Neptune, the consumer version of Win2k, has been cancelled, according to Windows-watcher Paul Thurrott. Instead, Microsoft is merging the project with Odyssey, which was intended to be the next version of Windows 2000. This effectively completes the bizarre little detour Microsoft's Windows roadmap took early last year, when Microsoft started making big promises for both the Neptune and Millennium projects.
Microsoft's Q2 results, announced last night, show a slowing of both revenue, net income, and income per share, but as usual, this is not the way it will be reported.
Microsoft fired its antitrust trial return shot yesterday, claiming of course that it had violated no law, but also setting out its stall on copyright, using a 1976 action involving Monty Python as a precedent. Essentially, Microsoft's position is that clear that the entirety of the Windows product it ships, in the form it decides to ship it in, is a work of art, and that the integrity and totality of this work of art is protected by copyright.
Windows 2000 won't come out for another month, but anti-virus software makers say they've found the first virus that targets Microsoft's forthcoming business operating system. The virus, known as the Win2000.Install or W2K.Installer virus, inflicts no damage, but can potentially point out conceptual vulnerabilities for future virus authors, said researchers at anti-virus software makers Symantec and F-Secure.
In a surprise announcement, Bill Gates said today that he will step down as Microsoft chief executive and hand over the reins to longtime friend and company president Steve Ballmer. Gates, 44, said he will remain as chairman and fill a new post created for himself: chief software architect. He also said in a statement that Ballmer will become a member of the Microsoft board of directors Jan. 27. Both men insisted the management switch had nothing to do with reports of a US Department of Justice proposal to break up the company.
The Department of Justice has given up on rumour-swatting, after a partial rebuttal of yesterday's claims that it was pushing for a breakup of Microsoft. The "inaccurate in several important aspects" story published in yesterday's US Today was promptly followed up by a clutch of claims that the DoJ and the states were indeed reaching a consensus, and intended to push for a breakup.
Microsoft and Caldera announced today that they have settled a long-standing lawsuit between the two companies, just weeks before a trial was supposed to begin. In a statement, both firms announced they had reached a "mutually agreeable settlement" of the suit filed by Caldera against Microsoft in July 1996. Microsoft said it will record a one-time charge against earnings for the quarter ending March 31, which will cut earnings per share by about three cents. This could mean that the settlement could cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million, but probably considerably more. The surprise settlement defused a number of potential antitrust time bombs for the software giant. A ruling against it could have given fuel to recently filed class-action suits.
Microsoft is sharpening up its defenses for yet another legal battle, this one set to commence on Feb. 1. Orem, Utah-based Caldera claims Microsoft used its dominance in PC operating systems in the early 1990s to crush competition from a product called DR-DOS, which Caldera obtained from Novell in 1996. Caldera is seeking $1.6 billion in damages. The stakes could be much higher in the civil case than the one brought by the government, legal experts say. A Caldera win could bolster a number of class-action suits that were filed against Microsoft after U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson filed his findings of fact in the government's antitrust case. Unlike the case filed by the Justice Department, Microsoft would have had to appear in front of a jury.
Microsoft has suspended its MSN rebate programs in California and Oregon because a contract provision unintentionally allows customers in those states to wring $400 out of the software giant. Because of the way the California and Oregon contracts are written, customers effectively can cancel their MSN service contracts but still qualify for Microsoft's rebate.
After Windows NT 5 already won the 1998 Vaporware Award, which is given annually to over-hyped computer products that never came to be, the same software, now rebranded Windows 2000, now also won the 1999 Award. Jury member Larry Herbison referred to the product as 'the ultimate in vaporware.' Suspicions were voiced that Microsoft deliberately delayed the release because it was feared that Windows 2000 was not Y2K-compliant.
As the release of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 nears, the small number of available applications certified to run with the operating system is causing some IT managers concern. Today, only five applications are certified to run on Windows 2000 Professional, and only one on the Server version.
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