The Buzz: May 19, 2003

Microsoft failed to completely flush away its iLoo hullabaloo last week.

Microsofts iLoo Story Takes Turns

Microsoft failed to completely flush away its iLoo hullabaloo last week. The story took two turns—first, on Monday, when Microsoft officials said an April 30 press release about the Web toilet from its British subsidiary was a hoax and issued an apology.

One day later, Microsoft reversed its position on the portable unit with a built-in Internet terminal, due to be released in Britain this summer. Indeed, the company admitted that the iLoo had been a legitimate project but that it was terminated after the initial announcement.

News services, including Reuters, The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal, reported on Microsofts initial iLoo announcement. Reuters also ran a conceptual diagram of the iLoo (pictured), which was to have featured fast Internet access and an adjustable flat-panel display.

Electronic Arts Shuns Microsofts Xbox

If the iLoo story wasnt enough to jar the company, Microsoft last week also learned that leading video game publisher Electronic Arts will not develop online versions of its sports games for Microsofts Xbox game console for at least a year.

The move reportedly signals a failure of more than two years of negotiations between the companies. EA officials were reportedly worried that Microsoft was gaining too much control over their customers who participate in online games on the Xbox.

FatWire Picks Up Divine CM Assets

FatWire software last week acquired bankrupt Divines content management software business.

FatWire develops its own content management software, UpdateEngine and the Spark portal content management application. It now adds Divines Content Server and Participant Server products.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. FatWire is a privately held company and was launched in 1996. Divine, a company formed by Andrew "Flip" Filipowski, from the acquisition of more than a dozen Internet-related software and services companies, filed for bankruptcy protection in late February. Divine had completed its initial public offering in July 2000 after starting life as a venture capital company, Divine InterVentures, in 1999.

Verizon Unveils New York Hot Spots

Verizon launched a Wi-Fi wireless LAN service in New York, activating 150 of a planned 1,000 transmission stations located at public telephones.

Verizon HotSpots will be the largest Wi-Fi deployment by an ISP in a single U.S. city, officials said. The service is available only to Verizon Online customers with Wi-Fi-compatible laptops or handheld computers.

The hot spots are deployed in some of the citys most heavily trafficked locations, including the Upper East and Upper West sides, Columbia University, Midtown, Union Square, Gramercy Park, Greenwich Village/New York University, Wall Street, and Battery Park, with more locations to come.

A map of Verizon HotSpots can be found at

Dell Acts on SARS Threat

Dell has shuttered its offices in Taipei for one week because one of its employees may have contracted SARS.

According to spokesman Bob Kaufman, one Dell employee is under observation and care for possible SARS infection, so earlier this month employees were asked to work from home for a week. "First and foremost, our concern is for the health and safety of our employees and of that employee in particular," Kaufman said. Theres been no interruption in the companys operations, he said.