Readers plumped for AMD's trouncing of archrival Intel in the desktop PC arena as the biggest event of 2001 in PC Advisor's most recent website poll.

It's not as if 2000 was a bad year for AMD. Our Top 10 Budget PCs chart this time last year had just three Intel-based systems compared to seven AMD-powered desktops.

In our current Budget PCs chart, however, AMD's domination is total, powering all 10 PCs.

AMD's market share in Power PCs is also impressive, growing from 60 percent of machines in our chart a year ago to 70 percent today.

While almost a third (31.9 percent) of respondents felt AMD's victories made the processor manufacturer this year's hottest story, it only narrowly edged out Microsoft's Houdini-like escape from the clutches of the US Department of Justice, which garnered 30.8 percent of the vote.

Rewind, if you will, 12 months, and the outlook was grim for the software giant. It faced being axed into two entirely separate companies, but breathed a huge sigh of relief in September when the DoJ announced it was dropping its breakup effort to focus on restricting the company's business practices.

When these restrictions were made public at the beginning of November, there were no real surprises.

Under the agreement, Microsoft is no longer allowed to give preferential treatment to one PC manufacturer over another, nor is it allowed to punish manufacturers that don't embrace the software company's vision as enthusiastically as others.

Microsoft will also have to be open with its Windows source code, to create more a more level playing field for third-party software developers.

The company also had to agree to a panel of three independent, onsite, full-time computer experts to assist in enforcing the settlement but, given Microsoft's ability to consistently do its own thing, it is doubtful the new watchdog will keep His Billness awake at night.

Europe, however, might prove a different kettle of fish. The company's Seattle HQ will move into 2002 with a degree of trepidation — the European Commission is pursuing its own anti-competition investigation into Microsoft and will announce a decision next year.

Windows XP arrived in October and while it gave the industry a much needed tonic, only 10.9 percent felt the story warranted top-dog status.

Though 2001 was the first year PC sales actually fell, less than one in 10 of you (9.2 percent) felt this was 2001's biggest story.

Bringing up the rear were the continuing collapse of dotcoms (9.1 percent) and the triumph of flat-rate internet access (eight percent) from the big three — Freeserve, AOL and BT — which have managed to migrate more than half their customers to a straight billing relationship.