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This Am Bizarro Note About Microsoft

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: This Am Bizarro Note About Microsoft
2. Today's Top Story
    - Langa Letter: A Complete PC Maintenance Checklist
3. Breaking News
    - Want To Beat Sony Copy Protection? Try A Dab Of Scotch Tape
    - Texas Sues Sony BMG Over Anti-Piracy Software
    - Sony Rootkits: A Sign Of Security Industry Failure?
    - Intel, AMD Among Fastest Growing Chip Suppliers
    - U.S. Senate Goes After Spyware
    - Supercomputer Fights AIDS
    - Mozilla Releases Latest Firefox 1.5 Preview
    - Summit Ends With Internet Control Still In Question
    - Give Your E-Commerce Web Site An Extreme Makeover
    - Cisco Leaps Into Mesh
    - How To Make And Enforce A Web-Usage Policy
    - RFID Goes To The Races--In NASCAR Tires
    - Google Launches Ad-Creation Site
4. In Depth
    - Microsoft Wants To Be A Supercomputing Contender
    - Unpatched IE Bug Now 'Extremely Critical'
    - Q&A: Bill Gates On Supercomputing, Software In Science, And More
    - Q&A: Microsoft Touts New Ajax Tools
    - Security Exec Leaves Microsoft
    - RIM Not Worried About Microsoft, Co-CEO Says
5. Voice Of Authority
    - Oracle Challenge To SAP Nets Response: We Like SQL Server
6. White Papers
    - Extended Connectivity For The Enterprise: The BlackBerry Wireless Platform
7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
8. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription


Quote of the day:

Bill Murray: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?

Dan Aykroyd: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.

Murray: Exactly.

Aykroyd: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.

Harold Ramis: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...

Ernie Hudson: The dead rising from the grave.

Murray: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together--mass hysteria.


-- Ghostbusters



1. Editor's Note: This Am Bizarro Note About Microsoft

Today's news is dominated by stories about a world where Microsoft is an also-ran, trying to steal market share away from market leader Linux, and where Microsoft is trying to enhance its users' experience by supporting the Firefox browser.

What strange world is this, you ask? Is it, perhaps, the Bizarro world, the square planet where everything is the opposite of what it is on Earth, populated by deformed duplicates of Superman and Lois Lane?

Oh, no, silly reader! These things are happening here, today!

Aaron Ricadela describes Microsoft's plans to become a contender in the scientific and supercomputing market, an area where Microsoft's market share doesn't even move the needle, and Linux (as the young people say) r00lz. Check out this list of the operating systems run on the top 500 supercomputers, as of this month. Almost three-quarters of the systems are running Linux, and the other contenders are varieties of Unix (including, strangely enough, Mac OS--a great desktop operating system to be sure, but not what we usually think of when we think of a high-performance operating system. What's up with that?).

Be sure to check out Aaron's terrific one-on-one interview with Bill Gates, wherein Gates describes how work done at Microsoft Research can apply to science, medicine, and engineering; how more-powerful desktop processors can improve user interfaces; and his evolving role at Microsoft. I thought that one of the more intriguing points that Gates raised was that computer programming has become the language of science, the way math used to be.

As long as we're talking about Q&As, check out Tony Kontzer's one-on-one with interview with Microsoft product manager Brian Goldfarb about the trendy new Web technology called Ajax and Microsoft's plans for tools to make Ajax development easier.

Also, check out this short item about how Microsoft is making available a Firefox plug-in that allows users to validate that their Windows systems are legal and not pirated, before downloading Microsoft software.

Similarly, when Microsoft launched its Live portal a few weeks ago, Firefox users received a warning when visiting the site that Firefox was not supported yet. Now, the warning is gone.

In and of themselves, that's not such a big deal--I'm a Firefox user myself, and it's not exactly a lot of trouble for me to switch to Internet Explorer when I need to download software from Microsoft.com. And I really have no interest in using Microsoft Live. But Microsoft supporting Firefox could be a signal of big strategic changes at Microsoft, a warmer attitude toward open source. Or it might simply be what it is, and nothing more.

What do you think? Will Microsoft succeed in becoming a contender in supercomputing and scientific computing? Is Microsoft warming toward Firefox in general, and open source in particular? Does this tie go with this shirt? Leave a comment on the InformationWeek Blog and let us know.

Mitch Wagner
mwagner@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Langa Letter: A Complete PC Maintenance Checklist
Fred Langa offers a comprehensive plan for keeping your PC in absolute top-notch condition.


3. Breaking News

Want To Beat Sony Copy Protection? Try A Dab Of Scotch Tape
Gartner analysts demonstrate that beating Sony's copy protection is dead simple.

Texas Sues Sony BMG Over Anti-Piracy Software
Texas' spyware law allows the state to recover damages of up to $100,000 for each violation, and the state attorney general alleges "thousands" of violations in the state.

Sony Rootkits: A Sign Of Security Industry Failure?
One analyst wonders why it took so long to catch on to Sony's use of rootkits on CDs and whether customers may have a false sense of security.

Intel, AMD Among Fastest Growing Chip Suppliers
Intel remained the largest semiconductor supplier in the world, with estimated 2005 revenue of $35.5 billion; AMD is the 12th largest with estimated 2005 revenue of $5.8 billion.

U.S. Senate Goes After Spyware
Earlier anti-spyware bills have stalled in Congress.

Supercomputer Fights AIDS
The virtual supercomputer will test thousands of human immunodeficiency virus mutations against tens of thousands of chemical compounds.

Mozilla Releases Latest Firefox 1.5 Preview
Firefox 1.5 will include a host of new features, including faster browsing, and Release Candidate 3 is now available.

Summit Ends With Internet Control Still In Question
Despite the agreement reached at last week's world conference, the European Union and others are saying that the matter is not really settled.

Give Your E-Commerce Web Site An Extreme Makeover
If your Web site has a 2001 style, it's time for a new look. Here's what Staples, Budget Rent A Car, Newegg, Delta Air Lines, and A&E Television Networks are doing to improve their sites.

Cisco Leaps Into Mesh
Dozens of cities are using mesh networks to give residents wireless access. Now Cisco has joined the fray, with new products and two wins.

How To Make And Enforce A Web-Usage Policy
Inappropriate Internet use by employees wastes time and creates security and legal risks. Companies need to set fair policies for employee Internet use and put in place tools to enforce that policy. Here's how.

RFID Goes To The Races--In NASCAR Tires
The technology, embedded in the sidewall, will be used to help race managers track and return thousands of leased tires.

Google Launches Ad-Creation Site
The link takes potential advertisers to a page where they can create an ad that targets the publisher's site.

All our latest news


----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

Help Choose The Best Independent Tech Blog Of 2005
The nominations for the second annual Blog-X Awards came fast and furious. We've winnowed down the list to 10 blogs. Cast your vote for the top independent tech blog! The winner will be revealed around Dec. 16 and will receive a $500 Starbucks coffee card.

A Week's Worth Of Dailies--All In One Place
Have you missed an issue or two of the InformationWeek Daily? Or want to check out some recent quotes of the day? Check out our Daily newsletter archive page and get caught up quickly.

Subscribe To Your Favorite Authors
Are you a fan of Fred Langa? Are there other InformationWeek authors that you view as must-reads? Then check out our all-new authors directory; each author has his or her own page and RSS feed.

Does Your Company Value Creativity?
Creative companies value new ideas and encourage the people who generate them. Find out if you're working for an organization that appreciates employee creativity with this quick online quiz from InformationWeek.

-----------------------------------------


4. In Depth

Microsoft Wants To Be A Supercomputing Contender
Microsoft is in the supercomputing bush leagues. Changing that will mean beating Linux and recruiting a new breed of employees.

Unpatched IE Bug Now 'Extremely Critical'
The flaw is another example of IE incorrectly initializing certain objects, a security firm says; machines can be hijacked by hackers who entice users to a malicious Web site.

Q&A: Bill Gates On Supercomputing, Software In Science, And More
Bill Gates talks to InformationWeek about how work done at Microsoft Research can apply to science, medicine, and engineering; how more-powerful desktop processors can improve user interfaces; and his evolving role at Microsoft.

Q&A: Microsoft Touts New Ajax Tools
InformationWeek talks to Microsoft product manager Brian Goldfarb about the trendy new Web technology called Ajax, and Microsoft's plans for tools to make Ajax development easier.

Security Exec Leaves Microsoft
Gordon Mangione, a 14-year Microsoft veteran, says he's taking some time off and looking to get involved in a startup.

RIM Not Worried About Microsoft, Co-CEO Says
The executive best known for the popular BlackBerry device told attendees at a weekend conference that the future is about event-driven workflows, faster networks, and contextualized Internet services.


5. Voice Of Authority

Oracle Challenge To SAP Nets Response: We Like SQL Server
Charles Babcock says: When Oracle went into the applications business, did it foresee how the move could affect its database business? Reading between the lines of Microsoft's recent SQL Server 2005 launch, maybe it underestimated the impact. For example, during a Nov. 7 event in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kept referring to how well SQL Server could shoulder the workload of the largest SAP applications. SAP, of course, is the application supplier that Oracle has singled out as its primary competitor.


6. White Papers

Extended Connectivity For The Enterprise: The BlackBerry Wireless Platform
This white paper describes the components of the BlackBerry platform and explains how BlackBerry solves business problems by providing a comprehensive, enterprisewide solution to communication and corporate data access.


------- Webcasts -----------------------

Watch More News

John Soat With 'Ready, Aim ... News!'
Credit-card companies find new uses for RFID technology, Senate tries to ban spyware, and Dell printers win consumer satisfaction survey.

Also in this episode:

Elena Malykhina With 'Wi-Fi's Voice'
Companies examine voice-over-Wi-Fi technology that allows workers to turn desk phones into portable phones.

John Soat With 'Happy Birthday, Windows!'
The Windows operating system turns 20 years old.

Alex Wolfe with 'TiVo Time'
Digital video recorders are the hot new platform.

-----------------------------------------


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