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I wanna be like Mic(rosoft)

Two of the most vociferous Redmond rivals were caught this week walking shamelessly in their enemy's shoes.

Last Sunday night I unhooked the rumor hotline, kicked off my gumshoes, and sat back to watch the greatest basketball player of all time win yet another championship. My hoops buddies scoffed at me as I rooted for Mike and Scottie and Denise: "Man, enough with Jordan already! Time for some fresh blood!" Blinded by jealousy, I guess. There's always a thin line between wanting to be like Mike and wanting to beat him senseless. Same goes for Microsoft: You'd hate to be them, but, then again, imagine swishing the taste of those stock option plans around in your mouth for a second or two.

Two of the most vociferous Redmond rivals were caught this week walking shamelessly in their enemy's shoes. One of my favorite sources in Gotham--yo, you know who you are, you big scungilli head--was yawning through the Corel WordPerfect suite announcement at PC Expo when he overheard Corel's director of product marketing admit that "Central," the company's latest calendar/email/contact organizer, was more or less a knockoff of Microsoft's Outlook that they couldn't produce in-house.

"When we started seeing what Outlook could do, that's when we went to Netscape," said Jeff Hunsacker.

Humble words from a company that badmouths Bill et al every chance they get. Corel is using components from Netscape's Communicator suite to build Central, which has a very Outlook-like look. (Say that ten times fast.)

No. 1 foe Netscape is not immune to ripping a page out of Microsoft's book of tricks, either. Sadly for the Nutscrapers, they've chosen to emulate unsavory Softie spin. Amid the latest Navigator bug debacle, Netscape posted release notes for the fix, which sport the label Communicator 4.01. In the grandest of Microsoft traditions, Netscape refers to problems, bugs, glitches--how about HUGE GAPING HOLES--as "issues." Bless their fire-breathing hearts, they do manage to use the word "bug" on the same page. I'll give five bucks and a tip of the fedora to anyone who can coax a Microsoft employee to put the letters "b-u-g" together (see James Gleick's article from the latest New York Times Sunday magazine for a hilarious yet frightening breakdown of Microsoft-speak).

My NYC source also picked up some rumors that PC Magazine, who agreed to help verify the Navigator, uh, issue last week, only handed over cache files that Netscape used to pinpoint the nasty little bugger when the Zillas threatened some heavy legal action. PC Magazine editor Jake Kirchner told a colleague of mine last week that they never had the technical details of the bug, but the scuttlebutt is that they knew plenty and Kirchner had to issue (that word again!) a quick CYA. That doesn't stand for Christian Youth Association, by the way.

A couple quick entries from the "Angry Young Geek" file: Macolytes now have a magazine to go along with their hairshirts: Mac Today, which promises as much Mac propaganda as it takes to beat the Wintel conspiracy into bloody batch-filed submission.

Elsewhere, the group of hackers who have taken up a vigilante-style fight against Net-based child porn have a slogan to do Travis Bickle proud: "Stop the madness.. its a sick world we live in and its time to take out the trash!!!"

Extra exclamation points and missing apostrophes are theirs, not mine. Some day a real rain's gonna come and wash all those rumors to my in-box. You talkin' to me? My phone might still be unplugged, so it's better to send email if you got something to say.