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"We are the party of Ronald Reagan, not Pat Robertson....the party of Abraham Lincoln, not Bob Jones." -- Senator John McCain, on the influence of the Christian right on the Republican partyEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Is That a "For Sale" Sign on Carpoint?

Recent talk in the tech industry--and the car business--had it that Microsoft and Ford would take their jointly owned online car-shopping service, msn.CarPoint, public. But neither company was ready to admit it. Until now, that is. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag during a recent speech in San Francisco.

After the standard speech praising all things Microsoft, a questioner asked Ballmer about the company's plans for such noncore businesses as CarPoint. To which Ballmer replied, "We have sold part of our automotive buying site to Ford and announced plans to take it public." One small problem: Microsoft has never announced plans to take CarPoint public. Ford says it hasn't either. So did Ballmer spill the proverbial beans? Microsoft wouldn't say.

Microsoft doesn't disclose CarPoint's revenues, so valuing it is difficult. But a Microsoft-backed Web business will likely attract buyers. Microsoft has already spun off others: A stake in the msn.Sidewalk site sold in July for $156 million. It seems CarPoint will soon hit the road too.By Jay Greene; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Bashing Bill, Sotto Voce

Plenty of people have bashed Microsoft, but none as publicly or joyously as Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy. Once, he referred to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates as "Ballmer and Butthead." And after last fall's antitrust finding against Microsoft, he played a recording of Breaking Up Is Hard to Do before addressing a trade show.

Well, McNealy says he is ready to cut back his public speaking to concentrate on working with key partners in building Internet infrastructure projects. That also means less public Microsoft-bashing. Sun was once considered a high-tech misfit for resisting Microsoft's PC-centric view of the world. But thanks to McNealy's perseverance, Sun's focus on networked computers is now mainstream.

A less outspoken McNealy would be welcomed by some who deal with both tech powers. "I've told [Sun President] Ed Zander for years to get Scott's mouth shut up," says Hasso Plattner, CEO of software maker SAP. Still, McNealy is not apologetic: "I've been told for 16 years to cool it, and I wouldn't change anything I did." Inside Sun's walls he's still at it. Talking with BUSINESS WEEK, McNealy couldn't resist calling Microsoft's Windows a "hairball." Maybe some things never change.By Peter Burrows; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Putting the Sears Shopper on Wheels

Check out a sears store and you can see shoppers happy with the goods they're lugging around. You'll also see shoppers unhappy because--well, they're lugging goods around. So Sears plans to ease their burden--with shopping carts.

The move violates conventional retailing wisdom, which holds that shopping carts belong in supermarkets and discount stores, not mall anchor tenants. But the beleagured retailer thinks it can maintain its mid-market image by using carts that resemble oversized baby strollers. Sears says its prices are already competitive with the discounters. Now shoppers can also have the convenience of a Target or Wal-Mart--the downmarket crowd--without actually having to shop there.

Sears has tested the carts in Chicago and New York state, and expects to put them in all 858 of its full-line stores, making it the first department store with carts.

So far, Sears says its shoppers appreciate the sack-like carts. Why? Convenience, says George Rosenbaum, chief of market-research firm Leo J. Shapiro & Associates. His only question: "What took Sears so long?"By Michael Arndt; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

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