27th > October > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Diamond wins right to ship Rio music player

Diamond Multimedia's $199 Rio has been cleared for shipment by a Los Angeles judge in the teeth of objections form the US music industry. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had previously been granted a temporary injunction (see earlier story) against Rio pending yesterday's hearing. Rio is a portable device that can play music downloaded from the Internet, and the argument in court has been about whether it can be counted as an audio piracy device, as the RIAA insists, or whether it is exempt, under US law as computers are. The latter is Diamond's argument. The judge decided Diamond wasn't responsible for any piracy by Rio users, but diamond isn't out of the woods yet. The first injunction lasted ten days, and yesterday's hearing was simply for the judge to decide whether or not to extend it. But the case itself continues, and Diamond may still be compelled to make alterations to Rio. According to the RIAA it's still probable that Rio will be defined by the court as a digital recording device, and in that case Diamond will probably be forced to incorporate anti-piracy features in it, as the RIAA wants. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft has egg on face, says DoJ

"Microsoft has egg on its face": so said the DoJ in a plain-spoken Response to a Microsoft motion asking for sanctions to be imposed against the government because, Microsoft alleged, the DoJ had not produced documents as required. Microsoft submitted the Motion at the beginning of proceedings in the court yesterday, and in its response filed late yesterday, the DoJ said that Microsoft's motion was "a cynical attempt to distract attention from a document that damages its defence" and that Microsoft had made "unsupported (and unsupportable) charges about the Government's good faith in document production". The problem for Microsoft was that an important letter dated 23 June 1995 (now Government exhibit 1259) from Gary Reback, a lawyer with Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati (and who had been retained by Netscape), had not been requested by Microsoft as part of its discovery process, as the DoJ demonstrated in its own Response to the court late yesterday. Even worse for Microsoft was that it had been "expressly told that the Government's document production did not include other investigations". Reback's letter was obtained from another investigation that the DoJ was undertaking - the 1995 investigation of MSN, as it turns out. The DoJ received a copy of the Reback 23 June 1995 letter last Friday by fax after Raback had learned from press reports that Microsoft was trying to take another letter of his, dated 28 July 1995, out of context. Together with Microsoft own documents, the content of Reback's letter - nothing less than Marc Andreessen's typed notes from the 21 June Netscape meeting with Microsoft at which market splitting had been proposed by Microsoft - "proves that Microsoft's outlandish assertion that the market division aspect of the June 21 meeting 'was invented or imagined' after Mr Reback's July 28 letter is flatly untrue", the DoJ says in its response. This is a considerable blow against Microsoft, and resulted in a new conspiracy claim being made in court yesterday by Microsoft. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

‘Da cops set us up’ – Microsoft shock claim

Microsoft was the victim of a 'sting' when it met Netscape executives to discuss co-operation, the company's attorney suggested yesterday. Moving on from claiming that Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale had made it all up, John Warner suggested the meeting was a setup designed to gain evidence for a DoJ investigation. Netscape and Barksdale claim that at the June 1995 meeting Microsoft suggested an illegal carve-up of the browser market. The sudden twist in Microsoft's line derives from the company's finally obtaining a copy of a letter from Netscape's then lawyer to the Department of Justice. The letter, from long-term Microsoft antagonist Gary Reback, was dated two days after the meeting, and Microsoft says it got hold of it over the weekend. Warden claimed the failure to turn over the letter earlier was a "flagrant abuse," and directly accused Netscape of setting up the meeting "for the purpose of creating something that could be described as a record to be given to the Justice Department to spur them on to take action against Microsoft". Fans of cop shows may not however be impressed by the 'we were set up' tack. When they go in there with a wire, and get the evidence, the perp usually goes down - so is Microsoft going to try to have it all kicked out on grounds of entrapment? The involvement of Reback, who has been publicly going for Microsoft for a long time now, may not be entirely helpful, but the letter isn't entirely helpful to Microsoft. If it was a 'wire,' it succeeded famously. Reback's letter says Microsoft would withhold technical information to Netscape unless it gott an equity stake in the company "a seat on Netscape's board of directors and [is able to control] Netscape's ability to compete against Microsoft." ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories
John Lettice, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

IBM-SCO Unix deal may raise question over PPC future

IBM's Unix deal with SCO and Sequent, announced yesterday (See earlier story), could provide Big Blue with an escape hatch from the PowerPC adventure, as well as possibly ringing the death-knell for SCO. IBM may have just announced a rev of its Risc platform plus a roadmap that takes the line comfortably into the next century -- but then, so has HP. HP ultimately intends to migrate its PA-Risc users to IA-64, and it's by no means alone. A long list of workstation, mid-range and mainframe vendors has now switched to the Intel camp, and as these companies were largely potential or actual customers for the old Motorola-IBM PowerPC alliance, IBM PowerPC (now free-standing, thanks to the split) looks more than a little exposed. IBM can't dump PowerPC in the short term, as it needs the chips for RS/6000 and AS/400, but long-term development of what is more or less a one-company chip will be difficult to justify, and switching development resources over to embedded PowerPC (as Motorola, which didn't really have choice, has done) must have its attractions. But IBM has taken its time in figuring out how to deal with one of the last of the errata left over from the pre-Gerstner regime. PowerPC was intended as a mass-market challenger to Intel, and an OS that ran across PowerPC and Intel therefore made sense. IBM built several -- AIX for x86 (didn't ship, but The Register saw it in Boca a long time ago), Windows NT (IBM pulled the plugs on development of the PPC version) and OS/2-Taligent (ghastly semi-prelease shipped as special bid only, and got killed-off). All this running round in circles must have been a distraction, but as it's several years since the last twitch, the SCO deal is still late -- maybe IBM's notoriously self-centred RS6K people have spent thee past two years screwing-up AIX for Intel, and this is the rescue plan. Significantly, SCO's IA-64 development is pretty well advanced, so although IBM may not be buying a completely shrink-wrapped fix, it could be close. Also significantly, analysts are beginning to predict that consolidation in the Unix market is going to parallel that of the chip market. Gartner analyst Ed Thompson reckons Solaris and HP-UX will survive, plus one other. This raises questions over SCO, AIX, Digital and SGI. SCO is one of the two weakest of these, popular but short on development resources, and Compaq's takeover of Digital puts one of its major alliances in some peril. The IBM deal may therefore allow SCO to rebuff an offer from Eckhard it couldn't have otherwise refused. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Solaris goes 64 as Sun turns up screws on NT

Sun will turn the screws on Microsoft today with the announcement of Solaris 7, the 64-bit version of Solaris, on its own Sparc and Intel's IA-64 architectures. The announcement comes a full year before NT 5.0 is now rationally expected to ship, and around 18 months ahead of the likely arrival of a version of NT 5.0 with what you might describe as '64-bit characteristics' (see Microsoft NT 5.0 for Merced could be 32/64-bit hybrid). Naturally there's more than a little marketing to today's pre-emptive strike from Sun. The company has been doing well in the server market, but is coming under pressure from Wintel boxes in workstations. Announcing 64-bit now allows it to beat the drum over NT's lateness (president Ed Zander has been claiming a three-year lead over Microsoft), and consolidate its gains in high-end servers. At the moment, though, its 'lead' in IA-64 64-bit is only notional. Like everybody else in the galaxy, Sun intends to ship Solaris 7 for IA-64 when IA-64 ships (not a lot of point in shipping before, really). As Microsoft is the main target, talking about it now makes sense, as it allows Sun two bites of the cherry. It can grind on about NT 5.0 being late, then when/if NT 5.0 for IA-64 ships, it can sneer about it being a holding action and/or kludge. No doubt Sun will enjoy the next two years. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Cyrix Comet blazes through skies

Comet is to sell Cyrix-based Daewoo machines in its out-of-town stores. The £599 boxes will use the NatSemi-Cyrix MII-333 chip and come with 14in monitor, 32MB of memory, a 56Kbps modem, a 3.4GB hard drive, 4MB AGP graphics, Windows 98 and Lotus software. Comet will also offer its customers an option of buying a printer and scanner as part of its package. The Daewoo boxes will be sold in over 230 UK stores, said Comet, which is part of the large Kingfisher group. The plan is to sell as many PCs as possible as part of the pre-Christmas rush. The boxes will be stacked at the front of the Comet stores to attract visitors' attention. Said Graham Jackson, European applications manager at Cyrix Europe: "This latest retail win is a reflection of the considerable recent commercial success of Cyrix based systems." ® Click for more stories
Mike Magee, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Red ink splashes Toshiba's balance sheet

Toshiba has turned in terrible financial results. Its non-consolidated results for the six months from 1 April to 30 September showed that its net sales fell by 12 per cent compared to the equivalent period last year. Turnover amounted to $11,851 million, with its recurring profit becoming a loss of $47 million. Last year it made a profit of $236 million for the same period. All four divisions suffered. The information and communications system division, which makes CD-ROMs, DVD drives and other peripherals, showed a drop in sales of 11 per cent. Sales of its communication systems also fell. The electronics division, which makes DRAM, suffered from "severe price erosion" on 64Mbit parts, said Toshiba. Overall results were down 14 per cent, year on year. Its consumer products division also suffered, although Toshiba said sales of its washing machines were good. ® Click for more stories
Mike Magee, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

MS modifies line on market splitting meeting with Netscape

Microsoft has changed its story about the 21 June 1995 meeting between it and Netscape at which it is alleged that illegal market splitting was proposed by Microsoft. Until yesterday, Microsoft's story had been that Netscape had fabricated the evidence, but now the story is that there is a conspiracy against Microsoft, principally involving the Department of Justice and Netscape, and that Microsoft had been set up for the 21 June meeting. "Isn't it a fact that the 21 June meeting was held for the purpose of creating something that could be called a record and given to the DoJ to spur them on?" Microsoft trial attorney John Warden asked Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale. "That's absurd," Barksdale replied. Warden then produced Marc Andreessen's deposition in which Andreessen had said that he took careful notes of the 21 June meeting because he "thought it might be a topic of discussion with the US government on antitrust issues". Warden suggested that the Netscape may have been in touch with the DoJ before the 21 June meeting, but Barksdale was adamant that the purpose of the meeting was to persuade Microsoft to release to Netscape some dial-up software and APIs to make Navigator function better with Windows. It is worth considering the circumstances that resulted in the meeting being held. In the first place, had the meeting really been a set-up, better arrangements would have been made to record the proceedings -- such as a hidden tape recorder. It is a more convincing story that Netscape did require some technical information from Microsoft to link Navigator to Windows, and needed to appear to be friendly to get this. Normally, Microsoft gives this information to developers who support the Windows operating system. However, Microsoft is somewhat reluctant to do this if it has, plans to have, or even vaguely thinks it might have its own competitive product. Netscape, of course, was well aware of this: upsetting Microsoft in any way could result in Microsoft withholding essential technical information from Netscape. Microsoft was clearly sensitive at the time about its first version of Internet Explorer, since it must have been clear to Microsoft that it was an inferior product to Navigator (as it has even subsequently admitted). At the same time, neutralising Netscape through a small investment and market-splitting arrangement could solve the problem, but Netscape did not want to play this game. Consequently, Andreessen (who Barksdale has described as one of the fastest typists he has ever seen) was sitting at the meeting making sure that he had a good record of what transpired. This may well have been at the suggestion of Gary Reback, Netscape's outside lawyer. Barksdale's earlier response to Warden that he had not mentioned the market-splitting offer in any correspondence is therefore understandable, given this context. It is also quite possible that there was considerable internal disent at Netscape about it and other matters -- Barksdale has already alluded to some dissent. Whether it was by chance that the DoJ issued a demand for documents from Netscape the day after the meeting with Microsoft is hard to say with certainty, but coincidences do occur. During Warden's questioning of Barksdale, he moved along considerably faster than in previous days, and is evidently mindful that the Judge presiding over the hearing is also making the decision at the end of the case -- even if it will be appealed. A sideshow was the introduction of some rather childish emails from two Netscape fora, known as "Bad attitude" and "Really bad attitude". It was sad that Microsoft should feel that it could extract some advantage from the messages, which were a way of letting off steam, and cannot necessarily be taken at face value. One message described Navigator as being "faster than a dog with no legs", while another message referred to Netscape offering "vaporware announcements and outright lies". Had it been thought worthwhile to conduct a similar exercise with Microsoft's internal email, it would have been very surprising if equivalent statements about its won products had not been discovered. There were apparently more messages about the quality of the cafeteria food than the quality of Netscape's products or management. Barksdale characterised the messages as being by "an internal group of people who, I guess, complain about their company" and that not all employees had taken the view that "the sun will come up tomorrow". Warden tried to get Barksdale to conceed that AOL chose IE because it was a better product, but Barksdale said that "AOL told me that [including the AOL icon in Windows 95] was worth a lot of money to them". A few blocks away in Washington, at the National Press Club, Steve Case, CEO of AOL, admitted that AOL decided to switch from Navigator to IE because AOL wanted to be bundled with Windows. Although this was said to the court of public opinion, it will be repeated in the federal court shortly. Barksdale introduced what appears to be a new accusation -- that Microsoft had put "technical incompatibilities" in Windows NT to cause difficulties with Navigator's performance. Such techno-sabotage has been alleged several times in the past by Microsoft, most notably the claims that such technqiues were used so that DR-DOS gives an unnecessary error message if run with Windows 3.1, in order to discourage users from substituting DR-DOS for MS-DOS. Another tactic tried by Warden was to confront Barksdale with a January 1995 Netscape document in which the possibility of Microsoft developing a browser and bundling it with Windows 95 was identified as a risk to Netscape's business. Barksdale has indicated that he has no concerns about Netscape products competing on merit. The Reback letter of 23 June also destroys an earlier argument that Warden had been making based on a second Reback letter of 28 July 1998: Warden implied that because the later letter did not mention the market-splitting allegation, it had been invented. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Danes develop atomic memory chip

Danish researchers have developed a prototype computer chip that uses atoms to record information, according to Reuters. Data is stored on a single oscillating atom of hydrogen left to jump back and forth when two other atoms of hydrogen and an atom of silicon are removed from the hydrogen surface layer on a standard silicon chip. Working at the Danish University of Technology's microelectronics centre, the four-man team produced the chip at room temperature, a major advance on previous attempts which required the chip to be chilled to absolute zero. However, the process has to be carried out in an ultra-high vacuum chamber, to prevent any surface contamination. Which is why team leader Dr Francois Grey said: "This is not something you can put into a computer tomorrow." However, the technique can and will be developed, perhaps reaching the stage where the equivalent of one million CD-ROMs could be held on a single disc, predicted Grey. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

UK Government takes uncivil liberties with Net legislation

Think you've had a bad week? Allow us to make it worse. DTI civil servants spelt out on Monday the details of the UK's long-awaited crypto legislation. Under the new law, Government-approved encryption authorities will be obliged to keep a copy of your private key and hand it over to the authorities when requested by a "senior police officer" (as opposed to the Home Secretary, as in phone taps). It will be a criminal act for these authorities to tell you that your key has been revealed. Now, in a better world (such as the one we're just leaving), no one would use these government authorities because -- as every expert in crypto has warned -- a key escrow system like this is fundamentally insecure. You're better off with a free copy of PGP (or even your browser's security features). So, to encourage you, the government has declared only digital signatures created by these approved companies will be accepted in law. What's that you say? What have digital signatures and encrypting messages got in common? Well, you're right -- nothing. But you can bet the lawmakers won't mention that. This is a piece of legislation that requires an ignorant public to succeed. Talking of which, why haven't you heard of this before? While the government have yet to release any information through official channels, DTI personnel at the ICX conference confirm all of the above, and have declared the basic principles of this regulation "not open for discussion". In this, as so many other matters, they're wrong. DTI officials have their own signing authority -- a third party known as Parliament. Next week, in an NTK special, we'll tell you how you can hack into this trusted service provider through a backdoor known as "public accountability", and that way decode what these buffoons are assuming is a secret transmission only they should understand. Once again: why it's bad for civil liberties and why it's technically incompetent and makes no business sense at all This article first appeared in NTK.NET © 1998.
NTKNET, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Novell awarded $25.9 million against trademark infringer

Novell's three-year trademark infringement case against software developer Network Trade Center (NTC) has come to a conclusion following the judge's ruling that NTC must cough up $25.9 million in damages. The case centred on allegations that NTC had resold Netware upgrades to new users as full versions of the network operating system. NTC's guilt in the matter was proved last year, but it has taken the intervening period for court-appointed 'special master' David Nuffer, an attorney and part-time federal magistrate, to set the level of the damages. Nuffer recommended $25.9 million, and, after a couple of months of deliberation, that's just what trial judge Thomas Greene imposed on NTC. However, he refused to take Novell up on its suggestion that the damages be tripled because of the company's allegations that NTC attempted to destroy evidence pertinent to the case. Greene was equally unmoved by NTC's calls for reduced damages on the grounds that they were "clearly excessive", according to NTC attorney David Snuffer. Still, NTC now claims to have no assets, so whether Novell will actually receive any of the $25.9 million remains to be seen. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Taiwan hits back at Micron legal tactics

Reports from Asia said that Taiwan is sick of being lumbered with the dumping tag. The Taiwanese government is responding to an anti-dumping case brought by US DRAM company Micron last Friday. According to government agency the Ministry of Economic Affairs, output from the fabs on the island only account for two per cent of the US market. Although Micron filed the fresh case last week, only a few days after receiving half a billion dollars of investment from chip giant Intel, it did not identify which company was involved. However, sources said that there was only one Taiwanese company currently producing the 64Mbit parts of which Micron was complaining. A representative for Taiwanese company Mosel said: "All I know is there's a case against our company for patent infringement. "People said that the only part of Texas Instruments (TI) that made money was the legal department and now Micron has assumed that mantle. They [Micron] have obviously thrown a blanket over Taiwan Inc." ®
Mike Magee, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Context predicts rosy 1998 for European PC sales

Market research company Context has predicted continued strong growth for PC sales in Western Europe following the release of its Q3 sales figures. Throughout the quarter, sales rose 22.4 per cent year-on-year to 5.25 million machines. The growth was fuelled by increased corporate expenditure on IT as part of Euro and Y2K roll-outs, said Context. Equally, the much-predicted economic slowdown hasn't happened, persuading many businesses that now might by a good time to upgrade their computer equipment. Continued growth will be driven by consumer demand in the run-up to Christmas, said senior analyst Jeremy Davies, quoted by Reuters. Compaq strengthened its leadership of the market, unlike its experience in the US, where its lead was reduced, according to figures released separately by IDC (see Compaq under increased threat from direct vendors -- now official). In both markets, the company's chief challenger was Dell -- in Europe, the direct vendor almost doubled its sales. Looking ahead, Context said the Q3 figures were in line with its earlier predictions for a rosy picture for 1999. The company reckons this year will see the Western European PC market grow by 18-20 per cent -- next year, the market will expand by between 20 and 22 per cent. "I'm happy to stick with our estimates," said Davies, though he accepted there was a possibility that in the final 12 months before the new millennium, many buyers may decided to delay purchases until after the Y2K bug is fixed. "It could go either way," he said. "We'll probably know before the end of the second half of next year." ® Click for more stories
Team Register, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Old and New Worlds clash over e-privacy legislation

US and European cultural divisions are emerging in the governance of the Internet and electronic trading. Broadly speaking, the US favours protection of business over consumer rights, but the EU’s new regulations to protect private data across the Union’s 15 member countries runs contrary to routine business practices of US companies. They make extensive use of personal data in sales and marketing campaigns. The new regulations could restrict their use of personal data on EU citizens, and American diplomats are warning that the US will complain to the World Trade Organisation if the legislation damages US businesses. The EU rules state that personal data should be transmitted to non-EU countries only if that data receives the same degree of protection as in Europe. The US can't make that commitment and European consumer bodies are worried that anything less than blanket coverage undermines the privacy rights of its 370 million European citizens. ® Click for more stories
Janice McGinn, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

MBO moves Earth for Scottish seismic software specialist

Concept Software, Scotland’s groundbreaking seismic software company, is being bought out by the management in a £36 million deal. The MBO is funded partly by £12 million of equity from the London-based venture capitalists, 3i, and The Royal Bank of Scotland is providing £17.5 million of senior debt and mezzanine facilities. Concept serves the oil, gas and mineral sectors, and its’ seismic systems are said to be hugely cost-effective compared to traditional test drilling, which has additional ecological implications. The business was owned by a group of private investors, all of whom are reinvesting in the new Concept. ® Click for more stories
Janice McGinn, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel takes share in anti-walkabout software

A company which has software allowing PCs which have been mislaid or stolen to be found has had an injection of equity from chip giant Intel. The company, Absolute Software, has a piece of software equity called Computrace. Intel has for many years researched the problem of PCs, or even processors, that have been mislaid, stolen or even mysteriously crossed international borders through the so-called grey market. Many chip distributors have high on their wish list for Intel that processors had such a tracking system. The move is interesting for several reasons. IBM and Intel have cooperated for a while on technology which will alert network administrators if members of staff mislay PCs by walking out of the door with them under their arm. Notebook PCs are particularly vulnerable to this type of mistake on employees' behalf but the IBM-Intel technology which exists only works if desktops walk out of the door erroneously. Intel confirmed it had taken a share. It will have an observer on the privately-owned company's board. But a representative said that it had many investments in many different types of company. For example, it has a share in news service CNET, which yesterday reported a profit. ® Click here for more stories AMD is not an investor in The Register
Mike Magee, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

HP, Wave tout hardware-based e-security system

Hewlett-Packard and Wave Systems are touting a new chip-based 'trusted client' system as a cheap and effective method for ensuring secure PC-based internet and e-commerce transactions. The two companies have been collaborating on the new systems over the past six months, integrating HP's VerSecure security management framework and Wave Systems' e-commerce architecture, the Embedded Application Security System, Embassy. Security features include storage of electronic identities, digital signatures and security-protected applications, enabling a variety of payment methods, including rent, rent-to-own or pay-per-event. The technology is being integrated on motherboard chips from component suppliers like Standard Microsystems Corp and ITE, and HP said it will be included in its Vectra PCs. NEC's Computer Systems Division has committed to Embassy, undertaking to integrate it in a number of new systems being launched throughout 1999. Amod Patwardhan, NEC's director of product strategy and integration, described the technology as a "silver bullet". He said: "It enables a virtually no-maintenance security and content metering platform embedded within the client." The idea is that instead of implementing security at the centralised server, Embassy can be incorporated in any number of desktop and handheld devices by creating a system within a system, integrating the user's hardware with the combination of Embassy and Versecure. Implementing the system on motherboard chips Steven Sprague, president of Wave Systems, said: "Over the past six months we have expanded our transaction and security architecture [by] architecting a low cost chip set solution with multiple suppliers and gained support from key partners in security, smart card and content markets." Apart from HP and Wave Systems, the list of partners includes companies like Aladdin Knowledge Systems, specialists in software execution and data protection; RSA Data Security and its cryptographic and security protocol components; Sun Microsystems with the Java Card application framework; and Verisign with its digital certificates. GlobalWave is a jointly owned subsidiary between Wave Systems and The Internet Technology Group (ITG), the UK's largest independent ISP. ITG chief executive, Laurence Blackall, said that the HP-Wave Systems' initiative: "Is tremendous news for GlobalWave [since] media groups, broadcasters, PC and set-top manufacturers have been waiting a long time for this announcement." ® Click for more stories
Janice McGinn, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Our tariff

This is The Register tariff We are the corruptibles…
Team Register, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Paul Lloyd quits SCC

Longterm national sales director Paul Lloyd has departed Specialist Computer Centres (SCC), to be replaced by Tom Barrett, formerly Scottish manager, and Ian Scott is appointed manager of the southern region. In April, Paul Simkin, managing director of ETC, SCC's distribution arm, announced he was leaving the company to join TPLC, the Warrington-based ICL distributorship. His departure followed the appointment of former IBM head honcho, Mike Lunch, to run the show at SCC. SCC said today that it "enjoys unusually high levels of staff retention in an industry not renowned for its staff loyalty". It continued: "[Barrett and Scott] are typical examples of SCC’s ability to home-grow talent". Barrett joined the SCC group in 1982 and Scott in 1990. ® Click for more stories
Janice McGinn, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

A warranty is not just for Christmas – it's for life

The PC Association has developed a scheme that will enable its members to sell-on insured warranties to their customers and take the angst out of the question, "what happens to me when you go bust?". While high street retailers have been slammed for making more money on expensive extended warranties, the PCA is providing its members with a value add sell as well as a means of giving PC customers peace of mind. The insured warranty ensures that even if the PC maker goes out of business, customers' PCs are covered, as the warranty is underwritten by two insurance companies. The warranties cover PCs from entry-level desktop systems to high-end notebooks and are priced from about £50 (retail) for a sub £1500 desktop computer. CPU Finance and NOVA Retail Finance (a division of Hitachi Credit (UK) plc) have agreed with the PCA to extend and operate their insured warranty schemes to desktop computers, having previously covered just notebooks. Insurance is provided by Lloyd’s Underwriters and Sorema (UK) Ltd, both of which are Dun & Bradstreet “A” rated, according to the PCA. "We still have this situation where someone can come from nowhere with a bit of funding and set up a PC company," said PCA executive chairman Keith Warburton. "They then advertise their PCs as having five year warranties but what happens when they go bust? Who repairs their PCs when they are broken? Who looks after the warranty then?" Warburton added that the insured warranty is the most secure warranty for PC customers due to the fluctuating nature of the business. ®
The Register breaking news

Korean MICE says non-DRAM NICE

MICE, South Korea’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Energy said tomorrow (today our time) that the domestic semi-conductor industry will see the ratio of memory and non-memory semi-conductor production change from 81:19 to 75:25 by 2003. MICE and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) are concerned about Korea’s over-dependence on excessive DRAM production, and they are investing over 265 billion Won to refocus the domestic industry and achieve a more focused balance. MICE anticipates that the worldwide market for non-memory chips will increase significantly by 2003, and it is drafting in advisors and assistance from several areas of industry, including telecomms, computer, multimedia and manufacturing, expecting to ramp up production from January next year. ®
A staffer, 27 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Multi-coloured, multi-currency swap shop, Quarterdeck style

Who needs the Euro? PC utilities firm Quarterdeck has broken down European language and currency barriers by setting-up a European Internet store where Internet users can buy and download products in the language and currency of their choice. The store was developed by Infobank subsidiary TrustMarque, who will continue to provide the back office infrastructure for the service. This will include the handling of multi-currency transactions, hosting of encrypted Quarterdeck products and the maintenance of the end user license agreement. TrustMarque will also handle fraud screening, VAT reporting and user validation functions on the site. "It will add value to Quarterdeck's business," said marketing director Christine Allenet. "It's important we address customers in their own language and currency, particularly because we are primarily targeting home users. It's a cultural thing. If the site is in English and in a foreign currency, you are more likely to lose sales." The store will be a boost to Quarterdeck, which has been put through a mill over the past few weeks that culminated in being de-listed by the Nasdaq stock market last week. Quarterdeck is currently undergoing a merger with Symantec, which has announced it will commence a cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of Quarterdeck common stock at the net price of $0.52 per share. The purchase price is approximately $65 million including the assumption of Quarterdeck’s outstanding debt. "The bid hasn't been accepted by the shareholders yet," added Allenet, "so as far as I am aware, it's business as usual." ®