28th > October > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

StrongARM connection makes Corel Linux deal worth watching

Corel is to use Red Hat Linux 5.1 for its StrongARM-based NetWinder hardware platform. The NetWinder is the basis of a range of thin client and thin server platforms, and currently uses a custom Linux distribution based on Red Hat 4.2. The deal with Red Hat takes the form of a three year agreement whereby Red Hat will port 5.1 and future releases to the NetWinder. This seems effectively to take Corel out of the Linux OS development arena, allowing it to concentrate on hardware and application development. Red Hat's relationship with Intel, which bought a stake in the company last month, may also prove useful. The company's improved access to Intel technical information is most obviously helpful in the x86 space, but the Corel connection raises the interesting prospect of a form of three-cornered relationship over StrongARM. A space worth watching? ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft paid AOL ‘bounty’ for conversions from rivals, says exec

Apple was forced into its 'peace treaty' with Microsoft last year, claimed Department of Justice attorney David Boies yesterday. After the company's shock defection from the anti-Microsoft camp Steve Jobs was booed by former fans, but according to a note produced in court by the DoJ, Apple had no choice. After Jobs announced the decision to support Internet Explorer rather than Netscape Navigator, Apple CFO Fred Anderson wrote to Netscape's Jim Barksdale saying that Microsoft had threatened to stop Mac development if the company didn't make IE its default browser. But the DoJ's case here may be weaker than it first appears. At the time of the announcement last year Apple was in serious trouble, and in order to survive it desperately needed to ensure the continued availability of key applications, Microsoft Office being a major priority. That certainly made the threat of withdrawal of Office development a possible weapon for Microsoft, but it also meant that Jobs must surely have been prepared to beg in order to keep it going. As Anderson said to Barksdale, the loss of Office would mean "we were dead." But it would have been perfectly justified for Microsoft execs to muse out loud about stopping development. The Mac was a minority platform, at the time one that might be seen as being in terminal decline, and software developers had been dumping it for quite some time. Microsoft can point to Intuit as an example of a company that abandoned the Mac in the same timeframe, but promised to come back in response to Jobs' blandishments. So no smoking pistol here. AOL testimony made public yesterday was more damaging. AOL's version of IE is now a major slice of the browser's total market share, and the reasoning behind its decision to go with IE has been the subject of some considerable argument. AOL's official line that it decided on quality has been somewhat undermined by its own internal documentation. Senior VP David Colburn said AOL chose IE because Microsoft agreed to place an AOL icon on the Windows 95 desktop, and said: "to bundle America Online in some form with the Windows operating system was a critically important competitive factor that was impossible for Netscape to match." He also said that AOL's contract required that 85 per cent of the browsers it shipped be IE. Microsoft also ran a promotional deal with AOL whereby Microsoft paid the ISP 25 cents for every user of a rival browser 'converted' to IE. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories
John Lettice, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

IBM extends, high-speed, high-capacity hard drive line

IBM has released a line of high-speed Ultrastar hard disk drives in a belated attempt to catch up with the leading edge of the market. The Ultrastar 36XP leads the new line with its 36.4GB capacity and 7200rpm spin speed. It is followed by the Ultrastar 18ZX and 9ZLX, which offer lower capacities -- 18.2GB and 9.1GB, respectively -- but spin at 10,200rpm. Both drives sport 4MB caches. All three models are available now with Ultra 2 SCSI Fast and Wide, and fibre channel interface options. The drives are based on IBM's giant magnetoresistive (GMR) head technology, which provides very high data densities on the platter. This allows the 36XP to be provided in a 3.5in form factor whereas its nearest rival, a Seagate 47GB model, is only available as a 5.25in unit. That said, the Seagate machine is now some six months old, and the company is preparing a 50GB version in the smaller form factor for release early next year. So, at least on physical size, IBM will soon be playing catch-up again. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Gateway Lazarus box to revive Amiga

Direct vendor and erstwhile would-be Mac cloner Gateway appears to be keen to get its own back on Apple with a scheme to release a PowerPC 750 (aka G3) machine codenamed Lazarus. The life-after-death reference is explained by Gateway's decision to base the machine, which is due to ship early next year, on AmigaOS 4.0, according to rumour-mongering Web site, Mac the Knife. Gateway, of course, bought Amiga last year. The anti-Apple angle is supplied by Gateway's apparent decision to provide the machine with some form of MacOS emulation. Mr Knife's comments contain three different ways this may be achieved, but the most likely option would be to use AmigaOS' virtual machine mode, which allows a second OS to be booted and run natively with the addition of some extra software. Revamping the Amiga isn't as daft as it sounds -- irrespective of whether it's a way of bugging Apple or not. The Commodore box won widespread support in a number of professional areas, most notably the music business, and there are still plenty of aging Amigas out there whose owners are primed for upgrade sales. Many earlier upgraders moved to the Mac, but Apple's troubles ultimately persuaded other users to go down the Windows route. That may explain why Gateway is apparently also considering an Intel-based version of Lazarus, still running AmigaOS 4.0. That's perhaps more likely to see light of day than the PowerPC box -- Gateway is, after all, already making Wintel PCs, and bunging in a new OS isn't that difficult, despite Microsoft's Windows licensing terms. Still, Gateway has long been keen on breaking into other markets than the Wintel space, hence its early interest in licensing the MacOS. While Gateway was ready to go ahead, Apple appeared to get cold feet and pulled out of the negotiations. Since then, there's been rather less of a strong business case for pursuing the hardcore Mac users who won't move to Wintel but might opt for a halfway-house solution based on AmigaOS. Today, however, the success of the iMac may well have persuaded Gateway that it's time to look at it again. The proposed spec of the PowerPC-based Lazarus -- at least according to Mac the Knife -- is a 233MHz PPC, 3GB hard drive, 16MB SDRAM, 32x CD-ROM, two USB ports, two RS-232C serial ports, EPP port, SVGA video port, four PCI slots and a SCSI 3 port, all of which rather sounds like overkill to us, but does address some of the criticism professional users made of the iMac -- specifically that it lacked PCI slots and other peripheral connectors. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel pledges £1.5 million to UK Science Museum

Intel is plunging £1.5 million in an extension to the Science Museum in Kensington, London. The £47 million site, called the Wellcome Wing, is due to open in summer of the year 2000, is a high-tech facility which, according to the museum, fill focus on contemporary technology and biomedicine. Intel is contributing software and technology as well as cash to the extension, said Sean Maloney, corporate vice president of Intel US. Said Maloney: "We're announcing a £1.5 million investment into the digital content gallery of the Wellcome Wing. I remember as a child coming here from Lewisham and wandering around and getting a feel for technology. "The Science Museum has a history of doing things in an interactive way. This isn't as much sponsorship as a collaboration," he said. Intel spent over $100 million a year funding educationally related schemes each year, said Maloney. Sir Neil Cossons, director of the museum, said: "The whole thrust of the Wellcome Wing will be contemporary science. Our goal when we open Wellcome in the middle of the year 2000 is to present contemporary science to our visitors. We cannot do that without the collaboration of companies like Intel." While the Science Museum is talking to other technology partners, Cossons said that the donation, spread over three years,is the biggest contribution the museum had ever received. ® Click here for more stories
Mike Magee, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

3Com readies SAN plan

3Com is to enter the storage area networking (SAN) market through a series of partnerships, it has emerged. The company will be working with Data General's Clariion division, MTI Technology and Legato Systems on a series of SAN products, including fibre channel NICs, hubs and switches. According to 3Com officials quoted by US trade paper PC Week's Web site, the company will also develop a SAN -oriented version of its Transcend network management software. That software is scheduled to appear late 1999 as the second phase of 3Com's four-stage SAN strategy. The first will see the arrival early next year of StorageConnect-branded host adaptors and hubs. Phase three will focus on delivering LAN, WAN and SAN integration. Finally, 3Com will bring policy management to SANs. ® Click for more stories
Team Register, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Transmeta turned Linus into an olive

Linus Torvalds assumed the shape of a green olive when he joined chip company Transmeta, we can exclusively reveal. But, unfortunately, he loitered around the reception area of the Silicon Valley startup and was mistakenly eaten by one of the Transmeta programmers. He has not been seen since. Nor, apparently, have readers of The Register bothered by our tabloid look. Our content has always had a tabloid flavour but now the look matches the feel. That prompted one regular viewer of our pages to comment: "Urk. I won't read you any more -- you've gone all tabloid." ® Click here for more sensational trash
Dirk Steed, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Packard Bell chooses AMD parts

Packard Bell, which two months ago started to use Cyrix chips in its machines in preference to Intel parts, said it will use AMD K6-2s in notebooks and desktops. That indicates a further widening of the gulf between it and Intel. Formerly, PB was one of Intel's most loyal customers. Said Mal Ransom, senior VP of marketing at Packard Bell NEC: "Our new relationship with AMD enhances our ability to bring the latest technology at a great value quickly to market and into consumer's hands." The K6-2/333s will be used in the Packard Bell 955 and NEC Ready 9888, while the notebook model, the NEC Reach 340T will use a 300MHz K6 part. ® Click here for more stories
Mike Magee, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Hitachi sees red in six month period

Hitachi has followed in the wake of Toshiba (see yesterday's story) and has turned in its first half year loss for 50 years. The company reported a net loss of Y124.66 billion for the six month period. That compares with a net profit in the same period last year of Y24.25 billion last year. Sales fell by 12 per cent in the period from Y2,045 billion last year to Y1,799 billion in the six month period this year. Hitachi, like Toshiba, has been hit not only by the general economic malaise in Japan, but by a slump in DRAM prices coupled with lack of demand in its own domestic market. The company is part of the mighty Fuyo conglomerate, which also includes Canon. Canon, however, is profitable. ® Click here for more stories
Mike Magee, 28 Oct 1998
Intel sign by StockMonkeys.com

Intel warns no money in Web content

Sean Maloney, a senior VP of the Intel Corporation, has warned that companies hoping to make money with Internet content are on to a hiding for nothing.
Mike Magee, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

No buyers means no jobs at Seagate chip plant

Seagate is to shut down its Scottish chipmaking business with the loss of 262 jobs after failing to find a buyer for the plant. The decision has come earlier than expected , as the plant was put up for sale earlier this month. But the disk drive giant said it had not even received any firm expressions of interest. The plant will close in February. On October 7, Seagate announced, it was “no longer financially prudent” to build chips for its own hard disk drives. It will in future buy in parts from external suppliers. Last month, Seagate closed the smallest of its six plants in Thailand. The 1500 workers based at Lad Krabang were transferred to another site. ®
A staffer, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Motorola join Psion in Symbian relationship

Psion has reeled in Motorola as the fourth shareholder in Symbian, the intellligent mobile phone operating system company. Motorola is stumping up £28.75 million for new shares in Symbian. On completion it will hold 23.1 per cent of Symbian, in common with fellow shareholders Ericcson and Nokia. Psion’s stake is reduced from 40 per cent to 30.7 per cent. Backed by the world’s three most biggest mobile manufacturers, Symbian is on course to feed the world with its flavour of “connected information devices”. Symbian will at worst act as a powerful counterweight to Microsoft Windows CE. At best, it will make the fortunes of Psion shareholders. Motorola has come to the Symbina party a little later than its rivals, which announced the formation of Symbian with Psion on June 24. On the same day it signed a memo of understanding to join the Symbina ventur on similar terms to Ericcson and Nokia. Psion director Nicholas Myers is resigning from the company to concentrate full-time on his CEO position at Symbian. ® Click for more stories
Drew Cullen, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

UK firm announces MP3 player

Even as Diamond Multimedia was winning judicial permission to sell its Rio handheld MPEG music player in the US, a UK firm was announcing a device of its own, aimed at in-car use. However, while Diamond's reprieve may yet be overturned -- it's only a temporary judgement -- Somerset-based Empeg believes its machine is safe from prosecution. Diamond's legal grief arose because the Recording Industry Associaton of America claims it promotes music piracy. Rio plays music encoded in the MPEG-based MP3 format and downloaded from the Internet. Currently, there are vast numbers of MP3 files available on the Net, almost all of them illegal copies of copyright material. The case against Rio hinges on whether it can be classified as a computer or not. If it can, it can legitimately be used to record, edit and play digital music files. However, if it's classified as a consumer music device, as the RIAA is arguing, it counts under the US' 1992 Audio Home Recording Act. In that case, the RIAA attempt to have its sale blocked until Diamond sets up a method of ensuring royalty payments are made to artusts -- in practice, that means a one-off levy on each machine shipped -- and modifies it to prevent the mass duplication of music files. Empeg has attempted to skirt the issue by essentially devising its Empeg MP3 Player as a computer dedicated to playing back music. The standalone machine is based on a StrongARM processor and runs Linux. It also contains 8MB of RAM, a 2.1GB hard disk which can hold up to 35 hours of music, and a docking system to allow it to be connected to a PC. The device will ship with software that runs on a host PC and converts and copies music CD audio tracks to the Player. Empeg claims the Player will not permit tracks to copied back to the PC or to other devices. However, an attorney with the US Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, quoted on TechWeb, said that the Empeg Player, if sold in the US, would count under the 1992 Act, and thus be liable to the royalty levy. No wonder, then, that Empeg has its hopes set on a Diamond victory. Empeg plans to charge £699 for the player, which makes it rather more expensive than most in-car systems and so targetted more toward the audiophile market than the mainstream. In essence, hi-fi buffs will be able to replace CD multi-changers installed in the boot. ® Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Iridium a rare metal. Satellite Iridium a rare service

Reports said that Iridium will start its satellite service this coming Sunday, even though there are still problems with the system. The Wall Street Journal said today that there are concerns that voice and the short messaging system (SMS) is not up to scratch. However, a further delay for Iridium would cause a serious loss of face for Motorola. But is a loss of face better than egg on the face? According to the report, Iridium will now gradually phase the service in. ® Click here for more stories
A staffer, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Hopes of Hyundai-LG chip merger rise

A report in English language newspaper The Korea Herald quoted a senior captain of industry today as saying a deal between big chaebols Hyundai and LG to merge their semiconductor businesses is close. The two companies were locked in stalemate because each wanted a controlling state in the venture. At issue is loss of face, along the lines of "my DRAM fab is bigger than yours". According to the Herald Kim Woo-choong, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, said that merger transactions were close to completion. However, many analysts believe this is overly optimistic, despite pressure from South Korea's President Kim, the banks, and even the International Monetary Fund (IMF). ® Click here for more stories or try searching on DRAM
A staffer, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

European Micro Holdings buys Sunbelt UK

European Micro Holdings Inc has completed the acquisition of Sunbelt UK Ltd, the Wimbledon, London-based subsidiary of PC Wise inc, headquartered in Miami. Sunbelt buys in computers and memory and rebadges it under the Nova brand name. Established in 1992, 1997 turnover was $16.5 million with $742,500 pre-tax profits. Shareholders will receive an undisclosed cash payment and performance related earn-out along with newly-issued common stock of European Micro Holdings Inc. European Micro’s most recent SEC filings stated that its market is not dominated by any one competitor, but in comparison with other distributors like CHS Electronics, Ingram Micro, Inacom Corp and Tech Data Corp, it laid claim to signficantly better gross margins. The others range between 6.5 per cent and 10.3 per cent while European Micro claimed a healthy 12.9 per cent. For the year to June 1998, it generated $111.5 million sales and $4.5 million profit. European Micro Holdings Inc is purely a holding company and it owns the hardware distributors, European Micro Plc in Manchester, European Micro GmbH in Dusseldorf and Nor'easter Micro in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Additionally, it has a 50 per cent stake in Big Blue Europe, an Amsterdam-based distributor of new and used parts, primarily to computer maintenance companies. Co-presidents John Gallagher and Harry Shields own 37% and 31% of European Micro Holdings Inc, respectively.®
Janice McGinn, 28 Oct 1998
The Register breaking news

Now Dixons under Cyrix belt

Hot on the heels of Cyrix managing to get its chips PCs sold in 230 Comet stores, informed sources said that it has scored a similar deal with Dixons. In Dixons case they are hand-tooled own brand systems. Daewoo monitors have already started appearing in selected outlets of Currys and Dixons and the deal will be replicated across the country, the sources said. The machines will be placed very near the front of stores, as with Comet, the sources added. But in the case of Dixons, it is an own brand situation, the sources continued to inform us. No-one from Dixons was available to comment on the story. ®
Mike Magee, 28 Oct 1998