Week in review: Here's pie in your eye

Summary:Netscape (NSCP) was on Wall Street's screen again -- for the first time in at least two Net years. Unfortunately for the company, it was garnering attention because of takeover rumors.

Netscape (NSCP) was on Wall Street's screen again -- for the first time in at least two Net years. Unfortunately for the company, it was garnering attention because of takeover rumors. The story, which was all the rage when it broke, petered out as the week wore on. But what a tough twist to see one of the fastest-growing companies in tech history now getting mention as a takeover target.

Microsoft (MSFT) remained under close scrutiny by the government. Janet Reno's trustbusters were reportedly deposing companies that have become partners with the software giant's Active Desktop channel initiative. But score one for Bill Gates: His company won a round against the Department of Justice when an appellate court ruled that the "special master" in the DOJ case, Lawrence Lessig, must cease working on the case for now.

Microsoft may have avoided getting more egg on its face for its aggressive stance against the DOJ. But Gates wound up with a pie in the face while on a swing through Europe. While in Belgium, a pie-throwing prankster presented him with an unexpected gift: custard pie. At least it wasn't Big Blue-berry.

Splat! MSNBC's video clip of Gates after getting a face full of cream pie. (NetShow Player required)
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At least as unpleasant for Gates was a charter on competitive business practices in the software industry, released by the Software Publishers Association. Microsoft, the SPA's biggest dues-payer, reacted angrily to the document, saying it was fomented by a committee made up largely of MS rivals.

America Online (AOL), meanwhile, is expected to announce a restructuring next week, the same week it announces earnings. The restructuring will see AOL pull its new-media division back into the same organization as its online business. Observers expect this to boost AOL's emphasis on content.

For consumers frustrated by their inability to get 56Kbps access to the Net, a spot of good news came this week: An international standards body approved a new standard for 56K modems, agreed upon by both warring factions in the standards fight. The downside is that consumers will still have to wait several months for new versions of the modems to appear on the market.

Apple Computer (AAPL) pulled out of a number of national retail chains -- or was it dumped? With Best Buy dropping Apple's boxes from its lineup, and Computer City expected to follow suit, Apple pulled the plug on all its other national retailers save for CompUSA, which gives Apple a store-within-a-store.

Also this week, Demo '98 had its usual raft of schmooze and news on the potential killer products of '98. Game fanatics will note that the Professional Gamers' League ended its first season with the most famous gamer, Thresh, coming out of the loser's bracket to win the Quake title.

For all the week's headlines, click our Headline Scan.

Topics: Apple, Government, Hardware, Microsoft

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