18th > December > 1998 Archive
A market survey on the worldwide server market for the third quarter has concluded that growth is still strong. IDC said that year on year, the market had grown by around 15 per cent. But while some territories are showing strong growth, others are not strong. The European market surged by 28 per cent compared with the same quarter last year, while Japan fell by a massive 38 per cent. The US market grew by eight per cent. Dell, in particular, is riding the crest of the server wave, with growth of 62 per cent, while IBM is not doing nearly so well, with only 20 per cent growth, and HP experience 17 per cent growth. ®
The Korean press reported that four of the top chaebols (family concerns) in the country have agreed on how to restructure. LG confirmed that it will shut as many as 21 of its subsidiaries in 18 months time, in an effort to reduce its dept. LG is to concentrate on electronics, telecoms, services, and chemicals, and said it will receive an injection of nearly $7 billion by the end of next year. Hyundai, Samsung and SK also announced their restructuring plans, with Daewoo expected to do the same today. LG has also turned down the heat on the proposed merger of its semiconductor division with Hyundai, and said it would attempt to complete the deal by next week’s deadline. ®
Did you know Intel had a Military HQ in Baghdad? No, nor did we. So we were surprised when we opened our copy of UK national the Guardian to see the pictures (below) of the HQ before and after the first US air strike. The photograph, emanating from the Pentagon, is the first clear proof of the US government's intent to smash the monopoly... ®
Microsoft has hotly denied suggestions that it deliberately sabotaged the IE uninstall program produced by DoJ expert Edward Felten. No such accusation has actually been formally made, but if it was a coincidence, it was a bizarre one. Felten produced an uninstall program to demonstrate that it was feasible for Microsoft to ship Windows 98 without IE 4.0 functionality. He had been using a version of 98 with IE uninstalled and Netscape Navigator substituted without problems, he says, until minor changes were made on the Microsoft Windows 98 Update site on 4th December. The Windows Update feature gives users automatic access to fixes and patches from Microsoft, and it was important to Felten to show that this feature could also be accessed from Navigator. Under cross-examination Felten described the mysterious breakage, stressing that he'd been able to access Update prior to the 4th December changes, describing what the changes consisted of, and explaining how the breakage could be fixed. (Transcript) Microsoft's statement, filed with the court with the permission of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, said that the modifications to the site had been made by a single developer, working under the supervision of a second developer, and that neither had been involved in the testing of Felten's program. " The December 4 change had nothing whatsoever to do with Dr. Felten or his program. Microsoft knows of no reason why that change should have affected Dr. Felten's program and believes it had no such effect." Microsoft continues to insist that use of Felten's program disables access to the Update feature. Effectively, the company is therefore arguing that the program demonstrates that IE and 98 are integrated - if taking out IE means you lose features, then that must be the case, check? But the claim: "Microsoft knows of no reason why that change should have affected Dr. Felten's program and believes it had no such effect" is rather strange, as it suggests that the authors of the statement didn't read the section of trial transcript where the matter came up. Felten explains precisely how the changes broke the program. First, the software attempts to download a file into the IE directory. As IE has been removed, that directory doesn't exist. But there's quite clearly not reason why it should insist on using such a directory. Second, a bug introduced in the Microsoft code caused a further breakage. As Felten says: "We have verified that Microsoft could easily fix both of those changes, and we verified that by making modifications to the software so that it works again. but it's true that as Microsoft -- if you look at the software that Microsoft is offering today, it doesn't work because of these incompatibilities that Microsoft introduced." ® Complete Register trial coverage
Y’know, you talk to the AMD people and they are so nervous about the possibility that they might get promoted that they don’t want to tell you anything at all about their future plans.... So you have to talk to somebody else - as The Register did at Cebit earlier this year - and get confirmation that in early January it is now extremely likely indeed that Compaq will adopt a K6 in one or more of its Presario ranges. Of course, the US wires were awash with these little titbits last week - whether it was Cnet or The Wally. But we refer you back to our story much earlier this year....you heard it first here.
Around 58 per cent of computer users would ditch Windows in favour of other operating systems, according to a poll of IT industry executives conducted by researcher Giga Information Group. The survey was carried out among the 142 attendees of Giga's Emerging Technology Scene conference. Because of the relatively small sample, Giga puts the margin of error at plus or minus ten per cent, but even the lowest figure represents a lot of users for Microsoft to lose. Microsoft was also revealed by the survey to be the vendor conference attendees trusted least to deliver on its promises. Fifty-nine per cent of attendees picked the Great Satan of Software in that category -- next came AOL/Netscape with just 14 per cent of the vote, ahead of Oracle (13 per cent) and IBM (nine per cent). Giga analyst Rob Enderle said the clear anti-Microsoft results of the poll are a good indication of the direction in which the OS market is moving. He also pointed out that many respondents highlighted Linux as the platform they would move to. ®
"My mother asked me why we weren't using copper," Dr Alfred Yu, senior VP, Intel (Dr Yu's mum had heard copper was faster than aluminium because of IBM's publicity. Dr Yu said it might be faster but it was far more expensive. Mrs Yu's answer was not recorded.) "In the year 2012, we will have a microprocessor with one tenth of the brain power of a bumble bee" Senior Architect, Intel Developer Forum (The native UK short haired bumble bee, after three hundred millions of years of evoluton, is now extinct in the UK and will be closely followed by the water vole, the sky lark and we suppose the journalist. Has Intel garnered the whole supply of the world's honey?) "We will have an XC out by Christmas" Stan Shih, CEO of Acer (He didn't say which Christmas, or which calendar) "IBM is not going direct" A Mr Buell, from the IBM Corporation US, objected to the very suggestion in February this year (In December, Doug LeGrande, from the IBM Corporation US, confirmed it was going direct) "The whole world is topsy-turvey" Rana Mainee, European market analyst at AMD, commenting on the disappearance of the Slot One Celeron Computer magazines need more sex in them Rana Mainee…
Microsoft is stepping up its war against the software pirates, this time in Eastern Europe. The Bulgarian government had been using unlicenced Microsoft software, but has now been brought into the fold. Rather than follow its normal course of action when it discovers someone using pirate copies of its products - i.e. threaten them with legal action - the Great Stan of software has made friends with the Sofia administration. A licencing agreement between the two has resulted in all Microsoft software in use by the Bulgarian government being legalised. Helping the Bulgarian government get its software licences in order is a move toward getting Bulgaria taken more seriously on the international trade scene, the two parties claim. Microsoft’s man in Bulgaria, Bo Kruse, said: "Microsoft views this commitment from the Bulgarian government to comply with intellectual property rights as a step towards fully legalising the software market." But then he would say that, wouldn’t he. In reality, eastern and central Europe is a major piracy blackspot for Microsoft and no other governments in that part of the world have taken steps toward cleaning up their act. In exchange for this new found co-operation, Microsoft will help the Bulgarian IT industry get off the ground by hosting a number of technology seminars, aimed at promoting the use of legal software. Naturally. ®
The Internet is in danger of grinding to a halt creating a chronic shortage of capacity in the US. And if plans to build more fibre links across the Atlantic fall behind schedule it could even threaten the development of the Net worldwide, according to a report published by analysts Ovum. Between now and 2002 traffic will outstrip available capacity putting even more pressure on the Net, said Daniel Bieler, one of the authors of Internet Market Forecasts: Global Internet Growth 1998 - 2005. "I don't think it will lead to a total collapse," said Bieler. "But I do think it'll be a bit of a tight squeeze." "What's more damaging is that it could hamper the uptake of broadband multimedia applications simply because the Net could become extremely slow." Despite the threat of a slowdown in Net performance, Bieler predicts that there will be 500 million Net users worldwide by 2005. According to his research, he believes that by 2002, the US market will have become saturated, although the Far East and Western Europe will continue to grow. ®
Britain’s much maligned rail network looks likely to avoid fall out from the year 2000 problem thanks to its age and the lack of investment it has received over the decades. A report by the Health & Safety Executive points out that much of the track, signalling equipment and infrastructure of our railways is so old that it was installed before the use of computers was widespread. In London, for example, most of the signalling is mechanically operated and controlled electromagnetically - so, no embedded chips there. It may come as small comfort to anyone commuting on the older parts of the railway system, but at least their draughty old trains will still be running in the year 2000. Those systems most at risk within the railway industry are telecomms devices in the drivers’ cabs and on stations. So, it may be that in January 2000 your trains are running, but if they are late you are unlikely to get any announcements to that effect. And on the London Underground, the air conditioning systems may malfunction, which could lead to hundreds of people finding themselves crammed on to over-crowded, unventilated platforms. No change there, then. ®
German reseller, debis Systemhaus, this week expanded its European presence through the take-over of France’s fifth-largest Unix and Windows reseller. Groupe Spring, the desktop services provider, adds offices in Switzerland and Italy to debis Systemhaus’ existing services in France, Austria, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic. Founded in 1994, Groupe Spring recorded an increase in sales of 17 per cent to FF674 million (£72 million) for the year ended September 1998. The company sells Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun and Compaq servers and workstations, as well as consulting and networking. Groupe Spring, with 220 staff, is now a debis Systemhaus subsidiary. Company founder Jean-Claude Yague, who continues as president, expected a sales hike to around FF830 million (£88.9 million) in 1999 as a result of the acquisition. Groupe Spring is expected to complement debis Systemhaus’ PC and network subsidiary debis IT Services France. A supervisory board will oversee both subsidiaries. debis Systemhaus is owned by DaimlerChrysler Services. Its sales for 1998 were expected to be approximately DM4 billion (£1.5 billion). ®
The timer chip in Cruise Tomahawk missiles could have been responsible for one of the missiles going awry and landing in Iran today, The Register can reveal. This morning, a Tomahawk missile landed by mistake in southern Iran, although President Kahtamai (it's true!) has not lodged a formal complaint. Khatamai, however, is now known as President Streaming SIMD Extensions, as revealed here yesterday. After Gulf War I, we put it to a senior executive at AMD that it was the 286 chips in Tomahawks which had caused some of them to not hit their targets. The AMD exec said: "No, you're wrong. It is the AMD 3113 timer chip that caused the problem." The 286 chip in the head of Tomahawks operates in Protected Mode, he explained. An AMD representative today could neither confirm nor deny that the timer chip is used in the current revs of Tomahawks. Patriot missiles, used to bring down SCUD missiles, are believed to have ceramic heads, manufactured by major Japanese vendor Kyocera. ® Related story Baghdad's Intel HQ hit by US
David Bowie has unveiled his own branded Internet access service in the UK just three months after launching a similar initiative in the US. BowieNet (www.davidbowie.com) -- the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) created by a rock musician -- provides the same dial-up service as traditional ISPs, but also includes unprecedented access to Bowie material including songs, pictures and videos. The service is also planning to broadcast a number of original cybercasts featuring Bowie and his celebrity friends. As well as taking part in a chat session next week, Bowie has also persuaded Ronan Keating, lead singer with Boyzone, and comedian Eddie Izzard to take part in a scheduled online chat session next month. The venture is more than just an official home page with a few extra bells and whistles. Bowie has entered cyberspace as content provider, lifestyle guru and media mogul all rolled into one. "I wanted to create an environment where not just my fans, but all music fans could be part of a single community where vast archives of music and information could be accessed, views stated and ideas exchanged," he said. Such is Bowie's commitment to the Net, he's also planning to produce the first Virtual CD in music history entitled liveandwell.com. BowieNet subscribers will be given three songs recorded live during his 1997 "Earthling Tour" and asked for their contributions for the album cover artwork and a 48-page insert. "Our biggest challenge was to assemble unique proprietary content along with first rate content suppliers and unparalleled Internet access," said Bowie's business manager, Bill Zysblat commenting on the launch. UK ISP Global Internet is providing the technology service for BowieNet and Lycos UK is supplying general content. The cost of the full ISP service is £10.39 a month and includes a davidbowie.co.uk email address and 20MB of space to create individual homepages. Anyone happy with their existing ISP can still access BowieNet content for around £3.75 a month. ®
Hewlett-Packard (HP) said it will contest the $6 million awarded to Colossal Graphics in court yesterday. Colossal Graphics sued the PC giant over an alleged breach of good faith dating back to a 1996 cross licensing agreement. HP had agreed to allow Colossal to sell inkjet printers using HP ink. However, Colossal accused HP of breaking this agreement within months when it started selling its own colour inkjets. The jury awarded Colossal Graphics damages of $6.4 million, but HP claimed there was no evidence to support the $6 million portion, presumably accepting $400,000 worth of blame. HP said it was considering an appeal of the entire verdict, depending on the success of this first action. The disputed $6 million is considerably less than Colossal’s initial claim, when it had been looking for an impressive $75 million. ®
Bill Gates' video testimony earlier this week included a reference to a Gates email which appeared to suggest Lotus boss Jeff Papows was engaged in some form of secret negotiations with Microsoft. (Earlier Story) The email in question, which the DoJ has now released, confirms this. Gates was writing to executives, including Steve Balmer, Joachim Kempin, Brad Chase and Paul Maritz, after a meeting with Lotus on the subject of "working with us on Windows initiatives." As we suspected, the discussion with Papows had revolved around Lotus' and IBM's relationship with Netscape. The email is dated 15th August 1997, just after Lotus had agreed to integrate IE more thoroughly with Notes. "At the end of the meeting Jeff Papows met with me in my office to explain some things going on between IBM and Lotus," wrote Gates. Papows seems to have been very informative. "Someone at IBM likes the idea of getting Netscape Java VMs out into the world. However when Communicator came bundled Lotus told IBM they should stop doing anything with Netscape clients. IBM went to Netscape with an ultimatum to unbundle." That's a fair summary of the state of play in summer 1997. Netscape had launched Communicator and was trying to pitch it as an integrated Web and mail package, and didn't want companies to take just Navigator any more. Lotus fell out with Netscape over this, and although IBM sabre-rattling had secured a Netscape promise to unbundle, the damage had been done. "Netscape hated to unbundle because they think it screws up their business model somehow [we wonder how?]" said Gates. And then he moves on to his dealings with Papows. "Lotus agreed to lobby Thompson [John Thompson, IBM's software chief] to let Charles Fitzgerald come out and present to a group about Java and describe what works and what doesn't and how the Java middleware OS isn't in IBM's interest." But although Papows seems to be in the Microsoft camp within IBM, there are rivals. "Papows feels there is a decision being made right now at IBM which will be concluded by early next week about what the PC Company does with Netscape. "He doesn't want anything attributed to me or he will get into trouble but he says he can just refer to all the rumours on the Web about what kind of deal is being done between Netscape and IBM." But it would appear that Papows wants it stopped, and has decided, whether or not his fellow IBM employees agree, that Microsoft has the winning formula. "Papows believes our strategy of integrating with the operating system will be the winner and he is having Lotus do a lot to integrate their products with IE. However he thinks we may be about to suffer a major blow from IBM and that we need to get on the phone to the PC company." Gates signs off with the thought that as Joachim Kempin, Microsoft OEM boss and the man with the interesting turn of phrase (Microsoft's 'hit team' to get IBM into line), is on sabbatical, Steve Ballmer will have to be the one to make this call. Pressure via the OEM relationship, anyone?