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Microsoft’s winning bid

Mac’s hollow OS, and Internet collaboration systems for Linux. News hed: Microsoft’s winning bid dek: a joint venture with eBay will use .NET. hed: A night at the Opera dek: a hollow Mac OS X and competition for iMovie. hed: Let’s work together dek: Internet collaboration systems make inroads on Linux.

Windows news

In March, eBay and Microsoft joined up for a mutually beneficial alliance. Microsoft will list eBay’s auction items on its MSN network, and eBay plans on embracing Microsoft’s .NET platform. Microsoft hopes the alliance is only the start of a .NET revolution. To that end, Microsoft recently announced .NET capability with both UNIX and Linux operating systems, thereby gunning for a massive chunk of e-business. In the long term, Microsoft foresees the .NET platform becoming the Internet standard; in the short term, Microsoft plans to amass a huge base of .NET clientele by offering free services.

Politically embattled Microsoft announced its .NET initiatives in a favorable atmosphere. With appeals court judges sharply questioning the Justice Department’s antitrust ruling against Microsoft, and with the Bush administration now in the White House, many experts believe Microsoft has a chance of getting that ruling overturned.

Couple Microsoft’s recently revealed .NET business strategies with the shifting political climate, and Microsoft’s .NET initiatives are demanding a lot of attention from both investors and competitors.

Hacked again

Although the corporate version of Microsoft Office XP is not supposed to be available to businesses until April, an insider apparently leaked the mysterious software a month too soon. Office XP was found on the Usenet newsgroup alt.binaries.warez.ibm with a serial number Microsoft confirmed as valid. The pirated software is a completely functional corporate version, and thus is not subject to the much-touted “product activation” feature embedded in consumer versions of Office XP. So much for security.

Hands off, Saddam

Microsoft’s epochal Xbox gaming console, slated for release this fall, was in the spotlight again in March at Gamestock, where Ed Fries, vice president of games publishing at Microsoft, unveiled eight new game titles. Seeing as how Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein wanted a network of Sony PlayStation 2s to serve as a missile guidance system, the Feds may want to put a lid on Fries’ hype surrounding Xbox. Its processing power reportedly exceeds that of the PS2 three times over.

While industry soothsayers remain skeptical of Xbox’s profitability in light of the catch-up game Microsoft has to play with Sony and Nintendo, no one doubts the sheer ability of this 733MHz workhorse. Want power? Xbox was designed from the ground up with graphics-savvy nVidia. The system can produce 125 million polygons per second in comparison to the PS2’s measly 66 million. Throw in an Ethernet port for broadband gaming, an 8.2GB hard drive, 64MB of RAM, plus DVD playback, and Sony may have to break out the PS3 ASAP. Whatever the case, let’s hope Saddam’s only missile command is done on an Atari 2600.-Tim Heckel

Mac News

Is Opera really the “fastest browser on earth,” as its slogan claims? Mac users will soon have the chance to find out. The Oslo, Norway-based company is getting ready to roll out the first-ever Mac version of its Opera 5.0 browser.

Originally launched for Windows users in December 2000, Opera’s alternative to Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator was met with an overwhelmingly positive response-the company reported 2 million downloads in January alone. After offering a two-month preview of its browser for Mac users, Opera Software has put the final touches on Opera 5.0 for the Mac. The version was still in internal alpha testing when we went to press, but the company anticipated a release sometime in spring. The first public beta will be available for PowerPC-based Macs, and a version for older Macs will soon follow. The browser is free if you’re willing to put up with a single banner ad ($39 otherwise).

Why upgrade?

It’s never a good sign when the release of a new operating system is accompanied with the suggestion “Focus on what it has, not what’s missing.” But that’s just what Paul Schiller, Apple’s vice president of marketing, did when the company recently sent the gold code for the new Mac OS X to hardware manufacturers. And while the new operating system does include a final version of QuickTime 5, built-in support for PDF, and an e-mail client, it’s hard not to point out some of the things Apple failed to include. The final version of Mac OS X lacks DVD playback or iDVD, Apple’s DVD-authoring software. Apple also conceded that its digital music-authoring package, iTunes-as well as its video-editing software, iMovie-would not be ready to ship with the new OS. Apple plans to offer each as a download at intro, or shortly thereafter. The new OS will cost $129 direct from Apple or at retail locations; those of you who’d rather wait for an updated version will have to sit tight until summer.

An exclusive premiere

Users of Premiere, Adobe’s video-editing software , should be happy to hear that Premiere’s latest upgrade–Premiere 6.0–now can render and transition video effects for Mac users in real time, a feature previously available only to PC users. System requirements include a PowerPC processor, Mac OS 9.0.4, and QuickTime 4.1.2. Registered users of Premiere and Premiere LE can get the upgrade for $149; first-timers will have to shell out a bit more-$549.

Also worth noting is that Adobe Premiere has been enhanced; real-time add-on cards are slated for release sometime this spring. The cards will offer transitions and titles for such effects as color correction, 2D and 3D motion, and particle effects. The new cards will also support a wider variety of video-format compatibility, including uncompressed digital video and high-definition television. -Christy Mulligan

Linux News

As the Internet grows, and companies spread out over the world, software project collaboration is becoming more important. This is especially true as companies more often partner with other companies. In this area, Linux-itself developed via Internet collaboration-can help. That’s because so many Linux open-source software projects have set up this type of collaboration. The only real difference for proprietary development is that you don’t want to release your source code to the world, you just want to access it in a controlled manner–ideally, from different sites.

To start with, just about every open-source software project uses CVS, the free Concurrent Versions System available at www.cvshome.org/. CVS clients have been ported to just about every operating system, including Windows and Linux. CVS also supports source-code access using a network protocol. You simply point a CVS client at its CVS server and download the code. Even if you aren’t working on an open-source project, you can still use CVS as many companies do, and restrict access to your CVS servers.

Another upcoming collaboration technology is WebDAV (or DAV), short for Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning >www.webdav.org/

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