NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Where's the meat?

Randi thanks all of you who sent me tips on how to make disgusting tofu burgers more palatable. I tried the Tabasco, the cheese, the ketchup, and all the rest, but still, the McDonald's drive-thru calls out to me, "Bobby, you are a meat eater. Don't listen to that vegetation-eating vixen."

While I was waiting in line at the drive-thru, I read a news report about last week's Microsoft reorganisation. Apparently it reflects the company's new focus on Internet services a la Microsoft.NET.

And as I was getting ready to satisfy my carnivorous urges, I thought back to Microsoft's own internal migration to the Exchange messaging platform about four years ago: the "dog food" project.

Microsoft's internal mail system had been internally developed and Unix-based. When asked why it was not using one of its own OSes, Microsoft made a big deal about "eating its own dog food" by switching to Exchange, the product it was pitching to customers.

Now it seems like deja vu all over again - but this time dog food isn't on the menu. At its own Web site, Microsoft has several job listings for Unix administrators for its small business Web hosting service, bcentral.com.

For example, one systems administrator job requires "an established leader who can assist in the planning and implementation of our growing heterogeneous Unix environment (Solaris, Linux, and FreeBSD)."

Microsoft is posting these jobs at the same time that it is hawking the Windows 2000 platform with Internet Information Server (IIS) to dot-com companies.

Several have partnered to test the Win2000 IIS combination, including Super Markets Online and Dell.com. Perhaps they don't realise that Microsoft's preferred solution is Unix.

One reader reports that he's had his own brand of trouble with Windows 2000. After installing Service Pack 1, the recently released bug fix for the enterprise platform, this reader's DSL connection stopped working and dialing up with the analog modem also became troublesome.

Separately, another reader reports some issues with Microsoft's own Web site. At www.microsoft.com/windowsme, Microsoft is offering "50 free copies a day" of the new operating system targeted at consumer PCs. Site visitors are encouraged to register every day so they are more likely to win a copy of Windows Millennium Edition. But our reader reports that on his return trips to the site to register, the system told him he was already registered for that day. The final insult? There was no place on the site where he could report the problem to customer service or system administrators or anyone.

All this news about Windows makes the next news item even scarier. A press release that crossed my desk said that VenurCom and VersaLogic had been chosen for a rudder control system on US Naval destroyers. The scary part? The system runs on the Windows NT embedded OS.

Having gobbled down my cheeseburger in a record minute and 27 seconds, I walked into Randi's apartment with a satisfied smile on my face. "I smell real meat on your breath, Bobby," she said sternly. "Where's mine?" Explain women to me.

Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld

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