12th > November > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Chip market on rebound claims SIA

Further signs that the chip market is on the upturn came from industry body the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) yesterday. The organisation said that the overall market is set to grow by over nine per cent next year, while memory products, CPUs and the DSP markets are all showing healthy signs. According to the SIA, the global market will grow to a position where it is worth $133.4 billion in 1999, and that is set to rise to $182 billion by the year 2000. Steve Appleton, CEO of Micron, made the forecasts at an SIA awards ceremony in the US. He said: "While 1998 has been a tough a year where we experienced a negative 10.9 per cent growth rate, the underlying fundamentals of the semiconductor business are strong." The SIA is forecasting that 1999 will show a positive growth figure for chips. That is underlined by a forecast from Intel yesterday that its Q4 will be healthy, while DRAM prices are continuing to gradually climb. According to the trade association, DRAM revenues will grow by 25 per cent to $16 billion in 1999, while in the following two years it will grow by 28 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively. While CPU sales will level off in 1998 to $23.6 billion, next year the market will grow by over eight per cent, and in the years 2000 and 2001 by 15.9 per cent and 17.6 per cent. That will make them worth $35 billion in 2001. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

DoJ case ‘effort to advance competitors’ – Gates

Bill Gates yesterday lashed-out at the DoJ antitrust case against Microsoft as a plot to boost Microsoft's competitors at the expense of the public. Speaking to the most pro-Microsoft audience on the planet, Microsoft shareholders, Gates said: "The more we see of the case, the more clear it is that there's an effort here to advance the interests of a handful of competitors over the interests of the public and the economy." Aside from Netscape, the companies comprising this "handful of competitors" aren't obviously identifiable -- they certainly don't seem to be in the government's witness list. But in Gates' view, the DoJ is clearly working to an agenda. "I think people will be surprised to see how the DoJ has misused email snippets to create a false impression," he said, promising that Microsoft's witnesses would be able to show "that the facts simply don't support the Government's claims." But who's pulling the DoJ's strings? Curiously, the witnesses who've inflicted the most damage so far have been Microsoft (the Great Man himself, whose camera technique needs a lot of work), and its at least theoretical allies, Apple and Intel. Jim Barksdale of Netscape may be a nice enough fellow, but he didn't land many serious punches when his testimony opened the trial. One is led to the inescapable conclusion that the "handful of competitors" is standing well back, a shady conspiracy manipulating the government for its own nefarious ends. Sun? Oracle? ODESSA? ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Netscape buys Web marketing company

Netscape has bought small business-oriented Web marketing company AtWeb for $95 million in stock less than a week after Microsoft acquired its own Web promotional operation, LinkExchange. The Netscape deal will see AtWeb's services integrated into the browser Satan's Netcenter portal -- AtWeb's !Register-It! search engine registration service will be integrated into Netcenter's Smart Browsing Netscape Search and Netscape Directory areas. The service allows small, Web-based businesses to get their sites registered with the key Net search engines. Netscape will also be taking on AtWeb's Web Site Post Office, which helps businesses set up customer-targetting mailing lists, and Web Site Garage, which provides site maintenance and analysis tools. "Netscape's acquisition of AtWeb further expands Netcenter into a network that links individuals and businesses around the world," said Netcenter executive VP and general manager, Mike Homer. "With the integration of AtWeb technology and services, Netcenter will be able to further empower small businesses and independent Web publishers with the tools they need to create the most effective Web presence possible." Users will also be integrated: registered AtWeb users, all 600,000 of them, will become registered Netcenter users. That number suggests Netscape is as interested in AtWeb's user base as its technology -- after all, mailing lists and registration engines shouldn't be beyond Netscape's resources to develop for itself. Bums on seats are, after all, what portals are all about, which is why Microsoft's $250 million purchase of LinkExchange seems to have been primarily an acquisition of a user base rather than a technology-buying exercise. Both MSN.com and Netcenter have a lot of catching-up to do to claim they offer comparable numbers of users as the likes of Excite and Yahoo! do. Buying companies with large user bases -- and getting some useful e-commerce contacts and services into the bargain -- is clearly how they aim to do it. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Smart, application-driven devices to replace PCs claims report

PCs, phones and TVs are all dead in the long run, says Forrester Research, and the revolution starts this year. But the outfit doesn't seem entirely clear about what happens between now and the big breakthrough, which is scheduled for 2004. Forrester seems to have been driven to the length of inventing a new category to explain what's going to happen. 'Smart packs', it says, are bundled devices and services that meet consumer needs -- so essentially rather than being general-purpose systems in the PC, TV or phone category, they'll be far wider ranges of cheap application-driven devices. But development routes pursued so far won't be particularly fruitful -- vendors' attempts to converge consumer devices have resulted in expensive products that lack a clear, compelling utility, says Forrester. Smart packs, on the other hand, will supplant traditional consumer technologies "by combining intuitive devices with personal Internet content," Says Tom Rhinelander of Forrester's People & Technology Strategies service. "To deliver what consumers want -- focused utility, personalised context, immediate access, simple operation, and affordability -- vendors will need to rethink their consumer electronic offerings. Only new combinations of easy-to-use devices and personalised services can meet consumers' demands for the right content at the right place at the right time." Forrester reckons that these devices will combine low-cost processors and phone line and wireless network connections to provide "the means to deliver and process a wide range of content, while synchronisation, personalisation and filtering software will keep the information up to date and tailored to each individual's needs. As these devices evolve, more and more content will become available in standard formats, including IP-enabled voice and video. "By 2004, smart pack devices will be indistinguishable from their accompanying service offerings. Directory phones that link to personal and public address books and deliver information like movie listings via the Internet will be commonplace. All-purpose digital displays and digital cable services will blur the distinctions between televisions and PCs, while application-specific products like digital checkbooks and electronic family calendars steal market share from low-cost PCs. A market shift toward leases will accelerate the adoption of smart pack devices and fundamentally change the consumer technology landscape." Ah, but how do you get there from here? Forrester seems to be able to envisage a point where it's all fixed and working, but there are all sorts of disparate ingredients that are going to have to go into the brew before this can be achieved. Applications, content, service providers, transportation and hardware are all going to have to work together, and how this will happen, and which companies will drive it is entirely unclear. ®
John Lettice, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Samsung to put $1 billion into North Korea

North Korea is to get a substantial boost from South Korea after Samsung said it will build semiconductor fabs and other manufacturing plants in the country. According to local newspaper the Korea Herald, Samsung will invest over $1 billion in the North Korean economy over the next ten years. The move is partly the result of increased contacts between the two countries, but it is probably linked to investments that its rival Hyundai has already pledged it will make. ®
Team Register, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

RBR wins Cisco academic channel rights

Datatec subsidiary RBR Networks has gained the rights from Cisco to distribute its products into the academic sector. The distributor now wants to find 10 key resellers in the UK to specialise in targeting the potentially lucrative market, it said. As part of its accreditation scheme, it will give them training, technical support and provide co-op marketing money for direct mail, seminars and tele-marketing. According to Jos White, marketing director at RBR, because his company only distributes Cisco equipment, it means it will avoid "the conflicts of interest" other distributors have. ®
A staffer, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

AOL buys PersonaLogic

AOL is to buy decision-making help software developer PersonaLogic and its interactive buying guides for an undisclosed sum. PersonaLogic creates buying guides which users can explore to help them find the right products for them. Essentially, the technology creates personalised profiles which it matches along with user prompts against product databases. The company licenses the technology to Web sites, such as computershopper.com, which uses it to provide an interactive PC buying guide. AOL already uses the technology for a series of guides. Its purchase of the company behind that software will allow it to increase the range of guides it offers and link them to e-commerce sites. The idea is, Web-based business will be keener to work with AOL than rival services, specifically Internet portals, because it can provide them with customers that are more suited to their products and services -- a precision marketing deal, in other words. So the big question will be whether AOL keeps the technology to itself or continues PersonaLogic's licensing programme. If licensing is to continue, the company hasn't yet made it clear how the technology will be branded. AOL will be rolling out PersonaLogic-based services across its US and international services, including CompuServe. It will also continue development of the technology. ® See also Netscape buys Web marketing company
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

MS announces dates for channel training

Microsoft has announced its FY99 training calendar as part of its ongoing plans to support its channel. The OnTrack technical and sales training events for Microsoft Certified Solution Providers (MCSPs) runs until March 1999, culminating in a one day event, InsideTrack 99, on Friday 5th March. From now until December, events will focus on Microsoft Office 2000 and SQL Server 7.0. Between January and March, they will look at Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and Server, business operations and eCommerce solutions. As part of the training initiative for MCSPs, Microsoft has also announced the OnTrack Skills Incentive programme which will reward people who achieve certification as Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP) or Microsoft Sales Specialist (MSS) from October 1 1998 to February 28 1999. Further details of OnTrack events and registration can be found here ®
A staffer, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Sanitizer and Shredder launched in UK

Paranoid PC users and those obsessed with data hygiene can now get their hard disks deep down clean thanks to the launch of two new products. Sanitizer and Shredder, produced by Texas-based Infraworks, clean hard drives so thoroughly it's as if there was nothing there in the first place. The Sanitizer range of products is a corporate data buster that can overwrite hard disks up to 999 times depending on the obsessive behaviour of some users. Shredder works just like an office paper shredder so that any files that are 'deleted' are actually destroyed. Thousands of PCs get dumped each year as companies ditch old technology for new. But under the Data Protection Act it is an offence to discard a computer containing personal data and can lead to a Crown Court prosecution and unlimited fines. The data-busting software is distributed by Technical Asset Management (TAM), the UK's biggest computer IT remarketing and recycling company. Prices for both products start at £155, which shouldn't trouble corporate users but will certainly make home users think twice. It's just a shame that the products weren't available sooner. Lincolnshire County Council got in trouble when its old PCs re-emerged onto the second-hand market still containing files on recent child abuse cases. And one high street retailer unwittingly sold a refurbished laptop still containing confidential psychiatric patient files. ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

DRAM market gets colly-wobbles

Buoyancy in the chip market is not all it seems, it seems. Reports today from both the USA and the Far East suggested that the memory market was on the rise. But our daily DRAM update showed that prices on 64Mbit SIMMs has fallen steeply since last Friday. A report from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA, also reported here, predicted that memories had bottomed out for this year and would rise steeply in the future. And the Korea Herald reported both IDC and Dataquest predicting boom rather than doom. But the local English language newspaper questioned whether it was a boom or just a temporary rebound fuelled by seasonal (i.e. Christmas) factors. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Are Microsoft's trial attorneys delivering?

Will Sullivan & Cromwell, Microsoft's principal trial lawyers, be shown the Yellow Card by Microsoft? It's clear that John Warden, Theodore Edelman and Steve Holley have been upsetting Judge Jackson over procedural matters. Warden has not succeeded in establishing a reasonable rapport with the judge. He slowness at cross-examination was clearly not accidental, and may well have been part of a plan to induce the judge to express his frustration at Warden's speed, so giving more ammunition for the appellate or supreme court. Edelman has made two bad mistakes that had the opposite effect to what he desired. One was when he tried to demonstrate how easy it was to change from Internet Explorer to Navigator on the Mac. Judge Jackson did not agree at all, and clearly sided with Apple software VP Avie Tevanian on this. A second example came at the end of Tevanian's examination, when a video extract of Steve Jobs' announcement of the Microsoft deal at MacWorld in May 1996 was greeted by booing and jeering, but with cheering when Jobs said that "other browsers would also be available". This was shown by the Microsoft defence team, and presumably they hadn't considered its effect. Most probably, they had only seen a transcript of Jobs' politically correct remarks (including the interesting information that there were "multiple patent disputes"). No wonder David Boies, the DoJ's trial lawyer, was delighted when Microsoft said they would like to show the extract: he was grinning when he said he had no objection at all. Judge Jackson was also amused. Sullivan & Cromwell did not succeed in preventing the humiliation of Bill Gates publicly by finding some way of stopping the videotaped deposition being shown in court -- and even worse, being released to the media. And Holley did not appear to understand sufficiently the technical issues during his cross-examination of Intel's Steven McGeady. Microsoft is unforgiving with any sub-standard performance, and it may well be that the legal team will evolve as a result. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

MS apps ‘bloatware’ – official

Documents released by the court show that Paul Maritz, Microsoft group VP, wrote in an email to Bill Gates on 17 April 1995 which said that "Steve McGeady [the Intel VP currently being cross-examined in the court] remains an issue for us. He is a champion of Java, and a believer that the day of 'Bloatware' (ie. our apps) is over, and Intel needs to be supporting this new paradigm of 'applets'. He has been behind the work to optimize the Java VM and wrap DirectX as Java classes, etc. [Frank] Gill told me in previous meeting that McGeady is [to] be seconded to MIT and taken out of line management, but this doesn't seem to have happened." Java was a very sore point with Maritz, who emailed Gates that Intel sees "Sun/Java as their big issue since Sun is not only trying to hijack the OS but the chip as well. I explained our strategy of 'optimizing' Java for ActiveX and Windows, and how we should be working together on this, but I fear that McGeady will try to obviate this (unfortunately he has more IQ than most there)". It was interesting that Maritz put 'optimizing' in quotation marks: it was clear that this was a Microsoft euphemism -- perhaps for 'polluting', if the material from the Sun case is anything to go by. Maritz also added in the same email that "we need Intel to realize that ActiveX is best antidote to Sun/Java, and that if we respond to root issue and manage OEMs right way, we can obviate the Internet terminal becoming threat to the PC". Maritz also revealed in the email that Microsoft decided to pretend that its cost-of-ownership "jihad" was to be "positioned as a industry initiative", rather than a Microsoft initiative. The real issue was that Microsoft did not trust Intel. It was also minuted that "Microsoft will 'prevent others from having to write [device software]'." It looked as though Microsoft's intention was to control the writing of all drivers, in order to increase its hold over device manufacturers. What could be next: Microsoft demanding large fees for writing this software? Intel did not have a high regard for Brad Silverberg, the Microsoft VP who is apparently on a very long leave of absence. He was "incredibly arrogant... dangerous", "enormous NIH [Not Invented Here syndrome], "extremely hostile", "the guy hates us", "pent-up anger", "impossible to deal with him". On the other hand, Maritz was "rational, pragmatic... focused on a merge strategy". Another document just released gives notes by McGeady of an Intel Architecture Lab staff meeting on 10 May 1995. It gives Intel's view of Microsoft. Ron Whittier noted that the area of conflict at the "particularly significant" Microsoft meeting was clearly the interface between systems software and the hardware. Maritz gave Intel an Internet overview on 11 September 1995. Handwritten notes were taken by McGeady, who records Maritz as saying: "We [Microsoft] are threatened by the Internet." The approach was "embrace ["clone unashamedly", McGeady notes in what appears to be his own thought], extend, change [the nature of the Internet experience]". So far as the client was concerned, Maritz evidently said that Microsoft would "clone everything of importance", "keep the browser a commodity", there was "no loyalty in users, they'll flip browsers", "Netscape is nothing but proprietary extensions", and McGeady notes that "Microsoft will copy". An ominous note was that Microsoft would "kill HTML by extending it". So much for Microsoft's support of Web standards. Maritz was reported as saying that in the platform battle, "[Microsoft] will fight with both spps and systems arms", and that in the Internet battle, Microsoft will fight "with Microsoft content". In discussing Sun, Maritz said that "decent development environments (like Visual Basic) needed". Maritz did observe: "Can't deny Java," and that Intel and Microsoft "should try to keep a Java component model from getting established." ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Hi-tech companies outpacing UK economy

The UK technology sector is growing far faster than other British business areas, according to accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche's (DT) consultancy arm. The company claims that technology firms -- a group that includes IT, telecoms and biotech operations -- account for just over five per cent of the VAT registered (ie. those turning over £45,000 or more) businesses in Britain. However, that sector is growing at an average annual rate of 25 per cent since 1996, well above the UK economy's current growth rate. "We are a nation of innovators and inventors -- we have been from the Industrial Revolution through to the present day. But sometimes we don't shout about it enough," said Mike Berners Price, lead partner in DT's Technology Fast 50 programme, after a posh dinner in a swanky London hotel. Technology Fast 50 programme is a marketing scheme designed to raise the profile of British technology companies (ie. persuade more people to buy their stock). Berners Price went on to announce the London and the South East region's fastest growing technology firms, including games publisher Eidos, electronic organiser developer Psion, and direct PC vendors, Mesh and Carrera. ®
Team Register, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

NTT selects WinCE for debit-card tills

Japanese giant NTT has licensed Windows CE for a new line of retail terminals designed to work with the county's forthcoming nationwide debit card system. The announcement marks a major expansion of CE's focus, moving beyond hand-held PCs and sub-notebooks to non-PC applications. True, it has already been licensed for Sega's Dreamcast games console, but that's essentially a computer-like application. The terminals will be based on an implementation of CE that lacks the familiar Start bar, menus and application icons. No surprise there -- these GUI features are, after all, largely redundant in a non-computer hardware. Microft figured this one all by itself, apparently, though a company spokesman was contrite: "In retrospect, we may have done the industry a disservice by putting the Windows 95 look and feel on the first generation of devices, because some embedded devices don't even have a UI." So CE was aimed at the embedded business all along, and its lack of success there -- in parallel with its arguable lack of success elsewhere -- was because Microsoft confused those poor GUI-less embedded boys with its GUI. However, this move into the embedded arena, which Microsoft Japan officials were quick to highlight -- "We have broadened the definition of the devices that can use Windows CE," said one -- poses a question: if CE is now Microsoft's embedded OS, what the heck is embedded NT's role going to be? ®
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

CMD to revisit RAID

CMD said that it will introduce a fresh architecture for external RAID products. At the same time, it said it would present its plans for IDE/Ultra ATA 66 semiconductor products at Comdex next week. The RAID technology, which CMD dubs Titan, will be the basis of a family of future products, the company said. It will include support for Fibre Channel and LVD Ultra-2 SCSI, and will also support LVD Ultra-3 SCSI when it is available. The Titan families will include better host and disk capabilities, redundancy models and a smaller form factor. The company's Ultra ATA 66 technology includes a die-shrunk version of its 670 USB host controller. The fresh rev, the 673B, provides increased immunity to noise, claimed CMD. It has developed the 673B, which will give greater immunity to noise, for the 3.3V portable and embedded design markets. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Diamond introduces cheap Super 7 board

Diamond has introduced an integrated Super 7 motherboard which includes integrated video and audio solutions for around the $110 mark. The company said that its Micronics M280 is a Micro ATX design using the SiS530/5595 chipset and will support Pentium/MMX chips, Cyrix MIIs, AMD K6-2s and IDT WinChip C6s. Speeds of up to 450MHz are supported, with front side bus speeds of 100MHz, integrated SiS 2D/3D AGP graphics and Aureal Semi's Vortex 8820 PCI sound. According to Danny Hsu, director of product marketing at Diamond, the board creates a solution at the system level which will provide an integrated product. The company is aiming the board at distributors and integrators wanting to offer high performance at low cost, said Hsu. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

A year ago today: Boom, boom

The Semiconductor Industry Association has 65 members all of whose businesses rely on hard and fast information about the shape of chip sales to come. So our readers who are in the semiconductor market but not members of the august body will be mighty glad to hear that according to the SIA, the global chip market will grow by 17 per cent next year, with total sales likely to be around the $232 billion mark by the time the Millenium Bomb explodes. This all amounts to one thing -- recovery and growth -- the SIA predicts. According to the group, DRAM is on the way back, pushed by the Internet, new applications for PCs (a version of Office that needs 64MB?) and lots of activity in the consumer market. The SIA says that global sales in 1998 will be $23.4 billion more than this year. The SIA says that the MOS memory market (including DRAM) fell 33 per cent last year, but only 15.5 per cent this. Sales are likely to rise sharply, however, from now until 2000. The microprocessor and DSP market will average 20 per cent growth. As if to confirm all this good news, the SIA last week said that chip sales grew to $11.8 billion in September, representing the highest total in 19 months and 15 per cent better than last September. This has nothing to do with El Nino. September 1997 is the fifth consecutive month where sales have grown. Across the world, the Americas showed a 20 per cent increase, Asia Pacific 22.4 per cent and Europe 15.7 per cent. ® Ahem... one year later, after the worst year ever... the SIA is predicting the same thing...
Mike Magee, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel stirs up bus row

Intel looks set to further antagonise its major PC customers after it introduced a high end server bus spec late yesterday. That follows protestations from senior Intel executives at its Developer Forum earlier this year that while they would support HP and Compaq's efforts to produce a PCI-X spec, they had a better design in the offing. (See story: Intel says PCIX last iteration of bus) The chip corporation said today that its Next Generation IO (NGIO) spec would provide up to 1.2Gbps bus throughput. Companies such as Compaq were concerned that any future generation of bus was backwards compatible with PCI. An Intel representative said that the announcement did not conflict with the PCI-X specification and had been around for several years. But the chip giant is at pains to damp down any row. Internal documents claim that NGIO is designed from the ground up while PCIX is an extension to PCI. "Future IO server technology from Intel will be able to co-exist with PCI," the documents show. Intel's secret plans for its 30-year future proof specification are expected to be released when McKinley becomes reality -- post the Year 2000. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Net music sales to grow 2000 per cent by 2002

Sales of music via the Internet are set to expand by nearly 2000 per cent over the next two years, according to research conducted by Market Tracking International (MTI), released today. But while that statistic sounds impressive, MTI's numbers show the industry's big players will continue to dominate. That's good news for a business that's gone into panic mode numerous times over the last few years when forced to think about what the Net could mean for its profits. MTI reckons Internet music sales will grow from $28.7 million last year to $550 milion in 2000, a near twentyfold increase. But while the music business as a whole will grow just ten per cent -- and given the quality of most releases over the last few years, you might think that a very generous growth rate -- the industry will still be worth some $44 billion in 2000, up from 1997's figure of $40 billion. Do the maths, and you get a share of just 1.25 per cent for Internet sales. Hardly the trouser-browning result the big labels and the music stores in particular have been frightened of. Arguably, it's quite the reverse. As important is the fact that the bulk of Internet sales will come from discs (ie. hardware) ordered from online retailers and not downloaded tracks (ie. software). MTI reckons music sold as software will account for just 10-15 per cent of that 1.25 per cent of the music market taken by the Net. True, $55-82.5 million is going to make some people a lot of money, but it's still a long way off the billions the industry majors are going to rake in. All of which makes the moves by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against Diamond Multimedia and its MP3-based Rio player seem even more silly than it did before. Then again, it's all lies, damn lies and statistics. Just before MTI released its figures, Internet music site the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA) released some numbers of its own. IUMA reckons that by 2002, online sales will reach 15 per cent of US music purchases, rising to 37 per cent by 2007. At that time, it says, 20 per cent of all music will be distributed as software. Where does the truth lie? Probably closer to MTI's predictions than IUMA's. The five big players -- Sony, Warner, EMI, Bertelsmann and Seagram (which recently saw its $11bn purchase of PolyGram from Philips go ahead) dominate music production and distribution, but those same players are still very unsure as to how they can fully embrace Internet technology. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 1998
The Register breaking news

Intel exec made up quotes, says Microsoft attorney

Intel VP Steve McGeady came under sustained attack from Microsoft attorney Steve Holley today, who claimed he embellished his notes from a key 1995 meeting with Microsoft, that he'd made up the critical 'cut off Netscape's air supply' quote from Paul Maritz, and that his superiors regarded him as a prima donna. McGeady held up well, pointing out that the Maritz quote was highly memorable, and that although it didn't appear in his notes of the meeting, these did include Microsoft claims that it would "kill HTML," and "keep the browser a commodity." He might also have mentioned, if he'd had the chance, the curious longevity of the "cut off their air supply" quote. This reached the press well in advance of the trial, and Microsoft has had ample opportunity to deny it. Until today, it had not done so. Holley has been trying to establish several things in the course of the cross-examination of McGeady. First, McGeady has to be portrayed as an embittered maverick who had his software projects canned, and who blamed Microsoft for this. Second, he is prepared to lie and to embellish in order to wreak revenge on Microsoft, and third, that Microsoft's opposition to NSP was perfectly logical and justifiable under the circumstances. So time-warp territory, gentle readers. We'll take these in order. NSP was not simply a project run by a junior Intel VP. In 1995 it was viewed by Intel as a key technology that would place clear blue water between the company and the Risc rivals who were then chasing its tail. The Register has a vivid recollection of it being explained to us by Vinod Dham, then a senior Intel employee and the man who masterminded development of the Pentium. Next, the lies and the embellishments are somewhat difficult to credit. McGeady claims there was direct linkage between Microsoft agreeing to support MMX and Intel abandoning NSP, and we've already seen evidence of Bill Gates emails which could be interpreted as linking support for Merced with Intel doing Microsoft's bidding. We've also seen Microsoft absolutely adamant that, when it comes to software, it calls the shots. (Drop NSP or MMX gets it) Even if McGeady is embellishing, he's embellishing on top of a ton of other stuff he can't have added bells and whistles to after the event. But as we see it, Microsoft's justification of why it was agin NSP is the real killer. McGeady concedes that Intel was wrong in trying to develop NSP for Windows 3.1 rather than Windows 95. He justifies this as being because Intel didn't think Microsoft could get 95 out of the door when it said it would (perfectly reasonable, if you remember 1995), but with hindsight not going for 95 was a big mistake. Microsoft today rages about this, because NSP was being designed so that it wouldn't be compatible with Windows 95, and that's why in 1995 Microsoft was trying to kill-off NSP - it was going to be irrelevant, and bad for users. But remember we're still in time-warp territory here. Back in 1995, in the run-up to the Windows 95 launch, Microsoft was moving heaven and earth to secure the most complete set of driver support ever for its forthcoming OS. All of the hardware suppliers who were going to be supported by the platform were urged to produce drivers, supply them to Microsoft for validation, and have them there on the first CDs when 95 shipped. It was a remarkable, and a remarkably successful, effort. Set against this we have the bizarre image of the most important partner Microsoft had barrelling along producing software for Windows 3.1, but not for 95. But rather than doing the sales and support job on NSP in order to obtain drivers, as it had done with every other key piece of hardware for the Intel platform, Microsoft decided NSP had to die. So was Microsoft offended because Intel had kept NSP secret from it initially? Or because Intel was moving the fuzzy line that divides hardware and software too far into the territory of software? Microsoft most certainly did not treat NSP in the same way as it treated every other piece of hardware that was going to go into a Windows 95 PC, and if we bear in mind that at the time it needed 95 to be a huge success, straight away (OS/2 was still potentially a threat), then that's remarkable. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 12 Nov 1998