Week ahead, the week that was

McVeigh unplugged redux? Also: The Linus FUD factor.

Now that Timothy McVeigh has received a one-month stay of execution, Entertainment Network CEO David Marshlack plans to appeal his denied request to Webcast the execution of the convicted Oklahoma City bomber. Welcome to the Jerry Springer nation, folks.

What do you know but Dr. Gil is on the move. Word has it that Gil Amelio, Apple's former CEO--and now a managing director of Beneventure Capital--is about to reemerge as a senior partner with Sienna Ventures. Not bad for an executive whose stewardship of Apple was so utterly feckless that the company was close to being put up for auction on eBay.

Advanced Micro Devices will introduce the Athlon 4 but don't bother searching the archives for the Athlon 2 or 3; they don't exist. Mark this up to marketing considerations associated with the company's rivalry with Intel, whose Pentium 4 won't make it into notebooks until sometime next year.

Another high-tech IPO will give it the old college try when Tellium, an optical equipment maker, hits Wall Street. Regardless of its prospect, the company's shares will likely be more affected by any word from the Federal Reserve, which is scheduled to meet next week. The early betting line has Crazy Al dropping rates by another 50 basis points but only the Fed Chairman (and perhaps spouse Andrea Mitchell) know for sure.

The week that was
Is Oracle prepping for another mad scramble to make its quarterly sales numbers? Last week the company's top sales executive was quoted saying Oracle would not cut discounts to customers. Then this past week a company press release informed the world that Oracle is offering a 33 percent "discount" on its Enterprise Resource Manager software.

Novell made the right move--albeit rather late in the game--to shift strategy and give away copies of its directory technology to hardware manufacturers, software companies and developers. The hope is that Novell can sell add-on products to corporate IT shops adopting the company's technology.

Seeking its two cents' worth, Yahoo will begin charging for phone calls made via its instant messenger service. The 2 cent-per-minute toll for domestic calls is part of a broader move by the company to make money wherever it can. The move to seek out new revenue sources to compensate for declining advertising sales can't come soon enough for Yahoo. The reason: Formerly quiescent content partners are making new demands and they aren't being bashful about demanding a bigger piece of the action.

Has Lou Gerstner presided over his final annual analyst meeting? Speculation was rife that this was Big Lou's swan song. Gerstner's contract runs out next March and he's only a year away from 60, the age when his predecessors at IBM have called it quits. If so, it's been a very good run, especially considering the sorry shape of the company he inherited from John Akers.

There's at least one upside to Cisco's $2.25 billion inventory write-off in the third quarter: Landfill operators will not go wanting for raw material.

Speaking of Cisco, CEO John Chambers has ordered his minions to begin a mini-deconstruction of the networking giant. The company wants to dump Amteva Technologies, a software company acquired two years ago for $170 million. This comes on the heels of last month's discontinuation of an optical router acquired when Cisco bought Monterey Networks in 1999. Cisco has also pulled the plug on products that were added from its previous acquisitions of PixStream and Israel-based Hynex.

I had lunch a couple of weeks ago with Raul Fernandez, CEO of Proxicom, when Compaq came to town to show off its newest acquisition. Sounded like a great color story: Fernandez, who is part of the investor group that owns the Washington Wizards, was also once an aide to congressman Jack Kemp. But that deal went by the by after South Africa's Dimension Data Holdings came along with a higher bid that Compaq smartly refused to match.

If you were hoping the hired help in Washington was actually going to do something about Internet privacy, don't waste your time. A half year ago, a bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members agreed to pass online privacy protections sometime early this year. But the anti-regulation lobby has since come out of the woodwork. In the last week, two industry-backed groups issued reports busy debunking the need for privacy legislation. Once the weasels come under pressure, I have little doubt about this tale's denouement.

Microsoft has now committed to putting the Windows XP operating system officially on sale Oct. 25, thus ending the endless speculation about the delivery date. Even though it will be too late to take advantage of the back-to-school season, the news is encouraging for PC makers who are desperate for anything that might help foster a new hardware upgrade cycle.

On a related note, Microsoft plans to hold a gun to Office XP customers' heads with a licensing program that essentially forces most big customers to either upgrade before October or face paying a higher purchase price later.

Meanwhile, Linus Torvalds has been spinning some mean FUD as he makes the rounds on his cross-country book tour. The flying Finn is no big fan of Microsoft's planned software license program, saying the strategy is "doomed to failure" because "companies want to charge too much, and consumers don't need to upgrade their software as fast as they used to. Besides, human nature also abhors a rental." I understand where he's coming from, but I think he overstates the case. Customers may indeed balk at being gouged by Microsoft--but what's the alternative? Last time I checked, corporate America was not stampeding to adopt Star Office. To be continued...

Hewlett-Packard chose the Debian distribution of Linux as its flavor of choice for future development.

Speaking of HP, the company sold off VeriFone to Gores Technology Group, the same outfit that recently bought Micron's PC business. Since we are--or maybe aren't?--in the "New Economy, it should be noted that HP bought VeriFone for $1.2 billion in a 1997 stock swap and sold it for...well, neither side is talking for how much. But if the price tag is for $1.2 billion or more, I will dress up in a purple negligee, sit down in the middle of Park Avenue and eat a straw hat.

A clearly relieved Intel has begun to spread word that its long-delayed Itanium chip will reach the market soon--perhaps by the end of this month--and at prices that should be lower than previously anticipated. This is a big momma announcement out of the chip giant in that the 64-bit chip will finally give Intel a credible alternative to Reduced Instruction Set Computing technology from competitors.

In the news

MS puts XP subscription plan on hold

Dell to fire another 4,000

Apple to open retail store

Torvalds slams MS exec on open source

Webcaster won't give up on execution

Legislators backing off anti-spam bill

IBM pushes PowerPC to 2Ghz

Palm slashes prices

64-bit Itanium ready to roll

ICANN budget exposed online