microsoft keeps coming up with new protocols and file formats and APIs (application programming interfaces)...and maybe they license the technology, maybe they don't."

BBC NEWS | Business | Sony hit by drop in games sales

BBC NEWS | Business | Sony hit by drop in games sales: "Japanese electronics giant Sony has reported a 23% drop in annual net profit, due to declining Playstation sales and heavy restructuring costs.
...
In addition, its game division suffered a 40% profit decline in 2003/04 as demand for PlayStation 2 game consoles fell. Sony predicted the game unit's profits would fall further this year as PlayStation 2 demand continues to wane and as Sony funds development of its new hand-held game machine, PSP.
...
While Sony was unveiling a decline in profits, other tech firms were reporting better fortunes."

Web portal for sale, slightly used | CNET News.com

Web portal for sale, slightly used | CNET News.com "A sale of the unit, which is based in Waltham, Mass., would unwind the $12.5 billion merger of Lycos and Terra Networks, struck in 2000 at the height of the dot-com bubble. Now, with a resurgence of online advertising spending, Terra is seeking a buyer for the Lycos division as it focuses on its Spanish- and Portuguese-language businesses, according to the document, prepared by Lehman Brothers and circulated to prospective buyers over the past several weeks.
...
Terra Lycos is hoping to sell Lycos for cash or liquid shares. Although no purchase price was listed, one source familiar with the deal said Terra Lycos is looking to sell Lycos for $200 million, based on $98 million in pro-forma revenue that the site generated in 2003."

Hmm -- not a happy ROI case study...

The New York Times > Technology > Companies Finding Some Computer Jobs Best Done in U.S.

The New York Times > Technology > Companies Finding Some Computer Jobs Best Done in U.S. "A typical challenge is the difficulty of finding programmers overseas who can go beyond following well-known procedures to the next steps of identifying problems and creating new solutions.
For instance, ConnecTerra, a Cambridge, Mass., company that designs software to manage data from electronic devices like new radar-based ID tags that companies can use to track inventory, tried programmers in India last year. But ConnecTerra, which has 30 employees in the United States, ultimately gave up on outsourcing because the Indian company that it worked with could not deal with the fast-changing requirements."

WSJ.com - Sony PlayStation Sales View Falls Short Of Expectations

WSJ.com - Sony PlayStation Sales View Falls Short Of Expectations "Sony Corp. (SNE) on Tuesday projected a 30% drop in sales for its flagship PlayStation 2 video game console in the current fiscal year, raising concerns that industry growth might fall short of expectations this year.
In its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report Tuesday, Sony said it expects PlayStation 2 sales to slip to 14 million units in the fiscal year ending March 2005, from 20.1 million units in the just-completed fiscal year.
...
Most recently, Microsoft cut the price of Xbox in North America to $149 from $179, a move which is likely to boost monthly Xbox sales in April higher than those for PlayStation 2 for the first time, according to P.J. McNealy, analyst at American Technology Research in San Francisco.
"Sales of Microsoft's Xbox video game console are soaring in April," said McNealy. "Sony, led by sales of PlayStation 2, has been the leading platform on a monthly basis in number of units sold for the past 45 months, and that streak will likely come to a halt this month."

The New York Times > Technology > I.B.M. Plans to Build Servers That Act Like Mainframes

The New York Times > Technology > I.B.M. Plans to Build Servers That Act Like Mainframes "I.B.M. plans today to announce new server computers that behave more like mainframes and are priced as low as $1,500. The servers will be able to run as many as 10 operating systems on a single machine. One processor can divvy up the workload - packing the capability of several machines into one - by building several virtual machines that run on the underlying hardware. It is a technology that has existed for decades in the mainframe market long ruled by I.B.M.
...
I.B.M. asserts that its new technology promises to simplify the management of corporate data centers and improve the utilization rates of the server computers that run those data centers. Mainframes, analysts say, typically run at 80 percent of capacity on average, compared with 10 to 30 percent for servers running the Unix operating system, Windows or GNU Linux."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Microsoft Monitor: seewhogotfired.com

Microsoft Monitor: seewhogotfired.com: "Today, Corel released WordPerfect Office 12, one of several productivity suites competing with Microsoft Office.
Apparently, marketing a productivity suite is tough. Microsoft attempted to promote Office 2003 through the silly 'Great Moments at Work' TV ads (here). Basically people cheered for some great accomplishment that no one I know could figure out, which makes the ads no great accomplishment.
Not to be outdone, Corel has put together its own promotionals, something the company apparently plans to serialize over at seewhogotfired.com. I'm assuming the meaning is that no one got fired for buying, or using, Microsoft products. Well, they do here. Like the Office 2003 ads, the seewhogotfired.com videos say very little about the promoted product."

Gee, I didn't know Corel still has a marketing budget...

Sun Sticks 'Proprietary' Label on Red Hat Linux

Sun Sticks 'Proprietary' Label on Red Hat Linux: "A surprising breach appeared to open between leading Unix and Linux companies on Monday as Sun Microsystems' chief executive called Red Hat 'a proprietary Linux distribution.'
The catcall was sounded in an eWEEK.com interview with Sun Microsystems Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Schwartz. Besides challenging Red Hat Inc.'s contention that it is the premiere Linux company, the remark casts the relationship of the companies into a more adversarial light. "

UNIX all over again -- sigh...

ongoing · Web Services Theory and Practice

ongoing · Web Services Theory and Practice Excerpt -- entire essay is definitely worth reading:
"Declarative Application Building This is the idea, most publicly on display in the various flavors of BPEL and WS-Choreography, that you don’t need to write a bunch of icky procedural code to deploy your sophisticated Web-Services application. You write a bunch of declarative statements, which is good, only they’re in XML, which is better. Once you’ve written them, your application builds itself!
Sounds great, right? Except for I’ve seen this movie before; twice, in fact. The first time was during the Eighties with the advent of the 4GL’s (“Fourth-Generation Languages”), whose value proposition read more or less exactly the same: build your application declaratively and let us take care of the details. Then again in the Nineties, there was a (now mostly forgotten) class of application called “Workflow”; the idea was you diagrammed out your business processes as a sequence of events. You could put in conditional branches and loopback conditions, and there were these way-cool graphic front-ends so you could actually see the processes right there on the screen. Then the workflow applications would route your work among the fallible human cogs who actually did it, only there wouldn’t be expensive mistakes any more.
There were some problems, though. It turned out with 4GL’s, you could build 90% of your application in no time at all, but there always seemed to be one or two little pieces that were necessary but required some tricky procedural code and took endless effort to get done, and sometimes you couldn’t.
And as regards the workflow products, I never once heard of a single successful deployment of a complex automated-workflow scenario on any scale. It works OK for simple workflows, like at an HMO: so many thousand transactions come in the door every day, most get approved and paid, a smaller proportion get kicked up to second level, then human judgment takes over. But complex workflows resist automation, mightily.
Once again, I’m not saying it can’t be done, or that it’s not a good idea. I’m just saying that it’s not a safe bet today for the prudent businessperson."

chris_pratley: Let's talk about Word

chris_pratley: Let's talk about Word "So far this blog has mainly been about OneNote and general product design. I started that way because I love OneNote, and with its hard core fan base and relatively newness, I thought it would be a fun thing to blog about (and I will continue to do that). I've been staying away from the "elephant in the room" though. I also manage the program management teams for two other products you would recognize: Word and Publisher. Publisher I picked up last fall, so I am not terribly familiar with the details of its history, but Word I have worked on for 9 years.
I've been a little gun-shy of blogging about Word for fear of being inundated by what are as far as I can tell a gang of "net thugs" who roam the net making outrageous claims about Microsoft and its behavior, motives, etc in every public forum they find (none of which information they are privy to, little of which they have evidence for, and basically all of which I find personally offensive, not to mention incorrect - since they often are implicitly about me and therefore I for one know them to be incorrect). But enough about that - let's just dive in and see what happens. Hopefully the net-dwelling paranoid delusional conspiracy theorists won’t descend upon me… :-) I should note that anything I write below (or in my blog in general) is my own opinion and memory, and is in no way official Microsoft anything.

... [long essay on the history of Word -- see the post]

After Word2000 (really Office2000 for me), I worked on Word2002 (OfficeXP), as a lead for awhile before becoming the group program manager (GPM) near the end of the project. The GPM is the person in charge of all the application designers and spec writers. Word2003 was my first version where I was "running the show" so to speak. The 2003 XML work, research tools, collab tools, and so on were all done under my watch. I also oversaw the creation of the OneNote team at this time, as I have written about earlier.
I've shared all this with you to try to give you a sense of how we (I) see the world, and how we work on products. So, let's talk. Reasonable comments will be replied to."

Let's talk about an exceptionally effective product-focused blog -- check the post and replies. Chris Pratley is a blogging pioneer.

The Cult of Mac Blog: Father of the IPod

The Cult of Mac Blog: Father of the IPod: "Sunday's New York Times feature on Apple, Steve Jobs and the iPod touches on one of the weirdest open secrets in Silicon Valley: The unacknowledged father of the iPod is engineer Tony Fadell.
According to the Times, '(The iPod) was put together starting in 2001 by hardware designers led by Tony Fadell, a young engineer who had worked at the Apple spinoff General Magic, at Philips Electronics and briefly at RealNetworks, led by Rob Glaser, who has developed the Rhapsody music service.
'In the late 1990's, Mr. Fadell tried to start his own Silicon Valley company, Fuse, designing consumer electronics products, including some related to digital music. When Fuse failed to get financing, he went to Apple, first as a contractor in February 2001, and then in April that year as the senior director of the iPod and other special projects.
'He would eventually build a 35-member team of engineers from Apple and other companies. Using a version of a microprocessor that powers most cellphones, the group brought the iPod together rapidly by relying on software licensed from a small start-up, Pixo, a cellphone software company founded by Paul Mercer, another former Apple engineer.
'Since Mr. Jobs returned to Apple, he has increasingly insisted that the company speak with just the voices of top executives, so Mr. Fadell was not permitted to comment for this article. "

Well, that's innovative...

BetaNews | Tsunami Set to Flood Xbox Live with New Features

BetaNews | Tsunami Set to Flood Xbox Live with New Features: "Tsunami, the code name for the latest iteration of Xbox Live, is about to inundate users with a flood of compelling new features like online storage. Other additions enable gamers to send in-game voice messages, organize into teams, enter into competitions and, as of late May, fully integrate Xbox Live with MSN Instant Messenger. "

Monday, April 26, 2004

Microsoft Notebook: This just in: Channel 9 adds new way to get message out

Microsoft Notebook: This just in: Channel 9 adds new way to get message out "After news broke about a possible change in plans for the next version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, the first person to land an interview with a key member of the product team wasn't from a newspaper, magazine or TV station.
He was from Microsoft.
The interview was conducted for Channel 9, a new Microsoft Web site with video clips and other features meant to boost communication between people inside the company and outside developers who build software around Microsoft technology. The site, named after the United Airlines in-flight channel that lets passengers listen in on the cockpit, aims to show what goes on behind the scenes at the company.
Depending on whom you ask, Channel 9 is either the next big thing in corporate communications, an attempt by the company to circumvent traditional media or an effort to foster dialogue by building an online community."

Dan Bricklin: Thinking about software licensing for a small ISV and the issue of open source

Dan Bricklin: Thinking about software licensing for a small ISV and the issue of open source: "After about 8 years of working in a many-person software company, eventually ending up in a large web hosting company, I'm back to running a small (basically one person) software company. Much has changed in the years since I last developed software this way. Before releasing any software, I decided to try to understand some of those changes and see how that affects how I can go about making money.
This essay is written from the perspective of wanting to have a financially successful software small business. (By financially successful, I mean that it can provide a nice income for the employees and owner, not that it must produce great wealth.) This essay is not written from the perspective of what is best for society, the users, the individual programmer, big businesses, etc. While I have feelings in those areas, I think it is important to examine things, at least for this essay, from the perspective I've chosen. There are lots of other places to read about what is best from other perspectives."

OneNote PowerToys

OneNote PowerToys "It is an easy matter to build an add-in for an application that takes content from that application and stores it in OneNote. This was our most common request, since OneNote is a sort of personal storage used for research. So, some ideas that I'd like to see people build (some of these I know people are working on, such as Omar)
1. An add-in for IE or other browser that lets you copy the selected content on a page, or the entire page into OneNote, in a section you choose. This is great for research, and saves the steps f having to drag/drop or copy paste stuff into OneNote.
2. An add-in for Outlook to copy multiple emails, contacts, etc to OneNote, to keep these together with notes in OneNote, usually about a project
3. An RSS PowerToy that allows you to browse selected feeds, and dump them into OneNote for future reference
4. An add-in to PowerPoint, Word, or other apps that lets you just "print" the document to OneNote, perhaps picking where you want the document to go."

I think Chris Pratley's weblog is an outstanding example of the power of blogs for product design.

InfoWorld: E-mail's many hats: By Jon Udell

InfoWorld: E-mail's many hats: By Jon Udell "E-mail is the jack of all trades, but the master of none. There are better ways to transfer files, hold discussions, deliver notifications, broadcast newsletters, schedule meetings, work collaboratively, and manage personal information. But even though e-mail isn't the best tool for any of these tasks, it provides a single interface to all of them. Here's a challenge: Let's improve the various functions performed by e-mail without multiplying the interfaces people must learn in order to use those functions."

I'll all for keeping things as simple as possible, but, as outlined in a Groove white paper last year, I think it's important to distinguish among workspaces for collaboration and channels for communication.

Microsoft Presents Antispyware Strategy

Microsoft Presents Antispyware Strategy "Microsoft's new antispyware tools include features in the upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and offerings from MSN. The new SP2 features include a pop-up ad blocker for Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), a new IE toolbar that will suppress unsolicited software downloads, a redesigned download experience that will make software identification easier, and improved security tools for viewing and controlling browser add-on programs. "These enhancements help put you in control," Jeffrey Friedberg, director of Microsoft's Windows Privacy Group, said. The company's MSN Premium service includes McAfee Security's Virus Guard, which detects and removes deceptive software.
Microsoft also recently launched a Web site that provides information about how to avoid and remove deceptive software."

InformationWeek > Spyware > Tiny, Evil Things > April 26, 2004

InformationWeek > Spyware > Tiny, Evil Things > April 26, 2004 "Microsoft estimates spyware is responsible for half of all PC crashes. Dell says 12% of its tech-support calls involve spyware, a problem that has increased substantially in recent months. Scans of one million Internet-connected PCs, conducted last quarter by Internet service-provider EarthLink Inc. and desktop-privacy and -security vendor Webroot Software Inc., found an average of 28 spyware applications running on each PC and more than 300,000 programs at large that can steal data and give hackers access to computers.
Much like spam E-mail, spyware and its resultant problems are becoming serious. These small applications are planted on a PC by some software programs, Web sites, and E-mail messages and can track a Web surfer's every online move. Criminals or dishonest businesses can use spyware to capture keystrokes and copy personal data from hard drives and transmit it to the people behind the eavesdropping."

Yahoo gives IM 'all new' look | CNET News.com

Yahoo gives IM 'all new' look | CNET News.com "Called "The All New Yahoo Messenger," the upgrade is one of its most dramatic makeovers to date. Cosmetically, the service will have a new look and feel that focuses more on graphics and animation, the company said. The service also has folded in features pulled from other areas of Yahoo's Web site, such as photo sharing, the address book, user-to-user video games, Internet radio from its Launch subsidiary, and online search results.
"Yahoo Messenger is a hub for communications services," Lisa Pollock Mann, Yahoo Messenger's senior director, said in an interview Friday. "It's important that those services are core and relevant."

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Apple's iPod strategy is familiar tune

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Apple's iPod strategy is familiar tune "To longtime tech watchers, Apple Computer's dilemma over whether to "open up" its wildly successful iPod/iTunes strategy has an amusingly familiar ring.
Having devised the must-have gadget of the early 21st century, Apple now faces intense pressure to allow the iPod to work with multiple music services beyond iTunes.
...
In 1989, I bought a DOS machine for under $3,000 — and a Macintosh IIci for $5,400 (yes, computers cost a lot more back then). The IIci was a better computer, but not (to most buyers) that much better. Apple's early fumbles stemmed as much from overpricing as from failing to license the Mac to outsiders.
If Apple wants to maintain the iPod's hegemony, all it may really have to do is keep lowering the price. Once the "mini" burns through early adopters, its price is sure to fall. And the "papa" iPod should cost less in the future, even as its capacity expands.
Either that, or Apple faces getting lowballed into oblivion once again."

WSJ.com - Portals: Cellphones Get Smarter As Flash Memory Gets Cheaper, Better

WSJ.com - Portals: Cellphones Get Smarter As Flash Memory Gets Cheaper, Better "Flash maker Sandisk says the average cellphone will have a gigabyte of memory in just three years. Coming soon, promises the company: high-quality camera phones, phone camcorders, phone video conferencing and more. Battery life remains a problem, but progress is being made there, though it isn't as dramatic as what is occurring elsewhere in electronics.
In fact, it's flash memory that is allowing cellphones to slowly morph into the role of the ultimate converged end-point mobile device, the single gadget that sucks in, and replaces, the various MP3 players, hand-held organizers and the like that people carry around today. IDC analyst Mario Morales predicts that with all the action in portable computing honing in on cellphones, computer companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard will soon be forced into the cellphone business to compete against the Samsungs and the Nokias of the world."

WSJ.com - Comcast to Test Digeo Set-Top Box

WSJ.com - Comcast to Test Digeo Set-Top Box "Comcast, the nation's largest cable service in terms of subscribers, will announce today a commercial trial using about 40,000 of the devices, which are manufactured by Motorola Inc. using a Digeo design called Moxi. Charter Communications Inc., a cable company controlled by Mr. Allen, also is announcing plans to launch a Moxi-based service in Rochester, Minn., after a trial there.
The devices make use of Digeo's software for navigating through TV channels and managing other entertainment options, including digital video recording, games, stored photos and music. The Moxi design, named after a Silicon Valley company Digeo bought in 2002, is styled as a "media center" along the lines of a flood of new gadgets being designed by computer and consumer-electronics companies. The device uses the Linux operating system and the Intel Corp. chip design used in personal computers."

Boston.com / Business / Technology / Where are you now?

Boston.com / Business / Technology / Where are you now? "''It was originally designed for me, basically," said Brin, who wanted a more convenient way to deal with the roughly five gigabytes of e-mail in his own inbox.
But the idea has infuriated Internet privacy groups like London-based Privacy International, which has filed complaints with the European Union and 16 European nations in an effort to force major changes in the service. Gmail's critics say that in its present form, Gmail will lead to a vast concentration of personal information onto a single Internet service.
Brin said he was caught by surprise by the flood of criticism. ''In retrospect, obviously I shouldn't have been," he said.
Indeed, the outcry over Gmail has alerted many Internet users to a truth that should have been obvious all along: Little by little, people are moving more and more of their lives onto the network. Data that people once kept on paper or on their desktop hard drives are now housed thousands of miles away on remote servers."

WSJ.com - For Hottest IPO in Years, Google Taps CSFB and Morgan Stanley

WSJ.com - For Hottest IPO in Years, Google Taps CSFB and Morgan Stanley: "The deal has all of the hoopla of the biggest IPOs of the 1990s, when Netscape Communications sold shares publicly and helped set off a frenzy that sent the stock market soaring. As in some 1990s deals, this public offering stands to make some computer-science whiz kids wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, while also benefiting a cast of well-known venture capitalists. With nearly insatiable investor interest, it could put a price tag of $25 billion on a company that didn't exist a decade ago, making it more valuable than retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co. and hotel operator Marriott International Inc."

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Data Access and Storage Home: Evolution of the SQL Server Programming Model from ADO to ADO.NET 2.0

Data Access and Storage Home: Evolution of the SQL Server Programming Model from ADO to ADO.NET 2.0: "ADO (along with some made-to-measure tools like Remote Data Services) and ADO.NET are the two main data access technologies for SQL Server. Choosing one depends chiefly on the Windows platform you're targeting, Win32® and COM, or .NET. In addition to ADO and ADO.NET, and spanning the worlds of Win32 and the bright lights of .NET, is SQLXML, an object model that fully exploits the XML capabilities of SQL Server 2000.
In this article, I've discussed the main data access layers available to work with SQL Server. I've tried to put each into perspective to give the sense of the history, the current situation, and the future evolution.
In the end, ADO is the most reasonable (sometimes, unique) choice if you have to write COM, ASP, or Win32 applications. If you are instead writing an application to be based on the .NET Framework, then ADO.NET is a no-brainer. If you need to perform particular operations (e.g., server cursors, schema manipulation, bulk copy), ADO.NET might not offer the support you expect, but the trend is highly encouraging. ADO.NET 2.0, slated in Beta 1 in mid-2004, promises to integrate missing functions and facilities into the existing Framework, thus delivering a powerful, consistent, and self-sufficient data access layer."

Google's Brin Talks on Gmail Future

Google's Brin Talks on Gmail Future "[Gillmor:] It also compares favorably to my corporate e-mail.
[Brin:] Well, thank you. There are some things that it is currently missing as compared to corporate e-mail—for example, disconnected operation—though we do plan to provide things like POP3 and IMAP support, which should help that.
But we initially wanted to make sure we have something that was definitely better than all Web mail services, and perhaps, just perhaps, it will also be good enough for a lot of people to use instead of a corporate mail service.
Or they can use both, because they could just forward their messages to Gmail from their corporate e-mail, or the other way around. That way when they're traveling and don't have their computer with them, they can just use the Gmail version, and when they are at their desk, they can still use their corporate mail.
[Gillmor:] You mentioned disconnected access. Once you've enabled some sort of forwarding capability for storage, you could hook it up to Groove for access on a plane.
[Brin:] That's an interesting idea. I hadn't considered Groove, but that's a good idea. I know those guys—I should talk to them."

The New York Times > Week in Review > Your Password, Please: Pssst, Computer Users . . . Want Some Candy?

The New York Times > Week in Review > Your Password, Please: Pssst, Computer Users . . . Want Some Candy?: "A man posted outside a London subway station at rush hour offered a chocolate bar to random passers-by if they would reveal the password they used to log on to the Internet. Amazingly, more than 7 out of 10 took the offer.
The survey was something of a publicity stunt staged by the organizers of Infosecurity Europe 2004, an information-technology conference held in London last week. It was hardly scientific; only 172 people were polled, and it was not verified that people were offering up an actual password. But among computer experts, even this informal exercise pointed out a persistent truism: that for the millions of dollars corporations have spent on erecting firewalls and installing expensive intruder-detection systems on their networks, the weakest link in any system remains the ordinary, well-meaning but hopelessly gullible user. "

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Oh, Yeah, He Also Sells Computers

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Oh, Yeah, He Also Sells Computers "In just two and a half years, Mr. Jobs, Apple's chief executive, has managed to take a well-designed hand-held gadget, add software connecting it to Macintoshes and Windows-based personal computers and convince the recording industry that he has found an elegant solution for ending its nightmare of digital piracy. In doing so, he has shifted the emphasis of Apple from what made it famous - hip, even lovable computers - to what he hopes will keep it relevant and profitable in the future: products for a digital way of life.
In fact, the wild success that Mr. Jobs has enjoyed with the iPod may have come in the nick of time. For all the acknowledged design and ease-of-use advantages of the Macintosh, Apple's overall PC business is still growing more slowly than that of its Microsoft- and Intel-based competitors."

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Download details: Microsoft Office XP to Microsoft Office 2003 Migration Issues

Download details: Microsoft Office XP to Microsoft Office 2003 Migration Issues "This paper explains the basic differences between Microsoft Office XP and Microsoft Office 2003 at a cursory level. It describes the obvious changes a user might see in the menu bar user interface and what a user might perceive as a bug, depending on his or her advanced usage of the various Office applications. This paper also provides a summary of the most likely issues an administrator might encounter during and after a migration of Office XP to Office 2003. Included is information about several design changes that affect programmatic access to Office application objects, which may also affect custom applications."

More Playful Every Day: MSN's "Got Game" With MSN Messenger

More Playful Every Day: MSN's "Got Game" With MSN Messenger "Fans of "Wheel of Fortune®" are getting ready to spin the wheel and compete against other players -- right from MSN Messenger! Microsoft Corp.'s online network today introduced the MSN® Instant Games Clubhouse, a subscription, interactive gaming service for MSN Messenger that combines online versions of well-known games with head-to-head competition, advanced features and the convenience of instant messaging (IM)."

I inadvertently introduced my kids to the free on-line games via MSN Messenger (had to sign them up for email accounts in order to activate their JetBlue frequent flyer accounts, had a free year-long trial of MSN on hand, and it kinda went from there)... The checkers game has been a big hit. I'm not certain of this, but I suspect at least some of the games are done via Flash Communications Server -- pretty cool.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Getting Started with Gmail

Getting Started with Gmail You can sign up today if you're an active Blogger user; check the main blogger page. Check this page for an overview of Gmail.

seattlepi.com Microsoft Blog: How many 747s is that?

seattlepi.com Microsoft Blog: How many 747s is that?: "In looking for a way to conceptualize $53 billion, Microsoft's cash balance as of Dec. 31, some colleagues and I came up with the approach reflected in the opening paragraph of this story from today's paper:
The sum of $53 billion is enough to fund NASA for a year, assemble a fleet of 100 Boeing 747s, and buy every person in Seattle a 2004 Subaru Outback -- with a few billion left over for incidentals."

What? They cut WinFS??

What? They cut WinFS?? "WinFS hasn’t been cut. WinFS hasn’t even really been scoped back. Hillel showed an amazing demo at PDC of using WinFS to build a new document experience in the shell – real time word-wheel filtering, dynamic queries and organization (aka Stacks), the CaseBuilder demo showing off relationships between items, and more. These things are all on track. Take a walk through the WinFS talks from PDC. Are we still building an extensible synch architecture for bringing data from remote servers into WinFS? Yup. Will we have a default synch adapter to help one WinFS machine talk to another? Yup."

The New York Times > Technology > PC Sales Aid Microsoft, but Legal Expenses Hurt Profits

The New York Times > Technology > PC Sales Aid Microsoft, but Legal Expenses Hurt Profits "Among the positive surprises in what was a generally upbeat report across the board were robust gains for two of the company's main consumer products, Xbox and the MSN online service. Sales of Xbox consoles were up 30 percent over the quarter last year.
"Xbox is still a money loser for Microsoft, but it's important in terms of the installed base," said Rick G. Sherlund, an analyst with Goldman, Sachs.
Lifted by a revival in the wider online advertising market, MSN also turned from loss to profit in the quarter. Online advertising and search revenue soared by 43 percent for the quarter, compared with this time last year, a figure on par with the results reported by rival Yahoo."

WSJ.com - Microsoft Posts 39% Earnings Drop

WSJ.com - Microsoft Posts 39% Earnings Drop "Excluding those costs, the company earned 34 cents a share, topping analysts' average estimate on that basis of 29 cents, according to Thomson First Call.
Microsoft's sales in the quarter grew to $9.18 billion from $7.84 billion, exceeding analysts' average estimate of $8.66 billion, as tallied by Thomson First Call.
...
Microsoft didn't announce plans to disperse any of its cash as a dividend. As the company's cash continues to grow -- it now has cash and short-term investments of $56 billion -- it has come under pressure from shareholders to offer a one-time dividend, raise its annual dividend further or do a large share buyback. Microsoft last year said it to needed to have cash on hand until it resolved several lawsuits.
Mr. Connors acknowledged that Microsoft has recently resolved the largest of those suits. He said the company will "have a lot more to say" about the possibility of distributing cash by the time it holds its annual analyst meeting in July."

WSJ.com - Google Is Expected to Announce Plans for Initial Public Offering

WSJ.com - Google Is Expected to Announce Plans for Initial Public Offering "Internet-search pioneer Google Inc. plans to announce within days that it will push forward with an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.
...
Rumors around the Mountain View, Calif., company's IPO have swirled through markets since October. Based on early chatter among bankers, the offering could value Google at as much as $25 billion, and spread nearly $100 million in fees across Wall Street. Last fall, some of Google's prospective advisers estimated the valuation of the company could be in line with other Internet leaders. Those include Yahoo Inc., valued at $38 billion, Amazon.com Inc. at $20 billion and eBay Inc. at $54 billion."

Media Center Extender for Xbox

Media Center Extender for Xbox "Media Center Extender for Xbox will be a new Xbox title that brings Media Center entertainment experiences onto your TV or display through your Xbox console, so you have even more choice in where and how you enjoy your digital entertainment. Microsoft will release Media Center Extender for Xbox as a packaged software product that runs off Xbox like an Xbox game. With a wired or wireless connection back to the Media Center PC, your Xbox console will now allow you to enjoy your PC's digital entertainment media when and how you want."

(2004/01 summary -- but referenced in MS email newsletter today)

Oracle users show interest in 10g's platform features - Computerworld

Oracle users show interest in 10g's platform features - Computerworld: "There are two perceptions that are no longer true ... that it [the Oracle database] is expensive and complex,' said Ken Jacobs, vice president of product strategy and server technologies and a keynote speaker at the event.
He pointed out that the company will discontinue support for the 8i database in January. Moreover, 10g can easily be installed from a CD, and the technology is easy for independent software vendors to embed in applications. The software also has self-tuning features that can alert a database administrator automatically if a given disk is running out of space and then recommend what to do"

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Q&A With Groove Network's Ray Ozzie

Q&A With Groove Network's Ray Ozzie "InformationWeek: What was the main problem Groove set out to solve?
Ozzie: It's version 3 of the product, and all that that implies. Anybody who has bought PC software over the years knows that version one brings the new concept out; version 2, you're getting the early refinements in; but version 3 is really the first sign of maturity of the product.
Let's start with that. In terms of performance, in terms of general usability and completeness, it's there. It's kind of boring, but that's very important. From a user perspective, what we were really trying to accomplish, beyond usability, was to really nail the concept of viral adoption [user to user]. Which means you bring the collaborative functions as much as you can into the place where the user really lives. In version 2, we addressed that by integrating it with E-mail--Outlook and Notes. With version 3, we're integrating it right into the file system.
This concept of file-sharing workspaces is a really, really big deal. It's intended to take the thing that most Windows users do and know and understand--which is saving files in the file system, generally with Microsoft Office--and put the ability to interact with other people directly right there.
Another thing that we're really trying to do is bring fast customization to the user in a much more dramatic way. Once you start integrating collaborative functions into what you're doing, it's important to make the shared space that you're working in very relevant to the kind of task that you're doing. So if you're working with others to address customer-support problems, you want the shared space that you're working in to feel like a customer-support issue-tracking system. If you're using it to deal with supply-chain exceptions, you want it to feel like that kind of system. So we put a forms-development environment in that's very sophisticated, yet [it's] very easy to build applications in. That's a big deal."

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > A Theater on Wheels

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > A Theater on Wheels "And while parents with young children remain the primary market for the devices, adults are increasingly using them to take breaks during long trips or play video games - or even as a makeshift movie theater when they lack a conventional DVD player.
"The car is becoming an extension of the living room, a place of relaxation," said Stony Furutani, the manager of accessory marketing at the American Honda Motor Company."

I think this is a scary trend, especially when you consider recent research correlating kids, TV, and ADD. I've also flown JetBlue on two recent trips; I'm very impressed with the airline (and its fares) overall, but the real-time, 24-channel TV and seat-back displays are pretty scary -- not many people looking out the windows or reading books on JetBlue flights.

Smalltalk Creator Wins 'Nobel Prize' of Computing

Smalltalk Creator Wins 'Nobel Prize' of Computing "One man's work to bring a biological model to the computer world has, 34 years later, led to a 2003 Turing Award by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), officials announced Monday.
Dr. Alan Kay will receive the "Nobel Prize of Computing" in a ceremony in June, as well as $100,000, for his pioneering work on Smalltalk, the first complete dynamic object-oriented programming (OOP) language. Today, the language is credited as the model for C (define) and Java; Kay is considered the first to coin the phrase "object-oriented."

Windows Server System Magazine - Understanding Microsoft's Platform Strategies

Windows Server System Magazine - Understanding Microsoft's Platform Strategies "Longhorn is something of a paradox. It represents both the culmination of the .NET platform strategy Microsoft unveiled during mid-2000 and a new, broad, deeply integrated foundation for future Microsoft software products and solutions. Longhorn can be considered an orderly and evolutionary step forward from Windows XP, but it can also be viewed as a dramatic advance in terms of developer and user conceptual models and core platform capabilities. Longhorn's market trajectory and uptake will remain difficult to project until Microsoft also unveils detailed plans for Office 12 and Green, the code names for the Office System and Microsoft Business Solution releases that will be optimized to fully exploit, and thus increase demand for, Longhorn."

This is the first in a 4-part series of articles I'm writing for Windows Server System Magazine on Microsoft's next-generation platform strategies. Let me know if you have topic suggestions for future columns; I'm going to continue with a monthly column.

Microsoft says it's considering 'marginal' changes to Longhorn - Computerworld

Microsoft says it's considering 'marginal' changes to Longhorn - Computerworld "Sullivan said it's possible that elements of the three major Longhorn subsystems might be scaled back, but he characterized potential changes as "little things." He said the product scoping process involves "low-priority marginal features that may not make the cut."
BusinessWeek Online recently claimed that Microsoft plans to cut some of the most far-reaching pieces of Longhorn and reported that the current plan calls for the new file system to work on PCs but not extend to files shared over a corporate network. BusinessWeek said it based the information on two Microsoft e-mail messages it obtained.
"There's a degree of specificity there that I didn't arrive at reading the same internal communication," Sullivan said. He added that it's too soon to say what the enabled scenarios will or will not be. "WinFS was never designed as a way to index the Internet," he said. "We're looking at various ways that corporate data across corporate intranets can be exposed to enable users to interact with that data."

Analyst calls Lotus' strategy a messaging misstep

Analyst calls Lotus' strategy a messaging misstep ... "Despite Radicati's report, IBM said it's picking up new e-mail customers. Big Blue reported 15% growth in Domino deployments in the first quarter of this year versus the same period in 2003 and said it now has 320 customers using at least one component in the Workplace suite.
"We believe we have a unique offering … competitors are scrambling to put together something similar [to Workplace]," Brill said. He added that Workplace will remain competitive as organizations look for search, content managing and instant messaging software from a single supplier."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Q&A: IBM's Steve Mills on CA, the Sun/Microsoft pact, outsourcing - Computerworld

Q&A: IBM's Steve Mills on CA, the Sun/Microsoft pact, outsourcing - Computerworld: "Given your commitment to Linux, would it make strategic sense for you to take the route Novell Inc. took with its acquisition of SUSE Linux AG and acquire a Linux distributor of your own -- say, Red Hat Inc.? We've chosen very explicitly not to be a Linux distributor.
[Mills:] We decided that the way the Linux community was evolving, that IBM being a distributor was not required for Linux to be successful, and it probably wouldn't be helpful for IBM to be a distributor. Those are very tough business models. Red Hat has a lot of market cap -- they don't have a lot of business results. It's very challenging to try to build a company around what's essentially a free product. "

(p.s. sorry about the sparse posts over the last few days; I was on a mini-vacation. Back to my normal routine tomorrow.)

Microsoft hires key rival from SuSE Linux - News - ZDNet

Microsoft hires key rival from SuSE Linux - News - ZDNet: "Microsoft has hired one of its worst enemies, the SuSE Linux salesman whose efforts led the city of Munich to adopt Linux and open-source software instead of Microsoft's products.
Karl Aigner, formerly SuSE's account representative for Munich, is overseeing sales of Microsoft's data center products to midsize companies in Germany. He began his new role April 1, Microsoft said Tuesday. "

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Refresh Button: Harvesting Different Fruit

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Refresh Button: Harvesting Different Fruit: "His latest company, Wheels of Zeus, is polishing technology that will allow the wireless tracking of anything from the family dog to products being trucked through harsh regions of the third world.
'I want to be a part of the new eras of technology that are coming,' he said.
Mr. Wozniak, 53, describes his system - called wOzNet - as inexpensive ID tags that can be located via Global Positioning System satellite data through the Internet. One person using a broadband-enabled computer can track thousands of the tags, expected to cost less than $25 each.
It is too soon to tell whether Mr. Wozniak, with his 19 employees, can repeat Apple's success. 'Apple was a total accident of history,'' he said. 'I designed it at home, for myself. It was like a science project.' "

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Techno Files: Humans vs. Computers, Again. But There's Help for Our Side.

The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Techno Files: Humans vs. Computers, Again. But There's Help for Our Side.: "A current race for a solution goes by the deceptively blah name of 'knowledge management,' or K.M. It is an effort to bring Google-like clarity to the swamp of data on each person's machine or network, and it is based on the underappreciated tension between a computer's capacity and a person's. Modern computers 'scale' well, as the technologists say - that is, the amount of information they can receive, display and store goes up almost without limit. Human beings don't scale. They have finite amounts of time, attention and, even when they're younger than the doddering baby boomers, short-term memory. The more e-mail, Web links and attached files lodged in their computer systems, the harder it can be for people to find what they really want. "

Friday, April 16, 2004

Ed Brill: IBM Q1 earnings highlights

Ed Brill: IBM Q1 earnings highlights: "IBM Software business grew 11% overall
Lotus revenue was up 15% for the quarter
Notes/Domino grew 12% for the quarter, 'reflecting continued demand for our Notes-based collaborative software'
Lotus Workplace added approximately 150 new customers, for a total of 320
WebSphere Portal software grew 56%
IBM's overall small/medium business revenue grew 15%"

The New York Times > Technology > A Founder Returns to Sun; Revenue Declined in Quarter

The New York Times > Technology > A Founder Returns to Sun; Revenue Declined in Quarter "Mr. Bechtolsheim, who will again wear employee badge No. 1, was the inventor of the Stanford University Network (SUN) workstation, which eventually became the company's first product.
The company also announced yesterday the resignations of Mark Tolliver, chief strategy officer, and Neil Knox, an executive vice president. Earlier this month Sun announced that Jonathan I. Schwartz, who had previously run the company's software business, would become president and chief operating officer."

WSJ.com - Music Rivals Propose a Combo, Apple Doesn't Want to Hear It

WSJ.com - Music Rivals Propose a Combo, Apple Doesn't Want to Hear It: "As Apple Computer Inc.'s position in the digital-music market grows more dominant, Chief Executive Steve Jobs has made one point increasingly clear: He doesn't intend to share the wealth with his competitors.
For months, RealNetworks Inc., Musicmatch Inc. and Microsoft Corp., among others, have been publicly calling for Apple to make changes in its key music products, including the hot iPod portable music player, so that they work with music-download sites other than Apple's own iTunes Music Store. For now, Apple effectively has a closed system: The only portable device on which songs purchased on iTunes can be played is the iPod, and the only online music site that the iPod works with is iTunes."

You'd think Jobs might understand the consequences of closed systems, by this point...

Thursday, April 15, 2004

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > RealNetworks Seeks a Musical Alliance With Apple

The New York Times > Business > Media & Advertising > RealNetworks Seeks a Musical Alliance With Apple "In his e-mail message to Mr. Jobs, Mr. Glazer said that he was reaching out to Mr. Jobs before making a move to switch camps. Mr. Glaser said he was surprised that the proposal had been leaked.
"Why is Steve afraid of opening up the iPod?" he asked in a telephone interview. "Steve is showing a high level of fear that I don't understand."

Oracle VP: MySQL Cluster Not a Threat

Oracle VP: MySQL Cluster Not a Threat "That type of high-end database technology, offered at no cost under the free software/open-source GNU General Public License (GPL) for open-source projects and also under a commercial license for software vendors and other commercial MySQL customers, must be causing some consternation in the hallways of Oracle Corp., IBM and Microsoft Corp., the thinking goes.
To find out how disrupted by this tiny Swedish company's technology such behemoths as Oracle feel, eWEEK.com Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas got Ken Jacobs, Oracle's vice president of product strategy, to answer the question himself."

Interesting read -- I sense some denial, however...

Forbes.com: A First Look At Google's Gmail

Forbes.com: A First Look At Google's Gmail "Google insists quite clearly in its privacy policy that "No human reads your mail to target ads or other information without your consent." The process by which it pushes ads at its users is fully automated. Fears about privacy problems inherent with the Gmail service are, in our opinion, overblown.
As yet, many other basic features, like access to external email accounts via POP3 protocol, and the ability to change the "reply-to address" that appears in mail you send, are missing from Gmail. But it's still early in its existence. When the service gets to general release, we won't be surprised to see a mass migration from Hotmail, Microsoft's (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) free Web-based email service, which has in recent months gone from being average to utterly abysmal in terms of user experience.
Users of Yahoo!'s (nasdaq: YHOO - news - people ) much better and more powerful Web mail service may start to migrate as well, if only to get around the fees that Yahoo! charges for extra storage. As it stands right now Gmail's main advantage is its storage limit and searching ability. For many users, that may be enough."

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

MySQL takes cue from the master | CNET News.com

MySQL takes cue from the master | CNET News.com: "A Swedish upstart is challenging Microsoft in the database arena by making use of the same low-end assault tactics that the software giant employed to gain a foothold.
MySQL, which sells an open-source database of the same name, was nearly unheard of in corporate technology circles a few years ago. Now the company's competitively priced, easy-to-use database is becoming increasingly popular with business customers looking for smaller, less-expensive options. "

I'm at the MySQL conference this week. It's a fascinating event, at the intersection of database and open source.

CRN : Breaking News : Former Sun Tools Exec Surfaces At Startup

CRN : Breaking News : Former Sun Tools Exec Surfaces At Startup : 4:05 PM EST Tues., Apr. 13, 2004 "Rich Green, who left Sun just after the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor unveiled its landmark deal with Microsoft a week and a half ago, now is executive vice president of product development at Cassatt, a small ISV in San Jose, Calif.
...
Coleman is not the only notable technology executive Green will be joining as part of Cassatt's management team. Sunir Kapoor, founder of E-Stamps and a former vice president at Oracle, serves as the company's chief marketing officer and executive vice president, and, Mark Forman, who as former CIO of the U.S. federal government was responsible for its $58 billion IT budget, serves as Cassatt's executive vice president of worldwide services."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Sun plots Java comeback | CNET News.com

Sun plots Java comeback | CNET News.com "Sun Microsystems is trying to climb back into the market for Java server software with rapid standards compliance and aggressive pricing.
The company on Monday said it has released the Java Application Server Platform Edition 8, the latest version of Sun's server software product for running programs written with Java. The software is available for free download and deployment. By making its application server and Java development tools available for free, Sun hopes to seed the market for its Java software and generate sales of more complex products. In the second half of the year, Sun plans to release a more advanced Enterprise Edition of the Application Server Platform, expected to cost $10,000 per processor."

InformationWeek > Alliance > Sun Says Microsoft Alliance No Paper Truce

InformationWeek > Alliance > Sun Says Microsoft Alliance No Paper Truce > April 12, 2004 "The alliance "will eventually include other important areas, such as E-mail and database" products, according to the agreement. He [Schwartz] said there has been no discussion of a Sun Solaris/Microsoft SQL Server database package, but suggested that Sun needs a database system to handle streams of management information being generated by its Java Enterprise System software stack, which includes an application server, a portal, and an identity server."

Microsoft Works Out Longhorn Schedule for First Half of 2006

Microsoft Works Out Longhorn Schedule for First Half of 2006 "Months of customer complaints have finally had an effect on Microsoft. This week, the company acknowledged that it will deliver Longhorn, the next major Windows release, on a fixed schedule, ending years of vague delivery dates and glacial development. The slow move to a concrete timetable started last month when Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates--who in June 2000 stepped down as CEO specifically to have more of a hands-on role with Longhorn--said that conjectures about a 2006 release for the product were "valid." This week, however, internal company documentation corroborated by Microsoft representatives pins the Longhorn release date to "the first half of 2006." And the oft-delayed beta 1 release (originally due in late summer 2004) will ship in mid-February 2005, according to the documentation I've seen.
...
So which Longhorn features will Microsoft cut? According to a "BusinessWeek" article, the deleted features include a WinFS tool that would have aggregated content on a local network. However, the company is retaining similar features for the local system and for the Internet--features that will be more valuable for typical users. Presumably, a more network-friendly version of WinFS could ship in Longhorn Server, due 60 to 90 days after the Longhorn client ships, or in Blackcomb, the Windows release that will follow Longhorn.
Microsoft has also scaled back plans for a Longhorn-specific Microsoft Office release, and Microsoft Office 12 will run on other volume Windows versions in addition to Longhorn. "Microsoft knows that customers have different roll-out needs," a Microsoft representative told CNET.com. "We'll be working to ensure they can use the next version of Office with other recent versions of Windows as well."

Monday, April 12, 2004

Microsoft: Not enough XPerienced PCs | CNET News.com

Microsoft: Not enough XPerienced PCs | CNET News.com: "With more than 90 percent of the world's PCs running some form on Windows, Microsoft has long considered its chief competition to be its installed base--convincing customers that they need a new OS can be a tough sell. That's been especially true with XP, which after two-and-a-half years on the market is installed at about 62 percent of businesses with revenue of $50 million or more, according to Jupiter Research.
In addition, a study in December found that 80 percent of companies still have some machines running Windows 95 or Windows 98. And at firms running the older operating systems, an average of 39 percent of desktops were running either Windows 95 or Windows 98, according to technology consultant AssetMetrix.
Even more troubling for Microsoft is the fact that many corporate buyers who already have a license to install XP are remaining on the sidelines. 'In the enterprise, it is not a situation where customers don't have license to it,' Johnson said.
Microsoft faces a similar issue on the server side, with many of its customers clinging to older versions of the OS. Some analysts estimate that up to 40 percent of servers still run Microsoft's two-generations-old Windows NT 4. "

WinInfo Short Takes: Is Longhorn Losing Features?

WinInfo Short Takes: Is Longhorn Losing Features? "Leaked email messages from Microsoft suggest that the company is planning to cut back on a few crucial Longhorn features, a "BusinessWeek" report says, but I'm not quite sure I agree. According to the messages, Microsoft will still implement the WinFS storage engine in Longhorn, but WinFS will work only on local systems, not across networks. Furthermore, Microsoft Office 12, which originally was going to run only on Longhorn, will now also be compatible with earlier Windows versions. I don't see these changes as huge retreats from Microsoft's original plans for Longhorn. In fact, I think you could make the argument that we're going to see a lot of Longhorn technology early, rather than late. Just look at Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2): Microsoft lifted SP2's Windows Firewall, memory-protection, network-protection, and other security-oriented features directly from Longhorn. And later this year, when a major new Windows Media Player (WMP) release ships, I think you can expect to see a lot of other technologies that Microsoft originally slated for Longhorn. Yes, Longhorn is taking a long time to ship (its beta 1 release was recently delayed until mid-February 2005), but that delay doesn't mean Longhorn is the next Cairo--Microsoft's ambitious and ultimately aborted mid-1990s project to add object-oriented underpinnings to Windows NT."

Silicon Valley - Dan Gillmor's eJournal - Microsoft Can't be Civilized

Silicon Valley - Dan Gillmor's eJournal - Microsoft Can't be Civilized: Dan Gillmor on the Cringley column referenced below:
"Microsoft is going to dominate computing for the next decade or two. The question is whether the company will sink its revenue-sucking needle into everything that contains software, including embedded devices and all information that moves. The scene has now been set for this.
Only open source has a chance of slowing Microsoft. Watch the patent lawsuits. This is where Microsoft will apply its leverage. Everyone will complain, but by then it'll be too late."

PBS | I, Cringely: The Once and Future King: Now the Only Way Microsoft Can Die is by Suicide

PBS | I, Cringely: The Once and Future King: Now the Only Way Microsoft Can Die is by Suicide "Look at the language of the Sun-Microsoft announcement. "Microsoft and Sun will work together to improve collaboration between the Java and .Net technologies, while Microsoft will be allowed to continue to provide product support for the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine in its products. Microsoft was set to end support later this year, raising compatibility and security questions for users." While some people think this means Microsoft will bundle Java again, I think that Microsoft will choose to pursue their own .NET Java (J#), instead. However, with platform independent Java less of a threat, it is easier to agree to improve collaboration. Microsoft will now make their Java work inside the .NET framework as a real option for those who insist on using Java. Meanwhile C# and VB.NET will still be the main .NET languages.
All this simply recognizes that it is too late for Java to succeed in the Windows world. .NET is now too good.
Sun no longer poses any threat to Microsoft. Part of this feeling is based on agreements between the two companies that have to exist but weren't announced. For all we know, Sun may have given up the future of Java altogether and will allow it to wither away and be replaced by .NET. Whether that's the case or not, Java Desktop (Sun's biggest strategic threat to Windows) is over. Sun now goes back to being just a maker of big Unix servers intended to support a Windows-centric IT world. And the whole Java culture, which is to say IBM and Oracle, is threatened. Microsoft hobbles three opponents in one deal.
The worst thing about this deal is that Sun brought it upon itself through a campaign of ridicule and hate promulgated personally by CEO Scott McNealy. This is McNealy's failure and nobody else's. The quotes last week from McNealy were laughable, the about face nothing short of shameful. How are Sun's big customers going to believe what the company says in the future in the face of such a change? How can they base huge technical investments on the word of Sun?"

Report Foresees Declining IBM E-Mail Penetration

Report Foresees Declining IBM E-Mail Penetration "The Radicati Group Inc. on Thursday issued a report indicating that IBM's e-mail product strategy—with its converging Notes/Domino and Workplace roadmaps—will lead to the company losing share in the corporate e-mail market over the next four years.
The report says that Lotus Domino now has an installed base of 85.9 million mailboxes, representing 24 percent of the market. The fledgling Lotus Workplace product is expected to have 3.7 million mailboxes by the end of this year, or 1 percent of the market. By 2008, Workplace's share of the e-mail server market is expected to increase to 6 percent, or 38.4 million mailboxes. However, Domino's share is expected to fall to just 11 percent, or 76.8 million mailboxes, according to the Palo Alto, Calif., consulting and market research firm."

Ed Brill rebuttle: eWeek: Report Foresees Declining IBM E-Mail Penetration

Ed Brill rebuttle: eWeek: Report Foresees Declining IBM E-Mail Penetration "Looking at messaging as a flat horizontal market has always been dangerous -- to take an analogy, I don't think that Ritz-Carlton thinks of Motel 6 as a competitor, even though they are both in the "lodging" industry. It would have been interesting for the reporter to examine Radicati's success at predicting the market over the last few years, and/or compare that to the mainline analysts who make a living at market forecasting and analysis, like IDC or Gartner Dataquest.
The article also tries to take an excellent, long Ferris Research report on Lotupshere and summarize it in five words. I think the interpretation there is a bit misleading -- I found the Ferris report to be quite comprehensive and balanced.

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Palms, other PDAs are shoved aside as must-have gadget

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Palms, other PDAs are shoved aside as must-have gadget "This year, for the first time, smart cellphones are expected to outsell PDAs. Consumers increasingly find cellphones more easily handle the address book and calendar chores the Palm Pilot had commanded when it burst on the scene in 1996. IDC predicts two smartphones will be sold for every one PDA in 2004."

WSJ.com - Microsoft Settles InterTrust Suit

WSJ.com - Microsoft Settles InterTrust Suit "In the latest in a series of moves to clear up legal issues, Microsoft Corp. has agreed to pay $440 million to InterTrust Technologies Corp. to settle a broad patent suit that had cast a cloud over Microsoft's plans in digital media.
The deal gives the software giant a license to InterTrust's large portfolio of patents in technology for protecting music, movies and other digital content against unauthorized copying.
...
Will Poole, a Microsoft senior vice president, said the InterTrust licenses augment his company's own intellectual property as well as patents that Microsoft had licensed from ContentGuard, a start-up spun off from Xerox Corp. He argued that all the patent rights give Microsoft advantages over competitors in digital media, such as Apple Computer and RealNetworks Inc."

Microsoft beefs up executive ranks of security business unit

Microsoft beefs up executive ranks of security business unit "Microsoft Corp. is shifting two veteran executives to newly created positions within the business unit that oversees its security initiatives.
The appointments of Gordon Mangione and Rich Kaplan as corporate vice presidents in the Security Business and Technology Unit underscore the effort that Microsoft is making on the security front, an executive with the business unit said yesterday.
"We've seen significant progress in the last two years," said Amy Carroll, product manager in the Security Business and Technology Unit. "But there's no question that we have a lot more work to do to continue to help our customers get more secure."
Mangione, previously corporate vice president on the company's SQL Server team, has been named corporate vice president for security products, overseeing development and support of security-related products and features.
Kaplan is currently corporate vice president for the company's Content Development and Delivery Group. In May, he becomes corporate vice president of security marketing, responsible for planning and marketing security products and features.
Both will report to Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the Security Business and Technology Unit."

CRN : Breaking News : MSDN Tries To Get 'Em Young : 8:22 AM EST Fri., Apr. 09, 2004

CRN : Breaking News : MSDN Tries To Get 'Em Young : 8:22 AM EST Fri., Apr. 09, 2004: "Microsoft wants to get to new programmers early.
A new low-cost MSDN subscription for high school students and teachers will be available starting this summer. The $299 fee covers Visual Studio.Net Academic Edition, Visual Studio 6.0 as well as access to 'e-learning,' documentation, training and support. That fee covers all students, all teachers and all school computers. Students enrolled in at least one related for-credit course can also load the software on their personal computers. "

Saturday, April 10, 2004

BW Online | April 19, 2004 | Microsoft's Midlife Crisis

BW Online | April 19, 2004 | Microsoft's Midlife Crisis "Would you invest your hard-earned dollars in a company like this? Its revenues soared an average of 36% through the 1990s, but now it's heading into miserly single-digit growth. It has long been a powerful engine fueled by major updates of its products, yet the next major one, an unprecedented five years in the making, isn't expected until 2006. The company hasn't made much headway in newer, promising markets. And its share price is stuck exactly where it was in mid-1998. Not buying, huh? Well, tough luck: You probably already own a piece of this rock.
The company is Microsoft Corp. (MSFT ), one of the most widely held stocks on the planet. And sure, for all its challenges, this icon of American capitalism still has a lot going for it. With a market cap of $279 billion, its valuation is the second highest in the world after General Electric Co. (GE ). And it remains the most profitable company in the $1 trillion tech industry, pumping out $1 billion a month in cash.
But Microsoft just isn't the phenom it used to be. After 29 years, the software giant is starting to look like a star athlete who's past his prime. Growth is tepid. Expansion is stymied. Bureaucracy is a concern. And a company that used to be so intimidating it attracted antitrust suits on two continents seems, well, vulnerable.
...
But ask CEO Steven A. Ballmer if Microsoft is past its prime, and he bristles. "No -- in no sense do I feel like we're past our prime," he says during an interview in his windowless conference room. "The thing that I think is fair to say is we are past adolescence. Isn't adolescence when you grow really fast and you can sometimes be a little raucous? And then when you get into your prime, you're just hitting on every cylinder, you're having a great life, you're creating a family, you're rising to new responsibilities. We're in our prime, baby. We're post-adolescent. We are in our prime." He pulls out color-coded charts that show Microsoft outpacing a host of well-respected companies: Intel (INTC ), GE, SAP (SAP ). "Here's Dell, the great growth story of our industry," he says, pointing. "Growing more slowly than Microsoft."