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Catching up

Hot on the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on October 26, 2001
(Issue 1943, Frightful Computer Stories)

The past few weeks have been a busy time in the online world. Most recently (at least as this is written mid-October), the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Microsoft's appeal of its antitrust case regarding the way it shoved Internet Explorer down our throats.

Of course, the U.S. counter-attack against terrorist bases in Afghanistan is on most people's minds these days. If your workplace is anything like mine, you and your co-workers have all been sneaking peaks at or during the day to see how our forces are doing.

And the final week of the baseball season also showed the 'Net to be a prime source of info. As Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. wound down their Hall of Fame careers, as Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson chased history, fans could find troves of information on the Web. The playoffs and World Series should prove no different.

XP redux

My two recent columns on Windows and Office XP generated a ton of response, with readers wanting to know how Microsoft could foist mandatory upgrades on the public.

In once again double-checking facts (never an easy chore where Microsoft is concerned), it appears that those who purchase Windows or Office XP do now get a permanent, unending license to use that product.

However, Microsoft is pushing its new XP "leasing" program, where you spend less money up front but only can use Office or Windows for a specified period of time, after which you must fork over more money to continue using it. Drawback? Microsoft won't commit itself to a reasonable extension fee at the conclusion of your lease.

So it appears that if you pay full price, you do actually own Windows XP or Office XP, the same as you did Windows 98 or Office 2000, and some of my warnings in earlier columns were inaccurate.

Now, regular readers of this column well know that I have no problem admitting when I screw up – in fact, I have great practice at doing just that.

Yet I can't in all honesty tell you that I was actually wrong earlier. It isn't clear whether Microsoft was selling permanent licenses to XP from the beginning – I wish I could assure you that this was all a big misunderstanding and I that I simply blew it.

But I can't.

What seems to have happened is that Microsoft reacted to the outrage in the press, and decided to continue the traditional sale of software while at the same time introducing and promoting the leasing plan – part of Microsoft's long-term goal of converting from a software company to a service company.

One more warning about XP, which should be pre-installed on new computers purchased as this is published: Savvy users may want to read the fine print of the Microsoft Passport e-commerce account before accepting it. According to Brian Livingston at InfoWorld, once activated, the Passport cannot be shut down – and once you are signed up, Microsoft has a perpetual right to sell your e-mail address to anyone it likes. Can we say Spam XP?

Beisbol been berry, berry good ...

Anyone who follows baseball at all knows what a special season just concluded. Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, two of the greatest players of any generation, jointly concluded 20-year careers each spent with only one team. Barry Bonds shattered Mark McGwire's single-season home run record, and Rickey Henderson – already the most prolific base stealer in history – passed Babe Ruth for most walks in history, Ty Cobb for most runs scored, and became only the 25th player to accumulate 3,000 hits.

For true junkies, the local paper's sports section simply isn't enough. The beauty of the Internet, though, is that nearly every sports section is online. The Washington Post. The New York Times. The Chicago Tribune. Los Angeles Times.

Sure, it can make for a sorry mess on your keyboard, trying to read Thomas Boswell or Michael Wilbon from the Washington Post while smearing jam on your bagel.

But it's so very worth it.

ComputorEdge Online

ComputorEdge's online presence has been significantly upgraded – we now have an archive of back issues, so if there's a story you want to share with your brother back East, now you can. The issues are in PDF format, but there's a link to the Adobe Acrobat plug-in right from the archive main page. Yeah, PDF files do take a bit longer to download – but they also can be auto-generated by the typesetting software, meaning it's affordable to add them to the web site unlike hand-building HTML files.

In addition to the archive, you can always read the current issue of ComputorEdge from San Diego, Denver or our sister publication, ComputerScene in Albuequerque. And if you're stuck trying to fix a computer glitch or problem and don't know where to turn, you can find help in the ComputorEdge Forums – our online message board. The Forum has been around since ComputorEdge Online was a dial-up BBS, and the user base is knowledgeable, helpful and even friendly.

There are forums for all flavors of Windows (even the dreaded XP, which ought to turn out to be a very busy forum once it begins shipping and folks have to tangle with it), Mac, Unix/Linux and even a fairly active Amiga section. (No, there's no Atari section – and, yes, I'll be whining about that to the ComputorEdge powers that be ... with my luck, they'll create one just to put me in charge!)