Microsoft has released a collection of free software for Windows XP through a web site titled “Microsoft Partner Pack For Windows.” It installs updates to a couple of Windows components and then turns on access to a handful of utilities, web services and games, mostly from third parties.

But one of them is a utility from Microsoft for managing USB Flash Drives that I can’t find anywhere but this new partner page. […] continued

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Microsoft released a critical update yesterday for an intriguing problem. Microsoft discovered a flaw in the way various Microsoft operating systems and programs process .JPG images – theoretically allowing a bad guy to run a malicious program on your computer simply by viewing an image. Your computer could be attacked just by visiting a web site that has these specially-designed malicious images. […] continued

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Today’s quiz: I’ll describe a familiar scenario. You decide if it’s ancient history or current news.

Apple sells devices manufactured by Apple, running software designed by Apple, sold in a store that belongs to Apple. Nobody else is allowed to use Apple’s technology. It gains a reputation for being cool.

Microsoft comes in later with something that is similar to what Apple has been marketing. […] continued

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Microsoft is rolling out services to challenge Google. I’m underwhelmed by every single bit of it so far.

Yesterday’s presentation, described in this article, summarizes some of the initiatives. MSN is going to sponsor a toolbar – presumably integrated into Outlook and Internet Explorer – that will allow lightning-fast searches through Outlook folders, local and network files, and the Internet. […] continued

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Microsoft’s Passport was envisioned as a central place for your personal information, safeguarded by Microsoft, which would then be accessed during your online shopping so you wouldn’t have to type in your name and address and credit card information at each web site.

It hasn’t worked out that way. Here’s an article about the current status of the Passport service – currently only being used by Microsoft and a handful of its close partners, and giving every sign that it will continue to disappear from sight. […] continued

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Microsoft gets irritable when anybody else dominates anything related to technology, so it’s no surprise that it is planning an assault on Google. The first bullet was rolled out today – the MSN toolbar for Internet Explorer, similar in appearance and functionality to the Google toolbar. (Even the download page looks similar.) Here’s an article about the new MSN Toolbar. […] continued

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RealNetworks has filed a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging that Microsoft stifled RealNetworks’ attempts to develop a market for its RealPlayer software and RealOne service.

I wish I could be sympathetic. Digital media functions don’t necessarily have to be handled by the operating system. It seems intuitive that Windows Media Player is a separate product from Windows, not an integral part of the system. […] continued

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Microsoft has begun testing a news service to aggregate headlines from a variety of publications. The new service, MSN Newsbot, is currently targeted at the UK and three European countries during beta testing.

The new service competes with Google News. It’s the first salvo in a bigger war. Microsoft is investing heavily in search technology. […] continued

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Microsoft erases its failures from the official history, but the company has stumbled frequently. Here’s an article to bring back some fond memories. Remember Creative Writer and Fine Artist for kids? Plus Microsoft Bob, ActiMates Barney and Arthur toys, several early ventures into handheld devices and embedded versions of Windows in office machines, and several others. […] continued

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A few years ago, Microsoft introduced two programs with similar names and similar functions – Outlook and Outlook Express. The result was years of confusion and ill will by understandably confused people clicking on the wrong icon by mistake.

I thought perhaps Microsoft would have learned something from that experience, but it’s doing an even worse job with its instant messaging software. […] continued

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Microsoft is taking the first steps towards its own search engine, currently using the name MSNBot. It will appear first as a competitor to Google, but Microsoft’s vision actually goes far beyond that – and in typical Microsoft fashion, they stand a chance of dethroning Google by extending its capabilities in new directions, making their copycat tool into a dominating force. […] continued

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Mark Minasi occasionally writes a column for a newsletter from Windows & .NET Magazine. Today he makes an interesting point to support his contention that Windows NT 4.0 should not be considered obsolete. Minasi notes that the hardware in personal computers has changed less in the last ten years than in the ten preceding years. […] continued

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You might have seen the news that Microsoft will pay AOL $750 million to settle AOL’s antitrust lawsuit. AOL acquired Netscape in 1998 and sued Microsoft in early 2002 for playing dirty to obtain market dominance.

The deal makes sense from an economic perspective for obvious reasons. AOL’s fortunes are sinking, it has a mountain of debt, and the payoff is pocket change for Microsoft, which has $46 billion in the bank. […] continued

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Microsoft introduced Windows Media Player 9 a few months ago. It’s got a better interface and much improved technology for streaming audio and video – far better than RealPlayer and QuickTime. It runs best on Windows XP, of course – I’ve seen problem reports on Windows 98/ME.

And it also introduces strong digital rights management, which has kept me from installing it up to now. […] continued

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Microsoft has quietly set the stage for a revolutionary change in pricing for Microsoft Office for individuals and small businesses.

Office (Word, Excel, Outlook) has traditionally been so expensive that most people used the version that shipped with their new computer, and never upgraded it. Many of you have never seen Office XP/2002, the current version – which has many nice improvements, especially in Outlook, but which isn’t worth the upgrade cost for most people. […] continued

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