Martin Veitch's Weekend Diary

MondayAfter a shattering six-mile run, off to central London to see Quarterdeck CEO Curt Hessler.

One of the most pleasant chaps in the business, Hessler has a sharp idea of what Quarterdeck can and can't do and his strategy of making it the TCO intelligent utility specialist is a smart move.

Once, Quarteredck had higher ambitions, even considered taking on the big boys in the OS game. Now, like so many companies it is focussing on core competencies as they say in the press releases.

Is there a single software company that can call itself a serious threat to Microsoft's dominance as an ISV? Lotus and Novell aren't what they were; what a mess was made of the might that was WordPerfect. Corel is struggling badly. Adobe is very bright but not much more than a niche player in truth.

This lack of real competition is a bad thing.


Caere in to show the latest version of OmniPage.

No offence to that company but OCR may just possibly be the most boring software in the whole world and the improvements in accuracy on documents that are in an appalling condition, badly skewed and sporting tiny type can't be that much of a breakthrough.

Excuse me while I get dewy-eyed but in the old days software upgrades were really worth writing about. New iterations for new operating systems, graphical user interfaces, huge new features. Now it's new types of help systems and making everything look exactly as if Microsoft had designed the UI.


Breakfast meeting -- the devil's spawn -- with IBM PC Co. boss Mike Lunch.

Only IBM can announce it won't do a Net PC but will do a sealed PC that conforms to the Net PC spec. They say that it costs more to build a net PC than a PC even though the former has no floppy drive or expansion capabilities.

I doubt it. They say it's because of the fact you have to build a new case and so on. Quite frankly, that's baloney. It's true that the cost of retooling is high but Taiwan Inc. now has a million of these babies ready if you'll take off the shelf cases. And IBM has often been happy to do so.

As a crutch, IBM says Compaq is charging more for a Net PC than a PC. That's just Compaq charging as much as they can get away with. No mystery at all really.

In the evening, visit the Microsoft Mac party in Soho's truly awful Dog House. Talk to Martin Gregory of MS's IE division. He's 28 and has been at Microsoft eight and a half years and he talks about how quickly the UK office has grown.

I agree and mention that I had bumped into Gillian Kent of Microsoft in a pub earlier in the evening. Microsofties are everywhere. Soon it's going to be like MacDonald's and we'll all have to work there at some point in our lives.


Deeply strange today.

After six and a half years, Ziff-Davis UK is moving downriver and the whole day is spent seeing the working environment being unplugged.

Evening party at the Emporium nightclub in London's buzzing West End. People from Microsoft are there!


A series of Kewney-like IT accidents force me to decamp to the Web Shack in Soho to write this deathless prose. It's the first one of these places I've actually liked. Nice and fast ISDN lines. Sound, monitors set into the wall. It's even licensed. Just a pity you're forced to listen to Bjork who always sounds like she's being strangled -- wishful thinking. We must have done something pretty horrible to Iceland to get her. The trendy young whippersnapper at the bar laughs and gives me a look two parts contempt to one of pity when I ask if they have the new Bob Dylan. Well, I like it anyhow.

Also, the chap next to me is reading something called Enemarotic. It's a strange world out there on the Internet.


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