2nd > December > 1998 Archive

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DoJ expert flattened by Microsoft, largely

Last week we left the DoJ witness, consultant economist Dr Frederick R Warren-Boulton, being set up by Michael Lacovara, a counsel for Microsoft. This week, W-B spent all of Monday and Tuesday in the box, and completed five days as Lacovara's victim. So far, this has been Microsoft's most successful cross-examination, because W-B has clearly exceeded the evidence in a number of quite important places in his written testimony, and Lacovara has ruthlessly exposed this. Lacovara's method has been to tempt W-B into giving opinions that turn out to be wrong or ill-informed. Lacovara then puts the facts as Microsoft would like them to be seen into a question and feeds it back to W-B, who caves in if the odds against sustaining his earlier responses are overwhelming. Sometimes W-B wins through, but he is being carefully kept away from economic issues for the main part. For the main part, W-B's 'cross' has been pretty boring, but from time to time gems emerge. Lacovara's questions often contained the arrogance for which Microsoft is rather well-known. The following non-random extract from the testimony shows this, and illustrates W-B's vacillation and lack of industry knowledge: Lacovara: Microsoft has agreed to permit browser choice for all computers as to which Gateway has made that request -- isn't that your understanding? W-B: Oh, I don't know if that's all the computers -- I'm just saying that it's a subset of Gateway's computers. Lacovara: You have no basis to testify that Gateway was ever denied the right to implement browser choice by Microsoft for any subset of its products; isn't that right? W-B: That's correct. I don't -- you know, I don't know what the record is on that. Lacovara: And under "browser choice", a user is given the option to select either Netscape's or Microsoft's Web browsing software; isn't that correct? W-B: I believe that's correct. Lacovara: And that choice is given in the initial boot sequence; isn't that also correct? W-B: That's my recollection, although -- you know, I wouldn't want to swear to it in this context. Lacovara: And if the user chooses Netscape under Gateway and Mr von Holle's browser choice program, their machine will be configured so that Netscape software becomes their browsing software, Netscape becomes their default email client, and a Netscape partner becomes their ISP connection; isn't that right, sir? W-B: I'm not certain, but I wouldn't -- I can't tell you there's anything wrong with what you just said. It's my understanding that Gateway has such an arrangement, yes. Lacovara: And do you believe having affirmatively selected Netscape software, a user is then going to forget and click on the wrong icon, even if the IE icon remains on the desktop? W-B: I'm sorry. For somebody who has already selected or chosen Netscape and has ordered a Netscape-configured browser from Gateway? Lacovara: Yes, sir. W-B: That he's going to do what? Lacovara: Then get confused and accidentally click on IE some other time? W-B: I'm not sure as to the extent to which all means of support or access to IE are removed in Gateway. It's my -- I find it difficult to believe that all means of access to Gateway -- to IE have been removed by Gateway, since I'm not sure if that's technically possible. And so it went on. W-B put both feet in when he was asked if he knew how many referrals or subscriptions to AOL were generated from the placement of the AOL icon on the online services folder. Lacovara: And don't give the number. If you could just answer 'yes' or 'no' please. W-B: Well, if you divide 1,700,000... I'm sorry. The judge wanted to know what all this was about, so Lacovara told him: the testimony being discussed had been taken in camera, at AOL's request, and should not have been revealed in open court. So, gentle reader, forget you ever read that, please, and don't tell anyone. Ironically, CompuServe did not find it did very well at all from its deal with Microsoft for some exposure (and nor did Ziff-Davis find being on the Active Desktop helped, it was subsequently revealed in testimony). A Microsoft exhibit (DX1722) consists of AOL email dated 6 February 1996 in which it is stated that AOL would be "distributing 175 million disks this year (and presumably more next year)" giving substance to the description of this activity being 'carpet bombing'. The email also notes that AOL gained "double the number of members since August [1995] compared with MSN". Snippets were read from Brad Silverberg's testimony, which has not yet been made public. In a section detailing a discussion between negotiator Evslin of AT&T and Silverberg, Evslin said he wanted the AT&T icon "in the Windows box". Silverberg: But what are you going to do for me? Evslin: I am not going to do shit for you. I am king of the world, you know. You're going to do this for me because I'm AT&T. Silverberg: And so I let him know that probably wasn't going to fly. So I took an extreme position in the other direction which was... [at this point, W-B started a quotation from Silverberg in paragraph 102 of his written testimony, dodging the expletive which Lacovara had mischievously read into the record]. Throughout the remainder of W-B's examination, Judge Jackson was remarkably tolerant about the length of the cross. After he allowed the admission of an exhibit, both counsels thanked him. Said Jackson sardonically: "Don't thank me for a ruling, either of you. It's my job." The particular exhibit was a screen shot of Windows 98 showing that when the Start button was pushed, Netscape Navigator and Netscape SmartUpdate appeared -- and no IE. Don't rush out to buy one, though -- it was just a demo fudged by Joachim Kempin's boys in Redmond. It was agreed that Kempin could be asked about the provenance of this trick photography when he testifies. It was also confirmed that when Packard Bell's Windows 95 PCs would not respond to the right-hand mouse button, P-B had been trying to make Windows 95 boot into a proprietary OEM shell. The suspicion, not voiced in court, must be that this may have been a little trap arranged by Microsoft. Lacovara tried to make much of the need for OEMs to obey Microsoft on these matters, but since the OEM has the support responsibility, Microsoft had no real reason to complain about what it claims were many support calls (for which it could charge). W-B made the valid point that Microsoft made mistakes too, and that these affected all OEMs. It was his best point of the day. Although the judge had all but directed Lacovara to finish his cross on Monday, he decided to allow a request for a further hour the next day: "I don't want to foreclose you from any valid avenue of cross-examination," Jackson said, no doubt thinking of the court of appeals upstairs. Indeed, the judge now seems to be resigned to the trial stretching on, and appears to be showing signs of taking W-B's testimony with a pinch of salt. But the next day, Lacovara exceeded his time, and Judge Jackson ordered him to finish his cross-examination of attorney Richard Schwartz's redirect: "You'll conclude this by 5pm. This examination has got to be brought to an end. Evidently Microsoft had not expected Lacovara to go on for so long, because Microsoft released its "partial response" to James Gosling's written testimony before the testimony had been released by the court, making the references to it rather silly. Gosling was in court, but not called. Excerpts from the Gates videotaped testimony on Java are expected to be shown shortly. ® Complete Register trial coverage
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Burnout – occupational hazard for MS execs?

Does Microsoft win in every market it enters? Not in online. Pete Higgins, group VP of the interactive media group for three years, resigned last month. Whether he was pushed out or just burnt out -- or both -- is not known publicly, but the press release said he would return "in an equally challenging role" next year. Clearly the circumstances resulting in Higgins' departure arose suddenly, because Microsoft was wrong-footed by not having an instant replacement available. Microsoft has not stated a policy on the AOL acquisition, and a spokeswoman said last week that Microsoft would not comment until a successor to Higgins had been appointed. At present, president Ballmer is covering the job, and policy formulation is beyond the capability of the cheerleader. Higgins predecessor, Patty Stonesifer, resigned in 1996, citing family reasons and becoming president of the Gates Library Foundation. Brad Silverberg has been on leave of absence since 1997, and looks unlikely to return, although he was pulled in to give a deposition in April. Microsoft's major failures in the consumer sector have included games, where it did not dominate because Windows was so slow; its 1992 effort, then dubbed Cablesoft, to involve the cable industry in making the PC the focus of on-demand programming or interactive television in the home; and WebTV has not achieved the success that Microsoft expected, and looks unlikely to take off in a big way. Meanwhile, MSN jogs along in its third version, but not as a serious challenger. Considering the heat generated by the Microsoft trial, and the fact that opinion is moving against Microsoft (except for balanced reports in The Register, of course), it is likely that an increasing number of Microsoft executives whose shares have vested will consider whether they wish to put up with the aggro, or jump ship. Bill Gates himself is certainly playing a less active role since Ballmer's appointment as president. Gates has been ambiguous about when he might retire, but the possibility increases day-by-day, as the trial continues. Could it be a sign that yesterday he announced his biggest gift so far -- $100 million to aid children in developing countries? Originally the amount was going to be $55 million, but at the urging of his father, who runs the Gates Foundation, the amount was increased. Stonesifer denied that the timing of the announcement was to help with some local difficulties. ® Complete Register trial coverage
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‘Leaked’ Gates email spins party line on AOL

One night last month Bill Gates phoned an Associated Press reporter at home so he could bitch about the way the DoJ had questioned him, and say what a good memory he had really. (Gates moans to AP) Yesterday, an email he sent to Microsoft execs on Tuesday mysteriously fell into the clutches of… Associated Press. The content of the memo as published by AP heaps further suspicion on top of the initial strange coincidence. For some reason His Billness felt the need to tell his execs all sorts of things they either already knew, or knew he knew. For example: "The DoJ must be very dismayed at this merger [AOL-Netscape]" - as this has been the Microsoft corporate line for over a week, one can assume the corporate high command should already have heard this. He compares giving away IE to TV companies showing programmes for free, because the Internet produces "so much advertising revenue that you maximise revenue by giving them away free to drive usage." He told AP something similar in his phone call two weeks ago, and one can presume that this is a handy parallel Microsoft has polished up in the past month or so to explain why giving away IE was nothing to do with cutting off Netscape's air supply. It might have been helpful if somebody had thought this one up before Bill made his unfortunate deposition. But here's another bit of playing to a gallery that seems to be somewhere bound the ostensible recipients of the email: "The company that helped [make] sure consumers got a fair price for browsers has the DoJ attacking it on behalf of the company that did not." He also points out that AOL gives away its browser (currently an IE variant), and usefully adds that he expects AOL to terminate its contract with Microsoft eventually, following the merger. "AOL will distribute Netscape browser software for free to its 20 million instant-messaging customers, and sooner or later to all its online service customers, too." So there you have it. Is Bill giving his execs a free and frank statement of his views on the trial, or is he doing a reprise of the 'why the DoJ is being incredibly unfair and vindictive to Bill and Microsoft' interview? Well, the Associated Press story based on the 'leaked' memo went on the wires at around 3pm Seattle time, and it was ostensibly sent on Tuesday. It takes time to write these things, it takes time to check their bona fides, and of course it takes time for them to leak. If this one did 'leak,' then it has to have done it almost immediately. ® Complete Register trial coverage
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Corel settles in Lamarr pic lawsuit

Our picture doesn't show glamorous actress Hedy Lamarr, who yesterday came to a settlement with Corel over the use of her image on Corel's packaging. But we suppose that following the settlement we could have used a picture of Corel's packaging. Lamarr sued Corel earlier this year over its use of a CorelDraw image of her. The picture had been produced by John Corkery, who was 1996 Best of Show winner of the Corel World Design Contest. Corel now seems to have come to an undisclosed settlement with her, which includes a five-year exclusive (oops -- maybe we can't use the pack-shot then) licence to use "the lifelike vector illustration of Hedy Lamarr on Corel's graphic software packaging". Lamarr, bless 'er, says she's looking forward to the continued success of Corel Corporation, while Corel's release on the subject points out that in 1941 she was "busy pioneering a wireless data communications system that would form the basis of today's 'spread spectrum' mobile phone and wireless Internet access technologies. Lamarr is the recipient of the prestigious Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award". Meanwhile, somewhere in the south Atlantic an embittered penguin and its attorneys are preparing a major case against Linus Torvalds and the entire open source software business... ®
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Sony recalls 60K US mobile phones

Sony is recalling an estimated 60,000 dual-band CDMA handsets in the US, following the discovery that some of its phones could exceed Federal Communications Commission guidelines on radio frequency exposure. The company's Sony Electronics subsidiary yesterday said a "small number" of phones built between February and June may have excessive power settings, and that it would be contacting users to have them returned to upgrade centres for adjustment. Sony points out that the FCC guidelines are intended to allow a wide safety margin, but nevertheless the goof could turn into a spectacular own-goal for both Sony and CDMA. The issue of whether or not mobile phone exposure can be dangerous has been bubbling under for some time. Here in Europe the phone companies deny it, and despite some pretty wild allegations there doesn't seem to be any proof -- yet. But Sony accidentally selling 60,000 phones, at least some of which seem to breach the FCC limits, into the most litigious market in the world, won't be helpful for the phone manufacturers' case. And the likely increased concern about hazards isn't likely to be much of a boost for the nascent satellite phone services either. According to Sony, the affected phones are dual band, with model numbers CM-B3200, CM-B3200PRC, CM-B2200PRC and CM-B1201SPR. These have only been sold in the US. ®
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Easy does it

Revenue at Internet service provider (ISP) Easynet Group plc is expected to rocket by 120 per cent to £16.5 million this year, according to institutional brokers Henderson Crosthwaite. Hendersons is predicting that revenue will reach £27 million with pre-tax profits of £2 million next year and is advising investors to buy. The bullish forecast comes after the company became profitable for the first time month-on-month this summer. The company is still expected to make a small loss of around £200,000 this year. "Easynet is seeing strong growth in all markets," said Chris Godsmark, telecoms analyst at Hendersons. "And since the market is growing incredibly fast any company in good shape is going to do well." Easynet supplies Internet access and service management to 5000 corporate customers generating average revenue per customer of £1900. And although Easynet is strong in the SME market, it has also notched up a number of corporate clients including Disney, Microsoft and Reed Elsevier. In the consumer market, Easynet has around 50,000 customers -- an increase of 8000 since the beginning of the year. Earlier this year, Easynet paid £1.55 million for a German ISP with the same name, which is being written off over ten years. The German company currently turns over £50,000 a month with similar losses per month although Hendersons predicts that its monthly revenues will double next year. ®
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A year ago: CE you Jimmy

But it didn't happen, did it? And read about how Westminster Council trashed William Blake's house
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iMac tops superstore sales third month running

Apple's iMac has notched its third consecutive month as the top-selling desktop PC in US computer superstores, according to ZD Market Intelligence (ZDMI). ZDMI's numbers show that the iMac, launched in the States on 17 August, propelled Apple's marketshare from under two per cent to over six per cent. That figure fell to below five per cent throughout September and October. October marks the third full month that the iMac topped superstore sales, coming in ahead of much cheaper Wintel machines, some as low as $699, almost half the price of the $1299 Apple box. Still, sales have been falling off. Across the US channels, iMac sales were 50 per cent down in September on their August total, said ZDMI. And sales slipped further last month (see Apple targets low-income families as iMac sales decline). That prompted Apple to launch a hire-purchase scheme since replicated in the UK. The effect of the programme, in either the US or the UK, has yet to be revealed through research. Numbers for November and December will be essential to measure not only the long-term success of the iMac but in many ways of Apple itself, at least as a major IT player. ZDMI analyst Matt Sargeant said the latest figures show Apple moving into the Christmas sales period from a reasonably strong position, thanks to the iMac's ability to attract buyers who in the past have turned awat from Apple because of the high price differential over equivalent-specced Wintel machines. ®
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Cyrix claims massive leap in corporate perception

Cyrix claimed today that a survey it has conducted shows that the number of corporate buyers prepared to evaluate its chips has soared from three per cent last year to 32 per cent now. Alain Tiquet, European strategic sales manager at NatSemi-Cyrix, claimed that success in the retail market was the reason IT managers were considering its chips. He said: "There's a very strong influence from the retail market. People go into stores and think why should they pay more for similar technology. "Today, the [entry level] segment accounts for 50 per cent of all retail sales in the US." Tiquet claimed that that Cyrix is now a leader in the sub-$800 category. "We're more focused and successful in this area than Intel," he said. He claimed that Cyrix held 43 per cent market share in the retail sector in the US, with AMD holding 38 per cent share and Intel the rest. He said that Intel's decision to move to a 370-pin socket meant that it had realised Slot One was "no good" for the entry level market. He also welcomed new entrants into the market, such as Rise and Centaur-IDT. "It's a very good sign," he said. "The way customers are thinking is changing." ®
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BT to open phone network to third-party apps

BT is to open its phone network to software developers, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal, which quotes the president and CEO of the telco's BT Global division, Alfred Mockett. BT's goal is to persuade companies to build interactive services on its phone network rather than on the Internet. It hinges on systems developed by Microsoft and Siemens that provide access to the network while maintaining its security, the WSJ added. ®
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Portuguese Internet strike goes ahead

A 24-hour Internet boycott went ahead in Portugal yesterday, as users remained disconnected in protest over Portugal Telecom's "exorbitant" costs and "defective and slow service".
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IBM takes five-year DDR SDRAM route

The microelectronics division of IBM today outlined a five year roadmap for its memory offerings based on double data rate (DDR) technology. But Intel and AMD's backing of Direct Rambus looks set to make that technology the memory winner. IBM Micro said it had started shipping samples of 0.20-micron 256Mb DDR parts and would achieve volume ramp in the middle of next year. It has also started making 0.20-micron 64Mb parts. Its DDR-based roadmap extends for five years, including 0.175-micron 128Mb SDRAM towards the end of next year and 0.15-micron 256Mb SDRAM in the year 2001. According to Chris King, VP of worldwide marketing at IBM Micro, support for DDR is growing in the marketplace. "We believe it will emerge as the technology of choice, particularly for servers," he said. But Roy Taylor, joint MD of memory company VML, said there was little doubt Rambus will win the day. He said: "If you are a big manufacturer, you need an alternative to Rambus just in case. DDR will be used in graphics but on the desktop it's Direct Rambus all the way." He explained: "DDR and SyncLink will both give you a jump in bandwidth. On the other hand, Direct Rambus will take you far beyond that." Earlier this week, ten other manufacturers pledged their support for DDR. ®
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Tut to sign Motorola as Homerun licensee

Home networking specialist Tut Systems is to announce today it has signed Motorola as a supporter. Motorola is the latest of 12 companies that have licensed Tut's technology, Homerun -- others include Intel, Compaq, Lucent and NatSemi. Microsoft has a stake in the company. Homerun uses the phone extension cabling installed within a house as a 1MBps Ethernet local area network infrastructure. Multiple PCs and peripherals can be connected via the network and communicate without interfering with phone call traffic. ®
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Lucent, Unisys to unify voice recognition systems

Lucent and Unisys have formed an alliance to develop, promote and sell natural language speech recognition technologies. The pact will involve the integration of both companies' speech products -- Lucent's text-to-speech and automated voice recognition systems, and Unisys' Natural Language Speech Assistant Toolkit -- into a single system aimed at developers of telephony and interactive voice response applications. The companies claim the new product will "dramatically reduce development time and will enable faster deployment of speech-based applications". Both companies will grant licensing and distribution rights to participating developers. Typical applications of the technology inlcude voice mail systems and phone banking services. It allows users to say 'I would like to move money' instead of having to hit a specific key on their phone's handset pad. "There is a growing market demand for natural speech applications," said Joe Yaworski, VP and general manager of Unisys Natural Language Understanding initiative. ® See also Vocalis launches talking Web sites
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Taxing time ahead

Tomorrow morning sees the start of a special exhibition at Somerset House, central London, marking the 200th anniversary of the introduction of income tax in the UK. The centre piece of the exhibition will be a touch screen kiosk, put together by Compaq and Microsoft, to demonstrate how the tax-paying public will one day be able to file tax returns electronically. Tax records will be accessed via smart cards, which will contain individual user IDs. One day, the exhibition promises, there will be tax kiosks in every high street. Initially brought about to help fund the war against Napoleon, and intended as only a temporary measure, IT is now helping to make sure it's harder to avoid than ever. Technology is a wonderful thing -- discuss. ®
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Cisco Kid swallows PipeLinks

His Satanic Majesty of routers, Cisco, has swallowed another company into his capacious maw. Cisco said it had bought San Jose PipeLinks for $126 million worth of shares. The company, started in 1996, will allow service providers to provide managed Internet access and native Lan services over existing TDM infrastructures. Its 73 employees will now report to Cisco VP Alex Mendez. ®
A staffer, 02 1998
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Survey: Internet to define the future of music

Anyone with shares in music stores and the music industry's biggest players should seriously consider getting out -- that's the message at the heart of the latest report on the state of Internet-based music from the Internet Underground Music Association (IUMA). The report, Music's Online Future, predicts a shift in power away from the major labels and toward artists and independent labels as digital distribution becomes commonplace. While the big labels will continue to concentrate on volume marketing and promoting well-known bands, the Internet will take over their role as discoverer of new talent, said Andrew Atherton, IUMA VP and primary author of the report. That puts independent labels, operating across the Internet, in a position to start building ever more popular rosters of artists. Some will clearly later sign up with the majors, but the economics of digital delivery will make sticking with the Net specialists or going their own way more attractive to artists, whatever their stature. So far, so predictable. You would expect the IUMA, as an offshoot of indie Net music label and repository, the Internet Underground Music Archive (our italics), to come out with a prognosis that favours the independents. And, while the report was based on a survey of over 45 industry executives, its conclusions almost certainly don't take into account recent developments such as IBM's Madison Project, an experimental digital music delivery system designed for and supported by most of the major labels (see Major labels join IBM on Net music sales trial). Where the report does move away from the norm, is in its prediction that MP3, the MPEG-based music encoding format much loved by Nethead music lovers and copyright pirates, will only kick-start the digital distribution market (which it already has) but have little other effect. "MP3 is like dumping gas on the fire," said Atherton. "It's an accelerant but not the solution. It's going to speed up the adoption of distribution and e-commerce." In its place, Atherton said he expected a pan-media compression and protection format to emerge in 2000. That's a reasonable prediction, and it's not hard to image a new release of the MPEG specification that takes in serial number and certification in addition to the compression it already covers. A limited level of that kind of thing is already present in the MPEG-based DVD spec to prevent discs being used in different territories. ®
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Pensions industry hits out at VC slur

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has hit back at the Trade and Industry secretary Peter Mandelson, accusing the government of being responsible for the lack of venture capital investment in the UK. John Rogers, NAPF's director of investment services, said it was the government's total lack of "joined-up policy" on pensions that was behind the UK's poor track record on venture capital investment. Rogers was speaking out after Mandelson attacked pension funds for not investing more in high-technology start-up companies (see SoS hits out at VCs). Speaking in the Financial Times, he said that scrapping tax credits on dividends had reduced the attractions of shares relative to bonds. But Mandelson is adamant that it is up to the pensions industry to lead the way. It only takes a relatively small increase in the proportion of funds to have a significant impact on the economy, he said today. "Given the size of their portfolios, they only have to sneeze and you have enough money to finance hundreds of these new companies." In the US, more than five per cent of pension fund money goes into venture capital but in the UK, that figure is just 0.75 per cent. ®
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4Front buys Siemens French maintenance unit

4Front Technologies has moved into third place in the French maintenance market with the acquisition of Siemens subsidiary I-NEA. The company is paying $4.1 million for I-NEA, a $40 million t/o operation, and has secured a “regional alliance” with Siemens to ensure an orderly transfer of clients, as well as new customer referrals.. Following the acquisition, UK-headquartered 4Front will have 375 employees in France. ®
A staffer, 02 1998
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Small business net Web windfall

Christmas has come early for around 122,000 small businesses in the UK after the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) announced that each of its members is to receive free Internet access in their stockings this year. This generous gift is designed to drag Britain's small businesses into the wired age and help them trade on the Internet. A special CD-ROM packed with additional software is being mailed to each of the FSB's 122,000 members this week in time for Christmas. Playing Santa along with the FSB are Microsoft, 3Com, Lloyds TSB and Cobweb who have all banded together to deliver some festive cheer for the UK's poor beleaguered small businesses. It's a shame Cisco wasn't among them since it recently slammed small businesses for their lack of interest in the hi-tech world (see Cisco slams small business for resisting Internet revolution). "With the ever-expanding global marketplace it is important that small business do not get left behind in the information technology stakes," said John Harris, chairman of the FSB's IT committee. "The FSB is, therefore, offering a helping hand to get them started on the road to electronic trading," he said. A spokesman for the FSB said that up to 40 per cent of small businesses could take up the offer. The initiative was launched by Barbara Roche, the Minister for Small Firms, at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London. ®
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Nvidia issues IQ challenge to games houses

Nvidia is backing its hearts and minds campaign for the games community by doling out marketing bucks for RIVA TNT-friendly developers. In an outrageous assault on stupid people, the graphics accelerator vendor has plumped for High IQ as the brand for its vendor seal of approval. Under the High IQ programme, the graphics accelerator vendor will "identify, market and sell" software titles that best utilise the 3D features of its RIVA TNT processor. High IQ titles will "use standard APIs and will take advantage of NVIDIA's key product features, such as support for AGP Texturing, 32-bit color mode and the ability to achieve screen resolutions up to 1600x1200". Nvidia will flog High IQ titles on its new web store, refreshing the range each quarter. First up on the High IQ roster are : Motocross Madness(Microsoft); Sin (Activision); Shogo(Monolith);Motorhead (Gremlin); Myth2 (Bungie) and Half Life (Sierra). Nvidia is bussing in product reviews from PC Gamer for the High IQ site. ®
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Unified Messaging to transform personal comms

Unified messaging (UM), which integrates voice, e-mail and fax via a single interface, is set to revolutionise personal communications within the next decade, according to market analyst Ovum. By 2006, UM will be as commonplace as mobile phones today and will enable ordinary consumers to manage all their personal communications. Ovum predicts there will be more than 170 million individual mail boxes in operation around the world by 2006 and revenue from UM services could exceed $31 billion. Although the technology is currently in its infancy, Ovum predicts it will take off within the next couple of years as more and more people demand a single solution to handle all their different messaging communications. In the initial phases of development, UM is expected to appeal to small businesses and mobile workers, but as the technology becomes more affordable and widely available, it will begin to be accepted by consumers. "Dealing with messages is becoming more and more time consuming and is complicated by the fact that each type of message gets delivered to different locations," said Ovum analyst Mary Ann O'Loughlin. UM allows voice, fax and e-mail to be accessed using a single messaging interface. By simply tapping into individual message in/out mail boxes, users can pick up their e-mail via a telephone or a listen to voicemail using their PC. "UM will be the foundation of a suite of advanced personal communications services and over time, these services will transform the way people interact with the telecoms network and each other," said O'Loughlin. Several companies, including BT, Concord Technologies and JFAX, already offer basic UM based on fax services but these are expected to become more sophisticated within the next couple of years. ®
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Motorola commits to IP across full broadband range

Motorola has thrown its full weight behind Internet Protocol (IP) commmunications, and announced it intends to base all of business networking systems on the technology. Wireless communications in the form of cellular and private networks, satellite connections, copper networks, paging and hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) broadband systems will all soon be based on IP. All these services will be provided through a new unified architecture, the company said. However, it gave no indication as to when any of this will take place. Motorola made the announcement as it introduced the first ever cable modem/voice-over-IP interface combo, based on the recently ratified Simple Gateway Control Protocol (SGCP) for providing homes with IP services. The Multimedia Terminal Adaptor (MTA-1) combines a Motorola DOCSIS cable modem with a Vanguard SGCP voice-over-IP gateway. It connects to conventional US telephony equipment though an RJ-11 interface. ®
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HP enlists BT for SME dealer recruitment campaign

Hewlett Packard yesterday embarked on a hard sell initiative with BT to enlist reseller help in the SME market. HP launched its Connect Small to Medium Business Programme as part of a roadshow to enlist 400 resellers in the scheme. The deal aims at the vendor's 1,200 small to medium resellers, and includes customer e-finance, a free HP Brio PC bundled with BT Highway -- BT's new digital communication service - and video conferencing capabilities. Bill Hill, HP SMB manager, asked for resellers' help to access this last bastion of the market. He said: "SMBs want to buy from other small, geographically close resellers. We are investing £250 million in this market, increasing this by 25 per cent over the next year." HP also introduced a scheme for resellers to gain reward points for a "jetsetter" account when they sell HP product. Robin Lawrence, BT alliance development manager, said 17 out of the 39 resellers that attended yesterday's presentation had signed up for BT Highway on the day. Yesterday was part of a nationwide roadshow, which has also visited Scotland, Bristol, Birmingham and will today be in Ealing. Lawrence estimated out of the 200 resellers that had so far attended, 64 had signed up. The e-finance program allows resellers to offer HP sme customers an Internet-based IT financing package. The minimum request for credit is £900, and HP promises to take on the credit and pay the reseller within seven days. The HP Instant Office PC includes a free pre-installed BT Speedway ISDN card. Connect resellers are offered a free HP Brio PC and 2000 CN InkJet printer, plus free BT Highway installation, if the reseller buys an Intel ProShare 500 videoconferencing kit for £319.®
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Watch out! There's a stolen Olivetti printer cartridge about

Olivetti Lexicon is warning resellers to be on their guard after a spate of product thefts that threaten to flood the market with stolen merchandise. Thousands of stolen printer cartridges could be on their way to the UK after disappearing from Olivetti's warehouse in Turin, Italy, in mid November. Less than two weeks later, thieves struck again, this time hijacking a lorry transporting bubble inkjet printheads from Italy to Germany. Olivetti is asking UK dealers to check cartridge code and lot numbers and report any suspicious individuals trying to sell the products. Otherwise, they warn that resellers who find themselves handling stolen goods will have to face police enquiries. But these incidents appear to be part of a longer-running crime racket. Melvin Hurley, Olivetti Lexikon product marketing manager, revealed: "Over the last couple of years trucks have been hijacked, and thousands of pounds worth of products have disappeared in transit from Italy to the UK." He added: "It's impossible to confirm a connection, but the regularity of occurrence would give rise to suspicions that consignments are being watched." Hurley called on anyone approached with suspiciously highly discounted goods to contact Olivetti immediately so the numbers can be traced back to the original factory. Call Claire Sampson on 01908 220111 if you have any information. Items carrying the following Code and Lot numbers should be reported: CODE - 2782070 LOT - B28L104L81, B28L11OL38, B28M1021845, B28M102L845, B281105N839, B281104Q839 CODE - 2784431 LOT - B28M102B845 CODE - 2782077 LOT - B28L0722843 CODE - 2784433 LOT - B28L103A841 CODE - 247944 Neutral LOT - B78G103A841 ®