10th > September > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Microsoft calls "gang of four" to account for their actions

Yesterday, Microsoft subpoenaed "the gang of four", as Microsoft calls them, plus Novell. Novell is not a gang member because it has just agreed to license Internet Explorer. Could this herald Microsoft licensing NDS? It would make sense. The gang was given until Friday to produce any incriminating documents that suggested they collaborated against Microsoft. Microsoft's filing on Tuesday -- a reply to its motion for a summary judgement -- is an iteration of previous arguments. It correctly criticises the DoJ for trying to find ways of removing IE4 from Windows 98 by looking at the files, and it certainly would have been more productive had the DoJ concentrated more on the motivation for the Microsoft's integration. The "users benefited" argument that Microsoft uses in its filing is also open to challenge: some third party software did not operate properly with Windows 98 as a direct result of the integration. In the document, Microsoft has decided not to rise to the bait of anti-competitive practices against Apple, Intel and RealNetworks, but prefers to lean heavily on the court of appeals expert technical decision (by three judges) that Windows 95 and Internet Explorer was an integrated product. Gates refused to answer questions about legal issues at the IDC European Forum in Paris earlier this week, where the audience was certainly capable of roughing him up. But in Lisbon on Tuesday, he told an invited audience that he forecast a win for Microsoft within six months, but "If we don't like what [the district court] does, we'll go to the appeals court. It could take as much as a year . . .". Of course, Gates said, Microsoft's competitors were using the case "to say really bad things about us". Gates was in Lisbon to open the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, and to check that nobody had been colouring the book he bought for his kid to colour [the Leonardo Codex Leicester, which is on display there]. ®
Graham Lea, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Dell takes stealth approach to Linux

Dell's very quiet move to sell PCs with Linux pre-installed is being treated with suspicion. Two months ago, as part of its DellPlus programme, Dell quietly offered Linux to customers who agreed to buy at least 50 client PCs a quarter. In the case of servers, there was no minimum -- but there is a fee of $250 per server, it appears. It is not possible to place an order on Dell's website, as the only options offered are decidedly Microsoft-friendly. Several accusations are being voiced about this stealth programme on the Web. First, it is seen as Michael not wishing to upset Bill. Publicly, Dell says it is only getting around two enquiries a week for Linux, and that it has been offering Linux in an even less formal way for about a year. The suspicion is that some customers might have taken a great deal of business elsewhere if Dell had refused to pre-install Linux. So far as the $250 'tax' for servers is concerned, this is seen to be outrageous, and not correlatable with trying to increase sales. Most users desiring Linux are likely to obtain it at low cost from a distributor like Caldera or Red Hat and arrange their own dual boot. Those wishing Linux only on a new PC that contains pre-loaded Windows can in fact obtain a refund for Windows because of a provision in Microsoft's End User Licence Agreement that requires users who do not accept its terms to return Windows for a refund. More cynical observers are suggesting that in a few months, Dell will be able to say that it tried Linux, but too few people wanted it. With the increasing support for Linux -- from Corel, Informix, Netscape, Novell, Oracle, and Sybase to name a few -- there is a significant market opportunity for OEMs to bite the bullet and feature pre-loaded Linux, with multi-boot options. ®
Graham Lea, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Domain Interruptus will make Y2K problems look trivial

The contracts for the control of Internet domain names by Network Solutions and the IP address and root directory system by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) come to an end on 30 September. However, the expected new, non-profit body to administer the system has not yet been established. Any interruption in the present systems will make Y2K problems seem utterly trivial. In June, the US government announced it would permanently cede its authority for the central administrative functions to the private sector. There are two proposed Internet management bodies, one by IANA and another by NSI. It is hoped that a consensus will emerge before the end of the month. Fortunately, the Global Internet Project (GIP), an international group of senior industry executives founded by Jim Clark of Netscape, and chaired by John Patrick of IBM, is passing the hat to obtain some funds for the interregnum. Yesterday, it was announced that $135,000 of a target $500,000 had been raised from Ascend, AT&T, Cisco, GTE, and IBM. The GIP funding is intended as an interim measure. There is $23 million in the kitty from the Intellectual Infrastructure Fund that is expected to be turned over to the new management body, once it has been formally established. ®
Graham Lea, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

US to impose DRAM anti-dumping levies on LG, Hyundai

The US government is expected to shortly announce it is imposing anti-dumping duties on memories made by South Korean companies Hyundai and LG Semicon. The tariffs on DRAMs, according to sources close to the discussions, will be 3.9 per cent on Hyundai and 9.87 per cent LG Semicon exported to the US. That follows widespread allegations from US company Micron that South Korean manufacturers were dumping DRAMs into the market below price. Similar allegations have been made against both Hyundai and LG Semicon in Europe, in particular by Siemens. The European Union is understood to be considering anti-dumping levies this month. Hyundai may seek to avoid such levies by increasing production in the US. Reports from Seoul said today that its plant in Eugene, Oregon, had started production of 64Mbit parts, set to ramp to 30,000 wafers a month soon. Hyundai and LG Semicon are still bickering about which will have the majority stake in the merged semiconductor firm they are to create. See SK government gets angry at Hyundai, LG ®
Mike Magee, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Worldwide chip sales slump in July

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has released its assessment of worldwide sales figures in July and the news is not good for the industry. The SIA said that chip sales fell by 17 per cent in the month, accounting for revenues of $9.66 billion. In July 1997, revenues worldwide amounted to $11.65 billion. The SIA blamed continued economic turmoil in Japan, added to pressures on product pricing. Sales in Japan declined by 30.2 per cent compared to July last year, but the SIA said two thirds of this decline was because of depreciation of the yen. A continuing glut of memory parts also continues to impact the market, the association said. But George Scalise, president of the SIA, said there were positive signs in the marketplace, largely due to increased sales of PC. “The oversupply of some semiconductor products has driven down the average selling price of applications, but pricing will modify as demand balances with capacity,” he said. The European market dropped from $2.31 billion to $2.22 billion, year on year. The American sector fell from $3.85 billion to $3.20 billion, while Asia Pacific fell from $2.54 billion to $2.1 billion, said the SIA. The rolling three month average compiled by the organisation showed that the Asia Pacific region slumped by nearly 10 per cent. ®
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Motorola confirms Iridium delay

Motorola yesterday confirmed delays to the commercial launch of its Iridium satellite phone system, whose (nearly) final satellites went into place earlier this week. The company now plans to launch it properly on 1 November, but will be offering a limited test service from the original date, 23 September. On Tuesday Motorola had hailed the launch of the (nearly) final satellites, but conceded that another five would go up to deal with one possibly errant unit. The company now says it's working to improve operational stability, and that it has already fixed a software problem that seemed to be causing satellite failures. The company still has an improbably large target for sales this year - 100,000 handset units. These will be relatively weighty beasts by current mobile phone standards, and will cost anything from $2,795 to $4,000, for one with all the trimmings (and we presume the trailer). At this price level, Motorola's service will be coming in way over the cost of systems using the 'old' satellite phone technology, and the company's potential markets look dubious. High-powered execs will surely want something smaller and cooler looking, while people who really need constant communications links from remote locations will quite likely just carry on buying or renting the somewhat larger but perfectly serviceable old stuff. ®
John Lettice, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Novell to ship IE with NetWare 5

Heavily subpoenaed by and poised to lock horns on the product front with Microsoft, Novell has made a bid for neutrality by agreeing to ship Internet Explorer with NetWare 5. Novell is already committed to shipping NetScape Navigator and a bundled NetScape Web server with NetWare 5, but says that by delivering the two, it's simply offering its customers choice. Even in Utah, butter won't melt in the company's mouth. But although on the surface the deal may not seem that important, it may have broader significance. It was cut recently, as Novell won't be shipping IE with the first copies of NetWare 5 when they come out, and Novell's current enthusiasm for Java and the Web means that there's some scope here for it getting itself involved in Microsoft Java as well as Sun Java. And the company may not have altogether given up hope of cutting the Microsoft-Novell deal that Bill Gates vetoed last year. ®
John Lettice, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Mandelson has plans for e-commerce

As the UK's overseas-owned semiconductor fabs keel over like dominoes the minister responsible, Peter Mandelson, has been heroically setting out his plans to make the UK a leader in electronic commerce. Making what is described as his first major speech since his appointment as secretary of state for trade and industry, Mandelson told an invited (and, we presume, paid) audience at the Wall Street Journal European Summit on Converging Technologies that the next four years would see a range of legislation providing a framework for the growth of electronic commerce. He appears to have neglected to tell the audience precisely (or indeed even approximately) what this legislation would consist of, but in point of fact there's very little that the UK can do independently of the EU and US - electronic commerce legislation globally will be driven by the major trading blocs, and although Mandelson will find himself with an input and some influence, he'll have to toe the line as and when the deals are cut. Encryption and taxation are major issues where there's divergence between Europe and the US. The US is still holding out forlornly on encryption export restrictions. The UK in April put forward proposals for legislation that included Trusted Third Parties (TTPs) holding keys, which is similar in concept to the US 'key escrow' idea, but this isn't likely to happen until it's clear the policy fits with EU, and probably US, policy. Taxation is more of a problem, as the (outgoing?) Clinton administration favours making the Internet a tax-free zone, while the EU (and no doubt Mandelson, when he checks the numbers) hasn't the slightest intention of letting all of that lovely Value Added Tax revenue go. Steering clear of these thorny issues, Mandelson instead concentrated on programmes to hook schools up to the Internet (these incidentally are currently being maimed by British Telecom dumping all the costs onto ISPs) and to increase businesses knowledge of IT. Dull stuff, basically. Meanwhile, dust gathers in the silent semi fabs, and the Great Man has some hard thinking to do about Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy Manchester United… ®
John Lettice, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Sun says Microsoft tried Java hijack

Sun JavaSoft president Alan Baratz yesterday accused Microsoft of trying to hijack Java by producing a divergent version dependent on Microsoft tools and technology. Testifying on day two of Sun's lawsuit against Microsoft, Baratz said that Microsoft was in breach of its licensing agreement, which is of course the nub of the problem. On Tuesday Microsoft said that during the licensing negotiations it had repeatedly made it clear to Sun that it intended to modify Java, while Sun says the agreement says Microsoft can't do this. Hijacking Java may be nefarious and a matter for antitrust suits, but if the agreement says Microsoft is allowed to do this, then there isn't a lot the Sun case judge can do about it. But according to Baratz's testimony, it may be that the two companies' curious inability to agree on what the licence actually says may derive from the way the negotiations originated. Baratz said that the original talks stemmed from Microsoft's desire to include Java in Internet Explorer simply to match NetScape Navigator. So Microsoft would initially have been thinking in terms only of a limited use of Java, and this would square with Microsoft's early lack of enthusiasm for Java. Baratz however did add that the negotiations evolved to cover the inclusion of Java in a broader range of Microsoft products, resulting in the situation today. Somewhere along the line, fuzz may therefore have crept into the legalese that the contract consists of. ®
John Lettice, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Yamaha claims quad speed RW breakthrough

Yamaha has claimed it has made a breakthrough in CD Rewritable technology with the introduction of a four speed drive. The company said that the unit, the CRW 4416, both writes and re-writes at quad speed. Previously, said Yamaha, CD-RW drives were only able to re-write at double speed. According to Jim Corbett, general manager of Yamaha UK’s media division: “Yamaha’s goal in CD ReWritable technology has been to expand our quad speed drive line up with faster rewritability and playback devices.” He said the ratification of the Orange Book Part 3 standard earlier this year had meant that the company could develop the quad speed drive. The unit will be available in the retail market towards the end of September and will cost £349 including VAT. ®
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Gates forced Digital to kill NC, says Ellison

Oracle's Larry Ellison has thrown the cat among the pigeons with a claim that threats from Bill Gates forced the cancellation of a joint Digital-Oracle project that could have resulted in the sale of 500,000 NC-type devices to China.
John Lettice, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Lycos targets SMEs on Web

Lycos said it had introduced a guide to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on its UK site. The company said the site includes tax advice, guidance on recruitment, business associations and other business related services. The site will be continuously revised and updated, Lycos claimed, with plans for get rich quick schemes and other entrepreneurial activities. According to Charles Walker, UK MD for Lycos, the WWW has plenty of information useful to SMEs but his company has concentrated all the information on one site now. “We have concentrated on web sites of direct relevance to businesses in the UK and Ireland," he said. The company has also introduced an online shopping centre aimed at UK consumers, with pointers to prominent online sites including Dixons, Tesco, Thomas Cook and hardware and software firms. ®
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

In brief: Lucent-NEC to cooperate on system chips

Japanese reports said that Lucent and NEC are to work together to produce system chips aimed at the telecommunications and consumer markets. Under the arrangement, NEC will license its DRAM design technology to Lucent while the chips will be fabbed at NEC factories. No financial details of the deal were disclosed, but the reports claimed that the system DRAM chip market is estimated to be worth as much as four trillion yen by the year 2001. ®
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Potential digital TV viewers give interactivity thumbs down

The BBC's current campaign to promote its forthcoming digital TV service is stressing the medium's interactivity. But it may want to reconsider in light of a new survey conducted by US market researcher Jupiter Communications. Less than ten per cent of the study's participants said they were bothered about receiving supplemental information while watching comedy or drama programming. Only 37 per cent of respondents wanted access to extra content for news items. Jupiter's study -- albeit from a US perspective -- pours cold water on the broadcasting industry's assumption that interactivity will be a key driving force in the adoption of digital TV. Still, the survey also found that interactivity and access to background information was rated more highly than other much-touted features of digital TV, such as email and home shopping. The researcher's report on its findings also warns against bringing too much PC functionality to TV hardware. TV viewers simply won't go out of their way to gain added value from digital TV. Jupiter found 29 per cent of respondents would do nothing to use new features, 39 said they would use extra features on their remote controls, but only ten per cent said they would specifically browse the Web. "With PC prices falling, the PC will remain the dominant platform for Web access," said Ross Rubin, group director of Jupiter's Web Technology Strategies team. ®
Tony Smith, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Ellison lawyer nixed Apple acquisition

Oracle and Apple -- together forever. That scenario was within a gnat's part of becoming reality, had Larry Ellison not heeded the advice of his lawyer. According to the Oracle CEO, quoted in the US media, he was ready and willing to buy the ailing Mac maker at $13 a share, "but my lawyer said I knew too much" -- his close friendship with Steve Jobs, then advisor to Apple CEO Gil Amelio, gave him insider knowledge. In turn, that would have raised serious questions at the Department of Justice, Ellison said his lawyer had warned. So "I decided it just wasn't that much to me to deal with [DoJ] lawyers. I walked away". Ellison's highly public scheme to buy Apple centred on the formation of an independent investor group to take control of the company through a massive share purchase. Ironically, through Jobs' own manoeuvrings to oust Amelio, become interim CEO and install a new board -- believed by many Apple watchers to be not dissimilar to Ellison's own band of investors -- on which Ellison himself now sits, the Oracle chief got his way without spending a penny. Apple's stock is now trading at around $37.7. At Ellison's behest, Apple was soon said to be developing a MacOS-based NC. That project ultimately become the recently released iMac, and the Oracle boss also said yesterday that the Apple has to get a cheaper version of its Internet-oriented computer to market. The company is also believed to be working on a faster version for business users. Elsewhere, Ellen Hancock, brought in by Amelio as chief technology officer but who later quit after the arrival of Jobs, has been named CEO of Exodus Communications, a provider of enterprise intranet management solutions. She has been company president since March. ®
Tony Smith, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Xerox and IBM team up on Document Center integration

Xerox announced it will make its Document Center digital copier and workflow products work with IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino. The two companies have also agreed to initiate joint marketing programmes centred on their technologies. According to Xerox president Rick Thoman, the move will allow customers to bring the previously separate operations of managing paper and digital documents. "Document Center becomes the on and off-ramps to the digital document freeway supported by the Lotus Notes and Domino software environment," he said. Xerox also rolled out seven new sub-$500 digital copier/printers and two Document Center machines aimed at mainstream business. One model, the 265ST, is a networked unit that offers scanner, copier and printer functionality and operates far more quickly than previous office digital systems, claimed the company. The two firms' joint marketing initiative will kick in later this year and prepare the way for product rollouts next year. ®
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Worldwide PC sales show strong growth

After the year's economic upsets, continued financial turmoil in Russia and Asia, and fears of an emerging recession, worldwide PC sales are bouncing back, according to research from IDC. Global sales grew by 11 per cent during the last quarter, year-on-year, said IDC, which predicted growth of 12.2 per cent for the second half of the year, following a 9.6 per cent rise in the first half. Growth will amount to 11 per cent for 1998 as a whole. Western Europe is set to become the most buoyant marketplace, with IDC anticipating unit growth of 16 per cent this quarter. The company believes the expansion is being driven by "heightened interest in the Internet, low-cost PCs as well as greater focus on the region by major global brands". The US market will grow at 14 per cent, with low-cost PCs again fuelling demand, particularly in the consumer and portable arenas. Japan will grow by two per cent this quarter, said IDC, though that follows a fall of 14 per cent over the previous three months. For the year as a whole, the market will have shrunk by four per cent. The rest of Asia is expected to see an overall 1998 fall of nearly two per cent. From a vendor perspective, there's little change in the performance of the key players. However, both Dell and Apple were singled out for comment by IDC. The former showed a massive 71.5 per cent growth in unit shipments, year on year, pushing it into the number two vendor slot, behind Compaq and ahead of IBM, HP and Packard Bell NEC. IDC analyst Roger Kay predicted Apple will show the "biggest share gain of anybody, including Dell" in Q3 thanks to continued demand for the iMac. It was also the most improved vendor of the second half, though its growth has yet to see it break back into the top five chart. ®
Tony Smith, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

DVD battles continue

A group of companies headed up by Toshiba and Matsushita has said it will extend recording time for DVD audio from just over 64 minutes to nearly eighty minutes. The DVD consortium, the Audio Working Group, which has 39 companies supporting it, are attempting to replace existing sound CDs with their own standard and are set to release specifications in the near future. But the group faces stiff opposition from a rival camp, headed by Sony, and backed by Sharp and by Dutch company Philips. Their specification, called the Super Audio CD format, are close to completion and the companies will release working machines and formats in the first quarter of next year. That is also the date the Audio Working Group has set as their deadline to release products using the extended specification. Most observers agree that battles between the large consumer companies over the DVD format have set back its acceptance by both industry and consumers. ®
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

LG, Hyundai continue unseemly battle

The bickering between LG Semicon and Hyundai took a further twist late yesterday when both companies revealed details of how big a management share each wants in a future merged chip company. According to reports in today's edition of the Korea Times, LG Semicon is insisting on having a 70 per cent share in the merged chip company, an increase from the 50 per cent it had earlier settled. But now Hyundai has retaliated, with it also demanding a 70 per cent share in the chip operations. Earlier yesterday, a South Korean government minister had threatened to appoint outside managers if the two companies did not come to a swift resolution of their squabble. But the bickerings are only the prelude to further battles between the top five chaebols (conglomerates) in South Korea. So far, Samsung Electronics, which has a large semiconductor business, has remained silent about the unseemly row currently underway. ® Related stories: US to impose anti dumping tariffs on LG, Hyundai South Korean government gets angry at LG, Hyundai
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Softbank prepares to convert to holding company

Japanese uber conglomerate Softbank Corporation is preparing to expose its books to meaningful scrutiny for the first time, by transforming itself into a holding company. The conversion which takes place on April 1, will help the company to improve efficiency, while making clear each subsidiary’s profit and overall performance, Softbank says. The company could also gain substantial tax benefits in the future, according to Bloomberg, which reports that a post-war Japanese law banning holding companies was repealed only last year. However, Softbank and other Japanese conglomerates still have some lobbying to do, judging from the Bloomberg report, as the Japanese government “hasn't yet given permission for holding companies to minimize taxes by offsetting earnings at profitable subsidiaries against losses at others”. Softbank is probably worth less than the sum of its parts. Although that statement has to be qualified, in light of the unknown quantity of debt residing in the company. Softbank embarked on an enormous buying spree in the early and mid-90s, paying top dollar for a clutch of big name but highly disparate firms operating in the computer sector. The result -- an unwieldy conglomerate sprawled across the world -- stands as monument to the hubris of Masayoshi Son , Softbank’s “billionaire deal maker” (as he’s called by Bloomberg). Of course, It is always easy to be a dealmaker if you insist on overpaying. You can even end up owning some good property. And Softbank has some of the best. It owns Ziff-Davis, the world’s biggest computer magazine publisher, Comdex, the world’s biggest computer exhibitions organiser, an 80 per cent stake in Kingston Technology (probably the world’s best known supplier of branded memory), and substantial chunks in a clutch of US Internet companies, including Yahoo (currently capitalised at more than $7 billion). It is also Japan’s biggest software distributor and its tentacles even extend to a helpdesk operation in the UK. But what is Softbank worth? In retrospect, Kingston was a wild overpayment, while Ziff-Davis turned out to be a good judgement call. Softbank’s Californian VC activities has landed it with scarce Internet real estate, which could be worth billions of dollars. However the company’s consolidated accounts makes it impossible to make more than educated guesses about the performance of subsidiaries. Softbank could remove investor suspicion at a stroke by adopting US accounting standards. That could be some time coming.®
Drew Cullen, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel woos dealers with soft dollars

Intel has re-vamped its channel strategy and announced initiatives including marketing programmes, discounts, and use of an official logo. The Authorised Solution Provider programme designates some dealers as "preferred sources" for Intel’s products and services, and includes a certification scheme which means such dealers must have two or more individuals who have taken exams and courses. Two or more employees at the dealerships must possess the Intel certification for such a site to be a preferred source. Benefits of dealers who enter the scheme include early information about products and development, advertising and PR campaigns, the ability to license the use of the Intel name, and "attractive financial incentives" on selected products, as well as some cheaper demonstration products, the company said. Accreditation also provides dealers with access to Intel’s network design centre. Soft marketing dollars dealerships build up can be used to help fund seminars, attendance at trade shows and the like, said Intel. ®
Team Register, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Component prices fall 25 per cent annually

PC component prices will continue to fall significantly, Dell CFO Tom Meredith has warned. Speaking at the 26th SG Cowen Annual Technology Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, Meredith said that capacity is still ahead of demand, pushing prices way down. In fact, he added, even when demand meets supply, components are becoming 25 per cent cheaper every year. "We do not see any firming of pricing at Dell in the component front," Meredith said. (See also Worldwide PC sales show strong growth) ®
Tony Smith, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Quantum shaves headcount in HDD restructure

Quantum is to reduce its workforce by 113 staff in a $60-million cost savings restructure of its hard disk business. Most staff will go through "attrition and delayed hiring", the company said. In an echo of Intel’s recent move to dual roadmaps (for Celeron and Pentium IIs), Quantum is splitting its desktop product roadmap to attack two distinct markets sectors; the so-called value segment and the performance segments. Quantum said it was changing its HDD operating model to suit the changing PC HDD market. This has seen demand for budget PCs sky-rocket in the last three quarters, in turn leading to pressure for cheaper HDDs. For the value segment, Quantum has "initiated development of lower-cost storage solutions targeted at the requirements of next-generation value PCs". Although it does not say what this is. The company reckons it already has 30 per cent of the value segment market through the Quantum Bigfoot line of 5.25-inch drives. The company is attacking the performance segment with the Fireball range. At the same time, Quantum aims to shave manufacturing costs by reducing product complexity through "fewer combinations of head/media and motor sources", and by getting its outsource manufacturer Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics, Ltd(MKE)to ship some products directly to customers. The company also aims to "increase reliability and reduce annualized failure rates (AFRs) through design and process improvements". A pious hope or a missive from on high for the factory bods to get their act together? ®
Drew Cullen, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Updated: MS and Compaq agree on NT/DUX integration

As revealed here on August 20 ( SCO ducks as Compaq lets fly), Compaq has struck a deal with Microsoft to make NT and Digital Unix work together. A source close to Compaq's plans now suggests that the punt we took that Alpha would displace Merced in its affections was probably true. The companies today said that as most corporate customers work in a heteregeneous environment, D/UX and NT will need to interoperate with (Tandem’s) NonStop Kernel and (Digital’s) Open VMS. Compaq will also push its Alpha technology as a 64-bit processor which can run both NT and D/UX, as also revealed here earlier this year. However, as we're still waiting for Windows NT 5.0, goodness knows how long that will be. A Compaq source said: "For us, in a nutshell, this is how we take all the capabilities within Tandem and Digital and transfer those proprietary platforms to NT." NT was criticised for not being scaleable or robust enough to be a corporate platform but this deal helped to address those issues, the source added. In an earlier story Richard George, in charge of Compaq’s Alpha processor in the UK, said: "We’ll achieve 22 per cent of Unix market share by the year 2002." He said then that Compaq was in the process of persuading other vendors to adopt D/UX and turn it into “the standard Unix”. The deal will further marginalise HP, and, indirectly Intel with its Merced processor. At the time, Intel told The Register that Compaq was one of its closest partners. ® Other related stories: Compaq kicks Merced butt while it's down Mips chip flip flops as Tandem team chooses Alpha Intel fights back after Compaq attack
Mike Magee, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

10/09/98 Daily Digest

Computer Reseller News comes to UK Computer Reseller News is launching a UK edition on 18 November, pitching into battle in the weekly market with PC Dealer and Microscope. CRN UK recruits include editor Ambrose McNevin, managing editor James Harding and consultant editor Eira Hayward, all of whom have served time one time or another at PC Dealer. For more information contact either Ambrose McNevin on 0171 864 1438(email amcnevin@cmp.com) or Eira Hayward on 0171 864 1377 (email ehayward@cmp.com) Systems Union promotes lease options Systems Union has come up with a neat way of enabling customers to sidestep capital purchase restrictions – by offering leasing options for its SunSystems accountnacy software. The company has teamed up with Dana Commercial Credit Ltd (DCC) to deliver a range of agreements under the Advantage Programme. ICL buys Czech SAP dealer ICL has strengthened its SAP implementation skills with the acquisition of a 51 per cent stake in Czech software house PC-DIR. Described as one of the “top two SAP partners in the Czech Republic”, PC-DIR turned over £5 million in 1997 Granada Computer Service changes name Granada Computer Services, the UK’s biggest computer maintenance company, has changed its name to Synstar Computer Services International. Buy! Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell! Sell! A “highly successful” supplier of new and used computer hardware, based in the Midlands, is up for sale. The company is “very cash generative”, with pre-tax profits of £0.9 million, on turnover of £2.8 million, according to an advert placed in the Financial Times by Grant Thornton. For more details, call Graeme Forbes or Elizabeth Harrison at Grant Thornton’s Nottingham office. Tel: 0115 948 3483 Fax: 0115 948 4504 Sherwood swaps shares with US competitor Sherwood International PL is to take a 12.65 per cent stake in Allenbrook, a subsidiary of US insurance software developer AMS, for up to £7.1 million in shares. The company is funding the deal through a new issue which will enlarge share capital by 7.5 per cent. This will pay for the initial consideration of £5.4 million. The balance dependent on performance, will also be funded out of new shares. At the same time , Sherwood is forming an joint venture company with Allenbrook to promote its SENATOR reinsurance software program globally. Sherwood is injecting its reinsurance subsidiary Sherwood ISS into the new venture, and is pumping in $490,000 worth of fresh working capital, in return for a 49 per cent stake. It will retain exclusive European sales rights, while Allenbrook get sole distribution rights in North America, and non-exclusive rights for the rest of the world outside Europe. Sherwood has also won a licensing deal worth $5 million to supply CNA, a top ten insurance company and major shareholder in AMS, with AMARTA. The company said that it has agreed with AMS that cross shareholdings should remain in place for a minimum of two years. AMS is owned by a group of US insurance companies. ®
The Register breaking news

Microsoft delivers search engine beta for MSN

Microsoft has made available for testing the beta of a search engine for MSN.com. Like AOL, CNET, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos, and Yahoo amongst others, Microsoft has licensed Inktomi's engine. The search engine was developed under an ARPA contract at Berkeley by Eric Brewer, who went on to license the technology and name his company after a legendary Lachute Indian character. Wired Ventures was the first customer in 1996 for its HotBot engine. The problem that Inktomi now faces is that its customers get practically identical results, so the company is devising ways to allow them to differentiate their offerings. Microsoft's beta site at search.msn.com has a primitive choice of dates (the last week, or month, or year). In a couple of unscientifically conducted tests, AltaVista gave better results, and allowed any range of dates to be specified. At present, Microsoft offers four search engines, and has evidently not yet decided whether to continue offering these. Microsoft says its objective is "to be the fastest, easiest . . ." but there is some way to go. Microsoft also says it plans to integrate a directory system similar to Yahoo's. ®
Graham Lea, 10 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Markets still bouncing around

Recent technology stock movements have by-and large reflected recent events. Thanks to a volte face by Fed chairman Alan Greenspan who said last Friday that interest rates might be cut despite the risk of inflation, when US markets re-opened on Tuesday after the holiday, there was a record 380 point, 5 per cent gain in the Dow Industrials to 7865, only to be followed yesterday by a 2 per cent fall. Presidential peccadillos gave the excuse for yesterday's profit taking. The Dow is still about 15 per cent below its record mid-July high, with around two-thirds of TheStreet.com readers responding to a survey believing that the Dow will touch 7000 before it passes 9000. Adobe put on more than 9 per cent yesterday, probably as a result of some subtle amendments it made to its bylaws that could make it more difficult for a predator, and the evident failure of the less-than-deadly embrace of Quark. In Malaysia, the KLSE composite index went up 11.5 per cent after a 21.5 per cent decline the previous day, connected with the new controls on capital. At SG Cowen's conference in Boston, Greg Maffei talked up the prospects for Microsoft earnings per share exceeding average analysts' estimates by four cents this quarter. He cautioned however that Novell would be launching NetWare 5 on Monday, and said: "We shot ourselves in the foot in terms of timing." He was presumably referring to the still far-distant release of NT5. Amazon.com was examined again by the WSJ yesterday. With no profits, but a market value of $4.64 billion, a Merrill Lynch financial analyst recommended reducing holdings. A recent study by Ron Ploof of IceGroup suggested that Amazon.com was losing $7.15 per order. Could it reduce this by increasing the volume? ®
Graham Lea, 10 Sep 1998