Steven Levy


Darl McBride, the CEO of the most hated company that most people never heard of, considers himself simply a guy trying to save a struggling business. It just so happens that doing so could stifle software competition and reap rewards for a business model based on a legal form of extortion.


Short of "you're under arrest" there are very few things that the leaders of a young technology company would like less to hear than "Bill Gates thinks you've kicked his butt and now he wants your business." But Sergey Brin and Larry Page don't seem ruffled at all.


Not long after 19 terrorists boarded four airplanes on a rendezvous with infamy, Jeff Jonas asked himself a question: did officials have the necessary information to identify these killers before they took their seats back on September 11, 2001?


Bill Joy is one of the top minds in computing, a technologist with a sweeping vision of the world. A cofounder of Sun Microsystems in 1982, he has accomplishments that range from working on the Java computing language to writing a jeremiad in Wired magazine about nanotechnology, genetic engineering and self-replicating robots.


In the latest skirmish in Microsoft's epic online war with AOL, broadband services take center stage. MSN Premium, $10 a month to customers already paying for high-speed connections, gives you up to 11 accounts (which can be bequeathed even to distant friends and relatives), pop-up guards and ongoing virus protection. (Disclosure: NEWSWEEK has a strategic alliance with MSN.) The souped-up browser--with big fat icons on top--has a slick "dashboard" that you can configure to add stuff like...


Twenty years ago there was panic in Cupertino, Calif. Only a week remained before the team of whiz kids designing Apple's radical new computer had to turn in the final code.


Last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was all about crowing that the long-promised "digital convergence" was finally underway. Typical breakthrough product: Sony's not-yet-shipping LocationFree portable-TV system, a wireless 12-inch touchscreen LCD monitor with a Wi-Fi base station.

Technology: Owning The Music

Record labels can stop their moaning now. In 2003 music lovers finally got the chance to download tunes legally--and proved that if given a convivial experience and the stuff they wanted to hear, they would indeed pay for the songs they could get elsewhere free.

Viewpoint: Hackers? No Way.

Just because the tools of thievery and extortion are lines of computer code doesn't mean that Internet crooks are hackers. By hijacking this once glorious appellation, these lowlifes are debasing a powerful, world-changing tradition.

He's Still Having Fun

Bill Gates acknowledges in a draft of an upcoming white paper that "computing today is at a crossroads." But he's got no doubt about the ultimate destination: more innovation, with his own company leading the way, of course.

Twilight Of The Pc Era?

Nicholas Carr seems an unlikely candidate for the technology world's Public Enemy No. 1. A mild-mannered 44-year-old magazine editor and freelance writer, he's spent five years laboring for the Harvard Business Review, not exactly a hotbed of bomb-throwers.

He's Still Having Fun

In a draft of an upcoming white paper, Bill Gates acknowledges that "computing today is at a crossroads." But he's got no doubt about the ultimate destination: more innovation, with his own company leading the way, of course.

Can't I Work In Peace?

Every time Microsoft unveils a new version of its flagship application-software suite, Office, a single question forms on the lips of millions: "Should I upgrade?" Poor souls.

Welcome To History 2.0

October was a busy news month. Iraq smoldered. California elected Arnold, then burned. Kobe hit the docket. But my bet is that in a hundred years, people, if there are any, will agree that the biggest story was the one that appeared on the computer screens of millions who made routine visits to the online superstore

Technology: Apps, I Did It Again

Is it time for another version of Office? Ready or not--and many people think that the current model is more than enough for the tasks they perform--Microsoft is back with Office Systems, a whole slew of products including the upgrade of its flagship suite.

Black Box Voting Blues

After the traumas of butterfly ballots and hanging chad, election officials are embracing a brave new ballot: sleek, touch-screen terminals known as direct recording electronic voting systems (DRE).

Pumping Up The Volume

When Steve Jobs was dismissed from Apple, the company he cofounded, by the then CEO John Sculley 18 years ago, the blow was particularly brutal because Jobs himself had wooed Sculley from his post as head of Pepsi.

Can Snooping Stop Terrorism?

It's official: the Pentagon's Terrorism (formerly total) Information Awareness program has been a Total Institutional Disaster. Last month Congress pulled the plug on the Department of Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) high-tech initiative to identify terrorist threats.

A 'Quicksilver' Mind

Science fiction, says Neal Stephenson, is "fiction in which ideas play an important part." Ideas certainly abound in his 927-page "Quicksilver," the first of the three-volume "Baroque Cycle," set entirely between the years 1656 and 1714.

Larry, With Tears

Early in "Softwar," Matthew Symonds's authorized "intimate portrait" of Larry Ellison, we glimpse the man considered Silicon Valley's most ruthless, vain and driven competitor.

The Oracle Speaks

Larry Ellison has never been shy of publicity. The richest man in Silicon Valley and the relentlessly aggressive founder of the relentlessly aggressive Oracle software company has cultivated an image as a computer-industry leader more like a James Bond villain (building a $100 million 16th-century Japanese-style estate, sailing world-class vessels, flying jet-fighter planes and squiring beautiful women) than a numbers-obsessed geek.

Words On The Wired Age

Is it a coincidence that when the tech industry hit bottom, there seemed to be fewer good books on geeky topics? And now that digital mojo is making a comeback on Wall Street, all of a sudden there's a wealth of tomes that touch on tech?

Courthouse Rock

Joyce Mullen's new car has a CD player, so this year the 53-year-old administrative assistant for Lucent began purchasing discs, most recently a Cher collection.

Faq: Are You Next?

Now that the recording industry is hauling people into court for trading in copyrighted files, parents have taken a sudden interest in the technicalities and legalities of file sharing.

Games: Tiger's New Hit

This was a lost year for Tiger Woods at the major tourneys. But it was pure birdie land for his wonderfully executed and infuriatingly addictive videogame, which raised blisters on the thumbs of millions.