15th > October > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Motorola launches PowerPC G4

Motorola's next-generation PowerPC processor, the G4, is on course to go into production by the middle of next year, the company said today. Speaking at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, California, Motorola PowerPC project manager Paul Reed, said the chip, aimed at the embedded market as well as the PC arena (Apple, at any rate), will offer 10-15 times the performance of the current PowerPC 750. The G4 is the first PowerPC to feature Motorola's AltiVec vector processing operations -- its answer to Katmai. AltiVec technology is designed to operate in parallel with the main PowerPC instruction set, and provide an more powerful way of manipulating streams of data of the kind more usually tackled by DSPs. The company hopes that will boost the chip's take up in the embedded arena, but it also provides a useful way of bringing much-improved graphics and multimedia handling to mainstream applications -- the very uses Intel designed Katmai for. The G4 supports 512K to 2MB of backside L2 cache, connected via 64-bit or 128-bit buses. Multiple G4s can access each other's caches, offering much improved multi-processing performance, said Reed. Based on 0.2-micron copper interconnect technology, the G4 crams 10.5 million transistors onto a 83mm x 83mm die, and consumes less than 8W of power at 400MHz. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

IBM readies Gigaprocessor PowerPC for server lines

In the months since IBM fell out with Motorola over the direction of PowerPC development, it has been busily working on a server-oriented version of that platform, it has emerged. Unimaginatively codenamed Gigaprocessor, the new design is set to replace the chips currently used in Big Blue's RS/6000 and AS/400 lines, and will be "optimised for the server environment", according to project chief Charles Moore. Moore wasn't exactly generous with details, but he admitted the chip would be binary compatible with current Power and PowerPC software. When quizzed about the difference between a server-oriented CPU and a more general microprocessor, Moore pointed to the former's high level of reliability, extended multi-processing capability, very high I/O bandwidth and focus on minimising memory latency -- the imbalance in speed between processor, system bus and RAM. While he didn't attribute these characteristics to Gigaprocessor per se, it would be difficult to imagine them missing from his project's checklist. Still, Big Blue's record on building server-oriented PowerPCs isn't too strong. Want to embarrass an IBM chip-chief? Just ask him about the PowerPC 620... Even if it does get the thing out of the door, the company has also committed itself to Intel's Merced, putting it on what semiconductor analyst MicroDesign Resources VP Linley Gwennap called "a slippery slope -- IA-64 could steal customers away from its Risc systems". ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel doctors Foster to extend life of IA-32 architecture

Intel revealed details of its future IA-32 processor technology, codenamed Foster, at this year's Microprocessor Forum. The company also discussed its positioning of the IA-64-based Merced and its successors, McKinley, Madison and Deerfield. Foster is set to ship late 2000/early 2001 and, according to Intel Microprocessor Products Group VP Steve Smith, will be based on a new core design which will replace the P6-based core currently used in Xeon and to be extended with the Katmai multimedia instructions in Tanner and then Cascades. Foster will be designed specifically for 0.18-micron technology, though later versions will use a 0.13-micron process. It will feature larger than ever L1 and L2 cache, and the latter will be built into the chip die. Intel has specified an initial clock speed of 1GHz for the new chip. "We see the IA-32 architecture going on long into the future serving volume markets in the PC and workstation spaces," said Smith. In other words, it will fill the gap below the high-end workstation and server markets Intel is targetting with Merced. That chip will be followed a year later (2001) by McKinley, which, claimed Smith, would offer twice the performance of its predecessor. In fact, Merced is looking dedicedly weak these days -- according to Intel's own roadmap, its barely more powerful than Foster is predicted to be. The major leap will come with McKinley -- "which will contain all we've learned from Merced", said Smith -- which will offer three times Merced's bus bandwidth, offer far larger, on-chip caches (Merced itself will support multi-megabyte L2 sizes) and clock speeds of over 1GHz. McKinley will be followed in late 2001 and early 2002 by Madison and Deerfield, respectively. Madison will continue McKinley's upward performance trend, while Deerfield will offer less impressive improvements over McKinley as a trade-off for a lower price point, said Smith. Intel's roadmap calls for a successor to Foster to be launched at this point, but given IA-32 support is being built into Merced and will presumably be much improved in its successors, it's not hard to imagine Deerfield being positioned as the successor to Foster. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Apple ships 278,000 iMacs

Apple shipped 278,000 iMacs in the first six weeks of the machine's availability, interim CEO Steve Jobs claimed today after announcing the company's Q4 resultsmaking the consumer computer the fastest selling Mac in company's history. At the same time, Jobs revealed the results of a survey of 1900 iMac buyers. The stats suggest 29 per cent of iMac customers are first-time PC buyers, while 12.5 per cent were moving across from the Wintel platform. The rest were existing Mac owners. While the company still has a long way to go to regain its former glories of the Mac II era and, later, the Power Mac launch (though it has about as much chance of reliving the halcyon days of the Apple II as NT 5.0 shipping bug-free first time out) the iMac stats are encouraging. High sales among existing users was to be expected, but increasing your user base by 114,000 is no bad thing, especially when 34,750 of them have passed on a new Packard Bell or Compaq. Still, the company is going to have its work cut out maintaining that figure over the christmas period, a time when sales become slightly more skewed toward Little Johnny's desire for a shit-hot Quake II machine than the more mature Internet interest that has presumably driven iMac sales. It's also interesting that Apple hasn't talked much about sales of its Power Mac and PowerBook systems, suggesting there's not much to write home about here. In fact, knock off the 278,000 iMacs sold in six weeks from the total number of units Apple shipped in the entire quarter and you end up with a figure (556,000) well below the 635,000 units it shipped in Q1. Difficulty building enough PowerBooks will undoubtedly have hit the company hard here, but it's perhaps telling that a stack of speed-bumped Power Macs doesn't seem to have helped much. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Apple posts $106 million profit

Apple today posted a fourth-quarter profit of $106 million on revenues of $1.56 billion, ensuring the Mac maker not only saw its fourth consecutive quarter of profit but its first full year in the black since 1995. For the whole of fiscal 1998, the company achieved a profit of $309 million on revenues of $5.9 billion. However, that figure was down on the $7.1 billion the company posted last year, though it also made a loss of $1 billion. Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs -- 18 months on and the company still hasn't found a replacement for the temporary return of its founder -- claimed the $1.2 billion sortfall arose from falling prices and the hit it took from shutting down the Newton and imaging divisions. The company shipped 834,000 units in the last quarter (up from 635,000 in Q1), a figure derived from strong growth in all territories but the Pacific Rim. During the last three quarters, Apple managed to bring its inventory down 80.5 per cent, from $400 million to $78 million. CFO Fred Anderson was bullish about Apple's future, and predicted the company's growth during 1999 would be above the 12-15 per cent analysts have pegged for the PC industry as a whole. His estimates assume strong sales of the iMac continuing on through the Christmas period, which Apple hopes to boost with a $5 million advertising and promotional campaign. The company has also signed up US chain Best Buy to push the iMac in 300 stores. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Roundup: Markets on 14th October 1998

The Dow was marginally up, and Nasdaq was up 2 per cent because of a dearth of bad news, although the rally looked a little fragile. The Nikkei was down 1.3 per cent yesterday in thin trading, and was down again this morning. The Japanese government's plan to recapitalise the banks with Y60 trillion looked as though it would not work as the banks look as though they will not ask for funds for fear of provoking a run on their shares - and losing some face of course. Goldman Sachs did a volte face on its forecast for the dollar, and downgraded it sharply to Y109 in a three to six month view, and Y120 in October 1999, having forecast Y135 for January 1999 just ten days ago. Cisco, eyeing rivals Lucent and Northern Telecom, announced yesterday it was buying the closely-held telecom equipment manufacturer Selsius Systems for $145 million in stock and cash. Selsius specialises in voice over networks and has developed special telephones and Call Manager software. Selsius is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intecom, which is in turn owned by Lagardere, the French media and technology company. Cisco's objective is to develop single networks for voice, data and video. This acquisition follows Cisco's announced policy of acquiring around a dozen companies over the next year. Microchip Technology delivered Q3 eps up one cent over the year-earlier quarter and its CFO said that its business will be up this year to give it a market share of 9 to 10 per cent, compared with a 10 per cent decline in the market for microcontrollers. Motorola's share is declining to around 19 to 20 per cent. Compaq put on 4 per cent at the end of its first day of trading following its results. Intuit put on 7.5 per cent, 3COM and Netscape gained 5 per cent, Oracle, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Rational and National Semiconductor 4 per cent. SCO lost 5 per cent, and Symantec dropped 3.5 per cent How grateful the Italians are for an Italian version of Excite, which put on 5 per cent, while its partner Telecom Italia's American depositary shares added 11 per cent. The Street's neurotics pushed Apple down 4 per cent after it reported fiscal Q4 eps of 68 cents, beating the estimates by 19 cents, and up 87 cents (before charges) over last year's Q4. Cambridge Technology Partners, a computer services company, surrendered 22 percent despite on-target earnings of 25 cents/share. The revenue growth was lower than was expected, which the company blamed on RAD customers deferring or cancelling application development projects for Y2K reasons. Seagate fell 13 per cent after delivering eps of 19 cents, 2 cents above expectations. After $84 million in special charges, the net loss was $30 million, which was better than the year-ago loss of $240 million. Revenue was $1.55 billion. It is generally thought that the disk drive business is picking up again following Asian manufacturers coming online. USWeb has acquired 33 Web service companies over the last two years, and yesterday delivered $34 million in Q3 sales, beating analysts' estimates of $31.5 million - but recording a loss of $38.5 million, which included acquisition charges. It was rewarded by having its shares marked up 29 per cent. E*Trade had a fiscal Q4 loss of 33 cents/share or $16 million, but revenue rose 32 per cent to $69 million, up from $52 million in the year-ago quarter. Losses are expected to continue as part of its investments in technology and marketing, including $150 million on its web site. The company now has 544,000 accounts (share traders), up from 225,000 a year ago. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Now Microsoft plans to integrate database in the OS

Having Bill Gates doing the 'vision thing' while Ballmer and Co run Microsoft may end up generating a heap of trouble for the company. In his memo to staff, published earlier this week (Microsoft leaks its own memos), he set down several technological objectives that would have massive implications, and yesterday he was at it again - now we're going to integrate databases. Gates was being interviewed by three analysts on the podium at Gartner's Florida Symposium, and according to reports seems to have spent a lot of time arguing Microsoft's defence against the DoJ action. But he also lobbed in the suggestion that Microsoft would build a "superstore" for data into the operating system, introducing database functions that would be a superset of the file system, dealing with data storage and caching. So the OS would have built-in transaction processing functions, and these would be available for use by all Windows applications. Logically, this functionality should turn out to be a close relation of the anti-piracy and copyright control functions Gates said would be built into the file system in his memo, but the Great Man seems to have missed the sheer insanity of bringing up a notion like this in the current context. Any day now the DoJ will step into court claiming that Microsoft's integration policy is predatory. Caldera is claiming similar things, and Gates himself has been whizzing around defending Microsoft - he contrived to do this in Florida and North Carolina yesterday alone. So now we're going to integrate OLTP. You can imagine it. First the file system gets revved, then the functionality starts to extend, and by the time the database vendors are starting to notice their apps breaking, Microsoft is claiming that it's perfectly logical and in the interests of innovation to integrate the database with the OS. Mysteriously, SQL Server seems to work better with Windows than apps from other vendors do. Microsoft argues that all of the hooks their developers need to write software that competes with SQL are readily available. They're just losing market share because Microsoft software is better. Actually, if you think about it there is an argument that database and OS should be tightly integrated. If the DoJ ends up whacking Microsoft on this one in about 2005, expect the enterprise vendors currently delivering bespoke mission critical database platforms to get whacked with Microsoft subpoenas. By the way, late yesterday we finally got to the end of Microsoft's "Setting the record straight" document, and guess what we found. "Microsoft is not in a monopoly position … In operating systems it faces competition from IBM OS/2, PC-DOS, Caldera OpenDOS, Apple Mac, Linux, Novell NetWare, Sun Solaris, Sun JavaOS, HP/UX, DEC VMS and Digital UNIX, Lucent Inferno, SCO OpenServer and UNIXWare, IBM AIX and OS/400, and many embedded real-time operating systems." The fact that Microsoft sees itself competing with all of these - i.e., with everything - speaks volumes about the company's ambitions. This par is basically a corporate Freudian slip that confirms that Microsoft wants to rule the world. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Gates under fire over upgrade pricing, licence policies

In between defending Microsoft over the current DoJ action and telling the DoJ where it should point the next one, Gates seems to have been taking some flak over Microsoft's NT Terminal Server licensing policies, and its upgrade pricing. Speaking at the Gartner Symposium in Florida yesterday he fielded claims that Microsoft has been ratcheting upgrade fees for its apps by claiming that Microsoft's revenue from Office on a per copy basis falls every year. But this is the antitrust action that didn't bark - yet. Before the coalition of US States merged their antitrust action with the DoJ's, they'd intended to push allegations of predatory pricing strategies on Microsoft applications, but that didn't make it into the merged complaint. Claims that Microsoft deliberately undercuts rivals with volume pricing deals and 'peppercorn' corporate licences are however rife. As are bitches from corporate customers who reckon they're being forced to pay penal rates for upgrades so their organisations can stay current. And, sometimes, so their apps and operating systems are going to carry on working together. Note that Gates answered the question by referring to Office - but SQL Server and Exchange might be more interesting places for people to look. The eruption of complaints about Terminal Server licensing is also interesting. At the Citrix Thinergy conference in Florida last month large numbers of attendees were, basically, boiling mad about Terminal Server licensing (Microsoft licence policy crumbles under fire) . Microsoft imposes a 'per seat' licence fee, so any machine that will at some point be connected to NT Terminal Server needs an NT Workstation licence and a CAL (Client Access Licence). The users want concurrent licensing, which is a lot cheaper for them because they only pay for the number of machines connected to the server at any one time. Most of them argue that Microsoft's licensing policy for Terminal Server is a real negative in rolling out thin client/server network systems - Microsoft's share of the cake makes a big difference to costs, so potential customers aren't deploying anything like as fast as they'd want to otherwise. So here's Bill's take on it. He claims that concurrent licensing is yesterday's model - Microsoft abandoned it because it was difficult to administer (translation: We think our customers were lying to us) and "unpopular." If there's anybody out there who doesn't work for Microsoft and thinks concurrent licensing is unpopular with anybody but Microsoft, please mail us. Here, we reckon this is a dam that's about to burst. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Intergraph counter-attacks low-cost Intel workstations with fab deal

Embattled workstation company Intergraph is pulling out of manufacturing, outsourcing production to computer industry manufacturing specialist SCI. The 300 Intergraph employees involved in building workstations will be offered jobs at SCI, but we think this is an aggressive move, not a defensive one. Intergraph's core competences are in workstation design, but it's threatened by Intel's move into the workstation market, and by the number of broad-range PC manufacturers charging into the field, most of them on the back of Intel's design efforts (and Intel, to some extent, on the back of HP's). Intergraph has an antitrust suit against Intel outstanding, claiming Intel tried to blackmail key workstation technologies out of it. But whatever the outcome of that suit, Intergraph is still going to face a combination of commodity workstation designs and mass manufacturing - all of the big PC companies are going to be coming for it. SCI will take on the Intergraph in-house manufacturing business, and will also wind up taking on the outsourced Intergraph manufacturing other companies currently do. Intergraph can concentrate on design, while SCI, which is a very large manufacturing outfit, will pick up workstation expertise. Strangely enough, both companies are headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, so close co-operation is logical. But to what end? The double act could produce volumes and price levels that would help Intergraph respond to the assaults from the PC companies, and there seems to be more to the deal than just SCI building what Intergraph currently builds. "SCI is very enthusiastic over prospects of this new partnership. The respective strengths of SCI and Intergraph make this a leveraged combination that should significantly contribute to the future success of both companies," said SCI president Eugene Sapp (our italics). Significant, no? ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Jackson turns down Microsoft request for trial delay

Judge Jackson refused Microsoft's request to have the trial delayed, and it is now looking as though Microsoft made the request to add strength to any subsequent appeal. Microsoft is being allowed to depose the substituted Apple and Sun witnesses, however. The DoJ has filed its list of 1,300 documents, but regrettably the content is not at present available. Of particular interest are emails with Netscape, including one by Daniel Rosen, Microsoft's manager of new technology, headed "LOI" (letter of intent). Of course corporate spokesmen and women are used to produce official lies for companies, so it was not surprising to find Jim Cullinan from Microsoft claiming that the emails contain "powerful evidence" that Microsoft's version of the Netscape meeting was the only true one, and that Microsoft's actions "before, during and after [the meeting] do not support the government's allegation." First, we doubt if Cullinan has seen the emails, or has even been briefed specifically about their true content: he is in denial mode. Would the DoJ really claim that the emails were incriminating unless the evidence were very good indeed? We think not. Public access to the exhibits will not be until the judgement is rendered. The DoJ's reason for asking the court to release the testimony the day before the witness is examined turns out to be "to advance the public interest in having the trial unfold in a traditional manner", but there is a legal issue as well. The written testimony is not part of the trial record until it is avowed under oath by the witness in the court.. It should not be forgotten that if the revelations prove very damaging for Microsoft, the case could be stopped by Microsoft agreeing to another consent decree, which would prevent the release of documents and further witness testimony. Microsoft has a considerable history of backing down at the very last moment. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Integration and ISP deals drive Explorer gains, says Zona

Following swiftly on research indicating that Microsoft was winning the browser wars (earlier story), the latest study from Zona Research suggests the company is actually losing. Zona concentrates its study on enterprise customers, and concludes that 60 per cent of users say Netscape Navigator is their browser of choice, despite the fact that 54 per cent of companies say Internet Explorer is their 'standard' browser. So Netscape appears to be holding up in the teeth of adversity. The numbers have tipped further in Netscape's favour since the last survey in July - the company has gained six percentage points to achieve the current 60-40 lead over IE. The discrepancy between the user preference and company policy numbers may be accounted for by the fact that only 63 per cent of companies actually have an 'official browser' policy. And what makes these policies? Says Zona chief analyst Clay Ryder, "We see from this study that 84 per cent of IE in use as the primary browser is policy-driven. "We believe this significant increase is largely due to the fact that IE 4.0 is an integral part of Windows 98, that Microsoft has continued to make inroads in the corporate marketplace, and numerous distribution agreements with service providers and other software vendors." Fancy a late deposition, Clay? It seems fairly clear that Zona is reasoning that its distribution factors that are driving IE forward in companies, whereas argues in its rebuttal of the DoJ, issued earlier this week (Microsoft spin-doctors 'refute' DoJ case), that IE is succeeding on quality. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Acorn rebuffs dealer bid

Acorn’s relationship with its dealers has hit the rocks following a “sudden, unexpected and unpredictable change in (its) negotiating position”, over attempts to keep the RiscOS alive. The Four Wise Men, members of the Steering Group formed on behalf of the Acorn dealer and developer community, said they had “reluctantly stepped back from negotiations with with Acorn Computers for their Product business, upon learning that Acorn is now negotiating directly with another company from the Netherlands, introduced to Acorn via the Steering Group's agency.” Pile indignity upon indignity, Steering Group members “signed a Memorandum of Understanding which (Acorn CEO) Stan Boland signed for Acorn and which was abruptly abandoned by Acorn a few days later”. Reading between the lines, the Acorn dealers are saving their anger for another day. Until the outcome of the negotiations is settled, at any rate. “The Steering Group regard as a notable achievement the rapid introduction to the scene of another firm, with technical and manufacturing experience and substantial financial backing, which may lead to continuing the Acorn product range.” Substantial financial backing must be the key in Acorn’s considerations. How viable the Steering Group’s plans were on that front we will probably never know. “If the negotiation leads to the sale of Acorn's Workstation Products to another party, the Group will work to convince that party of the value of the recent and imminent Products, and will encourage them to sustain the Dealer and Developer community, so as to sustain the broad Acorn-Using community, with all its enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to RiscOS.” A ringing declaration, but does it actually mean anything in concrete tems ? Steering Group members say that if the new set of negotiations fail, they will “continue to seek an alternative way of bringing Phoebe to market and continuing development of RiscOS”. If these negotiations fail, Phoebe is dead in the water. For customers are not going to hang around all that much longer. Maybe it’s time for more Acorn dealers to plunge into Wintel. Sure, the technology is frustrating. But it’s alive and kicking. ®
Drew Cullen, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

What's bad for Microsoft is bad for the US

While the federal court winds up its elastic in Washington, the Court of Public Opinion has been hearing some propaganda from chairman Bill Gates during a whistle stop tour of the US. After fielding a couple of awkward questions yesterday at the Gartner Symposium in Florida (Gates under fire over upgrade pricing; Now Microsoft plans to integrate database in the OS), he went on to Charlotte, North Carolina, to reward Senator Lauch Faircloth, who just happens to be up for re-election in a couple of weeks, with a personal tour of Microsoft's product support centre. Faircloth supported Microsoft against the DoJ, saying "breaking up Microsoft is as ludicrous as breaking up . . . whoever wins the World Series". Gates contribution to the speeches was a none-too-subtle threat that action against Microsoft would be bad for the US economy: "We certainly have a concern . . . that regulation could take the steam out of what's been driving the economy . . . certainly there's going to be a lot of concern nowadays with the difficulties in Asia . . . about what can happen to the American economy." In various speeches, Gates has been leaning heavily on what he likes to interpret as a "win" in the Court of Appeals, but the merits of Microsoft's case did not cause the overturning of Judge Jackson's preliminary injunction against the tying of IE and Windows: it was the imprecision of words added to the consent decree by Microsoft and accepted by former antitrust chief Anne Bingaman that lost the DoJ the appeal. Another sympathy-seeking theme from Gates is his insistence on the need to be able to innovate, accompanied by a reference to the court of appeals opinion that a court could not be involved in software design, which really means that the appeals judges didn't want to get involved in understanding the issues. When Scott Winkler of Gartner asked Gates to name Microsoft's three most important innovations, he came up with: the development of software according to common industry standards [for which read proprietary protocols]; NT; and the incorporation of high-volume transaction capabilities into NT. Winkler retorted that "What you are doing is not innovating technology [but rather] taking other technologies and simply applying them to your business model" to market them. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

HP waves goodbye to NetFire

HP has junked Netfire, the UK franchise operator for its Office Centre dealer programme. It has bought out the remainder of the franchisor’s term for an unspecified amount.. And it will now deal directly with the 65 Office Centre resellers based in the UK. HP said it is making the move in response to a dealer survey, which “indicated that the best way forward would be to create a direct working relationship with HP and its management”. The vendor is to review brand promotion, account management, merchandising and the fee payment structure. Netfire was formed two years ago specifically to build a branded channel for the SME market. Apparently, it’s very successful, with dealer members “significantly outperforming the market”. Success has not prevented a procession of reseller whinges catalogued in PC Dealer and Microscope, the UK channel newspapers. Netfire MD Alan Furniss (a former HP bigwig) will no doubt be contemplating his future. As now he only has a shell to run. ®
Drew Cullen, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

EU rattles Microsoft's cage

The legal threats to Microsoft's business practices also come from outside the US. Two separate events this week have brought home just how universal is this concern. In Budapest, Karel van Miert, the commissioner for DGIV, the EU competition directorate, said that the EU was "watching very closely what Microsoft is doing in Europe. If there is the slightest reason to open a case, then we will see that this is done." John Frank, Microsoft's head lawyer in Europe who responded to Novell's complaint to DGIV in 1993, seemed to miss the point deliberately when he said in a briefing to journalists "There is very little reason why [the EU] should expend resources ploughing the same ground as the Department of Justice." But the point is that Van Miert was specifically referring to Microsoft's transgressions in Europe, where it has already had to change its practices towards ISPs and SCO. It was remarkable that Van Miert's remark could be seen to be encouraging of another formal complaint under Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty of Rome. Far away in Brazil, the Secreatria de Direito Economico - in effect Brazil's competition law watchdog - is investigating an exclusive agreement between Microsoft and TBA Informatica over artificially high prices for Microsoft products licensed to the Brazilian government. The complaint is believed to have come from TBA-rival IOS, that has apparently been denied the right to compete for government contracts. Investigations of Microsoft's business practices are also under way in South Korea and Japan. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

How Intel and HP shield patents from prying eyes

If you've ever wondered what Intel and HP might be doing together in the microprocessor design area, then be sure to drop by the Institute for the Development of Emerging Architectures (IDEA) in Cupertino. Last year it was awarded a patent, US-5652859 for a "Method and apparatus for handling snoops in multiprocessor caches having internal buffer queues", and it also has four others - with no doubt more in the, er, cache. So what's interesting about this? Well, don't apply there for a job because IDEA turns out to be a front organisation for Intel and HP, who assign some of their patents to the Institute. A close study of the patents, and of course those that cross-reference them, will yield some interesting information about the duo's collaboration. The whole point of IDEA was to make it difficult for rivals to know what was happening, as patent searches on Intel and HP would not have given direct information about the patents held by IDEA. The way it worked was that the two companies just assigned the patents that came from their collaboration to IDEA. An Intel spokesman has confirmed that IDEA was founded to hold patents, but declined to say why this should be. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Update; Acorn, Apple sell-off prompts ARM stock fall

ARM's share price fell 65p to 845p, a fall of 7.1 per cent, following a secondary placing of 6.5 million shares at 800p organised by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. The shares fell again Thursday to 810p. Acorn and Apple, ARM's two major shareholders used the occasion for a little profit taking. Acorn flogged 600,000 shares realising £4.8 million, net of taxes. Venture capitalist Nippon Investment cashed in its entire 4.3 per cent stake. While Apple lopped 6.3 per cent of its 26 per cent stake. It now owns 24.6 per cent. ARM directors had their fill too. CEO Robin Saxby and family cashed in 227,907 shares, grossing £1.823 million. Director James Urquhart flogged 70,000 shares, pulling in £560K. Finance Officer Jonathan Brooks and family grossed 240K, with their sale of 30,000 shares. This is how capitalism is supposed to work. Saxby and co are building a successful business, so more power to their cash-dipping elbows. We trust they have sercured the services of a competent tax consultant. Acorn retains 24.61 per cent of ARM. This could remain a nice little piggy bank for years to come. More likely, the company will flog the entire lot of,just as soon as it gets the market to buy into its Digital TV solutions message. Which could take some time. ®
Drew Cullen, 15 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Highams dons Trainers

Highams, the AIM-listed VAR, has extended its service portfolio with the acquisition of technical training company Trainers Ltd. Highams is paying up to £2 million for Basingstoke-based Trainers, with £735K upfront (£497K in cash, and the balance through the issue of new shares). The rest is performance related, working on a PE multiplier of 7, and is payable, wholly in Highams shares.®
A staffer, 15 Oct 1998