Microsoft yesterday asked for the Department of Justice (DoJ) antitrust suit to be thrown out or narrowed. The move, which has been expected since last week, was made at the same time as the company filed its response to the suit, but seems unlikely to make much headway.
Novell's big NetWare 5 assault will commence on 20 September, when the company says it will start shipping the latest version of the OS. The company will be pushing hard to take advantage of the lack of competition from NT - beta 2 of NT 5.0 is due to be out by then, but shipping product from Microsoft could still easily slip to the middle of 1999.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, have filed forms to sell small but intensely valuable slices of their shares in the company. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that insiders file notification of their intention to sell, although they don't actually have to complete the deal. Gates will sell up to 2.5 million shares for something in the region of $250 million, while Allen may shift just over 1 million. In Gates' case he says he's diversifying his portfolio, but as he currently owns around 270 million Microsoft shares he has a way to go. Allen on the other hand probably has more immediate reasons for raising cash. He's been building a portfolio of cable TV assets in the US in anticipation of the digital revolution penetrating consumer markets, and financing network upgrades and set-top box installations could easily swallow a fe billion dollars.
Sun is to offer its Solaris operating system free for "non-commercial" use, the company said yesterday. Sun's version of Unix is already heavily-discounted for educational customers, but the latest move seems to represent a determined effort to expand use into other markets. This is the route Linux, the freeware Unix implementation that has recently been attracting support from major application developers, has taken, and although Sun denies that it's specifically targeting Linux, the example probably played a part in the decision. Sun will be making Solaris available for free on both Sparc and PC platforms, and in the latter case it will hope to benefit from enthusiasts, voluntary and cash-strapped organisations just as Linux does. Giving the OS away won't seriously damage Windows sales in the short run, but it's certainly likely to broaden Sun's base, and stimulate application development a la Linux.
Apple's gamble on customers being ready to buy machines that look different appears to be working so far - the company yesterday said it had received over 150,000 orders for its new iMac in the past week. The all-in-one semi-translucent machine is due to ship on Saturday, and although its $1,299 price tag doesn't reach the sub-$1,000 prices in the PC killing zone, it's Apple's first attempt to start building mass sales again as part of its turnaround strategy. The iMac will benefit from early-adopting nostalgia freaks, as it recalls the original one-piece Macs, but beyond that it needs to pick up new customers as well. An early ordering kick was to be expected, but the key will be the extent to which Apple can maintain high sales levels in the weeks to come.