Go West, young Rat,and beware the Web bandwagoneers
The developer faithful made a pilgrimage on Tax Day, gathering in Los Angeles for
Microsoft's TechEd conference. The city was waiting to greet them. One visitor nearly was
carjacked at knifepoint, and the LA Convention Center's doors were cut open so computers
could be stolen.
It was as if IBM owned the town, the Rat mused.
The Cyberodent himself fared somewhat better on his trek west. He certainly wasn't
mistaken for that other Rat out in LA--the one that works for Disney. If there's one thing
those Angelenos won't mess with, it's an overgrown rodent with bad dental work.
The conference of 7,000, heavily laced with feds, opened with a video featuring
takeoffs on IBM and AT&T commercials. A subtitled piece in Italian showed a young man
in a confessional: "Forgive me, father. It has been six months since my last
Bill Gates, Paul Allen and content kings Barry Diller, Stephen Spielberg, David Geffen
and Jeffrey Katzenberg put in cameo appearances for an infomercial called "Web of
Wealth," and the Internet certainly figured heavily in the TechEd sessions.
Nearly half were related to Microsoft's new Internet products, including the Visual
Basic Script browser scripting language, the Internet Information Server and an Internet
proxy server, code-named Catapult.
Microsoft, which until last December seemed to be doing its best to ignore the
Internet, is "hard-core"about it now, Gates said. But there was, of course, a
little hard-core news that didn't please some of the faithful.
Aside from an Internet add-on scheduled for Windows 95 and NT operating system releases
later this year, no major revision is planned for Win95 until at least late 1997. The
code-named Memphis revision is set to arrive at the same time as the Cairo upgrade to
Windows NT and share the same basic kernel.
The Internet add-on itself will make major changes to Win95 and NT, however. It's
supposed to integrate the Internet Explorer browser into both operating systems, giving
users a hypertext view of their file systems. Windows users also supposedly can share
directories on their systems with other computers, all acting as Web sites.
Just what federal network administrators need, mused the Rat--unrestricted webification
of their already-overloaded LANs.
Not content to make announcements without changing the name of something, Microsoft has
renamed the "network OLE" Object Linking and Embedding technology first deployed
in Visual Basic as the Distributed Common Object Model, or DCOM.
Sounds like a pesticide, the Rat hissed, looking for a gas mask.
DCOM will be part of Windows NT 4.0, whenever Microsoft finally ships the OS, now in
Up the coast in San Francisco, the Rat found the floor of the DBExpo trade show
literally crawling with would-be webheads. One vendor called them the Living Webbed.
Borland International is getting ready to give them more Web. The next release of its
dBase database manager, to be packaged as Visual dBase 5.5 Professional Edition, will
include a tool to generate Common Gateway Interface applications that can reach into dBase
and other databases from Web pages. The DeltaPoint WebTool itself will be downloadable
free from Borland's Web site at http:/ /borland.com; a version with source code
will be about $25.
The Rat was glad to escape unscathed from the West Coast, where Web is still mistaken
for the name of a very short basketball player. At least there were no more bad coffee
product names announced during the trip. The Packet Rat once managed networks but now
spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace.