We're in the Klamath generation now. What a great-sounding Darth Vader kinda name. Intel should have kept that code name for the Pentium II, because it sounds so much better than "I'll have a Pen - tee - umm -- too, please."

Actually I was hoping that Intel would have created the Sextium. In Greek numerals, sexta follows penta, and what a field day we writers would have had with that one. I guess Intel figured that out too.

Anyway, Pentium, Schmentium, call it what they will, Intel continues to take over the world of hardware, much to the chagrin of everybody on the non-winning side of the Wintel world. The Pentium II is running as high as 300MHz with 400MHz chips looming on the horizon. Put two, four or eight of these babies inside a server running Windows NT and you've got mainframe class processing cheaper than anything in the past. All the workstation vendors know it (Sun, Digital, HP, etc.), and they've watched the Wintel juggernaut relentlessly take more and more of their potential turf. According to Dataquest, in the first quarter of this year, UNIX workstations grew 10 percent, while NT workstations increased a whopping 242 percent. As they say, the handwriting is on the wall. It seems that everything Mr. Gates touches turns to gold, which is why he ticks off so many people.

Of course, the counter to all of this is the network computer (NC), touted with the greatest of zeal by Oracle and Sun, et al. It is most curious to watch this phenomenon that purports to take the Windows world and turn it into a heap of dust. IBM is also hot behind the NC. Of all the vendors, it seems to make the most sense for them. IBM can replace the last vestiges of mainframe terminals with NCs. IBM, of course, has a penchant for great vision and picking the next revolution in computing -- as they let the minicomputer and microcomputer sail right over their heads. They're not going to sit by and watch NCs take over without being right there to scoop up those big bucks. But if their customers buy IBM NCs instead of IBM PCs, isn't that a wash?

Nevertheless, the PC world is getting interesting. The anti-Wintel crowd is convincing most everybody that the Internet and Java are the second coming. The idea that a shrink-wrapped Java program can "run on everything" scares the hell outta Intel and Microsoft. We don't need Intel chips to run Java applications, and we don't need the Windows operating system. In theory, Java is the panacea we've all been waiting for in this business. But forgive me if I'm skeptical. For more than 30 years, I've watched every "panacea" simply become mainstream, sitting alongside everything they were supposed to replace. Perhaps if we were living in one of the solar systems Dr. Sagan so fondly pointed out to us, it might be a different story. Although our technology has improved dramatically, our ability to do things that make sense on this planet has not. For all the gains we've made, this fast-paced field only makes the rat race rattier. How come 250 million computers are making the world so productive that everybody is working harder and longer than they ever have?

The NetPC

Fighting hard to keep the Windows PC pure Windows, Intel, Microsoft and several PC vendors have created the NetPC. NetPCs are closed-box, Intel-based machines without floppy disks. They're priced competitively with NCs, but differ in two ways. First, they're Windows machines running 95 or NT. Second, although they don't have a floppy that lets you sneak in your favorite game or other little goodie, they do have hard disk drives, some with as much as 4GB, so Windows and Windows applications are stored locally on the NetPC. This is definitely