Running IP and Windows can be like mixing oil and water

I donāt know what it is. I donāt want to know what it is. My customers are 
screaming about it. Make the pain go away,ä
                  -- Steve Ballmer talking about IP in a recent newsweekly

Nothing gets the press excited more than a Microsoft-versus story angle, and lately we seem to be awash in them. This week, Netscape is pursuing the tried and tired Department of Justice antitrust angle: come now, canāt we try for a little more originality?

And, for the past few weeks, we have heard about the problems over Microsoft purposefully limiting the number of IP connections in its NT Workstation v4 operating system. The limit was initially ten concurrent connections for each ten-minute period, then ten changed to ten connections overall, in between press releases first denying its existence and then saying that the problem has been solved. (Neither was completely the truth, but since when did that ever enter into anyoneās press releases?)

For those of you new to this issue, you can interpret it either two ways: basically it is either a scare tactic by Microsoft to get everyone to upgrade to NT Server (which doesnāt have the connection limitation) or else just a lot of noise and misunderstanding by the other NT web server vendors. Many people want to run web servers on inexpensive operating systems, and NT Workstation is about a third the price of the cheapest NT Server licensing arrangement.

I am not one to see conspiracies under every rock and grassy knoll, but I think Microsoft blew it big time on the PR front with this issue: they could simply make this go away with a minimal (say $99) upgrade fee to go from NT Workstation 3.x to NT Server 4.x. Why penalize your early adopters of NT technology? Why give other NT web vendors a chance to criticize? It is beyond me.

While we are wishing for things just shy of world peace, it would be nice for various Windows products to at least make the attempt at having the same IP subsystems inside and out. Right now each of them has slightly different user configurations and underlying code, and these differences can drive some corporate networkers into a frenzy. I still think NT is one of the best bets for an IP desktop around, but wish for more consistency among the remaining Windows family. It is almost enough to drive me back into the folds of System, with various updates and patches.

Awards, site-keeping, and self-promotions dep't

Two awards this week: one good, one bad. First, the bad news:

You would think with the impending political convention in San Diego that card-carrying Republicans would buff up their web sites. Au contraire: pundit James Carvilleās Handbook for Spirited Progressives (whatever that means) web still carries pages that havenāt been touched since late March. Get me rewrite! And remember, if you are going to promise a ridiculous republican of the week (certainly he canāt lack for material?), then deliver on such frequency. For these transgressions, Carville's site gets a Web.Foot award.

The good news and a hearty Big.Duck award goes to the Family Education Network. A well-designed site chock full of information, links, and a nice design. For parents and educators alike, this one is a keeper.

Another resourceful site for educators can be found here on the OnlinePsychologyDegree site.

This week two stories of mine appeared in Infoworld: one comparing three offline web browsers (WebEx, OM Express, and WebWhacker); and one reviewing the Radnet conferencing tool, WebShare.

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David Strom
+1 516 944 3407
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