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I know how frustrating it is to use software that locks up, but I still take exception to your damning review of Shomiti Systems' Surveyor 3.1 (see review).

On one hand you seem to say it is an excellent product, but on the other you say it "isn't yet ready for takeoff" because it has problems running on Windows 2000. But everything has problems on Win 2000 - including Win 2000!

Yes, I agree it would be helpful if Surveyor 3.1 ran better on that platform. It would also be helpful if Surveyor had Simple Mail Transfer Protocol mail. But neither are "killer" requirements for a packet capture/probe tool.

My organization uses an older version of Surveyor, and based on your glowing review of its other features, I am ordering an upgrade to Surveyor. I wish Win 2000 were as stable as Surveyor has been for us.

Luis Zapata

Senior systems engineer

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Rockville, Md.

Your story "Exchange 2000 looks to be apps magnet" takes a third-party perspective. As a customer, here are my views.

My organization uses Lotus Domino/Notes as our messaging platform. We did testing on Exchange 2000 and felt that developing groupware applications would require a range of skills from our in-house developers. We also felt that coupling Exchange and other technologies such as Active Directory and Internet Information Server made administration and maintenance complicated. And we missed having an administration client as in Notes.

While I agree that Exchange 2000 is a major improvement over Exchange 5.5, I still think it needs a lot of minor enhancements to improve its usability by administrators and in-house developers.

Tarek Ahmed Farouk IT consultant

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

In your Oct. 16 issue a reader asked Dr. Intranet a question about an ArcServe problem. I had the same problem and got the same dismal support from Computer Associates. I had the same bad luck with support from Legato for our Unix backup. Nothing is more infuriating than tech support through an answering machine or e-mails that go unanswered. You can buy extra support, but that just gets you somebody's personal answering machine or an operator that connects you to an answering machine.

I no longer buy products that don't have first-rate support. Before I purchase software, I call the tech support line a few times to check it out. When magazines rate software, they rarely test the tech support. To me, the quality and timeliness of tech support figure into the total cost of ownership for the product.

Ed Seger

Laurel, Md.

Regarding Dave Kearns' column "Microsoft: The plot thickens": Add Inprise/Borland to the list of weak competitors that Microsoft has recently propped up with cash infusions of over $100 million.

Apple, Corel and Inprise/Borland are direct competitors of Microsoft's in desktop operating systems, Windows development tools and Windows office suites, respectively. It is interesting to speculate about Microsoft's motivation in these initiatives. Such events are quite uncommon in a competitive environment.

Imagine the Yankees spotting the Mets a couple of runs. Would you call that a real competition?

Don't these transactions provide evidence that there is no real competition for Microsoft inn these three markets? And isn't that just the opposite of what Microsoft may be trying to achieve? One more thought: Since it has now occurred at least three times, doesn't it seem as if there is an organized effort within Microsoft to actively seek these opportunities?

Pete Wohlken

Salem, Ore.

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