16th > December > 1998 Archive

A year ago: Mobile group spawns Java PDA

British computer and mobile phone distributor Hugh Symons Group is to launch a PowerPC-based JavaOS mobile NC next year. Symons did the port of JavaOS to PowerPC for Motorola earlier this year, and has a long – if not yet entirely lucrative – association with the chip, having launched its own range of PPC workstations a few years back. It has also positioned itself rather more successfully in the GSM mobile data arena, and – unusually for a channel company – maintains a software R&D operation, which has now produced the new NC and the subsidiary that will produce it, Concept Technologies. The NC will have a colour screen, 16 megabytes RAM, 10 megabytes flash, serial port and a PC Card slot, and is intended to be used in conjunction with a GSM phone. It will be fairly expensive initially, and typically could be expected to be used in conjunction with a corporate network, accessed via the HotJava browser. The flash memory does however provide sufficient local storage for applications to be run offline. ®
John Lettice, 16 Dec 1998

Apple plans Linux-Mac launch for MacWorld

Apple's new Macs, due for announcement next month at MacWorld, will include one that runs Linux, according to US paper Computer Retail Week. The report quotes unnamed retail sources as saying the new machine will not be a retail product, however. Apple launching a machine that runs Linux is not, however, news, and whatever it is the company intends to do with Linux at MacWorld has to somewhat more advanced than that. Apple has been running a relatively low-key Linux project, MKLinux, for some time, and released DR3 (Developer Release 3) of the OS in July. MKLinux is intended to run on PowerPC Macs, which means that Apple already does ship quite a few machines that run Linux. Not all of them do (there's a compatibility list on the MKLinux site), one of those that doesn't being the iMac. Apple will be announcing the new G3 range at MacWorld, and as most G3s already support MKLinux, you'd expect at least some of the new ones to do so. So what's the news? It would seem likely that Apple intends to announce some form of increased enthusiasm for Linux, but the company has to go carefully. Historically the company has been extremely protective of the uniqueness of its own OS, and since Steve Jobs' second coming, it's been even more protective. Jobs, remember, brought the Mac clone industry to an unceremonious full stop in order to protect the uniqueness of Apple's products. This kind of attitude obviously doesn't sit terribly well with the Open Source philosophy. But on the other hand, there are clear attractions associated with combining Macs and Linux. Macs are strong in education, and Linux has great potential there. Linux has a lot of applications that aren't dependent on the goodwill (we use the word advisedly) of Microsoft, whereas Apple is currently in thrall to Microsoft for Office for the Mac. And there does seem to be a logic to offering Macs as Linux platforms par excellence. People who don't like Microsoft software quite often don't like PCs either, so McLinux could be a killer combination. Initially, the logical route for Apple might be to start selling McLinux machines as an alternative, on a 'suck it and see' basis. If this is successful, some kind of convergent strategy, or maybe a skunkworks (although we think MKLinux is a skunkworks already) might make sense. There are a couple of other factors worth bearing in mind here. Apple already has, via its OpenStep/Rhapsody development, something in the way of a cross-platform strategy, albeit a stalled one. Linux as a base, with Apple GUI technology plus Linux developer support could make an interesting and possibly successful combination. The other factor that people (wrongly) have stopped worrying about in the past year or so is Apple's base hardware platform. PowerPC is not necessarily going to be around forever, the Motorola and IBM roadmaps are diverging, and either or both companies could still at some point pull the plugs. Apple has switched platforms before, and could do so again, but taking an Open Source route when it does so would be cheaper and quite possibly more successful. But there's still the problem of combining Open Source code and proprietary instincts and policies. If Apple starts tilting more towards Linux, it'll be fascinating to see how this one plays out. ® See also Apple ponders cross-platform future for MacOS
John Lettice, 16 Dec 1998

Great Software Satan sued for abusing mice

Microsoft is facing a $1 billion law suit from a US company for allegedly nicking a mouse design. According to US title Infoworld, Goldtouch has taken the action against Microsoft for alleged theft of trade secrets, fraud and patent infringement. The mouse design in question is the so-called ergonomic mouse, a curvy 1995 design which Mark Goldstein, president of Goldtouch, claims he showed Microsoft. Goldtouch is a specialist in ergonomic add-ons and has licensed keyboards to both IBM and Lexmark, the US paper says. Subsequently, Microsoft is alleged to have used that design in the IntelliMouse Pro. There's big money in mice and that is why Goldtouch wants $1 billion from Microsoft. ®
Roland Rat, 16 Dec 1998

Dell boy starts VC venture

US reports said that Michael Dell, CEO of the mighty Dellistopheles Corporation, has plunged some of his loot into an outfit which funds startups. His VC company, says the Wall Street Journal, has funds of $1 billion and will concentrate on helping IT firms reach the fruition of all their desires. Mikey Dell has already used some of his money to aid a number of IT firms, including Rambus and Jato, which have done pretty well, thank you very much. It is largely his own fortune which will be used. And he's probably doing it because he’s bored. ®
A staffer, 16 Dec 1998

Nazi past claims prompt Bertelsmann review

German media giant Bertelsmann's corporate history is down for engineering, following claims by a Swiss magazine that the company had been less than honest about its business during the 1930s and 1940s. The Nazis closed the company down in 1943, but Die Weltwoche claims that Bertelsmann was the largest supplier of books for the Wehrmacht and SS. Bertelsmann has evolved into a global media giant in recent years, owning Random House and RCA, and partnering with Barnes & Noble and AOL, among others. With the latter it's a 50-50 owner of AOL Bertelsmann Online Europa. Bertelsmann's previous line was that it had opposed the Nazis. In the face of the claims that this isn't entirely true, which were made by sociologist Hersch Fischler, it has decided to remove its corporate history from its Web site and appoint a committee of historians to review its past. Fischler says the company published pro-Nazi books, and that the CEO of the time was a "passive" member of the SS. Current chairman Thomas Middelhof conceded to the New York Times today that some "abhorrent" books were published during the period, and says he's mounting the review despite his belief that the company's official history is accurate. He also seems to be playing a straight bat -- the findings will be published whatever they say, and without any censorship by Bertelsmann. ®
John Lettice, 16 Dec 1998

NeoMagic sues Trident

NeoMagic has launched a legal action against Trident Microsystems, claiming infringement of its patents. But Trident has hit back and said the litigation was filed without any warning and will be defended vigorously. Frank Lin, president and CEO of Trident, was quoted in a public statement as saying: "It is disappointing that NeoMagic would resort to litigation, but not surprising given the marketplace momentum of Trident's newest generation of embedded 3D notebook controllers and resulting potential business loss to NeoMagic. This appears to be a diversionary tactic on the part of NeoMagic to confuse customers and protect its market share." He added that Trident would "aggressively" defend itself and would not be intimidated by what he described as "meritless claims". ®
A staffer, 16 Dec 1998

Gates TV: Killer apps and hit teams remembered, sort of

In yesterday's video Bill Gates was confronted by one of his own emails referring to browsers as applications - as, in fact, "the latest confirmed killer apps." We also saw mail from Joachim Kempin, VP of OEM sales, showing a tough and legally interesting approach to IBM when IBM decided to sell Notes. He wrote in an email to Gates that "the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure". (Microsoft's 'hit team' to get IBM into line) Kempin also referred to setting up a WW hit team to attack IBM, which of course just meant an unarmed salesperson operating worldwide. Microsoft complained as in the past that only video excerpts were shown, and bluffed it should be all or nothing (and desperately hoping it would not be all). Since Microsoft is allowed to choose extracts as well, this charge of perhaps missing the context is unjustified. What is being left out are the really boring bits. Our transcript notes do not contain the number of pages of testimony omitted on this occasion, as the released .PDF file was badly scanned by the DoJ and the page numbers are mostly missing. We do however indicate all the breaks in the testimony. Microsoft defended Gates for not saying "Good Morning" to the lawyer who was deposing him each day. "A public relations attack," Microsoft shrieked. It's certainly a bizarre thing to be arguing about. Microsoft is also now saying that "Bill is right in many of these disagreements"(over syntax and definitions), which is an interesting departure, since it implicitly admits Gates was wrong at times. Steven Houck, lead counsel for the states asked many of the questions, with the remainder being by David Boies, the DoJ special trial counsel. It was not expected that the 45-minute video would have been shown yesterday, but Microsoft's abrupt termination of its cross-examination of Edward Felten created a gap. Eight other video extracts were shown. Houck: I'd like you to look at Trial Exhibit 336, Mr. Gates, right here in front of you. This is a memorandum that purports to be from you to your executive staff dated May 22, 1996, and it attaches, for want of a better word, an essay entitled "The Internet PC" dated April 10, 1996. Do you recall writing that essay? Gates: It looks like this is an email, not a memorandum. Houck: Do you recall writing the essay dated April 10, 1996 entitled "The Internet PC"? Gates: Well, it looks like an essay I wrote. I don't remember specifically, but it does look like something I wrote. Houck: The portion I refer you to is at the bottom of the first page under the heading called "The Latest Killer App." Do you see that? Gates: I see a heading. Houck: First paragraph under that heading reads as follows: "Our industry is always looking for the next 'killer application'-- for a category of software that, by its utility and intelligent design, becomes indispensable to millions of people. Word processors and spreadsheets were the killer applications for business PCs starting in 1981." And the next sentence reads, "The latest confirmed 'killer app' is the Web browser." Do you recall writing that, sir? Gates: No. Houck: Do you have any reason to believe you didn't write it? Gates: No. Houck: Can you explain what you meant here by describing the Web browser as a "killer app"? Gates: I just meant that browsing would be, in our view, a popular thing, not necessarily on the web but just browsing in general would be a popular activity. Houck: Is a killer application an application that drives sales of other products like operating systems and hardware? Gates: No. Houck: Do you have a definition in your own mind of killer application? Gates: It means a popular application. Houck: Let me resort again to the Microsoft computer dictionary, and I'll read you what that says about killer applications. You may disagree with it, and if so, you can tell me. The Microsoft computer dictionary, 1997 edition, defines killer app as follows, and it gives two definitions. And I'll be very complete this time, Mr. Gates. The first definition is, "An application of such popularity and widespread standardisation that fuels sales of the hardware platform or operating system for which it was written. (End of segment) Houck: The second definition is, "An application that supplants its competition." Let me go back and read you the first definition again, now that you've heard both of them. The first definition reads as follows: "An application of such popularity and widespread standardisation that fuels sales of the hardware platform or operating system for which it was written." Gates: I already told you that my definition of killer app is a very popular application. (End of segment) Houck: What about a relationship to an operating system? Gates: Usually they're just talking about it being a very popular application. I certainly know of things that have been referred to as killer applications that haven't driven hardware sales or operating system sales. Houck: What other applications would you identify as being killer applications? Gates: Applied [Surely "Flight" - ed] simulator. (End of segment) Houck: Does Microsoft endeavour to track its market share with respect to operating systems on personal computers? Gates: There's not some unified effort to do that. Houck: Is there anybody in Microsoft responsible for trying to determine what Microsoft's market share is with respect to PC operating systems? Gates: No. Houck: Have you seen any figures indicating what Microsoft's market share is with respect to operating systems on personal computers? Gates: From time to time people doing marketing analysis may pull together some figures like that. And depending on, you know, what the context is, they will be different numbers. (End of segment) Houck: I'd like you to turn to the page of this document that ends in 022. And the heading reads "x86 OS Analysis for Fiscal Year '96." Gates: Okay. Houck: On the page that is titled "x86 OS Analysis for Fiscal Year '96" appears a statement, "All other competitive licenses, less than 5%" Do you have any understanding that in or about early 1996 Microsoft's share of the market with respect to operating systems sold for x86 computers was in the vicinity of 95 percent? Gates: No. Houck: What is your understanding of what the Microsoft market share was at that time? Gates: I wouldn't know. Houck: Do you have any idea, as you sit here today, what Microsoft's market share is with respect to operating systems sold for x86 architecture computers? Gates: Well, piracy alone is greater than 5 percent. But no, I don't know the number. Houck: What other companies besides Microsoft sell operating systems for x86 architecture computers? Gates: There's a great number. Houck: Can you identify them? Gates: Santa Cruz. Red Brick. Caldera. IBM in many different products. Sun Microsystems. Microware. Wind River. Those are all I can think of right now. Houck: Do you have any estimate as to what the collective market share of those companies is with respect to operating systems sold for x86 architecture PCs? Gates: No Houck: Is it under 10 percent? Gates: Well, I've said to you I don't know the numbers. (End of segment) Houck: Would you take a look at Exhibit 339, Mr. Gates. Exhibit 339 contains a number of emails, and I want to ask you a couple questions about one on the first page from Russell Siegelman to yourself and others re MCI as an access provider dated October 13, 1994. Do you recall receiving this email? Gates: No. Houck: Do you have any reason to believe you didn't get it? Gates: No. Houck: What was Mr. Siegelman's position in October of '94? Gates: He was involved with looking at Marvel. Houck: And what was Marvel? Gates: It was a code name for what we would do in terms of Internet sites or online service activity. Houck: Do you understand that in this email here Mr. Siegelman is opposing a proposal to give MCI a position on the Windows 95 desktop as an Internet service provider? Gates: I don't remember anything about MCI. This talks about how we'll have a Mosaic client in Windows 95. I don't see anything in here about the desktop. Houck: It references in this email the Windows box. What do you understand the Windows box to mean? Gates: Well, the Windows box is certainly not the Windows desktop. The Windows box is a piece of cardboard. Houck: Is it your understanding that when he uses "Windows box" here, he means a piece of cardboard? Gates: Well, he is probably talking about the stuff that's inside. He is saying access to the windows box. He is talking about the bits that are on the -- (End of segment) (Record read.) Gates: This is electronic mail and Russ is suggesting that he disagrees with doing a deal with MCI under these particular terms. Houck: In the email he refers to Windows distribution as a unique and valuable asset, more specifically as "our one unique and valuable asset." Do you see that? Gates: I see a sentence that has those words in it. Houck: Do you have an understanding as to what he meant? Gates: Well, the Marvel people were having a hard time coming up with a strategy, and in retrospect we can look back and say they didn't come up with a good strategy. And they were looking at, you know, what could they do that would be attractive to a lot of users. And sometimes their goals and the goals of the Windows group were different. And in retrospect it's clear they weren't able to attract a lot of users. (End of segment) Houck: Do you have any understanding as to what Mr. Siegelman meant here by his reference to Windows distribution being "our one unique and valuable asset"? Gates: Was that the question I was asked -- Houck: Yes, sir. Gates: Can you read me back the previous question? (The record was read as follows) "Houck: In the email he refers to Windows distribution as a unique and valuable asset, more specifically as 'our one unique and valuable asset.' Do you see that?" Gates: I see a sentence that has those words in it. Houck: Do you have an understanding as to what he meant?" Gates: Well, maybe there is some understanding -- you said do I understand what he meant. I thought you were asking about his email as a whole. Houck: Let me re-ask it for the third time and see if I can get an answer. Do you have any understanding what Mr. Siegelman meant when he referred to Windows distribution as our one unique and valuable asset? Heiner: This is a line of questioning about the mail that Mr. Gates does not recall reading; is that right? Houck: The question has been put. Gates: I think the Marvel group in their search for what they could do to get millions of users at this particular point in time was thinking about making it easy to sign up to the Windows box being something that would be helpful to them and therefore an asset for the Marvel group in what they were doing. Houck: Do you understand that Mr. Siegelman in his reference had in mind the large market share that Microsoft has with respect to operating systems? Gates: I don't see anything about that in here. Houck: That's not your understanding? Gates: Remember, Russ isn't involved with the Windows business, he is involved with the Marvel business. Houck: Do you consider Windows distribution a unique asset of Microsoft? Gates: I know that the inclusion of what Marvel became didn't lead to its being popular. Houck: Again, let me ask the question, Mr. Gates. I wasn't asking about Marvel. I was asking about Windows distribution. Gates: Well, Marvel was a thing that was put into the Windows box and so, in fact, if the question is putting things in there, is that valuable in the sense that it creates popularity for those things, there are many good examples that we know where it obviously does not create popularity. So in terms of how much of a value that is, it's very instructive to look at Marvel and what subsequently happened to that because we did include it in the Windows box as one of the things that the user had on the desktop. (End of segment) Houck: Let me put the question again without reference to this document. Mr. Gates, do you believe that Windows distribution is a unique asset that Microsoft has? Heiner: Objection. Form. Foundation. Defined terms. Gates: What do you mean when you say "Windows distribution" there? Houck: Do you have an understanding what Mr. Siegelman meant by the phrase "Windows distribution" in his email that he wrote to you? Gates: He means -- I think he means, I don't know for sure, I think he means including an icon on the desktop for access to Marvel. Houck: And by "the desktop," you mean the Windows desktop? Gates: In this case, yes. (End of segment) Houck: In 1996 was there a common understanding of what was meant by "Internet software"? Gates: In a context-free sense, absolutely not. and for all the… Houck: Was there a common understanding post coverage, of what was meant by an Internet browser? Gates: The whole notion of what the browser -- what features it would contain or what it would mean or all that was very uncertain in 1996. (End of segment) Houck: Good morning, Mr. Gates. Are you going to be a witness at the trial of this matter? Heiner: Objection. Gates: I don't know. (End of segment) Houck: Do you intend to be a witness at trial? Gates: I don't know. (End of segment) Boies: Good morning, Mr. Gates. Do you understand that you are still under oath? Gates: Yes. (End of segment) Boies: Let me ask you to look next at a document marked Trial Exhibit 520. The second email or message here is a message dated April 12, 1995 at 12:54 p.m. from Paul Maritz to you and a number of other people; correct, sir? Gates: That's what it appears to be.. Boies: And the subject is the "3 year plan thoughts - draft;" correct? Gates: That's, yes, the subject. Boies: Did you receive this message on or about April 12, 1995? Gates: I don't remember receiving it, but I have no reason to doubt that I did. Boies: Now, attached here is something that is titled 1 year plan follow-up (draft)." Do you see that? Gates: Yes. Boies: Did you receive this at or about the time indicated of April 12, 1995? Gates: I'm not sure. Boies: Let me ask you to look at the page that bears in the bottom right-hand corner the Microsoft document production stamp ending 7193. And in particular the portion that is under the heading "Shell/Browser." Do you have that? Gates: Yes. Boies: And it says here, "We should get a view as to what will be handled by the 'Win97' Shell, and what will not - and if not, how is the needed extension integrated into the Win97 environment." Do you see that? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: Were you told in or about April of 1995 that one of the issues in terms of planning that was needed to be decided was what would be handled by the Win97 shell and what would not be? Gates: I'm not sure -- I'm not sure what is meant by Win97 shell here. I don't remember seeing that at the time. Boies: Well, you know what a shell is in this context, do you not, sir? Gates: Yes. Boies: And you recognize Win97 as a reference to what ultimately became Windows 98, do you not, sir? Gates: No. The fact that we use a name like that before we have decided what's in a product doesn't mean that when we used that name back then it references what eventually got into the product. Boies: Let me make sure I understand that last answer. Was Win97 a reference that was used within Microsoft to refer to what ultimately became Windows 98? Gates: It was a term that was used to refer to a project. When it was used, none of us knew either what would be in the project or what it would be called. So any time you see that reference, you can't assume it's a reference to the things that eventually became Windows 98. All you know is they're referring to the next project related to enhancing Windows. Boies: Let me ask the question this way. Was the project that was internally described within Microsoft as Win97 the project that ultimately resulted in Windows 98? Gates: I believe so. (End of segment) Boies: All right, sir. Let me ask you to look at a document that has been marked as Trial Exhibit 333. And this purports to be some questions and answers on "The Use and misuse of Technology" by Bill Gates dated October 24, 1995, copyrighted 1992 to 1995 by the Microsoft Corporation. Boies: Do you recall preparing these questions and answers, sir? Gates: I know I was at a meeting where this was worked on. Boies: And did the statements set forth here reflect your views at the time? Gates: I don't remember specifically these sentences, but I have no reason to doubt this is what was discussed and put into the column. Boies: And you understood that when this was prepared and, as you put it, put into the column, that it was going to be published, did you not, sir? Gates: Yeah, the column is published. Boies: Where is the column published? Gates: A number of newspapers. Boies: Now, when you refer here on the second page, fourth line, to "winning for Microsoft a larger share of the market for Internet browsers," do you see that? Gates: No. Boies: It's on the second page, fourth line -- Gates: Oh, you're on the second page. Let me just read this. Okay, go ahead. Boies: When you refer in here to "winning for Microsoft a larger share of the market for Internet browsers," do you see where you say that? Gates: Yes, it's part of a sentence here. Boies: What did you mean by "the market for Internet browsers," sir? Gates: I assume I meant usage share of browsers on the World-Wide Web. Boies: You then go on in parentheses to say "An Internet browser is software that lets an individual roam the worlds of information available on the Internet. Microsoft's browser is called the Internet Explorer." Do you see that? Gates: Close paren. Yeah. Boies: Close parenthesis and then close quote, since I'm quoting it. Did you believe that was an accurate statement at the time that you made it and published it? Gates: In trying to give an explanation to the broad audience that the column was aimed at, yes, I thought it was a good way of describing it to that audience. (End of segment) Boies: Okay. Let me ask you to look at Trial Exhibit 560. This is a message from you to Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Chase with a copy to Mr. Maritz and some other people also given copies dated August 15, 1997 at 4:07 p.m. on the subject of IBM and Netscape; correct? Gates: Uh-huh Boies: And you type in here Importance: High." Gates: No. Boies: No? Gates: No, I didn't type that. Boies: Who typed in "High"? Gates: A computer. Boies: A computer. Why did the computer type in "High"? Gates: It's an attribute of the email. Boies: And who set the attribute of the email? Gates: Usually the sender sends that attribute. Boies: Who is the sender here, Mt. Gates? Gates: In this case it appears I'm the sender. Boies: Yes. And so you're the one who set the high designation of importance, right, sir? Gates: It appears I did that. I don't remember doing that specifically. Boies: Right. Now, did you send this message on or about August 15, 1997? Gates: I don't remember doing so. Boies: Now, you say that you had a meeting with Jeff Papows; is that correct? Gates: I did have a meeting with Jeff Papows, yes. Boies: And the third paragraph from the bottom you write "He doesn't want anything attributed to me or he will get in trouble, but he says we can just refer to all the rumours on the Web about what kind of deal is being done between Netscape and IBM." Do you see that? Gates: I do. Boies: At this point, that is, in or about August of 1997, were you aware prior to your conversation with Mr. Papows, that there was a prospect of a deal between Netscape and IBM? Gates: There had been rumours of that, so yes. In fact, there had been deals. There was rumours of a new deal. End of segment Boies: This is a message dated February 16, 1998, from Laura Jennings to you and a number of other people, including Mr. Allchin, Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Maritz. Do you see that? Gates: Yes. Boies: Did you receive this email in or about February of 1998, sir? Gates: I don't remember receiving it, but I have no reason to think that I didn't. Boies: Let me take you down to the next to last paragraph on the first page. The first sentence says "One potential concern: Brad mentioned to me late Friday that there may be new concerns about our plan to make Start a requirement for being in the IE referral server, or at least there may be timing issues related to your appearance at Senator Hatch's hearings." Do you see that? Gates: Yes. Boies: Do you recall a discussion of this in or about February of 1998? Gates: Not with Laura. But on the general subject, yes. Boies: Did Microsoft in fact make Start "a requirement for being in the IE referral server"? Gates: No, I don't think we did. Boies: Why not? Gates: I think the PR group thought it would be controversial and we didn't see the benefit as being worth having that controversy. Boies: Let me ask you to look at a document that has been marked as Trial Exhibit 225. The first message here is a message to you and Mr. Ballmer with copies to other people dated March 23, 1994 at 9: a.m. on the subject of "IBM helps Lotus." Boies: Did you receive this message in or about March of 1994, sir? Gates: I don't know. Boies: The message begins by describing how IBM is helping in the selling of Notes. Do you see that? Gates: Yes. Boies: And at the end Mr. Kempin, who is the author of this, says "I am unsure if we need to see this as an organizational issue or an OEM issue." Do you know what he means by that? Gates: What's he talking about? Boies: Do you know what he is talking about? Gates: No. Boies: He then says "I am willing to do whatever it takes to kick them out, but strongly believe we need a WW hit team to attack IBM as a large account, whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure." Do you see that? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: You have to say yes for the record. Gates: I see it. Boies: Do you know what Mr. Kempin means when he writes to you about a "WW hit team"? Gates: He means a salesperson. Boies: If he means a salesperson, why doesn't he say salesperson, sir? Gates: It clearly means salesperson. Boies: Are salespeople within Microsoft commonly referred to as WW hit teams? Gates: If they're world-wide and if they're trying to sell to somebody who is a large account, you bet. Boies: And when your salespeople go out to sell large accounts, are they commonly referred to as needing a "WW hit team to attack IBM as a large account, whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure"? Gates: No. Boies: Did you say no? Gates: I said no. Boies: Do you remember Mr. Kempin telling you in March of 1994 that he was proposing that the OEM relationship with IBM should be used to apply some pressure to stop IBM from promoting the sale of Notes? Gates: No. Boies: Do you recall anyone ever telling you that, sir? Gates: No. Boies: Did you ever respond to Mr. Kempin and tell him that no, you didn't think that Microsoft ought to apply OEM pressure to IBM? Gates: I don't understand your question. Boies: Do you understand that Mr. Kempin is here proposing to you that Microsoft apply OEM pressure to IBM? Gates: It doesn't say OEM pressure. Boies: I didn't say it said it, sir. It says he is proposing that the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure on IBM; correct, sir? Gates: You're asking me to read it? Boies: I'm asking you if that's what you understand him to be saying. Gates: What? Boies: That he is proposing that the OEM relationship should be used by Microsoft to apply some pressure on IBM. Gates: No, I don't think he is proposing anything. Boies: You don't think he is proposing anything. When he says that he strongly believes that there needs to be a "WW hit team to attack IBM as a large account, whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure," you don't think that he is suggesting that Microsoft apply pressure on IBM? Gates: I don't think he is making a proposal. It is one of the things he mentions, but it's not a proposal. Boies: Now, Mr. Kempin's message was a response to a message from you to Mr. Kempin and Mr. Ballmer dated March 20, 1994 at 11:29 p.m., correct? Gates: It appears to be, yes. Boies: And you write him in the first paragraph "This is one topic I really want to try to get to the bottom of. Why does IBM help Lotus so much? Is there anything we can do about this? Should it become an issue in our global relationship with IBM?" Did you send this message to Mr. Kempin and Mr. Ballmer in March, 1994? Gates: It appears I did. I mean that's part of the message I sent, it appears. Boies: Now, when Mr. Kempin replied saying "We need a WW hit team to attack IBM as a large account, whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure," did you understand him to be responding to your questions? Gates: I don't remember receiving his mail. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 16 Dec 1998

Are you sitting comfortably, then we'll begin

Hats off to Cable and Wireless. Obviously unsure of the calibre of hack attending it's little soiree on e-commerce yesterday it included a little yellow book in its press pack entitled Internet Commerce for Dummies. Anyone accusing them of being just the teensy-weensiest bit patronising should have their mouths stuffed with deep-fried entrees and told not to chew or else. Patronising? Cable and Wireless? Never. ®
Nice-Arse Badswell, 16 Dec 1998

Who needs to watch paint dry?

The editor of Newswatch -- which is now supplying yesterday's news today to shamed portal 2b after it was caught nabbing stories from Newsnow -- takes the whole idea of intellectual property very seriously. "I am very opposed to anyone ripping off another site's material," said John Cookson soberly. "As you know 2b have just started taking our material with our permission, but we will be a keeping a very close eye on things." Good job too. Cos he's got to keep the other eye on Big Ben as well after installing a Web camera -- after much persuasion -- in St Thomas' hospital pointing directly at the monolith clock. "It's a brilliant shot," he said excitedly, "and we had a message from one homesick ex-pat who says he sits and looks at it mesmerised every day!!" Rumour has it that his next Web cam will be focused on his front lawn -- so his homesick ex-pats can watch the green, green grass of home grow as well. ®
Webwatch O'Rivetting, 16 Dec 1998

Secure Digital Music Initiative launched to kill MP3

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) yesterday formed the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) to define an alternative format for music downloaded via the Internet, as anticipated. The SDMI has a lot of weight behind it. In addition to the 'big five' music labels -- Sony Music, Time Warner, EMI, Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) and Universal Music Group (the recording label formerly known as Polygram) -- technology companies AOL, Microsoft, AT&T, Liquid Audio, Lucent, RealNetworks, Toshiba and IBM, and consumer electronics concerns Sony (again) and Matsushita all pledged support. The backing of the big names in the music business suggest that whatever format the SDMI ultimately comes up with is likely to be adopted as the standard. When that standard will be proposed is another matter. The RIAA said yesterday that it expects the SDMI to have reported back in time for the music industry to begin offering titles in the new format by Christmas 1999. However, almost all the technology members of the Initiative will be bringing their own systems to the table, and its going to take some doing to reach an agreement that can accommodate all of them. You only have to look at all the industry infighting over DVD and its various sub-formats to see how easily companies initially in accord can quickly fall out if others don't like what they propose. Of course, the arguments over how DVD should work took place in an environment free of alternative digital video formats (OK, there was VideoCD, but that we never really going to get anywhere) so the companies concerned could argue as much they liked -- the punters weren't going to go anywhere in the meantime. The key problem with the SDMI faces is that it's a response to a threat -- the MPEG-based MP3 format. That's well established, and the longer the SDMI takes, the more time the MP3 community has to entrench. Indeed, noticeable for their absence from the initial SDMI member list are the very MP3 supporters doing most to legitimise the format -- online stores like MP3.com and GoodNoise, and the independent record labels that use the technology to promote their bands. Those members of the MP3 community that have responded to the formation of the SDMI have universally condemned it as just an attempt by the major labels to dominate the online music market --which, of course, it is, but the MP3ers' arguments are no less political than the majors' talk of combating piracy. 'What about the artists? What about the customers?' cry the MP3ers, playing the old, well-rehearsed anti-corporate arguments. Well, artists can use any format -- MP3 isn't a pre-requisite. The only advantage it offers is its openness -- and that's more about not paying licensing fees than following standards. Artists only gain from the Internet if they control their output there, and recording contracts will increasingly ensure they don't. In short, artist power is about A&R, not MP3. The SDMI format will undoubtedly permit some tracks to be released free of charge and without copying restrictions -- that's too important a marketing tool for it not to -- so bands will be able to use it in exactly the same ways they use MP3 now. That also applies to those who charge for MP3 downloads. Again, MP3 is attractive to the likes of MP3.com partly because it has that 'not liked by the majors' indie kudos but mostly (again) because it's free. Given the RIAA is talking about issue the SDMI's recommended format on an open licence, much in the way the Red Book audio CD format is, current online music sellers are going to have no financial incentive to stick will MP3. As for customers, most of them really want music but don't want to pay for it. It's like CDs sales. Some people buy discs because they want the full package -- lyrics, artwork, etc. Others are happy to tape friends' discs because they just want the music. So, if you look ahead and see a commercial Internet-based music market dominated by SDMI 1.0 (or whatever it's called in the end), with both the majors and the minors releasing tracks in that format, and hi-fi kit containing modems and microbrowsers to allow listeners to download them without a PC, there will still be countless MP3 sites offering CD knock-offs for downloading and countless freeware MP3 player apps to listen to them on. In short, nothing has really changed beyond the online music industry growing up a bit. And about time too. If we'd have been through all this back in the early 80s, we'd still be listening to crackly old vinyl. ®
Tony Smith, 16 Dec 1998

Careless Sage spreads virus

Accountancy software firm Sage has found itself at the centre of allegations that its email system is indiscriminately distributing a macro virus hidden within attached documents. The problem occurs when Microsoft Word documents are sent out as email attachments by Sage staff. It labels recipients as big stupid jerks. Users both inside and outside the Geordie software specialist found themselves caught out when they closed the attachments. "I think [user's name appears here] is a big stupid jerk," flashes up on the screen. Sage was swift to admit they had fallen victim to this "embarrassing" virus and claimed that it had in no way originated from within the UK company. But even if it came from outside Sage, it throws a question mark over the integrity of the company's own network security and virus detection procedures. A Sage representative said: "This is definitely not a Sage virus. Basically, people have been sending Word documents to us, passing on the virus." She confirmed that Sage staff, including some directors, were yesterday called "jerks" after the company's virus scan had been unable to diagnose the infection. But she vowed: "Our IT department is tracking it and we will find the source." She said it was annoying rather than dangerous, and would not corrupt data. However, caution should be taken. The virus is expected to resurface in six months' time, on 14 June 1999, when it will write over all the documents it has infected this time round. ®
Linda Harrison, 16 Dec 1998

Corel to release free Linux WordPerfect tomorrow

As Corel CEO Michael Cowpland promised last month (see Corel to offer Linux WordPerfect Office 2000 for free), the software vendor will this week release a gratis Linux version of its WordPerfect word processor. And next spring, Corel will release a Linux version of the full WordPerfect Office package. Following the standard Linux distribution model, Office will be free for individuals to download, but Corel will charge for a boxed edition, containing manuals, clip-art, templates and tech support, aimed at business users. The retail edition will ship in two weeks' time. According to a Corel spokeswoman, the personal package will cost $69.95, while business buyers will have to fork out $495. ® See also Star challenges MS Office with Linux, Windows freeware
Tony Smith, 16 Dec 1998

K6-2 set to break 20 mill mark in 1999

AMD has claimed that it is well on the way to selling K6-2s into double figures next year. The rival to Intel’s throne claims that it sold 11 million members of the K6 chip family in 1998 and says an additional 10 million K6-2 chips will be sold by the middle of the first quarter of 1999. Actual sales figures for the K6 stand at around 3.5 million, confirming the K6-2’s position at the top of the K6 family tree. Although AMD has formally withdrawn the K6, sources confirmed that plenty were still swilling around and for that matter being sold. ®
Mike Magee, 16 Dec 1998

Dodgy CDs doing the rounds

Microsoft today warned that up to 100,000 counterfeit software CDs are set to be circulated around the channel this week. The software giant said the fake Microsoft Office 97 Professional CDs threatened to flood the Christmas market at a retail cost of about £35 million in lost sales. The counterfeiters are claiming the CDs are genuine Microsoft products which failed to pass through quality control checks at Microsoft’s Irish processing plant. The CDs, in counterfeit jewel cases, were packed in fake boxes falsely stamped with "rejected by EOC". Microsoft said there were certain characteristics that betrayed the illegal products. The CDs were in brown boxes with KAO and JB40 REVA stamped on the side in shiny black ink. The boxes had four compartments, containing up to 40 colour cases, but without any End User Licence Agreements (EULA) or Certificates of Authenticity (COA). David Gregory, Microsoft anti piracy manager, said: "We want to inform our channel of what we see as a dangerous threat to their businesses. These counterfeit products only help to tarnish reputations. Microsoft always recommends its channel to buy from authorised distributors or authorised OEM product distributors." ®
Linda Harrison, 16 Dec 1998

Forrester predicts online banking boom

Almost 10 million people in Europe will seek financial guidance via the Net by 2002. Banking applications will continue to dominate on-line financial services over the next five years. And on-line insurance sales will be held back by complicated products and powerful middlemen. But UK financial services companies are behind their European counterparts and could miss out on this growth industry. That's just some of the conclusions published by Forrester Research looking at trends in the online financial services market. The report says that the UK has got off to a slow start, and that financial services firms will be further delayed by concerns about channel conflict and exaggerated hopes for interactive television. A spokesman for NatWest took issue with the severity of the report saying even if the UK was behind the rest of Europe, then it wasn't as far behind as Forrester suggested. "The UK is doing an awful lot concerning online financial service especially with the development of electronic purse solutions," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Dec 1998

Govt announces boost for e-commerce

The government has pledged £20 million to establish an e-commerce resource centre on the Internet aimed at helping small businesses thrive in the booming digital economy. Cash is also being set aside to launch a national award to recognise excellence in digital business and develop a private sector-led initiative to deliver top quality advice on doing business electronically. Speaking in the Commons today, Peter Mandelson, the secretary of state for trade and industry, also gave further details about the Electronic Commerce Bill, first announced in the Queen's speech last month, which the government hopes will remove legal barriers to online trading. He said he wanted to generate greater confidence in e-commerce and announced that he would muster international action to keep the Internet free of red tape. His blueprint for a more Net-friendly Britain outlined in the Competitiveness White Paper is already being welcomed by industry but the secretary of state warned that regardless of the support given by government, it is up entrepreneurs and companies to take lead. "It is not enough to create an Internet-friendly business environment," he said. "We need entrepreneurs who will seize and exploit the business opportunities which this opens up." He may be right. Yesterday, a senior executive at Cable and Wireless warned that unless British businesses woke up to the possibilities of e-commerce, domestic companies could be elbowed aside by foreign competitors. And a report by research group Forresters says that the UK is behind its foreign counterparts when it comes to delivering financial services online. "The programme I have announced today is bold, far-reaching and absolutely necessary," said Mandelson. "To succeed in the next century, Britain must become a leading trading nation on the Internet - -which is now the single fastest growing marketplace in the global economy. "That is why the White Paper sets a stretching target - to create in the UK the best environment in the world for electronic trading by 2002," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Dec 1998

Apple gears up for Open Source MacOS

Slowly but surely Steve Jobs' -- or perhaps his henchman, software VP Avie Tevanian, since Jobs is just interim CEO after all... -- plan for Apple begins to emerge. In short, Apple buys NeXT, Apple absorbs NeXT's technology and methodology, and... Apple becomes NeXT. NeXT essentially started out as Jobs' attempt to recreate Apple. His team built a Mac alternative but ultimately couldn't sell enough machines to make it all work profitably. So, NeXT ended up as an OS company. Curiously, Be -- also formed by a senior ex-Apple guy, this time Jean-Louis Gassee -- has gone trod exactly the same path. But that's by the by. Apple is fundamentally a hardware company -- yes, it creates an OS, but it's the iron that makes the money. This is a problem for Jobs and his NeXT team, all software people. So, how do you get from one profit centre to the other? How, in short, do you make Apple a software company instead of a hardware operation? Well, the information leaking from Apple suggests MacOS X is the key. MacOS X is essentially Rhapsody, in turn essentially NeXT's Unix-based OpenStep OS. The difference between each of these three operating systems is the level of MacOS toolbox compatibility they offer and how that compatibility is achieved. MacOS X, in both its Server and Personal/Lite versions, is written in Objective C, the arcane object-oriented version of C favoured by NeXT before C++ became established. Being written in a high-level language and being based on a microkernel makes MacOS X easy to port to other platforms. Rewrite your kernel for the x86 family, simple recompile your apps and -- bingo -- you've got MacOS X for Intel. But the OS is rather more modular than that, allowing the Yellow Box APIs -- the key features of OpenStep -- to be ported to other platforms. Indeed, Apple's original plan was to offer not only Rhapsody for Intel but Yellow Box for Windows 95/NT -- user would be able to go the whole hog and install a new OS, or simply add Rhapsody application compatibility to existing Wintel systems, allowing legacy apps to be preserved. It now appears Apple is going slightly further than that. The Carbon APIs it announced a while back as a sop to third-party developers unhappy with having to rewrite their apps for Rhapsody are now likely to be bundled with Yellow Box (since Carbon is probably nothing more than a MacOS interface and code that translates other MacOS Toolbox calls into their Yellow Box equivalents, that's no big deal) and ported to other versions of Unix, including Linux (see Apple ponders cross-platform future for MacOS). In short, Apple is positioning MacOS X as a graphical shell that sits on top of a variety of Unix derivatives. Jobs has consistently talked about making the most of what makes the MacOS unique: its look and feel. And this is exactly what this approach does. Extra MacOS X features like unlimited scalability cluster processing will help the sale. So, the theory runs, users buy into the MacOS because it gives them a better, more productive computing experience, whatever hardware they're using. So, OS sales go up in proportion to hardware sales, and Apple becomes more of a software operation. The trouble is, while the MacOS interface is far superior to most Unix GUIs -- especially the rather ugly KDE -- the point is, KDE is Open Source, and thus available to everyone. That's a circle Apple really has to square to make the plan work. One possible way is to embrace the Open Source philosophy -- or as much of it as a commercial organisation can. Apple is believed to be keen of giving the MacOS X source code to higher education -- another relic from the NeXT days -- which is tantamount to making it Open Source, since anyone who wants the source will pretty much be able to get it. More likely, some kind of Open Source (ish) licence will emerge, much as Sun has done with Java 2. That will allow it to get the benefits of rapid bug fixes and the support of the Open Source community without losing control. Since mainstream users don't want to be bothered with all that nerdy compilation of source code nonsense, even a quasi-Open Source MacOS has the potential to bring in the bacon. Certainly any Apple Open Source-style licence would prevent other companies selling MacOS distributions in the way RedHat et al do with Linux. The Unix binary file format Apple is said to be preparing for submission to the ISO will help here, since it can more easily make the MacOS available online ready for installation on supported platforms. ® See also Apple plans Linux Mac launch for MacWorld
Tony Smith, 16 Dec 1998

Microsoft bidding for publishing giant?

Microsoft is once again rumoured to be on the trail of European publishing giant Reed Elsevier, whose shares kicked upwards this afternoon on expectation of a bid. The Anglo-Dutch giant was tipped as a possible Redmond acquisition earlier this year, but at that point nothing came of it. The rationale, such as it is, would be that by acquiring a major publishing company Microsoft would be able to add content to distribution - or at least to what it has planned for distribution. Reed Elsevier is long on content, but generally held to be short on direction. The company issued a profits warning a couple of weeks back, so could be thought of as a bargain from Microsoft's point of view. If Microsoft really is considering a deal, there's probably an element of 'what the hell' to it. The company spent a bit of time over the past few years trying not to do things that brought the regulators down on its neck, and look what happened anyway. We at The Register are of course far too grown up to snigger about the number of British computer publications that might fall into the clutches of His Billness. Far too grown up to do it before it happens, anyway... ®
John Lettice, 16 Dec 1998

IBM trials Palm-type device for home shopping

IBM and grocery chain Safeway are running a test of a consumer Palm Pilot-type device which allows you to produced personalised shopping lists. The device is used to scan in bar codes from groceries, and then the shopping list is sent to the store by attaching the machine to a phone line. The service is being piloted via Safeway's Basingstoke superstore. By a massive coincidence, Basingstoke is one of IBM's main UK bases. By another massive coincidence, IBM has had a licence for the Palm Pilot for some time now, and we were kind of wondering what it was going to do with. Apart, that is, from letting Dave McAughtrie of the NC division wander round with one, saying how nice it is. For the Safeway test the device is being called the "Easi-Order." It comes in a Palm Pilot format, but adds a bar code scanner which can be used to scan in groceries at the store or at home. You ought to be able to use it on anything that's got a bar code, not just stuff you bought at Safeway, and this may also be a cue for the world's most boring book - the IBM-Safeway Bumper Book of Barcodes. Safeway already uses a scanner system for its Shop & Go system, and runs a Collect & Go system, where you order by phone or fax and then pick up. Funny name though - do rivals run Collect & then Hang Around Till the Store Closes and they Throw You Out? The new system is intended to bridge the two - you order remotely, then pick up. The Easi-Order operates as a personal organiser as well, and is intended to be priced between £125 and £400, depending on features. The system itself needn't use this as a client - the technology is Java, and it could easily be extended to NCs, PCs, set-top boxes or other clients. ®
John Lettice, 16 Dec 1998

Gates memo suggests secret deals with Lotus boss

In the transcript of yesterday's Bill Gates video deposition there's an intriguing exchange involving Lotus' Jeff Papows. Documentation shown to Gates during the video seems to suggest some kind of arrangement with Papows that wasn't necessarily the sort of thing his employers at IBM would favour. According to the memo, shown to Gates by DoJ attorney David Boies, Gates had written of Papows in August 1997: "He doesn't want anything attributed to me or he will get into trouble, but he says we can just refer to all the rumours on the Web about what kinds of deal is being done between Netscape and IBM." (Full transcript) Now here's a puzzle. In late July 1997 Lotus announced a deal whereby Microsoft Internet Explorer would be integrated more tightly with Lotus Notes. Lotus had earlier used Netscape Navigator, but had bust up with Netscape (somewhat ironically, under the circumstances) because Netscape didn't want to unbundle Navigator from Communicator. So do we conclude that Papows, having come to a Lotus position (as it were) with Microsoft, was padding gently around Microsoft, exerting what influence he could to stop parent company IBM running off with Netscape? That might be one interpretation. As yet the DoJ would not seem to have released the original document, so there's no way of knowing whether or not Papows was leaking confidential IBM information to Gates. But we've met him, and we can't imagine how that could be true. Oh, no... ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 16 Dec 1998

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