In a judicial cliffhanger, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has the potential to conclusively prove that the law is an ass by agreeing to a settlement with Microsoft that has the collected enemies of Redmond – nine of the original 19 states which participated in the antitrust case along with heavy-hitters like AOL-Time Warner and Sun Microsystems – in a lather. In one particular clause that could have been masterminded by Wile E Coyote, the evil empire would donate a substantial amount of its products to US schools. Apple, in particular, must be really thrilled. Not only would that “punishment” not actually cost Microsoft anything (well, maybe a few bucks worth of CDs and packaging), it would provide it with a big leg-up in Apple’s prime marketspace.
Now, I’ve always been critical of Apple’s dominance in the education sector and how it goes about achieving it. For my sins I spent some time on the board of trustees of my kids’ primary school and, not surprisingly, I ended up with the IT portfolio. During my tenure I found Apple’s grip on the hearts and minds of teachers terrifying. Don’t get me wrong, I think Macs are really cool machines, but any decision on a computing platform for a school – just like a business – needs to be based on a real understanding of the requirements, not blind faith in one brand over another. To be fair to Apple, that’s what you get when you understand your market and target it really effectively. Imagine how it must feel now seeing years of spadework and careful nurturing threatened by a well-meaning but commercially naive member of the judiciary.
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In the spirit of the DoJ versus Microsoft case, my search for products that play well with others continues.
Are you keen to make the leap to Linux but, like my own dear wife, too set on your Microsoft Office apps to give them up? Linux Windows emulator Wine has been around for a while but, for most of us, it’s simply too hard or not stable enough to be a viable proposition. Enter CodeWeavers’ Crossover Office. It’s not free, unfortunately, but for 50-odd US bucks you can have your cake and eat it too. I was delighted to note that it doesn’t currently support Office XP and may never do so (don’t get me started).
On the other hand, you might want to run your Unix apps on Windows NT or 2000. Yep, that’s right, the guys who brought us Internet Explorer for Solaris (I never did figure that one out) have conjured up an interesting tool called Interix that emulates Unix on Windows. I guess, if you really wanted, you could run Office on Crossover Office on Interix on Windows on Wine on Linux. The mind boggles. Go here for all the good oil.
Not a product per se, but pretty damned cool. These cooks have decided that making Linux freely downloadable just isn’t enough. You have to be able to hear it too. Free Radio Linux is an audio version of the Linux kernel – a computerised line-by-line reading of the code. What’s really weird is that, as well as being broadcast on the web, there are a number of real, live radio stations around the world which are relaying some of the 593.89 days worth of program (Free Radio Linux is where it’s at).