29th > September > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Nortel rebrands in wake of Bay deal

Nortel is planning a name-change at its New York analysts' meeting later today. It's going to call itself Nortel Networks. This 'radical' move, which comes on top of the company's previous shock name change from Northern Telecom to Nortel, allegedly reflects the addition of Bay Networks' IP expertise. The previous change allegedly took place in 1995, but as 'Nortel' media relations still frequently makes announcements headed "Northern Telecom" not all of the staff seem to have heard yet. It's not exactly clear what the point of talking about the name change a day early, or indeed of making it at all, is. Nortel stock is down 25 per cent or thereabouts on the past few weeks, and earlier this month said it would cut 4 per cent of staff globally. So it had better come up with something more than a new logo, if the analysts are to be impressed. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft pulls Office service pack over version clashes

Microsoft has pulled its latest service release for Office 97, SR-2, from its Web site after admitting it's got its versions in a twist. This of course will come as no surprise to users familiar with Microsoft instructions warning you which order you need to install service packs and apps in, if you're not going to have to go back to go. Exactly what the problem is this time isn't totally clear. Bug-finding outfit BugNet had warned a couple of days back that SR-2 had problems, saying that it would fail if it found any original Office 97 apps on the system. By this we presume original release apps that haven't had SR-1 applied. Microsoft doesn't say this precisely, but gives the example of a user installing some of the 97 apps, then SR-1, and then installing other 97 apps, thus having two versions on the same installation, and thus confusing SR-2. SR-2 should not of course be confused under these circumstances. A properly-written service pack should check versions of all the files it's dealing with, and update accordingly. Note that Microsoft service packs do this sometimes, which is not real help at all. Whatever, SR-2 is temporarily removed for download, pending the release of an update. We note also that SR-2 apparently includes Year 2000 fixes. Office 97, Year 2000 - spot the foresight… ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

AOL backs down over charge levels

AOL has backed-down in a dispute with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and has drastically reduced the amount it proposes to write off in "research costs" for a couple of acquisitions. Nor is this the first time AOL has had bean-counting difficulties. AOL spent $287 million on buying Mirabilis and Netchannel earlier this year, and initially proposed to write off most of this as "in-process research and development." Instead of this, AOL has now agreed to take only a $60.5 million write-off. After the adjustments, AOL's fourth quarter results, to June 30, were $7.1 million net on revenue of $792.3 million. This included a $17.7 million charge for settlement of a shareholder lawsuit over the previous bean-counting episode. Then, AOL had been deferring the costs of marketing programmes, thus producing rather better current figures than it would have otherwise. When it changed that practice after criticism from Wall Street, the historical numbers (from the period when it was expanding fast to meet the challenge from the Microsoft Network) turned out to be worse than the shareholders had thought at the time. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Siemens summons partners for PC plant

The dark cloud hanging over Siemens' Augsburg PC plant grew larger yesterday with the news that the company doesn't see it as possible to continue with it on its own. Speaking at Comdex Enterprise in Frankfurt company CEO Gerhard Schulmeyer reportedly blamed overseas competition, and said that Siemens couldn't continue its PC building operations single-handed. Earlier in the day Siemens had issued a statement saying it was looking for a partner for the Augsburg plant. The doubts about Augsburg's future arose three weeks ago when Acer pulled out of a deal to take over the plant and build PCs for Siemens to badge there, alongside its own machines. The tussle then was over price and volume commitments, but the very facts that Siemens went into the Acer deal in the first place, and that Acer initially intended to build more PCs there than Siemens needed, pointed inexorably to a bottom line. Siemens couldn't sustain PC manufacturing there on its own, and Siemens' capacity there was in excess of its needs. We noted this hereabouts when Siemens, just after the deal collapsed, said it would carry on with Augsburg on its own. No it wouldn't, we said. Exactly where the company thinks it's going to get a partner now is another tricky question. Anybody want to buy more PC capacity at a European plant handily-placed for building machines for, er, Russia? Meanwhile, we hear a British Siemens exec laying about himself blaming everybody but Siemens for the closure of its UK semiconductor fab. "Organisations like Dataquest," Lou Avis grumbled to BBC radio last night: "They predicted there was going to be an expansion of the market three years ago." And then there was that Taiwanese partner (sorry, we didn't catch the name, but we don't think it was Acer) - "If they'd stayed on board…" Ah yes, and then those pesky Koreans: "Korean companies have been able to gain as a result of their misfortune… IMF money has gone to shore up their capability and profitability." Funnily enough, the lad didn't say a dicky bird about companies who build commodity fab (wrong kind of DRAM) on the strength of a couple of Dataquest reports, without querying the feasibility of DRAM's miraculous sustained high price (we'd been querying that round here for years, till it started going through the floor). Avis ended the interview more than a little lamely, pointing out that even if nobody wanted to buy the fab, the admin bit was pretty cool. "Anyone that wants a prestigious office building…" ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Netscape plans counter-attack as browser share falls again

Netscape's share of the browser market fell again in the first half of this year, according to an IDC survey. Depending on how you count it, the company may still be ahead of Microsoft, but even if you count it the other way Netscape is taking steps to correct the situation. On raw figures, Netscape's share fell from 51 per cent at the end of 1997 to 42 per cent by mid-year. Microsoft's rose from 23 per cent to 28 per cent, while others rose from 11 per cent to 15 per cent. So that's not terminal for Netscape. But the share for AOL's browser, which is based on Microsoft Internet Explorer, was 16 per cent, giving us a total for IE of 44 per cent - just a little bit ahead of Netscape. Netscape could think of this as a defeat, but Microsoft's relatively slow progress under its own steam and its dependence on a deal with AOL to make the numbers are grounds for optimism. ISPs will (under normal circumstances, pace the DoJ) cut the most advantageous deal they can for browsers, so although AOL would now be a tricky one for Netscape to crack, it might be able to break back via other ISPs. Which is one of the things it's doing this week. It's announcing a deal that allows ISPs to use its Netcenter site to customise its Communicator, and then have 3M produce CDs with their customised version on them. It's also teaming up with HP to offer ISPs consulting services. HP itself has finally decided to take a pop at Sun in the server department, and Netscape proposes to hitch a ride. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft claims Caldera leaked evidence

Microsoft is claiming Caldera is in contempt of court over its treatment of confidential Microsoft information, while Oracle is resisting Microsoft's attempts to winkle confidential documentation out of it. It's all go in the wonderful world of IT lawsuits, folks… In the Caldera case, Microsoft's contempt claim is that Caldera is in violation of a court order sealing evidence by leaking it to the press. As we haven't seen the sealed evidence (obviously) we're not in a position to say whether the claimed leaks were leaks or not, or indeed who leaked them. It has however been alleged recently that Microsoft engineers put a bug into Windows 3.1 to stop DR-DOS running properly (the Caldera suit originates from alleged Microsoft unfair competition with DR-DOS, although it's now been broadened to include Windows 9x). A second alleged leak claims that an ex-employee of Microsoft's testimony alleges that evidence was destroyed. Wrap your heads round this one though. By claiming these leaks came from Caldera, and that they came from the sealed evidence, is Microsoft not confirming the content of the sealed evidence and therefore, er, leaking it indirectly? So Caldera can sue Microsoft for contempt too. Go for it, guys… Oracle's beef isn't as interesting, but could knock the Microsoft antitrust trial back some more. The company says Microsoft's request for documentation from the Big O to use in its defence is too great, and has asked a judge to block it. The hearing for this will be later today. Microsoft is asking for details of a claimed 1994 meeting of Oracle, Sun and IBM executives and their allies, with a view to stitching-up an anti-competitive alliance. It also wants to know about Oracle terminating development of its own browser in favour of Netscape's. Oracle is refusing on the grounds that not all of the information demanded is relevant to the things Microsoft is being accused of. Oddly enough, if Microsoft does get its way, the trial could get delayed again. It's currently set for October 15, so if today's hearing orders Oracle to hand over a ton of documentation, Microsoft can claim (probably reasonably) that it doesn't have enough time to deal with it, and it's all Oracle's fault for not handing it over in the first place. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Dealer put in slammer for pirating CDs

A dealer pirating CD-ROMs has found himself in prison as a result of his crime. Stephen Lewis was found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court under three specimen charges under the Trade Marks Act 1994 for intent to supply illegal copies of Thunder Mountain. Over £9,000 of computer kit was also seized and is now forfeit. The conviction follows a joint investigation by the Northampton Police fraud squad and the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST). The police raided a number of premises in 1996 as part of a wider operation called Gold Disk. When they searched Mr Lewis' premises, they found computer equipment to pirate CDs including the Encyclopaedia Brittanica and MS Office, together with colour covers and printing equipment. Sentencing Mr Lewis, Judge Croft QC said that a sentence of imprisonment was necessary to reflect the crime and as a warning to others. ® click for more stories
Team Register, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Micron posts Q4 loss but says DRAM signs encouraging

US Dram company Micron Technology has filed its fourth quarter and yearly financial results and has performed better than expected. The company lost $89 million net on turnover of $692 million for the quarter, less than Wall Street analysts had expected. The results were due to the continuing worldwide slump in memory prices, the company said in a statement. But Micron said that there were encouraging signs, with its fourth quarter sales better than in the third quarter. Steve Appleton CEO of Micron, known for his rumbustious views on alleged anti-dumping by South Korean memory manufacturers, said: "Current market conditions are encouraging." Earlier this week, US wires reported that Intel was interested in taking a minority stake in Micron. Both companies described the reports as speculation. ® Click here for more stories
Team Register, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

TI to put more cash into DSP market

Japanese wires reported that Texas Instruments (TI) is to increase its R&D spend on digital signal processors (DSPs). The reports quoted CEO Thomas Engibous as saying TI will put over 90 per cent of its $1 billion R&D spend into the DSP market. The market promises rich rewards for successful players and is estimated to be worth over $13 billion worldwide by the year 2002. Currently, it stands at nearly $4 billion. Earlier this year TI caught a cold, like many semiconductor manufacturers, because of the worldwide slump in DRAM prices. It sold its share in a DRAM joint venture to its partner Acer and has also spun off and sold a number of other, non-lucrative divisions. Currently, TI holds the lion's share in DSPs, with nearly 50 per cent of the market. ®
A staffer, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

CPU revenues to show decline in growth

The slump in semiconductor sales in 1998 is likely to be followed by growth of 12 per cent next year, according to a forecast from Dataquest. But the market research firm said that its forecast was a sharp downgrade from its previous 1998 expectations for both growth rate and revenues. And sales of CPUs will show a sharply reduced rate of growth, Dataquest predicted. According to DQ figures, revenues will amount to $138 billion this year, compared to $147 billion last year. Weak Asian economies mean that the key semiconductor markets are not likely to strengthen until the middle of next year. DRAM, which has played a significant role in the worldwide slump, will first stabilise and then grow next year, with revenues amounting to $155 billion in 1999. The future is more rosy, the forecast said, with the worldwide market worth $250 billion by the year 2002. That prediction is echoed by US trade association, the Semiconductor Association. Dataquest bases its forecasts on the assumptions that worldwide PC shipments are set to grow by 15 per cent, despite the fact that average selling prices will fall. The semiconductor market will suffer from oversupply for the next 18 months, while DRAM oversupply is set to last until the middle or the end of the year 2000, Dataquest said. Factors for growth in the future include the rise of the Internet, while Europe will see growth in both PC and mobile handset production. While consumer electronics will continue to grow in the Americas, other world regions will show weak demand, said Dataquest. However, Dataquest cautions that its figures could be knocked skewiff by a deeper decline and slow recovery in Asia, US economic downturn, delay of access technologies including ADSL, and Rambus. High growth areas for the semiconductor market include DSPs (digital signal processors), cell based ICs and programmable logic devices, flash memory and EEPROM, the forecast said. CPUs will grow at a rate of 11 per cent in 1999, and will represent $38 billion of semiconductor sales in the year 2002. This, said Dataquest, is sharply lower than prior revenue forecasts. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Slot One Cyrix now unlikely

NatSemi-Cyrix said that it was now unlikely that it would produce a Slot One based solution. That is despite the fact that it has a solution in its labs and that the distribution channel has pressured it to produce Slot One because of demand from dealers. The change in heart, according to a senior source at the Cyrix group at NatSemi Europe, was because of changes in the market. He said that while the company had the patents and the technology to make a Slot One unit for some time, the roadmap for the foreseeable future would continue along the socket seven route. But the decision is more likely to be because of Intel's decision to move its low-end processors to a 370-pin socket process. It has said that OEMs will be delivering both desktops and notebooks using the socket by the end of this year. IBM Microelectronics did have a Slot One processor on its roadmap for early next year but that prospect ended with the deal it struck with NatSemi last week. Dealers and distributors have pushed for an alternative to Intel's Slot One solution during most of this year. ® Click here for more stories
Mike Magee, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

BEA buys WebLogic

BEA Systems, the enterprise middleware vendor, is acquiring privately-held WebLogic, a developer of Web application servers, in a $192.5 million stock transaction deal. The acquisition rounds off BEA's offerings by making it possible for it to offer less-expensive e-commerce middleware than Tuxedo, BEA's last major acquisition three years ago. At the same time, the 800 customers of WebLogic should have a better growth path to M3 and Tuxedo if BEA does a good job of providing an easy upgrade path. Such an acquisition looked increasingly likely after Netscape's acquisition of Kiva Software last year, and Sun's July acquisition of NetDynamics. The acquisition confounds those who might have thought that Java was looking sickly, since WebLogic's application server is strongly Java-based. WebLogic is the oldest Java startup, and its application server was the first in the market to support Enterprise Java Beans. It supports ten out of the 12 Enterprise Java APIs, as well as all of the EJB 1.0 specs and options, according to BEA. In addition, BEA will be gaining native support for COM/ActiveX and other proprietary Microsoft technology. WebLogic also gains access to BEA's CORBA and legacy connectivity. The deal should be final in October, with BEA setting up a new division called BEA WebXpress, to be headed by Alfred Chuang, one of the BEA founders and BEA's CTO. ® click for more stories
Graham Lea, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Roundup: Yesterday's markets

With Greenspanitis looming over Wall Street and Tokyo yesterday, in anticipation of an interest rate cut to be announced by the Fed today, little attention was paid to the biggest bankruptcy in Japanese history: an affiliate of the Long-Term Credit Bank went under owing more than $17 billion. Despite this, Tokyo and the Dow were up one per cent, although Nasdaq was marginally down. The distraction was the prospect of cheaper dollars and consequent exchange rate changes. Surprisingly, PC sales in Japan have been going up for quite a few weeks now. RealNetworks put on 15 per cent after it announced its AOL distribution deal, and Internet darlings Amazon.com and Excite went up eight per cent and seven per cent, respectively. Varian Associates said it would not meet expectations for its current fiscal Q4 (ending 2 October) because of a "lingering depression" in its semiconductor business. CEO Tracy O'Rourke said he expected the chip equipment slump to last another four to six quarters. In preparation for the setting up of two new companies from existing divisions early next year, Varian will take a $6 million charge in fiscal Q4. Sumitomo Corporation Group made a surprise investment in Softway Systems of San Francisco. Softway has a product called Interix which is said to aid those changing from Unix to NT, and not surprisingly was developed in a long-term agreement with Microsoft. It's strange that Microsoft itself did not come forward. Could it be that all Microsoft's lawyers are busy on other matters? The size of the investment was not disclosed, but it does not give Sumitomo control -- just a seat on the board. Sumitomo has 719 subsidiaries and associated companies. Apparently four Sumitomo Corporation Group members participated in the investment. That's risk spreading for you. ® click for more stories
Graham Lea, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Big Blue introduces high speed token ring NIC

IBM has introduced a high speed Token Ring adaptor aimed at companies which want to migrate to higher speeds. At the same time, Big Blue introduced two PCI NICs which include Wake on Lan. The native high speed adaptor is a 100/16/4 unit giving a claimed speed of over 100Mbps and including autosensing. The high speed TR adaptor costs £190, while the 16/4 PCI adaptors cost £150 for the Wake on Lan version and £130 for the standard version. IBM said it is committed to supporting high speed Token Ring in the future. ® Click here for more stories
A staffer, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

E-commerce giants shift focus to ISPs

ISPs are the latest target for e-commerce solution vendors, if announcements from Netscape, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, made separately, are anything to go by. Later today, during executive VP Mark Andreessen's keynote at ISP trade show ISPcon in San Francisco, California, Netscape will unveil Messaging Server 4.0 Hosting Edition, software designed to allow ISPs to handle outsourced applications on behalf of major customers. The server has been upgraded to offer greater scalability and performance, the company claimed. It is accompanied by Delegated Administrator, which lets users manage applications running on an outsourced host, and Messenger Express 4.0, a free Web-based email host -- Messaging Server 4.0 itself provides the email backbone and allows voicemail and faxes to be picked up by users as email messages. Messaging Server 4.0 Hosting Edition is scheduled to ship before the year is out -- Messenger Express and Delegated Administrator are due during Q1 1999. Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, has unveiled a strategy boasting an alliance of 30 software vendors, including Netscape, Oracle, Microsoft, Inkomi and Software.com, and based upon a new line of rack-mount servers. Again, the emphasis is on ISP's keen to offer hosted e-commerce solutions to large enterprises, and forms a key component of HP's plan to muscle in on a market dominated by Sun. HP's pitch is that it can provide ISPs with all the hardware -- running Unix or NT -- and software that cover all aspects of the hosting business. That includes HP's WebQoS (Quality of Service) technology, which the company claims will allow ISPs to offer level of service guarantees. IBM's ISP-oriented push centres on versions of its e-commerce software tailored for ISPs keen to provide such services -- beginning to see a pattern yet? However, Big Blue's take on the market is to focus on small to medium-sized businesses -- or, rather, that's who it hopes its ISP customers should target -- instead of the corporates everyone else is going after. IBM's software will ship in December. It will provide ISPs will the tools to host large numbers of Web storefronts, provide a payment server and bill their owners using a variety of payment methods. Merchants themselves can use to the software to build Web shops very quickly. ® click for more stories
Tony Smith, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

MS readies response to Bristol suit

Microsoft's response to Bristol Technology's antitrust action against Microsoft for failing to provide Windows source code as Microsoft had contracted to do, claims that the contact terms are fair, according to sources. A redacted version of the brief is expected to become available today. Bristol, of Danbury, Connecticut, is one of the four licensees of Windows source code (the others are Mainsoft, Insignia and Locus), in the so-called WISE programme (Windows Interface Source Environment) that is intended to make it possible for shrink-wrapped Windows applications to run under Unix and the MacOS. A year ago, Microsoft refused to continue providing Bristol with NT code under the terms of the agreement, except on what Bristol describes as "oppressive, unworkable and unreasonable terms". It is known that Microsoft will not grant any licences to additional companies for access to Windows code. The big issue in the case is the reason for Microsoft's stance, at a time when its legal department had never been so hard pressed. One possible explanation is that Microsoft sees Bristol's Wind/U products as prolonging the life of Unix, and so making it more difficult for NT to take over. Bristol points out that Microsoft has been claiming that the Unix market is shrinking, although Dataquest data suggest that the worldwide Unix market is growing steadily. Bristol was competing with Mainsoft for the non-Intel Unix market. Microsoft says that Mainsoft had agreed to a similar contract as was being offered to Bristol. Bristol has bet the farm on the Microsoft deal, so even if it prevails in court, it could be too late. Bristol has had 23 consecutive profitable quarters. ® click for more stories
Graham Lea, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

BDE consolidates Tetra channel with Leeds buy

BDE International, the acquisitive Worcester-based Tetra reseller, has extended its coverage of the manufacturing sector by buying Leeds dealer IBS International for an undisclosed cash sum.
Drew Cullen, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel-Symantec deal begs questions about primitives

A deal between Symantec and Intel has begged questions about the security strategy of the chip giant. At the Intel Developer Forum two weeks ago, Pat Gelsinger, senior VP responsible for business platforms, announced that his company would incorporate hardware primitives into future chips. Those, said Intel at the time, would not only give truly random numbers but also incorporate other security features, including encryption and 10 other primitives. That begs the question as to why Intel sold its anti-virus software to Symantec. A statement from Symantec said that it had bought Intel's anti-virus product line, while Aled Miles, the company's European sales director, said that the product will now be recommended to customers by the chip giant. "Intel anti-virus software represents about seven per cent of the worldwide market," he said. ® Click here for more stories
Mike Magee, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Small Japanese DRAM domino falls to Taiwanese

In a twist to the continuing saga of DRAM memories, Taiwanese company UMC bought Nippon Steel's memory unit for $11 million. That will give a boost to the Taiwanese economy, which has still escaped most of the worst of the Asian decline. UMC, a Taiwanese foundry part sponsored by the government of the island, will allow it to start manufacturing memories and other chips in Japan. Previously, and especially before the woes that hit Japan, Taiwan was considered as an offshore island which could help soak up excess DRAM manufacturing. Nippon Steel, another Japanese major, said that it had managed to turn a predicted loss into a profit. ® Click here for more stories
Team Register, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Ideal selects Rotterdam for European beachhead

Ideal Hardware has burst through restrictive distribution contracts, in a full-blooded assault on the European systems builders market. The UK's biggest data storage distributor has opened a warehouse in Rotterdam, enabling it to promise next day delivery to "anywhere in Europe", while reducing its own distribution costs. It is prepared to sell products from its entire product range, either through its relatively few pan-European franchises, or by sourcing on the grey market. The company says it will abide by contract clauses which forbid wholesaling products on official (and more favourable) distribution terms outside the UK -- even though these clauses are illegal under European competition law. "There are supposed to be no barriers to trading in Europe, "European sales director Alex Tatham said. "But in practice many vendors operate restrictive distribution contracts," he said. b"And the way certain companies structure their distribution makes it virtually impossible for them to award pan-European franchises." Ideal had no intention of challenging restrictive terms in court, he said. Instead the company would continue to press for pan-European distribution rights. Currently, the company has agreements in place with AMD, Network Associates and Fujitsu. The company is majoring its entire storage portfolio accors Europe, including Fujitsu, Samsung, Panasonic, Hitachi and IBM. Ideal's European sales are currently on a £100 million a year run-rate, derived mostly from systems builders and distributors, according to Tatham. The company runs a multinational European sales team out of its Chessington, Surrey headquarters. ® For more stories click here
Drew Cullen, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Evesham opens Dublin franchise

Evesham Micros has adopted the franchise route for its first move overseas. Business is already going "famously" for the new Dublin branch, according to MD Richard Austin. If the "Dublin experiment" is successful, the direct PC vendor will consider opening more franchise outlets both here and abroad, he said. Evesham operates five wholly-owned business sales branches in the North and Midlands. Production constraints have hampered Evesham's growth in recent months. In August, the company doubled its output capability when it moved to new headquarters. But it is already nearing its single shift capacity of 400 units per day, according to Austin. The company, which ranks in the top 10 of UK PC assemblers, is moving to double shift production for the first time. Last week, Evesham won the PC Association Award for Excellence in Computer Retailing. More than 50 PC Association members were put through their paces by a mystery shopper. ®
Drew Cullen, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel puts its weight behind Linux – and Linus

Intel has fired the first shot in today's expected rapprochement with the Linux community, announcing a series of initiatives, including membership of Linux international, designed to place the OS on at the very least an equal footing with NT and Solaris in terms of Intel support. Intel has historically been seen as closely aligned to Microsoft in the 'Wintel' camp, but has increasingly embraced various flavours of Unix as well over the last few years, and recently joined the UDI (Uniform Driver Interface) initiative, offering support in the production of standard hardware device drivers for the Intel platform. By adding active support for Linux, even without the expected announcement of an investment in Red Hat, Intel is moving far more strongly towards Unix, and Unix on cheap, commodity platforms at that. The first of today's announcements is, says Intel, aimed at providing "more solution flexibility and choice for Internet Service Providers." This is Intel-speak for adding Linux to the portfolio of operating systems it helps optimise for its platforms, for sale to ISPs among others (but the announcement was made at an ISP conference, natch). Says the release: "The overall Linux initiative complements work Intel is already doing with Microsoft, Sun and others to expand Intel-based server and networking offerings for ISPs." That is Intel-speak for it's going to hone the hardware and software to a lean, mean, commodity platform that is going to be a compelling choice for high performance networks (ISPs specifically if you like, but they only put it that way because it's an ISP conference). But here's the gag. If Intel is going to do co-development, it needs someone to do co-development with. Which explains the Red Hat interest, but which doesn't mean we should place too much value on that. Intel is sufficiently sophisticated a company to know how prickly the Linux community is, and to understand the dangers of being perceived as buying into Linux and then perverting it for its own ends into some kind of proprietary system. So enter the inventor: "The initiatives Intel is announcing today indicate the relationship between Intel and the Linux community is growing stronger," said Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. "Our combined efforts will enable the expansion of Linux OS performance and services that will drive more mainstream acceptance of Linux." If Linus says it's OK, maybe it is OK. Sean Maloney of Intel said something too, but it was so incredibly anodyne you can go get it off the Intel Web site if you want it. Here's what Intel is offering as its Linux initiative: 1. Technical efforts, including liaison with the Linux community, the I20 SIG and Project UDI to enable greater availability of Linux device drivers for Intel-based servers; and additional optimisation efforts to ensure Linux is optimized for future Intel processors. 2. Formation of an Intel Linux User Group, kicked off by a special appearance by Linus Torvalds at the Intel Oregon campus last week. 3. Membership in Linux International. ® Other current Linux stories include: The Linux challenge to NT in the enterprise Informix becomes latest Linux recruit Intel, Netscape buy stakes in Red Hat Linux Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998
The Register breaking news

Infobank shakeup follows unrealistic forecasts

The Infobank rollercoaster ride has taken yet another twist with a profits warning and management shakeup. New finance director David Pollock slamming earlier revenue forecasts as "unrealistic". Profit margins will see no significant improvement, which means that the software reselling business will be only marginally profitable. Executive chairman and co-founder David Fraser has also stepped down to a non-executive role while managing director Joe Pillai is leaving the board. Graham Sadd, co-founder of the ecommerce vendor come software reseller, is assuming the role of interim chief executive. Pollock has agreed to join the board while non-executive director Martin Frost has agreed to assume the role of non-executive chairman of the group. While all directors, executive and non-executive are still looking for their right chairs, Infobank's immediate future rests on the success of its e-commerce division. The company has announced a deal with BT which will give it system more credibility and funds. BT will use the firm's InTrade 3 procurement automation e-commerce product to enable its customers to trade electronically with their own customers over a managed network. According to Sadd this has given Infobank a much-needed shot in the arm. "It's a significant endorsement and signals a step change in the rate of development of our e-commerce business," he said.® For more stories click here
The Register breaking news

Gresham acquires Online Financial Services

Gresham Computing has snapped up Canadian IT banking specialist Online Financial Services for Can$1.5 million boosting its banking and financial customer base, while adding to its growing list of global subsidiaries. The acquisition was greeted favourably by the City where Gresham's share price jumped 4p this morning. The deal for Online Financial Services includes 281,664 new ordinary shares worth 5p in Gresham to be issued immediately with an additional 281,664 shares to be issued September 99. There could be further issues towards the end of 1999 depending on performance of the Canadian subsidiary. Online results for the year end to February 98 saw a pre-tax profit of Can$181,000 on sales of Can$847,000. Gresham managing director Trevor Read said the acquisition strengthened the company's existing operations in the banking and financial sector and in the North American market as a whole. Gresham, which reported pre-tax earnings of £1.17m for the six months to April 98 on sales of £8.52m, has got a good product for a good price, financial analyst Richard Holway said. "About a year ago, Gresham really needed shaking up," he said. "The new management team head by Read came in and they've done a good job and the share price has been one of the best performers this year. The purchase of Online looks a good one. It's a good price and much of it is performance related anyway. It gives Gresham a good product in a big potential e-commerce market." Online Financial Services is Gresham's third acquisition in a year, following that of London financial house CirCa Business Systems, Paris-based back-up software firm Newlog and Texas-based enterprise storage specialist Open Microsystems. ® For more stories click here
The Register breaking news

Intel, Netscape buy stakes in Red Hat Linux

Intel, Netscape and two venture capital companies have taken minority stakes in Linux distribution company Red Hat Software. The presence of two VCs circling doesn't mean a lot, while Netscape already supports Linux, so we're not necessarily talking major breakthroughs here - but the presence of Intel, and the presence of Netscape and Intel - that's important. Intel can play down the significance of its investment if it wishes to, because the company has a long track record of seeding money into start-ups and small outfits with good ideas. Some of these investments might even be entirely philanthropic. But before it announced the Red Hat deal it made it absolutely clear that it saw Linux as a strategic platform, and that it was going to put it together with Intel hardware to make it a standard, commodity platform (Earlier story) That won't play well with Microsoft. Meanwhile, Netscape's interest in Red Hat may have a lot to do with the venue. The announcement was made at ISPCON in San Jose, where Netscape will have been working hard to get ISPs to adopt or stick with its software as their platform. And as right now everybody thinks Linux is the happening OS, well, Netscape software on Intel is clearly something worth pitching to the ISPs. But with Intel trying to figure out how to reduce its dependency on Microsoft, and scoping Linux as a possible escape route, Netscape may actually have run into a couple of companies that it has quite a few things in common with. And could you seriously believe that Intel and Netscape just happened to both invest in Red Hat at the same time by accident? Quite... ® Other current Linux stories include: The Linux challenge to NT in the enterprise Informix becomes latest Linux recruit Intel puts its weight behind Linux - and Linus Click for more stories
John Lettice, 29 Sep 1998