First off, I suppose I'll mention the Macbook's out. When you can grab a 1.83 GHz Dual Core, 1280x800 screen resolution (and no firmware hack for monitor spanning needed), 512 meg RAM with a 2 gig max, and an iSight, no less, for $1100, well, that's not too shabby. Dell has [for a while now] had quite a few low priced options out now that squarely price the MacBook out of the entry-level market the iBook once dominanted [in my biased mind], but this is a great-looking machine. Oh yeah, and it runs Windows.

Most interesting change for me? No more modem; you have to buy an optional, external USB modem ($49!) instead. Doesn't seem like a big deal, but when I've needed a modem, it's been nice not to have to search for, much less have remembered, my old Hayes Accura 28.8. Hardly a reason not to buy, but an interesting move, like when the ADB port disappeared on the iMac. Apple does lead the way in discarding what usually does soon become obsolete (ADB or PS/2 for USB, floppy for CD-R, IR port for, um, nothing, and now modem for wireless). The modem elimination also seems to have allowed Apple to move the power cord with the other ports on the left side of the keyboard, so you don't have wires sticking out on both sides. That's a smart move, indeed.

Also somewhat interesting that the MacBook is using the Intel GMA 950 video setup with shared memory that the Mac Mini uses -- and that's been routinely panned by the gaming community as a real step down from the dedicated "cards" in previous Minis and iBooks. Heck, even my old iBooks have dedicated VRAM, 32 megs in the one I'm using now.

Regardless, I'm covetous of that screen resolution and extra processing power. Very very nice. If the keyboard has a nice feel, I'd trade my current model for one. But I suspect they'd want me to pay as well.

Second point today: We owe Microsoft for today's Internet. Look, I'm no MS fan as a rule. I just gushed about a Mac that costs nearly twice the entry Dell, extra features or no. But because of Vista's slippage and IE 6's corresponding long life, 95%-plus of the people browsing the web have done so with the same platform for years. This has allowed the web to standardize cleanly.

I'm not talking about w3c standards here; I'm talking about practical standards. Any coder worth their salt has figured out how to get their dhtml working on IE, and then had years to get a version that would work on IE and Mozilla/Firefox with a minimum of browser-specific code. Windows users have not been moving targets for years, as in about seven years. This is about thirty-eight generations in 0 & 1 land.

The Pax IEiana has allowed for some real innovation in dhtml, middleware, and server-side data processing, and this is the place we see Microsoft continuing the hard-core use of embrace & extend and revise & replace we saw with web standards in the IE 4-5 days. .NET is the obvious place where middleware and data processing changes have been happening, with VB.NET (ignoring the fact that VB6 is still as popular and usually more important in descriptions on the job wire), C#, and the awfully well-made ADO.NET model, but we've also seen the growth, maturity, and increased feature sets (better or worse) of php, JSP & friends, MySQL, etc.

So thanks, MS, for delaying Vista and allowing client-side web platforms to stay unchanged for thirty-eight generations. It also means my old-school html skillz are still just about as useful today as they were last time I did them for anything approaching market rate. That's also very very nice.