6th > October > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Roundup: US markets on 5 October

There was disappointment that the Group of Seven meeting at the weekend in Washington reached no firm conclusions. Nasdaq took a pasting yesterday, falling five per cent, resulting in 30-year US Treasury bonds slumping further to 4.72 per cent interest -- the traditional haven after investors sell their shares. The Dow closed down only 58 points (0.75 per cent), having been down 200 at one stage. The Nikkei changed little overnight, but the Nikkei-225 is now around its lowest level since 1986. There were hopes that the Japanese government would act to stimulate the market. In London, the FTSE was down two per cent to close at its lowest point since June 1997, although it was moving ahead briskly this morning, up 81 at 9:40 am. All technology sectors suffered. Microsoft slid three per cent, and IBM five per cent. Cisco was punished (down 13 per cent) for getting involved with an FTC probe that alleges it tried to carve up the market with Lucent (down seven per cent) and Nortel (down four per cent), and was downgraded by financial analysts. Ciena was downgraded by Goldman Sachs and dropped 11 per cent. Oracle fell nine per cent followed from its disclosure to the SEC in a filing that discounts by competitors may have the effect of "significantly reducing the prices that the company can charge for its products". Aspen Technology, a developer of software for the design and management of oil refineries and other process industries, elaborated on Friday's warning, shocking investors by saying that its Q1 would result in a loss of 26c per share, instead of the 6c per share profit that had been expected. The result was a 54 per cent fall in its price. This is the second consecutive quarter in which Aspen has fallen short of expectations. The ERP sector was marked down by financial analysts, with Alex Brown now estimating earnings growth for the sector as an average of 25 per cent, instead of 30-33 per cent. PeopleSoft fell 15 per cent, JD Edwards dropped 14 per cent, and SAP eight per cent. AT&T gobbled up Vanguard, a cellular operator, for $1.5 billion in cash and stock, and assumed debt of $600 million. AT&T will now be able to plug some gaps in areas of the eastern US where it does not offer a cellular service. Motorola may be coming out of its restructuring programme successfully. It reported operating income of $40 million, considerably better than analysts' expectations, as it did in the previous quarter. Revenue was $7.15 billion, down three per cent on the previous year, giving a loss of $42 million after a one-time charge of $117 million for an acquisition, with net income $266 million. Its shares were marked up eight per cent after the market closed, having fallen to a 52-week low during the trading session. Motorola's share (by units) of the cellular phone market has dropped to around 24 per cent from 40 per cent a few years ago, because it has been slow to develop products, analysts say. An upturn in the second half of 1999 is anticipated by one analyst. Veritas Software, a storage management software specialist, agreed to acquire the Network and Storage Management Group of Seagate Software, a majority owned subsidiary of Seagate Technology in a share transaction worth $1.6 billion. The deal is second in size only to IBM's acquisition of Lotus for $3.5 billion in 1995. Veritas focuses on the Unix market, while Seagate is in the NT and NetWare market. Veritas sells through OEMs while Seagate works through distributors and resellers. The announcement was made after the market closed. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Bristol files reply in Microsoft suit

Bristol has filed a reply brief in its case against Microsoft for anticompetitive behaviour, manipulation of access to Windows APIs, and antitrust offences. Bristol wants a preliminary injunction forcing Microsoft to carry on providing NT source code on reasonable terms. The hearing will start on 15 October in the federal court at Bridgeport, Connecticut. Bristol says in its brief that Microsoft's own documents show its predatory intent, and the power Microsoft wields through Windows to displace Unix in the server and workstation markets. Much of Bristol's brief is covered with 35 censorship redactions, because many internal Microsoft documents are quoted and these are deemed confidential. Microsoft strategy is now to restrict Bristol's access to the code, in order to limit applications being developed for Unix. Brian Croll, director of Solaris product marketing, supports Bristol in a declaration that says: "Wind/U competes with Windows by allowing Solaris to run applications written for the Windows API... [enabling] a higher degree of competition between Solaris and NT by expanding the Solaris application base to include Windows applications, thereby reducing the principal advantage that NT has to offer in relation to Solaris." Bristol's arguments for a preliminary injunction are: Microsoft acquired its desktop monopoly unlawfully; maintaining such a monopoly is unlawful; Microsoft is using monopoly leverage to obtain a dominant share of the markets; Microsoft used WISE (Windows interface source environment, the 1994 programme that resulted in the partnership) as a 'Trojan horse' to entice Unix developers to use the Windows interface; and that, contrary to Microsoft's assertions, Bristol is a competitor of Microsoft. Microsoft killed the WISE programme by demanding unreasonable royalties after it had eliminated threats from Sun's WABI (Windows Applications Binary Interface) and an open public Windows interface. Bristol claims that large parts of Microsoft's brief are "completely spurious". In its brief, Bristol says that it is threatened with irreparable injury and would be eliminated as a competitor if it were not granted a preliminary injunction: it is a "life or death proposition". ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Argentine IBM defendant found hanged

The IBM-Argentina bribery scandal has taken a grisly turn with the news that a key suspect has been found dead. The body of Marcelo Cattaneo was discovered hanging on a Buenos Aires building site on Sunday - police are currently presuming he committed suicide. Cattaneo was one of a large number of officials from Banco Nacion, IBM, the Argentine government and contractors who have been charged in the bribes scandal. Four current and former IBM US executives are also the subject of extradition applications by the judge in the case, accused of being involved in the payment of bribes in order to win a contract to comupterise Banco Nacion for IBM. The contract itself collapsed in ruins, with Banco Nacion and IBM finally negotiating an out of court setttlement, and IBM subsequently downscaling its Latin American public sector work severely. The death of Cattaneo is likely to cause some damage to the prosecution's case. Reportedly, he claimed to have been in a position to say which of the executives involved accepted the bribes. The investigation is however sufficiently advanced for the prosecution to rely on other witnesses. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Lycos to offer credit cards to members

Lycos has upped the stakes in the Web wars with the introduction of its own-brand credit card, a Lycos Network affinity card arranged through US Visa and Mastercard card issuer Fleet Credit Card Services. From the beginning of next year Lycos sites will be allowing members to apply for the cards, and depending on the success of the programme Fleet will pay Lycos up to $22.5 million. Lycos will also receive royalties generated by the programme. At the moment the deal seems to be simply a Web equivalent of the now common affinity programmes being offered in conjunction with thousands of clubs, charities and pressure groups. But there are obvious attractions for outfits like Fleet. Web users tend to be more prosperous, and they'll obviously also tend to be less suspicious of electronic commerce, so picking them off early could pay dividends. Register worrying coincidence: Fleet Credit Card Services is part of Pennsylvania-based Fleet Financial Group. Many years ago a Register staffer used to work for a paper published by an entirely unrelated UK-based company, Fleet Financial. This paper was later taken over by noted master of creditworthiness and fiscal probity, the late Robert Maxwell. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

NCI makes breakthrough into Web-enabled appliance market

Network Computer Inc (NCI) has made a crucial breakthrough into the embedded market with the release of eNavigator, software for embedded operating systems which allows low-resource hand-held devices and appliances to be used for email, general connectivity and Web access. Effectively, the move into embedded provides NCI with an opportunity to pursue its objectives by alternative, more plausible means. The company has so far failed to achieve great things in terms of the adoption of the Network Computer standard, but by aiming for the appliance first, and building on the ever-increasing need for connectivity and, yes, Web access for a wide range of devices, NCI could be taking Tiger Mountain by strategy. The first licensee for eNavigator, embedded OS developer Wind River Systems, was announced yesterday, and the first device to use the software will be a new version of Fujitsu's InterTop palmtop computer, which has been on sale in Japan for over a year now. The InterTop uses Wind River's VxWorks operating system, and the company intends to offer eNavigator in its Tornado development environment for VxWorks, and to use it to build HTMLWorks and eNavigator for VxWorks. According to Wind River, these will allow OEMs to build Web access, interactivity and graphical device management into embedded devices. The market is however potentially much broader than just plamtops: "We are approaching a point in the digital age when everything from telephones to personal digital assistants will be equipped with software connecting to the Internet," says David Roux, CEO of NCI. He envisages eNavigator "inside of millions of information appliances, ultimately bringing the Internet to people in new and exciting ways." ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Seagate storage management arm to merge with Veritas

Seagate's Software subsidiary has sold its Network and Storage Management Group to rival storage management specialist Veritas Software for $1.6 billion. The two operations will be merged into a single company headed by Veritas CEO Mark Leslie (as CEO and chairman) and Seagate Software president Terry Cunningham (as president 2300 staff. Veritas is to issue 33 million common shares to fund the purchase, which is expected to be done and dusted by the end of January 1999. "The merger of Seagate Software Network and Storage Management Group and Veritas will form a company with an immediate market leadership in four strategic storage management software areas: backup and recovery, core operating system level storage, storage resource management and high availability," said Leslie. "The union represents a rare opportunity to bring together compatible cultures with a common vision," he added. ® Click for more stories
Team Register, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

AMD scores Sony consumer PC design win

Sony is to use AMD's K6-2 processor in its forthcoming line of consumer PCs. The news comes one day before AMD is due to release its latest quarterly results. The Japanese consumer electronics giant will be using the 350MHz K6-2 in its Vaio Compo line due to go on sale at the end of the month. Sony's decision to use the AMD processor follows similar moves by Compaq, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. These three also use the chip in consumer-oriented systems. The Sony deal is likely to help dampen the effects of AMD's expected quarterly loss, due to be announced tomorrow and which is now expected to be less than expected. According to US media, the company will lose between 5c and 12c per share, up from the 14c a share being predicted last week. ® Click for more stories
Team Register, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Wired's last bastion falls to Lycos

Lycos has bought Wired Digital, what was left of Wired's pioneering attempt to carve a slice for itself out of the electronic frontier, for $83 million worth of stock. The operation was originally an offshoot of the formerly seminal Wired magazine, which was itself sold to 'straight' publishers Conde Nast for $75 million earlier this year. Tragically for Wired and its founders, the herald of the revolution seems to have got itself consolidated without making the stratospheric sums recently associated with Web-related operations. Parent company Wired Ventures twice failed in its attempts to go public. The deal with Lycos is basically about increasing the latter's volumes. Lycos claims to reach more than 40 per cent of Web users, and Wired's addition ought to increase its reach, and beef up its content. Lycos says the Wired Digital brands will remain distinct, but will become part of the Lycos Network. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 06 Oct 1998
Intel headquarters, Santa Clara

Intel 450MHz Xeon ships, but four- and 8-way slip

The first systems based on Intel's 450MHz Xeon CPU will ship this month, following today's announcement of the processor, but four-way implementations won't be out till next year - very early next year, said a spokesman, while eight-way Xeon is still a way off. The 450 MHz Xeon is designed for use in dual processor workstations and servers, and for 1,000 unit quantities will cost $824, a substantial price cut from the equivalent 400 MHz part's launch price of $1,124. Intel however now says that four-way 450MHz Xeon servers are likely to ship early next year. At the Xeon launch in June the company was somewhat more bullish, predicting eight-way Xeon servers before the end of this year. Among the first vendors offering the two-way version are Compaq, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, IBM, Integraph, NEC, Siemens Nixdorf, TriStar and Umax. Fujitsu itself unveiled an 8-way implementation two weeks ago, but this uses proprietary Fujitsu-developed technology. Intel's current focus for Xeon, however, seems to be on the workstation rather than the server market: "Our initial Pentium II Xeon processor launch brought new customers to the Intel architecture, and today’s announcement of the Pentium II Xeon processor at 450MHz should accelerate that trend," said Anand Chandrasekher, general manager, Intel’s Workstation Product Division. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft unveils cordless phone

Microsoft has released its first phone -- the Microsoft Cordless Phone, to be precise, designed for PC users "seeking a convenient, versatile tool for managing home-based personal and business calls", according to the company. That, of course, easily describes every other phone on the planet, but we'll let that pass. The kit comprises a cordless handset, recharging station and a receiver that connects to both the phone system and the user's PC. Software running on the PC -- Microsoft Call Manager -- provides a voice recognition system -- presumably courtesy of Lernout & Hauspie, the voice recognition specialist in which Microsoft has a stake -- to access its features via the handset. It will easily recognise different users without being trained, Microsoft claims. The software can also be set up to provide a multi-account voice mail system. "The Microsoft Cordless Phone System will revolutionise the way busy families, professionals and home entrepreneurs manage their important phone calls and messages," enthused a hopelessly hyperbolic Rick Thompson, VP of Microsoft's hardware division. A wireless-aware Register staffer adds: The blessed thing is US-only anyway. It operates at 900 MHz, the frequency decent folk use for GSM digital, and if Microsoft tried to sell it at 1800 MHz on DECT in Europe, against perfectly adequate phone-based systems at half the price, it'd just get laughed at. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Viking doubles European DRAM capacity

Memory giant Viking Components is planning to set up an authorised reseller programme across Europe while doubling its manufacturing capacity in Dublin, as a result of sales growth. Viking has confirmed it is talking to its distributors, including CHS, Actebis, Ingram and Northamber about qualifying resellers for an authorisation scheme to be launched in Q1 next year. The programme will enable resellers to receive marketing funds, promotions, direct customer service support and direct access to Viking through toll-free numbers. "It will help us create more pull through and increase market share at the reseller level," said Dave West, Viking's European managing director. The company's facility in Dublin will be finished by the end of this year. As well as being a manufacturing plant, it will also house a test centre using testing equipment from Crimble Micro Test and Hewlett-Packard. Despite Far Eastern memory makers struggling in what has been a flat market this year, Viking claimed its sales have flourished in recent weeks and now it is looking forward to meeting increased demand through its improved Dublin centre. "We need to keep pace with demand while trying to maintain standards," said Dave West. "The testing units will also give us an extra dimension. Testing modules on these two units validates the design integrity and correlates the results. "This is critical for the new generation of high speed memories like PC-100, where even the slightest variance in timing or smallest signal degradation will cause severe problems at the system level." The H-P and CMT testers are both capable of testing new memories including Fast Page Mode, EDO, SDRAM, 100MHz SDRAM and DDR. ® Click here for more stories
The Register breaking news

SheepShaver to bring Mac application support to Linux

German BeOS developer SheepShaver is porting its MacOS runtime environment, also called SheepShaver, to Linux. The software, which currently only runs on PowerPC-based BeOS installations, creates a MacOS virtual machine in which users can work with any out-of-the-box Mac applications. It's not yet clear whether the Linux version of SheepShaver will operate solely on MacOS and PowerPC-based hardware, or be offered across multiple platforms. The news comes as industry heavyweights, including Oracle, Intel, IBM and Netscape, have been loudly trumpetting their support for Linux as an enterprise OS. However, as a mainstream OS, it isn't noted for the wide range of off-the-shelf applications that it provides. A MacOS virtual machine would go some way to changing that. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Server sales slow down

PC server sales ran out of steam in the first half of the year, according to research firm IDC. It found that Q2 worldwide shipments were down one per cent from the first quarter, the first time sales have gone backwards. Year on year, growth has levelled out at 17 per cent but IDC has claimed there is no need to panic. Third and fourth quarter figures should be a lot better due to seasonal buying patterns in Europe and the US pushing sales back up, IDC says. It blames the economic malaise in Japan for the earlier blip in growth and claimed that sales in Japan will continue to be sluggish until mid-1999. "Inventory issues in the US, modest growth in Europe and buyers holding off in anticipation of Xeon processors have all contributed to the slowdown in growth," said IDC analyst Amir Ahari. Compaq is still number one in the worldwide server charts but its lead is bleeding away, said IDC. Compaq dropped from 29.6 per cent to 27.7 per cent during Q2, while Hewlett-Packard gained share, rising to 15.2 per cent. IBM also grew share to 12.2 per cent. Dell is catching up fast, breaking into double figures for the first time with an 11.4 per cent share.
The Register breaking news

Germans to boycott Net over high dial-up costs

A band of German Net users are calling on fellow Germans to boycott the Internet. Their target: Deutsche Telekom. Their complaint: DK is charging way too much for local dial-up Net access. The group, DarkBreed, wants Germans to refrain from accessing the Internet for 24 hours on Sunday 1 November. DarkBreed's preferred date seems an odd choice, but it the group claims Sunday is a day not of rest but of heavy Net use round their way. "Deutsche Telekom provides 5.1 million dial-up connections every day," said the group, quoting DK figures. "Assuming that each user spends only DM2 on a Sunday, the boycott will cause a DM10.2 million loss." As evidence of DK's high pricing policy, DarkBreed cited a report in German IT magazine CT which said heavy Net users in Germany pay up to 800 per cent more than US-based users. Actually, the mark-up is likely to be much higher, since many dial-up connections in the US are local calls and therefore free. DarkBreed took the idea from a similar move by Spanish Net users which, according to the German team, lead to a price cut of 60 per cent. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Entegra appoints Hudson to build European USB channel

USB company Entrega Technologies has appointed former US Robotics managing director Clive Hudson as vice president and general manager. The appointment coincides with the company's drive into Europe and the setting-up of a European headquarters in Reading. Hudson joins Entrega after seven years with modem maker USR and will spearhead the company's attack on the European market. "More and more USB products are coming on stream," he said, "Consumers will love it and resellers will like the reduction in returns on USB peripherals." Entrega launched alongside Windows 98 and its products include four and seven port USB hubs, translucent iMac hubs, PCI upgrade kits and USB to parallel printer converters. Vice president David Murray claimed that, with 80 per cent of PCs on retail shelves now containing a USB port, the market will soon be ripe for picking. "There is a moment of truth approaching in the retail business, which is an opportunity for a new company like Entrega to fill gaps in the overall USB strategy." USB solutions have received wide-ranging criticism in the past mainly due to a lack of support for legacy peripherals. Murray denies that this is a problem and added that Entrega, though its connectors has a connectivity solution to older parallel port devices.® Click here for more stories
The Register breaking news

Lynx merges training units, rebrands distribution arm

Lynx Group has bundled its training operations, Lynx IT Training and Sphinx CST Education, into a single company. The combined operation turns over £5 million, employs more than 70 staff out of seven training centre and will trade as Lynx IT Training. Lynx IT Training was formed through the acquisition of Clifton Reed Training in 1998. The company supplies PC application training to the corporate and public sector. Sphinx CST delivers technical training centred around Unix hardware and software. Ellie Smyth retains MD slot at Lynx IT Training, while Phil Calladine, formerly General Manager of Sphinx CST Education, joins the board as Director of the Technical Training business unit. Sphinx CST, Lynx's IT wholesale arm, is rebranding its non-IBM distribution business as Sphinx Channel One. Three months ago, the firm funnelled its IBM wholesale business into a specialist unit, Sphinx Blue. Sphinx CST is targeting sales of more than £100 million in the next financial year. The distributor was formed through Lynx's acquisitions of Unix hardware specialist CST, Unix software specialist and comms specialist Globelle. ® Click here for more stories
A staffer, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

IBM scores development deal for France's Minitel 2

An alliance between IBM and France Telecom announced today appears intent on pulling off an interesting double - strengthening IBM's position in the appliance/Network Computer arena while reinforcing France Telecom's on the hearts, minds and wallets of France's e-commerce friendly public.
John Lettice, 06 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

ISS buy UK security software developer

Internet Security Systems is to acquire March Information Systems, the privately held UK developer of security assessment technologies for the Windows NT and Unix platforms. The company is to combine March's technology with its SAFESuite adaptive network security control system. Nasdaq-quoted ISS is paying $4.75 million cash and 120,000 shares of its own common stock for March Information Systems. The UK company's turnover for the year to March 31, 1998 was approximately $2 million, ISS said.® Click here for more stories
A staffer, 06 Oct 1998