17th > November > 1998 Archive

Oracle Raw Iron plan shuts NT out of the enterprise

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison yesterday moved to short Windows NT out of the equation with the announcement of 'Raw Iron,' a project designed to run Oracle 8i directly on the hardware without the intervention of anything more than a kernel. Raw Iron is to ship by next March, and although he indicated over the weekend (Earlier Story) that he was talking to Sun, HP, Compaq and Dell about hardware, at yesterday's announcement he tilted decisively towards Intel for the server platform, pointing out that Solaris was 64-bit, and therefore probably fast enough. So his target with Raw Iron is clearly NT, and as he's aiming for both 64-bit and 32-bit implementations on Intel, it seems inevitable that Oracle will be moving heaven and earth to get the system fully 64-bit on Merced ahead of Microsoft's version of NT/Windows 2000 with 64-bit aspects. The route Oracle is taking also seems likely to have greater attractions for PC manufacturers than Ellison's earlier NC proposals. This time around he's offering them the ability to ship their customers screamingly-fast Oracle 8I boxes, and has upped the ante by challenging Microsoft's SQL team to come up with a system that can even run an OLAP query 100 times slower than Oracle. The PC companies want to get their machines up into the heart of the enterprise, enterprise customers want to buy Oracle systems, QED a simple, fast Oracle database box is going to be attractive to both OEMs and their customers. And licensing may turn out to be Oracle's secret weapon, if Ellison's smart. If Raw Iron works as specced customers will get a faster system that at the very least cuts the NT licence fee out of the equation, and at the client end Oracle can cause problems for Microsoft if it goes for lower client access licence fees, together with concurrent licensing. Customers still get the comfort factor of being able to run with Windows client systems if they like (although obviously they could use NCs or thin clients as well), but they're also being offered the possibility of at least reducing NT's role in their organisation's plans. It's also worth noting something that Oracle isn't shouting about right now. If you've got an application running directly on a big, super-fast box, you've got something you could start to think of as a proprietary system, a mainframe maybe. So they're back… ®
John Lettice, 17 Nov 1998

E-Commerce made easy with IBM

Browsing the ThinkPad options area of the IBM site in search of some expansion for a 600, we spot Model 05K5336, a handy adaptor unit for shoving a second hard drive in the CD/floppy expansion bit. Excited, we read on: "Features & Benefits: - Feature Benefit information not available on this product." Hard sell, eh? Never mind, we tear down the page. Of the 16 entries in the specifications section, 15 are blank. It is Y2K ready (or, we suspect, ready in Y2K, but that's it, folks. Oh yes, and IBM seems to know how big it is. Maybe they measured the hole that's already present in the 600...
Author, 17 Nov 1998

A year ago: Cyrix becomes Fin Fin couch potato

Just inside the entrance of the convention centre, Cyrix was staging a funny little game at its booth, which seemed to consist of little chips dressed as American football players rushing around a field and scoring. But surrounding this booth, there was plenty more which was far more interesting than the ballyhoo-hoo there. First of all, there seemed to be a reference design for a sub-$500 machine which rather than sit on your desktop, would look more at place in your living room. And, secondly, rather than shout out to the hills that it had won a huge deal with Fujitsu to use its Media GX processor, Cyrix instead just had a Fujitsu Sunlight sitting there. It took The Register a little while to get to the bottom of this latter phenomenon. Just hanging around the stand for a while, we heard a couple of the sales boys explain to a couple of the punters that this was a massive deal and that Fujitsu had really bitten on the GX. That will mean sub-$500 machines available in consumer outlets (if you don't count the monitor, that is) and some will even be sold at cost as a loss leader. Watch out Dixons and PC World in the UK - those 30 per cent margins look like they might be things of the past...®
Mike Magee, 17 Nov 1998

Compaq wakes up to portal potential

Compaq wants AltaVista to become one of the top five portal sites on the internet after it announced it would "aggressively promote" the search engine. Currently languishing in tenth place behind the likes of Yahoo!, AOL and Excite Compaq's decision to back AltaVista - which it acquired as part of the Digital take-over earlier this year - ends months of speculation about the future of the portal. Speaking in the Financial Times, Kurt Losert, acting general manager at AltaVista admitted that the company lacked the media skills necessary to provide the content vital for the success of the portal. However, this announcement suggests that AltaVista's new masters have finally recognised the money-spinning potential of a well-trampled web site in attracting advertising revenue. As part of Compaq's commitment, AltaVista has launched a new search engine which enables people to ask questions using more natural language - something that has been available from other sites such as AskJeeves.com for some time. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 Nov 1998

CWC in eCHARGE for online payment

Paying for low-cost items on the internet could be made as simple as settling your phone bill if a scheme launched yesterday by Cable & Wireless and Seattle-based eCHARGE catches on in the UK. The micropayment system means that users don't have to release credit card details to purchase low cost items or services such as news and information over the internet. Instead, the charges are simply added to their phone bills. eCHARGE works by allowing users to transfer automatically their local rate internet call connection to a higher tariff when they want to purchase goods or services. Once the transaction is completed, users can either return to their normal local charge rate or access another higher rate web site to buy something else. Already available in US, the UK is the first country in Europe to launch the product. If it catches on, then it could be used to pay for more substantial items such as CDs or books. And because phone bills are sent out quarterly, it means that consumers could receive up to three months credit on items although the telephone regulator is yet to rule on this. "This venture creates a completely new avenue for web commerce which will benefit consumers, service providers and telecoms companies," said Mark Heraghty of CWC. "It is an important step forward in developing consumer confidence in web commerce, creating new commercial opportunities, and for the first time generating revenue from internet transactions for both content and network providers," he said. No retailer has yet agreed to take part in eCHARGE. The launch of this new e-commerce comes days after DigiCash announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and the closure of a number of Mondex trials. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 Nov 1998

3Dfx announces next-generation Voodoo

3Dfx has unveiled the latest iteration of its Voodoo 3D graphics acceleration family, Voodoo3. The Voodoo3 chipset offers around twice the performance of two Voodoo2 boards running in parallel, 3Dfx claimed -- effectively four times the performance of a single Voodoo2 chipset. In statistical terms, it can generate seven million triangles per second through its 100 billion operations per second 3D architecture. The new chipset supports LCD panels and digital TV sets in addition to standard CRT monitors, and is capable of resolutions of up to 2048x1536 at 75Hz. It also provides DVD playback acceleration. Interestingly, Voodoo3 has been optimised for Microsoft's DirectX 6.0 API, clearly marking the first stage of a move away from 3DFx's own Glide API, which is looking increasingly unnecessary in a world dominated by DirectX and OpenGL. Voodoo3 will ship in two forms: the Voodoo3 2000 and Voodoo3 3000. The former is aimed at the PC manufacturers and motherboard vendors. The faster (it has a 366 megatexels per second fill rate versus the 2000's 250 megatexels per second) Voodoo3 is aimed at add-in card vendors targetting the games enthusiast market. Both versions are optimised for Intel's 440 LX/BX AGP chipsets and operate at the AGP 2x spec. AGP 4x versions will be released in the second half of 1999, said 3Dfx, following the release of the 2x products in the Q2 1999. Both will support SGRAM and SDRAM memory and work on Windows 95/98/2000, MacOS, Linux and other Unix operating systems. Pricing is expected to be in the $35 per 10,000 range for Voodoo3 2000 and $45 per 10,000 for the 3000. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Nov 1998

Asda enters sub-£500 fray

Asda has entered the PC market with a sub £500 computer from Merseyside-based Future Solutions. ASDA blamed PC retailers for traditionally putting their own profit margins above giving customers the best deal. The pilot scheme, in association with Memsolve, means the supermarket giant will sell fully equipped internet-ready computers at £499 including VAT. One model, a 233 Mhz ESP computer with Windows 98, will be sold in 28 stores across the South-East and 20 hypermarkets in the rest of England. Asda said that the move, which follows rival Tesco’s break into the PC arena earlier this year, would force other retailers to follow their lead on low price computers. ®
Linda Harrison, 17 Nov 1998

Microsoft to offer free microbrowser as ‘stop Symbian’ campaign

Having failed so far to get mobile phone companies to vote for CE in any significant numbers, Microsoft is now readying an alternative strategy - offer them a microbrowser free of charge for their handsets and devices. The W-Pack (Wireless Package Application) programme will include free microbrowser, source code, libraries and documentation. The plan is undoubtedly aimed at Symbian, the joint venture operation owned by Psion, Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola. Symbian is mounting a direct challenge to Microsoft in the smartphone/communicator arena, using Psion's EPOC32 software as a lean basis for their future devices, and trimming licence fees down to $5-10 a unit. Microsoft clearly can't match this with CE, without destroying its licence revenues from CE machines aimed at more computer-like functions. But it can match or better it by 'liberating' strategies from other companies and giving the software away for free. This one, for example, appears to involve an ultra-slim browser running on top of an embedded OS, and although Microsoft would no doubt like the embedded OS to be a Microsoft one, this is by no means essential. And the microbrowser on top of an embedded OS sounds rather like what you'd hear from Sun. Giving it away meanwhile sounds like a Microsoft implementation of the Open Source Software approach. Microsoft says that the WPA will be a completely open standard which isn't tied to CE, and though it will work with (and possibly be optimised for) CE, financial considerations will keep this combination out of volume mobile phone markets. Microsoft may however have left its counter-strike too late. Psion's decision to let the cellular big three buy stakes in a joint venture seems shrewd with hindsight, because they're now committed, and a lot less likely to defect to the Microsoft camp (Motorola has rumouredly already turned down an approach). So Microsoft is going to have to look at tier two global companies, and at US ones. Siemens is already theoretically committed to CE, so is a possibility, and Alcatel and AT&T might be available. The Koreans, as always, are most certainly available. But there's still a lot of catching up to do. ®
Willis Loop, 17 Nov 1998

Updated: AMD K6-2s crash with Win95

AMD has blamed Microsoft for a software problem affecting PCs using its K6-2 350MHz or faster chips which means machines hang and need re-booting. The problem, which only affects machines running Windows 95, can be fixed by a software patch but end users cannot obtain that from AMD. Instead, according to Rana Mainee, AMD's European market analyst, end users must find the patch on the Microsoft site. But a search of the Microsoft site revealed nothing when we searched it at two pm, GMT. Whether you did a search on AMD and/or K6, the result was nothing. The problem occurs with Win95 OSR2, OSR2.1 and OSR2.5 on PCs with AMD chips running at speeds of 350MHz and gives the messages Device IOS failed to initialize, You must reboot your computer, or Windows Protection Error: You must reboot your computer. AMD says that while the problem is intermittent with the 350MHz part, it is more likely to occur with faster processors. Mainee said: "We spoke to Microsoft and they said it was a software timing loop problem, so they did a patch which they had been offering from their Web site." He said that it did not affect majority of the 350MHz population, but only the 10 or 20 per cent of machines which still use Windows 95. "If anyone has a problem, all they have to do is to search [the Microsoft] site for the patch," he claimed. He said that Microsoft had said that it did not want AMD to either post the patch on its own site or point to the place where the patch exists on the Microsoft site. "Microsoft has asked us not to," he said. "We're not passing the buck". ®
Mike Magee, 17 Nov 1998

Enta enters new distie agreement

Auratek Europe Ltd has appointed Shropshire-based Enta Technologies Ltd to market the full range of multimedia products from Aztech Systems. The announcement by Auratek is its first after winning the contract to supply Aztech products in the UK. The company confirmed it was in negotiation with other resellers and hopes to make further announcements in the near future. Singapore-based Aztech Systems closed its UK operation earlier this year in part due to the uncertainty in the Far East. Aztech is one of the major suppliers of sound cards and graphics cards and is the third largest supplier of modems in the world, according to Dataquest. ®
A staffer, 17 Nov 1998

Microsoft ClearType reinvents the anti-aliased text wheel

Microsoft has invented system-wide anti-aliased text -- again. Adobe was the first company to invent anti-aliased text, back in the mid-80s when it released the first version of Display PostScript. It invented it once more with Adobe Type Manager (ATM), often harshly dubbed Adobe Type Mangler by users. In the early 90s, Acorn added system-wide anti-aliased fonts. Apparently. Microsoft is the latest claimant to the anti-aliasing invention crown with ClearType, demoed during Bill Gates' Comdex keynote. According to Dick Brass, Microsoft's VP of technology development, quoted by InfoWorld, ClearType allows fonts to be displayed at up to 300 per cent of the resolution of the imaging device. "We are able to address the area in between the pixels," said Brass. "You are no longer bound by the number of pixels on the screen." His second sentence makes rather more sense than the first. Since the pixel is the smallest screen element on any display, it's clearly not possible to address the space between them. What you can do, however, is render text in memory as, say, a 150 dots per inch (dpi) bitmap and then display that bitmap in the screen space in which you'd normally render text at the default resolution of the device, say 72dpi or lower if it's an LCD screen. This is essentially what applications like Photoshop do when showing hi-res graphics on a 72dpi monitor. The image appears smaller, but that's OK provided you take into account the shrinkage when you render the original text. Provided you can display at least 256 levels of grey, the image will look fine. All easy stuff, in fact, and not quite the breakthrough Gates and co. are praising the technology as. Whether this is Microsoft's method will remain to be seen, but its likely to be a variation of it. Brass suggested that ClearType adds functionality to Windows' TrueType rasteriser, and you would need to work with non-bitmap fonts (as TrueType does) to make this approach to anti-aliased text work. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Nov 1998

What if Gates loses? – A treacherous WSJ considers

Just over a year ago Bill Gates wrote in the pages of the Wall Street Journal in defence of "innovation," and in the intervening period the WSJ has been one of the stauncher defenders of Gates and his company. But this morning the paper says: "The way things are headed now in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust trial, the government might actually win." In anticipation of this possibility, the WSJ has started picking over the carcass, looking at the possible remedies the DoJ might demand in the event of a victory. It appears that the government lawyers, who certainly look well ahead on points in the trial so far, are already starting to rough-up the requests they'll make to the judge, and it seems inevitable (in the event that Microsoft does lose, of course) that they'll try to go a lot further than the minimum. Here the ante has already been upped from earlier clashes. In 1994-95 it boiled down to a consent decree that would at least theoretically keep Microsoft on the straight and narrow, while a year ago it was just a matter of splitting the browser and the OS (although that covered only one aspect of the ongoing investigation). Now, just splitting the company in two, with Gates running one side and Steve Ballmer the other, is starting to look inadequate. The two-way split might be asked for, but with the proviso that both companies got Windows, and that the APIs be opened up. Opening up the API, or even putting them into the public domain, might be a requirement even if the company didn't go two ways. The DoJ might also try to put a limiter on Microsoft's ability to add features, and/or to give products away for free. Or then there's the Baby Bill route, unleashing a clutch of little Microsofts, each with rights to Windows code, and each theoretically competing with the others. As it happens, none of these may turn out to be relevant in the end. Microsoft says it's not going to lose, and even if the initial decision goes against it it will fight hard through the appeals procedure. Then, even if that goes against it too, there would no doubt be years of wrangling as the UN inspection force toured Redmond deciding what should be broken up or dismantled. The WSJ meanwhile offers another little snippet which frankly, we have trouble believing. It quotes someone it claims is a former White House economist and whose name is - Aaron Edlin. They'll be quoting Darren Drivespace next… ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 17 Nov 1998

Kyocera posts profit drop

Japanese giant Kyocera, which had previously weathered the Asian economic typhoons, said that its profits fell for the first half of its financial year to 30 September. According to the company, the drop was due to lack of demand for its IC packaging and also its personal phone systems. The company posted a net profit of ¥16.6 billion on sales of ¥358.3 billion. Kyocera claimed that while its pre-tax profit for the entire financial year will fall to ¥80 billion deals it has to sell Iridium satellite phones and plastic packaging for chips will help it to maintain its position. ®
A staffer, 17 Nov 1998

Energis strikes deal with Mitel

Energis posted its interim half year results to the 30th of September. Turnover rose by 76 per cent to £121 million, with profits of of £19.4 million before tax, depreciation and amortisaton. Earnings before interest and tax halved to £10.5 million while its pre-tax loss was halved to £16.1 million. New customers gained in the period were DHL, Renault and Whitbread. The DHL and Whitbread contracts are to provide the companies with virtual private networks, while the Renault deal is for a national data network. Mike Grabiner, chief executive of Energis said the company was building market share and margin in a market that was growing strongly. He said Energis has strengthened its position as a network service provider to the dealer, aggregator and reseller markets. It has signed a contract with Mitel which will now sell Energis services to its customer base. Broadband data services and advanced voice was also growing in demand. Costs continued to fall as a percentage of sales. ®
A staffer, 17 Nov 1998

IP to displace ATM, says Nortel VP

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) is (almost) dead, long live IP routing, was the (almost) inspiring rallying cry of Nortel technology VP Daniel Pitt's speech at Internet conference iBand yesterday. Pitt's premise is this: next year packet routing will reach the speed of optical networking systems sometime next year. The driving force will be the need to connect small bandwidth packet routers to the high speed (10Gbps and up) optics that are being increasingly used to build WAN cores. That will allow routers to be connected directly to dense wave-division multiplexing (DWDM) systems, said Pitt. "At [that] point we can can move these things forward together," he added. This will allow ATM and Synchronous Optical Network (SONet) layers to be dispensed with. ATM is now essentially a legacy technology, said Pitt, though he accepted it has a wide userbase. ®
Team Register, 17 Nov 1998

Little money for Eastern Europe, says Intel

Intel has denied it will spend money in Eastern Europe to build an additional fab. That follows a story in today's Financial Times saying that the chip behemoth was looking at building a fab in either the Czech Republic or the independent Baltic states. An Intel representative today told The Register the company had no such plans. Indeed, it would be surprising. At an analysts' meeting in San Francisco last Friday the 13th, the CFO of Intel said the company was looking to reduce capital costs and would even manage the transition from 0.25 micron to 0.18 micron using its existing facilities. Further, as reported here earlier, Intel's plans to shut many of its current fabs is also public knowledge. ®
Mike O'Processor, 17 Nov 1998

Court argues over validity of browser integration

Glenn Weadock, President of Independent Software of Golden, Colorado, was given the expected rough time in cross-examination by attorney Richard C Pepperman II for Microsoft. The initial focus was on trying to discredit Weadock by suggesting, for example, that he had insufficient technical knowledge to give meaningful opinions. This was not a problem, since although Weadock does not have graduate degrees, neither do most Microsoft executives (other than Bill Gates, who has an honorary doctorate from a private Dutch university that would seem to be hoping for a handout). Weadock is an engineering graduate from Stanford and a Microsoft Certified Professional (or MCP as they are affectionately known). His 16 years experience as a jobbing consultant is certainly solid enough, and he has written 11 books. Microsoft's response to Weadock's written testimony criticises him for not being a Windows programmer, but this is lawyer talk: none of the senior Microsoft execs, including Gates, are Windows programmers either. Pepperman then challenged that Weadock had never written an operating system, but he probably hadn't constructed a motor car either, so the argument was inappropriate as a means of excluding his testimony. Pepperman accused Weadock of tailoring his opinions to suit the government's case. Weadock replied that he had made it a condition of being retained that he would not be bound by any preconceptions. It was standard lawyer stuff. Weadock had surveyed some 13 major businesses to determine their views about Microsoft products, and especially browsers. He admitted that that "I'm not building anything here that that is intended to be a statistical cross-sampling of American corporate opinion. The bulk of [the] testimony is based on nearly two decades in this business." Pepperman tried to discredit the organisations that Weadock cited - such as Federal Express (where Jim Barksdale of Netscape had worked) and Saber Holding (a competitor of Microsoft's Expedia), but it was uphill work. Much of the afternoon was taken up with Pepperman probing at Weadock's view of Microsoft's intentions when IE was merged with Windows. Weadock made the unwelcome observation that Microsoft could easily have made it possible for users to avoid using the browser buried in Windows 98, saying that "Microsoft... has great leeway in what they combine and how they combine it." Weadock said that Microsoft's claim that IE and Windows cannot be separated is fallacious, adding that software should be viewed as a set of features rather than a fixed number of lines of code, since developers can commingle unrelated lines of code in a single file and call it integrated. Weadock claimed that commingling did not necessarily deliver a benefit to consumers. Pepperman suggested to Weadock that "Using 'commingling' rather than integration makes the example sound more pernicious" to which Weadock replied that he thought there were many delightful examples of commingling. Laughter in court. Weadock said that "No-one outside Microsoft has ever viewed a Web browser as being part of an operating system," but the important issue concerned Microsoft's strenuous efforts to lock-out competing browsers, and the doubtful legality of how this was done. Weadock commented that there were "actual and potential" disadvantages in integrating the browser. Weadock made the point that although some users may like IE to be integrated into the operating system, users did not have a choice. It is unfortunate that the DoJ is persisting in this tack - that integration is wrong. As the history of the industry shows, integration is the norm, and always has been. The subsuming of DOS utilities like memory management and compression from the 1980s provides a model that has not been found to be illegal. Weadock did give the facts in his testimony as to how Microsoft had broken its own rules for not making it possible to use Add/Remove for IE in Windows 95, or to make it possible to remove components as it had in the case of networking components. Microsoft's assertion that there is "complete flexibility in making applications and operating system decisions" is untrue. Arguments about the position of any dividing line between operating systems and applications are pointless, as there are no natural boundaries as in some physical processes. "It becomes very difficult to draw a specific line at [the] boundary between operating system and application," according to Scott Vesey, Web browser manager at Boeing, in a remark quoted by Weadock. For its part, Microsoft is leaning on the decision by the court of appeals in June that the integration of IE was allowed, providing there were consumer benefits. So far, the DoJ has not focussed sufficiently on proving the consumer disadvantages like the disk real estate aspect and slower-than-necessary performance that result if a non-Microsoft browser is preferred. A weakness of Microsoft's case is the deviousness with which it has woven IE into Windows. Close examination shows that Microsoft integrated the products to make it as difficult as possible for any judicial order for separation to be achievable. This was certainly not a benefit to consumers. A problem for Microsoft is its inability to prove that its users really prefer IE pre-installed when it is very hard for a consumer to make a choice of pre-installed browsers because Microsoft is garrotting the OEMs. With browser usage split close to 50-50 between Microsoft and Netscape, Microsoft's claim about the "vast majority of customers" preferring IE is a blatant distortion of the true situation. Nonetheless, it is in the area of consumer choice that the DoJ has a better case, with the evidence that Microsoft tried to stamp out Netscape looking very strong. Microsoft's PR response suggests an alternative list of its customers to those quizzed by Weadock, which Microsoft claims would have given a different view. Here Microsoft uses the naive argument that only its own software is the correct decision by an organisation, so that any user preferring Netscape is wrong. This may be good approach to fire up junior salesmen, but it is very unsophisticated. For once, Microsoft's PR is failing to develop any adult arguments (and there are some) to justify its approach. The legal problem with browser tying is to prove why it was done, since the way in which it was done is too technical for the court. Here the DoJ has been reasonably successful with the evidence so far, but the remedies may prove inadequate and too late. The fundamental legal problem for the DoJ is still that it has not brought the right case, and that it is on less-firm legal ground in trying to extend its case during the trial, because this strengthens the case for an appeal. Weadock's testimony does provide a useful base for the DoJ to demonstrate that Microsoft leveraged its dominant Windows position to incorporate IE - this is monopolisation, and it is illegal. Whether the courts will eventually agree is a political matter - and political judicial opinion in the higher courts favours Microsoft. Weadock's cross-examination was not the stuff of headlines, but it was necessary for a non-vendor to state the case. Weadock's cross-examination will continue today, after which there will be a rebuttal examination by the DoJ legal team. In some ways Weadock's appearance was a technical warm-up for the court. John Soyring from IBM is the next witness, and is more likely to be a heavyweight. Soyring played a key role during IBM's OS/2 days (shurely 'deadweight? - Ed). He is expected to be followed by Frederick Warren-Boulton, an economist. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 17 Nov 1998

Mobile Celeron will arrive at January end

Great Beast Intel is shipping completed samples of its Celeron mobile processor, embedded in notebooks. As reported here earlier from the Intel Developer Forum, Intel is developing a Celeron mobile processor. Now sources close to the company tell The Register that the product, codenamed Dixon, will ship towards the end of January next year. No prices for the product are yet available but the speed of the product is expected to be a minimum of 366MHz. Intel is making a bid not only for the budget PC desktop but also for the notebook market as well. That will mean we will see cheaper notebooks in the first quarter of next year. ®
Mike Magee, 17 Nov 1998

Ascend unveils telco-oriented data gateway…

Ascend has announced a device that the company claims makes it easier for phone companies to handle data traffic. The telecoms specialist has also said it is close to finding buyers for the unwanted divisions of Stratus, which it bought earlier this year for $822 million. Stratus also played a part in the development of the SS-7 Gateway -- the product is based on technology developed by Stratus and then obtained by Ascend when it bough the company. The SS-7 lets phone companies route data calls around voice call-controlling switches and straight to their own Internet gateways. In principle, that should free up capacity on their networks and, according to Rod Randall, VP of marketing for Ascend's carrier signalling division, "alleviate traffic congestion on the traditional phone network". That puts the company ahead of Cisco and Lucent who are developing similar products. At the same time, Ascend CFO Michael Ashby said the company is in final negotiations to sell three divisions of Stratus -- two software units and its corporate computer operation -- though he wouldn't say with whom. Ashby said the company is "on track" to make the $150-250 million from the sale, which should go some way to alleviating the $822 million hit it will take in its Q4 results for the purchase. ®
Team Register, 17 Nov 1998

HP has little financial sauce

Hewlett Packard has cautioned that slow sales may lie ahead after seeing its fourth quarter profit fall by 12 per cent. The California-based vendor posted net income of $710 million for the period ended October 31, down on $806 million a year earlier. Turnover was up just 4 per cent to $12 billion, with European sales jumping 15 per cent. Share prices fell from 75 to 68 cents a share. HP had been on a massive cost squeezing exercise for the latest quarter in a bid to curb expenses. Costs had been growing by an annual rate of nearly 20 per cent as recently as six months ago. The dramatic cost-trimming exercise includes a buyout program to cut two per cent of the manufacturer’s 127,000 workforce. This managed to keep fourth quarter expenses flat, accounting for 23 per cent of net revenue. However, sales were weakened in Asia and Latin America due to economic problems in these areas. Asia Pacific revenues plunged 29 per cent, in dollars, or four per cent in local currencies. HP warned that weaknesses in the Asian and Latin American economies could slow sales growth in the year ahead. The vendor also reported a softening in demand in the US, seeing sales increase just four per cent, compared with 17 per cent the previous year. HP’s results, which exceeded Wall Street expectations, also included $170 million in special charges related to restructuring. ®
Linda Harrison, 17 Nov 1998

Freeserve spells end of AOL's UK supremacy

By around teatime tomorrow AOL will no longer be the most popular internet service provider in the UK. With only 500,000 subscribers to its name, it will be overtaken by the Dixons' Freeserve service which has notched up more than 475,000 accounts in the eight weeks since it was launched. With around 8,500 new accounts being added each day, ten times faster than any other UK service provider, Freeserve's growth has been breath taking. It's taken AOL five years to reach its current level of penetration. Freeserve has done it in two months. "These figures are great news," said Mark Danby, Freeserve's general manager. "Not only is Freeserve attracting a huge number of users, we are also growing the UK internet market. By providing a free alternative to subscription services, we have taken the UK internet market into a new era," he said. If the figures are true, and some service providers have been quick to question them, then the 250 or so ISPs currently fighting for their share of the UK market will have to think again. "Everyone will have to take a look at their pricing structures if this growth continues," said a spokeswoman for AOL. Elsewhere, the UK's largest independent retailer of mobile phones, The Carphone Warehouse, is to start selling its range of products over the internet. To be launched on Thursday, The Carphone Warehouse believes it could generate more than £1 million worth of sales within the next 12 months. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 Nov 1998

Amazon unveils video retail site

Amazon.com has begun selling videos, as predicted. The new service offers 60,000 videos and 2000 DVD titles to its US customers, the company said. However, the service hasn't been rolled out in the UK -- in fact, Amazon.co.uk has yet to offer music CDs, which its US parent has been selling since July. Amazon.com also opened a Christmas Gifts store, providing seasonal tat for surfers who no longer get down to the High Street of a Saturday afternoon. "It's the easiest way to get gifts since Santa Claus," claimed self-confessed nerd ("My dog's named after a Star Trek character") Jeff Bezos. The gift site offers tastefully-wrapped books, CDs and videos (ie. what the company is selling elsewhere) plus gadgets and gizmos for grown-ups and kids, such as Palm III organisers, digital cameras and Miss Spider Lunchboxes. Amazon's move comes just after news that online computer hardware and software seller Buy.com (renamed from Buycomp.com) has bought Amazon wannabe Speedserve. Buy.com will be using Speedserve's online book, CD and videos retail site specifically to target Amazon, said CEO Scott Blum, beginning with a $25 million ad campaign a portion of which will go to Ziff-Davis' Web sites. Ziff-Davis is, of course, owned by Japan's Softbank, which... er... also owns a stake in Buy.com... "It's our goal to leapfrog [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos," said Blum. "The bottom line is, we have better pricing than he has." ®
Tony Smith, 17 Nov 1998

Ex-Datrontech top salesman to flog girlfriend gift

Internet company Making Markets is raffling off its very own managing director’s Harley Davidson in a bid to gain reseller subscriptions. The London-based company is run by former Datrontech PC components business manager - and the channel’s very own Santa - George Evans. Evans aims to get every reseller in the country using the free on-line service of product updates, even if it means losing his Easy Rider image. The £15,000 Harley Heritage Springer Limited Edition, a present from his girlfriend, will be sold through a scratchcard promotion launched by the end of November. When asked why he was raffling off the gift, Evans said: "My girlfriend wants me to be successful. Anyway, I'll probably buy another one next year." We hope he means the motorbike, and not the girl. Evans says every reseller in the channel will get a chance to ride off on his dream machine. The company, also run by commercial director Julia Duthie has a website to keep resellers abreast of the latest distributor and vendor trade offers. Around 25 distributors and vendors pay to publish articles on the website. They include 3Com, Microsoft, Datrontech, CHS and Ideal Hardware. Evans says it enables smaller resellers to read the offers they would normally miss. ®
Linda Harrison, 17 Nov 1998

Gates video 'not a beautiful thing to watch,' says Microsoft brief

Even Microsoft legal advisor Joseph di Genova, previously a DC attorney general, had to admit that the third Gates videotape extracts to be shown in court yesterday in Washington was "not a beautiful thing to watch". Indeed it wasn't. Di Genova wasn't allowed to say much more as his utterances are not exactly helping Microsoft's case. He stood alongside spokesman Mark Murray who produced the spin: "It was two strong-willed people forcing each other to be as precise as possible... Mr Gates wasn't allowing the government to put words in his mouth. In the context of a deposition, Bill did exactly what a witness is supposed to do." Whether this would include being conveniently forgetful, evasive, and uncooperative is a matter that Judge Jackson will decide -- and Gates' performance, coupled with Judge Jackson's body language (he did not attempt to stifle his mirth at Gates' performance, and shook his head at some of Gates' responses) indicates that he has taken the view that Gates' credibility as a witness is very low. A US district court is no place to indulge in rudeness and arrogance. Gates' performances are, in judicial terms, the greatest challenge to Microsoft's defence. The DoJ is succeeding in its main contention that the Gates extracts show that Microsoft is trying to present a revisionist version of history, and nowhere is this better seen than in Gates' trying to squirm around admitting that Microsoft was anticompetitive towards Netscape and others. One of Gates' objectives appeared to be to avoid uttering the forbidden word 'Netscape'. Boies banged home the point when he said: "What we saw today shows that Microsoft was quite concerned about Netscape in early 1996, and that Microsoft was not merely trying to improve its product." Judge Jackson asked DoJ trial attorney David Boies at the end of the third instalment from Gates' videotaped deposition: "How long did this deposition take?" Boies told him three days. Chirpy Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray, playing to the court of public opinion on the courthouse steps, said: "The government is simply trying to use Bill's testimony to inject some life into their failing case." It was comforting to know this. Boies made a brief appearance on the steps too, to say that "What the chief executive of Microsoft said [about browsers] is relevant." Microsoft tried to develop the argument that showing the tapes is a sideshow, and a personal attack on Gates. The DoJ contends that the tape extract provides a context by showing how Gates was at he centre of Microsoft strategy towards competitors. Microsoft was allowed to include some extracts to be shown. Gates' pauses before answering a question are getting longer, and have now crossed the 30-second barrier. After one particularly pregnant pause, Boies asked Gates if he understood the question. Gates replied that "I'm pausing to see if I can understand it." Readers who are not easily shocked are invited to peruse the full text of Gates III. Houck is the lead attorney for the 20 states. Heiner is a Microsoft lawyer who occasionally inserts an "Objection". That is not all he says, but only the objection is recorded. Houck: I'll ask you to take a look, sir, at page 8 of Gov. Ex. 679 And before you do so let me ask you this. Do you recall attending this Financial Analysts Day Executive Q & A session? Gates: Yes. Houck: And what is that exactly? Gates: It's a chance for people to ask questions. Houck: And who attends? Gates: Some people from the press, some people from various financial firms or investment firms. Houck: On page 8 appears the following question: "Bill and Steve, you both referred to the importance of building browser share over the coming year. Can you be more explicit about why browser share is important to various aspects of your business and maybe talk about some of the initiatives you're going to be undertaking to increase it?" And then Mr. Ballmer gives a response, the last paragraph of which is as follows: "There are a lot of things we're investing in over the course of the next year in marketing. of course, the new browser is the key thing - IE 4.0. But if you take a look at the initiatives, the content partnership that Paul's teams have formed, the things that we're doing with ISP, the work we're doing with large accounts on digital nervous systems, where the IE browser -- IE 3 today, IE 4 tomorrow -- is fairly fundamental to what we're doing on browser share, the way we're trying to get large accounts, and large and small accounts to author their content to use our dynamic HTML stuff; all of those actions should help, 1 think, drive up our browser share." And you're quoted as saying, "Yeah, along with the integration." Do you recall that question and your giving an answer, Mr. Gates? Gates: No. Houck: Do you have any reason to doubt the accuracy of this transcript? Gates: Well, in general, transcripts like this which come off an audio tape are somewhat unreliable, but I don't have a specific recollection about that specific question and answer. End of segment: (major discontinuity: gap of 431 pages) Boies: The term browser is a term that is widely used within Microsoft, or at least was until this year; correct, sir? Heiner: Objection. Gates: We use the term browser, yes. Boies: And you personally used the term browser, did you not, sir? Gates: Yes, that term is used in quite a variety of ways. Boies: Including by you; correct, sir? Gates: Yes. Boies: You've written e-mails about browsers; correct, sir? Gates: I've written e-mails where the term browser was used. I wouldn't say it was necessarily an e-mail about browsers. Boies: Have you ever written an e-mail that you considered to be about browsers, sir? Gates: I'll bet there's e-mail where the primary subject relates to browsers. I don't remember a specific piece of e-mail. Boies: And when you wrote e-mails using the term browsers, you believed that people would understand what you meant by browsers; correct, sir? Gates: I'm sure there was enough context in the e-mail that I felt I could communicate something of meaning. Boies: And you've used the term browser in dealing with people outside of Microsoft, have you not, sir? Gates: Yes. It's a term that I've used both internally and externally. Boies: And there are a lot of people outside Microsoft that have written articles about browsers; correct, sir? Gates: There's been articles about browsing and the technology people use for browsing and comparing the different -- how different companies do that, and they used the term browser. Boies: Yes. The industry and Microsoft tracks what is referred to as browser market share; correct sir? Gates: No. Boies: No? Does Microsoft track browser market share? Gates: I've seen usage share. Boies: You've seen usage share? Gates: Uh-huh. But not -- market share usually refers to something related to -- not to usage. And with browsers, I've seen mostly usage. Now, some people might refer to that as a market share, but it's not a market share. Boies: What is a market share? Gates: Well, when I think of a market share, I think of where you're comparing the revenue of one company to the revenue of another company. Boies: The total revenue of a company? Gates: No, the revenue related to one company's product to the revenue of another company's product. Boies: And that's what you think of when you use the term market share; is that your testimony? Gates: Usually. Boies: Are you aware of documents within Microsoft that describe browser share as the company's number one goal? Gates: No. I'm aware of documents within Paul Maritz's group that may have stated that. Boies: Is Paul Maritz's group within Microsoft? Gates: Yes, but his -- he doesn't set the company-wide goals. Boies: Mr. Maritz you identified last week as being a group vice-president; is that correct? Gates: Uh-huh. Several times. Boies: And he is the group vice-president with responsibility for Windows; is that correct? Gates: That's among his responsibilities. Boies: And included in his responsibilities was Internet Explorer; is that correct? Gates: Our browsing technology was part of that group. Boies: Was Internet Explorer part of that group? Gates: Yes. Boies: Now, did you ever tell Mr. Maritz that browser share was not the company's number one goal? Gates: No. Boies: You knew Mr. Maritz was telling people that browser share was the company's number one. goal, did you not, sir? Gates: I knew that Mr. Maritz was saying to people that the -- that a top goal and perhaps number one goal for his group was browser usage share. End of segment (discontinuity: gap of 53 lines of testimony) Boies: Interpreting what Mr. Maritz has communicated in light of that, do you know how Mr. Maritz came to the view that browser share was the number one goal? Gates: Well, I think he was aware of the increasing popularity of the Internet and the growing usage of the Internet and felt that all the many many innovations we were doing in Windows, that a particular focus had to be doing the best job on the Internet and Internet browsing features of the operating system and seeing if we could innovate enough to make people prefer to use that technology from us. Boies: Mr. Gates, isn't it the case that you told Mr. Maritz that browser share was a very very important goal and that's why he believed it? Gates: I guess now we're delving into the inner workings of Paul Maritz's mind and how he comes to conclusions? Boies: Well, let me try to ask you a question that won't require you to delve into anybody else's mind. Did you tell Mr. Maritz that browser share was a very very important goal? Gates: I know we talked about browser share being important. Boies: I'm not asking you what he said to you. I'm not asking what topic you talked about. I'm asking you whether you told Mr. Maritz that browser share was a very very important goal? Gates: I remember that we agreed that it was an important goal. I'm not sure which one of us reached that feeling before the other. End of segment (discontinuity of 46 lines of testimony) Boies: Did you write Gov. Ex. 295 Mr. Gates, on or about January 5, 1996? Gates: I don't remember doing so specifically, but it appears that I did. Boies: And the first line of this is, "Winning Internet browser share is a very very important goal for us." Do you see that? Gates: I do. Boies: Do you remember writing that, sir? Gates: Not specifically. Boies: Now, when you were referring there to Internet browser share, what were the companies who were included in that? Gates: There's no companies included in that. Boies: Well, if you're winning browser share, that must mean that some other company is producing browsers and you're comparing your share of browsers with somebody else's share of browsers; is that not so, sir? Gates: You asked me if there are any companies included in that and now -- I'm very confused about what you're asking. Boies: All right, sir, let me see if I can try to clarify. You say here "Winning Internet browser share is a very very important goal for us." What companies were supplying browsers whose share you were talking about? Gates: It doesn't appear I'm talking about any other companies in that sentence. Boies: - Well, sir, is a market share something that is compiled only for one company? I understand if a company has a monopoly, that may be so, but in a usual situation where a company does not have a monopoly, share ordinarily implies comparing how much of a product one company has with how much of a product another company has; correct? Gates: Yes. Boies: Now, when you were talking about Internet browser share here, what companies were you talking about? Gates: You're trying -- you seem to be suggesting that just because share involves comparing multiple companies, that when I wrote that sentence, 1 was talking about other companies. It doesn't appear that I'm talking about other companies in that sentence. I've really read it very carefully and I don't notice any other companies in there. Boies: Oh, you mean you don't see any other company mentioned in that sentence; is that what you're saying? Gates: The sentence doesn't appear to directly or indirectly refer to any other companies. Boies: When you refer to an Internet browser share here, sir, what is the share of? Gates: Browser usage. Boies: Of course, you don't say "browser usage" here, do you, sir? Gates: No, it says "share." Boies: Now, let's say that you meant browser usage because that's what your testimony is. What browser usage were you talking about in terms of what your share of browser usage was? What browsers? Gates: I'm not getting your question. Are you trying to ask what I was thinking when I wrote this sentence? Boies: Let me begin with that. What were you thinking when you - wrote that sentence? Gates: I don't remember specifically writing this sentence. Boies: Does that mean you can't answer what you were thinking when you wrote the sentence? Gates: That's correct. Boies: So since you don't have an answer to that question, let me put a different question. Gates: I have an answer. The answer is I don't remember. Boies: You don't remember what you meant. Let me try to ask you - Gates: I don't remember what I was thinking. Boies: Is there a difference between remembering what you were thinking and remembering what you meant? Gates: If the question is what I meant when I wrote it, no. Boies: So you don't remember what you were thinking when you wrote it and you don't remember what you meant when you wrote it; is that fair? Gates: As well as not remember writing it. Boies: Okay. Now, let me go on to another paragraph and see whether you remember writing that or not. And that is the second paragraph, which reads, "Apparently a lot of OEMs are bundling non-Microsoft browsers and coming up with offerings together with Internet Service providers that get displayed on their machines in a FAR" and you've capitalized each of the letters in far "more prominent way than MSN or our Internet browser." Do you see that? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: Did you write that sentence, Mr. Gates? Gates: I don't remember, but I have no reason to doubt that I did. Boies: Do you remember what you were thinking when you wrote that sentence or what you meant when you wrote that sentence? Gates: No. Boies: Do you remember that in January, 1996, a lot of OEMs were bundling non-Microsoft browsers? Gates: I'm not sure. Boies: What were the non-Microsoft browsers that you were concerned about in January of 1996? Gates: What's the question? You're trying to get me to recall what other browsers I was thinking about when I wrote that sentence? Boies: No, because you've told me that you don't know what you were thinking about when you wrote that sentence. Gates: Right. Boies: What I'm trying to do is get you to tell me what non-Microsoft browsers you were concerned about in January of 1996. If it had been only one, I probably would have used the name of it. Instead I seem to be using the term non-Microsoft browsers. My question is what non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1996? Gates: I'm sure -- what's the question? Is it -- are you asking me about when I wrote this e-mail or what are you asking me about? Boies: I'm asking you about January of 1996. Gates: That month? Boies: Yes, sir. Gates: And what about it? Boies: What non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1996? Gates: I don't know what you mean "concerned." Boies: What is it about the word "concerned" that you don't understand? Gates: I'm not sure what you mean by it. Boies: Is- Gates: Is there a document where I use that term? Boies: Is the term "concerned" a term that you're familiar with in the English language? Gates: Yes. Boies: Does it have a meaning that you're familiar with? Gates: Yes. Boies: Using the word "concerned" -- consistent with the normal meaning that it has in the English language, what Microsoft -- or what non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1996? Gates: Well, I think I would have been concerned about Internet Explorer, what was going on with it. We would have been looking at other browsers that were in use at the time. Certainly Navigator was one of those. And I don't know which browser AOL was using at the time, but it was another browser. Boies: What I'm asking, Mr. Gates, is what other browsers or what non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1956? I'm not asking what you were looking at, although that may be part of the answer, and I don't mean to exclude it, but what non-Microsoft browsers were you concerned about in January of 1996? Gates: Well, our concern was to provide the best Internet support, among other things, in Windows. And in dealing with that concern, I'm sure we looked at competitive products, including the ones I mentioned. Boies: Let me try to use your words and see if we can move this along. What competitive products did you look at in January of 1996 in terms of browsers? Gates: I don't remember looking at any specific products during that month. Boies: Were there specific competitive products that in January of 1996 you wanted to increase Microsoft's share with respect to those products? Heiner: Objection. Boies: Do you understand the question, Mr. Gates? Gates: I'm pausing to see if I can understand is it. Boies: If you don't understand it, I'd be happy to rephrase it. Gates: Go ahead and rephrase it. I probably could have understood it if I thought about it, but go ahead. Boies: In January, 1996, you were aware that there were non-Microsoft browsers that were being marketed; is that correct? Gates: I can't really confine it to that month, but I'm sure in that time period I was aware of other browsers being out. Boies: And were those non-Microsoft browsers, or at least some of them, being marketed in competition with Microsoft's browser? Gates: Users were making choices about which browser to select. Boies: Is the term "competition" a term that you're familiar with, Mr. Gates? Gates: Yes. Boies: And does it have a meaning in the English language that you're familiar with? Gates: Any lack of understanding of the question doesn't stem from the use of that word. Boies: And you understand what is meant by non-Microsoft browsers, do you not, sir? Gates: No. Boies: You don't Is that what you're telling me? You don't understand what that means? Gates: You'll have to be more specific. What - Boies: Do you understand what is meant by non-Microsoft browsers? Gates: In the right context, I'd understand that. Boies: Is the term non-Microsoft browser a term that you think has a reasonably common and understandable meaning in the industry? Gates: Yes. It's only the scope of what you'd include in it that would vary according to the context. Boies: Okay. That is, in some contexts you'd include more and in some contexts you'd include less? Gates: That's right. Boies: When you refer to non-Microsoft browsers generally, are there particular browsers that you have in mind? Gates: There are many that I would include in that. And as I said, it would be broader depending on the context. Boies: Do all of the non-Microsoft browsers that you're aware of compete with Internet Explorer? Gates: In the sense that users select which browsers they want to use, yes. Boies: Let's focus on January of 1996. What were the non-Microsoft browsers that, in your view, were competing with Internet Explorer in January of 1996? Gates: Well, users could choose from a number of browsers, including the original Mosaic browser, the Netscape Navigator, and I don't know what version they had out at the time. The AOL browser. And some others that were in the market. End of segment (discontinuity of 15 lines of testimony) Boies: What I want to do is I want to focus on competition the way you use it in the ordinary operation of your business. Gates: And one of the senses is whether people choose to use our way of providing a feature or if they choose to get additional software to provide them with that feature. Boies: And was that the choice that users were making between Internet Explorer and the AOL browser in January of 1996, Mr. Gates? Gates: Users can choose between those two. End of segment (discontinuity of 22 lines of testimony) Boies: And what you've testified is that when you use browser share, you meant usage share correct? Gates: That's right. Boies: So that as you use the term browser share, it is your testimony that in January of 1996 Microsoft was competing for browser share with Mosaic, Navigator and AOL's browser; correct? Gates: In the sense that users would choose to use one of those in varying degrees, yes. Boies: But in terms of what you meant by browser share, that was what you considered to be competition in January of 1996; correct? Gates: That we were competing to see who could make the better browser that users would choose to take advantage of, yes. End of segment (discontinuity of 34 lines of testimony) Boies: Let me try to go back now to the first sentence in your memo of January 5, 1996 that has been marked as Gov. Ex. 295 where it says, "Winning Internet browser share is a very very important goal for us." Does the prior discussion that we've just had refresh your recollection that you would have been referring primarily there to the goal of gaining market share versus Netscape? Gates: You keep trying to read Netscape into that sentence and I don't see how you can do that. Boies: I just really want to get your testimony, Mr. Gates. Gates: Okay. Boies: And that is, when you wrote, "Winning Internet browser share is a very very important goal for us," in January, 1996, were you referring primarily to gaining market share compared to Netscape? Gates: I've testified I don't remember what I was thinking when I wrote that sentence. Boies: If you can't remember what you meant when you wrote that sentence, do you at least remember that in January, 1996, winning Internet browser share was an important goal for Microsoft? Gates: Yes. Boies: And with respect to the goal of winning Internet browser share in 1996, was that goal primarily to gain share compared to Netscape? Gates: Not necessarily. Boies: When you talk about winning browser share, not necessarily just in this document but generally, you're referring to gaining market share compared to other competitors; correct? Gates: Or any new products that come along. Boies: That are competitive; correct? Gates: That people use for that function. End of segment (major discontinuity of 21 pages of tesdtimony) Boies: Let me ask you to look at a document that we will mark Gov. Ex. 297. The third item on is the first page is an e-mail from Paul Maritz to you dated January 16, 1996. It is to you and a number of other people, but you are the first there. Do you see that? Gates: Yes. (The document referred to was marked Gov. Trial Ex. 297 by the court reporter as Gov. Trial Ex. 297 3-8 for identification and is attached hereto.) Boies: Did you receive this e-mail in January, 1996? Gates: I don't remember receiving it, but I have no reason to doubt that I did. Boies: The second sentence of Mr. Maritz's e-mail to you says, "We need to look carefully at any significant opportunity to gain share versus Netscape." Do you see that? Gates: That's part of the sentence that I see. Boies: The rest of the sentence says, "and think carefully before AOL goes off and partners with Netscape." Do you see that? Gates: Yes. Boies: That's the rest of the sentence; right? Gates: Right. Boies: Even though you don't recall receiving this particular e-mail, do you recall Mr. Maritz telling you in or about January of 1996 that he believed that Microsoft had to look carefully at any significant opportunity to gain share versus Netscape? Gates: No. Boies: Do-you recall Mr. Maritz telling you in or about January of 1996 that there was a possibility that AOL was going to go off and partner with Netscape? Gates: I don't know the time frame, but I know there was -- there came a time where AOL was considering whether to keep doing their own browser technology or work with someone else on that. Boies: And is that your understanding of what Mr. Maritz was referring to when he talks about AOL going off and partnering with Netscape? Gates: It appears to be a mail about -- let me take a look at it. It appears to be a mail about OEMs prominently featuring the AOL client in such a strong way that anything we would do for AOL in that regard would be of no impact and, therefore, that maybe we should work with AOL on the browser. End of segment (major discontinuity of 38 pages of testimony) Boies: Let me show you a document that has been marked as Gov. Trial Ex. 478. This purports to be a message to you and others from Brad Chase dated March 13, 1997. Did you receive this message in or about March of 1997? Gates: I don't remember receiving it. In fact, it's very strange that the e-mail names aren't expanded. But I probably received it. (The document referred to was marked Gov. Trial Ex. 478 by the court reporter for identification and is attached hereto.) Boies: Let me go down to the third paragraph of the document and the fifth sentence that says "Browser share needs to remain a key priority for our field and marketing efforts." Do you see that? Gates: In the third paragraph? Boies: Yes. Gates: Okay, the third sentence, the third paragraph. Yeah. Boies: Were you told in or about March of 1997 that people within Microsoft believed that browser 'share needed to remain a key priority for your field and marketing efforts? Gates: I don't remember being told that, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that people were saying that. Boies: Immediately before that sentence there is a statement that Microsoft needs to continue its jihad next year. Do you see that? Gates: No. Boies: The sentence that says "Browser share needs to remain a key priority for our field and marketing efforts," the sentence right before that says "we need to continue our jihad next year." That's the way it ends. Do you see that? Gates: Now I see -- it doesn't say Microsoft. Boies: well, when it says "well there, do you understand that means something other than Microsoft, sir? Gates: It could mean Brad Chase's group. Boies: Well, this is a message from Brad Chase to you, Brad Silverberg, Paul Maritz and Steve Ballmer, correct? Gates: As I say, it's strange that this -- if this was a normal piece of e-mail, it wouldn't print like that. I'm not aware of any way -- maybe there is some way -- that e-mail ends up looking like this when you print it out. Boies: I wasn't the one that was asserting it was an e-mail. I don't know whether it is an e-mail or memo or what it is. All I know is it was produced to us by Microsoft. And the first line of it says "To" and the first name there is "Bradsi." Do you see that? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: Does that refer to Brad Silverberg? Gates: Usually you can use that shorthand in typing in someone's name, but when you print out e-mail, it doesn't come out that way. Boies: Do you believe that the reference here to "Bradsi" is a reference to Brad Silverberg, sir? Gates: Yes. Boies: The next addressee is "Paulma." Do you believe that that is Paul Maritz? Gates: Yes. Boies: And the next addressee is "Steveb". Do you believe that that is Steve Ballmer? Gates: Yes. Boies: The next addressee is "Billg" and do you believe that that is yourself? Gates: Yes. Boies: And it says it's from "Bradc" and do you believe that is Brad Chase? Gates: Yes. Boies: Now, when Brad Chase writes to you and the others "we need to continue our jihad next year," do you understand that he is referring to Microsoft when he uses the word "we"? Gates: No. Boies: What do you think he means when he uses the word "well? Gates: I'm not sure. Boies: Do you know what he means by jihad? Gates: I think he is referring to our vigorous efforts to make a superior product and to market that product. Boies: Now, what he says in the next sentence is, "Browser share needs to remain a key priority for our field and marketing efforts;" is that correct? Gates: Yes. Boies: The field and marketing efforts were not involved in product design or making an improved browser, were they, sir? Gates: No. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 17 Nov 1998

Red Hat unveils channel product, support and authorisation plans

Red Hat has released two new Linux packages aimed at more mainstream users than the Unix-derivative has so far attracted, plus new channel programmes to back the products. Red Hat Linux 5.2 System Builder Edition is aimed at resellers delivering Linux-based enterprise server solutions. It also forms the basis for the Commercial Server Edition, which adds 90-day 24x7 support to the software. Red Hat is backing the System Builder Edition with Red Hat Authorized Reseller Programmes for system builders and VARs. The programmes offer various levels of co-marketing and co-branding, and allow resellers to get staff accredited as Red Hat Certified Installers and Red Hat Certified Engineers. The accreditation training programme will kick off next February. Red Hat also launched a series of corporate-oriented support offerings, including per-incident based packages and unlimited support options. According to Red Hat VP of enterprise computing Paul McNamara, "these new products and channel programmes offer enterprise customers the support they've asked for through the channels they know." Certainly, anecdotal evidence suggests corporates would be keener to embrace Linux provided a sufficient support structure is in place. Given the money Red Hat has received from Intel, Netscape and co. it should be in a better position to build the kind of support infrastructure corporates will expect to call upon if they're to roll out Linux big time. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Nov 1998

Are Linux fans Borgs? Go figure…

Linux community tarred with Borg stamp The Linux collective is a powerful civilisation of enhanced humanoids from the Delta Quadrant of the galaxy. The Linux collective implant themselves with cybernetic devices, giving them great technological and combat capabilities. Different Linux collective members are equipped with different hardware for specific tasks. Each Linux collective member is tied into a sophisticated subspace communications network, forming the Linux collective, a shared consciousness in which the idea of the individual is a meaningless concept. The Linux collective exhibit a high degree of intelligence and adaptability in their tactics. Most means of defence or offence against them were found to work only once, almost immediately after which the Linux collective developed a countermeasure… ®
Lob Rung Xi, 17 Nov 1998

Comdex: Sony's dog woofs in GSM mode

Bizarrest demo at Comdex? Sony showed what it described as a 'pet-type prototype' - a life-like mechanical dog which does virtually everything the genuine article does except poop. It does have a serious side too - since it could potentially call you up via an internal cellular phone and inform you the house is on fire. The dog is being as touted by Sony as the first of a breed of 'entertainment robots'. Its limbs are entirely modular so that the rear pair can be removed and replaced by wheels to give the animal an extra turn of speed, for example. The dog has been developed by Sony's D21 labs in Japan and is approximately 18 inches long and 12 inches high. The demonstration robot dogs (there were three on display) didn't bark but they did have tails which they wagged when their heads were petted (there are sensors in the head). On the technology side, the robots form part of Sony's Open-R' architecture and utilise the company's own operating system - Aperios. A Sony spokesperson said that a conscious decision had been made to use standard components wherever possible. So the dog sports two power sources - a lithium ion camcorder battery which powers the CPU for approximately one hour, while the internal motors run for around 30 minutes on standard Ni-Cad batteries. An important feature is its internal PCMCIA standard PC Card slot which in the current prototype was running the operating system from an 8Mb memory card. However, any PC Card peripheral could be used including one of the many GSM mobile phones on a card from the like of Motorola Communicate. The dog could detect a fire using its built-in colour tv camera or sense an intruder using an infra-red motion detector. The robot canine also has two (stereo) microphones so that it can respond to speech. One of its most impressive achievements was to pick itself up when it fell on its side and Sony claims that future owners will be able to teach an old dog new 'tricks'. Naturally no time scale for the release of a commercial product was given. ®
Tony Dennis, 17 Nov 1998

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