10th > November > 1998 Archive

A year ago today: Psion harvest moon

We bumped into a spin doctor from Psion at the formal press launch of Windows CE 2.0 a couple of weeks back but he was at pains to assure us that did not mean his company would eventually produce such a beast. However, The Register took the opportunity to ask him when we would, at long last, have the ability to plug the very marvellous Organiser 5.0 into our GSM-enabled mobile phones. He said: "You'll be asking me next what my favourite fish is?" This was hard for us to understand. But a source not too far from the company now tells us that such cables are a fairly long way away and are likely to be available in Q1 1998. This puzzles us a little. First of all, why did Psion introduce the Organiser 5.0 in June, yet was unable to produce enough machines to satisfy post-launch demand until last month? Secondly, why introduce a machine which is crippled by the cable problem when HP reliably informs us that it will have a CE device available in January with such connectivity? Psion's answer is that you can, of course, buy the PC Card adaptor... We think -- although we're not sure -- that Psion was running so scared of Microsoft CE 2.0 that it wanted to put its mark on the market early. That's always a dangerous gambit if you haven't got all the components in place but perhaps Psion does not need to worry that much. The woman who showed us the full colour HP CE 2.0 machine, which runs on AA batteries, told us the battery life was likely to be round the three hours mark. She was unable to give us a price for the unit but it's going to be a pricey item. It's also pretty large and the keyboard is not particularly attractive. Which begs another question. Why buy a full colour CE 2.0 device from HP which only lasts three hours when, for the same price, you can buy a notebook (maybe not a colour one) which gives you the same life but has more features? This was from The Register issue 61 -- the cables still haven't arrived... ® Click for more stories Click for story index
Mike Magee, 10 Nov 1998

Acorn dealer dumps Acorn deal

A loyal Acorn dealer has turned his back on the platform despite the fact he claims that it completely outperforms Wintel. Tom Waller, proprietor of Tower Electronics in Aberdeenshire, said he would no longer sell Acorn spares or upgrades. He will pass on any enquiries he has to remaining UK Acorn dealers. Waller, who in the past has been more than vociferous about the touted superiority of Acorn and the RiscOS software, said: "I will honour remaining warranty obligations... but will not take on any new Acorn system sales both for hardware and software unless a dramatic change in the way things seem to be going is evident." "I'm very sad," he added. "They've kicked their dealers in the teeth. Their behaviour is really despicable. I'd reverse my decision tomorrow if Acorn pulled its finger out." He said that Acorn dealers were not even consulted about the cancellation of RiscOS, which many of them discovered by reading about in the press. "The [Acorn] Web site hasn't even been updated because they sacked the engineer who maintained it," he said. He will now sell value-added PCs, but said that he still considers Acorn hardware and RiscOS software as vastly superior to Wintel kit. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
Mike Magee, 10 Nov 1998

Sony, Fujitsu make MO breakthrough

Japanese giants Sony and Fujitsu said they had succeeded in making a magneto-optical (MO) drive capable of storing 1.3GB of data. That is twice the capacity of existing devices. Both companies will release the spec for the drives and the media under the name of Gigamo, and said that they will manufacture products for PCs in Q1 of next year. The technology uses magnetically induced super resolution and uses IRIS thermal eclipse reading (IRISTER), jointly developed by Sony and Fujitsu. Data transfer rate for the drives will be 5.92MBps, which is five times faster than CDR. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
Mike Magee, 10 Nov 1998

Gates memos show how Microsoft puts screws on Intel

Threats? What threats? Bill Gates' claims that Microsoft was just trying to discourage Intel from wasting its money on NSP (see Intel writes lousy software, says Gates) took on an increasingly hollow ring as emails from the Great Man himself clearly indicated something entirely different -- if this was not pressure, then it becomes exceedingly difficult to explain. It is agreed by all parties that Microsoft did not want Intel to pursue NSP, a software technology Intel wished to add to its CPUs -- the dispute is over why Microsoft didn't want NSP, and what steps it took to stop it. So a key Bill Gates email from October 1995 says: "Intel feels we have all the OEMs on hold with our NSP chill," and that they wouldn't go with it "unless we say it is okay." Gates also seems to indicate some form of linkage here, saying that Hewlett-Packard wasn't going to optimise its machines for MMX or "the new audio software Intel is doing using Windows 95, unless we say so. This is good new because it means the OEMs are listening to us". That of course begs the question of what Microsoft was saying to the OEMs. Clearly it was saying NSP was a dead duck, but was it so because it was rubbish, as Bill's video testimony said yesterday, or because Microsoft was going to make it into one? From Microsoft's point of view, one of the issues was territory -- Intel did the hardware, Microsoft the software, so Gates says he "kept pushing Andy [Intel boss Andy Grove]... that we are the software company here, and we will not have any kind of equal relationship with Intel on software". This fits into the picture too, because if Microsoft regards software as its turf, then it will feel free to exercise a right of veto over any software technology Intel, the hardware company, starts working on. It's unlikely that the precise nature of any transaction that took place between Grove and Gates will ever be known, because the partnership still has importance to both parties, and despite Intel exec Steve McGready being used by the DoJ as a star witness, Intel still claims neutrality in the antitrust case. But there's some evidence of the kinds of conversation that were going on between the two. Grove asked why Microsoft hadn't yet agreed on an intellectual property sharing framework for Merced, and Gates said of this: "We were distracted by the NSP crisis -- making sure no one ships that pile of problems." So a hint of linkage, perhaps? In his testimony yesterday, McGeady said he didn't know what happened between Gates and Grove, but that Microsoft's attitude had the net effect of slowing innovation, and that this was bad for consumers. NSP, he said, would make the computer "sing and dance", and would have allowed Windows machines to play video without "the Max Headroom effect, with jerky video". But whenever Intel tried to mess with software, he said, Microsoft went crazy. This leads us to the nub of the problem, and to the beginning of the breakdown in the relationship between Microsoft and Intel. Their joint efforts had served to define the PC standard as a combination of hardware and software, with Intel defining the hardware and Microsoft the software to go with it, but increasingly Intel was chafing over the slowness and inadequacy of Microsoft software development. The PC9x documents list whole strings of innovations that have been delayed or derailed by Microsoft not actually arriving on time with the software support. USB drivers didn't show until Windows 98, meaning that whole generations of machines have ports nobody's using, and the continuing absence of NT 5.0/Windows 2000 is impeding numerous Intel schemes, in addition to having contributed greatly to the failure of NetPC. Intel's view therefore seems to be that Microsoft is calling the shots as to how fast the industry is developing, and that it's only going to be allowed to do so at the speed that suits Microsoft. Meanwhile, an irate Intel source responds to yesterday's Gates claims that Intel software stinks. "Hey, if Software Stan thinks Intel's software is so crap, how come 18 of the major enhancements in Windows 98 were written by er, Intel?" More details when Hardware Stan's anonymous source tells us what they were. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories Click for story index
John Lettice, 10 Nov 1998

Apple and Compaq were threatened, insists Tevanian

Yet more evidence came to light yesterday that Microsoft had blackmailed Apple into a deal against its will. Ben Waldman, a head of Microsoft's Mac development, emailed Bill Gates on 27 June 1997, because he was unhappy at the speed of negotiations, saying that "the threat to cancel Mac Office 97 is certainly the strongest bargaining point we have . . . I also believe Apple is taking the threat very seriously." Microsoft still denies it threatened Apple, of course. Waldman also told Gates that "pulling out [Mac Office] at this point would be a blight on our integrity" since Microsoft had promised the product to users. The consequence was that Gates called Gil Amelio, former Apple CEO, four days later on 1 July, and it is clear from Amelio's letter to "Mr William Gates" dated 3 July that Amelio was grovelling about Gates' desire to have IE as the default browser on the Mac. "I know [not having IE as the only/preferred browser] is a source of great irritation to you," Amelio wrote. In an attempt at pacification, he attached to his letter an "image of CD files - Netscape is not even visible". What he was trying to say was that Netscape was not in first level of the CD-ROM directory. Amelio was unlikely "to put behind us once an for all the animosity that has existed for so long between our companies" with this effort. Amelio does refer to the desirability of patent cross-licensing, and it looks as though the problem of the stolen QuickTime code was cleared up earlier. If so, the terms have still not been disclosed. Then guess what happened two days later? Board member Edgar Woolard called Amelio and suggested he resign. Could there perhaps be some connection? Just a month later, IE was the default browser. The rebuttal examination was by Philip Malone, the DoJ attorney effectively in charge of the case, and based in San Francisco. Steven Decker of Compaq, who had claimed in a videotaped deposition shown on Friday that Compaq would be using QuickTime if Apple were not charging for it, was not telling the truth, Avadis Tevanian, Apple's VP for software, told the court yesterday, saying Decker's account was "not accurate. We offered it for free. The DoJ showed a video of Apple exec Phil Schiller telling the real story: that Compaq decided not to use QuickTime because it feared there would be repercussions from Microsoft. David Obelcz, a Compaq engineer, emailed Schiller: "You have to understand what's going on here. They are very afraid of doing anything to upset Microsoft. We are very wary of bundling anything that would upset Microsoft because they touch us in so many places". Decker didn't tell the whole story: there were two versions of QuickTime on offer: a free basic version, and a professional version for which there would be royalty payments. Of course, it might had been wiser of Apple to have offered Compaq just the free version, and charged for professional upgrades later. Tevanian was asked by Malone if Apple would have used IE as its default browser if it weren't for Microsoft's threat to discontinue the Microsoft Office for Mac development. "No," said Tevanian. Microsoft's claim that Apple's programming errors caused the problems are not sustainable (Microsoft fixes QuickTime), and introduce another area of Microsoft's anticompetitive business practices: undocumented areas that are essential for linking applications. Microsoft can choose to whom it divulges this information. There was some feeling amongst financial analysts that Apple was taking a bit of a chance sticking its head so far above the parapet, but perhaps it has some new confidence because of those iMac sales, and a feeling that Microsoft cannot win this case. Maybe there's life beyond Microsoft's Mac Office. Perhaps new users will be won over to Apple if Microsoft's image suffers sufficiently to convince consumers to look at alternatives. ® Complete Register trial coverage Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 10 Nov 1998

Web sites are rubbish at customer care, says report

Web operations are lousy at customer service, according to a new report by Jupiter Communications. Of the top-ranked Web sites, 42 per cent took longer than five days to reply to customers' emails, or they never replied at all, or weren't accessible via email. Jupiter says this means they're missing opportunities, discouraging brand loyalty and opting out of user-initiated one-to-one relationships (NB we're sure Jupiter isn't really recommending we date our readers). The report splits a total of 125 sites into five categories: content, consumer brands, travel, retail and financial services. Retail sites performed best, with 54 per cent responding in less than one day, but 19 per cent of travel sites took at least three days to respond. "This effort illustrates that many Web sites have been unable or unprepared to respond to the flood of user questions that come in via e-mail from their sites," says Ken Allard, group director of Jupiter's Site Operations Strategies. "Answering thousands of questions per month is an enormous challenge for sites offering complex products and services, especially if they never had a traditional call centre. Yet, companies that delay responses to user questions instantly lose a significant degree of credibility and user loyalty, and not responding perpetuates the consumer notion that using the Web site is not a reliable method of doing business with that company." ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 10 Nov 1998

Share sales shore up Softbank numbers

Comdex-to-cyberspace combine Softbank has shown a 39 per cent rise in consolidated net profit but has been hit hard by difficulties at subsidiaries Kingston and Ziff Davis. Kingston was in trouble shortly after Softbank bought it, well before the Asian crisis, and Softbank also cites losses stemming from its investment in Internet companies, including Yahoo!, as dragging down profit. So although the net was Y3.29 billion (around $20 million) on sales of Y246.19 billion, Softbank actually showed a group pre-tax loss of Y2.36 billion. Hiving-off stakes in some of the subsidiaries is certainly having a short term effect in improving Softbank's numbers, but at the same cent increase in net profit for its first half, but this seems entirely due to share sales in group companies that have gone public. Otherwise Ziff-Davis, Kingston and the Web are proving heavy burdens for the Japanese giant to bear. ZD has been tightening its belt recently - in a recent memo to employees Eric 'Scrooge McDuck' Hippeau wrote that "Due to recent restructuring across the company and as part of our continuing cost-containment initiatives, we've decided to cancel the three formal holiday parties previously scheduled for December in New York City, Boston and San time the company is still investing heavily in new ventures (e.g. the joint venture with E+Trade), and it will need some of the ailing subs to turn around if its figures are going to start presenting a really positive picture. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 10 Nov 1998

HP staff to spend four more days in Chrimbo limbo

Hewlett-Packard is inflicting four days' leave on 9000 workers at its Singapore operation as part of its ongoing cost-cutting programme. We assume HP will be treating the time as an extended Christmas holiday -- according to an HP spokesman, quoted in the Singapore Straits Times, that's the timeframe for the enforced break -- but without extensive knowledge of Far Eastern employment laws, it's hard to say whether the leave will be paid or unpaid. HP has yet to clarify the matter. Expect news of further shut-down periods, as HP struggles to counter poor sales and high expenses. In June, it gave 3000 inkjet assemblers five days' extra time-off, and imposed a five per cent pay cut on 2400 managers for a period of three months. The company has also said it intends to divest itself of two per cent of its global workforce, leading to a $150 million charge in its fourth quarter financials. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
Tony Smith, 10 Nov 1998

Germans find rule for making money on the Net

Don't expect to make money from the Internet before 2000 at the earliest. That's the grim warning from German ISP, CVSI. It reckons that success for the majority of Internet-based operations is directly pegged to the percentage of the population that has access to the Net. An obvious equation, you'd have thought, but CVSI has figured out just how many people must have ISP accounts before the Net becomes a commercial success for the maximum number of players: 20 per cent. Trouble is, no one has got there yet, at least according to CVSI's figures. It reckons the US will get there at the turn of the century; Europe will follow it a few years later. Until then "companies should see the Internet as a new business branch that needs to be strategically developed", said CVSI managing director Karl-Ekkehard Klingner. "It is in no way a goldmine." Companies will make big losses before the start making money, he said, which is certainly the experience of the big players, like portals and e-commerce sites. ® Click for more stories Click for story index
Tony Smith, 10 Nov 1998

Schadt ist kaput

High street vendors Vobis and PC Specialist have stepped in to honour customer warranties of failed German PC dealer Schadt ComputerTechnik GmbH. The move - a little more than a week after the leading German PC dealer was served with a bankruptcy notice - should at least provide some crumb of comfort for Schadt's former customers after a week of uncertainty. Germany is the most competitive PC market in Europe and Schadt's bankruptcy only serves to reinforce the difficulties faced by companies operating on such tight margins. "They had a bad summer," said Ruud Ankover of German-based analysts GFK. "With such slow sales in such a price aggressive market, it was always going to be difficult for them." Even so, for a company the size of Schadt - which employed 780 people in more than 120 outlets - it's difficult to imagine that one quarter's performance is enough to send it to the scrap yard. "They've been teetering on the edge for ages," said Max Hotopf, editor of the channels newsletter PC Europa. " This comes as no surprise to me since the assembly retail model employed by Schadt has failed everywhere else in Europe. "They were difficult to deal with and it simply highlights the problem of doing business this way." Schadt's trading difficulties were made worse by the threat from discount supermarkets. Aldi, with operations here in the UK, declined to comment on its own performance in this sector but some sources say that they work to operating margins from as little as three or four per cent. Ankover believes that Aldi and others like it represent a continuing threat to the established players in the market and does not believe that Schadt's removal will ease the pressure significantly. Last year Schadt sold around 70,000 PCs generating sales of more than DM450 million in a country where every person spends five times more on computers than on personal hygiene. ®
Tim Richardson, 10 Nov 1998

Stordata publishes profits warnings

Stordata Solutions plc has said operating profits have fallen behind budget at its subsidiary Primary Storage and that this is likely to affect its contribution to the division in the six months to 30 November. The storage distie is blaming the profits warning on a slowdown in trading during the summer. A new pricing policy, which took effect in October, is set to reduce margins, the company warned. However, chief executive Simon Hunt did confirm that its subsidiary Primary Network Products is trading at expected despite a slow start and that he was pleased with the development of Mosaic Systems. The company is also close to buying a networking solutions reseller, he revealed, Several candidates arelined up for the vacant position of managing director after Martin Southern left the group last week, according to Hunt. Stordata will announce its results for the year ending 30 November next February. ®
Tim Richardson, 10 Nov 1998

HP touts reseller-friendly ecommerce

Hewlett-Packard is entering the e-business arena with a hybrid programme that uses its brand strength to court customers while still relying on the channel to fulfil orders. The reseller referral system, that enables users to order products and services by price and location, is part of HP's new European e-business strategy and includes three web sites aimed at specific customers groups. For top enterprise customers, Electronic Solutions Now provides a secure site giving access to specialised HP information, tools and services. HP Commerce Center is aimed at small and medium-sized companies and enables customers to select and buy products and services from HP resellers. HP Expo, currently a consumer information-only site, is to be developed into an e-commerce site which will also be fulfilled by HP's channel. While the introduction of these new programmes will create a more direct relationship between HP and its customers, the company is at pains to point out that this will not threaten the existence of HP's 72,000 European channel partners. "HP's new business strategy will not mean the death of the middle man," said Per Hogberg, HP's European e-business program manager. "To make e-business as successful as possible will mean a change in the roles and responsibilities between HP and its partners," he said. The company also announced that it intended to double its European channel partners' Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) from the current rate of 20 per cent to 40 per cent. Work on this is scheduled to begin next February. Neil McCarthy, marketing manager for Basilica -- one of HP's most active UK resellers -- said he welcomed the move and saw no problems in the short term with the new arrangements. ®
Tim Richardson, 10 Nov 1998

CTI firm experiences Lynx effect

Lynx Group plc -- the Oxford-based mini computer conglomerate -- has bought Exepos Ltd in a deal worth £3.3 million. Exepos' primary focus is the development of its CTI(computer and telephony integration) business where it already markets a number of products including Easydialer, Easyspeak and Telephony Toolbox from its High Wycombe offices. Last year Exepos recorded pre-tax profits of £265,000 based on sales of a little under £1 million. The deal coincides with news that Lynx has appointed Robert Arrowsmith - formerly chief operating officer at DCS Group plc - as divisional managing director of Lynx Communications Systems Division. ®
Tim Richardson, 10 Nov 1998

Intel Inside ad agency loses Intel consumer business

Tony Smith, 10 Nov 1998

NCD and Intel to leanly dally

Network Computing Devices (NCD) will show off a lean Windows terminal at Comdex next week using Intel's spec. But industry observers, ie. us, wonder if this is the last throw of the dice for the NC and its ilk. IBM, which promised so much this time last year, has gone all quiet on its NetStation, while even Oracle's Larry Ellison seems to have kept his gob shut on the topic. This makes us wonder deeply when we hear the grey-hairs in the industry say that the IT industry is maturing. If maturing is behaving like a gang of ten-year-old schoolboys, then that may be true. After Ellison shocked the world three years ago by saying at an IDG conference that the NC is a paradigm for the future, Microsoft, Intel, Compaq, even Tulip, thought the guy was talking sense and spent many many hours and mucho mucho money developing a rival to the NC called the NetPC. What happened to that? And when Compaq, in all seriousness, attempted to sell these doshless workstations to the corporate marketplace+dog, did anyone buy them? And if they bought them, did they feel they had bought a pup? NCD said that the device, called the ThinStar 300, is a CE-based unit which uses the Intel Architecture Lean Client (IALC) guidelines. The product will have an auto-sensing 10/100-BaseT Ethernet interface (should that be baste?), resolution of 1600x1200, dial-up modem support for RDP and ICA, and multi-language keyboard support. It also has two serial and one parallel ports, and two USB ports. NCD didn't say how much the device costs. Strangely, Intel itself doesn't seem to have any clear idea of the direction it is taking on thin clients. At the Intel Developer Forum earlier this year, no one seemed to have heard of its thin client model, while senior VP Mike Aymar told The Register two weeks ago that all these things, including networking kit, "belonged to a different division". ® Click here for more stories
Mike Magee, 10 Nov 1998

4Front buys London training company

4Front Technologies has secured a foothold in the technical training market through the acquisition of central London-based Penagen Training for $335,000 cash. Twelve staff, including Samantha Kinstrey, Penagen Training MD, will make the move over to 4Front. The new owner anticipates that Penagen will turnover at least $2 million in the first year following the acquisition, which will be accretive to calendar earnings in calendar 1999. Former parent company Penagen Group sold the training business because it had “created something bigger than we expected,” group MD Pat Kinstrey said. Under 4Front ownership, the training company would gain access to a much bigger customer base, he said Penagen will re-invest the money raised from the sale into Mycroft, a high-end networking consultancy JV with a US company of the same name. The sale of the training business will enable Penagen to get closer to Mycroft, according to Kinstrey. Employing almost 100 staff, Penagen also supplies IT infrastructure services to London’s Medialand, and numbers several ad agencies amongst its clients.®
Drew Cullen, 10 Nov 1998

Lousy Intel software 2: Windows 98's full of the stuff

In video testimony yesterday Bill Gates claimed Microsoft didn't like Intel's NSP technology because of the poor quality of Intel's software (see earlier story). "We thought the quality of their work was very low as well as not working with any of our new Windows work," he said. "We may have suggested at some point that the net contribution of their software activities could even be viewed as a negative." The records however show that Microsoft has relied heavily on this low-quality software from Intel. At the time of the Windows 98 launch in June, Intel issued a modest list of 15 key technologies it had made a major contribution to in the product. Microsoft, happily, carries a list of new features in Windows 98 on its Web site, so for the edification of our readers, we compare and contrast below: Features FAT32 and FAT32 Conversion Utility This improved version of the FAT file system helps give you more hard drive space by more efficiently using space on large disks. A graphical conversion utility lets you quickly and safely convert a hard drive to FAT32. Tricky one to do, this. A simple file format conversion routine, authored by Microsoft. Performance Enhancements With Windows 98 you will do less waiting. Specifically, Windows 98 can shut down and launch applications faster than Windows 95. You can also boot your system faster with new ACPI machines that have fast-boot BIOS support. Intel contribution number one. According to the Intel document, this is the Intel Application Launch Accelerator, and Intel contributed the "technology and algorithms which enable the accelerated launch capability". Windows Update -- Includes the Update Manager The Windows Update Web Site, an extension to Windows 98, is a Web-based resource site. It gives registered Windows 98 users easy access to the latest drivers and operating system files, along with product assistance. Is the Web site being integrated in 98, or vice versa? DoJ matter, if you ask us. HTML-Based Online Help... 15 Troubleshooting Wizards... Windows Maintenance Wizard... System File Checker Utility... Microsoft WebTV for Windows... Multiple Display Support... This is all very Microsoft stuff -- combination of bolt-ons, dubious bells and whistles and bundling deals. None of it very difficult. But Intel did some of the WebTV (see below). Support for New Generation of Hardware You can now take advantage of the recent innovations in computer hardware. Major hardware standards supported: Universal Serial Bus (USB), IEEE 1394, Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), and DVD. Payback time for Intel. Says the Intel document: "USB -- Specification champion, joint USB driver development and validation of the Microsoft implementation." We think this means Intel checked to make sure Microsoft hadn't screwed-up. "IEEE 1394 -- P1394a/Open Host Controller Interface protocol enhancements and driver validation." More of that keeping Microsoft on the right track, yes? "AGP -- Delivery of the AGP specification, and collaboration on the architectural implementation... ACPI -- Joint creation of the ACPI specification and validation of the MS operating system power management implementation... DVD -- Consulted on the development of the architecture to support and validated the Microsoft DirectShow implementation for software-based DVD." Web-Aware User Interface... Personalized Internet Information Delivery... Suite of Tools for Internet Communication... Internet Connection Wizard... DirectX 5.0... More of those bells and whistles tottering on the brink of antitrust... But Intel claims "consultation with regards to performance optimisations and architectural improvements in DX5". Built-in Support for the Infrared Specification... Dial-Up Networking Improvements... Multilink Channel Aggregation... Multilink was in 95 -- incremental stuff, basically... Power Management Improvements Built-in support for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) lets you switch on or off your PC like you would your TV set. In addition, Windows 98 supports Advanced Power Management (APM) 1.2 extensions for more power management improvements. Intel: "PCI-Power Management -- Wrote the PCI-PM specification." Support for Intel MMX Processors Provides support for third parties to build software that takes advantage of the Intel Pentium Multimedia Extensions (MMX) for fast audio and video support on the next generation of Intel Pentium processor. Finally -- MMX was introduced in January 97. Intel modestly and no doubt erroneously fails to claim responsibility for Microsoft's efforts here. Win32 Drive Model (WDM) This new, unified driver model for Windows 98 and Windows NT enables new devices to have a single driver for both operating systems. It allows Windows 98 to maintain full legacy device driver support while adding support for new WDM drivers. Intel: "Initiated and consulted on the architecture of the WDM audio driver model... Initiated and validated the architecture of the USB and 1394 driver stacks." PCMCIA Enhancements... Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM)... Client Support for NetWare Directory Services... Incremental, inevitable and peculiar -- it's not like Microsoft to be advertising Novell support as a feature. Other Intel stuff that doesn't seem to relate to the Microsoft 98 brochure, but that does seem likely to enhance the user's experience, includes Indeo "capabilities in Internet Explorer 4.0 [which] allow audio, video and special effects playback... Developed and licensed components of the H.323 infrastructure stack... Quality of Service Components... Drove the Winsock2 specification through the Internet Working Group and provided the first implementation to Microsoft... Intel Intercast software -- Delivered data technology capabilities in WebTV for Windows." Not that we'd know about these things, but it does look a bit like, if Intel software is junk, you'd better not go anywhere near Windows 98. ® Click for more stories Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 10 Nov 1998

Hardware Satan talks to Software Satan

Dell has pipped bitter rival Compaq to the post by announcing a migration programme which will allow its corporate customers to move to Windows 2000. And part of its strategy is to move corporate users first to Windows NT 4.0, making the upgrade path easier. Jumping from NT 3.51 to NT 5.0 is non-trivial. Jumping from Win98 to Win2000 is very serious. The company said its programme, undertaken jointly with Microsoft, will have separate components including identifying legacy hardware support and creating device driver support for Dell systems. In addition, Dell said it had already moved parts of its own mission critical business to Win2000. That suggests, as exclusively reported here some months ago, that Microsoft is well on its way to delivering its final beta by Thanksgiving. ®
Mike Magee, 10 Nov 1998

The Lotus Compaq buck stops there

Around two million users in the UK in need of technical support can now subscribe to a joint technical support programme from Compaq and Lotus. Called ONE+, it has been designed to provide a single point of technical contact for Lotus Notes/Domino, cc:Mail, SmartSuite and MS Office and Windows NT, on Compaq hardware, including some integrated Digital products. "It's been introduced to stop all the finger-pointing and buck-passing that's gone on in the past," said Jeff Clark of Lotus.®
Tim Richardson, 10 Nov 1998

Ingram opens UK call centre

Ingram Micro UK has created 100 jobs following the opening its new 400-seat telebusiness centre at its headquarters in Milton Keynes. The 25,000 square feet centre now houses the company's sales, customer services and technical support departments and represents the first in a series of future developments planned at the Ingram Micro. The company has also upgraded its Electronic Reseller Business Centre, the company's Net-based price, availability and ordering service, which serves 4,000 registered customers by introducing a virtual warehouse.®
A staffer, 10 Nov 1998

The PC killed the Music Publisher

Roy Taylor, 10 Nov 1998

Gates under the grill – the full transcript

Below we publish the first full transcript of Bill Gates' video testimony. All Gates' words are uttered under oath, so they must be true, so the Bill Gates memos produced by DoJ attorney David Boies afterwards which appear to contradict him can't be. Presumably. Gates shows little sign of having been well-briefed for the deposition by Microsoft lawyers. It is quite likely that Gates refused advice - this is of constant concern to his PR handlers. It may well turn out, if the performance he produced on Monday is typical, that the greatest single factor causing Microsoft to lose the case will be Gates' performance. Gates' had a mantra for the part of the deposition about Intel: the words were "low quality" and "incompatible" for Intel software. His vehemence, and other evidence, suggests that the opposite may be true: Intel's software was a considerable threat to Microsoft, as we shall detail in due course. Outside the courtroom, Boies said that Microsoft deliberately tried to stop Intel from competing because its software quality was good, not poor. In many of the exchanges which follow, Gates paused for up to 25 seconds, staring down at the table: Boies: Did Microsoft make any effort to convince Intel not to help Sun and Java? Gates: Not that I know of. Boies: Did you or anyone at Microsoft attempt to convince Intel not to engage in any software activity? [Microsoft lawyer Heiner objected, but Gates responded] Gates: No. Boies: Did you or, to your knowledge, anyone at Microsoft try to convince Intel that it should not engage in any software activity unless Microsoft was involved in that activity? Gates: I'm sure we pointed out sometimes how sometimes a lack of communications between the two companies on various subjects including software development led to unfortunate unreliability and mismatch, which led to bad customer experiences. Boies: And what did that lead you to ask Intel to do? Gates: Oh, in general, to see if we couldn't do a better job communicating with each other so that people would have better experiences using the PC. [32 lines of testimony not shown] Boies: Did you or, insofar as you're aware, anyone else at Microsoft tell people at Intel that they should leave the software side of the PC business entirely to Microsoft? Gates: We were having a hard time coordinating our work with Intel, and we thought the quality of some of their work was very low as well as not working with any of our new Windows work. We may have suggested at some point that the net contribution of their software activities could even be viewed to be negative. Boies: Did you, or insofar as you are aware, anyone else at Microsoft tell representatives of Intel that their software activities were inconsistent with cooperation between Intel and Microsoft? Gates: The specific work they did that completely broke our work I'm sure I indicated I didn't think that was a good idea for either company. Boies: Other than the specific software that would not work on Windows 95 that Intel was working on, did you or, insofar as you are aware, anyone else at Microsoft tell Intel representatives that the software work that Intel was doing was inconsistent with cooperation between Intel and Microsoft? Gates: Well, there's some other things that they did that created incompatibilities. Boies: Incompatibilities between what and what? Gates: Between their software and Windows, that was intended to run on Windows, that created incompatibilities. Boies: And did you tell them that that software also was not consistent with cooperation between Microsoft and Intel? Gates: I doubt I used those words. I suggested that it wasn't helpful to any of their goals or our goals to have software that had incompatibilities and was low quality and broke. Boies: Did you, Mr. Gates, personally ever express concern to (Intel Chairman Andy) Mr. Grove that Intel's software work was beginning to overlap with Microsoft's software work? Gates: Only in the sense that the low quality and incompatibilities were inconsistent with any goals that Intel might have had in doing that work. Boies: Why was that a concern? Gates: Because Intel was wasting its money by writing low quality software that created incompatibilities for users, and those negative experiences weren't helpful for any goal that Intel had. Boies: Were they harmful to any goal that Microsoft had? Gates: Only in the sense of hurting PC popularity by creating negative user experiences. Boies: Is it your testimony that your only concern with what Intel was doing in the software area was a concern to avoid negative user experiences? Gates: That's right. Low quality and incompatibilities. Boies: Which, according to you, would lead to negative user experiences, correct? Gates: That's right. Boies: Did you or, insofar as you are aware, anybody at Microsoft ever tell Intel representatives in words or in substance that they should stick to hardware and leave the software to Microsoft? [Microsoft lawyer Heiner objected, but Gates responded] Gates: I'm sure there were times when we were frustrated about the quality and incompatibility problems created about their software where someone might have expressed that sentiment in an extreme feeling about how tough it had been for Intel to do quality work that would have advanced any Intel goal. Boies: Were you aware of any work that Intel was doing relating to Internet software development? Gates: I can't think of any. [A memo by McGeady after the 2 August 1995 meeting between Intel and Microsoft, attended by Gates, said that "Gates was livid" about Intel's investments in the Internet and "wanted them stopped." McGeady wrote: Gates didn't want [Intel's] engineers interfering with his plans for domination of the PC industry. He was very upset . . . quite enraged at one point. . . . Bill made it clear he wouldn't support our plans if we didn't get alignment.] Boies: Did you ever express any concern to anyone at Intel, or to your knowledge, did anyone at Microsoft ever express any concern to anyone at Intel concerning Intel's Internet software work, if any? Gates: I don't think Intel ever did any Internet software work. Boies: And if they did, I take it it's your testimony no one ever told you about it? Gates: That's right. [93 lines of testimony not shown] Boies: Did you ask Intel to keep you apprised of what software work Intel was doing? Gates: I think I made that request in vain on several occasions, nothing ever came of it. Boies: Is it your testimony that they refused to keep you apprised of the software work they were doing? Gates: No. I just said to them that if they would -- whatever software work they were doing that was intended to help Windows, they should talk to us about it early on if they wanted to have the highest probability that it would, in fact, achieve that goal. And unfortunately, we never achieved that result; that is, they would do things related to Windows without talking to us in advance, and then once they had done the work, there would be some incompatibilities between what they had done and Windows itself. Boies: When is the last time that you asked Intel to keep you apprised of what software work they were doing? Gates: I'm not sure Boies: Approximately when? Gates: I don't know. Boies: Was it in the last year? Gates: I don't know. Boies: Was it within the last two years? Gates: I honestly don't know. Boies: Was it within the last three years? Gates: There's probably one instance where I asked them to tell us about things they were doing related to Windows. Boies: Did you or others, to your knowledge, from Microsoft tell Intel that if Intel began to compete with Microsoft, Microsoft would be forced to begin to compete with Intel? Gates: No. Boies: Not at all, sir? Never said that in words or in substance? Gates: No. Boies: To your knowledge did anyone else from Microsoft ever say that? Gates: I'm not aware of anybody saying that. Boies: If anybody had said that, would you consider it to be inconsistent with company policy? [Microsoft lawyer Heiner objected, but Gates responded] Gates: I'm confused. Intel and Microsoft are not in the same businesses, so there's no policy about one of our people suggesting that we're going to go into the chip business. Boies: Was it part of what you wanted to accomplish, Mr Gates, to keep Intel and Microsoft in separate businesses? Gates: No. Boies: Did you ever take any action intended to accomplish that? Gates: No. Boies: Did you or, to your knowledge, anyone from Microsoft ever tell people at Intel that Microsoft would hold up support for Intel's microprocessors if Intel didn't cooperate with Microsoft in areas that Microsoft wanted Intel's cooperation in? Gates: When we saw Intel doing the low quality work that was creating incompatibilities in Windows that served absolutely no Intel goal, we suggested to Intel that that should change. And it became frustrating to us because it was a long period of time where they kept doing work that we thought, although it was intended to be positive in the Windows environment, it was actually negative. And we did point out the irony of how while we seemed to communicate with them on microprocessor issues and yet they seemed on the areas where they were trying to enhance Windows that the communication worked very poorly. Boies: Did you or others on behalf of Microsoft tell Intel that Microsoft would hold up support for Intel's microprocessors if Intel did not cooperate with Microsoft? Gates: No. Boies: No one ever told Intel that, to your knowledge? Gates: That's right. [24 lines of testimony not shown] Boies: Did you, Mr. Gates, ever yourself try to get Intel to reduce its support of Netscape? Gates: I'm not aware of any work that Intel did in supporting Netscape. They may have used their browser internally or one of their server things, but that's -- that's not really support. So I'm not sure of any support they were giving to Netscape. Boies: You may mean that to answer my question, but I want to be clear. It is your testimony that you're not aware of any instance where you asked anybody at Intel to reduce the support that Intel was providing to Netscape; is that your testimony? Gates: No. I may have asked I may -- and I don't remember it -- but I may have talked to them about their internal browser use. I don't think so, but I may have. And I may have talked to them about their web servers and what they were using, but I don't think so. ® Click for more stories Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 10 Nov 1998

Gates to Intel: stop competing with Microsoft

Microsoft had been a little reluctant to disclose what is arguably the third part of its embrace and extend strategy -- eliminate -- but this came out in court yesterday when Steven McGeady, VP of Intel's content group, testified as a result of a subpoena from the DoJ. It was possible that the DoJ would have asked Judge Jackson to regard McGeady as a hostile witness, but in the event, any hostility was from a starchy Intel spokesman who was clearly concerned that Intel should do as little as possible to upset Microsoft. The spokesman said that "if Intel had chosen to submit testimony in writing, it would have entailed working with the government... the company did not want to do that because it views itself as neutral in this dispute". This is presumptive of Intel, since it was McGeady who was subpoeaned, and unless McGeady sought advice from Intel, it was not Intel's business. McGeady gave evidence that Microsoft had forced Intel to scrap entire projects rather than incur the wrath of Gates, such as native signal processing. "Basically," said McGeady, "Microsoft was concerned that things would get out of its control." The Intel meetings were with a powerful partner, so Microsoft is unable to use its excuse about the whining of competitors. Gates also threatened in 1995 to stop supporting Intel's MMX project in which it had already invested around $500 million. An interesting sidelight here is that it would appear that Intel had no contract with Microsoft to deal with the possibility of Microsoft pulling out. To give credence to the threat, Microsoft announced that it was supporting Digital's Alpha. "The threat was both credible and fairly terrifying," McGeady said. Suddenly, Intel dropped the native signal processing development. So far as Java was concerned, Intel was happy that Java ran rather slowly, since Mceady thought that would bring business to Intel for faster processors. Paul Maritz of Microsoft told McGeady that he wanted to keep Sun's version of Java "from getting established" in the industry. A meeting including Gates, Maritz, Intel's Andy Grove, McGeady and other senior executives discussed Gates' concern that he had a "fundamental problem with 'free' software from IAL [Intel Architecture Labs], cross-subsidised by processor revenues. Gates would not agree to let processors/OS programs progress unencumbered by platform, communications issues". It turned out that Gates wanted Intel to shut down IAL, which had 750 engineers. A curious note was that "Unix: big flap -- Microsoft wants lots of UNIXes". Could that mean that Microsoft liked to point at the rich variety and, he hoped, incompatibility of Unix? Would he be concerned if Unix were really one specification? The note of the meeting records Gates as saying: "On the 30/70 use of 3rd party technologies, Intel using Netscape in a Windows environment is not a problem provided we do not set up the 'positive feedback loop' for Netscape that allows it to grow [to be the] de facto standard." This was a revelation. When the question as to what Intel should do with its Internet resources [meaning the staff at Intel], Gates was recorded as saying: "Go do a high-end Web server. This could be tied to their Tiger program." Ron Whittier, who wrote the notes, added: "Or we could go climb a mountain." Gates also said that the "Internet will be deeply integrated into the OS over time, just like messaging, conferencing, etc." Another note records: "Start treating each other with more respect..." So much for the lovey duo. In a miscellaneous comment, Whittier notes that "Gates only trusts Maritz and Neukom, not Stork! (This explains some of our problems)". Carl Stork was Microsoft's official liaison with Intel. Whittier did not record how enraged Gates became at the meeting, but McGeady did. He told the court that Gates was "very upset that we were making investments in software" and he became enraged that IAL was, in Gates' view, "competing with Microsoft". McGeady testified that Maritz had said during an October 1995 meeting that Microsoft wanted "to cut off Netscape's air supply". The remark was made to a number of Intel executives. Maritz also said that Microsoft was going to use its clout with Windows to dominate the browser market. This is illegal in the US (monopolisation), while in Europe it is an abuse of a dominant position. It looks as though the DoJ had gained some useful evidence. McGeady evidently has an uneasy relationship with Intel: he criticised the company for withdrawing NSP software development and giving in to Microsoft. ® Full Register trial coverage Click for more stories Click for story index
Graham Lea, 10 Nov 1998