Too Hot To Handle – the notebook from H(D)ell

Remember when Apple the perennial beleaguered computer company’s 5300 PowerBook was found with batteries that could burst into flames? Of course, at the time, they were in the distribution phase and not in consumers hands. But the furor and anti-Apple rhetoric about flaming Apple portables was “blistering”

Recently, first in October 2000 (27,000 recalls) and early in May (284,000 recalls), little Mikey Dell, who as we all know likes to put down Apple and the Big Steve, has had two major notebook recalls due to, guess what? – battery fires. In case you were in an Intel time warp let me repeat, that was, battery fires. At least one was actually in the hands of a consumer! Hot stuff Dell – way to get our attention away from those four digit layoffs. Actually, at this point, Michael Dell’s notebooks do not inspire confidence regardless of their moniker tags. Inspiron 5000, 5000(e) indeed! Dare I suggest a more appropriate designation like maybe Inspiron 5000?

Apple Rises to the Dell Challenge

This month (July 6) Apple Computer, not to be outdone by Dell, reentered the blazing notebook market will a 570,000 (Yikes!) AC adaptor recall. The adaptors could overheat and posed a fire hazard. What’s with these computer behemoths and why are they emulating the auto industry? The Big Steve will have to do some serious housecleaning at Cupertino to get the lead out (or eliminate similar faulty devices) and back on track to their pristine safety record. This burning question remains – Can the computer industry, which has recently been traumatized by dropping sales, deliver quality products with increased performance and features that don’t disintegrate in flames?

Let’s get Naked!

Microsoft in its never ending crusade to keep things honest in the high tech computer universe has coined the term Naked PC referring to a PC sold with no operating system. At one time MS charged PC companies a Windows license fee for every box they shipped regardless if Windows was installed. No monopoly that! Today, because of regulatory concerns, MS cannot collect a license fee if an OS other than Windows is installed. In the real world you as a consumer may find it more difficult to purchase your own naked PC.

First of all MS points out how a Naked PC without Windows can be a problem. The consumer may use pirated software never a good solution because of the legal risks (not to mention the loss of revenue to MS) plus they could run into technical difficulties and the real threat of virus infection. Is good ole paternal MS trying to tell us that with Windows pre-installed you don’t have tech difficulties or virus infections? Ha!

MS’s rhetoric continues with “Would you buy a car without a motor”? What “balls of steel” Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, is concerned about is that more and more PC users are opting (just for the “L” of it) to load Linux on their PC’s in place of Windows so they can get some work done. Oh yeah, and, not be concerned with costly subscription product activation.

Fear and Loathing in Redmond

The latest misinformation from the big guns at Microsoft seem to have it in for the “open-source” computer world. Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s senior vice president of advanced strategies (Whoa – sounds impressive) suggested that open source is not very innovative and is a threat to intellectual property and indirectly to the American economy. (Shades of buying a Japanese auto!) He went on to say (this is when it gets really funny but mostly scarey at the same time) that giving away software (think Internet Explorer) was like the dot-com companies giving away web services and hoping to make money later (or like shooting Netscape in the knee caps and bringing them down to improve competitiveness.)

Would you buy Web Services from this supplier?

Microsoft (there’s that name again) recently struggled to get their instant messaging service on line after a 4 day outage. It left one third of Microsoft’s 30 million worldwide users of MSN Messenger unable to access the service or their buddie lists. In January a similar outage, caused by a technician’s error, cut access to Microsoft’s Hotmail free email service and web sites such as

With continuing problems such as security holes in many of its products including Windows itself, Microsoft does not need these recent embarrassments. Microsoft is currently pushing its .Net strategy to develop fee based services which will rely on instant messaging. Perhaps, the daddy of all messaging services AOL-Time Warner will help with a buy out.

Ralph J. Luciani

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