Symantec's PC Anywhere 7.5 seems to work on Windows 95, but doesn't quite make the grade on NT 3.51. Despite promises on the packaging that the product supports remote screen blanking and keyboard locking on both platforms, neither of these basic security features is available to NT users. Symantec has come up with a practical workaround for the first of these problems, which it has published on its Web site: turn off the monitor. If this falls short of your company's security directives, you must take the following steps: 1) despatch blindfolds to remote users; and 2) issue a "no peeking" order on pain of dismissal.
A novel solution to the Year 2000 problem from Microsoft, whose latest brochures for NT Server are apparently dated 1995 (a reader who requested information was sent two packs, the first dated September, the second May). "Yes, it's still 1995 here," a Microsoft spokesman confirmed. "We're backdating everything at the request of customers who want a bit longer to prepare for the millenium."
At what point does salesmanship cross the border to stupidity? It's a tricky one, but if you were selling Notes say to the New York State Department of Social Services, would you tell the head of IT that a big government agency had decided to scrap Microsoft Exchange in favour of Notes, even though it wasn't true? Well you might, but you'd have to be pretty brazen or amazingly stupid to try this pitch with Igor Koroluk, if only because Mr Koroluk heads information services at the aforementioned department.
This fact proved to be no deterrent to an over-eager but underbriefed Notes salesman, who blithely informed Mr K that the DSS had taken a decision to get rid of Exchange as long ago as 1994. "This was the first I'd heard of it," Mr K told Mole.
Microsoft continues to suffer alternating fits of corporate self-importance and false humility. In the first department, the company, which appears to think it is a major news organisation, kindly mailed headlines of Kenneth Clarke's budget speech to a mailing list belonging to Orange, the mobile phone company, which uses the list to keep customers up to date with technical developments. After a complaint from one recipient, who berated Microsoft for its lack of netiquette, someone from the company wrote back with a classic Microsoft we're-sorry-but-we-don't-really-mean-it apology: "I was under the impression that I had just apologised. Do you want a pound of flesh or something?" (Before anyone is tempted to say "yes" to this offer, bear in mind that Flesh for Windows is unlikely to ship before next autumn and may be incompatible with your existing body tissue.)
And in the false humility department, we have the following statement, uttered without a trace of irony by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's marketing supremo and head boy: "Guys like Larry Ellison (Oracle) and Scott McNealy (Sun) wouldn't know a customer if it knocked them over the head." Pot, kettle. Kettle, pot.
A generous CompuServe sent out CD-ROMs with WinCIM 2.01 and a bunch of other "free" stuff on 25 November, the day before the launch of WinCIM 3.0. To make things worse, the copy of Worlds Away that comes with the same disk expires the first time it is used and immediately begins a 3Mb download of a new and improved self (worth about 50 minutes download time over the average Internet connection and rather longer via CompuServe's own none-too-speedy gateway). How's that for built-in obsolescence?
Where do you want to go today? If the answer is Hereford and you're setting out from Worcester, you might want to consult the popular computerised route-finder, Autoroute, which Microsoft purchased from a small British firm a few years ago. Common sense, or a decent map, will tell you that the A4103 is the obvious choice, but not Autoroute which makes several elaborate detours along the way. This is because, for reasons of its own, Microsoft has abruptly halted the A4103 in a field near the intersection with the B4214 and restarted it again a few hundred yards later. Mole leaves it to more fertile minds to ponder the similarities between this and the twists and turns in Microsoft's product strategy. The road ahead will be many things, but seldom straight.
Lost, confused, don't know which way to turn? Call Mole on 0171 316 9068 or mail him at the address above. It might not help, but it won't cost you anything either.
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