Thanks for the memory, Apple…
Everyone has heard of the phrase 'hoist on their own petard', but few folk know really good examples in real life. Apple, however, does. So there's dear old Steve Jobs, wowing the crowd with the new Power Mac G3's oh-so-wonderful ease of access, courtesy of the new Fisher-Price PC design's handy inards-exposing hatch, and saying how simple it is to add memory... ...while on the Apple stand, some light-fingered herberts have figured out the reverse is equally true: how easy this accessibility innovation makes removing memory. So how much RAM went walkies on the first day of MacWorld Expo? A whopping ten gigabytes, according to one Apple staffer engaged in one too many servings of local beverage Anchor Steam to worry about the company's recently installed thought police. This clearly explains the sudden appearance on day two of large numbers of well-muscled security guards, ready to kick the seven Steves out of any Mac buff tempted by the treasures within. Alas, they proved ineffectual -- as the Apple demonstrator, ready to put his machine through its paces for the benefit of your reporter, found when he was thrown by his machine's suddenly absent 400MHz PowerPC 750 CPU. ®
Updated: LG Semicon falls to Hyundai
The long standing refusal of LG to cooperate with the South Korean government came to an abrupt end today, when the company said it will sell its chip division to Hyundai. LG Semicon will become part of Hyundai Electronics, and according to reports all the workers will transfer from the former to the latter.
Windows runs faster using Netscape shell
A reader of The Register has come up with a way of installing Communicator instead of IE 4, resulting in a significant speed boost on the platform. Just before Christmas, we wrote a story about the substitution. (Story: Windows speeds up if Netscape shell used instead)
Judge queries Netscape-AOL deal again
In a rare intervention, Judge Jackson yesterday introduced his own exhibit - Court Exhibit 1 - which was a copy of a Washington Post article on Wednesday entitled "Knowing when not to compete". In it, AOL CEO Steve Case is quoted as saying in a recent interview that "AOL's merger with Netscape has no bearing on the Microsoft case, as nothing we're doing is competitive with Windows." Case denied that AOL/Netscape/Sun could or would develop an alternative OS to compete with Microsoft. Judge Jackson asked Professor Franklin Fisher, the DoJ's last witness: "Assuming these quotes are accurate, is this consistent with our understanding of what the impact of this consortium is likely to be, insofar as developing viable competition" for Microsoft. Fisher replied it was, and that "it wouldn't do anything to dislodge the Windows monopoly." So far, the only material issue on which Judge Jackson had appeared to favour Microsoft had been his tentative conclusion that the AOL/Netscape deal could change the nature of the competition against Microsoft dramatically. Jackson's decision to introduce the article as evidence strongly suggests that he has changed this opinion, and now has no detectable concerns about the DoJ case. A concerned Bill Neukom, speaking on the courthouse steps, noted dolefully that the rivals had said on 24 November that they would compete vigorously against Microsoft. Perhaps they still do - but in a rather more subtle way. Microsoft remains the darling of Wall Street, with its shares rising to $151.25, up $4.74, helped by financial analysts' bullish outlooks. Whether this news will dent this confidence will be seen later today. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Gates tapes: latest transcript
In the interest of completeness, we can now give the full text of the final extract of Gates' subpoenaed deposition. David Boies, the DoJ special trial counsel, is asking the questions. The extract speaks, ineloquently, for itself. Boies: This first selection is the selection designated by Microsoft. (Videotape excerpts played as follows:) Boies: In connection with Intuit, Mr Gates, insofar as you were aware, was there any effort to get Intuit to agree that Intuit would not promote Netscape's browser? Gates: I'm not aware of any -- anything specifically related to promotion. As I said, I didn't deal with them directly. You could say that -- ask them not to support Netscape as their standard supported browser. It's a change in their promotion of Netscape. Boies: Yes. I take that point. Let me make the question a little more precise. Other than an attempt to get Intuit to make Internet Explorer into its default browser, did Microsoft make any effort, that you're aware of, to get Intuit not to support or advertise Netscape's browser? Gates: It's kind of a strange question because Intuit never would have specifically advertised someone's browser. So I don't know what -- what do you mean by promotion when you give that example Boies: Well, I'm really just asking for what Microsoft did. And if you don't understand the question, Mr Gates, you can tell me and I will rephrase the question. Gates: Isn't that what I just did? Boies: Saying that you didn't understand the question? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: Okay. Let me put another question here. (End of playing of videotape excerpt.) Boies: The next portion is what has been designated and is being offered into evidence by the government. (Videotape excerpt played as follows:) Boies: Did Microsoft, insofar as you are aware, try to get Intuit to agree not to enter into any kind of marketing or promotion agreements with Netscape? Gates: I don't know. Boies: Did you have discussions with anyone concerning what Microsoft was trying to get from Intuit? Gates: I might have sent email about it at some point. Boies: Do you remember the content of that email? Gates: No. Boies: Do you remember anything at all about the content of that email? Gates: Well, I don't know that it's an email either. I said I might have sent email. It may have been many emails. So no, I don't remember anything beyond the fact that there may have been email about this, and I may have made my views about the subject known. Boies: Let me ask you to look at a document that has been previously marked as government exhibit 376. (End of playing of videotape excerpt.) Boies: Government deposition 376 has been admitted in evidence as government trial exhibit 206. (Videotape excerpt played as follows:) Boies: This purports to be an email dated April 17, 1997 from Brad Chase to you and some other people, which is forwarding on an email of -- earlier in the day on April 17th from Mr Will Poole to Brad Chase. The subject of both emails is "Intuit terms agreed." Do you see that? Gates: Well, it's just a forward, yeah. Boies: Do you recall receiving this email? Gates: No. Boies: Do you have any doubt that you received a copy of this email? Gates: No. Boies: There are - Gates: I don't have any reason to doubt. I don't know that I received the email. I don't have any reason to doubt it. But since I don't remember it - Boies: Did you ever see this email before? Gates: I don't remember ever seeing it. Boies: Under the heading "Intuit obligations," it says "bundle IE 3 (quicken) and IE 4 (other products.)" Do you see that? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: Were you told in April 1997 that Intuit had agreed to bundle IE 3 and IE 4 with its products? Gates: I don't remember that specifically. Boies: Farther down, under "Intuit obligations," there is an obligation that reads, quote, "not enter into marketing or promotion agreements with other browser manufacturers for distribution or promotion of Intuit content." Do you see that? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: Were you told, in words or in substance, in or about April of 1997, that Intuit had agreed not to enter into marketing or promotion agreements with other browser manufacturers for distribution or promotion of Intuit content? Gates: I don't remember being told that. Boies: Do you have any reason to doubt that you were told that? Gates: In the sense that one of the emails that may have come into my mailbox might have related to that, I don't -- I don't doubt it. It certainly wasn't something that could have been very significant to me, because I don't have a recollection of it. Boies: The last Intuit obligation that is listed here is, quote, "create 'differentiated content' area for Intuit channel that is available only to IE users," close quote. Do you see that? Gates: Uh-huh. Boies: Were you told, in words or in substance, in or about April of 1997, that Intuit had agreed with Microsoft that Intuit would create a differentiated content area for Intuit's channel that would be available only to IE users? Gates: I don't remember being told that, nor do I understand what it means. Boies: Have you ever had any discussions with anyone within Microsoft about the possibility of content providers creating content area that would only be available to IE users? Gates: I don't -- no. I don't understand that. I mean, it -- if the URL was there, you can get to it. Boies: So what you're saying is that this obligation that Intuit is said to have taken on is an obligation that you don't understand at all what it means; is that what you're telling me? Gates: No. I'm saying these words that are on this piece of paper, I don't understand what they mean. Boies: Do you understand the concept? Gates: I don't know what it means. Boies: Okay. Did you ever ask Mr Poole what it meant? Gates: Nope. Boies: Did you ever ask Mr Chase what it meant? Gates: No. Boies: Did you ever ask anybody what it meant? Gates: Those words, no. Boies: Or the concept that is described by those words? Gates: I don't understand those words. So it's hard for me to relate to the concept. I don't understand the words. Boies: Let me be sure that I understand what you don't understand. Are you telling me that you don't understand what it would mean for Intuit to create a "differentiated content area"? Gates: That's in quotes. Boies: Yes. For the Intuit channel that would be available only to IE users? Gates: I'm not sure what they mean by that. Boies: Do you have any idea what they mean by that? Gates: No. It's confusing to me. (End of playing of videotape excerpt.) ® Complete Register trial coverage
MS Attorney and Harris stage scrappy fight
William Harris, the CEO of Intuit was cross-examined rather incompetently for a little over a day by John Warden, for Microsoft. Warden tried to establish, without success, that an Intuit lawyer had played a prominent role in writing Harris' testimony. Warden's line of questioning had no evident structure, and it was clear that he was poorly prepared. It has been a source of constant surprise as to how poorly informed most of the DoJ's witnesses have been: Harris was no exception. He clearly has no technical understanding of computing, and characterises himself as a "non-academic" "trained business person" - except that he was not at all successful in negotiating with Microsoft. It did not seem to occur to him that Intuit could have charged Microsoft for the exclusivity that Microsoft wanted from his company. Harris' knowledge of Intuit's products is demonstrably inadequate for a CEO. He had not taken the trouble to read the DoJ's Complaint, and his knowledge of the major trends in the industry was severely wanting. Warden several times tried to suggest that Harris was not qualified to make statements about various matters - and especially those embarrassing to Microsoft it turned out - but he made no headway, because at least Harris exhibited a certain degree of wiliness. What Warden called speculation was informed judgement, or business planning, Harris claimed. Many of Warden's questions seemed to be directed at exercising his newly-acquired and shallow knowledge of computing, with no attempt to move the line of questioning to a useful climax. At the same time, Warden was very jealous of any attempt by Harris to stray into legal areas, so when Harris used phrases like "exclusionary behaviour", and "discriminatory behaviour", or suggested possible remedies that the court might impose, Warden asked if Harris was a member of the bar. The opportunity to discuss watering holes did not occur to Harris, but when Warden asked if he had attended law school, he quipped that he had done so for one day and found it "like stirring concrete with your eyelashes". Warden then showed off his legal knowledge by pointing out that "the court has dismissed the monopoly leverage claim" and rhetorically asked Harris if he thought that the people who used to work at the Interstate Commerce Commission should be brought back to be the National Operating System Commission. Warden asked Harris to look at Intuit's 10-K (annual filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission) during the mid-morning recess, so that he could answer questions on it, reminding Harris that "penalties akin to those for perjury for misstatements or material omissions" could be imposed. Unfortunately, Harris was probably unaware of misstatements by Microsoft in its own 10-K's, such as Windows 3.1 being an operating system, and the omission of any mention of legal cases against Microsoft that could prove to be very costly indeed. Warden wanted to know if the latest 10-K mentioned the danger to Intuit from the Windows "choke point" to which Harris had referred in his written testimony. It didn't specifically, but there was other language that generalised the threat. Warden mischaracterised the famous case that introduced the notion of essential facilities when he referred to the St Louis railroad terminal. He omitted to note that the point of the case was the control of access to the terminal via a bridge owned by some of the railway companies that wanted to stop the others from using it. Instead, he went off on a hypothetical tangent, asking if the owner of the terminal had the right to control the billboards inside the terminal. It was as though Warden were trying to anticipate arguments about making Windows an essential facility, introducing the reference so that the Microsoft propaganda machine could later say that the issue had been discussed. Unfortunately for Warden, Harris said he had limited experience of railroad terminals, and would not venture an opinion. Intuit's concern, and a probable reason for accepting the ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Microsoft to acquire Intuit, was that Microsoft might integrate personal finance functionality with Windows. Harris mentioned that MasterCard intended to sign an agreement with Microsoft to use Microsoft Money to work together, but the deal fell through. Microsoft subsequently signed a deal with Visa whereby Microsoft agreed not to get into the electronic bill paying business, and Visa agreed not to work with Intuit - something Harris had not mentioned in his written testimony. Warden moved to have this struck from the record, but Judge Jackson did not rule on the matter. The next morning Warden bounced back, clearly having been briefed overnight, to say that the agreement had been dissolved a year ago, and was not a commercial success. He also started prying about Intuit's relationship with CheckFree, as though he were under instructions from his client to find out what he could. When substitution was discussed, Harris easily won the point that applications were easily substitutable, but operating systems were not. Warden referred to a WSJ article by Walter Mossberg, who in the past has taken a generally favourable attitude to Microsoft. The previous week, Mossberg had a piece about Money and Quicken that suited Warden's arguments. Mossberg had said that switching between the products was painful, but Harris pointed out that Microsoft's manuals said it was an easy procedure. Warden really put his foot in it by suggesting, truthfully, that "given Quicken's strong dominance in the install[ed] base in this area, Microsoft's marketing talk doesn't have much choice but to say [that conversion is easy], does it?" Harris hit the nail on the head by asking Warden if "they would say things that were not true?" Warden told him he was not testifying, while Harris retorted "I would only say things that were true." Microsoft's pressure on Compaq to break its exclusive contract with Intuit was mentioned, and after direct contact between the two CEOs it was agreed that Compaq would carry both the Quicken and Money icons. It would be interesting to know if there was a secret agreement that Microsoft would indemnify Compaq's legal costs had Intuit decided to sue, as it was entitled to do. At times, Warden resorted to pointing out what a tough time Microsoft had from its competitors, and how MSN still had less than 2 million subscribers compared with AOL's 15 million plus. Warden did make a telling point when he suggested that with access to pornography being perhaps the most common use of the Web (he suggested up to 85 per cent, and seemed rather knowledgeable on the subject). He noted that this had been achieved without any message icon or logo on the Windows desktop. Judge Jackson mused: "I'd like to know what the icon [for pornography] would look like." Warden tried to suggest that Linux was easily substitutable for Windows but neither knew enough about it to reach any useful conclusion, and Harris was unable to point out that users would have to pay for Windows even if they did not want it. Harris had been advised by his computer department not to switch to Windows 98 as it was "not yet stable". Warden jumped up: "I move to strike," he cried. The Court: "Denied. Go ahead." Warden also lost an appeal to the judge when he asked that Harris be prevented from referring to documents used in his deposition by Microsoft, but not placed in evidence. Judge Jackson said Harris could use the documents to refresh his recollections. Harris had asked Intuit's treasurer to study the profitability of 473 US corporations with more than $3 billion in revenue. It was found that the average profitability was 9 per cent. Some 8 per cent of these corporations exceeded 20 per cent profitability, and five companies exceeded 30 per cent. Microsoft's profitability was top at 49 per cent and still climbing. Harris' point was that this was unreasonable, to put it mildly, and that Microsoft should have reduced its prices. Warden tried to debate the matter by suggesting that Microsoft's return on investment was not unusual, but he failed to win the point. There was much discussion about Intuit's choice of browser. Microsoft wanted to claim Intuit's "choice" as a win for its componentised IE. Harris admitted that he wanted to mend fences with Netscape since Microsoft relaxed its IE-only requirement last April in the face of mounting DoJ pressure not to leverage its Windows monopoly to gain IE clients. Interestingly, Intuit had not restored a Netscape button to its web sites because it hoped this would provide some negotiating muscle, but in reality this is probably wishful thinking. As a consequence, Harris made contradictory statements probably designed to provide either side with whatever headline might be required about why Intuit had gone with IE. In his redirect, David Boies for the DoJ obtained a more definitive response when he asked: "In the absence of the linkage by Microsoft to access to the Windows desktop, would you have agreed not to work with Netscape?" Harris replied "No", and Boies ended his redirect. The failure of Microsoft's channels in IE4 presented a disappointment to Intuit and Microsoft. Intuit thought it had negotiated something valuable, but it turned out that it was not particularly advantageous to have a second tier icon in the channel bar, which was a feature that few people used (and is now being abandoned), in exchange for appallingly demanding concessions from Microsoft. Intuit products have diminished capabilities with Netscape's browser, and Harris admitted that Intuit severely cut back its support and development effort for Navigator. In this respect, Intuit has contributed significantly to the problems that it has encountered by not maintaining its independence from Microsoft. Even worse, Harris sees no potential for Intuit products to operate with Linux, and is evidently very poorly informed about what is happening in the real world. Intuit made itself easy carrion for Microsoft, and it must be on the cards that Microsoft will now decide that the time has come to include Money in the operating system, and eliminate Intuit. David Boies redirect was concise and suggested yet again that when he becomes cross-examiner-in-chief of Microsoft's witnesses they will not have an easy time. Boies played ten minutes of the Gates videotaped deposition, with Gates putting on what was probably his worst performance. Warden proved again that he was a mean cross-examiner, but not a clever one. Harris stood up well enough, and won the match on points, despite his not being a technically skilful boxer. It was not a pretty fight.
Microsoft intimidatory tactics attract attention
Microsoft has been trying to intimidate DoJ witnesses by putting in the from row of the court the Microsoft staffer with whom the witness had had most dealings. In the case of Intuit CEO William Harris, it was Will Poole. There was some suspicion that Poole's story that Gates had personally required that the length of the agreement for the Intuit icon on the channel bar be one year, and that the Netscape browser could not be promoted, was phoney. Harris, to his credit, considered it possible that this might have been a negotiating tactic by Poole. During a mid-morning recess, Poole approached Harris and engaged him in conversation. There is a grave danger that such an action could be interpreted as interfering with a witness, and in the UK it would be regarded as a very serious offence, resulting in the certain expulsion from the courtroom of the offender, and possibly their arrest pending a criminal charge. The transcript does not show any complaint by the DoJ about this, but David Boies was either aware of it or became aware of it as a result of a question during his redirect: Boies: When was the last time you spoke with Mr. Poole? Harris: He was -- well, he's in the room and he came up and chatted with me just at this break. Boies: What did he say to you at the break? Harris: I believe he was attempting to be helpful. He said that - Boies: I'm sure he was, but I'd like to know what he said. Harris: He said that I should be aware that in IE 5, Microsoft was making it easier to change the default browser page and that, in fact, that was their strategy and intent across many different venues with Internet service providers, with OEM's, et cetera, making it easier for them to set defaults rather than Microsoft. Boies: In that conversation, did Mr. Poole tell you what Microsoft's plans would be if it were to prevail in this litigation? Harris: No. It is known that a court officer said that the incident breached the rules of the court. The DoJ had previously unsuccessfully asked the Court to stop the intimidation of witnesses by Microsoft employees, but the Motion was denied. It is now rather late for a new Motion, since the last DoJ witness is currently being examined. Whether Judge Jackson will deal with the matter publicly or privately is not at present known.
Battle of Unix servers ratches up
IBM claimed today that an independent survey showed that its RS/6000 systems are top performers in the Unix market. But that claim is likely to be hotly disputed by other players including Compaq, SGI, NCR and Sun. Compaq, for example, is releasing Alpha servers soon and benchmarks show they rattle along at a fair old pace. Terry Shannon, editor of Shannon knows Compaq has published the story on his site.
Updated: Jobs slashed at Info'Products
Compel yesterday slashed around 30 per cent of jobs at Info’Products UK, prompting the London sales team to walk out in protest. Sources close to Info’Products told The Register that top flight personnel were among those laid off, including Simon Steele, regional sales director for the City office and Brian Wathan, services delivery manager. Minimum statutory redundancy payments were believed to have been made. Those staff that qualify look set to receive one week's pay for every year in service, plus a month's salary on top. Walk-outs were said to follow the layoff announcements, leaving only four out of the 18 staff to run the London operation. The move comes less than one month after Compel bought the troubled UK reseller for £1 following months of revelations about failing finances and lost accounts. Sources say the integration will be a difficult one, and many redundancies are due largely to Info’Products personnel’s unwillingness to go through with Compel’s plans to unify the two companies. John Kemp, Compel technical services director - the man in charge of the integration of the two companies - refused to confirm or deny the cuts. He said: "I think you should be speaking to our publicity people, love. I’m not the right person to speak to." Info’Products’ customer base is still believed to be in jeopardy, with many still unhappy with the Chelmsford-based reseller. ®
HP appoints German distie for cheap printers
Hewlett-Packard has appointed German company Medion as sole distributor for its new subsidiary selling cheap and cheerful printers. The manufacturer's Apollo Consumer Products division will sell low end ink-jet printers, aiming to do away with H-P's traditional image and be more modern. The wholly owned subsidiary will have ten employees, with the rest of the business run through outsourcing. Resellers will buy sub $100 Apollo-branded printers through Medion. An H-P representative said the break into this end of the printer market would let Apollo be "hip and fun, with a more dramatic design than H-P products." He said it was necessary to open the separate subsidiary to effectively depart from H-P's main brand. H-P denied it was an attempt to sell the printers direct without tarnishing its name and channel relations. The representative stressed: "There are no plans to gain direct purchases through this latest venture." ®
Datrontech shares shoot up over Yule
Troubled UK distributor Datrontech has shot up on the UK stock market on rumours that founder Steve King might return to rescue the firm. The share price stood at just less than 20 pence before Christmas but in a mere 15 days has shot up to nearly 30 pence. At its height, Datrontech's shares stood at £4.30 and it went on a widespread acquisition trail which meant it owned companies as diverse as Portable Add Ons. No-one from Datrontech was available to comment on the rumours that King might return. ®
Intel goes chip crazy
Intel introduced a cut down version of its 300MHz Pentium chip for portables. The processor is nothing to do with the announcements Intel will make on the 24th of this month, as widely reported here and elsewhere. According to the company, the 300MHz Pentium with MMX technology is aimed at the low end of the portable market, as reported here. It costs $144 for quantities of 1000 and is part of Intel's attempt to fight the incursion of AMD, Rise, Cyrix and IDT at the low end notebook market. Said Frank Spindler, a VP at the Intel Architecture Group: "The 300MHz Pentium with MMX technology represents a new high water mark for the emerging category of mini-notebooks." ®
Avnet hot to acquire in Australia and Europe
Giant company Avnet is embarking on an aggressive takeover campaign, The Register has learned. The company already has a presence in the Americas, Europe, Asia and South Africa but not Australia. We understand it is shortly to make an acquisition there. It also plans further takeovers in the European zone. This week, Compaq restructured its Ts&Cs in the US and throughout Europe, as already reported here. Avnet was a winner in the scheme, being a Tier One Compaq distributor. Meanwhile, further details have leaked about Compaq's strategy to weld together the Digital and Tandem operations worldwide. The source said Compaq is now classifying its internal documents as either COMPAQ CONFIDENTIAL or COMPAQ SECRET. Former employees of Digital are now avoiding the Compaq firewall and sending messages to each other using external ISPs, because security is tight at Pfeiffer's firm. And, the source added, Compaq is also denying some of its employees access to competitors' Websites. She said: "Eckhard is worried that his charges might discover there is freedom outside if the Silicon Curtain. If a Compaq employee cannot browse Sun's site, how can he or she keep abreast of competitive development?" ®
Purple Hayes up in our brain
By a bizarre twist of fate at the height of an Internet boom among domestic PC users, the company whose founder revels in the title 'father of the PC modem' looks set to shut up shop and sell off the family jewellery. The Hayes Corporation - makers of the famous Hayes modem brand - effectively ceased trading in the United States on January 5th. Nevertheless, the UK/European operation is soldiering on in the hope of finding further financial backing. Hayes has formally announced that following the refusal of its principle lender to supply any further funding, it has laid off around 250 staff in the North American and Asia Pacific regions while it seeks to go into liquidation. The company had previously entered its second spell of trading under the US Chapter 11 laws which provide a business with protection from its creditors. By total contrast, Hayes Europe is alive and kicking and continuing to trade profitably. Said Nigel Croisdale, VP for international operations at Hayes: "We are currently in active negotiations with a number of third parties to invest in Hayes Europe." Ron Howard - who effectively ousted Dennis Hayes as chairman and CEO of Hayes Corporation in October last year - confirmed that the UK based Hayes Europe was a 'free-standing company' which was looking for a potential buyer. Hayes has suffered twin problems in recent years. Founder Dennis Hayes ran the company very much as a personal fiefdom and was unwilling to take a more hands-off' approach as the business blossomed. Hayes also became reliant on Rockwell (now Concordiant) for its key components which left it vulnerable to low cost, Far Eastern manufacturers, at a time when arch rival US Robotics (now 3Com) based its main modem lines on Texas' DSPs and its own modem operating software. Meanwhile Ascend - whose key employees are mostly ex-Hayes - stole the ISP market for modem servers from the likes of Hayes and US Robotics. If Hayes does disappear it will be a sad moment for the PC modem industry which Hayes helped to establish as a major market sector. Meanwhile, rumours were circulating that Hayes Europe could resell the Psion Dacom range of products. ®
Bug trouble in the Big Apple
Barbara Streisand, that Diva of classics such as Hello Dolly and The Way We Were, has sacrificed up to $10 million in fear of Y2k anarcy. According to today’s National Enquirer, Babs is so terrified of the pesky millennium bug problem that she has backed out of a New Year’s Eve concert to barricade herself in her home. The tinseltown megastar forfeited the Big Apple bash fearing riots, losing her multi-million pound wage packet for the night and turning her home into an armed fortress. She told a pal: "Who knows what can happen? The lights could go out, planes could crash, electricity and water supplies could fail, mobs may roam the streets burning and pillaging." And the difference from a normal New York night being…? The 56-year old icon is taking no chances and will have armed guards with automatic rifles and police dogs patrolling the grounds of her house. A source told the US tabloid: "All the bathtubs in her 12 bathrooms will be full of water. She even plans to have the pool filled with fresh water in case the supply is interrupted by computer problems." And Babs said she didn’t care if it made her the laughing stock of Hollywood – she needed more than her fine specimen of a husband, James, to protect her. She reportedly said: "James is a big, strong guy. But I want a whole team of hunks keeping me safe! Don’t we all, Babs.
UK newspaper pushes virtual boat out
The Guardian is to revamp its online offering in what it calls the "most imaginative network of Web sites from a newspaper publisher" ever. Far from simply dipping its toe in the water, The Guardian will dive in headlong, performing a triple pike with twist. The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is convinced it won't turn out to be an expensive belly flop. "The days when newspapers were tablets of stone have gone forever," said Rusbridger speaking at the launch of the Net version of Guardian Unlimited. Not only did he recognise the potential of the online media, he said that the initiative will reinvent the way newspapers are treated online. He denied claims that the site was merely a back door way of The Guardian becoming an Internet portal but insisted that being the leading subject content provider was all important if the online paper was to become profitable in the future. "Guardian Unlimited aims to be the UK's most interactive, intelligent and entertaining source of information on the Internet," said Guardian Unlimited's editor Simon Waldman. It will be divided into specific interest areas, such as cricket, football, jobs and film. ®
Pentium III/450 to cost less than PII/450 today
Sources close to Intel said today that the Pentium III when released will cost less that the 450MHz PII does now.
Software Stan collects more gaming souls
Microsoft is taking another chunk out of the games market via MechWarrior, buying computer games company FASA Interactive Technologies. The Great Satan of software today said it would acquire electronic rights to FASA Interactive’s BattleTech games, including the top-selling MechWarrior series. Microsoft said the reasons behind the acquisition lay in growing its games business through a smaller protfolio of top-quality games. It said the MechWarrior 2 game, set in the year 3057, and its related products, had brought in over $70 million in sales. The FASA Interactive’s development staff will be kept on by Microsoft, and integrated into staff in Redmond. ®
SyQuest re-emerges from oblivion
Troubled storage specialist SyQuest is set to announce details of a buyer next week, the company has announced. The news came as the company's Web site, dead since SyQuest went into Chapter 11 at the end of November, went back online to offer customer support information. For many users, it's about time. SyQuest's sudden collapse left a great many owners of its products concerned about their ability to receive tech support -- many others with drives already in for repair, were left wondering whether they would see their machines again. According to SyQuest's lawyers, they will get their drives back, as soon as the court authorises their return. That suggests they are being counted at SyQuest assets under the Chapter 11 rules, even though they actually belong to SyQuest's customers. However, of more long-term importance is the company's overall future. Its Web site claims officials hope to have SyQuest running normally very soon, but that's as near as damnit impossible without a massive injection of cash, either from a backer or a buyer. The front-runner in the possible buyer stakes continues to be Iomega, though it has refused to comment on whether it's interested in the carcass of its former rival or not. ®
Apple acts to expel NT from Expo
Apple has begun to fight back against the threat of Windows NT -- by getting NT workstation specialist Intergraph's systems thrown out of MacWorld Expo. Intergraph, which regularly seeks to lure MacWorld attendees over to Wintel, had hoped to demo its 450MHz Intel Xeon-based multi-processor NT systems right next to Apple's stand, but Apple cried foul and the show's organisers persuaded Intergraph to can their stand. "We warned Intergraph prior to arriving that they could only run a Mac-clone environment running off an Intergraph Windows NT server," said Colin Crawford, president and CEO of MacPublishing -- the company the publishes MacWorld magazine and is a division of IDG, the show's owner -- speaking to US newswire TechWeb. "What they turned up with was Windows NT workstations expecting to run them in a Mac-only environment. This was a sensitive issue: Apple didn't want it, I didn't want it, and we had to negotiate on it." The negotiations are believed to involve a compensation package for Intergraph, even though it was expelled under a clause in the exhibitors' contract forbidding actions and behaviour not in the interest of the Expo. ®
Apple set to announce $1.75 billion Q1 revenue
On Tuesday, Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs announced in his keynote at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco that the company will shortly announce its fifth consecutive quarter -- the first of the current fiscal year -- in the black. Now, signs of just how far into profitability the company is are emerging ahead of next week's official unveiling of the figures. According to analysts, Apple is expected to announce Q1 revenues of $1.70-1.75 billion, up from the $1.6 billion it posted for the same quarter last year. That was its first profitable quarter after three years of solid losses. Wall Street is anticipating earnings of around 70c a share, more than double the 33c a share profit Apple posted this time last year. ®