NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Microsoft gets sly, Target aims high

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Microsoft gets sly, Target aims high

For a few weeks, I managed to keep this column a Microsoft-free zone (an increasingly rare situation anywhere). But this week the company we love to hate did not disappoint, giving Santa even more reasons to put rocks in their stockings.

In the black: Last month, Microsoft paid the Computer & Communications Industry Association nearly $US20 million to drop its antitrust actions against the company. Nearly half that cash flowed into the pockets of CCIA president, Ed Black, formerly one of the Redmond Rascals' most vocal critics.

Memo to Microsoft: Pay me $US10 million and I'll stop bad-mouthing you, too. Heck, I'd do it for five mil and a well-aged slice of cheese toast.

Casino Royale with cheese: Turns out the blessed Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich was purchased by The Golden Palace, an online casino. (No word on whether they paid the winning $US28,000 bid entirely in quarters.) The casino site is displaying the "Holy Toast" on a make your own sandwich page, where you can insert your own mug in place of Mary's. Apparently, even our most precious dairy products are no longer sacred.

Hot under the collar: Cringesters are fuming because they can no longer access Hotmail from Outlook or Outlook Express unless they spring for a paid account. Microsoft said it made the change to thwart spammers who were using the email programs to bypass Hotmail's junk mail protection. Here's an idea: Why doesn't Microsoft just buy off all the spammers? Surely a few billion would cover it.

Joint ventures: The proposed Sears/Kmart merger apparently has Target in a tizzy. Recently, the store's website advertised "marijuana" for the tempting price of $US25.25. Also for sale on the site: crack cocaine and female companionship. The store didn't respond to requests for comment but removed the pages shortly after hearing about them. I'm guessing the site was, like, compromised by some highly relaxed hackers, dude. There is no truth to the rumour, however, that Target plans to name Ziggy Marley its new director of marketing.

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