Table of contents: VOL. 150, NO. 8 - October 18, 2004
COVER STORY
Running the world's hottest company is a lot harder than it looks. And that's why Meg Whitman now tops FORTUNE's list of the most powerful women in American business. (more)

Features
In a Wal-Mart world, the retailer thrives through superior style. But can it stay hip and grow? (more)

After eating everyone's lunch in the U.S. PC biz, they're now aiming at printers, storage--and the world. Is anybody scared yet? (more)
Continental's Gordon Bethune turned the airline around, guided it through 9/11, and became a great CEO. Now he's being forced out. How can this be? (more)
Malls changed how Americans shop--and how the FORTUNE 500 sells. (more)
The dream of video-on-demand is becoming a reality at last, and Comcast is leading the way. (more)

We have a hunch they may grace the top 50 list someday. (more)
Yes--and seven rising stars hit the list for the first time. Meet the alpha females of American business, 2004. (more)
A European sits atop our international power list for the first time. But Americans still wield tons of clout. (more)
While Bush and Kerry vie for votes, there's much more at stake than who occupies the White House for the next four years. (more)

Jeff Hawkins brought the world the PalmPilot and the Treo. Now comes his boldest invention yet: a far-reaching theory of how intelligence actually works. (more)
Inside Dick Grasso's $140 million payday: a story of greed, deceit, ego, and negligence. In other words, a corporate tale for our times. (more)
Bing: While You Were Out!
Brainstorm
First
WHAT TO WATCH IN THE WEEKS AHEAD (more)






The new iMac G5 is a powerful computer disguised as a flat-panel display. You thought the era of the desktop was nearly over? Maybe not. (more)
For years Microsoft has jealously guarded its trade secrets. So why is the company now opening up? (more)

High-voltage hobbyists make huge sparks, shrink coins, and crash computers from a distance. Yes, it's a guy thing. (more)
Neerja Chowdhury, Fair Election Project, Leon County, Fla. (more)
FORTUNE SMALL BUSINESS
Omega Plastics, a Michigan maker of industrial prototypes, wants bigger jobs. FSB helps it mold a fresh strategy. (more)
Innovation
Investing
A bevy of new consumer-friendly technologies has thrown the sector into turmoil--again. Here are four companies positioned to come out on top. (more)
The online retailer has a highflying stock, an ambitious CEO, plenty of doubters, and, so far anyway, no earnings. (more)
Preparing to spend billions, the once-hot wireless carrier scares off some fans. (more)


Variable annuities are being touted as new and improved. But they still cost too much. (more)
TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL REPORT
At Symantec, the fight against viruses and worms means coping with 500 million alerts a day. (more)

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer dithered while viruses and worms cost customers billions. Now Microsoft is scrambling to put things right. (more)
Defending Wi-Fi networks against hackers and freeloaders has some IT guys pining for good, old-fashioned wires. (more)
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