Coop: Just don't drink the Kool-Aid

Redmond is hosting a huge CEO kaffeeklatsch -- hangin' with Mr. Bill -- while the Mac mujahideen have yet more reasons for celebration.

By now, the good folks at AOL are so used to existential scares -- Microsoft-AT&T, cable lockouts and the end of the world as we know it -- that they hardly flinch at new predictions of imminent disaster. So, rest assured that Steve Case & Co. will be pressed for hard answers about the latest challenges to life and limb when the company hosts a highly awaited gabfest on Wednesday with analysts. Watch for word about future directions in its broadband strategy.

Shares of e-retailers may get a nice bounce when a conference on e-retailing opens up in San Francisco. But will there be enough in the way of frothy predictions to keep the big institutions and day traders in drool mode? Meanwhile, other tech firms will stage their own version of Super Tuesday when Lycos, Applied Materials and Dell report their financial quarters.

It's that time of year for the mother of all power schmoozes hosted by Bill Gates and his billionaire boys club. In this annual kaffeeklatsch - the third year running -- the Redmondians roll out the red carpet for Fortune 1000 CEOs to discuss a lot more than their golf scores. One warning to the expected 130 attendees: Don't drink the free Kool-Aid.

For a complete look at the week ahead, go to our programming guide and editorial calendar.

And in the week that was:
Speaking of Microsoft, the company's CFO, Greg Maffei, has been spending his boss' cash like there's no tomorrow. No surprise there, according to insiders who expect more of the same in coming months. (See: Behind the MS-Nextel deal)

There's something quite unnerving in the revelation that Web traffic estimates are basic crapshoots. Meanwhile, sundry Net stocks without a prayer of ever turning a profit in our lifetime continue to soar. Beats me. (See: Web traffic stats don't add up)

Barry Diller's failed bid for Lycos was predictable in that the new Net math just wouldn't add up -- at least not for the amount he was willing to pay to buy the company. (See: USA to give up Lycos bid)

The Mac mujahideen who went away fat and happy from the Apple developers conference had reason to party: 32 percent of iMac buyers are first-time computer owners and 13 percent are converts from Wintel systems. (See: Jobs pumps up the Mac faithful)

Are you ready for a 550MHz PC? Maybe not. The latest batch of superchips from Intel hits the market next week but innovations in software still trail far behind innovations in hardware. (See: 550MHz Pentium III on way)

Penguin power may be all the rage but Linus' Legions still have a long way to go before they conquer the hearts and minds of corporate America. (See: Linux databases lacking corporate users)

On a related front, Microsoft's again dropping broad hints about embracing the ways of the open-source development community. Sound familiar? It should: The Redmondians have been singing that same song for months. (See: Linux spurs Ballmer tech tease)

Gentle Ben Rosen is making his presence felt as another key executive announced plans to resign from Compaq. Still no word yet on a replacement CEO but chairman Rosen could do a lot worse than to snag Dell's power-behind-the-throne, Morton Topfer. (See: Compaq shakeup continues)

And in other news:
Intel sets up $250 million VC fund
Clinton could limit Serbia's Net access
Researcher: Games don't breed violence
MS, @AtHome in broadband pact
Graphics wars heat up
High tech leads lobbying pact
IBM's Gerstner paints rosy picture
Net fraud council targets cybercrime
IBM, Nintendo in chip pact
Star Wars ticket buyers lost in space


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