5th > October > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

HP faces fine from US environment agency

The US Environmental Protection Agency is asking for a $2.5 million fine against Hewlett-Packard, which it says violated the Toxic Substances Control Act. HP's offence, says the EPA, was to fail to inform the Agency that it was manufacturing a chemical used in inkjet printer ink - the law requires that the EPA be kept informed of potentially toxic substances being manufactured. HP is currently deciding on its course of action. The company has 20 days to answer the charge, request a hearing, pay the fine or appeal in court. The EPA began its investigation of the company's Corvallis, Oregon plant two years ago. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft minions in bidding war to see Bill

Microsoft employees are offering money for a chance to see Bill Gates and tour his palatial residence, apparently, and according to US reports the bidding topped $25,000 last week, with Microsoft confidently expecting the final winner to shell-out $50,000. These astonishing numbers are being racked-up in an auction being held as part of Microsoft's annual charity campaign, which is being talked-up a storm by Microsoft giving-campaign program manager Emily Hine. But where can we start? Are we staggered by her claim that there's a lot of respect for Gates within Microsoft (there'd better be), or that there's not a lot of opportunity to spend time with him? Are we stunned by the amounts of spare cash some Microsoft employees have rattling around, or by the fact that some of them are apparently so creepy they're willing to spend it on getting to see Bill? Well, all of the above, and some. We're tickled by the opening bid, which was $300. The auction is claimed to be anonymous, and whichever subversive came up with this cheap offer had better hope it stays that way. And talking of cheap, we like the level of attention the lucky winner is going to get from Bill. The estate manager will give the winner and a guest a private tour (no doubt grumbling and jangling keys, like British estate managers do), and then at the end Bill will show off his favourite rooms. Also cheap, Microsoft will match the first $12,000 of the winning bid. Finally, tragic. The Gates residence is run by 50 NT servers and, Hine told reporters, "The techie people want to see the server room." ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel sales badly dented by AMD upstarts

Intel efforts to beat-off low cost rivals seem to be failing, according to research outfit Computer Intelligence, which says the company's share of US retail sales in August was 54.3 per cent, down from 84.3 per cent a year ago. High-powered clone chips from AMD scored well over the month, and Intel's attempts to 'ring fence' the low-end via Celeron have flopped conspicuously - Celeron machines did badly, PII ones rather better. AMD K6-2 based machines headed Computer Intelligence's league table of the retail 'killing ground,' with HP, Compaq and IBM implementations performing strongly, with an HP K6-2 in the lead and Compaq chalking-up second, third and fourth with an Intel PII, a K6-2 and a Celeron, in that order. Apple's iMac came fifth, and that probably knocked out some of Intel's share, but the strength of AMD overall makes it clear Apple wasn't the problem. Also significant was how badly Packard-Bell did. In the days when it was an Intel loyalist it was the dominant force in retail, but it's gone off the boil in recent years as the big boys have piled in, and its seventh place below IBM makes it clear the company's defection to Cyrix earlier this year (the PB box is Cyrix's best place) wasn't any kind of solution. PB's bail-out from the Intel alliance was a sign of lack of confidence in Intel's Celeron strategy, and the Computer Intelligence figures show how justified this was. As Intel's best performer was a PII 300 MHz in a relatively pricey Compaq, it's obvious that the vendors don't believe in Celeron (which is why they're putting fast PII into retail), and that the punters think they're right, and are voting with their wallets. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Large throng joins industry Hall of Fame

In what cruel observers might describe as a desperate piece of self-promotion,* trade mag Computer Reseller News has inducted ten "computer industry visionaries" into the computer industry Hall of Fame. The inductions are apparently endorsed by the Boston Computer Museum. Those lucky winners still breathing will presumably be welcome at "an invitation-only ceremony to be held in conjunction with Fall Comdex in Las Vegas." They include Paul Allen, Tim Berners-Lee, Charles Wang, John Warnock and Steve Wozniak. Now we can understand why Ross Cooley, described by CRN as the developer of Compaq's channel programme, might have taken till 1998 to receive the recognition he manifestly deserves, but what about the others? Aren't they so famous they ought to have been in the Hall of Fame for years? Ah, it appears the Hall of Fame only got started last year, and kicked-off with a clutch of easy ones, including His Billness, Andy Grove, Steve Jobs and Ray Noorda. *In a blatant bid for more hits, The Register today inducted Linus Torvalds into its Computer Industry Hall of Fame. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Hitachi to double 2.5in drive production

Hitachi is ramping-up production of 2.5in hard drives fast in response to soaring demand, according to today's Nihon Keizai Shimbun. This will constitute a welcome piece of good news for the company, which in common with other Asian giants has been hit badly by the semiconductor slump. Hitachi has been concentrating on boosting its share of the 2.5in drive market for the last couple of years, and originally planned to double production to 500,000 in 2000. But this has now been brought forward to 1999. The sector is reported to be seeing double-digit annual growth, caused by booming sales of notebook computers. Margins in 2.5in also tend to be more resilient, particularly in the areas of very high density and ultra-slim drives. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Nokia, Ericsson, Compaq, HP team to push broadband wireless

European mobile phone suppliers Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens seem to be the ringleaders in a new trade body intended (ostensibly) to promote the European GSM standard at a global level. But informed sources suggest that the new body is effectively an alliance put together to help the companies and their allies steer the direction of the next generation broadband cellular standards. And there are some intriguing names among the first 21 members of the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA - full list below). Compaq and HP aren't companies you'd ordinarily expect to be founder members of a mobile phone trade body, but if they're putting their weight behind GSM, it would seem convergence is almost upon us - or will be, when PC companies start to build pocket broadband wireless devices. Schlumberger meanwhile must be saluting for the smart card market, while Scientific Games may be thinking about what it could do with all that bandwidth in the mass market. The absence of Alcatel and Motorola may or may not be significant, as the GSA expects membership to grow, so they may be along any day now. Bet on it that Qualcomm won't be. But what's the GSA going to do? Its terms of reference are to promote GSM world-wide, to promote it as the "de facto basis for the delivery of third generation mobile wide-band multimedia services, within the context of global ITU IMT-2000 initiatives" (our italics). It intends to "co-operate with and complement other bodies… including the GSM MoU Association, UMTS Forum, ETSI SMG and ECTEL TMS." Indeed. So its intention is to lobby for a global standard (IMT-2000, which the ITU is deciding on) that accepts GSM as the de facto leader and is designed accordingly. It's also going to be nice (sic) to the various standards bodies that define the standards and input to them, but it's going to throw its weight around, making sure those bodies know which companies and standards have the market share, and cut their cloth accordingly. So it's no more Mr Nice Giant Cellphone Manufacturer. Members at launch: Aethos Communication Systems, ARC Cores, Benefon, BTI, Compaq/Tandem Computers, Comptel, Convergys Corporation, Ericsson, Filtronic Comtek, GTE Telecommunication Services Inc, Hewlett-Packard, Italtel, Logica Aldiscon, Nokia, Siemens AG, Schlumberger, Saville Systems, Scientific Games Intl, Texas Instruments, Wavecom, and X-Net. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Roundup: UK markets on 2 October

There were some spectacular falls on the London market on Friday, which was reacting to overnight falls on Wall Street. The FTSE was off three per cent, but the technology sector suffered badly. The UK IT sector as a whole was down 14 per cent on the day. The main reason seems to be the weakness of banks and the fact that they are the biggest customers for custom software. Gold pulled past $300 again. In the case of Misys, bank-related business is more than 50 per cent, for Sema and Logica it is around 25 per cent. Misys' fall of 26 per cent was encouraged because Merrill Lynch downgraded Misys, the biggest company in the sector. It does seem that the reaction was extreme, since around 30 per cent of Misys' income is from software licence fees and it is all but impossible for the banks to exist without Misys software. Sema's 23 per cent fall was equally ridiculous since it derives much of its income from multi-year outsourcing contracts which cannot be cancelled without penalties -- assuming Sema performs, of course. Announcing contracts did not help either FI or Logica. FI, a programming operation with an Indian subsidiary, was down 18 per cent despite its £20 million London Electricity contract, while Logica did not profit from the announcement of a £15 million contract with Shell UK Exploration, but perhaps it was a reaction to the previous day's news that it was acquiring the US-based Carnegie Group for $35 million. London Bridge Software was down 15 per cent, CMG fell ten per cent, and Sage was down nine per cent. ® See also US markets on 2 October Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Discount outfit sells sub-£100 Acorn NCs

The £100 NC (that's around $160) has arrived - unfortunately, it's arrived in the shape of a close-out sale of Acorn-designed Netproducts Netstations. The machines have gone on sale via discount sales operation Morgan Computers, and seem to be surplus stock from Netchannel UK's abandonment of the ARM-based NC design. Prior to being bought by NTL, Netchannel UK had made what seemed to be desultory attempts to sell the machines into the consumer market, providing Internet access via TVs, but Morgan's enthusiastic "access the Internet on your TV" for £99.99 now seems doubtful. Acorn has seen some success for its NC designs recently in the set-top box arena, and these may ultimately lead on to commercial success, despite the apparent Netchannel failure. Netchannel to all intents and purposes didn't try to sell the Netstation, and as the cable companies are only just starting to dip into the interactive market, it might be said to have been ahead of its time. But the flop is nevertheless embarrassing for Acorn, and fate is fickle. A couple of years ago the company was crowing about being selected by Oracle to produce NC reference designs, and talking about Netstations selling for under $500. Now Oracle seems to be a lot more interested in Intel designs, and the Netstation has made an unwelcome price breakthrough. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Morse puts IPO on backburner

Morse Group, the leading UK Sun reseller, has blamed unfavourable market conditions for shelving its £600 million flotation plans this year, according to yesterday's Sunday Times. The company will attempt an IPO next year, the newspaper says. Morse has never announced publicly its intention to float, but the Sunday Times usually has a good handle on this sort of information.
Drew Cullen, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Roundup: US markets on 2 October

While the London market shivered on Friday, the Dow put on two per cent and Nasdaq closed marginally higher, up 2.65 points. PeopleSoft fell 25 per cent following Goldman Sachs' decision to reduce their recommendation from 'strong buy' to 'neutral'. It is only a month since we reported PeopleSoft's conference call with financial analysts to say everything was on target, that those worries about the slowing of new software licences were not a concern, and that the company was winning sales against SAP. The shares were then marked up. It seems that there is now a feeling that prices are too high in the sector, and that competition is growing -- especially from SAP. Economic turmoil resulting in slower growth rates were also cited as a factor. But since the Goldman Sachs markdown was only four per cent in growth, to 42 per cent, the market over-reaction was quite surprising. Morgan Stanley shaved a cent off the current year earnings estimate, to 64c per share. SAP fell six per cent, and Baan fell eight per cent. Network Appliance put on seven per cent, Yahoo yo-yoed up 12 per cent and Amazon.com rose seven per cent following a 'buy' recommendation from Bear Stearns. Again we see these stock tipsters helping the shares along, rather than giving any real information about the prospects of the company. We call it 'outsider trading'. Other Internet stocks such as Excite, Infoseek and Lycos moved up. Scientific-Atlanta warned that its Q1 earnings per share would be in the 2-5c range, rather than the anticipated 21c, which caused its to drop 38 per cent. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Japanese banking collapse threatens IT sector

The technology sector is in danger of a meltdown, starting from Tokyo. The Governor of the Bank of Japan, Masaru Hayami, told US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan on Saturday that the top 19 Japanese banks were severely under-capitalised -- to an extent greater than had been previously admitted. A senior Japanese official at the World Bank/IMF meeting said that "if the rules were vigorously pursued" Japanese banks might be prevented from trading internationally, since capital on hand was less than eight per cent of outstanding loans. Within Japan, this level is allowed to drop to four per cent, and there are indications that this barrier may have been breached in some cases. A face-saving operation started last night, with Japanese Ministry of Finance officials denying that dangerous levels of liquidity had been reached, and claiming that Hayami's presentation was deeply flawed. They produced alternative data based on calculations using Bank of International Settlement standards, which they said showed that the biggest banks mostly were above the eight per cent threshold. Their comments must be seen in the light of heavy criticism of the mismanagement of bank regulation in Japan by the Ministry of Finance. Former Japanese prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa called on the Japanese parliament to support the banks by an enormous injection of capital -- a move that would be not at all popular in Japan. The fact that these admissions have surfaced suggests that Hayami wanted to put pressure on the Japanese parliament to enter face-saving mode and vote the necessary funds. Bill Clinton wants the IMF to act pre-emptively where there is danger of a banking system or currency coming under pressure. Tony Blair supported Clinton's plan, and hoped that Congress would vote an anticipated $18 billion to the IMF. It is unlikely that any plans made now could become operational for a few weeks, so during this period there is a heightened risk of market collapse, starting with the Japanese banking sector and spreading immediately to the technology sector and thence to the rest of southeast Asia and the world. It is a very serious situation. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Spring cleans up its training portfolio

Spring Group PLC has tidied up its training portfolio with the £6 million disposal of its Pitman franchised businesse and The Training Corporation (Springs Sales Skills ) to an MBO team. Spring gets £2.4 million in cash and retains 19.9 per cent of the equity. It also retains £1.9 millin in cash that was in the balance sheet of the businesses being sold, and it retains two freehold properties owned by the Training Corporation worth approximately £600,000. It is also keeping five Spring Learning Centres which deliver Pitman courses. The net assets for these operations are worth £600,000. After writing down the minority investment in the MBO operation to nil, Spring will record a pre-tax loss of £1.8 million on the disposal. The company said franchise businesses were non-core. The divestment also reflected its desire to spend management time on bigger Spring-branded businesses.® The franchise MBO team is backed by NatWest and 3i. Click here for more stories
A staffer, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Sun to buy remote access specialist

Sun is to buy remote access specialist i-Planet today, in a move intended to plug a hole in its Sun.Net scheme, which the company intends to roll out early next year. Sun.Net is intended to support single log-on access to corporate networks from diverse clients, anywhere in the world, giving users access via the Internet, i.e. 'WebTop' access. By accessing a personal WebTop, users are intended to be able to access the whole range of standard corporate functions, voice and email, data and applications, no matter where they are. Security is clearly vital, and this is where i-Planet comes in. The privately-held Sunnyvale company has a product called RemotePassage which gives users secure access across the Internet. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Softbank buys Japanese broker for E+Trade

Softbank, the Japanese company that bought you Ziff-Davis publishing and Comdex, is to buy a Japanese brokerage to support its push into electronic stock trading. Earlier this year Softbank teamed up with E+Trade Group to found E+Trade in Japan. The Japanese E+Trade company, which is 58 per cent owned by Softbank, will operate the brokerage, Osawa Securities, which will now be known as E+Trade Securities. It will continue to operate conventionally, but brings E+Trade a licence, membership of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and experience. Internet brokerage services will begin before the end of the year, and Softbank intends to expand online trading into other areas, including insurance. Osawa was purchased as a 'going concern,' but curiously has lost money for the last seven years, dropping $2 million most recently. No doubt Softbank knows what it's doing. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Corel infected CDs recalled

A red-faced Corel has confirmed that a number of its recently released CorelDRAW 8.0 for Macintosh CD-ROMs also contained a virus. The company has initiated a recall programme to track down copies of the CD which made it out of the channel. Corel claims to have nailed most diseased discs before they reached customers. "We've done everything we could to pull the offending stock off the shelves throughout the channel," Corel's Mac product manager, John Geleynse said. He added the cost to Corel had been significant, but did not reveal the exact amount. The virus is the latest strain of the so-called Autostart Worm. The virus causes system slowdowns and reduced hard disk performance, and marks one of the rare instances of a major viral outbreak in the Mac world, generally held to be one of the few IT sectors were virus are not rampant. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

HP to axe 2,500 jobs

Hewlett-Packard has begun the job-cutting programme chairman Lew Platt recently suggested might be used to help reduce the company's overall costs (see HP admits job cuts on the cards). The cuts will be implemented through a voluntary redundancies and will target 2,500 people, two per cent of HP's workforce. It has already imposed a five per cent pay cut on 2400 managers throughout August, September and October. The company will take a $150 million charge against its Q4 results to cover the severance payments and "other costs". In August HP predicted it would have to spend $100 million, but earlier this month it admitted the figure would be closer to $150 million, thanks to few signs of recovery in the Asian market. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Computacenter deal makes Ballmer super-excited

Computacenter announced this morning an alliance with Microsoft that will create 1,000 new jobs. Financial details of the alliance remain secret, but it's a nice deal for Computacenter, and not very good news for its competitors. Of the 1,000 new jobs, to be created over a three-year period, there will be 900 in the UK (half in the south-east), with the remainder being in France and Germany. This, in fact, represents a slow-down in recruitment, since Mike Norris, Computacenter's CEO, said that in the first half of 1998, Computacenter added 626 jobs and expected to add another 500 to 600 in the second half, making more than 1,000 jobs this year.
Graham Lea, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Workers make cancer claims in NatSemi job cuts factory

National Semiconductor is axe 700 jobs at its Greenock manufacturing plant, reducing the 1,500 workforce by almost half. Sources close to the company blamed the job cuts on this years semiconductor price drops: “Some of Natsemi products are going out at less than a penny,” said Sukh Rayat, general manager at Flashpoint UK , a distributor of NatSemi Cyrix processors. “Prices have fallen further and have lasted longer than anyone could have expected.” National Semiconductor has operated a plant in Scotland’s Silicon Glen for more than 25 years. At Greenock, the company makes a wide variety of ICs (integrated circuits) for incorporation into consumer electronic systems, and power management and automotive systems. NatSemi’s Greenock plant has come under fire, following a spate of cancers, birth defects and miscarriages recorded among female workers past and present. A group of 75 women have banded together to press claims that exposure to dangerous chemicals at NatSemi Greenock were to blame for miscarriages or cancer. NatSemi rebuts the claims. The company had never exposed employees to chemicals above legal limits, Edward Sweeney, VP of human resources told the Wall Street Journal. “We have seen no pattern of abnormalities at that plant”. Chips don’t cause abortions, according to a controversial study published in March by the UK Health and Safety Executive. It found that the miscarriage rate for women working in semiconductor plants was, at 10 per cent, lower than the 12 per cent average for the UK population at large. "The industry and people working in it should be reassured by the results of this investigation," said Dr. John Osman, the HSE's head of epidemiology, at the time. The findings appear to contradict earlier US studies which showed higher than average miscarriage rates among fab plant employees. The US reports are not necessarily wrong, according to the HSE, which points out that the use of several chemicals in semiconductor manufacture has been banned in the last few years. These include glycol ether-based solvents, which are known reproductive hazards for women, and phased out of the semiconductor industry only from 1993. NatSemi’s job cuts come as another hammer blow to the UK governments policy to encourage inward investment by overseas chip companies. More than 3,000 job losses in the sector have been announced in recent weeks. US Company Viasystems last week announced 900 job cuts with the closure of two factories in the Scottish Borders. In the North East, Siemens is close to shutting down its DRAM manufacturing plant, after failing to come to terms with a prospective buyer( a French –led consortium. Up to 2,000 more jobs at external suppliers are thought to hinge on the closure. Fujitsu last month announced that it would close down its DRAM plant sited in Prime Minister Tony Blairs Sedgefield, Co. Durham constiruency , with the loss of 500 jobs. ® Click here for more stories
Drew Cullen, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Netscape signed up to provide BT with portal

British Telecom will this week sign a deal with Netscape to use the latter's software to provide a free email service and -- yes, you've guessed it -- an Internet portal. According to Sunday Business, BT's service will be called Talk21, and will be marketed toward Net users who connect from cybercafes, libraries and WebTV-style offers. In other words, not traditional PC users. BT has a rare opportunity to bite deep into the portal market. Unlike other portal provides, with the possible exception of MSN, it has sufficient marketing clout to promote its service through channels other than the Internet. Success in the portals business is about leveraging the number of users you have to flog advertising space. BT's brand name and immensely deep marketing pockets put it in a good position to win friends and influence people in ways Excite, Infoseek, Netcenter, Yahoo! and all the others can't hope to match. Except, perhaps, by striking deals with PC companies (see Dell to offer ADSL Net access), as per Dell/Excite and Compaq/Yahoo! Still, BT's approach centres on people who don't use PCs for Internet access. Are there any? Certainly the typical clientele of London's Cyberia are US students and tourists keeping up with their email. But there's always BT's forthcoming pay-as-you-surf Internet service, Click+, modelled on its Wireplay pay-as-you-play games scheme, and for which Netscape is also providing the software, according to Sunday Business. BT, of course, is refusing to comment on speculation, but Netscape has already worked out similar arrangements with France Telecom and Dutch group KPN. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Feds probe Cisco ‘Yalta’ conference

The Federal Trade Commission has begun an investigation into allegations that Cisco attempted to persuade Lucent and Nortel to share out the network market between the three of them. According to today's Washington Post, the FTC has written to Cisco demanding details about talks held this summer between the three companies, instigated by Cisco. However, Cisco VP Dan Sheinman told the Post he was confident that the FTC would find Cisco's discussions were legal -- he claimed the talks centred on building partnerships on the development and promotion of future networking standards. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel antitrust suit delayed

The Federal Trade Commission's anti-trust suit against Intel has been postponed again, this time by a further month. The action will now commence on 18 February 1999. The move was made by the presiding judge, James Timoney, the better to fit his undoubtedly busy schedule. The judge had already set the trial for 5 January. The FTC's action centres on allegations that Intel has used monopolistic business practices against computer vendors, processor manufacturers, and graphics chipmakers. ® Click for more stories
Team Register, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

King joins DTEC Memory Corp as "hired hand"

Datrontech founder Steve King is putting his weight behind the company’s new JV with Memory Corp by coming on board as “a hired hand”. King is to work out of Datrontech Hong Kong, where he will explore far eastern routes to market for Memory Corp’s proprietary memory technology. He is convinced that Dtec Memory Corp is a world beater, linking up Memory Corp’s intellectual property with Datrontech’s delivery channels and customer relationships in European and far Eastern markets. "As I’ve got closer to Memory Corp. I‘ve come to understand their differentiators, (such as) their influence with the Intels of this world." he said. “My interest in memory is revived. "The memory market has been in the doldrums for two years, with constant price depreciation. This has not done companies like ours any good on the stock market. But memory is getting technical again – the future is bloody exciting." King remains committed to Datrontech, where he retains a major shareholding. "I’m wearing two hats- and it’s pretty comfortable," he said. "I can help grow value for Datrontech, through its 49 per cent share( in the JV)." With King on board, Dtec Memory Corp has assembled what is probably the most talented memory management team in the UK. Andew Mackenzie, managing director of DMC and Richard Burnett, MD of the group’s bespoke memory arm Memory Plus, are all heavy hitters. David Savage, chief executive of Memory Corp, said: "My role is pull togther three talented people each with an ego the size of a small planet." A one-time primary school teacher, Savage has plenty of experience in crowd control. Memory Corp is targeting $500 million sales in two years, compared with its current group run-rate of just over £100 million. "Globalisation is the key to how we achieve this," Savage said. "And that means getting into the US." The US is the easiest country in the world to do business, according to Savage, who spent 10 years in that country. "It’s also the easiest country to get (your business) killed," he said. Dtec Memory Corp was formed in January as a 51:49 per cent JV between Memory Corp and Datrontech. ® Click here for more stories
Drew Cullen, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Windows 98 to get Service Pack – official

Microsoft has confirmed it will ship an upgrade to Windows 98 early next year -- over six months after the OS was originally released.
Team Register, 05 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Phone meltdown blights comms conference

The TMA conference had to live without phones this morning as exhibitors complained of a phone system meltdown in Brighton. The breakdown in communications was a result of over demand on both land and mobile networks. "We tried to get a fax through all morning," said Maurice Jones, managing director of C3 Computer Telephony."But both land and mobile lines seemed to be down. I looked around and everyone elese was having the same problem. It was a nightmare." The TMA organisers were not available for comment as we couldn't get a dial tone. ® Click here for more stories
The Register breaking news

Y2K means NT 5.0 will have to wait its turn

IT managers look set to put Windows NT 5.0 rollouts onto the backburner, while they sort out Y2K problems. Nex- year;s timing of the much delayed launch of NT5 was criticised today by attendees at the TMA conference in Brighton. "We won't be advising our customers to upgrade to NT 5.0 until after the Year 2000 crisis is over," said Maurice Jones, managing director of C3 Computer Telephony. "We're not totally sure about it," said Laura Clarke, marketing communciations manager at Systems Integrator K-Net. "There are so many other issue to sort out before users should upgrade to NT 5.0." "NT 5.0 has integrated ATM support, so we've got customers who are very interested but again it is a question of timing. The Year 2000 issue is of increasing importance," added James Dunn, technical director of K-Net. "Migrating to NT 5.0 now would be a great headache," added Jones. "There is also the question of stability. Is NT now stable enough to cope with the demands of large scale networks that want to integrate, say telephony systems too? I doubt it." ® Click here for more stories
The Register breaking news

Voice, data and ne'er the twain shall meet

Forget the hype, voice and data convergence is a little more than a pipe dream for most big UK businesses. A GlobalOne survey of the UK's top 200 businesses revealed that 46 per cent had no data and telephony convergence. This figure is expected to drop by 35 per cent in the next two years. Of the 54 per cent who said there was some form of convergence, 36.5 per cent had voice and data on the backbone but not on the desktop. Eleven per cent had voice and data combined from the back bone to the desktop while 48 per cent have basic applications running. Just four per cent have sophisticated applications such as computer telephony incorporating screen pops and voice and data transfer. ® Click here for more stories
The Register breaking news

Register's analysis of Intel Basic PC flaws is flawed, apparently

Reader Eric Pobirs writes: There are a number of flaws in The Register analysis of Intel's future roadmap for basic PCs. Audio and DVD will not be a problem. I've observed SoftDVD playback in Windows of amazing quality on 350MHz PII systems that did not have motion compensation on their video cards. Motion compensation is rapidly becoming a generic feature in video chips that will quickly migrate into the sub-$1000 sector and can reduce CPU overhead for DVD playback by up to 30 per cent -- 40 per cent has been claimed but not observed by anyone I know. Coupled with the eventual appearance of the Katmai instructions to the Celeron line performing DVD playback will not overwhelm the system. Piling on the entirety of digital audio processing (AMR picks up the analogue end if the output isn't going to digital speakers) won't add that much to the load. If the OS can be made to give priority to the constant throughput needed by the video playback going to a TV the system should still be able to perform more 'bursty' tasks like Web surfing while someone enjoys a movie. You have to keep in mind who these machine are intended for. The kind of work described above is what the consumer thinks of when he hears the term 'multitasking' (assuming (s)he knows what that means -- Ed), not how many IP connections he can maintain. When an Intel guy says the soft AV isn't there yet he means: 'We can't offer a 500MHz Celeron with KNI and 512K on-die cache for a sub-$1K PC design yet.' Two years from now it won't a big deal. First, KNI has to earn its keep as a premium feature. This brings up another misunderstanding. Intel doesn't make a 45 per cent markup across the line. It make almost nothing on some of the low-end products. That isn't their purpose. They exist to keep AMD, Cyrix and the rest from becoming profitable enough to eat into the high-end where Intel does command massive margins. Without substantial profits (or any profits, really) the cloners can't ever hope to fund the R&D and facility contraction needed to compete where the serious money is paid for systems. Intel would happily take a loss on low-end chips to keep the cloners at bay if there weren't legal strictures against that. If the cloners give up, prices might increase a bit but Intel would still forgo low-end margins for the sake of market growth. Today's Celeron buyer might be tomorrow Merced user. Not that deep pockets alone would do the trick. IBM Microelectronics has gotten tons of press for their copper and SOI announcements but delivery has been less than impressive. So far it has only managed to demo 400MHz PPC chips just in time for that to become the secondary speed in the Intel world. Actual production seems to be another story, forcing Apple to push iMac at tradeshows like Seybold that normally wouldn't give the time of day to such a low-end machine. I sometime wonder if the ancient x86 architecture is as much help as hindrance to Intel's success. If it weren't bound to that instruction set and could start from scratch like the competition they may never have had the motivation to pull so many rabbits from hats. ® Click for more stories
Eric Pobirs, 05 Oct 1998