The Gadgeteer in Me

I’ve been having a lot of fun seeing just how portable I can get with my journalism. Pretty darn portable, it turns out — I can now write my column, using a full-sized keyboard and decent screen, with gear that fits in my pockets and doesn’t require a telephone land line.

More in my Wednesday column.

Microsoft Speeds Ahead on Chips…

San Jose Mercury News: Microsoft to unveil a chip for Net, TV. The chip, set to make its debut this fall, will control the forthcoming version of WebTV’s interactive television service. But the chip can also be used to power other next-generation devices and services over the Web.

Microsoft has always proclaimed itself loudly to be a “software company” — but its hardware forays have not been exactly invisible, WebTV being the most important example. Keep in mind, though, that the company will also be branding its upcoming X-Box game machine (ZDNet), which has been announced to great fanfare but remains in the vapor category as an actual product.

The news that Microsoft is developing its own microprocessors may suggest a widening rift between the software company and Intel. The two have been drifting apart for years on various matters. Still, the companies remain joined at the hip on other, bigger issues.

But it’s still intriguing to see Microsoft moving so strongly into the next generation of devices on the hardware side. This is an important event.

…and Stalls on Antitrust

Our favorite monopolist is using the legal system to the utmost, as is its right. But the company’s ongoing hypocrisy is nauseating.

In its latest ploy, Microsoft filed yet another brief insisting that the Supreme Court should not immediately hear the antitrust case (Reuters). “The benefits of comprehensive review by the court of appeals far outweigh whatever time, if any, might be saved by direct review in this Court,” Microsoft said in its legal brief, which it filed on Tuesday.

Microsoft is making at least two erroneous assumptions here. First, it suggests that the Supreme Court justices are not competent to understand the issues unless the Appeals Court hands the case up in neatly tied package. The Supreme Court may be collectively too lazy, but these folks are not stupid.

Second, the trial court produced a voluminous record of testimony and exhibits. The legal issues were squarely joined by both sides. Judge Jackson ruled, and his ruling is what’s at issue here. The Supreme Court, if it does its job, will end up reviewing the record whether or not the Appeals Court does it first.

Microsoft’s hypocrisy has been on display from the start. It has repeatedly said how important this case is, and how vital it will be to get it settled — presumably so the world can go on with monopolistic business as usual. Once it got Jackson to issue a stay of his ruling, all of that ardor for resolution melted away like ice on hot pavement. Surprised? Only if you don’t pay attention.

Tech Journalism Move of the Week

Peter Lewis, the superb personal technology columnist and reporter for the New York Times, is joining Fortune magazine to create a new personal-tech section there.

Pete is one of the great talents in my business, and one of my favorite people, too.

Here’s the announcement from Business Wire, a public-relations service.

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