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Netscape's IE killer needs a spell-checker

Another rivalry, one even hotter than the Packers-49ers, heated up this week, in the form of a floating window that pops up when you visit the Netscape home page with Internet Explorer 4.0.

I had just finished punching a hole through my official San Francisco 49ers commemorative fedora following a Green Bay touchdown when the phone rang. "Probably some cheesehead calling to gloat," I muttered.

I was half right. Grandma DuBaud is a devoted Camembert connoisseur, but rather than gloating, she was calling to complain about the vast power outages and chunks of ice that had turned Quebec and her little hut at the edge of a frozen cranberry bog into a giant Slushy. To make matters worse, she was trapped in the house with my son Vermel, stranded there after a week's winter vacation. "He's driving me absolument folle!" she exclaimed. "Et qu'est-ce que c'est Nintendo?" I promised to call back after the game and returned to watch the fromagers' favorites kick the 49ers between the uprights of the Golden Gate Bridge. You know what they say: California--It's the Cheese!

Another rivalry, one even hotter than the Packers-49ers, heated up this week, in the form of a floating window that pops up when you visit the Netscape home page with Internet Explorer 4.0. The evangelical text of the panel exhorts the surfer to download Netscape Communicator and asks, "Are you feeling tied down? Break free!" with the image of a ball and chain clamped around a convict's feet. The text continues: "You're free to choose not only where you go, but how you get there." Fair enough, but does the pitch have to end with "It's time to excercise [sic] your rights by downloading Netscape Communicator?" Unless Marc Andreessen has invented a whole new form of "excercise" down there in Mountain View, we'd recommend that the company run this piece of "IE killer" rhetoric through a good spell-checker. Come to think of it, I think there's a pretty good one in MS Word...

It's pretty easy to steer clear of the Gatesopoly by switching browsers, but what do you do if your company is actually bought by Microsoft and company and your outfit runs on non-Windows operating systems? Just ask WebTV, and perhaps now Hotmail. The former was completely Macintoshed-out before Bill came with suitcases stuffed with cash, but the Webheads now must switch to Windows. Hotmail--the Web-based free email company that Microsoft bought to integrate with MSN--will apparently have to convert its system from Sun Solaris to Windows NT at some point down the line. Given many industry observers' skepticism over NT's ability to handle the job of large Unix boxes, we should all keep a vigilant watch on Hotmail's service in the next few months.

Switch your browser, switch your OS, and why not switch the location of your high-tech company's headquarters while you're at it? That's what the lieutenant governor of Nevada, Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, says in a message--an unsolicited, email, I might add--to execs and others who attended Comdex in Las Vegas this year. The good doctor stresses his state's business environment--no personal or corporate income taxes--and even brags that both Microsoft and Softbank have recently set up shop there. Conspicuous in its absence is any reference to IBM's embarrassing dumpola of Comdex from its marketing plans, but that's understandable. What's really odd is that while the email's subject is "special msg from Lt. Governor of Nevada," the return email address is "Campbell@1800Batteries.com" and the note is signed by Ken Hawk, CEO and founder of 1-800-Batteries. Let's get this straight: You want tech firms to move to a state where the No. 2 guy doesn't even have his own Hotmail or AOL account? How 'bout if we get back to you after the Super Bowl?

Tricky, tricky...Online gay group Digital Queers almost pulled the wool over a few colleagues' eyes last week with the announcement of its new "Cruiser 6.0" Internet browser, aimed to appeal immediately to at least ten percent of the world's population. Part of its annual festivities last weekend, the faux software sounds like a great way to escape the dreary browser wars with promises of endless plug and play. Calgon, take me away! Between my frozen family up North and the cheeseheads' victory over our beloved Niners, I need some cheering up, and nothing does that like a toasty rumor. Won't you please pop one in the oven for me?