24th > December > 1998 Archive

The Register breaking news

Compaq decks an extra 2,700 jobs

Information handed to the Securities and Equities Commission (SEC) on the 13 November shows that another 2,700 staff will lose their jobs following the merger of Digital and Compaq. Compaq had earlier said that 17,000 jobs would be lost. Information passed to The Register by subscription-based US newsletter Shannon Knows DEC reveals that the additional job cuts will come in Europe and North America. But Form 10Q, which Compaq filed with the SEC, said: "Accrued restructuring costs recorded in June 1998 included $1.1 billion ($999 million for Digital and $132 million for Compaq) representing the cost of involuntary employee separation benefits related to approximately 19,700 employees worldwide (approximately 14,700 Digital employees and 5,000 Compaq employees). "Employee separations will affect the majority of business functions, job classes and geographies, with a majority of the reductions occurring in North America and Europe." No-one from Compaq was available to comment at press time, it apparently being Christmas at the company already. ®
Mike Magee, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

SAP buys former Digital unit

SAP has acquired a former unit of Digital in Germany. CEC Karlsruhe, a research centre staffed by 20 employees was bought by SAP, with most likely to keep their jobs. Financial details were not revealed, but SAP said that the deal was part of Compaq's plans to consolidate the Digital business. CEC Karlsruhe developed interactive kiosk systems, video archives and Internet commerce software. But there are likely to be further job losses at DEC Germany, amounting to around 800 in all. ® Terry Shannon is editor of US subscription based newsletter Shannon knows DEC
Terry Shannon, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

Hyundai, LG Semicon deal on

The local South Korean press has reported that Hyundai will take a controlling 70 per cent stake in a merged chip enterprise with LG Semicon. Wall Street consultancy Arthur D Little yesterday announced that it recommended Hyundai have that stake because it would be more competitive than LG Semicon. According to English language newspaper The Korea Times, LG immediately hit out at the proposal, saying it did not agree on the criteria. But whether LG likes it or not, it is likely that the South Korean government will insist the merger goes ahead. If it rejected the proposal, it would breach promises it has already made. Both Hyundai and LG had until this weekend to sort out the merger. A government minister said that Hyundai and LG would have no choice in the matter. If they rejected Arthur D Little's proposal, creditors will pull various rugs from under the companies. The new chip company is expected to take shape by April of next year. If the deal does finally go ahead, it will create a company almost equal in size to Samsung Electronics, but it is unlikely to be welcomed by US DRAM companies such as Micron, which have made allegations that the large Korean chaebols have dumped product. We don't know whether Arthur D Little is exhausted by all of the negotiations, but we at The Register certainly are... ®
Mike Magee, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

HP to widen range of products sold direct

Hewlett Packard is beginning to show every sign that it will eventually ditch its channel partners and go direct. That will mean it will follow in the footsteps of both IBM and Compaq, as extensively reported here. In an expansion of a pilot scheme which HP started earlier this year, the company said that it will now offer more products online, including its lucrative range of printers. Earlier this year, HP refuted suggestions that it would cut out its channel and said that products sold on the site would be fulfilled by its partners. The move will also threaten sales of its products through its network of retailers. But the bottom line is that if it sells more products on its online site, there is little reason for it not to use couriers like UPS and Fedex to deliver products to people's doors. HP has not had a good year and will be seeking for ways to compete against the Dell Corporation, in a similar manner to both IBM and Compaq. ®
Mike Magee, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

AOL's Case worth cool billion

AOL's chief executive Steve Case is now a paper billionaire after shares in the number one online service provider continued to climb this week. With more than 8.5 million shares to his name, his holdings are estimated to be worth $1.18 billion based on AOL's closing price of $138 -- not bad for a man who started life developing topping for Pizza Hut. AOL -- with 14 million members -- is one of the world's top Net companies, which is perhaps part of the reason why its share price has increased six-fold this year alone. And although analysts are still projecting bigger and better things for Net companies in the New Year -- and AOL in particular -- more and more are beginning to voice concerns about the sector overheating. ®
Tim Richardson, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

Apple preps MacOS 8.6 to drive shift to MacOS X

Leaks from Apple's Beta programme suggest the next version of the MacOS, 8.6, codenamed Veronica, will mark the company's first attempt to align its existing operating system with the forthcoming MacOS X and implement its confused OS strategy. The plan runs something like this: next Autumn (if the schedule is met), Apple will ship its Unix-derived MacOS X to users of Macs based on the PowerPC 750 (aka G3). To keep users of older Power Macs sweet, the company has said will continue to extend and offer the MacOS 8.x/9.x line, at the same time cobbling on bits of MacOS X to ensure application developers have enough of a unified base to support both groups of users. The obvious thing to do would be to make MacOS X available to the MacOS 8.x hangers-on and just have done with it. Even then Apple would have two operating systems -- MacOS X and MacOS X Server, aka Rhapsody -- but why stick with two when you can have three and really confuse people. Given MacOS X is designed to be easy to port to other platforms, adding PowerPC 601, 603e and 604/604e versions to the installer shouldn't be too much of a problem. But Apple clearly thinks otherwise, and it's hard not to conclude that it wants to ensure everyone rushes out and buys a new box just to run the new OS. As for MacOS 8.6, its MacOS X-like features include a microkernel (sort of -- its called a 'nanokernel'). The nanokernel is described by sources as a cut-down version of the Mach kernel used by MacOS X. It will provide MacOS 8.6 with better multitasking and memory protection, and a degree of device abstraction. Vernonica, due to ship next spring, will also add new interface tweaks to bring the current MacOS look and feel more in line with the NeXT/MacOS hybrid GUI that MacOS X will present. Both OS' implementations of Java will be aligned too. Other enhancements include the addition of Game Sprockets, Apple's DirectX-style set of APIs, which will now be installed automatically without user intervention. MacOS 8.6 was always pegged to form the basis of MacOS X's Blue Box MacOS compatibility module, but with Apple heavily promoting its Carbon APIs, a set of Rhapsody-ised MacOS Toolbox routines, as the ideal compatibility solution, that leaves Blue Box as little more than a trap for all those ancient apps whose developers won't convert to Carbon. In fact, Carbon provides compatible MacOS 8.x apps with a degree of the benefits of MacOS X -- pre-emptive multitasking and memory protection -- which is... er... just what 8.6's nanokernel seems to do, perhaps Apple's OS strategy is more integrated than the rumours would have us believe. ®
Tony Smith, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

Microsoft, IBM sued over Y2K non compliance

US reports said that class action suits have been taken out against both IBM and Microsoft for alleged problems over the Millennium Bug. The suit against Software Stan alleges that both Visual FoxPro and FoxPro have problems with dates clicking over into the year 2000 properly. And IBM has received a lawyer's writ because of alleged problems with RS/6000s, AIX and application software from Medic Computer Systems. A gynaecologist is suing IBM and Medic Computer Systems after discovering that a new computer system they installed last year won't make it through the millennium without experiencing serious problems. Illinois-based Dr Mario Yu paid around $20,000 for the system that is designed to handle operations at a busy clinic including tracking patient appointments and their test results. Dr Yu only discovered the problem in November when he received a letter from Medic saying that for $2,500, they would ensure that his system would be able to make through the Year 2000 without any hiccups. Not only does Dr Yu want the remedial work done for free he also wants the two companies to inform all their customers, who are using the same system, of the problem and to issue a free patch. Dr Yu is also suing for punitive damages. Big Blue is likely to be the more embarrassed because of the big play it is making on how it can solve, rather than create Y2K problems. Microsoft appears to have little sense of shame in the matter. ®
The Register breaking news

Great Santa of Journalism outlines Yule logs

Here in good old Blighty, most industry shuts down for the Christmas period, followed by the New Year period. While some of us will be roasting our chestnuts, we will be dragging the odd skeleton or two out of the cupboard and will maintain some type of service throughout the period. Don't expect the usual 30 plus stories a day however. We'd like to thank all of our readers for their support throughout 1998. Next year, we'll be expanding our coverage, so keep an eye on the site. Thanks too for all the emails you've sent us throughout the year. While many were delightful, others were downright nasty. But that's fine by us. Keep them coming. And best wishes for 1999 from the Great Santa of Journalism. ®
Team Register, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

iMac revision C to offer 300MHz CPU

Apple is preparing the next revision of its consumer-oriented iMac, the third so far, according to sources close to the company. The so-called Revision C box will add a faster CPU -- the smart money seems to be on a 300MHz PowerPC 750, though just to be safe, there is also talk of a 266MHz version. It will be announced officially next month and ship in February. The first revision, Rev B, shipped back in November, adding an extra 4MB of video memory to the original 2MB, upgrading the graphics controller from the clunky ATI Rage IIc to the Rage Pro Turbo and bundling the then recently released MacOS 8.5. Since then Apple has also released version 1.1 of its iMac system software update for free download. Sources also suggest Apple will bring down the price of the Rev B iMac to $999 and debut the new release at the current price of $1299. It's a plan given some verisimilitude by Apple's apparent irritation with US retailer Best Buy's decision to bring the price of the iMac down to $999, though this was soon put up to $1099 (see Apple kills Best Buy cut-price iMac policy). ®
Tony Smith, 24 Dec 1998
The Register breaking news

Windows speeds up if Netscape shell used instead

Note to readers We've had many enquiries about how to do this. Bear with us, we missed our Boxing Day deadline but are working to bring the answer to you as soon as possible. Reports reached The Register late today that a simple substitution of the Netscape Communicator for the Windows shell would speed up Microsoft's operating system by a factor of ten. Sources close to Microsoft acknowledged it was an easy feat but were unable to explain why this was so. However, the software engineer who alerted us to the switch said the simple fact indicated that Microsoft's claims that its browsers and operating systems were inseparable were spurious. Repeated calls from us to Microsoft Central UK today, were unable to elicit an answer. On Boxing Day (26 December), we shall show how easy it is. ®
A staffer, 24 Dec 1998