On the radar: What to watch in the weeks ahead

(Fortune Magazine) -- Return of the Big Mac attack?

At the first ever Value Investing Congress last year, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman publicly squirted ketchup in the eyes of McDonald's (Charts) management, laying out a plan to restructure the company. Ackman is back at this year's meeting in New York City, taking place Nov. 9--10, but he's quiet about which - if any - takeover targets he'll be tossing out to the audience of Graham and Dodd faithful. He's even keeping mum on what he'll be talking about. Congress co-founder Whitney Tilson says he's in the dark, too, about Ackman's agenda, adding, "I'm hoping he'll share his greatest, latest stock ideas. He hasn't told me yet." Even if Ackman doesn't declare war on anybody this year, the congress should be provocative, with a lineup of speakers including Joel Greenblatt (author of The Little Book That Beats the Market) and the president of the hedge fund Greenlight Capital (and noted poker player) David Einhorn.

Microsoft (Charts) hits START for Vista

Vista, the first groundbreaking new version of Microsoft's operating system since Windows 95, will finally be released to business users in November and to everybody else in January. Though it's been dogged by delays, consumers will crave its slick new interface and security improvements. It should also give the PC industry, Microsoft's $13 billion Windows business - and the company's stock - a big jolt.

Tickle this, Elmo

Retailers head into the make-or-break holiday season in mid-November. But already toy analysts have weighed in on which items will be this year's must-haves. Here are three picks that mercifully neither wiggle nor giggle.

Radio-controlled Fly Wheels XPV, $59.99

LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot kit, $249.99

Butterscotch My Furreal Friends Pony, $299.99

You can also read the latest Fortune stories on your handheld device at CNNMoney.com/mobi.

The Futures market

Nov. 21

Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" comes out on DVD - naturally, it's plastic-free and made of 100% recycled material.

Nov. 24

Canadian air travelers begin paying new fees to enter the U.S. The funds will be used to bolster border security.

Nov. 27

The Supreme Court hears arguments in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, in which big phone companies are accused of carving up the U.S. among themselves.

Dec. 1

Conservative Felipe Calderón officially becomes President of Mexico, replacing former Coca-Cola executive and Bush favorite Vicente Fox.

Dec. 2

Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro's 80th birthday four months late amid rumors (and official denials) that the Maximum Leader has cancer. Top of page