26th > August > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Psion cooler on ICA and flirting with Tarantella

It's eighteen months since Psion signed a deal with Citrix to produce a native EPOC version of the ICA client. The word from Symbian, as all Psion's software development now is, is not to expect anything too soon. Or ever. "We've talked to our biggest customers, and they're not interested," said a Psion-person on Monday. "There's very little demand for it on the Series 5." Coincidentally, Symbian's lone footsoldier in the US dropped in for talks with SCO at the Unix vendor's annual jamboree at Santa Cruz last week for not-so-secret discussions to produce a native Tarantella client. The coy pair couldn't have chosen a more huggamugga spot for this assignation:...er, right in front of the capuccino stall in the journalists' interview lounge at the press centre. Each time a friend of The Register walked past,the plotters fell into a silence, which became a protracted hush after the real nature of the venue was explained. But The Register notes that at least Symbian is being realistic about the performance of its own forthcoming JVM: Tarantella is supposed to work with bona fide JVMs on any client, remember, and the only platform SCO has felt obliged to write a native version for performance reasons has been Windows 3.11.
Mike Magee, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Compaq climbs Himalaya – nonstop

Compaq has formally announced its NonStop Himalaya Solution Server for Decision Support Systems (DSS Server). The product, formerly sold under the Tandem name, includes software needed for DSS environments, for mid and large scale systems from 250Gb to a terabyte. According to David Russell, the NonStop product marketing manager at Compaq UK, said: "DSS Server is the first of a series of new products that underscore Compaq's commitment to drive NonStop Himalaya servers iinto new application areas." He said that DSS Server will now allow customers with smaller databases to deploy a scaleable solution. Although the Himalaya range currently uses MIPS S70000 chips, in 4-way, 8-way or sixteen way configurations, Russell said two weeks ago that the chip architecture will change at the beginning of the next century. ®
Team Register, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

IBM Micro to get Cyrix order of boot

Clone x.86 chip manufacturer Cyrix has started to shift the production of its products from IBM to National Semiconductor fabrication plants. The news is no surprise. After National Semiconductor bought Cyrix last year, the company made no secret of the fact that it would switch production to its own fabs. Cyrix, before the acquisition, was what is described as a "fabless" chip manufacturer. It had a licence deal with IBM where it designed its range of x.86 processors, and Big Blue had the right to half of the wafers produced. That led to conflicts in the market, with IBM attempting to describe its processor as different from the Cyrix product. The two companies also frequently got into spats in their distribution channel with IBM undercutting prices. Reports said that the National Semiconductor fab will be able to produce over 75 per cent of its products by the end of the year. The foundry agreement with IBM will still stand, however, until NatSemi is able to produce all of the Cyrix processors. But that will beg the question as to whether IBM will continue to produce Cyrix designed processors at its own, underemployed fabs. ®
Mike Magee, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Newbridge does worse but says it does better

Newbridge Networks made a net profit of C$35.5 million on turnover of C$426 million as it reported its financial results for its first quarter 1998. That compares to net profits of C$64.3 million on turnover of C$434.7 million in the equivalent quarter last year. Shares of Newbridge stock slipped on the news but company officials reported that it had improved financial control and management in the quarter, and that it had also managed to better its cash position. Its core business, which excepts revenues from its UB Networks division had grown 12 per cent from the quarter before, company officials said. The expense cutting and cost management will increase continuing industry speculation that Newbridge is priming itself to sell off one or more of its divisions. Alan Lutz, President and Chief Operating Officer, Newbridge Networks, said: "In discussions I have had with members of the media and the analyst and investment community, I indicated there would be renewed attention within Newbridge to consistent growth in revenue through increased market share in the Company's traditional markets and successful penetration of new markets. As well, I stated that we would bring greater focus on managing the business closely, including the cost structure and balance sheet." ®
Team Register, 26 Aug 1998
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Seagate ramps up China presence

A Chinese news agency reported that Seagate intends to boost its investment in the country by $192 million. The company has currently invested $20 million at a plant in Shenzhen, and that figure will be boosted by $122 million. Seagate's other plant, in Wuxi, will be boosted from a current figure of $30 million to $120 million.
Mike Magee, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Midwich Thame gets Canon franchise

Canon has appointed Midwich Thame as its sixth distributor in a bid to boost its poor laser printer sales. Midwich Thame gets distribution rights to all Canon's laser printers, personal copiers, scanners and fax machines - but it will no be distributing Canon's successful BubbleJet range. "For the next few months Canon want us to focus on developing the market for these products" said Midwich Thame prodocut manager Nick Culley "But we hope to get distribution rights for the BubbleJet in the future." Culley said that there was some overlap between the Canon laser printer and the Xerox range which Midwich Thame already distributes, but that there was room to grow the market for Canon. Canon is dwarfed in the laser printer market by HP. Figures from Romtec for indirect unit shipments in June give Canon just 2 per cent of the laser printer market, with HP at over 70 per cent. The majority of Canon's distributors focus on the BubbleJet product, which has been more successful. In June, Canon was third in the inkjet market with 28 per cent. Canon's other five disties are Micro P, ISI, C2000, CHS and Ingram. ®
Pete Morris, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

MS TechNet gets UK launch

Microsoft is gearing up for the UK launch of TechNet, its attempt to skill up the estimated 60,000 freelance IT consultants in the UK. The TechNet programme, which launched this week in the US and on September 8th in the UK, is a website offering training and new product information to consultants. The launch of TechNet is a tacit admission by Microsoft that it has not provided enough easily accessible information to the mass of self-employed freelance IT consultants that advise customers on buying decisions. Too often, Microsoft has claimed, the consultants do not have up-to-date product information with which to advise clients. "The IT community needs more from us" said Microsoft president Steve Ballmer. "With increasing numbers of IT professionals using our technology to build mission-critical applications we have to be easily accessible and create greater efficiencies to provide the information and support they need." Users pay a one-time cost to register, according to Microsoft, and get monthly CDs with development updates, bug fixes and service packs. Other parts of TechNet are free, the company said. Those in the UK interested can register on TechNet ®
Pete Morris, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

SIS introduces AGP Pentium II chipset

Taiwanese chip company Silicon Integrated Systems (SIS) claimed it is the first company to produce a Pentium II chipset with integrated 3D graphics. Two weeks ago, SIS announced the SIS530 for socket seven. The SIS 620 chipset is PC99 and PCI 2.2 compliant, supports 66/75/83/100MHz synchronous and asynchronous host/SDRAM bus frequencies, and has a PC 100 DRAM controller supporting three DIMMs and up to 1.5Gb main memory. According to the company, the SIS 620 integrates its own 3D AGP solution with additional enhancements, including a 100MHz host bus. Its AGP solution allows for a dual 100MHz 64-bit data path with transfers of 800Mbps. SIS said it will start sampling the chip in September, with mass production in October and will sell it at prices of $29 in lots of 10,000. ®
Mike Magee, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Aptiva gets AMD 350MHz revamp

IBM will update its Aptiva consumer PC range tomorrow (Thursday) with the launch of both high and low-end models. At the high-end is the Corba, a Pentium II Aptiva system which is the second attempt by IBM to enter the "luxury" home PC market. In 1997 IBM flopped with the launch of its industrial design and high performance "Stealth" PCs at a time when users wanted cheaper models. IBM lost market-share in the home market as a result of the miscalculation. IBM is also covering the low-cost market with the launch of a low-cost version of the Aptiva built around the up-coming 350-MHz k6-2 processor from AMD. ®
Peter Morris, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Dealers back Microsoft in coalition

A coalition, led by US resellers, has thrown its weight behind Microsoft in its battle with the Department of Justice. Calling itself the Technology Access Action Coalition (TAAC), the group, led by Vanstar president Jay Amato, said that actions against Microsoft and Intel were symptomatic of "a growing trend toward government over-regulation of technology." The coalition, which also includes MicroAge and CompUSA, was formed after a meeting of 30 resellers that were concerned about "the increasingly large regulatory shadow being cast across the industry by government." The original reseller meeting was sponsored by Microsoft, which has joined the group as a member. Speaking at the launch of the group, Amato said that it was taking a stand against "meddling bureaucrats" that threatened innovation in the PC industry. He refuted claims that TAAC was a front organisation for Microsoft, and said that Microsoft had not contributed any funding to the group. ®
Pete Morris, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Hard drives a tender subject for Western Digital

Western Digital is investigating the possibility of outsourcing its US maintenance and repair services, following the example of its European arm. The manufacturer confirmed that it has invited some storage specialists, including UK companies, to submit tenders for the project. The company is keen to stress that the final go ahead has not yet been given, but informed sources said that a decision would be made no later than Christmas. The European situation for drives failing under warranty, where the bulk of responsibility falls to the channel, will not change. Outside the first year’s warranty, staff at the tech support centre in Amsterdam can authorise the return of the drive for repair. The maintenance itself is outsourced to a German company called EZI. A spokesperson for Western Digital UK said it advised its dealers to offer repair or replacement for faulty hard drives, but that it could not dictate terms to the distributors. Back in the US, Western Digital has expanded its Web based customer support program by introducing an online RMA (Return Materials Authorisation) feature. “Our Web based support program is all about making support easier for our customers to obtain,” said Ed Inal, VP of customer support. Paul Calderwood, head of marketing in the UK commented on the expansion: “This service is available now, to all our customers, in the US, the UK, the rest of Europe and anywhere else they happen to be.” The company plans to extend the rest of its support services to its web site, allowing 24 hour access to information about compatibility, troubleshooting, installations and other FAQs. The home page is WD. ®
Lucy Kewney, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft threatened Intel

A report in the US press said that Microsoft had attempted to bully chip giant Intel. The New York Times has reported that Bill Gates' company put pressure on chip giant Intel in 1995 to prevent it from developing software at its architecture laboratory. According to the report, the Justice Department is now investigating whether Microsoft backed up its pressure by threatening to support Intel's rivals, including AMD. The DoJ has now copies of internal memoranda and other material, the report said. In 1995, there were rifts apparent even to outsiders between Andy Grove, Intel's CEO, and Bill Gates, the CEO of Microsoft. Microsoft was making plans to develop a graphics processor code-named Talisman, which in particular attracted Intel's ire. The reports are strengthened by the fact that Intel's rival AMD and Microsoft are known to be very close. * Register ChipOid 666. In Beelzebub's demonic hierarchy, there is room for four Great Stans, one for software, one for hardware, one for chips and one for networking. We believe those companies to be Microsoft, Dell, Intel and Cisco. Compaq is not a Satan, but a hair style. ®
Mike Magee, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Canon takes sixth distributor

Canon has appointed Midwich Thame as its sixth UK distributor in a bid to boost its poor laser printer sales. Midwich Thame gets distribution rights to all Canon's laser printers, personal copiers, scanners and fax machines - but it will no be distributing Canon's successful BubbleJet range. "For the next few months Canon want us to focus on developing the market for these products" said Midwich Thame prodocut manager Nick Culley "But we hope to get distribution rights for the BubbleJet in the future." Culley said that there was some overlap between the Canon laser printer and the Xerox range which Midwich Thame already distributes, but that there was room to grow the market for Canon. Canon is dwarfed in the laser printer market by HP. Figures from Romtec for indirect unit shipments in June give Canon just 2 per cent of the laser printer market, with HP at over 70 per cent. The majority of Canon's distributors focus on the BubbleJet product, which has been more successful. In June, Canon was third in the inkjet market with 28 per cent. Canon's other five disties are Micro P, ISI, C2000, CHS and Ingram. ®
Pete Morris, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft acquisition extends NT clustering

Microsoft has beefed up it NT clustering capabilities with the acquisition of fault tolerance software Developer Valence research for an undisclosed sum. The software giant is to offer Valence’s Convoy Cluster- renamed Microsoft Windows NT Load Balancing Service - as a standard component of WindowsNT Server Enterprise Edition. The technology complements the clustering subsystem already used in Enterprise Edition, the company said. Shipping and pricing details will be announced later this year. Microsoft is already a customer for Convoy Cluster, which it uses to safeguard its own high-traffic Internet sites. ®
Drew Cullen, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Adobe spurns Quark love-tryst

This could get nasty. Adobe, the down-at-heel developer of publishing software, is in play, following an unwelcome bid from its smaller rival Quark. In an opportunistic move, Quark has gone public after its “friendly” deal to acquire a “significant” slug of Adobe stock at a substantial premium was rejected by its bigger rival. In a terse statement dated August 21, (and released ever so helpfully by Quark), Adobe said: "Adobe is not interested in pursuing discussions as we continue to focus on the exciting opportunities available to our company, stockholders, employees, and customers." But the gloves will come off if privately held Quark carries out its threat to go hostile. It says it may appeal directly over the heads of the Adobe board to Adobe shareholders. But the company adds it would “strongly prefer to negotiate a transaction supported by the Adobe board”. Quark, which competes head-on with Adobe Pagemaker with its own design lay-out package QuarkXPress, is in effect launching a break-up bid for Adobe. If successful, the company says it will overcome anti-trust concerns by disposing Adobe’s Pagemaker and K2 product lines. It would also consider selling Adobe’s Framemaker software. Effectively this would leave the company with control of the professional DTP market through ownership of Adobe Photoshop, the de facto image manipulation software standard for graphics designers, and Adobe Illustrator, a market leading drawing package, also aimed at professional designers. Big ambitions. But does Quark have the firepower to force through a deal? The Denver-based company has yet to show the colour of its money – it says merely that has cash in the bank and that it is in discussions with investment bankers. It will need more than this to convince Adobe shareholders. The company will also need to quickly spell out the premium it proposes to offer. Immediately prior to the publication of Quark’s rebuffed offer, Adobe’s shares were languishing at a 52-week low, and less than half its March price of more than $50. Earlier this month, the company warned that it would have to lay-off 300 employees –- 10 per cent of the payroll -–following two consecutive quarters of losses. Adobe also warned that it may post losses in the third quarter. US analysts polled by First Call now expect Adobe to produce Q3 sales of between $220 million and $225 million, compared with sales of $230 million for the same period last year. Adobe blames losses on a sales slump in recession-hit Japan and slower sales of Mac-based software. The company is trying to overcome this by pumping up Windows-based sales. But it is fighting Quark for space a market that is at risk of long-term – albeit gentle –decline. Adobe and Quark may dominate the paper-based publishing and graphics software sector, but they carry nothing like the same cachet in the Web arena - where the explosive growth is. In light of this, Quark’s proposal to consolidate the paper-based graphics sector under its wing looks defensive. The company could hardly do any worse than Adobe’s tired management team. And maybe, a whole heap better. ®
Drew Cullen, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Survey: Flat panel LCDs will boom

The flat panel display market will grow by at least 20 per cent per year for the next five years, from 184.6 million units in 1998 to 600.5 million units in 2003. These findings are based on a study of sales of major end use applications of the displays, carried out by Semico Research. Most of the growth will be spurred by the demand for cell phone displays and industrial products like GPS receivers, handheld intelligent appliances, digital cameras. Flat panel television sets will still be too expensive to grab a significant portion of the mass consumer TV market. By 2003, the average selling price will be around $2,000 for a flat panel TV, and then they will start to be competitive with the high-end projection TVs, and possibly the largest CRT TVs. Active-Matrix Liquid Crystal Displays (AM LCD), found in virtually every type of flat panel application, will maintain their current popularity. Semico expects the market to grow from 20 million in unit sales this year to 150 million unit sales in 2003. Contrast this with Plasma Display Panels (PDP), with projected 2003 unit sales of 8 million, up from 500,000 in 1998. Two emerging technologies that Semico highlights as possible market contenders are Field Emission Displays (FED) and Electroluminescent Displays (ELD). FED manufacturers have not reached volume production yet, as they are still working through technical problems. The ruggedness of ELD relative to LCD make it ideal for the military market, but Semico says technical problems may prevent the technology from going much further. Goto this address for more info on the survey. ®
Lucy Kewney, 26 Aug 1998
The Register breaking news

Berkeley bought by Fore in swap of stock

Fore Systems bought Berkeley Networks, a maker of NT based routing switches, in a stock swap valued at as much as estimated $250 million. The acquisition will bring large scale gigabit Ethernet backbone switches to Fore’s ATM based product line. It also broadens the scope of the company, known for its specialisation, giving access to businesses which tend to use Ethernet, rather than ATM because of the lower cost. The company plans to extend Berkeley’s application aware solutions across both ATM and Ethernet applications. According to Fore, the technology will open the possibility of integrating many new capabilities for directory enabled networking, policy based network management and firewall switching. “We are broadening our capabilities in the large enterprise market,” said Thomas Gill, president of Fore. “Our customer base expects us to come out with higher performing switches, both on the Ethernet and the ATM side.” Berkeley’s owners will get $220 million of Fore stock, with the possibility of $30 million extra in cash if the company meets revenue and development targets. The acquisition is expected to be approved next month, and Berkeley will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Fore. Fore expects to break even on the deal in its fourth quarter. ®
Lucy Kewney, 26 Aug 1998